5 Key Stats From Downhill Racers in the Pinkbike State of the Sport Survey

Jan 24, 2023
by Henry Quinney  
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.



Downhill has had a strange couple of years. Whether it's the 29" wheeled bikes near dominance, smoother tracks followed by a lurch to more technically demanding courses, covid affected racing and double headers, French dominance, or moving on from Red Bull, it certainly hasn't been quiet. It feels like downhill is currently as good as, if not better, than ever.

The racing is close, the tracks arguably represent the style of riding most fans enjoy and the spectacle is hard to fault. That said, it doesn't mean everything is perfect in the world of downhill. Here's what we found out.

In our selection of responders that compete in UCI downhill World Cups, 15% are winners, and another 21% have scored podiums.

Downhill Cohort Details

Number of Riders Choosing Downhill as their Main Discipline: 41
Men/Women: 24/17
Number of World Cup Winners: 5
Top 5 Overall Finishers in 2022: 7
Home Continent:
South America - 1
Oceania - 7
North America - 8
Europe - 25

Ele Farina was edged just off the podium here in the Andorran dust.

There Are Still Plenty of Downhill Riders Who Barely Make Ends Meet

Although it might be sometimes called the Formula One of mountain biking, any similarities certainly don't translate to earnings. Much like the first survey, it makes quite grim reading to learn how much your favorite downhiller may well take home.

After the initial survey and the catchment criteria we used that spanned over two seasons, we wondered whether that had skewed the results. After the covid affected 2020 season, one could argue that there were some riders with a high ranking that may have struggled to achieve the same in other years. So for this survey, with only the overall finish in 2022 considered, we hoped to have a more condensed view of what a full-time athlete with a very high world ranking could expect to be paid.

43% of downhill riders earn less than $5,000 USD per year. If we remove juniors from the equation, 25% of elite riders surveyed fell into the same bracket. Enduro is still very much the cash cow of gravity racing and sees a greater number of riders in the higher wage brackets.

Downhill Rider Pay (in USD):
0-5,000: 43% (18 )
5,000-10,000: 12% (5)
10,000-20,000: 2% (1)
20,000-30,000: 7% (3)
30,000-40,000: 5% (2)
40,000-50,000: 5% (2)
50,000-100,000: 12% (5)
100,000-250,000: 7% (3)
250,000-500,000: 2% (1)
500,000+: 2% (1)

There is a further 12% of riders making between $5,000 and $10,000. It seems that in downhill the very best are well taken care of financially, with over 10% of our riders surveyed making over $100,000.

There might yet be the hope of financial security for riders though, with around 10% of those surveyed scoring a top five in the overall of their category, and around 12% making six figures, it may well be that they're the same riders and big results equal out to a big payday.

The crowd was huge until it got more huge as only a few riders remained at the top of the hill.

Riders Don't Want to See a Larger Field in Finals

In the 2021 survey, it transpired that irrespective of gender, riders wished to see more people make the cut into finals. In fact, in both questions, the largest share of the vote was increasing the men's field to between 60-80, and the females to 15-20 riders. However, it seems to be there is a trend moving away from this.

It should be noted that our catchment isn't so large for this survey so that may skew the data, but it's also worth noting that the fight in elite downhill field size has gone from fighting to increase it to 80 in the male category, to the very real fear it could be culled to 30. So, the conversation might have evolved on the subject since Discovery's announcement that it will be taking over the broadcast rights in 2023. It's also worth thinking about whether a top 20 rider would see any advantage to increasing the field size when the disadvantages are quite obvious. The fact that riders want to retain the status quo should be encouraging that it currently strikes a good balance between fairness, competitiveness and opportunity.

How many men should qualify for Elite World Cup finals?

2021
20 or fewer: 0
20-40: 4 (4.8%)
40-60: 4 (4.8%)
It should stay at 60: 29 (34.9%)
60-80: 44 (53%)
80+: 2 (2.4%)
2023
20 or fewer: 1 (2%)
20-40: 7 (14.3%)
40-60: 3 (6.1%)
It should stay at 60: 24 (49%)
60-80: 13 (26.5%)
80+: 1 (2%)

How many women should qualify for Elite World Cup finals? (all responses)

2021
10 or fewer: 2 (2.4%)
10-15: 10 (12%)
It should stay at 15: 16 (19.3%)
15-20: 37 (44.6%)
20+: 18 (21.7%)
2023
10 or fewer: 0
10-15: 7 (14.3%)
It should stay at 15: 18 (36.7%)
15-20: 17 (34.7%)
20+: 7 (14.3%)


Nina Hoffmann would squeeze into second by the smallest of margins.

30% of Racers Would Rather Race Their National Series

Part of the problem with wages in downhill can be traced back to a lack of smaller, well-established and prestigious feeder series. The problem is that for some riders hoping to turn their dream into a career, it doesn't make sense to try and score a top five in a national event when sponsors would probably be more impressed with a top 40 at a World Cup.

The problem with this is twofold. Firstly, the national series is starved of talent. This can become a vicious circle and eventually make a series seem less competitive or worthwhile for elite racers. It also means that there is a huge onus on riders to self-fund an expensive 8-stop world tour. Then, when teams do offer support, they can offer low wages or even just the promise of covering expenses.

The World Cup calendar is also exhaustive, especially when budgets are constrained. It's not hard to imagine a world where a smaller World Cup field size would enhance the level of competition among national racers, and it looks like some racers could also see the benefit. Around 30% of riders say that if their national series was better funded or more prestigious they would rather attend that than a World Cup race.

Around 80% of riders say they try to race their national series when it doesn't conflict with World Cup racing, and there are rumors of a less drawn-out calendar in coming years that will put a focus on short but intense legs of racing, rather than drip-feeding some times as little as six races over the course of nearly seven months. This could really help support grassroots racing.

Troy Brosnan was on one until a mid run spill took him out of contention.

70% of Riders Want More Variety of Tracks

After a covid-affected 2020 season that featured doubleheaders at the same venue, and only a small variation between the 2021 and 2022 seasons in the form of an extended North American leg and a different track in Andorra, the riders seem to be crying out for some new tracks. 70% don't feel that a venue should hold a race on the same largely unchanged track for years at a time. Sometimes, the most substantial variation is which track is the anointed World Championships venue.
A venue shouldn’t hold a race on the same, largely unchanged track, year after year
Strongly Agree: 17 (34.7%)
Agree: 17 (34.7%)
Neutral: 11 (22.4%)
Disagree: 3 (6.1%)
Strongly Disagree: 1 (2%)

The way venues for World Cup races are chosen is obviously more than just choosing a good track, it's also based on who wants to bid to host the race, but I think there is a genuine desire amongst riders to see more input from in regards to what they race on. In a multiple choice question, 55% said a significant hope they held with Discovery was that they would have more of a voice at races to have their input heard. That same thought was something that was clearly driving the downhill riders to unionize, and many were vocal about what they thought was inappropriate or dangerous track layouts over the course of the year, most notably in Andorra.

That s levitation homes.

The Racing is Considered Fair and Honest

There is some positive news to come out of the survey. Only 2% of racers think that racing isn't fair and honest. That's compared to around 15% in enduro and over 20% in slopestyle and freeride events. The fact that these riders feel their sporting competition has a lot of integrity is no small thing because that's not something every sport has - be it in cycling or beyond.


