Misspent Summers is 'future-proof': The publication that documents mountain biking in 'the best medium possible'

Misspent Summers is 'future-proof': The publication that documents mountain biking in 'the best medium possible'

Misspent Summers, corner shotIn the realm of high-quality print publications, James McKnight is currently leading the pack across the pond. Born in the European Alps and curated by the Brit media mogul, Misspent Summers, is, technically, a media company – but documenting the history of Euro mountain biking is really the nucleus of each product. 

Zooming from his place in the Alps, McKnight tells me that Misspent Summers was never meant to be a print company, and actually became a specialist in print by accident.

“It was meant to be a company that shows off mountain biking in the best medium possible, and the best way we could think of was to compile everything into something really future-proof, something that someone can refer back to 10 or however many years down the road, and that’s a book, or magazine. Apart from the completely different experience you get from reading print, which I love, it's organizing ideas and events into a compilation in a way you just can’t really do online.”

Misspent Summers began as a book project McKnight was working on in the early 2000s, with the intent to feature the most passionate Alpine bikers.

“It was about lifers in Morzine. I was profiling these bike bums, being one myself, who were just living for riding bikes,” McKnight says. “Living in a van, or slumming it in the corner of someone’s chalet, doing whatever you can so that you can ride bikes for a couple months out of the summer.”

The book, McKnight tells me, is currently still a work in progress. But in its place is the growing publication, dedicated to mountain bike photography and storytelling, with a special focus on downhill, enduro and dirt. But the spirit of the “bike bum”, McKnight tells me, continues through all the products they do now.

Kickstarted by their first book, ‘Hurly Burly’, events are what Misspent Summers cover most prominently. 

Misspent Summers' 3 books

In part due to the existing oversaturated, inauthentic coverage of the events at the time, McKnight wanted to feature a more well-rounded experience for lovers of the sport. Though they’re granted no special access, McKnight’s team enters the events as spectators, allowing them to document the fan perspective.

“The reason we started doing it was because you had all these mountain bike events happening throughout the year, these amazing World Cups, and it was like an aggregated report all over the internet, loads of stories and content,” he tells me.

“It’s mainly the World Cup Series, there are others we feature, but everything else is just kind of for the fun: it's what we as bikers do, it's how we respond, how we experience it, every other part of it. It's all about writing. And photos, of course.”

Along with their semi-regular print projects, Misspent Summers also boasts a wide array of video and other online content, such as with their video series, “Tea & Biscuits”, which follows bike-riding chaps around the globe, and “‘avin a proper good laugh in the process”. 

'Analog' is their monthly online zine issue, “a first-class balance of up-to-date market analysis and free-flowing mayhem”, with topics ranging from transparency in the bike industry, to how to build a noise flapper. A fun tidbit: 'Analog' can be printed at home: “From digital to a really cool real-life real thing in the clunk of a button and swirl of a scissor.”

For those who find their interest piqued, McKnight encourages you to try out 'SPENT', Misspent Summer’s 500-page pocket-book that’s got everything they think is good about bikes.

While small, the company’s got a lot of growth in their future; McKnight tells me they’re currently expanding their online store, gearing up for future events, but also making sure they continue to give proper attention and care to what’s at the helm of it all, and that’s their print products.

“We’re not big, smallish really….but people tend to stick by us, which has been very cool.”

Misspent Summers 'Spent II'