Welcome to the 2023 Pinkbike State of the Sport Survey. This anonymous survey is designed to help shed light on key issues affecting the professional field and elite competition. We surveyed the best riders in the world to hear their thoughts, ideas, concerns, and criticisms on mountain biking as we go into 2023, all in an anonymous format. To read the introduction to the survey click here, and to see all the other currently published SOTS articles click here.
To help make more sense of the mountains of data we're taking a look at the data from each of the major disciplines surveyed and talking about some noteworthy or eye-catching pieces of information. Now it’s enduro’s turn.
Enduro has seen the EWS be the pinnacle of the sport since it started to become one of mountain biking's major disciplines ten years ago in 2013. The sport has continued to evolve and adapt over the years with some big changes coming this year as it drops the EWS to become the Enduro World Cup or EDR as it's been strangely shortened to. Riders were sent out surveys before a lot of the big changes were announced and will now act as the final say on the ten-year legacy of the EWS. So what’s the current state of Enduro heading into 2023?
Enduro Cohort Details
Number of Riders Choosing Enduro as their Main Discipline: 49
Top 5 Finishers: 7/7
Top 10 Finishers: 6/4
Asia - 1
South America - 1
Oceania - 8
North America - 14
Europe - 25
Median Wage: 20,000-30,000 USD
Our survey brought in 49 responses from Enduro riders that were among the best ranked overall last season. Our numbers for this year were slightly lower than the 68 riders we surveyed last time
but for this year's State of the Sport, we did adjust our criteria slightly
. While the last survey featured seven riders racing the EWS who mainly raced downhill this time there were just two multiple-discipline downhill riders with one XC racer also taking on EWS races.
Of the Enduro racers surveyed, there was a heavy male skew with 63% of respondents identifying themselves as male and the rest of the 37% of respondents identifying as Female. Among all categories including Junior and U21, there were seven top five overall finishers for both male and female racers, while there were six top 10 male finishers and 4 female.
When it came to a rider's home continent the results remained very similar to the last State of the Sport with a heavy swing towards Europe. 51% of respondents call Europe home with North America holding 29%. The only other continent to feature more than one response was Oceania with 16% of our Enduro racers. Asia was home to one rider with South America being a newly represented nation for the State of the Sport survey in Enduro.
Enduro Racing Shouldn't be Totally Blind
Of the 49 primarily Enduro racers surveyed we found that an overwhelming 80% believe that racing should not be totally blind
. The data shows a marked increase of 5% over the last State of the Sport where 75% of respondents answered in the same way. A similar percentage of riders still want blind racing compared to the last survey with 12% of racers agreeing with the idea.
While we found the majority of riders do not want blind racing, 34 riders found it concerning to them that "riders who live nearer to a race venue get more track time and, as a consequence, get an advantage". Only seven of the racers asked disagreed with this. It seems that while riders do not want truly blind racing they do worry about the advantage that can come from a large amount of track time.
Despite not wanting blind racing and the worry of over practicing most racers feel that is already enough practice time with 78% either agreeing or strongly agreeing to the idea that "Enough practice time is allocated at enduro events". Unsurprisingly all six of those who thought enduro racing should be blind either agreed or strongly agreed to there being enough practice time already. Although within those who disagreed to blind racing only seven think there should be more practice time than what is currently offered, suggesting that while tracks shouldn't be unknown there is a danger to knowing the course too well.
Of the three riders who either primarily race Downhill or XC we found that two of them strongly disagreed with the idea of blind racing with one feeling neutral on the topic.
86% Feel Their National Governing Body Doesn't do Enough for Enduro
One of the clearest problems found in the survey is that Enduro is struggling to receive support from national governing bodies for cycling.
Of the riders who primarily race Enduro a huge 86% feel their national governing body does not currently do enough for Enduro
. Only 6% agree with the statement "My national governing body supports its athletes well," with 12% remaining neutral on the issue.
The lack of Enduro support from a national governing cycling body makes things hard for riders who aren't as well financially support as from our 49 respondents 78% find that riders from their home countries cannot compete at an international level without significant financial support. Without a national cycling body to support a sport it can be hard to form national and local races that can bring up future talent to the sport and help already established riders secure financial support.
As part of the survey, we asked the riders what they would like to see done differently by their national body, here are some of their responses:
Racers Want Shuttles/Lifts for Practice but maybe not in the Main Race
While the 'spirit of enduro' back in 2013 seemed to be big days out on the big and blind racing it seems like today's racers want more help getting around the courses for practice with 61% of respondents either agreeing or strongly agreeing to the idea that "Shuttling should be allowed in training for enduro events."
Only 27% would disagree or strongly disagree to this idea.
Despite a small majority of riders wanting more assistance during training, it seems like most are either neutral or disagree with a suggestion that shuttling and lifts should have more involvement on race days. 39% either disagreed or strongly disagreed with this while most found they were neutral on this idea. Only 20% thought this could be a good idea.
Breaking the data down into those who want extra assistance during practice, 40% of these respondents would not want this included in the race days.
Shuttles for practice offer a clear advantage in that they allow the riders to complete their practice without exerting as much energy so more can be saved for the actual racing. When it comes to race days things are less clear with the current top riders not being sure if having these included in racing is a definitive positive or negative for the sport.
Of the three riders who either primarily race Downhill or XC we found that two of them either agreed or strongly agreed to practice shuttles with the other rider remaining neutral. When it came to race shuttling and lift it was no surprise that the XC rider strongly disagreed to this with the Downhill riders either being neutral or strongly agreeing with this idea.
Enduro Racers are Still on Average Paid More than Downhill Racers
Just like our last State of the Sport survey, we will be releasing the full breakdown of riders' earnings in full, but we thought it is worth highlighting again that Enduro riders continue to be better compensated on average than fellow Downhill racers.
To protect each rider's anonymity we won't be breaking down these results to the point where anyone could be identified but we can share a few interesting statistics and comparisons. Firstly, while Enduro does seem to pay riders better on average there is a pay ceiling in the bracket of $100,000-$250,000 USD whereas Downhill sees two riders earning $250,000 and higher.
The most interesting details seem to come in at the lower end of the pay spectrum with 20% of Enduro riders in the lowest bracket of $0-$5,000 USD compared to a sizeable 43% of the Downhill riders.
It's troubling to see that despite Downhill receiving far more coverage and even live broadcasting so many more riders are struggling with zero or at best very little pay.
Whereas in Downhill it seems that riders are even earning the big bucks or struggling to get by Enduro seems to offer a far more secure source of income for most with 48% sitting at earnings between $20,000 and $100,000 USD. Only 29% of the Downhill field are making this level of income.
Other Comments from Enduro Racers