181 Comments

  • 222 9
 I'm fine paying to watch/stream downhill races if it means that racers are able to be paid more by said streaming service.
  • 77 1
 Will the streaming service pay them a dime?
  • 74 1
 @dkendy1: That's the dependency, If they said an x% of streaming revenue would go to the racers or the prize purse, I would be more inclined to pay for the streaming service.
  • 90 1
 Looking at the pay, I see five professional level pay, five potential professional pay, and the rest are amateur pay. I'm not describing skill here, I'm describing pay. Anyone making more than $50K and less than $100K/yr are up-coming pros. Anyone making more than $100K/yr are being paid as a pro. Anyone making less than $50k/yr need another job and aren't really getting paid as a racer.
  • 26 0
 @abzillah: Accurate statement. Competing in the pro class =/= being a professional athlete.
  • 26 2
 @abzillah: 7 top 5 dh riders in the survey and 5 people making over 100k. So you can be in the top 5 and stll make less than 100k.

Pure speculation, but the two making less than 100k are probably women.
  • 8 5
 @abzillah: I agree with your statement because it *feels* right.

I'll offer something as a matter of conversation: pro racers are paid according to their value, not according to their merit. Would I love to see all these super talented riders that I look up to get paid more? Sure. Are they bringing value to the brands that sponsor them and therefore warrant getting paid 100k+? That's a matter to be determined by the marketing department and the bean counters.

Thought experiment: the Olympic sport of Curling. Let's say a pro league is started--how much should those people be getting paid, right out of the gate, as professional athletes?
  • 17 0
 @mikealive: there kind of is a pro league for curling and they make about if not more than dh riders. At one of the top tournaments in Canada the winning team splits $100k with an equal purse for men’s and women.
  • 24 2
 @mikealive: if you can't afford to live off your salary you aren't being paid as a pro, there is no need for a thought experiment. There is also a huge difference between being sponsored and being a pro athlete. Young athletes are often taken advantage of due to them having less responsibilities and less perspective on what money they should be making. There is plenty of stoke until you turn 25 and your body isn't the same, the pay is worse and you have to make a serious career pivot.

If you make $4k as an accountant and have to work full-time at another job you aren't a professional accountant, and your firm sounds like a joke.
  • 10 0
 Lets also keep in mind these numbers are after apparently every single bike and 90% of the parts on earth were purchased and cycling had an impossible to eclipse 2 years of sales.
  • 12 38
flag chrismac70 (Jan 24, 2023 at 15:55) (Below Threshold)
 @abzillah: I would say anyone on 50k for riding 8 races is on good money
  • 23 0
 @chrismac70: Or if you say it '50k for anyone trading their every day, social life, and alternative career goals in exchange for training and development for mandatory intercontinental travel and athletic performance' it's not good money.
  • 35 1
 @chrismac70: it takes a whole year to race 8 races well.

These athletes don’t just sit at home on non race days making stupid comments on the internet, hence why you’re not amongst them.
  • 11 15
flag DBone95 (Jan 24, 2023 at 17:22) (Below Threshold)
 @chrismac70: Stupidest thing I've EVER seen typed in the comments section.... let that sink in.
  • 5 0
 @mikealive: At least an open bar tab in the lobby upstairs at the rink
  • 3 0
 Im not sure the market is big enough for pay per view to generate sufficient money without the cost being extortionate which in turn would kill the sport.
  • 5 8
 @bgoldstone: I can't tell if you're hanging up on it being literally Curling to take the piss orrr..? I was looking for something obscure as an example, but I forgot you guys are skating from birth, heh. Fine. Peruvian Pineapple Bowling then. Point is that this is a business transaction. It's entertainment. If there weren't people wanting to do Curling, and others wanting to watch it, there wouldn't be tickets sold to the event or ad space sold during the broadcast, and that sort of payout would not exist.

As an aside--you said "there kind of is a pro league".. so are they pro or not? Is it just a tournament that pays well? Or do these people do nothing other than play Curling for a living? I guess it's neither here nor there, point above stands. Unless the Curling tourneys in Canada are funded by taxes, then it remains a transactional affair.

@RonSauce you made a claim, but omitted any quantification--"if you can't afford to live off your salary you aren't being paid as a pro". So how much is that then exactly? There are many a politician that are fighting for $15/hr as 'a living wage', or roughly 30k/yr. So if a racer is pulling in 35k/yr, would you call them a pro? Or do their winnings need to cover their $3,500/mo rent and the $500/mo car payment in order for you to deem them a professional? Where do they get to live--Whistler, or BFE Arkansas somewhere? Can they have roommates, or does needing roommates mean that 'someone, somewhere needs to pay them more'?

Do you see why nebulous definitions don't really do your argument any good? It opens up a whole new conversation about what it means to be able 'to live'.

Probably getting off into the weeds more than necessary here. It's simple--this is a business transaction. It sucks, but that is the fact of the matter. If a company/brand doesn't deem an athlete as a value to their brand, there's no deal. If a company doesn't see a return on their partnership, but want to pay the athlete anyway, that is welfare. And if that's the case, you or any one else is welcome to pass the hat to make sure that those racers down there at the $5k earnings range get to keep showing up. Heck, I have $20 for the pot too.

Next thought experiment that you won't bother participating in--YOU own a company, and *I* get to tell you where and how you should spend your money, based on an arbitrary idea I have in my head.
  • 8 5
 @abzillah: i made significantly less than 50k up until last year and was easily able to sustain a living in a decent size german city.

Keep in mind these riders have their travel/bikes/hotels/food paid for for half a year. Dont need 50k to sustain a living this way
  • 7 1
 @waldo-jpg: The same argument caught my eye, considering the money people are making in Finland. Here, depending on the quick sources I found, if you make 50 000 - 65 000 USD a year you're already in the top ten percent income-wise and considered definitely well off. I'm not saying pro athletes should be paid minimal wages, but that in a lot of places $50 000 does get you a long way and definitely doesn't mean you need another job on the side. Comparing the yearly pay in a global "league" with riders living in different countries/ continents with wildly different income and expense structures isn't very informative in the end. (Also probably isn't easy to decide on team pay with riders from all over the globe, the same amount on paper buying you completely different things in practice.)
  • 5 0
 @no-good-ideas: I recon $50k a year plus expenses is good money. What else pays better for full time work? In the UK the average salary is about $40k and its $30k for the age range 20-30
  • 3 0
 Assuming paying for streaming goes into riders pockets, is like hitting the TIP button on the counter ipad at your favorite food place…that tip goes into corporates pockets, not the minimum wage worker.
  • 5 0
 Maybe Lewis Buchanan makes the most money this year, depending on what he shows on onlyfans...
  • 1 0
 What if they all started OF pages like Lewis B, would you support them all individually, or would you support your favourites. Or…..
  • 3 0
 @abzillah: the average income in the US for 2022 was $54k, I don’t think this is an unreasonable amount to be paid to professionally ride your bicycle.
Between 50-75k seems like a reasonable salary for this, assuming your employer is covering the cost of travel, housing while you travel, etc.
I recognize that some bring more to the table than others, and could be compensated more generously for that.

I think I’d rather see more, and more diverse athletes supported, rather than companies spending North of $100,000 to ride a bicycle.
It’s possible we have some wildly inflated concept of what entertainment should cost.

As far as being paid less that $50k, I think there’s room for that as well.
  • 132 4
 Wouldn't say 100k is well taken care of to be the very best in the world at a sport especially in comparison with many other sports, also considering the prize money for last weekends Ski World Cup DH in Kitzbühel was €100k for first place it also puts things in perspective a bit more.

