Opinion: How To Save Downhill Racing

Apr 16, 2014 at 12:12
by Amanda Batty  
In the last 10 years, a lot of speculation has been tossed around about the so-called 'death of downhill'. With the emergence of 'enduro' and the surge of popularity in slopestyle and freeride events such as Red Bull Rampage, its impending death seems even more frequently mentioned, alongside words like 'outdated,' 'expensive,' and 'extreme.'

Every day, industry sponsors drop downhill-specific athletes over budgetary concerns, companies cut funding for races and downhill events, the entire mountain biking industry seems to greatly shift in consciousness towards being more of an 'every man' sport. With this overall shift, downhill becomes more and more scarce. Entire series are scrapped for more 'all mountain' or 'enduro' races, downhill events are cut back in time, funding, promotion and marketing, and more and more symptoms of an ever-decreasing audience appear. Even the downhill athletes themselves have opted to migrate towards more moderate styles of competition, citing jobs and families and injury-free weekends.

It seems as though we've all forgotten one thing: downhill mountain biking never was and never will be an 'every man' sport. It's not an activity taken up by the masses in an effort to feel good and enjoy their lives. It will never, ever be that. Downhilling is dangerous. It's technical, it's scary, and it's wild and risky. Downhill bikes have 8 inches of full-suspension travel to mitigate the risk that such tomfoolery presents, and it's still dangerous. Now put that all on a timer, in a competition...you have downhill racing. And gravity racing is, with the exception of its deranged participants, a spectator sport. However, that isn't a bad thing.

Australian heckling at it s finest.

There are many extreme sports that garner billions of dollars a year on spectation alone. Snowboarding, skiing, motocross, surfing, skateboarding and even NASCAR are just a few of the ever-growing list. In the last seven years I've seen a distinct, noticeable change in what qualifies as a 'downhill race' event; not only have the trails changed to appeal to a wider, tamer demographic, but the promotional marketing and live or recorded broadcasts have been altered, too. In some cases, promotion has been a forgotten aspect, giving way to lackluster crowds and decreased profit.

So how do we save downhill, and create mountain biking as a mainstream sport? We monetize it. Monetize it? Yes. MONETIZE IT.

Instead of relying on disappearing participant fees and sponsor dollars to bear the fruit that defines an event's success, we need to create appeal to the general market of adrenaline sports, and get them to show up. To watch. I know, it sounds rather obvious, doesn't it? You would think so... But it's not. Increasingly, the downhill race events are dry. With the exception to a few select events and festivals, downhill racing is relatively boring for your average American consumer. Which is saying a LOT. The American consumer is someone who will not only want to watch stock cars make 500 left-hand turns, but someone who will pay for the privilege. In fact, American consumers shell out billions of dollars a year for entertainment alone. In that multi-billion dollar category, a few standout sports exist: Adrenaline sports (like the ones I suggested above), WWE wrestling, NASCAR, Ultimate Fighting... etc. And it pays big. REALLY big.

Not too many spots left for hecklers on the actual rock itself... Now the sprawl covers at least 5 acres of woodland. Strobel wades through the skin.

So what is downhill doing so wrong that we've missed the adrenaline sports market by so far? We have the intrigue. We have the adrenaline, the fear, the challenge, the death-defying and the timed-descent. We have crazy stunts and wild athletes. It's fun, it's easily broadcast (compared to other cycling disciplines [ahem, road cycling]), and it's something the entire family actually could watch. Every athlete is different. Every race course is different. It should be something that's widely accepted and loved across all of North America and the globe. But it isn't. Why? Because we've failed to engage the consumer. We've forgotten that while this may be a serious sport to most of us, to the spectator, it's entertainment. Can it be both? Absolutely.

As a racer, I understand the hesitation to 'sell out'. Believe me... The last thing I want is to have downhilling be made some sort of mainstream farce. But we live in a world of adaptation and survival, and downhill is dying in the age of mass appeal.

So how do we save downhill? We monetize it. We make it cool again. We look at its strengths, its weaknesses, and its uniqueness, and we market the shit out of it. We create something fun to watch, and we engage. We bring gravity racing and downhill and mountain biking into the homes of the everyday Joe. We show them just why DH racing is so fun, and why they need to buy a ticket to come watch it live.

When we can pull American audiences in because of the spectacle (and downhill is nothing if not a spectacle), then, and only then, will we have a financially sustainable sport.

The world wasn't ready for downhill in 1998 or 2002; extreme sports hadn't become a 'lifestyle' at that point. Hell, snowboarding was still a joke in '98, not even close to resembling what it is now: a multi-billion-dollar, mainstream, Olympic sport. However, the world is ready for downhill racing. It has been for a while now, but there's only one way to make it successful: we have to stop relying on the athletes and sponsors to create a cycling economy. That business model doesn't work.

We have to create a healthy, spectator sport to save gravity racing... But we'll have to do it together, and we have to do it soon.

It's time for a shift in another direction if we want to save downhill and downhill racing.


408 Comments

  • 133 5
 Great article Ambatt
The only additional thing i would note is its not just America its everywhere. I think the roadies and enduro guys would be up in arms with what i am going to say but downhill is just a harder and more difficult and in that as you said we have smaller numbers.

The big issue is coverage there is none, we have had worldcup races here in Australia but we get no wide coverage, unless you are in the circles you don't see it, when the roads are on though tv is filled with advertising and coverage of the race. downhill is hard, I think one of the things we need to do is to be able to film the entire run, even now with the redbull coverage we dont see the full run we miss most of it really, We need to really open up the ability to film, Now I am not suggesting we remove trees all over the place but there needs to be some way to make the racing more viewable. We need to get the coverage not just of the races but coverage that shows and dives into what downhill is to create that 'know' about it. When I tell people I ride downhill I think 90% of them have zero idea and thing its like xc riding down a hill. Nascar is a great example in that while few do it the rest are in the 'know'.

We need to appeal to the wider range and to do that we don't need to sell out after all our sport has all the makings of great viewing, we need to make it known though. Big weakness is the lack of exposure and respect the sport gets. we need to be able to film full race runs.

When sam and troy won elite mens and jnr mens world back in 2009 I think? There was zero on tv here, yes two aussies in arguably the hardest sport int he world win gold and you hear nothing. But an aussie golfer who made the top 70 cut gets a story.

Downhill for all intent and purposes should be a marketing dream as is but no one markets it. I think there is lots we can do before we need to sell out the sport.

Again great read
  • 36 2
 Thanks, @slidways!

You make a lot of good points about the marketing aspect, and I agree with you -- we need more marketing and more promotion, but more than that, we need ENGAGEMENT. As a sport, cyclists are generally elitist and snubby. We need to shed that reputation and embrace the change that comes with adaptation... We need to embrace the newbies and the mainstream and pull them in by showing them why we love bikes so much. We have to create a relationship with our audience before they'll embrace our sport.
  • 14 0
 Its interesting you mention the culture like that, for me and I would think all Australian riders the culture is very relaxed and completely accepting and not elitist or snobby at all. Its quite easy to just be mates in a few minutes of meeting at a trail. I do think though that road riding, xc and other disciplines definitely have that elitist snob factor about them. No idea why maybe the increased numbers and maybe the older age of participants, or maybe its just the characters dh appeals to.

The view and culture however of road riding and the like where snobby attitude is more common is an issue. We as downhill riders have little coverage, so people make an assumption by contrast that if these mass marketed disciplines like road riding are full of snobs than dh must be the same. We need to break out and make known who we are and what we do. For me I feel here our culture is great its our lack of marketing and acknowledgement that is the big killer I feel we have all the engagement we need on this end its just not known.

Maybe the culture is much different in the US?
  • 28 0
 After watching flowmountainbike.com/post-all/video-brandon-semenuks-rad-company-trailer

It occurred to me very short 30sec-1min clips show casing the best of downhill would be perfect for tv commercials, what better way to built hype than just flat out riding promoting the sport. How many of us are pumped after seeing a great short of riding. I could see the sport growing if people are seeing these things and saying what the hell that looks awesome I want to do it. its like any advertising for holidays or activities. Short quick no BS riding that grabs attention and makes people say, what was that, I want to see more.
  • 213 12
 I would like more boobs.
  • 22 0
 The same thing happens here in Canada. Stevie Smith won the overall last year, and there was not even a 15 second news snippet anywhere on TV mentioning this. Arguably this sport is more extreme than many when you couple the fact that they are givin' her at 60k average while dodging trees and shit. All we get bombarded with is mainstream sports, and as much as I do love hockey, I would much rather hop on my two wheels and send myself down a hill, unfortunately that isn't the case with many people around my area. I wouldn't even say the price of the sport is a problem considering buying used bikes is really not a problem at all, where as the price to put kids through hockey is much greater when everything from equipment to hotel rooms is factored in.
  • 6 0
 remember when Catherine Pendrel won the xc world champs a few years ago? There wasn't any coverage of that little race either
  • 12 0
 I agree that DH needs that viewer injection and to be put on a pedestal as a high paced, high action, high risk, high skill sport worthy of TV and spectator viewing. However, I think it is more likely to be successful as a televised sport than with track-side spectators.

