Only 8% of Downhill World Cup Riders Want Skinsuits to Return - Pinkbike's State of the Sport Survey

May 6, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  
Welcome to the 2021 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 in 2021. We invited any rider who had finished in the Top 40 overall of their chosen discipline in either of the previous two seasons in either XC, enduro, downhill, or slopestyle & freeride, as well as notable non-competition riders and highly ranked juniors. We then published them in full and publicly. To read the introduction to the survey click here, and to see all the other currently published SOTS articles click here.



photo

photo
Ben Cathro, the poster child for skinsuit success.

The Pinkbike survey has revealed that only 8.2% of World Cup downhill riders want skinsuits to return to the circuit.

The skinsuit ban first came into force in downhill racing in 2008 following the Fort William World Cup round where both Ben Cathro and Chris Hutchens of the Mojo Suspension racing team wore them to their best-ever World Cup results - 17th and 8th place respectively. There had always been an understanding between riders that moto-style downhill kit was better for the image of the sport than the performance gains that would be offered by more aerodynamic clothing however, what had previously been a gentlemen's agreement became formalized as UCI rule 4.3.011 ever since, "All lycra-elastane based tight-fitting clothing is not permitted."

While the "pinch an inch" standard has been spoken about since the inclusion of the rule, it doesn't seem to apply to the tailored race kits a lot of top riders race in nowadays and it rarely seems to be tested during races either. There are also an array of high-tech materials and stretchy composites that give riders a tight fit without breaking the "lycra-elastane" stipulation of the rules. As a result, race kits have been getting tighter and tighter in the 12 years since the rule was introduced.

But are riders ready for the full return of the skinsuit? Well, we've previously asked a number of key players about their thoughts on the skinsuit issue in a Burning Question, but we also wanted to know what the riders thought using our Pinkbike Survey. We asked the 83 World Cup downhill riders in the survey to respond to the statement, "Skinsuits should be allowed at World Cup level" and only 1 (1.37%) strongly agreed, 5 riders (6.85%) agreed, 20 riders (27.4%) answered neutrally, 22 riders (30.14%) disagreed but the largest cohort of 25 riders (34.25%) strongly disagreed.


So, while racing kits are getting tighter, riders aren't keen to sacrifice their style for the performance-enhancing benefits of a skin-tight suit. With everyone adhering to the same rules one way or the other, does it really matter what riders are wearing as long as the playing field is equal? Whatever the case, it's clear that the rules around clothing are unlikely to change anytime soon without the backing of the riders who wear it.