And for those asking generally athletes in a team would have most costs covered whilst racing, so this income would be after costs. I hope a lot of juniors were part of this survey, otherwise its extremely sad
to see so many earning 0-5000. Lets hope we can get some good privateer awards going this season to help out those people.
  • 3 1
 So many earning 0-5k is sad indeed. @wynmasters, do you think they're all juniors or privateers? Do all factory riders get a minimum base salary above this number, or are they maybe even included in these appaling salary numbers?

And yes, agreed, 100k is not "well taken care of" considering risks are high and careers often short!
  • 8 26
flag chrismac70 (Jan 24, 2023 at 15:59) (Below Threshold)
 I would say 100k is very well taken care of. That’s nearly 4 times the average wage in the U.K. and puts them in the top 1% of earners.
  • 21 0
 @chrismac70: remember this is in USD. The average UK wage is 47,000 USD so nowhere near 4 times.
  • 26 0
 @wynnmasters, Skiing is mainstream sports in Austria and Switzerland. Go into a sports bar in winter during an event and they will probably have it showing on TV. I've never seen that with DH MTB. Has anyone compared the viewing statistics of Redbull TV MTB WCDH events to Ski WC?
Of course it's not much more or less work or danger whether you are on skis or on a bike throwing yourself down a hill. But as a professional athlete your value is derived from being a living billboard, it scales with the number of eyes you attract.
  • 19 2
 @wynmasters Always love your take on things. I agree that there is a long way to go for DH riders, and I would love to see them all be better paid. However, I do believe six-figures is well looked after - although granted that is a matter of opinion.

There were 9 juniors involved in this survey, with only one not in the 0-5000USD bracket.
  • 4 1
 @chrismac70: And they are in the top .00001% of the world at what they do. And their careers last 10-15 years. And they have a decent chunk of expenses.
  • 4 1
 @mi-bike: No there is no minimum base salary.
  • 25 2
 @henryquinney: Cheers mate you too. The way I look at is, any well qualified or high end job earns that amount or more with no health risk. Those jobs can be for a lifetime, an average DH riders career is most likely less than 10 years. And with the current inflation worldwide 100k isn't even enough to live comfortably in some of the big cities in world.
  • 7 1
 @ak-77: Yes mainstream in those countries, MTB is a sport followed globally now maybe not the same viewership but it would be quite solid I think. Skiing has the luxury aspect which brings many non endemic sponsorships I think this also helps on that side. Lets hope that discovery brings us to a new audience.

Agree with your point on being a living billboard, but if you compare social media following of MTB riders to Skiers its similar or in some cases more aside from a few.
  • 8 1
 @JBW450: Where is the 47k USD number from? From what I've been able to find, the UK average salary is c. 27k GBP, i.e. 34k USD. If we only take full-time jobs, it bumps up to 33k GBP or 40k USD. That was November '22. You're right that the "4 times" was exaggerated but so seems your number. I don't have an opinion if we should be comparing the full-time-only number here.

Regardless, I'd argue @chrismac70 point stands that 100k USD or 81k GBP would be a very good salary in the UK. It's not the 99th percentile, but it would be the 95th for 2019-2020 (haven't found the latest). Not bad for a niche sport that not a lot of people watch. Not football money but not exactly the same reach either. Anyone who says £81k is not great is living in a bubble and I recommend they look at the earnings percentile table. It's sobering and might even make you feel good about how high up there you are Wink
  • 4 0
 @wynmasters: Could the sport support a base salary, like in World Tour road cycling?
  • 7 4
 @bananowy: Thanks for bringing this up. Earning £80k+ (100k USD) puts someone in the top 5% of earners in the UK. And frankly DH racing is not all that valuable to society! Yes, we love it, and yes it's high risk, but if money is your sole objective as a professional athelete go and compete in a more mainstream sport, or be more entrepreneurial in attracting new sponsors. A MTB pro is a lifestyle choice. I wouldn't complain if I was getting free bikes, kit, travel, training camps, a lifestyle that revolves around bikes, and 50k USD salary on top.
  • 9 0
 @chakaping: Thats a tough question, maybe it could within a certain number of riders. But ideally we need more outside industry sponsors and hopefully this is something that comes soon with a potentially wider audience.
  • 1 0
 @wynmasters: Social media followers can be interesting for sponsors of course but those would be personal sponsors, prize money comes from a very different source. Also, the people following DH racers on social media will mostly be mountain bikers. To get the real money flowing you will have to get the general public interested. I hope for you that Discovery can do this indeed. If they decide to run the races on one of the general Eurosport channels which many people have in their cable packages that might happen.
Another opportunity to get more money to the sport is if it could go Olympic. That would attract a huge audience at least once, and it would get national federations on board with their resources. But that's not an easy process.
  • 6 1
 I totally agree. What's also lost in this conversation is the duration of maximum earnings potential of these athletes. Pencil pushers hit there max earning years in their 40-50's,and have plenty of earnings runway for the decades leading into and exiting their "professional prime". Mountain Bikers, even if they're insanely talented, can only stay at the top of the sport for only so long.

Folks can make the argument that mountain biking isn't THAT popular so this numbers make sense, I call BS. That's a convenient argument for those in control of the purse strings.... Without a doubt, riders will only get paid what they deserve if they can organize and collectively bargain for what they're due.
  • 2 0
 @JBW450: For the age range 20 - 30 which covers most of the racers then is £30k sterling which is around $37k USD
  • 1 0
 @wynmasters: I agree entirely about outside sponsors and a wider audience.
  • 1 0
 @chakaping: Most of the world tour teams have non cycling brands as their main sponsors. For most the bike company providing the bikes and kit arent even in the team name. They are way down the pecking order in terms of investment in the team and thats what provides the cash to pay riders more. The sponsors get value for money because the team races about 200 days a year most of which is televised, not 8 1 day DH races or to be charitable and say they are 2 day events. Road teams will send riders into breaks not because they expect the break to work, most fail, but because it will give their sponsors more TV time as the break gets more coverage. Can you see something like that working in DH
  • 3 0
 @CM999: I know how and why the minimum salary works for road cycling. The base salary is around 40k euros I believe.
I don't personally think DH could support that, but something like 15 or 20k might be achievable in the medium term.
Obviously there are some teams running on a real shoestring, and riders can have other jobs (not really the case for World Tour cyclists), but it'd be nice to think an influx of eyes and sponsorship in the coming years might see those shoestring budgets boosted a bit.
  • 6 0
 @ak-77: Personally I would prefer if DH stays away from the Olympics, it only benefits 1 or 2 riders per federation and does have some sponsorship limitations also. I don't see it being a big benefit to the sport.
  • 4 0
 @wynmasters: Outside industry sponsors... such as OnlyFans?
  • 3 0
 @pisgahgnar: Haha not quite what I was meaning but horses for courses
  • 2 0
 @wynmasters: I've seen this happening with rock (gym) climbing and it's not just about the 1 or 2 athletes that actually get to go to the Olympics. It's about the national olympic committee giving money to the federation to set up training programs for young talented kids, hiring coaches and letting them go on training camps. It's about national events gaining significance because they play a role in selecting who gets to go to the Olympics. It's about growing the sport and going a step beyond individual athletes as entrepeneurs.
But it's all a bit hypothetical. IOC doesn't want more cycling events. Once you have the velodrome, you might as well have 10 events there and sell tickets every day. Scrapping one of those events and instead having to find a high enough hill and build a venue there is a big ask for any organizing city. They would have to really really want DH on the ticket to justify that.
  • 6 0
 having you answering on this comments section speaks a ton about you, thank you for your love of the sport, your passion and your great videos, and hopefully you are the one on the commentators booth for next seasons
  • 1 0
 @ak-77: To be honest from what we have seen from a lot of the worlds national federations the less we have to do with them the better.
  • 2 0
 I think I agree and disagree with some of the points being made here. I dont think that alpine skiing is an apt comparison for where any MTB discipline is right now, and nor is the pay to competitors. The sport has been around europe for a full century longer, and the names people recognize, the venues, the records, the memories are often just about as old. That being said, the world is changing, you see many of these iconic venues very seriously trying to build the cache and notoriety they have had for winter sports around recreation opportunities, and big events during the other three seasons. They have to, winter is shorter, and less predictable.