I live in Whistler, have stood and heckled many Crankworx races, as well as travelling to World Champs and other races. I go for my love of the sport and to get in that prime gnar spot to watch my idols come through at scary pace, and to watch their skill and line choice. However, if you stand back for a moment, it is not a great sport to stand and watch, especially to start with until you know more about it and are a genuine fan. You see each rider, especially if in a tight section of track, for about 5 seconds, then you wait two or three minutes for the same again. For the whole time you're stood there - unless you are near the end and can hear the PA, or it's a major event and have live-timings on your smartphone - you have NO CLUE how good each rider is actually doing on their run overall, you can only judge the 5-seconds you saw.

When I went to MSA World Champs, I watched from the woods rock garden. Amazing. Great crowed, great racing, loved every second of it. However, I ran to the bottom of the track after the last rider went past and stood completely ignorant of the result and found out literally as Minnaar, Stevie, and Hill walked out and took their spots on the podium. No for me, that was amazing and added to the excitement, but how many Joe Public are realistically going to be turned on by that?
  • 12 0
 You could say this is the same as some other action sports, like downhill skiing, but how many people do you have lining the course? None. They're all freezing their nuts off standing around a big TV and scoreboard at the bottom drinking Glühwein. The big spectator sports are the ones where they're on laps, a la Nascar, or when you can see the whole course, like Slopestyle, Supercross, or a closed environment like wrestling and UFC.

The exception to this is road racing, and the TdF. People will get up at stupid o'clock in the morning to stand for hours just to watch that peloton pass. But there again is a difference, the peloton and caravan is a sight to behold and I'll admit to having stood out to see it myself.

How do we capture that audience? I don't know, but I'd like somebody to find out.

(message split as apparently too long)
  • 10 0
 Also, regarding local or national achievements; Britain had three World Champions in four years. How much coverage did that get? Not a whole lot. I believe when Peaty and Danny won, the country was hooked enough on cycling (but mostly road and track from the Olympics success) that they did get some mention and footage in our BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards. Apart from that? Basically nada.

How much attention is given to Cavendish, Wiggins, and now Froome? Endless. We need to capture that.
  • 3 0
 You guys should watch this episode of the 2013 DH WC where they explain why is virtually impossible to televised the whole race track...I use to complain about that too
  • 44 4
 I cant believe how boring road biking is
  • 5 3
 They could show the whole run but it would have to be delayed by at least a few hours or more There would be a hell of a lot of editing involved but it could happen
  • 7 0
 Part 1 of 2:
I think one element that people like in those other sports is simplicity. One of the major disadvantages that we have in this sport right now is that we are in the awkward late adolescence of the sport. We're still changing and evolving at a pretty fast rate. Moreso than a lot of other sports. In the 90's we were that emerging pubescent age of being in our early teens. Our balls have just dropped and we want do some cool shit but no one will take us seriously and we aren't big enough to carve our own niche. Technology was going through as many awkward changes as our bodies, with weird handlebars, frame designs and materials, dual suspension technology was just dropping on the market. In the early 2000's we were the raging 15/16 year old.This was when freeride was born, challenging the regime of the developing world of downhill racing. Technology was advancing in leaps and bounds, different gravity disciplines of the sport were still competing with downhilling, plus the rules and courses of downhilling were transforming from those flat wide open ballz out speed tracks of the 90's.
  • 7 0
 Part 2 of 2:
Come the 2010's, we've graduated university and we're developing a personality as a sport. Adult sports like motocross, road biking, skiing, etc. are starting to pay attention to us. Our athletes are getting the sort of attention some sponsored skiers or snowboarders would. But the problem is, we're not confident in ourselves yet. We're still going through "phases" of what we think is cool and who we are. Enduro and wheel size debates are some of those phases. We think it's cool, it's sophisticated in a way. Accessible to more people, but we make fun of it because we're unsure of ourselves as a sport. I think we're getting more stable. But like our late-to-post adolescent age in the sport, it's time for us to go out and get a job and earn some respect. For those of us in the crowd that have gone through this in life part of that is making a decision, going with it, sticking with it. Consistency for a spectator means simplicity, means something anyone can follow. It doesn't mean the sport won't still evolve, but it'll do so less sporadically and with a wider audience in mind. Goooo bikes!
  • 7 0
 Stevie Smith's DH overall win actually made the news (Global BC); at least in BC. Don't know about elsewhere in Canada.
  • 5 0
 Go Go B.C. and Stevie!!!
  • 5 0
 I don't think it is just about having cameras covering the entire run. Have a look at BMX. You can cover a BMX race with a single camera. BMX has guys fighting it out with crashes, jumps, speed, skill and gnarly overtaking, and a build up at the progress into the finals. On paper, BMX racing is a broadcaster's wet dream, but the public would prefer to watch monster trucks. Geez, I bet no-one remembers Todd Leduc when he was a DHer... or cared.
  • 21 1
 mtb racing,especially dh, is tiny. I always used to make the joke that pro bowling is probably way bigger of a draw than dh racing.... and how much of that do you see? The fact is, this is a small niche sport. Enjoy it for what it is, and don't look to the outside world for recognition because nobody cares.
  • 19 6
 DH Racing needs to become an Olympic sport!! It is time and ready.

Exposure: The Olympics can do a lot for a sport in terms of exposure and legitimization. I know there are a lot of dumb events in the Olympics but I believe it has done wonders for the Ski and Snowboard industries.

Entertainment: Also if they keep the tracks interesting that would help too...enough of the redundant flat pedal sections, maybe one at the most...put more jumps in spectators want to see people flying through the air.

Perception: If you want to be taken seriously then you have to act professionally...in order for the sport to grow and gain acceptance you have to ditch the whole goofy boy, drunk douche, punk image, yeah its funny but save it for when your riding with the hommies. When you're at a competition be professional and bring the A game.

p.s. I may get flamed for this but I don't think Rob Warner is doing much for the sport in terms of it being taken seriously. As entertaining as he is as an announcer his off track antics and announcing kinda hurt the sports reputation as professional athletes. I'm sure there are a lot of people who tune in and do not know who Rob is and are probably thinking who the hell is this joker, these fellas are a bunch of wanks. You don't hear his kind of remarks at other events such as Tour de France, DH Skiing, or NASCAR races. Something to think about.

p.p.s. I dont think DH needs saving or is dying. I see more and more bike parks opening and DH tracks being constructed. Quite honestly I see very few bike events on TV regardless of it being Enduro, Road or DH.

p.p.s. x 2 ...All as I know is DH is the most exciting race format to watch...It doesn't take an Einstein to figure that out.

p.p.s. x 3...Media just needs to do a better job of making DH biking more relateable to the average viewer. One way to do this is have a few pre race interviews with top riders, maybe talk about how they got started in the sport.
  • 10 2
 Are you trying to deliberately kill DH? Do we have to monetize everything in mt. Biking? It's expensive as it is cause of the manufacturers push for Enduro products in the market. DH might be a small market, but it's an important part of the sport. Most the current bike technologies are born out of DH. Mt. Biking was never about the money to begin with. It was about fun! That's why it'll never die!
  • 11 0
 '[S]top relying on the athletes and sponsors to create a cycling economy. That business model doesn't work.'

Anyone remember that dog macro with the garden hose spraying into its mouth and the caption "Whaaaarblegarble"?

Basic rule of marketing that everyone on the Internet (that means us) should understand: the user is not the customer. The user is the product. You use Gmail. Google sells your data to XYZ Inc. You read Pinkbike. PB sells your clicks to Chain Reaction Cycles. You watch DH. ABC Media sells your eyeballs to Red Bull. Get it? Spectators are the product. ABC Media sells your eyeballs to Red Bull, but not to Tide, not to Cheerios, not to Home Depot. Because those companies know DH spectators are a poor product. It's too small, it's not especially affluent, and the only buying habits common throughout have to do with cycling. Cheerios does not now and will not ever give one f*ck about DH spectators. Dh isn't going to suddenly get better. Riders like it just the way it is, and in fact you can hear a lot of wishing for the good old days (of more technical tracks, for example).

In DH the product is weak because while riding DH is thrilling, watching it is not, and never will be. Therefore few spectators. TV would be there if there was the faintest chance anyone wanted to watch; those crews are ready, all around the world.

DH happens on a strip of forested singletrack, from any one point something like maybe 4% of a rider's run can be seen before the rider is obscured by trees! It typically happens far from urban centers. Even relatively well-produced top 30 mens World Cup with 2 commentators and 5 camera angles is only enjoyable if you are following the story of the race, the riders, and cracking up to Rob Warner. What happens on screen is pretty much three corners, one drop, and a big digital clock. Then the next pajamaed guy repeats same.
  • 2 1
 I don't know if anyone has made this point, but the UCI actually limits the amount of cameras on a course. It's not that the don't have the technology or the time, at least at UCI DH events they can't have more cameras.
  • 26 1
 DH to an average person is boring, they don't understand how hard Val di Sole is, they just look at it and assume it's easy. The tdf doesn't have that, get an average person to ride 250km with five mountain passes is insane in their eyes yet they look at the steepness of Champery and think it's easy. Basically, people are idiots, how do we make this sport cater to idiots?
  • 3 0
 @finnrambo I was thinking the same thing, if the sport were to become popular it wouldn't hurt to have a really fast speed trap section in the race so people watching at home could quantify how fast the riders are going...'oh he was going 40 mph woohoo' and a measuring stick on a massive jump so people can see how high the riders are jumping and have something to compare them by. also more dangerous sh!t like jumping over ponds and crashes but that wouldn't help the riders so probably a bad idea.