Author Info:
jamessmurthwaite avatar

Member since Nov 14, 2018
1,770 articles

140 Comments
  • 122 0
 Do skinny jeans count? Asking for a friend.
  • 234 13
 Why are people always asking for their friends? Tell them to get their own PB account smh
  • 11 144
flag imac965 (May 6, 2021 at 10:22) (Below Threshold)
 @imnotdanny: whoooooosh
  • 189 0
 @imac965: oh the irony
  • 13 0
 @pipomax: thank you for the chuckle your comment gave me
  • 49 0
 @pipomax: ahhhh I get it, still haven't had my coffee yet haha
  • 16 0
 @imac965: I was kinda wondering about that... whoosh back at ya?
  • 14 0
 @imnotdanny: yes haha that's fair
  • 2 1
 Yes! Yes they do. Been rocking stretchy jeans for years. Now a local trend.
  • 2 0
 @imnotdanny: I'm too embarrassed to tell anyone I own skinny jeans!
  • 1 0
 @racecase: I have skinny jeans lol. I'm a teenager though so maybe that's different?
  • 2 0
 @imnotdanny: what?no! that just made our chance of winning any pinkbike contest is even more slim.
  • 1 0
 @mnurhaqiem: ah yes I should have realized.
  • 1 0
 No I don't like wearing tight jeans. that is a terror to me
  • 93 2
 I understand not outing people on the questions about money, but the world needs to know who this 7.2% is that wants skin suits to return.
  • 73 1
 I'm looking at the french...
  • 9 0
 Agree. Not bothered who earns what... this is the important one
  • 28 1
 Skinsuits=sex. Sex sells.
  • 30 0
 @BigMulaCeazy: grrrrr Wink
And mustache mandatory (for both men and women)
  • 25 0
 @BigMulaCeazy: like what you see, big boy?
  • 10 1
 7.2% values freedom of expression.
  • 5 1
 @mi-bike: 7.2% seemingly like looking like a burst sausage haha
  • 4 0
 Time to re-watch old world cups and start counting who tucks on the flat sections, and who pedals
  • 5 2
 That 7.2% are the ones being honest. The rest are just trying save face by calling what they where as skinny jeans or tight pants. But who are they fooling. I say let them where what ever they damn well feel like wearing.
  • 1 0
 The 7.2% of the 100% of Dh riders that are wearing tailored clothes that are the closest thing to Lycra these already.
  • 73 1
 With the way some DH "pants" are going, we aren't far off from it being half skin suits. Looking at you Commencal-NOBL team....
  • 13 1
 Seriously lol, the riders are already having their kits tailored down to borderline skin tight
  • 4 0
 Overall skin suits incoming
  • 62 1
 If the pro's wear them then the fashion will trickle down to amateur beer league racers. This will mean your local bike park will be full of dudes who could lose 30 pounds wearing skin suits in the lift line. Nobody needs that!
  • 23 3
 speak for yourself
  • 27 0
 That look is what gets me going to Starbucks at 630 am. Nothing like seeing an old bulbous man smuggling grapes & sausage click clacking his way around in bike shoes.
  • 4 4
 That's how DH racing was in the 90's. Some fat guys wanted to look pro so they would squeeze into them. It was pretty gross.
  • 2 0
 We see lots of that round my way in the roadie community
  • 43 8
 If skin suits are in, I am out.
  • 35 1
 Congratulations!
  • 44 1
 Well if he's out, I'm out.
  • 14 0
 @alaskanjer: *shark tank voice* and for that reason, I’m out.
  • 4 0
 @alaskanjer: It's decided. If you're out then I'm out
  • 13 0
 Regardless of whether or not skin suits are in, I'm out. It looks really scary and I dont think I can go that fast
  • 16 0
 @Bobadeebob: I applaud the bravery of all of you that have chosen to come out in this way! #solidarity
  • 1 0
 @DaFreerider44: Well if you're out, I'm in.

Wait skinsuits? Nvm I'll stay out on this one.
  • 32 0
 Skinsuits make sense. Last place finisher gets turned into a skinsuit for the winner. It would be high-stakes racing at it's finest. We are talking about human skin here, right?
  • 15 0
 It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.
  • 27 5
 I absolutely love that not only are they an unpopular choice, they're actually prohibited. Take your kinky roadie gear elsewhere! Pink/white zebra pants and denim are condoned alternatives.
  • 12 1
 LOL first thing I thought of are Kaos’s outfits
  • 21 0
 Yeah like the average dirt jumper guy isn't wearing tights-pretenting-to-be-jeans over his pads.
  • 8 0
 @alexsin: right! DJ guys wear jeggings
  • 2 0
 @jrocksdh: It may be fashion, or the skinny jeans just keep certain appendages tucked up out the way of being pinched between the back wheel and saddle *winces*
  • 1 0
 @ROOTminus1: I agree. Totally makes sense for the application. I'm
Guessing if skinsuits looked like denim they'd be popular. As opposed to looking like wc ski suits.
  • 20 0
 How about we focus on making tracks where it's not an advantage to run skin suits? More tech, steeper, lower speed. The issue then kinda resolves itself. It's the same point with hand wringing about DH bike design going in weird places. Design trails that prioritise the equipment you want to see in the sport.
  • 5 1
 THANK. YOU. SO. MUCH. Bring back Oldschool slow and twisty tracks which reward control and maneuverability and not boring highspeed circuits which reward expensive realtime computer assisted components and variable suspension setup like boring F1 racing and also rewards high risk decisions at stupidly high speeds. Everything above 40kmh belongs to roadie to roadie territory
  • 1 1
 Unless you make the entire track low speed tech from start to finish (which no one wants), skin suits will always provide some advantage.
  • 1 1
 @sino428: >(which no one wants)
This is where you absolutely incredibly wrong, the fun comes from doing those tech sections at mach 1 like DH riders do.
Tech is arguably way better, which is why I follow the EWS and not the Union Cigarette Internationale's DH WC. Just look at leogang, I can see Yoann Barelli doing it in a gravel bike. www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9FNKJ8pHJQ, 1 whole minute out of 3 is just dedicated to a long high speed boring thing. I would vote to totally remove Leogang from DH WC, tracks like Maribor deserve to be WC venues, unlike Leogang.