My point is this, some of the notoriety that skiing events and athletes have build just comes with time, and there's not much we can do to push that along. AND, there is alot we can do to help build up the sport, help more people access and understand it, and build a real global market that reaches well beyond our small community. On that point, we totally agree. Also, I would say, I hate the idea of DH in the olympics, but if we are to take our ques from other sports then the dollars injected into youth development, regional racing or competition opportunities, sponsorship deals, etc is very real and should be considered very seriously. No one knows who Mikaela Shiffrin is because of the WC here in the US (less true in Europe certainly), its basically all because of the big, silly, frustration, and kind of dumb Olympics. Thanks for chiming in bud.
  • 2 0
 @wynmasters: I can understand that being a small addition to an already big federation (cycling) is different from a small federation suddenly becoming significant (rock climbing). Can anyone with inside knowledge of top level BMX racing comment on what being Olympic has done for (or against) that sport?
  • 1 0
 @ak-77: that's a great question, I also think that the exposure the Olympics bring to a sport and its resulting benefits have a lot to do with that sport's potential as a commercial venture. I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but most Olympic sports are only exciting because of the novelty and rarity of the Olympic games. Luge is awesome to watch, but only once every four years. That's not to say that all Olympic games are boring, but many are kept alive by the Olympics and dreams of glory.

I think you can make the argument that popular spectator sports which can consistently draw excitement and eyeballs don't need the Olympics and might be better off without them. Call my bias, but I think DH Mountain Biking especially, if properly televised/covered and supported, can have much bigger commercial appeal than it does now (there are pros and cons to this, I'm not trying to take a stance on this subject).

Locking one's hip with the IOC won't improve rider salaries, you can argue it hurts them. And while I do believe riders deserve a larger slice of the current pie, the main way they're going to get paid is by seeing the pie grow.
  • 2 0
 @jaytdubs: Yes indeed, I would put sports at the Olympics in three categories: 1 Nobody cares except if it's the Olympics, e.g. Archery, Luge. 2 Nobody cares it's the Olympics, e.g. Football, Tennis. 3 Some people care sometimes but the Olympics is the big one, e.g. track&field, swimming, ski. To be honest I don't think DH qualifies for cat 3 yet if it would be accepted.
As for growing pies, I checked the UCI accounts a couple of years back (they're public) and they were putting more money into MTB than getting out of it. Maybe the Discovery deal changed that? But who is actually making money out of DH racing?
  • 1 0
 @ak-77: Nice analysis, your information on the UCI's accounts seems to suggest that DH racing (at this point) is an advertising cost center for bike manufacturers looking to sell bikes to viewing eyeballs (which wouldn't be a surprise).
  • 30 5
 1 rider makes more than 100X more than 43% of riders. What????
  • 88 1
 1 rider's name is out there and spoken about 100x more than 43% of rider's names
  • 8 0
 until more money and viewers come into mountain biking it will probably stay the same.
  • 13 0
 This is similar to most professional sport. The vast majority of professional sports people don't actually play into top leagues far more play in a variety of second on third divisions, or regional leagues and are making less than a moderate professional salary or are only getting small match fee. You hear about the mega salaries but the are the 0.01% of professional sports people. Professional is different from saying it is a full time job/salary most of the field at a world cup will do other work on the side like coaching or working winters in order to save to race world cups.
  • 5 1
 Aaron who?
  • 3 0
 @danstonQ: Greg what?
  • 10 0
 @Neloz: Loic huh?
  • 1 1
 @Neloz: Greg did not participate in the survey.
  • 4 0
 It's proportional to value delivered to some extent. Having your bike/gear on a world cup podium, particularly on the top spot, is worth a lot. The best bike in the world - or at least good enough to podium at a World Cup is a powerful claim. Coming 25th doesn't deliver the same value. It's still worth something, but it's not a lot compared to being on the top of the podium.

Riders who are earning $0-5000 likely still get free bikes, free gear and all their travel and expenses paid for. To make it up into a full time salary you have to get a bit creative with a YouTube channel, Instagram, coaching, appearances, working with the brands on product development or whatever else you can do to make extra bread aside from just racing. People like Yoann Barelli, Wyn Masters, Bernard Kerr spring to mind. Not frequent podium guys at world cups - but still find ways to create a lot of value. If you're a 0-5000 guy those are the people to learn from
  • 20 1
 I love that you all are doing these surveys but the analysis is leaving a bit to be desired.

"It seems that in downhill the very best are well taken care of financially, with over 10% of our riders surveyed making over $100,000." ...that's a bit of a leap given it was only a whopping 5 people who responded that they make over $100,000.
  • 40 0
 Seriously. I know you all are not survey analysts, but seriously, Outside is a big place, there has to be someone who can design a decent survey and answer this question:
"10% of those surveyed scoring a top five in the overall of their category, and around 12% making six figures, it may well be that they're the same riders and big results equal out to a big payday."

WTF. Surveys can be anonymous, but for basic analysis, questions should be kept together so a survey can be adequately analyzed. I do this stuff for a living, if you want to hire me to 1. fix the damn survey so you get useful information, and 2. produce an analysis that makes sense, let me know.
  • 1 0
 @Km303: did you spot this gem? The ones who said the field should be 20-40 riders big also fit in the next bucket of 20-60 riders.
2021
20-40: 4 (4.8%)
20-60: 4 (4.8%)
2023
20-40: 7 (14.3%)
20-60: 3 (6.1%)
  • 16 1
 @mi-bike: That was a typo and I'll amend that now. Thanks for pointing it out.

Just for some context regarding the sample size - we sent out around 90 invitations for DH riders, which covered both male and female in both elite and junior. I know that 5 riders might seem laughable, but I don't think it should be totally discounted. Besides, it's currently the only data we have.

Absolutely not above admitting that I'm no survey analyst, and I try to take things on board. Thanks.
  • 5 0
 They should get Elliot Jackson to help. He made a really good DH world cup visualisation website a few years back (until the UCI changed everything and screwed it up!)
  • 3 2
 @henryquinney: Given that fewer than half of an already very small sample group responded, isn’t it a bit reckless to make any claims about these numbers representing the “state of the sport”?
  • 1 2
 @mi-bike: Jesus Christ this is bad. Did they all get concussions prior to MIPS and cant do basic analysis?
  • 3 2
 @henryquinney: PM me if you would like some survey and survey analysis pointers. Hell I'll even take a look at your survey for free bike parts!
  • 4 4
 The whole survey is a huge leap. 41 responses. That count themselves as DH riders. More than that make the broadcast section of the final. There is no way this gives any real representative answers. Only 5 have ever won a World Cup race ever. I would suggest that most of the those who have replied are not at the pointy end of the results and so the salaries are under representing the best
  • 3 3
 @henryquinney: I would suggest that the number of replies which is less than even make the broadcast cut of 1 race means your sample size is meaninglessly small to provide any results that prove anything.