@driveright mountain biking has always been expensive; enduro didn't make it expensive, it just made it slightly douchey.
  • 13 2
 I wanted to prop the boobs comment, but it was at 69...
  • 7 0
 You think that's bad,in the uk we've had the best ever in Steve peat and no one out side the sport really knows who he is or what he's achieved. We also have the athertons,again not known. Danny hart smashed the worlds and never made the news. Then we held the Olympics where we could have introduced dh as the host can enter a sport but we chose not to,sure we would have got a medal with all the riders we have,male and female. It could have been held at fort bill also,so the course would have been amazing for people's first taste.
  • 1 0
 About the TV coverage they say is not possible cause the tracks are too long (they use 25 km of cables) and also because each rider go in 3 minutes lapses and they take longer to ride the whole track so they don't want to miss the rider when is crossing the finish line while the other is still riding, according to the uc dh wc hafjell 2013 episode...
  • 3 1
 Creating fiscal viability typcially is a balance between the actual qualities of the product and the perceived emotional experience of the product. Yes, riding a bike fast down technical terrain is a lot of fun but realistically it is a difficult sport to disseminate to the masses. Kids can;t access DH bikes like they can access skateboards, scooters, or soccer balls. There are few affordable options. Even if there were, access to good tracks is a challenge for many. Similar to skiing. In many ways mountain biking is a privileged sport. As such there is likely not as huge a draw for those producing media to give space to mountain bikers. Sports that are exploding are accessible to all, look at free running, or skateboarding. Any one with running shoes or a skate deck can feel connected in some small way.
The bigger question is what are bikers looking for? It would be great to see athletes getting paid the same as motocross or skateboarding but the sports are so different in history and accessibility. Motocross is so easily filmed and captured. However, mountain bike technology continues to improve, trails are being built more prolifically than ever before, bike tourism is expanding and becoming more viable, as a whole mountain biking is advancing wonderfully. Maybe enduro is an answer in this regard as enduro tracks are more accessible to a broader market.
All that said, there is an exciting new crop of Junior riders getting more attention than ever remember junior riders getting. These guys are the future and if we already know about them than who says the sport is dying?
  • 2 0
 @ DeepintheForest......Dude.....what kind of weed are you tokin'? Haha.
  • 1 2
 RedBull has that multi rider dh format event coming up. That looks to be a good test event on where the discipline can evolve to. Rampage works for redbull so maybe this will help dh. They have quite the NWD line up participating. It'll be like speed & style down an A line type track.
  • 1 2
 4 lane DH is the future, 4x on steroids! To get the viewers and major mainstream setup/sponsor dollars, you need to have elimination and buildup to finals type racing to gather excitement along the way for TV/internet viewers and spectators etc.... Redbull are on the right wavelength. It needs the whole DH community to get behind and develop the business model properly from the start.
Perhaps UCI should re-invest a little to help, not only save DH - but help create something special and unique for the future!
Olympics only work with this type of competition.
  • 2 0
 dh skiing bobsled half pipe actually most the winter games are similar to dh, many summer games follow the same idea. I don't think we need an eliminator. Those sports are still popular even with a large field and a one run format. But what do they have that downhill doesn't...... coverage, acknowledgment and marketing. If we want to see dh take off we need to spread riders out and watch one run at a time with full coverage or give release intervals at 2mins and show both riders down the hill back and forth, Or better yet have two feeds. have one feed showing one and the other another rider, as one rider finishes the other can start coverage and continue. This allows us to do two things. 1.watch the rider we want. 2.Be able watch both feeds side by side. We will see full runs and wont need to wait 4 min between each rider. The format of downhill makes it very difficult to film and cover. Or we ditch live footage and watch at least 2min of each run with just the highlights and specific chosen sections keep it fast and engaging and get more than the current 20 seconds of each run.
  • 2 0
 @PabloMoll: Whilst the equipment necessary to cover an entire DH run top-to-bottom would be prolific, it is not impossible and cannot be the reason that they don't. Downhill ski tracks are WAY longer than the average DH track and they are covered top to bottom from multiple camera angles.

Yes, the timing overlap is an issue, but they could have a picture-in-picture for the rider starting out the gate while the main on-track rider finishes in the main screen. I have seen this approach in other sports and it works well.
  • 6 4
 Some good points although do not a agree that dh is harder than road or enduro (I'm not a roadie) Quite frankly I find it embarrassing that some if these dh guys are complaining about pedalling in a world championship bicycle race. It was nice to see Riders like Curtis Keene technically getting his VO2 max tested etc. If they are not fit enough to be able to pedal once in a while they need to train harder. As Gwin has said, they are just riding bikes. You don't see the roadies complain when cobbles are involved. This is not the sport it was in the 90s and I think the more modern riders and athletes we get through the better.
  • 7 0
 If DH is hard to cover well with cameras then Enduro is next to impossible , Dh is not dying in any form from what I can see , DH parks are opening loads in the UK right now , and NOTHING gets more comments or excitement when WC DH videos/results are posted.

IMO it's Enduro that is in danger of dying , people are starting to see it for what it is now , just a fad , forced on to the MTB market by the industry that has been there the whole time it just didn't have a modern name.

IMO Enduro is here to stay along side DH , it's jsut the media ( especially Pinkbike ) is force feeding this enduro stuff to us right now , trying to force the market , not that enduro is bad in anyway I just really dislike the whole " if you don't do enduro you are just out of touch and need a DH bike to ride a trail " attitude.
  • 3 0
 the logistics with dh is what makes it hard, open races like road and enduro have cars, have areas for cables, they can use helicopters. dh is mostly in covered bush land which makes it very hard to get cables up. It also makes it hard to have any form of filming over head and impossible for a car or motorbike. Wireless is not an option its not reliable enough and suffers interference more so when most dh take place in more remote locations.

I think people under estimate the cable use for cairns there were 3 lines to intermediate two, 2 lines to intermediate one and 1 line to the start, it was 4200m of cable all laid and carried by hand up and down the hill. It was standard cat5 cable. to use a heavy duty cable would be ridiculous and to have what 3 times the cameras would be a massive task not only time expensive but money. money is the big one, dh is not a big sport in the scheme of things so the UCI is not going to dump tonnes of cash into cameras if it yield no return.