EWS tracks are sacred holy places unlike DH tracks, several +6 minute runs, climbing and you encounter sections like this,
youtu.be/1rQ8LhisdNw
www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBc4R7TNlI8 (where do you see this in DH-WC??????)
EWS races are mtb races done RIGHT
  • 1 0
 @mrmm8900: I just raced a track that fit this description last weekend and can confirm, it’s not fun to race. The word “racing” implies fast. Slow/Difficult to ride does not make good racing. No one wants to watch a snail race.
  • 1 0
 @mrmm8900: so there is one bad track on the circuit? But that wasn’t even my point.

Most tracks, even the ones that everyone would consider to be the roughest, also have their fair share of wide open sections. They all have some jumps, or a fast straightaway, or some wide open section at the bottom, things like that. These are all places where a rider picks up speed and a skinsuit would matter. What do you want, the finish line to be a rock garden?
  • 1 0
 @sino428: I don't argue about the bottom section. Since its where almost all viewers are, and corporate *cough* redbull and uci * cough* wants spectators to see big jumps and small time differences to give the illusion of "tour de france" milliseconds experience. But 1/3 of the time racing, a straight section! whats the point? Just put on lycra and hop ona gravel bike, you can recover alot of time from that one rock garden you missed since you used a gravel bike. Leogang should stop being a DHWC venue.
Sure they have sections to allow riders to relax, but it shouldn't be a big chunk of the race. DH WC should do more "slow" tech like mont saint anne. Look at the Results, Leogang 2019 gives a 8.91 second difference between 1st place and 38th, Les Gets 9.6 seconds and Sacred Chunky Mont Saint Anne, 18.4 Seconds.
  • 1 0
 @HurricaneCycles: Perhaps you didn't ride it FAST enough to enjoy it?
ANd yes, those sections are being done fast. They aren't skinny types, just steep chunk loose tech.
It does, it increases time differences, showing and testing riders abilities rather than just riding as straight line. That kind of racing has a place but it's not DH
  • 1 0
 @mrmm8900: I really have no idea what you are taking about. Mont saint anne is not a ‘slow tech’ course at all. It has some of the most high speed sections of any course on the WC circuit, with a ton of wide open sections running down flat out down the ski trails.
  • 23 0
 Pb asking the real questions
  • 19 1
 Why would any riders actually want that? They don't give any real advantage when everyone is wearing them, and everyone just ends up looking ridiculous.
  • 2 0
 That was my exact thought. Why, why would anyone want it to be a thing?
  • 10 0
 Shaun Palmer would have been world champion if he'd worn a skin suit at Cairns.
  • 3 0
 Only because the rest did @iamamodel, but if the playing field is equal, which it mostly is now (at least amongst those chasing for podiums and points), what’s the point other than to drive to apparel brands out, damage budgets and make the riders look unrelatable to other mountain bikers?
  • 5 2
 @ollyforster: It's called racing - you go as fast as possible, not as fast as fashionable.
  • 1 0
 @iamamodel: but if everyone is wearing a skin suit no one gains an advantage from it. All it would do in lower everyone’s times proportionally. Not change the outcome of the race.
  • 1 0
 @sino428: like making F1 cars tow a boat?
  • 18 4
 No way this particular survey should be anonymous. Name and shame the 7%. There are no excuses to justify a return of skinsuits, even for those who've been diagnosed with with a serious gimp fetish.
  • 15 1
 We're not OK with skinsuits, but clown pants are a go? OK.