I accept its all the data you have, and I accept your doing your best with what you have. I guess the real question is if the sport is as badly paid as is suggested then why more weren’t prepared to raise it as an issue with their anonymity protected?
  • 5 1
 @henryquinney: In Henry's defense, if you contacted 90 riders and 41 responded, that's something like 30% of the entire WC racing field being surveyed and a 15% response rate.

N=41 might sound low, but by contrast polling 30% of your population with N=15% of your population group is pretty darn good. In a perfect world, you'd be able to get 100 responses, but as Henry said there is no alternative data set. This is the best we have right now.
  • 19 1
 If professional racing disappeared we'd all still be buying mountain bikes. If plumbers disappeared we'd all be up shit creek. That's why some occupations are well paid and some aren't. Salary is based on revenue raised (professional sports) or demand (plumbers). There ain't no magical bucket of money.
  • 9 0
 This is the difference between spectator sports and sponsor driven sports. With spectator sports, like most big mainstream sports, the money comes directly from the money people pay to watch the athletes perform. Ticket sales, TV contracts, etc. The athletes and the games literally are the product being sold.

With sponsor driven sports like mountain biking there is no (or very little) direct revenue from people paying to watch. It all comes indirectly from companies selling their products by sponsoring riders. Athletes in this situation will always be operating with much less leverage than mainstream athletes who are the actual product being sold.
  • 16 3
 Let's hear what is total compensation i.e. contractual base pay + performance bonus, event winnings,bikes, gear, travel, etc. Doubtful anyone participating as a "pro" is actually truly compensated with only 0-$5000.
  • 5 0
 Right, who knows what each rider in/excludes from their salary figures. Safer to assume the top dollar people include all of it, but all we can do here is make assumptions.
  • 7 0
 Unfortunately you’re far too optimistic about what they earn. I’d imagine the figures they’ve given are total comp (friends with quite a few pros and had quite a few sponsorship deals when I was younger, companies will part with Kit but trying to get cash out of them is a major stretch)
  • 9 1
 Do you subtract your travel expenses from your own salary? Do you consider the materials provided for you to do your job as a bonus?

You can't eat a bike and you can't use stamps on your passport as a down payment.
  • 3 8
flag misterkslays (Jan 24, 2023 at 15:52) (Below Threshold)
 @RonSauce: Jobs that rely on travel are either provided a stipend to do so which I assume most surveyed get, are compensated at direct 1:1 rate for expenses, or compensated at agreed governmental rate if using their own vehicle. Yes, that is compensation and should be included when asked "what do you make?". Bikes/equipment can be sold after the season. This is done in motorsports routinely by people that get vehicles, parts, or gear deals as part of their contract. Reminder that no one is forced to race mountain bikes and companies are only willing to pay what they believe is fair value for what you provide. If you're not getting their products talked about, getting people to buy more or new products, or making people show up to an event don't expect to be compensated very well.
  • 5 1
 THIS! In Germany if i get things (like a job-car, free stuff, non monetary payments etc) it is added to my taxable income. Adding all travel expense, bikes (is a non monetary payment since they are allowed to use it privately usually), food, etc. together gets everyone up to decent amount of pay.

+ add Sponsorships, prize money, paid endorsements like Instagram posts etc.;
I dont want to know what the riders get paid in cash, i want to know what their taxable income is, safe to say no-one is surviving in 5k taxable income
  • 3 0
 @kleinschuster: Expenses really don't come into the question of 'what do you make'; I travel around for work and never would I, nor anyone else in the professional services industry include the value of those flights/hotels/trains/meals in the amount of money we make.

Otherwise you'd also have to look at the question of 'what do you spend', if they're spending £5K a year on flights to go to races and they are lucky enough to be reimbursed that money by sponsors/teams, then they haven't made any money at all which is why it isn't included, and if they weren't to take those flights then it's not like they'd get that £5K as cash

Also you're again too optimistic, I highly doubt everyone who got surveyed gets all of their travel/accommodation/etc paid for

A lot of these people at the lower end will be holding down other jobs, maybe part time or flexible ones, maybe even coaching/training jobs. Mountain biking really isn't anywhere near as lucrative or glamorous as you thing it is which is very unfortunate!
  • 2 3
 @Joebohobo: If you want to call travel expense reimbursement as fringe benefits and not income that is fine the IRS does so as well. But it is compensation, it is money or services the racer would not have without the sponsor and there is value for that. I stand by my original take that TOTAL compensation is definitely higher than 0-$5000 for anyone that would be recognized as a pro. PinkBike staff need to ask better questions in their surveys and there would be less confusion.
  • 5 0
 @kleinschuster: It's not regarded as compensation, you're misguided.

When jobs advertise the total compensation, it never includes expenses and the same applies here.

Let's play it a different way, if you're lucky enough to be on a full factory team where they pay for absolutely everything (flights, food, accom) whilst you're travelling for racing, then of course that money never touches you. Just because a racer not on that deal might be the one to pay for that and it gets reimbursed, doesn't mean it suddenly counts as compensation.

Expenses aren't compensation, it's a reimbursement. They aren't fringe benefits by any means, it's just expenses to carry out your required job/duty (travelling to races to go and race). Just because you might say the travel is cool, fun and enjoyable, it doesn't take away from the fact that it's a requirement of the job rather than a fringe benefit
  • 2 0
 I'm not really interested in gear or travel compensation, but I am curious of the breakdown of "pay". I wonder if all the riders in this survey have the same definition. Maybe some of them only answered with their contract base, some with race related income, and some with total pay (including media gigs, YouTube earnings, etc...)
  • 17 1
 huh I thought Red Bull gave you wings, not poverty.
  • 12 0
 15% of enduro and 20% of slope riders don’t feel events/competition is fair.

I’d like more detail on that please.
  • 10 0
 Doping and biased judging, respectively.
  • 7 0
 Slopestyle is judged so obviously that is / can be unfair. In Enduro trail knowledge is a huge bonus; some teams can scout out or do training camps?
  • 12 1
 but they get free bikes right?
  • 5 0
 And swag, and bro-deals...
  • 3 3
 @g-42: yeah... so how much is that? Easily 20 - 30 k a year extra
  • 5 0
 Not always. My son has a bike sponsor, at the end of the 2023 season we give the bike back to them. So we're techincally loaning it, not being given it. He's also given parts, shoes, pedal and other stuff, which are given, but the bike, that goes back
  • 1 0
 @weeksy59: End of the 2023 season?! What's the future like??
  • 4 0
 @gnarnaimo: from our perspective we're on the adventure of a lifetime, where next year I have no clue, we're just having fun and trying our best to race. Well him race, me be pit crew and riding buddy for 2 corners per trail.
This year at fort William for example he's racing and out there in practice with him is Bruni, Vergier, Brosnan, Greenland etc etc. It's honestly bonkers. Expensive, but bonkers.
  • 1 0
 @weeksy59: so you are spending money. This is actually interesting as well. I know fun cannot be translated into money. But let's say your son makes it to the pro that will make 5K a year, hopefully never serious injury and just loving it along the way. But how much would you need to spend untill he makes it? a few grand a year? What is expensive? 10k a year? More?
  • 7 0
 @valrock: hey @valrock , without getting crazy on the discussions, yes mate we're spending money, bloody tonnes of the stuff... I'd estimate currently even with the bike, support from DMR, TFTuned, Crank Bros, and of course Privateer Bikes and really really of course Katy Curd Coaching who's built this team my lad is in.... For info and a small plug for them, they're called the Privateer Young Guns, but anyway, enough.
The simple fact is, my lad won't make 'it' he's a bloody fabulous rider of course, but there's guys who are considerably quicker at his age.. See the Madison Saracen team of juniors last week, they've got some of the cream of the crop and whilst my lad can win a DH race (@weeksy08 on Insta) it's the lower classes of race, there's the kids like George Madley, Nathan De Vaux, Felix Griffiths who are the real up and coming. But you see riders come and go, maybe it's time, maybe it's money, maybe it's GIRLS !!! Who knows... but fast kids are there one year and the next they barely ride. Maybe the kids/parents burn out... I don't really know.

