Saddle Drive Is Still the Best!

Saddle Drive Is Still the Best!
Words by John Watson, photos by John Watson and Jarrod Bunk

Saddle Drive! It’s part party, part bike demo and part tradeshow, in that order. Or at least that’s how we’ve covered it in years past. This year, however, QBP did things a bit different, opting to put many, if not most of the bicycles and products they “launched” under strict embargo. The bad news is, you won’t see any bike portraits in this gallery, but the good news is, you’ll see my two favorite bikes in the future, once the embargo is lifted.

Caveats aside, let’s get started… Jimmy and I left Golden Saddle on Monday morning, at the crack of dawn for Lake Tahoe along the 395 corridor. Jimmy had never been to the Eastern Sierra before, so we took some time along the way, stopping in Lone Pine, Bishop and Mono Lake along the way for sightseeing and snacks.

Upon arriving at Northstar, a snow and bike resort above Tahoe, we were greeted by a plethora of friends, both old and new, tons of new bikes to ride and some of the best trail conditions to grace Northstar in recent years. As the days crept along, so did the skies, bringing thunderstorms along with them.

Torrential downpours in the evenings meant the dirt was ripping each morning and to get in some extra exercise, many of us opted to pedal to the top of the mountain, rather than take the gondola each ride.

Three days passed, bringing a few rowdy nights and groggy mornings. Saddle Drive came as quickly as it went, and as the last day rolled around, it was time for Kyle and I to roll to Downieville for part two of our trip!

More on that later…


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  • Zack James

    Embargowned. Can’t wait for the rest of the coverage.

  • Jason Stanford

    Looks like fun, I can’t wait to see what your two favorite bikes were. WTB skin sidewall riddlers and exposure 34’s oh man, I haven’t even worn out the ones I have yet.

  • mrbiggs

    Since I know nada about how these things work, I’ll ask what to me is the obvious question: What’s the point of embargoing the bikes? Or if they’re embargoed, why not have the event later? “Let’s invite lots of people to see and ride these bikes, but them tell them they can’t talk about them or show pictures of them for some unspecified about of time.” That seems sort of weird to me. Buzz is good, isn’t it?

    • hansgman

      qbp was heavy with the bike reveal on their fb page. Maybe they wanted to control the message this early on? I agree. It doesn’t seem to make to apply embargo on the attendees

    • Poolboy 1.0

      The big issue that they (Q) has had in the past involved the situation of them releasing a bike (photos, spec, ETA on delivery), and not being able to hit those details. Example: Bike A gets release at SD, the public sees it, wants it, places orders for it, and the bike doesn’t end up showing up on time, with the right spec, or within an appropriate timeline due to factors outside of Qs control. This way we (bike shop folk) can get the details, learn about the product, better anticipate actual arrival dates, and setup out media and press release at the same time that Q wants to push it. I agree however that this year was a bit overkill…I mean…there were so many cool things there that we’re not allow to talk about and can’t get people stoked on.

      • mrbiggs

        Seems like an easy way to do that is the way everyone else does it. “Here’s the new Salsa Crunchbucket, it looks awesome and you will love it, and it will be available for ordering in January when it’s ready.” They’re not embargoing the bikes. They’re embargoing photos of the bikes. If they don’t want the public to see them, why bother with a press event?

        • Poolboy 1.0

          Pretty easy, its not technically a press event.

          • mrbiggs

            Ah, of course. Dealer/sales/bike-shop-owner event. That actually makes a lot more sense if the embargo is mainly regarding gramming pics on social media. “We want YOU to see them, just not yet your customers.” That, I can swallow.

          • Yeah. That’s my take away. They also only invite like 8 media outlets.

  • Alex Steadman

    Photo #2: SHEESH

  • Jake Kruse

    Surly Pack Rat huh…

  • Devin Mooney


    • Ritter Rost

      Troy, whats your choice of cutlery there? Benchmade?

  • Dante Casali

    Right-Hand-Drive Land Cruiser?

  • jordan_vondy

    Any update on when that damned embargo is over?