@tombola27
A few cobbles are fine as are are a few sprints in downhill but recent races have seen large sprints. the sprints would be like putting in legitimate off road sections lasting 20% of the race in a road race. dh is already massively V02 max focused and we are not saying pedaling should be gone but in recent time its too much. if your road race had a off road dirt road put in lasting a large portion for the race im sure you would have the same complaints. most dh riders can put in hours on the road bike their fitness is not a worry. if you think a dh run is not fitness based you need to go to a proper track and push yourself, most the top dh riders will finish quite high in a national road or xc race.
  • 2 0
 No one gives a shit about DH but that doesn't mean it's going to die. People will always be into getting their rocks off blasting down hills. As long as someone makes bikes, someone will buy them. As long as there is a market, people will make them. Even if they don't, people will race downhill on rigid bikes like they used to. Stadium sports are popular because you can get upto 140000 people in the same place at the same time, in a city centre. You'll never do that with DH. BMX would be a better proposition. Also, people like to watch a race, not a time trial. It's more exciting. That's why I don't understand how 4x was allowed to die. It was a fast race, televised from top to bottom... much better recipe for TV success than a three mile long DH time trial through a forest in the middle of nowhere. The product as it stands is not marketable.
  • 13 0
 The problem I see with DH as a spectator sport, is that unless you actually ride its very difficult to appreciate what you are watching and understand what the rider is achieving. So in most cases, the vast majority or spectators, are nearly all riders. While this is still true for other extreme sports, they generally look a bit more impressive or have some wow factor about them. Yes going over the big jumps in DH is fairly impressive for anyone to watch, thats about it. The technical parts of tracks, roots, offcambers etc.. I just dont think a none rider would appreciate how difficult what the racers are doing is. Just my 2c.
  • 1 0
 No one i know, that likes DH, is going to waste free time watching TV. I wish theyd do more season retrospectives, like 3 minute gaps.
  • 2 0
 theres no way downhil/downhill racings gonna die..... it may not be as big as other sports but it will never die
  • 2 0
 i really like DH racing, i cannot thanks enough GESTEV from keeping a world cup event at mont ste anne and no more at bromont. Last year was amazing smith won at mont ste-anne lots of canadian pride. The good thing about DH is that the rider still ride for fun. before the world cup, stevie was at a small local hill near the devinci factory. i talked to him and saw him ride. At the end of the day, the photograph said no more picture not enough light and stevie respond let's go ride and have fun there's still time before darkness
  • 1 0
 The only way you are Ever really going to draw a lot of public interest into DH, or mountain biking for that matter, is to bring it into peoples homes in the form of Participation. The monetization and popularity and spectatorship will follow. DH and mountain biking in general as it is now is just not on a personal level with many people.
It's not the cost of a bicycle, it's not Red Bulls coverage, it's not the courses, it's not the insane skill required... It's the Participation and accessibility...
In all the successful sports and activities you can compare DH to, their growth and success has been in direct relation to their participation and accessibility.
The most similar sport you can use as a model to base DH off of is skiing/snowboarding. A Tiny percentage of skiers/boarders race or compete, but a Ton of people love to ski/board, or at least have a friend or someone in their family that does so. So you can identify with it on a much more personal level.
  • 5 0
 So, how do you make DH what you want it to be? You increase participation.
How do you do that? You make it accessible.
How do you make it accessible? At the ski resorts.
Build A LOT more bike parks, and have a huge stable of rental bikes. And have there be A LOT more beginner and family friendly terrain. Extend season passes to include summer bike park access, and Promote the shit out of it to skiers/boarders in the wintertime. The skier and boarders of the world will already be your most likely people to give mtn biking a shot. They like being outdoors, they like to go downhill, and they have varying levels of disposable income.
There are a TON of mom and pop little ski resorts throughout the entire US that would make perfect mom and pop family oriented DH Parks. You just need to be able to ride there without killing half your family on the terrain. And I mean ride with the Whole family. So the four year olds can cruise down easy groomed mellow BMX/pumptrack type runs with their mom and dad over and over again the same way you can on a pair of skis.
If Anything, I think DH has the greatest chance of bringing the sport to the masses because of the advantage a ski hill and lift access can provide to people of all ages and abilities. We just need to inject the sport with the ability-to-participate to a much larger audience.
  • 3 3
 OKAY. THESE WORLD CUP TRACKS ARE GARBAGE. If Ihe uci wants more people to watch, lets get some real tracks that are fun to watch....that way people will actually watch them. And it gets people stoked on downhilling. Its really that simple. Im sure this has been mentioned, but i dont have an hour to read all these comments.
  • 1 0
 I'm pretty sure the author will see this as hating but I doubt the general public will ever pay to watch DH. Even if the spectators that show up now will continue to do so when they have to pay for it, it's still nothing compared to other sports and I doubt you can make DH more attractive to non-riders.

Why? First off it's not exactly spectator friendly as you can only see one section of a 4-5 minutes course, meaning you have no idea of what is going on in a run or how a run stacks up to others. Also, due to the nature of the sport it's hard to find a suitable location that is near a city. Why would Joe Average bother driving for hours to see a DH race when he can go to a football match within half an hour?

Secondly, I think DH is too hard to understand for a non-rider. Everyone has kicked/thrown/swung at a ball or has driven a car but can you really expect the general public to understand how a course works? I notice most non-riders underestimate the importance of things like berms/flat corners/off camber or how to navigate a rockgarden, how weather can change a course. All of that is what tells a story that is interesting for us riders but I doubt this will translate well to others.
  • 4 0
 Because honestly i have more fun watching the old races in 240p. Ya its sad but true.
  • 1 2
 @kranked350z I second that notion......
All in favor of more boobs say I
  • 5 0
 @bonkywonky i dont think non-riders need to know how it works they need to be visually attracted to it by watching riders rip down hills and gettn loose. Do you think everybody who watches supercross is a rider? I guaruntee you that if tracks like shladming and maribor were back on the circuit, people would pay for it because its worth watching. I wouldnt watch pietermaritzburg for free.
  • 1 0
 One thing that would help would be to have more races that are televised as apposed to the 6 or 7 we get in the span of 4 months from the UCI. See most other sports have way more "races" so there is more chance that someone will actually see one and start to take interest.
  • 4 0
 trophy girls.
  • 2 0
 more free beers!
  • 1 0
 ^^Oh, ya, and that too
  • 1 0
 Long live downhill
  • 1 0
 downhilladdict - Ofcourse not but I do think a non-rider can relate more to a jump than to complex things like line choice through a rockgarden. The reason I'm saying this is that I've shown some Sam Hill video to others who just didn't see the brilliance in it but they do appreciate watching classic sports. I think this comes down to the fact a root section or rock garden isn't that spectacular to the untrained eye but riders can appreciate watching it because they know what it takes to ride stuff like that at a pace and therefor get excited by seeing it happen.
  • 3 0
 One thing I would like to point out is that every mountain biking and especially DH part is incredibly expensive. I can barely afford to participate in this sport, every penny I get goes into my bike. If the world is going to except this sport it needs to be much much cheaper. $5000 for a bike is insane let alone $10,000 for a V10. No average Joe would walk into a bike shop and drop 5 grand into a bike. In this economy I think a full DH bike should be a max 0f $1500. I understand that a bike cant be produced for $1500 and have the company still make a decent profit, and that's the problem. I think sadly that's why no one is getting into this sport.
  • 2 0
 I agree it needs more money but I do like small crowds. There is my conundrum.
  • 1 0
 HT only would make it a lot more accessible to the masses.
  • 37 1
 Don't worry, downhill is not "dying." The problem with monetizing it though, is that it will have the same issues as ski racing. I love to ski, and I love to downhill, but herein lies the problem. Why do people love nascar? why do people love road biking? because there are multiple people going head to head. I know there are bigger events where there are a lot of spectators, but in general, people like seeing two or more people race at the same time. It's a lot more fun to see three or four people duke it out at the end of a race like in nascar or road cycling, whereas with downhill it's all by time. You can have the best in the world fly by in 3 seconds, but there's nothing to compare it to. People love direct competition, and I think that is the huge issue with downhill "dying."
  • 4 0
 Good point. Rally is an event timed similarly to mtb. Is top level rally racing dying the same death?
  • 4 2
 Now how epic would a multiple person start downhill race be? DH domination anyone?
  • 3 0
 I know there's new discipline coming soon, where XC rider gotta jump tables and gaps and gnarly steep rockgarden.
  • 10 0
 There you go - mass-start DH racing.

For those of you old enough to get the reference, "WTF 'Chinese downhill'?"
  • 1 0
 @TomShark

Rallying has walked the plank and is hanging on to the edge by a finger.
  • 2 0
 chumba17, there's that RedBull event with multiple downhillers. If that hits the airwaves in some fashion it might garner some viewers.
  • 1 0
 Nascar is popular because it's mindlessly easy to watch and televise. And get drunk while doing so. Also it's promoted like crazy. Same with most of the larger Team Sports. You can congregate with the mob very easily, and part of the crowd, it's like the Borg, in a way.
  • 2 0
 I'm not sure I grasp the whole monetizing thing, but can't argue that there's tons in advertising/promotion. I don't think there's anything prohibitive in DH to keep it from becoming larger. Yeah, it's hard to spectate, not as many cameras on the course, but then the same goes for DH skiing. I don't think the logistics or the perceived difficulty is the problem. I believe it's promotion. My case in point: The UFC. It's very popular. But 4 years ago you couldn't find it on TV too much, until they took over the FUEL network. Someone put a HUGE marketing push in to the MMA, and it worked. I see 100x more "Tapout" decals and T-shirts than I do anything about DH. The marketing blitz they put out with UFC/MMA was insane. The only thing recently that, IMO, comes close, are presidential elections and politics. Am I the only one that noticed?
  • 2 0
 Also, IMO - Enduro stole the spark from DH. DH was on the rise, more and more people were trying it, and there are scads of people over 40 that either have been in to it, or are getting in to it - add that to the youngsters. But Enduro promises to be all tings to all riders, how to you fight that, along with the insane media push to 650b - they go hand in hand, and DH gets left in the dust. The push for Enduro over the last couple years *almost* rivals that of the UFC a few years back, only its been more confined to the core of the sport rather than peddled to the masses. I'm not saying Enduro is bad, but for downhill, it is. At least in a marketing/public relations sense.

We went from adrenaline junkies/redubll DH just about being in the limelight, to an "its riding for everybody" media blitz.

Redbull televising world cup DH is a great thing, I hope they don't tire of it and that it proves to be worth its salt for advertising. Rob Warner is a world class performer I think; he's able to tone it down and still have a ridiculous personality, even if it is sometimes polarizing. Also the guy that does the WC race course previews - golden. That is huge and I wish more people could be exposed to that. Add to that the alternative DH events, like the Urban DH series, and things like Chromolunga (sp? lol) challenge - exciting events, fun to watch, and if people watch, then there's certainly opportunity to advertise.

Okay, beginning to stray.. sorry.. interesting read so far though.
  • 1 0
 At this point, there are so many wild comments that addressing and responding to every single one is nearly impossible (and my brain my explode), but I want to reply to yours, JerryHazard. Smile

What we fight is... Nothing. We don't have to fight anything -- we build what we want to have and let everything else either thrive or die off as need be and as their business models dictate.

The entire point of writing this article/blog/opinion was to start a dialogue about what we need to create another downhill MTB resurgence.