In the past 6 weeks i've bought a £17,000 van, put 2500 miles of fuel in it, a new DH bike and countless 'things'. I struggle to add it up, the figure would terrify me.

But we are honestly living the dream... His dream hopefully, my dream heck yes... Mrs Weeksy59s dream, i doubt it, she barely knows where we are lol.

Expensive bits... fuel, food, accomodation. Fort William will cost us approx £1500. Mostly on those three things..the accomodation is £600 for the weekend, then £300 in fuel, then add in tyres, bits, food, drink, entries... I mean people think "entries are £100", to be honest here, entries are the least of our worries financially Big Grin they are so small in this picture that the barely exist.

We've been given masses of help from the team and sponsors... but heck, it's still an expensive game.

One day though, to line up at a WC race, just for qualifying, just for 1 session, sitting in Les Gets with my lads name on the start board.. yeah, that's why we play this game mate... that's why.

(apologies, that was more than i planned on racing)
  • 1 0
 @weeksy59: Good parenting going on here! Kudos Smile
  • 1 0
 @weeksy59: this is worst than I thought ahahahaha. But yeah, you both loving it and the fact that you are ok with all of this even if he doesn't make pro is even better!!!

P.S. I thought accommodations only suck in NA... not sure what in UK is a VAN.... but VAN here can easily replace a hotel
  • 1 0
 @valrock: not in winter! Well it could but brrrrrr.
The great part is, I get to ride too, all the cool places, trails, fun, uplifts, I get that, so it's a win win.
  • 5 0
 In 2021 83 women voted. In 2023, 49 Voted. That's a 40% difference. So one could argue the side-by-side Percentages aren't tangible or 100% accurate of rider sentiment (among elite women). This is in regard to how many women should qualify.
  • 2 0
 Not only that, but if both genders vote on both genders’ questions and there’s not an even number of male and female respondents, the men’s responses will drive the answer to the women participation question.
Like others said, no one at PB will be accused of having studied statistics too intensely. Great effort in the asking tho.
  • 5 0
 This will never ever happen, but I think the best way for the UCI to save and grow professional mountain biking is to rotate the host country/continent each year. Keep all races in one area for a year, and then move on.

If riders are in Aus/NZ for the full 6-ish month season, then it dramatically cuts down on travel costs for teams/racers, and allows for great sponsorship opportunities for local businesses. Same for Canada, South America, Southern Alps, South-East Asia etc...

It's like a mini Olympics every year in terms of local hype, but less expensive to stage than the current regime, and also less expensive for the riders, teams, and the media covering it.
  • 1 0
 Not bad. It's not just the racers - the whole shebang of trucks and support and sponsors etc. would benefit.
  • 5 0
 You have to take this "survey" with a lump of salt. It means nothing unless all regular participants of the DH World Cup took part, and it must divided between Elite and Junior. I have a pretty good take on rider salaries and it's not as grim as shown, especially for a sport that is not YET mainstream like skiing (which is also a prizemoney based sport like tennis and golf as opposed to a salary based sport like ours). Simple fact is that our sport is currently paid for by the bike industry, spread thin over so many disciplines, where those with the best TV ratings like Road, get better salaries as teams get bigger sponsors outside of the industry. Increased TV exposure (Red Bull was great but not where we need to be), will give teams more opportunity to bring in bigger sponsors over time, and therefore llow them to pay the riders more, and/or employ more riders. Increased prize money is also needed, no doubt, but that is secondary to salary in our sport, and always will be.
  • 6 0
 Sometimes there's just not enough money. Look at Whistler during Crankworks, but then realize its free to stand there and watch.
  • 2 0
 And that's probably got a lot to do with it. The monetisation leaves a lot of money on the table. But we as consumers gotta be prepared to pay the price.
  • 2 0
 You think there is no money changing hands there? Crankworks is a volunteer show and nobody pays for any tickets or consessions during the event. Im willing to bet during crankworks Whistler sees a huge spike in revenue. There is nothing free about it.
  • 5 1
 I'm curious about the pay take-home. Is this what their contracts pay for ALL sponsorships or just their bike frame sponsorship? And are you factoring in whether or not they have to fund their travels and projects? If athlete A's contract from their frame company is 35,000, are we saying they make $35,000 or are we saying they make $5,000 because they still have to fund their living and some travel and media expenses?
  • 1 0
 I guess that comes down to does that athlete view it as "salary" or "budget" if they don't have travel etc covered as part of a factory deal?
  • 4 0
 I find it really odd that enduro supposedly pays more than DH, more people may buy enduro bikes but DH is the much better spectator sport and I'm sure has far more, and more viewed, coverage. For example, were I in the market for an enduro bike, Loic Bruni would have more influence on me buying a specialized than whoever specialized has racing enduro and I believe that that is Cube's logic with hiring Danny Hart, but perhaps trying to sell e-bikes rather than enduro bikes
  • 1 0
 It's a lot easier to ride and race enduro, so there's a lot more opportunity to sell relevant bikes based on what their race team are doing. If brands are effectively getting much better ROI then they'll put more money into that discipline.

I used to watch DH World Cups (not now they're pay-walled), but I'm never going to buy a DH bike. I watch the EWS coverage, and even the coverage isn't usually great I'm still likely to buy products people race in that simply because it's the same type of riding I do.

There's probably a lot more opportunity for clothing/apparel brands to make sales based on what DH riders are wearing, and non-endemic sponsors want to be associated with stuff that looks cool, and that's most likely what's keeping pay as high as it is in many ways.
  • 1 0
 I'm exactly that person too. I've never been in the market for a DH bike, but that's the stuff I watch - and which gets me interested in brands and bikes, even though they're not the exact ones I might be shopping. On the other hand, I've ridden - and owned - an enduro bike, but have zero interest watching enduro races be it streaming or locally. (I have no idea who maybe was riding for the brand in EWS at the time, but I definitely knew their DH riders.) For me it's purely a question of which race format I find more interesting to watch, even if as a participant I'm into something else. Then again I'm definitely not thinking I'd be riding anywhere near the level the EWS riders are if I had their bike, so that's less of a selling point for me - I'm more in the "easy sales" target audience, being impressed by a brand making quality bikes for discipline X and getting interested in what they might have available for my needs. So I understand the selling point with enduro, but agree there's big general bike sales in DH too.
  • 5 1
 Pinkbike comments: "The riders need to be paid more, they can barely survive on this wage"

Also Pinkbike comments: "If I have to pay to watch world cups next year I will not and never will, I just wont watch"

Obviously the pay to watch scheme does not guarantee the riders get paid more but if nobody pays to watch it certainly guarantees they dont ever get paid more.
  • 5 0
 The riders really should be eager to unionize. There should be a base salary for all riders. It's ridiculous to ask someone to race and risk life and limb and pay them dirt.
  • 4 2
 An athlete's salary is determined by the level of exposure they generate for their sponsors or the number of fans they draw, rather than the level of danger associated with their sport.
  • 3 0
 @bressti: Except it's not true for all discplines. I mean, it's always true for the top end but not for the bottom end. You don't even need to look beyond cycling. Pro roadies and CX racers have a minimum wage.
  • 2 1
 @bressti: Yes, but there should be a baseline where an athlete can make a minimum wage and then negotiate above that based on performance. Paying an athlete next to nothing is exploitative when the athlete is in the upper echelon of a sport just to be on a team.

