Like many of you, I am currently trapped inside my house. Quarantines, lock-downs, self-isolation, and social distancing are having a profound effect on our lives and hobbies. If you’re unable to go out and ride, or you’re sad that races and events have been canceled, you might start experiencing some cycling withdrawal.
Don’t worry, I can help you take the edge off. When I am not riding MTB, road, or gravel, I love to watch YouTube videos to stay stoked on bikes. If you’re not a YouTube regular like me, then you’re missing out on the biggest collection of cycling content on the Internet. It’s the perfect place to retreat to when you can’t get out and ride. To help you navigate the endless depths of YouTube, here are my 10 essential road and mountain biking channels (in no particular order). Dive in, get lost, stay sane.
Red Bull Bike
Suggested starting place: Fast Life (season 3)
When it comes to action sports media and events, Red Bull is king. Its bike channel is just one of many sport-focused Red Bull channels with incredible variety and depth. It has one-off videos and full series that all have incredible production values. There’s a lot to choose from right now, but my favorite series currently is "Fast Life" season 3. This series follows World Cup mountain biking’s protagonists through the ups and downs of a competitive and unpredictable season. The first two seasons were fine, but the most recent one is next-level. The narration is sometimes cheesy and over-the-top, but it really works for me because 2019 happened to be the most exciting year of World Cup mountain biking in recent memory.
Suggested starting place: Unbound Gravel 2019 - EF Gone Racing
The production quality of Rapha Films has always been top-notch. It creates beautiful, ethereal videos that somehow capture the idealized version of cycling we all have in our heads. Things have only gotten better with the "Rapha Gone Racing" video series. They follow some of Rapha and EF’s pro riders as they test themselves in non-traditional races. Right now, Lachlan Morton is my spirit rider. The guy just loves riding and wants to be on his bike all the time. There are other notable pros on the EF team, but I mainly just love seeing "Lachy's" adventures. He tackles some truly epic events including Unbound Gravel, Leadville Trail 100, and the GBDuro.
Suggested starting place: The Privateer (season 1, 2, and maybe 3)
Pinkbike has established itself as the online hub for mountain bikers to get news and gossip. Its Friday Fails videos are classic, but in recent years it has really stepped up its video game with series like Hot Lap, Humbled, and the Field Test. But the one that really gets me going is the Privateer series. This is essentially my dream scenario. A talented mountain biker working a full-time job and living a regular life gets access to the same resources and opportunities as the pros. Will he rise to the occasion? The journey to the top may be harder than you think. A new season with Ben Cathro racing World Cup DH is in the works, but we’ll see how it’s affected by race cancelations and postponements.
Suggested Starting Place: Crosswind CHAOS: Geraint Thomas and Niki Terpstra OUTFOXED by Luca Paolini
If you’re into professional road racing, Lantern Rouge is the go-to resource for race analysis and commentary. He breaks down races, strategy, and tactics with unparalleled insight. It is my favorite place to watch race highlights because he is able to give me a deeper understanding of how and why a race unfolded. Since so many major spring races have been canceled, Lanterne Rouge has come to the rescue by recapping classic races and iconic moments of the last decade. Until racing resumes, I will be buried deep in the Lanterne Rouge catalog, examining how the best riders in the world conduct business.
Suggested starting place: Risk Acceptance | Sedona MTB
Nate Hills is the godfather of high-quality stabilized POV mountain biking footage. His weekly Followcamfriday videos spawned countless copycats but no one explores as many amazing trails and locations around the world with as many talented and professional riders as Nate. This is the place to see up close and personal how the best mountain bikers ride. Unlike other YouTube vloggers, Nate doesn’t talk, narrate, or address the viewer in most of his videos. They’re purely about riding and experiencing the joy of mountain biking. These are some of my favorite videos to watch on the trainer or when holding a spare set of handlebars.
The Vegan Cyclist
Suggested starting place: Just Breathe (A Cycling Motivation Story)
Despite his name, Vegan Cyclist’s channel isn’t about being vegan. He does happen to be a vegan, but he’s also a competitive road and gravel racer. In his videos, he shares his experiences riding, training, and racing in the California road scene. He intimately narrates and distills all of his joy, self-doubt, and pain. It's easy for any dedicated rider to relate to his physical and mental struggles as he tries to improve. There’s plenty of successes too, and when they come, it's hard not to vicariously feel proud. The great thing is that he’s also a father. His interactions with his family gives cyclists like myself perspective on how to balance training and racing with the stress of raising children.
Skills with Phil
Suggested started place: Chasing Pro Downhillers at Whistler On a Single Crown Trail Bike!
Most mountain bike YouTubers probably aren’t as talented as Phil Kmetz of Skills with Phil. Phil raced downhill at an elite level, and when other YouTubers collaborate with him, he’s always the rider that shines brightest. His tutorial videos are simple, easy to follow, and wholesome. His POV riding content showcases his serious skill and fearlessness. I turn to his videos when novice mountain bikers ask for riding advice. Plus, they still teach me plenty of new skills. He doesn’t release videos as often as other YouTubers, but he’s been at it for a long time and he has a deep library of tutorials and POV riding to sift through.
Seth’s Bike Hacks
Suggested starting place: Lifelong BMX Rider Tries mountain bike at Whistler
When it comes to mountain biking YouTubers, Seth of Seth’s Bike Hacks may be the archetype that all others were modeled upon. His channel began with simple how-to videos for tricks, skills, and bike maintenance. It has since grown into one of the largest mountain biking channels on YouTube. He documents exploits with friends, mountain bike travels, as well as a huge series of trail building projects on his property. A huge component of his success is that he’s just a “regular guy.” He’s not a pro athlete or coach, but he puts all of his time and effort into riding, improving himself, and making something out of nothing.
Rides of Japan
Suggested Starting Place: Complete Bikepacking bag setup for $100... Almost worked
Rides of Japan is a simple channel that features a Swedish cyclist living and riding in Japan. He loves bikepacking, touring, and exploring the countless unknown climbs, descents, and gravel roads that weave through Japan’s mountains. He reviews all the riding and bikepacking gear he experiments with and takes viewers with him on long rides and overnight camping trips to test them out. I never considered bikepacking myself until I randomly found his channel a year ago. Since I discovered him, I’ve not only wanted to give bikepacking a shot, but I dream of one day riding in Japan too. It'd be so cool to take a bike on a high-speed train deep into the mountains to explore truly foreign roads.
Suggested starting place: The Chase: An Inside Look at What It Takes to Be the Best
Get ready to take notes. These guys are the kings of cycling nerdery. TrainerRoad has the best training and nutrition podcast around (Ask a Cycling Coach) and it gets live-streamed and uploaded on YouTube every week. Everything is science-based with expert insight from coaches, pro cyclists, and all-around cycling geeks. It also provides in-depth race analysis videos that provide POV race action with critique and commentary so you can learn tactics to help improve your results on race day. If you’re ready to start training to improve your fitness and racecraft, this is your number one resource.
Bonus: The Pro’s Closet
Suggested starting place: TPC Museum Series #4: Myles Rockwell's 1998 Cannondale Fulcrum
Of course, I have to plug our own channel here. One of the most impressive aspects of our business is our vintage bike museum. It’s a huge passion project for our Founder and CEO, Nick Martin, and it is one of the biggest in the country. From our museum collection and through connections with influential cyclists and bike builders, we’ve managed to make videos that give viewers unique and personal insight into the history of our sport. Tune in to see what happens when we take a camera, microphone, and sometimes a case of beer to meet some of cycling’s legendary figures.
Did I miss your favorite YouTube channel? What are your go-to videos? Let us know in the comments!