As I stated in the original write up, DH was never meant to be an 'Everyman' sport... That's why XC, Enduro, Road racing, etc exists. We've strayed from any sort of spectator engagement type of interaction into this false advertisement of 'everyone should have one!'... When they shouldn't. Honestly? DH bikes aren't required for %85-90 of the world's trails and tracks. They simply aren't.

However. On the %10-15 of trails, courses and tracks that require a downhill bike's geometry, suspension, stability and speed, I can almost guarantee that the sane majority of humans simply wouldn't ride it. They would, however, watch it. And that's the clincher.
  • 7 2
 Nobody watches nascar because it's a 'collective competition' -- we watch 2500 left hand turns so we have an excuse to get drunk and watch expensive cars play bumper-rub at 200 miles an hour in the hopes that someone will flip, catch on fire or simply demolish their vehicle. Can we just be honest? Same with the Tour de France -- we watch that often uneventful, week-long circus because the picture of an entire section of the peloton careening wildly down a steep road is dangerous and exciting, and even more so when there's any chance that a flick of the handlebars will catch 100 riders in a messy, destructive, skin-tearing cog... Like some high speed, f*cked up version of Barrel of Monkeys. We watch it for ENTERTAINMENT... Humans crave that stuff. Remember gladiators? Bullfighting? Boxing? Croc hunters? The kardashians? (I'm kidding about that last one)

We love blood sport, folks... As an entire species, humans love watching dangerous stuff where someone might get messed up. Look at the success of America's Funniest Home Videos! It's the Marx brothers, modern style.

It's entertainment.

If we want DH to succeed, we have to stop with the insanity of doing the same things over and over and over again, while expecting different results.

We need better promotion, better coverage, more fun, more professionality, less 'Everyman' crap, more spectator and public ENGAGEMENT (not just marketing, folks!), better courses, and what else... Oh, yeah. And More beer. LOTS more beer. Wink
  • 2 0
 I didn't realize DH was dying, judging by the amount of DH race series that are going on on the east coast this year. When there are fewer DH races/series then I may believe that it is going to the wayside. Also one of the great things about the sport that I have ALWAYS noticed, is you can spectate for free at the track. How many other sports can say that?
  • 2 0
 Dh will never be mainstream as a consumer sport due to accessibility and ergo will never see big money as a pro sport. Period. End of story. All of the sports mentioned that have "made it" commercially are accessible to the masses, either in reality or in their dreams. Anyone can buy a road bike and pretend they're riding in the tour, get on the highway and pretend they're driving nascar, hell even skiing has become accessible and is seen to have substantially less risk involved than riding a bike down the same slope (no trees, rocks, roots, etc and remember that skiing was an elitist, small group of participants for decades before it became widely popular). Even skateboarding, which was the great underground sport for so long, can be done by anyone with $50 for a cheap board and some concrete or asphalt, likewise BMX. Successful marketing plays on consumers' aspirations… we don't spend time telling people they can do things they actually will do, or will be, or will look like… marketing sets forth an idea of achievement that a consumer can reasonably aspire to but not fully achieve (why do you think weight loss marketing is all focussed on success stories and a constant barrage of "you can do it too" messaging? It shows the result is achievable, even if the asterix beside the claim points out that only 1 in 100 actually achieve such results). Average Joe cannot and, in my opinion, will not ever be able to reasonably aspire to race DH.
  • 2 4
 I watch Nascar every week because I love watching the racing. Have never had a single drop of alcohol while watching it. Your points are all stupid and ignorant.
  • 3 1
 No, my points and replies are tongue-in-cheek and generalized. Since we're name calling, you are overly sensitive. Lighten up, Frances, it's the interweb after all...
  • 3 1
 I wonder why you think DH is 'dead'.

In Europe (that socialist country on the other side of the ocean) at least, we have more venues than ever, lots of good events and it's possible to get quite a nice sponsor deal if you have what it takes. Worldwide you can say the products are better than ever, at better prices than ever (think SLX/Zee, Saint performance for peanuts if you know where to look). We have a UCI cup that might not be to everyone's taste but at least has some nice tracks and coverage by Redbull/Warner.

Having ridden for over 12 years I think I'm in the position to say we actually have it better than ever..
  • 34 2
 Another member put it pretty well in the semi-recent Sea Otter DH photo article. I'll just quote them here.

"God, how many times did the author need to remind us that mid travel "enduro" bikes are cool and DH bikes are not."

In my mind, one of the largest current killers to DH would be some of the mainstream opinions of it. It's seen as a very serious sport, with hard training, hyper skilled athletes, and a near "no fun zone" mentality at times. This isn't the case in the real world. Your average rider goes out to the hills on the weekend with a few friends, races maybe once every three years just for the mob mentality of the even, and that's all. We're all goons at the end of the day, fishtailin' bikes around through mud. Large media needs to get off of enduro's dick and get back to representing anything that's fun. DH is fun. Represent DH, don't belittle it while trying to endorse something else.

And as a final note, I think the biggest issue is that at the end of the day, it's biking. This is a very harsh point, so inb4downprops, and sorry to anyone offended, but it's the truth. The average consumer sees it, looks at the price tag, and responds with "Wow I could buy a car for that!" There's just a huge disconnect between competitive cycling and your average every day spectator that won't even be riding an XC bike. MOST people see bikes as nothing more than a method of commuting, and sadly, there are also a lot of people who frankly feel biking gets in the way of technology and their cars. Bikes aren't considered cool. Bikes are too general and universal to be cool. Skating got a cool image by being rebelous and not very efficient for your every day dude, and in comparison, bikes just seem.... boring.

Cheers Amanda. Really enjoyed the read. I feel people being passionate can save DH. You're as passionate as they come. Thanks a lot for that.
  • 22 1
 "Large media needs to get off of enduro's dick and get back to representing anything that's fun. DH is fun. Represent DH, don't belittle it while trying to endorse something else."

THANK YOU!!!!!!
  • 5 0
 You're bang on, sherbet. Every time I try to get a friend into mountain biking, they're completely turned off by the cost of a bike. Sure, you can get a decent used ride for considerably cheaper, but you're still spending over $1000 bucks, and that much money gets you into any sport or hobby.
  • 4 0
 I think you are spot on about the costs. I have alot of friends who would love DH riding but are simply turned off by the cost. They see my DH bike in my garage and think its awesome then ask me how much it costs. When I say that my bike was around $5K they are immediately turned off. Even when I explain that they could get a real solid used bike, or a lower end build for around half that its still just too much. Its not something that people are going to buy unless they can ride enough to justify the cost, and lets be honest, at that cost, you need to ride alot. So that right there means that the 'casual' DH rider doesn't really exist in the way that you have casual skiers and snowboarders who may get out a handful of times a year.
  • 4 7
 Large media is "on enduro's dick"?

So when was the last time you saw enduro the headline in the sports section of a national paper or news broadcast?
  • 3 2
 Hey Sherbet, I think you're off the mark a bit. I think what this article is referring to is Competitive DH Racing as a sport and not recreational DH riding. There's a big difference, not saying you cant have fun doing both but the former requires a level of professionalism and dedication. The sport as a professional competitive race format will never be widely accepted with people clowning around on the hill. When I watch a race I want to see riders giving it their all and racing at the top of their game on a professional level...save the goofball crap for riding with the hommies when filming your video part.
  • 4 0
 I don't see Enduro on CNN or Fox, but you can't open a bike web page and not read an article about it. It's the "Sex" of the mountain bike world. Similar to magazine covers at the checkout counter when grocery shopping. Every magazine has some sort of allusion to SEX, most even use the word. So, for biking and biking media, that word is "Enduro".

I think it's great, I raced one, I think the format is cool, but I don't thing it does the DH scene any favors. At all. People used to feel that DH was the epitome difficult, balls out riding, and I think many people made it a bucket list item. Every year over the last 4 or 5 I saw more people get in to it, and surprising many of them were older people, and females.

Enduro came along, promised to be the everything everybody wanted to, offered some gravity fed trails over some tricky lines, and DH got pushed to the side. My 4 cents anyhow...
  • 2 3
 ^^ha ha that is completely ridiculous...99.8% of the world and 87.3% of mountain bikers don't give a rat's ass about enduro....seriously you're scared enduro is going to kill DH racing?

Why does every mountain biker live in fear?

In the skiing industry DH skiing is the most exciting event to watch...DH Mountain biking has the same potential, it will get there eventually with a bit more professionalism and exposure.
  • 3 0
 Who said anything about fear? Never said I was scared of anything. Or anyone. What's with all the fear stuff?

Enduro may not kill DH, but it definitely took a bite out of it.
  • 1 3
 If anything Enduro will help the sport, it bridges the gap between XC and DH. Besides Enduro is for washed up DH racers anyways.
  • 3 0
 I dunno if cost is the barrier.

Look at the moto scene, how many guys go drop 10g on a sled or quad, the price of road bikes…

But, as per my post above, I think it is a combination of cost and accessibility.