Establishing base pay would create a healthier sport, provide athletes a way to hopefully be able to not work in the off season (aside from training) and/or save up a bit for the next period in their careers (given a typical racing career is short).
  • 1 0
 idk about base pay. There's only so much money to go around. If every rider in the top 80 or 60 or whatever gets a base pay then that effectively takes away money from the top riders who are getting paid a lot. Maybe that's fair, maybe not, idk to be honest. I just wanted to point out that there could be downsides for some riders if there was a minimum wage.
Edit: I mean only so much money form bike brands, not many non bike related sponsors at the moment.
  • 2 0
 @kcy4130: If its creates healthier competition it is better for the viewer and better for the top riders. Plus, who cares about the top riders when the majority of the riders are making next to nothing for our entertainment...?
  • 1 1
 they could always not race and go get a job. Nobody asked them to attempt their hobby as a means of employment. The people building the track should be getting paid triple what the athletes are. At least their work brings value to other people.
  • 1 0
 @luckynugget: From this study it seems like people building the track probably do get paid triple what the average racer makes.
  • 3 0
 If anyone needs a reminder (as I did) about why riders were pissed about Andorra, there was this stupid 90degree scaffolding turn/drop right at the finish line, that was precariously positioned so that many racers nearly missed the landing (I recall seeing a video where someone did and wrecked themselves, but I can't find it atm). See it here: youtu.be/UnBllXGgS70?t=180
  • 7 1
 I wonder how many economists with an engineering & BMX background are commenting on this article...
  • 13 0
 0-5,000
  • 8 2
 $5,000/yr... OMG how do they eat
  • 6 3
 I'm sure during season the travel and expenses along with getting them to and from races is taken care of. The $5,000 would be like their take home money so to speak.
  • 34 10
 Or health insurance? Oh wait...most developed countries don't have to worry about being financially ruined over health care bills. Damn socialists...
'Murica!
  • 3 4
 @whitedlite: I would say likely travel, food, and lodging are not covered and $5,000 is their pay in the form of a bike frame and some components. These racer don't really get actual money.
  • 5 0
 Offseason jobs
  • 6 1
 Aside from the very wide skills gap and the level they compete at, I think think most ‘professional’ racers are a lot more like us regular folk: they have a job outside of racing bikes and don’t get paid to do it.
  • 2 4
 That’s why I don’t believe the results of this survey or they are including weekend warriors who aren’t really pros
  • 3 1
 @Hayek: thats not a professional. The word professional is being thrown around. You really think you can call yourself a professional while not being paid? You're lying to yourself.

I was a sponsored athlete for years, I hated being asked if I was a professional. I always answered "no, but I got boxes of free shirts and parts and they pay my travel, but I need to make sure I have pto at my actual profession if I'm going to go compete". My income as an athlete... $0k/year from sponsors $30k at the grocery store. Not to mention when I got hurt my sponsors left me flapping in the wind and I didn't have enough pto at my job, so I lost that from too much time off as well. Much professional.
  • 2 0
 @RonSauce: yes friend, I’m clear on the definition of the noun and adjective ‘professional’ which is why it’s in quotes in my statement. So to restate what I already said: Most ‘professions’ athletes are just like us regular folk, and have a job (a profession, if you will) that pays the bills and they ride bikes a lot, just like many of us. They just ride at a higher level.
  • 7 0
 THANK YOU, HENRY!!
  • 2 0
 The money needs to come from world wide broadcast success like F1 and Moto GP. If Discovery can unlock that potential the money will flow to the riders from multiple sources. I pay to watch F1 and Moto GP. I'd pay for DH too. That's only part of the equation though.

Been an F1 fan watching live and on TV since 1967....but Netflix's "Drive to Survive" pushed it to new heights world wide.

DH can get to a better place, the ball is in Discovery's court. Red Bull plateaued. I hope Discovery succeeds, great for the riders, teams, and fans.

The top DH guys are incredible athletes. They 100% deserve more. They need world wide media exposure to get it.
  • 2 0
 Better safety measures for riders and increased pay across the board. As per other professional athletes, they're sacrificing their body for the sport and have a small earning window.
  • 1 0
 No questions on "rider bonus" with results/goals? (and maybe not just for getting a top 5 place?)
Be interesting to know if lower "wage" riders get good bonus compare to high paid riders?

And also how many riders did get/achieve the goals to get a bonus?
  • 1 0
 why will noone pay me more money to accomplish things that only benifit myself while a large group of people work around the clock to build and maintain a track, organize the race, first aid, logistics, ect. So that a bunch of human-copy and pastes can ride quickly down a trail. We need to be paid more. We will even give back to the community by letting people see pictures of us riding on social media. Society really benifits from us and we deserve to be paid more for doing our hobby as a job
  • 1 0
 DH is no different than any other sport in the sense that the top tier talent gets rich and those who should barely be there get virtually nothing in comparison to the top guys and gals. Its the same in snowboarding, ufc, boxing, football, soccer, baseball, golf, auto racing etc.
The local pro who gets lucky and qualifies for x games is going to get nothing in comparison to a Shaun White.
The local course pro on the golf course doesn't get Tiger woods money.
Why should the guy getting 58th place 15 seconds off the podium deserve to be paid big bucks?
They should be happy they have the opportunity to travel the world and test themselves against the best in the world, and if they are truly talented they will eventually make better money.
In the real world you earn what your skills command. Not making enough money, better up your skills.
If anything the problem with pay in DH is the top guys and gals should be making more not the people struggling to qualify.
  • 1 0
 Downhill racing is the Grand Prix of mountain biking racing and many are doing it out of passion and not to get rich. Also people need to appreciate how competitive it is, with only a few racers getting a decent pay and sponsorship, it’s not entirely a level playing field.
More exposure and $ would be nice!
  • 1 0
 A lot of people talking about the “Pro class”. I’ve always thought of it as the Elite class (aka your fast but might also be cheap)
In a capitalist, un-unionised, big supply sport racers are going to get what they can negotiate. If you have no results, eyeball time or serious future potential then in a negotiation you’ll have little bargaining power.
If all the riders formed a union and downed tools (racing, insta, YouTube etc) until a minimum salary structure was agreed then you would have bargaining power. However this would mean the riders actually earning striking for unknowns of the sport. Highly unlikely.
$0 to 5ks doing give up yet. 2023 could be your year! Better than sitting at a desk or on a construction site. It ain’t all about money.
  • 1 1
 "Riders Don't Want to See a Larger Field in Finals"
Discovery is cutting the mens field to 30 while the vast majority of riders state it should either stay at 60 or go up to 80. Similar results for the womens sadly already much smaller field

I feel that headline should have read "Riders Don't Want to See a Smaller Field in Finals"


