The mountain biking industry looks strong and healthy right now in 2021. The well-publicized bike boom
has boosted sales and revenues across the board and it looks like the trend may continue for a few more years.
But as endless positive outlooks grace the industry's pages, what's missing from the conversation is the state of the sport from the point of the professional athletes. Competition has been a part of the sport since its inception. Without a healthy competitive scene, it's certain that bikes would be worse and the sport would be a lot less interesting. These are the people on the bleeding edge of our sport, who push their bodies and bikes to the limits to earn their living.
So to gather a snapshot of the athletes' thoughts on the sport they compete in, we've surveyed the top riders in the sport en masse. Is it progressing in a way that they are comfortable with? Do they feel safe? Are they paid fairly for what they do? And are there any issues that are being overlooked?
We quizzed nearly 200 professional riders to create the Pinkbike State of the Sport Survey, to our knowledge the largest public snapshot ever taken of professional mountain biking in the history of the sport. Over the next few days, we'll be releasing the data from the surveys to help us all understand the current state of mountain bike racing.Who was surveyed?
We offered any rider that had finished in the top 40 of their discipline in the past two seasons the opportunity to take part in the survey. Some of those riders declined to be included and some were unable to respond in time but we have a broad range of riders from juniors to over 40s, from race winners to up and coming talents from every discipline.
Now, before you get excited about knowing Greg Minnaar's opinion on skinsuits or how much Isabeau Courdurier is paid, this survey was taken anonymously
. This also allowed riders to be as open and honest as possible in their responses, and gave us broader insights into the trends that affect the overall health of the sport.
Of the 197 riders who responded to the survey, 61% were male and 39% were female. The majority of riders were from Europe (62.4%) but there were also 45 North American riders, 23 from Oceania, 3 from Asia, 2 from South America and 1 from Africa. Most respondents either rode downhill or enduro as their primary cycling discipline, but there were 39 cross country racers and 21 slopestyle riders as well.Why did we do the survey?
We’ve drawn this up primarily because we love competition and we believe that having more information can only make the sport better for racers and the fans who enjoy it too. Without a broad, elevated view on the sport, we're unlikely to truly understand the issues that may be at play. Surveys such as this aren’t uncommon in other sports, and we hope that this one adds to the conversations to make the sport more transparent, equitable, and enjoyable for everyone.
The survey contained 7 sections all of which contained a variety of different questions. The areas we focussed on were:- Media and Filming
- Home Country Support
- Physical and Mental Health Support
- Opportunities and Equality
- Racing Regulations
- Women's Specific SectionLimitations
There are some clear limitations to this survey. First, by limiting it to top-40 riders there's a selection bias towards the highest-ranking riders. While these riders will generally have the biggest impact on the racing scene, it does ignore the swathes of racers that sit just below them in the rankings.
Second, it wasn't a mandatory survey, so it may skew towards respondents dissatisfied with the status quo.
Third, we are relying on riders being honest in the survey. The survey was taken anonymously and we have no way of knowing if the riders answered the questions with full honesty. That said, we have taken their responses in good faith.What's next?
Over the next few days we'll be releasing the results of the survey with deep dives into the most interesting results, followed by a data dump at the end of the week that will allow you to dig into the numbers for yourself.
This will be an annual project that will allow us to track changes year over year. This snapshot of the sport on its own has produced some interesting insights but regularly revisiting these same topics will allow us to track the evolution of the sport over time.