Reality is, majority of riders don't live near hills that justify a DH sled. The reward is too far out of reach to justify the cost.
  • 3 0
 Robwhynot, I agree with your points here on a combination of cost and accessibility.
Since i first began Mtn biking at age 13, I have Always been fascinated with DH. 19 years later, I have still never owned a DH bike, but am still incredibly intrigued and severely want to own one. I have never bought one because the opportunities to ride one are just too few and far between. Money isn't really the issue. It's not having enough money and time to own and to ride both a trail bike And a DH bike that's the problem. Without being able to Really ride a DH bike at least once every week, I cannot possibly justify owning one. The terrain is just not readily accessible for me to go ride. My trail bike is much more practical, and is already insanely capable on the descents. If the little ski resort 15 minutes from my house opened a legit DH park, then myself, and a lot of other riders around me would probably invest in a proper DH bike. And that's how you get more people into DH. You make rk available for them to participate. Exactly like a ski resort. Whenever you are talking about gravity sports, they will always be the most popular in towns and cities that have access to mountains and resorts in which the residents can participate in said gravity sport. No mountain=no awareness or participation.
  • 1 0
 Maybe the bike problem will go away as enduro and DH bikes cross-over i.e. you could quite easily dabble in a lot of DH tracks today using a decent enduro / all mountain bike and this gap will lessen as technology improves. The tracks are the biggest problem from where I see it, the nearest DH track to me is over 1hr away and it's not because there are suitable venues, just no-one building anything technical.
  • 19 0
 Downhill has the same problem rally car racing has. It's fairly expensive to film and produce in a timely manor. Most popular things can be watched in its entirety from one vantage point. Just change the camera angle to keep it fresh. The last wc is a prime example. The live feed was a bunch of people pedaling though peanut butter.. wooo.... On the other hand the few team videos that came after the race had lots of neat bits in them. I'd much rather a interesting recap than a boring live feed personally. Red Bull needs to mix the Earthed series and Rob Warner.. You'd have gold. And some finish line interviewers that are not horrid.. Watching 40 people ride the same line down a section isn't going to draw people in that aren't already there. You need lots of camera, lots of good angles and lots of time to pick all the good bits out and piece it together. None of that is cheap. And it pains me to say it, but most mountain bikers are lame asses. Technical trails get the least use and hard bits of trail get cheater lines around them. In all likely hood Dh resorts are going to be groomer runs like most resorts really are in the winter. And the true technical trails will be the back county skiing. I also have little interest in racing personally, I like going fast on technical stuff but really can't see the point in paying more to ride less for a weekend. But I do love to watch it! Seriously we need a new Earthed movie.
  • 5 0
 Totally need more Earthed movies! I agree it's essential to have lots of cameras, but just as important would be to have a director in the video booth that rides and appreciates the right things. Warner AND Tippie commentating might be an idea..
  • 2 0
 Your totally right. I usually have a friend or two watch with replay of the World Cup with me(to try and get them into dh) but with carins I didn't even bother. Same camera angles and little to no camera motion. At least leogang had tha sweet zip line camera on the open jumps part. If we could at least get a few different views that they could cycle through that would be nice, so it's not Starting gate, rock garden, steep hill, big jump, pedal, finish! Over and over.
  • 3 0
 It was amazing to see the difference from the RB coverage compared to Ratboy's GoPro. The feed made the track look boring at best, while Ratboy's footage was pretty gnarly. It was almost as if was two totally different tracks.
  • 2 2
 Seriously, as much as I love Warner and Tippy if you want the sport to be taken seriously and grow, they will have to tone it down...A LOT, at least when announcing/ commentating a broadcasted racing event.

From my experience watching other sporting events the level of professionalism that DH expresses is FAR below the mark...So either you keep it the way it is or you have to adapt in order to grow the sport...The days of goofy drunk boy DH riders are over at least at the competitive level.
  • 2 0
 Few if any announcers with a high level of professionalism could provide the entertainment value that Warner and TIppie bring.
  • 1 0
 I agree those two are awesome. But maybe they could add on some info and facts so that new viewers aren't left in the dark?
  • 25 4
 Downhill is dying?????

hahahahahha only on pinkbike!!! Every shit i see here is enduro blablabla... f*ck enduro, DH all day.
  • 5 0
 I like this guy.
  • 3 0
 I like this guy too Smile
  • 2 0
 Props given! Enduro is such a load of crap IMO, how riders lose points for parking in the wrong spot or not riding propey between stages etc, its an overly complex hipster sport xc riders believe they relate to... but don't in actuality!

Downhil's biggest problem seems to me to be motocross, spectators instantly make the comparison, even downhillers do - why would people want to watch a bunch of engineless bikes 'fumble down a hill' when you can watch the supercross!?... Dh needs to separate itself from that comparison, its a much more exciting and gripping timed sport that is incredible to watch
  • 13 0
 I want to see Gwin and Atherton on the Red Bull cans. I want to see Hill on the Monster commercials. Show him with his arms around the Monster girls after he wins, you get the idea. I've wondered for YEARS now why this isn't happening. A Downhill race only takes a few hours, play it on espn for god's sake instead of f#cking sports center! Hell even do a replay of it during the week when there are no games on or something. This really isn't rocket science and we could easily make this the talk of the dinner table for some families.
  • 12 0
 When I say I race DH, people ask me "bmx or moto?" PALM TO f*ckING FACE. Its not the media, its not the roadies, its us. SHARE videos, POST results and photos, and SHOW the world what we are about. Take your ANNOYING little neighbor kid out for a ride, bring your GIRLFRIEND and her friends to a race, ADD YOUR MOM on facebook and let her repost your podium pics and how proud of you (or ashamed) she is. MARKETING IS EVERYTHING. The biggest bike company makes most of its money on kids bikes and mommy cruisers. So let those kids and mommies know whats up.
  • 1 0
 I agree 100% half the people at my school don't even have the slightest idea of what DH MTB is.
  • 11 0
 A decent place to start is by looking at other successful sports that are similar. The most obvious being outdoor motocross and supercross. Similar risk similar stunts and intensity. Hack even some similar skills. Here are two motorcycle disciplins that have finally cracked into the mainstream spotlight here in the USA. Everything from network media coverege and clips and articles in prominent publications. They acheive this by engaging the spectator like mentioned above. Full day events with attractions and other activities to draw families in. Heck they even include pyrotechnics and scantily dressed women. Another very Important piece is that the entire race is viewable. This is huge! The last WC race coverage showed maybe 45 seconds of each run, 60 seconds at best. This will never cut it. With celular WiFi hot spotting and go pro's live WiFi connectivity alone, the coverage at most if not all races could be upscaled to 100% coverage. I myself can honestly say watching WC DH is a little dull. My riding interest alone is what pulls me through. Once a viewer with no prior interest can sit and watch the top ten riders navigate steeps and rock gardens, hit big airs and come within hundredths of a second of eachother. That is when dh racing will push forward and gain further momentum.
  • 5 0
 You gotta attract the redneck dollar. No discipline of cycling does that, only petrol (or ethanol) powered events can do it.
  • 2 1
 If Redbull were replaced by Budweiser... DH would have it made....
  • 1 0
 With the tracks being what they are right now why would anybody watch the whole way through? The tracks have to be worth watching before it goes on tv.
  • 10 0
 Downhill mountain biking should be in the X games and the olympics. I agree with everything this guy says. 99% the kids at my school dont even have the slightest idea of what it takes to ride a DH bike 30+ mph down a mountain as steep as most if not all the runs at their local ski resort. I had a laugh at the 500 lap left turn nascar joke. Smile
  • 4 0
 This gal*
  • 1 0
 Exactly this came to my mind while reading this. Getting downhill racing into the X-Games would be great for the sport.
  • 1 0
 I think DH is a hard sell in the x-games. If it can be done in a stadium, it can be in x-games. Remember when Rally first appeared in x-games? The first couple stages were out in the middle of nowhere. There was no hype and no crowds. More importantly, there was no opportunity for branding on that stage. A couple years later, Global Rally Cross wants to play and x-games promotion suddenly works.

Unfortunately for DH, it happens in the woods on mountains. X Games happens in the city where the people are. PLUS X Games is moving to Austin this year. Not a lot of opportunity (that I know of) for good DH there. I wonder how much elevation gain is possible in Austin. Maybe they can do Urban DH.