"55% said a significant hope they held with Discovery was that they would have more of a voice at races to have their input heard."
This sentence also appears to have an oddly pro-discovery twist, that seems jarring in light of the controversy surrounding what they are doing to the sport.
  • 2 2
 Can we please PAY THESE RIDERS! It’s positively criminal that the vast majority of them can’t even buy a bike on what they make. C’mon I never once watched a race hoping to get a glimpse of a UCI exec, or a RedBull CFO! This is like the early days of baseball when the nickname of the Chicago White Sox was the “Black Sox” because they weren’t getting paid enough to do their laundry!
  • 1 0
 they could always get a job maybe
  • 1 1
 What was counted as salary. Is that all earning a ride gets from all sources or just their headline contract with the team. Clearly blue and silver drinks companies don’t pay well off this is all income
  • 3 1
 So the South African rider declined... Shame not having the voice of experience ...
  • 1 0
 So, does this mean I could potentially title sponsor an Elite DH racer for a season for less than $10k? A junior for less than $5K?
  • 1 0
 Wow people who ride a bicycle on dirt down a mountain aren't paid well? Wild considering they're the backbones of critical infrastructure
  • 14 16
 I will get downvoted to hell for this but:

These are hobbies and people should be happy they are getting any money to be doing it...you want to spend your youth riding your bike and racing, there are some sacrifices to be made. You are top 20 at this hobby in the world, great! Playing games for a living is a choice and the financial model is well known in most cases. Revenues generates wages and I don't see racing as a cash cow for many if any parties involved.
  • 3 11
flag RelapsedMandalorian (Jan 24, 2023 at 15:20) (Below Threshold)
 Why would you get downvoted for that hot take?

I mean, it's utter bollocks and stinks worse than a goth edgelords knee high Doc Martens, but thinking you'll be downvoted for it? Pinkers aren't that fickle...
  • 10 1
 This will get downvoted because these professional athletes are risking their wellbeing while businesses are making a profit from their risk. They should be fairly compensated, determined by at least a minimum wage in that country, and their medical costs covered. I try to profit from my employees, as any business owner does, but I compensate them fairly and am legally obligated to take care of them medically while they are working. I also offer health insurance so they are taken care of medically all the time.
  • 5 1
 @txcx166: Participants are not employees and in theory the UCI are a not for profit organisations organizing activities for said participants. Don't like the terms, don't participate.
  • 3 0
 @pink505: yes that is all true. I’m saying the current system sucks. Basic fair pay and medical coverage should be offered to professional athletes who are competing for money. I didn’t say everyone that shows up. Qualify for the event, get minimum pay and coverage. Hold points in the past 3 years or current year. Minimum pay and coverage. Rookie, you’re on your own until you Qualify. someone has to already has a reasonable plan out there. You get the idea. Your local pro at your local pro race is probably working somewhere else. I’m talking at the elite level and maybe it trickles down. The money for this has to be there.
  • 5 0
 @txcx166: I raced for many years. I got mid pack results. I can quite confidently say that nobody ever bought a bike because of me. I feel I should be paid because I chose to take up a sport with inherent risks and do it to the maximum of my ability, regardless of the fact that nobody was actually making money off me.

But obviously that isn't how the world works. Just because you're doing something, doesn't mean anyone else is obliged to pay you for it, especially when it's just a passion/hobby that benefits nobody else, and nobody ever asked you to do it.
  • 1 0
 @hg604: that’s right. I’m taking about riders that do get paid. Minimum wage and health coverage are basic minimums. You get that at Burger King. Elite series riders are making companies and sponsors money, you are not. That’s would be the difference in my scenario. It’s a pretty basic concept albeit a new concept. That is for non employees.
  • 2 0
 It’s a professional elite level sport. Many people are making money off of it. No athletes to compete? No sport. Elite level athlete should by UCI rules get paid a minimum of 100K a year. They’re risking life and limb dude. I guess you really couldn’t care less if Bruni, Hill, Masters, Holl or Nicole continue their hobby? You’re more interested in what the UCI execs had for breakfast?
  • 1 0
 @txcx166: I would argue that in fact most of the elite riders are not making their sponsors any money whatsoever. A tiny number of them - the men winning races - we can be pretty confident directly result in increased sales of their sponsors' bikes/parts (think Aaron Gwin 7 or 8 years back, or Sam Hill in his Iron Horse days). It's not at all clear that anybody who isn't ever getting on the (mens) podium is actually selling anything though. So... what revenue are they generating as an ROI for their sponsors? Very hard to tell, but maybe nothing at all.
  • 1 0
 How about that advent calendar?
  • 2 3
 ...Faaaaaack YEAAAAH WC DH RACING !!! (or, everything else bike suuuucks)
  • 1 0
 This guy gets it ^^
  • 3 5
 But wait wait wait, who is making $500k a year as a mountain biker?? That number is absolutely insane.
  • 3 0
 It's got to be a very short list of riders and then bike companies who can afford it. And that doesn't include Minnaar who was not included...
  • 14 0
 A few years ago I remember Gwin mentioning that he made about $1 Million per year. I'd guess that he is your answer.
  • 6 0
 you can't find a hockey player in the NHL that makes less
  • 2 0
 @Gibbsatron: But was that with Trek? I don't think Intense has anywhere near their budget.
  • 1 0
 I'll bet the answer begins with a G.
  • 10 0
 @ReformedRoadie: I doubt it has much to do with Intense' (or any current or former frame sponsor) paycheck. He owns part of, if not all of the Intense DH team. Gwin is a pretty savvy businessman outside of his own racing and he also knows the value of his own brand. He also plays a part in product development for most, if not all of his sponsors/companies he's involved with. The dude has mastered multiple income and revenue streams.
  • 3 2
 @Gibbsatron: I don’t think anyone would pay Gwin that much nowadays. Bruni?
  • 5 0
 Gwin said based on everything he had going on, including development of grips /tires /brakes/ clothing/ etc. I think he gets a percentage of what his name is on, and if it sells well then he gets paid well.
  • 4 1
 Just wait until you find out how much baseball players and golfers make...
  • 3 0
 Gwin said publically in a red bull video he made $1m in a single season combining frame and other deals combined. When he was on YT.
  • 2 0
 The NFL minimum salary is $710k annually. Probably similar risk and longevity. Obviously much more popular. I wonder what the %labor in the NFL is compared to MTB? Of sales/income that is.
  • 2 1
 @BigMulaCeazy: that's common knowledge. But baseball and golf are far more popular than professional cycling. There's way more money in those pastimes than there is in downhill racing.
  • 1 1
 I make close to that as a techbro and clock in around 250hours of riding per year according to Strava. Does that count?
  • 1 0
 lots of NHl players have 700-800k salaries
  • 2 0
 I would expect that Loic & Amaury are.
And I suspect Gwin & Greg may still be.
It'd be nice to think Myriam was, but that might be wishful thinking.
It's not THAT insane considering the pyramidal nature of the sport.
  • 2 0
 @Gibbsatron: you nailed it. Gwin is one of the best at structuring deals and monetising his image, brokering things etc. If you look on his LinkedIn profile, he focuses more on the millions of dollars of brokered deals than race results. Aaron Gwin the racer is the door opener for Aaron Gwin the businessman, and fair play to him. My opinion is we should be seeing more young riders learning about selling sponsorship, structuring their own deals, valuing themselves and maybe even looking for agents. If you look at football (soccer) academies, junior players spend classroom time learning this stuff. Professional MTB should be no different.





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