Skinsuits are fine, but let's never go back to no visors on helmets. Those were some dark days.
  • 8 0
 Someone needs to make a FF for Rogatkin that doesn't look absurd without a visor.
  • 11 0
 It would interesting to know which pros, specifically, were for/against it. FWIW -- air resistance increases exponentially with speed, so the benefits of less drag pay greater dividends to the fastest riders. Id be more keen to see the opinion of the top 10 finishers on the fastest courses. Wearing or not wearing a skinsuit (and anything that affects aerodynamics) would be a major deciding factor in who wins or loses when results are separated by seconds or fractions therein...
  • 15 1
 How about wear WTF you want? FREEDOM!

(Speedos FTW!)
  • 2 0
 I think speedos would actually be allowed
  • 12 1
 Kinda wish downhill had a "unlimited" class of sorts. Where it was much more open in the rules and bikes and rider could just get crazy with new ideas in making themselves the fastest possible
  • 6 0
 Totally agree! Get some manufacturers to make the wildest bikes strictly for racing. Think group B in Rally
  • 1 0
 Apart from electric motors, what currently prohibited bike tech is there that you would you like to see raced?
  • 9 0
 Yea yea but for some reason didn’t Sam Hill look so bad ass in a Aussie skin suite on a gold Sunday gong faster than humanity’s conception of possibility. *with a D3 helmet of course
  • 11 0
 you will wear the skinsuit you love the skinsuit
  • 13 0
 It's a holiday in Cambodia.
  • 13 2
 VANITY>results
  • 3 0
 well if every single rider was wearing a skinsuit it wouldn't yield better results vs everyone else. just lower avg lap times possibly
  • 10 1
 Thank you Shaun Palmer.
  • 1 0
 Mini Shred and Kidwell at Homewood
  • 7 0
 60% don't want skinsuit but 100% are wearing kit as tight as possible. Looks like everybody is already wearing skinsuit.
  • 2 0
 Skin suits... I mean tailored clothing, has been in for some time.

DH = Clips, Tailored clothing, firm setups, hard tyres, bike park racing...

or... Sam Hill

www.enduroworldseries.com/news/1517-sam-hill-not-to-contest-2020

Just messin with you, Dh was cool again last year when it rained, there was roots and riders were sliding down the track and Scotland won worlds.
  • 5 1
 Skinsuits no. Skin fulls yes. Make DH Party Again. Starting with Rob in the booth.
  • 1 0
 I concur, pass Warner the Special Brew!
  • 3 0
 @bencathro did you only wear it because a tailored suit would fit the noodle arms? We've heard you mention the lack of mtb gear cut for taller guys. Wink
  • 2 0
 I go full Lycra for Tri’s but don’t want to wreck downhill in Lycra. Big nope for me, but at the elite level? Let ‘em race naked if they want, racing is racing! Let’s go fast!
  • 3 0
 Well, i would strongly agree to allowing skin-suits as well. Not that i would ever wear one. I just think everyone should wear whatever they want to...
  • 1 0
 As said in the article, the current kit is getting closer and closer to a skin suit each season anyway because its faster. I accept they aren’t as close fitting as skin suits or have the benefit of the fabric surface that a full skin suit does. But it is clear from the details such as tucking the shirt in for the race run as flapping clothing is slower.
  • 1 0
 I don't imagine the pot-bellied whole of downhill racers are not too excited about any body-revealing clothing. Fats against lycra! The XC crowd, by nature, is fit enough to not look like the Micheln Man, but I might think this is as much about ones own self-awareness than function or technology. It's like the fat kid wanting to play shirts-n-skins at recess said by no one ever. Otherwise, who cares what a racer wears? I see dh'ers panicking and wondering if they will have to find a new hobby if the racer world goes where they cannot. Not intended to offend any chubby riders.
  • 3 0
 I thought Bruni's kit looked awfully skinny the past few seasons. But most top riders probably fly thru that grey air-ea...
  • 3 0
 How about pro line DH dungarees for ultimate coverage or kilts for unrestricted movement, patent pending.
  • 5 1
 Style over function.
  • 2 1
 Always!
  • 2 0
 What will the world champion wear? Filippo Ganna already rides in the rainbow skinsuit.
  • 1 0
 There are a lot of rainbow skinsuits...
  • 3 0
 8.22%. What's this 7% nonsense?
  • 3 0
 I dh naked. People seem surprised.
  • 3 0
 I want to wear a skin suit when I'm shopping at Walmart. Bright red.
  • 2 0
 Racing on highest Level...in Fort William are 7 seconds between Skinsuits and normal race gear, just in the open parts...
  • 1 0
 PSA: DON'T TELL PEOPLE ABOUT PINKBIKE, WE DON'T WANT OUR ODDS OF WINNING CONTESTS TO GO DOWN! IN FACT, DELETE YOUR FRIENDS' PB ACCOUNTS!