I think Olympics are the best shot. However, its only every 4 years and that's not enough to grow the sport imo.
  • 1 2
 DH should SO NOT be in the olympics. I don't know if you've noticed, but the olympics are all about limiting the variables in order to have the ultimate test in terms of pure athletic performance. It's why XCO is now pretty much like road riding on fireroads. Now, if DH came to the olympics, we would have perfectly groomed out fireroads, all the athletes should be running the same bikes with the same suspension setup. Way to kill progress in a sport.
  • 1 0
 I can see that in the Summer Olys, but the Winter Olys aren't like that. There's still a lot of different equipment choices amongst the athletes. That's more of the model I'm thinking of. I see DH as being similar to all those alpine skiing events. Down the mountain as fast as possible on the given course.
  • 1 0
 There is not much to choose from in skiing, only length, width and material. That is in no way comparable to the dozens of different linkage systems, which make a huge difference.
  • 1 0
 Yes I agree. One of my other sports I do is alpine skiing. Everybody has difference wax/tuning setups, different brands of skis, different stiffnesses (one layer of metal on the inside or two) and the courses are always different. Even if you were to put gates into the holes they used before for the course prior, it would still be a different course because the course before it would have put ruts into the course or berms; both of them aren't a good thing in a course. Otherwise I agree what jojotherider1977 said. Smile
  • 7 0
 Although it is extreme, I disagree that it has sufficient intrigue to work as a mass appeal sport. The problem in my opinion, is that unless you watch an entire season of downhill racing, you cannot follow specific racers. 5 minutes is too short a period for an audience to get to know and support a specific rider. In road cycling, the same cyclists battle it out for hours, in downhill, a rider is on course for less than 5 minutes, and then its just onto the next guy.
  • 1 0
 Similar to F1, but F1 thrives. And is hella expensive to watch too...
  • 1 0
 No, because F1 once again has the same drivers racing each other for an hour or two, they overtake, they crash into each other, there are clear strategies each car uses, this isnt the same as DH.
  • 6 0
 After the debacle that was the Cairns DH broadcast last weekend, part of the problem is no doubt that the actual great footage of the race only turns up a few days later. With Gopro type cameras providing quality footage, wifi, wireless systems, drones, cable cams and so on, surely we can have the whole course covered in real time, not just one small section in the middle and the sprint to the line. don't ride DH, but I love watching it. If the coverage get sorted out, maybe then people will start watching in greater numbers.
  • 1 0
 I have to disagree that the problem is lack of coverage of the course. BMX, as I pointed out elsewhere, can be covered with one camera and it is thrilling and has eight riders fighting for progression and yet mainstream media don't give a toss.
  • 2 0
 While good coverage doesn't ensure popularity, no sport can be a popular spectator sport without good coverage.
  • 7 2
 Enduro isn't going to replace downhill, just like the 29 isn't going to replace the 26. Those that downhill always will, not everybody has the ability or drive to throw themselves through the gauntlet is DH, so of course Enduro has a bigger market. Just because Gwin won using a modded enduro in Pietermaritzburg doesn't mean it will work on a gnarlier track like Val Di Sole or Champery. What makes downhill unique is the fact it's not mainstream, events aren't held in overcrowded stadiums.
  • 7 0
 I think you missed my point. It's not about being overrun by another discipline, it's about building downhill to be an attractive, sustainable and financially feasible sport to continue building. Right now, that's not an investment very many companies are making.
  • 12 2
 "What makes downhill unique is the fact it's not mainstream, events aren't held in overcrowded stadiums."

What's wrong with mainstream? This silly notion of keeping it niche is just that, I would love nothing more than seeing DH; in fact all MTB jockeying for airtime against the usual televised sports.
  • 3 0
 @DHmoose, I couldn't agree more. There's nothing wrong with mainstream, and having DH go mainstream doesn't necessarily mean the trails will be more crowded; acknowledging that half pipe snowboarding and massive slope style skiing were spectator sports only made them stronger. You don't see every Joe Schmoe going out and buying comp-specific ski and snowboard gear, yet they are indeed multi-billion dollar spectator sports built around many disciplines. MTB can be that, and it's a natural segue for outdoorsy people, as well as spectating consumers, especially with climate change and rising global temperatures. It's time we acknowledge DH's spectator appeal and monetize that, not try to keep it 'niche' and core. Money isn't evil, and bringing dollars in because of smart marketing and building DH to be profitable would only do the sport good by enabling more parks, trails and races.

Look at what it has done for skiing, surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, motocross and more. It's time to raise a collective awareness and stop being elitist bastards. Seriously. It happens too goddamn much.
  • 10 4
 Haha, neg propped. It's elitist douchbags that will kill this sport, not Enduro or any other sub-genre that grows in the future. Small minded asshats.
  • 2 1
 yeap
  • 3 0
 OK how much would it cost to have Rob Warner go topless....probably cost ya a couple of beers! YOU'RE WELCOME! I am soooo smrt !
  • 1 0
 More cameras recording the event. While the Redbull coverage is welcome, it needs more cameras. The woop section in Cairns wasn't even covered! You see the start of a run and then near the end. Seeing most, if not all of a run would help the coverage of the race.
  • 1 0
 I sent an e-mail to the editor of Pinkbike (im sure he's busy), and I proposed an idea for an article.
What if instead of (or in addition to) World Champs, there was "Downhill of Nations".
Motocross guys know all about the Des Nations and how it works. 3 riders from each nation representing.
New location every year. I think it would be killer to see each nation work together for one race and battle it out.

By the way, the states need more World Cup events.
  • 7 1
 I totally agree with you. But I dont care how many people race DH or even care about it. The only thing that matters to me is that I can race a dh bike if I want to on a proper dh course.
  • 9 2
 Ahhhh, yes. And there's the conundrum! With the death of DH racing, less and less true DH trails are being built and funded and 'true DH' trails are being turned into awful 'flow trails' built 10 feet wide. Competition is where the money for a sport is raised. To save DH, we must preserve the competitive, commercial aspect that is racing... That's who technology is built for, that's where it's tested, and that's what brings the dollars in -- the entertainment of spectators watching an organized event. It's unfortunate that it seems to be the only avenue, but that's the way it is. Smile
  • 2 1
 ahh they don't do that to trails in the uk. if they started to pave over our gnar/tech tracks with flowy motorways we would get pretty pissed off. I agree they are building more from scratch but it stops them dumbing down the good stuff. personally i think the self build scene is good enough by me to compensate so that i still have a pretty good choice. besides every round of the main races are fully booked within a week, so getting more mainstream here.
  • 3 0
 See here's your problem. You guys don't live in California. We have Big Bear and Mammoth. Plus tons of smaller clubs/organizations that do true DH racing on true DH courses. Plus the weather is great most of the time.Big Grin
  • 7 1
 But see, if Big Bear and Mammoth don't get increased traffic or host downhill events, they'll close -- operating costs are too high. My point isn't that downhill isn't growing... It's that it's not growing sustainably. A sport built on profits from particpant fees and sponsor dollars isn't a healthy sport, not without new customers. And at the price of a buy-in for downhill? Those customers are few and far between. My point is that actual downhill is, for the most part (outside of the core, ie Pinkbike members), a spectator sport. It always has been. Pretending that it's an 'Everyman' sport is only killing DH, and marketing a lie.
  • 2 1
 Exactly, it isn't an 'everyman' sport. Enduro is closer to something that almost anyone can participate in. Freeriding might rise again if DH goes bye bye.
  • 5 0
 DH isn't going 'bye bye', however... It's not going anywhere. Freeriding and racing are two very different things, and mountain biking needs both of those, regardless of what people might say.
  • 2 1
 IF it goes bye bye. While it is unlikely, it could happen. Anything is possible. Still highly unlikely though.
  • 2 2
 Good article. Funny how kids are going to these "downhill parks" when in reality they are simply technical XC trails, ridden on with a dh bike with a lift service. Your point is spot on. True dh trails would flourish--if a massive fan based followed it. I LOVE kids who think the Quarry Trail in Lil C is a dh trail. Cracks me up.
  • 4 0
 Great article, Amanda. I agree with what you are saying. Furthermore, your comment above about Mammoth or Big Bear dropping in visits and closing is only too true. Just look at what happened at Mt Washington on Vancouver Island last year. It's done, no more bikes. Nada. Yes, Coast Gravity Park will inject some more enthusiasm and accessibility in to the coastal BC area, but the closing of Washington should be a warning to us all.
  • 10 3
 ... bike parks build flow trails cause it appeals to a lot more people and it is also allot less prone to injuries.... If you want a ''proper'' DH track then just build it yourself in your backyard and stop bitching about flow trails. Also the proper DH track for you may be a pretty insane track for someone and a sidewalk to another... trails are trails, the ''proper'' is in your heads
  • 4 1
 Nascar, beer, ...Football, Beer...tour De france, Beer, ...stupid ass March madness, beer....
Since I never drank, I don't get it, but all these sports revolve around a deep social aspect (which I also don't get) until thats figured out, this may be moot.But I appreciate the thought process
  • 3 1
 Someone hit it on another thread in the comments. DH mountain biking needs to gain the respect of the a audience. Most people don't get how physically challenging the sport is. The first comment is usually that downhill riders are lazy since they just have to ride down, and then they say that it is not as hard core as dirt biking. Yet, Gee did a nice job in his race with David Knight to show that downhill courses are freakin' technical and physically challenging. Also, if you look at a lot of side-by-side replays of Gee and David Knight riding the same sections, the mountain bike flows so, so much more gracefully downhill than a dirt bike. One section in particular on a left hand turn at the bottom of a rocky section David Knight crushed through it with his dirt bike, but Gee skipped-skipped-floated-bore down into the berm of the turn. Elegance! You have the grace of a sport like snowboarding, but the added physicality of needing to pedal your ass off to get those extra seconds on the sections you can pedal, more variability than a sport like downhill skiing.
  • 2 0
 I ride mx too. I can't tell you the amount of people that think mx and supercross looks easy, cuz there's a motor.
Somebody in mx and dh needs to edit in GoPro footage into the next day broadcast.
And /or GoPro should figure out how to live stream footage to the booth.
it'll happen one day, but not soon enough
  • 3 1
 Scary, you hit the nail on the head brosef. All the things you mentioned sell (other than mountain biking) huge advertising campaigns and have big money lobbyist reps at the politician levels. We as MTB riders represent such a small cross section of sporting market that we don't generate the return of money spent marketing/hosting the event. Never mind that these athletes are training and sacrificing the same regimen as all other proffessionals at this level.
Side note - I'll beat the American drum and remind everybody that Aaron Gwin had the most successful season ever as DH competitor and was all but forgotten about. Same arguement with Stevie Smith. These guys are the pinnacle of our sport and need to be recognized.
  • 3 1
 I'll agree to that, but flow trails are still gay. And I don't like penisis in my butt.
  • 2 0
 tracer2, you make a good point about The Gwinner. Lance took it to the Euros in the TdF and became world famous. So we know now that domination by an American in DH isn't going to get the sport the following it deserves, yet it worked for road. I don't know what the answer is...
  • 1 0
 Model, you Aussies are a force and are only getting better. Guys like Cadel Evans are proving that Down Under has begun cycling dominance. I just wish that the same attention was paid to the MTB scene (where Cadel came from). Suck it popular media!!!!!
  • 2 0
 ....but flow trails are still gay. And I don't like penisis in my butt...... If that is your argument against flow trails, I think it proved my point...
  • 1 1
 How can you compare DH to road cycling.....like most mainstream sports, road cycling has a long and rich history (the spring classics, Tour De France, Giro etc. etc.) and can be related to by those who have ever ridden a bike on the road i.e. nearly everyone. DH could only become mainstream by making it more accessible to all and making it a true spectacle (better tracks, better coverage and more entertainment away from the track).
  • 1 0
 Yeah, sure. Like you could make dh more accessible by running races through city streets or something. Ridiculous. ..wait what?
  • 2 0
 Hmmm, let's review how insignificant downhill biking is. A company like Red Bull does not support an event that will not drive market share or exposure. I think it's safe to say that the Red Bull Rampage is the most extreme event that the brand supports across all sports. It's not a matter of comparing road vs mountain, it's more about appealing to a growing market share. DH is going nowhere but up. It's exciting and easy to watch. It will only get more popular with increased exposure.
  • 5 0
 I think it just needs more airtime, period. That's all there really is to it.

