Highly-respected cycling mag Mountain Bike Action hits the stands in Czech

Photo: JK / Mountain Bike Action

Mountain Bike Action magazine has been published the US since the 1980s and has become a symbol of excellence in reporting on everything from the world’s best trails and adventure biking to technical reviews and tests. The magazine is on just its 3rd issue in Czech.

Photo: JK / Mountain Bike Action
In this In Focus I talk to publisher Katerina Mužíková about the Czech edition: how it has been received and its aims.

“Mountain Bike Action focuses on one area of biking and it is more specific than some of the other magazines out there. It is more technical and it is about being in different terrain. The magazine has been going for years in the United States and has a big following among mountain bikers, made very professionally, and we wanted to bring that here. People in the sport, from professionals to race organisers, who learned we began publishing it in Czech are pretty happy about it.

“But what we want to do is address regular readers. They have to get used to the new magazine and Czechs are very conservative when it comes to reading. If there’s a title they have always read from among the others out there, they will take some convincing. Slowly step by step they may change their minds: everyone appreciates good quality.”

Interest will also go hand-on-hand with bike tests and reviews: many of those models are available here, from entry-level to high-end...

“Yes. That is definitely true.”

What is the mountain bike market like in the Czech Republic: is it saturated or are there new waves of interested buyers?

“I think sales are slowly and steadily increasing every year. There hasn’t been a big jump, it never works like that. One thing that is true is that there are more and more people interested in cycling each year. They like it because mountain biking allows you to get out and be in Nature. Also, many more people can now invest in really good bikes. So I think things are looking up. It is one of those things: it pays off to buy a slightly more expensive bike because of the quality. There is a difference in the experience and if you buy cheap it won’t last, it’ll break.”

That’s one of the first lessons, isn’t it? To try and find a bike with a solid frame – a good quality frame – with cheaper components if need be because those can always be replaced...

“Yes indeed. A cheaper bike won’t last, you’ll just end up trading it away.”

Czechs do enjoy the outdoors quite a bit and have a great trail system here: is the same true for bike trails?

“I would say so. There are many, many marked trails for climbs, downhill, many hidden places to visit. There are not so many nature reserves and you can bike all over. Mountains, or down south, there are many good options.”

The other big difference in single-track here is that you come out of a forest area and there’s suddenly a church there or a castle or summer palace, something you don’t see on spreads about biking in Canada or the US... Speaking of which, I understand that the content will be around 70/30 (70 percent content from the US or Italy, 30 percent from the Czech Republic).

Katerina Mužíková, photo: Katerina Mužíková Facebook page

“For the moment but we may expand the Czech content. It depends what we come up. One of the companies we are working with is Trail-Busters, a friendly company that is really great. That is one way of coming up with amazing trails, perfect pictures, and excellent videos which can be written about and published. So we are slowly finding these kinds of partners to work with.”

To work at Mountain Bike Action do you have to be a mountain biker yourself?

“Most of the people on the team are, the translators and photographers, our editor-in-chief Ondřej Vysypal is very dedicated mountain biker and has been for a very long time. I think if you want you publish something without having a deeper interest in it you can but it will always show. Doing something that you love, combining your leisure time and your work, leads to great results. If you are not passionate about what you do, it never works. ”

Are you looking forward to testing Czech bikes?

“Absolutely, there are manufacturers here who can compete with the best, whether it is firms like Author or Duratec and others. We definitely want to show what Czech manufacturers know how to do and we have already spoken to some producers about it.”

What is the target readership?

“We think that 20,000 – 30,000 readers can be achieved but of course it is never like that from the start. It will grow. People need to find out about what we are offering: perfect quality writing, information, photographs. As I say, conservative Czechs! They have to trust you first. So right now we are finding our place. By comparison, Italy has settled pretty well. They can report an increase in sales every year, which is really good. Especially in the time of the internet! But, on the other hand, there are and there always will be people who prefer having hard copy. Having it in your hands is just a different feeling!”