@mnurhaqiem happy now?
  • 1 0
 This wouldn't be an issue if WC-DH tracks were done for mountain biking and not for gravel bikes, UCI should take a glance et EWS tracks
  • 3 1
 Sam Hill entered the chat
  • 3 0
 Wearing shorts is the best skin suit! Half the resistance.
  • 1 0
 ProgressivePajamaShrinkingSyndrome is already signaling return to skin suits.
  • 1 0
 Finally the survey we 1. have all been looking forward to and 2. can all agree on! XD
  • 1 0
 It's a big deal, especially with how close the times are... www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ReDmvjailA
  • 1 0
 Not if everyone is wearing one.
  • 1 0
 @sino428: the haters can stay slow then
  • 3 1
 Girls in skinsuits: yes please
  • 2 2
 Falling in some long legged swimming trunks straight onto jagged slate. Yeah no thanks
  • 4 5
 The kit is that tight on the current World Cup riders they may as well wear skin suits. It currently looks awful, Choose baggy DH clothes or Skin suits.
  • 10 7
 Are you kidding? Elite athletes should be given a vehicle to show their physique. I would rather watch a buff athlete in a skinsuit than a skinny anorexic looking roadie in one, or anyone in those awful 90s pyjama DH suits flapping around in the wind like a flag in the wind.
  • 13 0
 OG baggy kits were sort of ugly too, something in the middle imo
  • 11 0
 @nvranka: I think what we have now is pretty spot on. Not too tight, and not terribly baggy (like you had to borrow your kit off a fat man because yours got lost)
  • 3 0
 There was that crash where the racer’s pants were so loose they slid down around his ankles...
  • 2 0
 @kingbike2:

Link?


Asking for a friend
  • 1 0
 @suspended-flesh: sorry, got confused, it was a snowboarding event or was it skateboarding....doesn’t matter those damn kids with their loose pants hanging off their butts look ridiculous.
  • 2 1
 @kingbike2: I went through a phase a couple of years ago when I was at the skatepark with my son. I would tell teenagers their trousers were falling down as if I was doing them a favour as they obviously hadn’t noticed!
  • 1 0
 @jaame: ya i agree
  • 1 0
 How was he able to race at that speed without goggles / glasses??
  • 2 1
 Name and shame the 7% hahahaha
  • 1 0
 I'll stick to riding with a t-shirt and jeans all day long
  • 2 0
 Stupid sexy Cathro!
  • 1 0
 Do onesies and (c)overalls count?
  • 3 2
 Full froth Tahnee or Myriam in a skin suit. [peach emoji]
  • 1 0
 Would danny hart wear tights?
  • 1 0
 What if I kidnap Bruni and wear his skin does that count?
  • 2 2
 for the record if skin suits come back I'm deleting pinkbike
  • 3 0
 It'll be renamed pinkskinsuit.com
  • 1 0
 #Riveting
  • 2 2
 Whoopee -- another answer to a question nobody asked.........
  • 4 5
 Is this men only? Women DH in full skinsuit does not look like a bad idea.
  • 1 0
 Probably the French
  • 1 1
 Slow news day...
Below threshold threads are hidden





Copyright © 2000 - 2023. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv42 0.065865
Mobile Version of Website