People don't "watch" it because there's nothing to really watch it on in comparison to other sports.
You have to be part of the whole scene and stay glued to your computer.
  • 5 0
 One of the most important points raised in this article is that downhill is trully an EXTREME sport and it should be marketed this way. Many people like to watch extreme sports because they show them things they can't do themselves. Hell I am an all-mountain rider and I love watching downhill. Why? Because the kind of crazy stuff these guys do on a bike is miles away from my comfort zone and my skill level. I believe downhill tracks should also focus on the "crazier" aspects of downhill. People love Val Di Sole because the track is really nuts. Bring on more crazy tracks, promote the sport and more and more people will be drawn to it.
  • 4 0
 OH MY GOD! Thank you.

Thank you for understanding the point of this piece. I can successfully sleep tonight.

(I'm kidding. I sleep like the dead every night.)
  • 2 0
 I agree. And this is why I think coverage of the technical sections is key. Unless you're really into the sport and follow the racers through the whole season, watching them pedal on a flat section isn't going to entertaining at all. And for those people who are really into it, they want to see the technical sections too.
  • 5 0
 I love downhill,but downhill bike racing just isn't accessible to a lot of people. You can build a football field anywhere. All you need is a ball and you can play. Same goes for basketball, baseball and rugby. But I'd go as far as to say most people don't have easy access to decent downhill tracks - and of those people who do, how many of them have the money to pay for a DH bike and all the gear? And of those people how many actually have the nuts for riding downhill?

You've already only got a tiny percentage of the population - and a segment of that small group are probably already heavily involved in other sports. It just isn't accessible for a lot of people. I think downhill will grow as a sport, but I think it will remain a cult sport with a relatively small but loyal following - much like surfing, skateboarding and BMX.

I have to say though, whenever I've shown people videos of Rampage they almost always watch the whole thing jaws dropped. I think people find freestyle a lot more impressive than watching cut and shut segments of race runs.
  • 2 0
 Sure, but not apples to apples. How many people that are football FANS, actually go out to a field and PLAY, compared to how many riders are fans of the sport, and actually participate in the sport. Contemporary sports have it made because they have fans hooked on mob mentality and beer. Not necessarily complaining, tailgating is a blast Smile
  • 5 0
 the dudes i meet on freeride lines are the same type dudes you used to meet skating 20 years ago... except i'm 32 now instead of 12 when we were catching the subway into the city without our parents knowing, friends sneaking cigarettes, running from cops for loitering and trespassing, etc etc... its still the same to me as it ever was as a teen, just a different thing with different kinds of wheels on it. freeride will save the downhill community, and dudes like Aggy, Lacondeguy, Sorge, Doerfling, Makken, Kenny Smith, etc etc... all the dudes just having a blast a fucking around, cracking jokes, getting wild, pushing the limits of being the sickest dude out there for the fuck of it, not giving a fuck about competitions... good times and hanging out is what will keep that alive. too much structure goes against the core principles behind flinging yourself off a cliff on a bicycle, fighting against the natural way of things... and even with that being said... WC downhill is still awesome as shit to watch. however you can get it. if snowboarding can do it, mtb'ing can do it.
  • 5 0
 i mostly go XC biking because

-i can go to the trails with my bike
-i can ride 90 minutes after the job
-no lift ticket

i like DH biking and would love to ride more often but
-i have to drive 60 minutes to Mont ste-anne
-it's 45$
-Bromont is 2:30
-we don't have hills with shuttle access in the east coast
-highland is 6 hour drive
got three kids and a wife !
  • 4 0
 @ambatt i really want to understand what you are trying to say... what exactly does it mean to monetize the sport?

i also ready this:

"A sport built on profits from participant fees and sponsor dollars isn't a healthy sport, not without new customers" which, if i understand you right, i generally agree with when it comes to participation sports where we can sometimes see a "bubble" that pops...i dont know how many zany adventure runs are going to be going on in ten years, and 24hr racing is pretty much not a thing anymore like it was... and i would book odds on events like leadville 100 even though its looking strong right now...

i rather like the example set by road racing where there are 8-10 events a month in socal alone all by and for the riders, put on by clubs with reasonable entry fees cash prizes for many categories and lots of fun and camaraderie... i really think its a great example of grassroots racing done right...but sponsor dollars i believe remain a key component, and of course it absolutely must have entry fee income... and this has been going strong for decades...

i wonder how you feel about this: my idea has just been that the mtb zeitgeist has left racing behind a while back, and the bottom line is that riders want to ride, but not necessarily race when it comes down to it, or else they would organize races and go to races in a true by the riders / for the riders way... thats kind of the bottom line i think... there are criteriums all over the USA every weekend because the the riders want to race and its a part of what it means to ride fast on a road bike... but it seems like racing in races may not really be a necessary component for fast gravity riders to get off on being a fast rider...

interested to hear you expound on your ideas...

thanks-
  • 1 0
 Hey, thanks for your respectful approach to the article! I appreciate that beyond words. Smile I want to reply to your very good comment directly, but my brain is a bit too addled right now from lack of sleep, and so my answer would probably be more confusing than enlightening. However, I promise to respond within 48 hours. If I don't, feel free to use the phone number I'm sending you in a PM to get in touch, okay?? Seriously. I mean that. If I don't respond to this tomorrow, call me up and we'll have a chat. Best, A.
  • 4 0
 We could make a dent by realizing how ridiculous all these prices are. I personally have been racing DH For 3 years now, prices are horrendous. Registration fees, Bikes, Mechanics, Travel all adds up well over 10K for my family. And I stick within a 300 km radius for races. Mind you I pay my team $3500 for just guidance. Nothing more. Also I believe we need to get the juniors out there, I myself being a junior (14) and was quite intimidated watching my brothers going down a gnarly rock garden at the local races. we should be showing and broadcasting some more timid riding. I never said no more world cup action, but i think we need a balance.
  • 4 0
 Young man, I hope it goes well for you (and your family) because that is a lot of coin you are outlaying. I admire the monetary commitment. What an awesome family you have. I've raced MTB for over twenty years and not once has anyone in my family come to watch. There is a 42 year old man on the other side of the planet that is envious of you.
  • 8 0
 easy, host a WC in whistler
  • 4 0
 UCI Killed DH in the US! Trying to take the F1 approach to MTB Is wrong and is stumping its growth! The US needs to get a sanctioning body that can do like the AMA does for as mentioned motocross , heck we may need to let them help promote us considering they have the EXTREME sponsors that spend money! And yes I say that sarcastically!!! DH will never die it just needs a little tender loving care.
  • 1 0
 Thank you. I completely agree. Smile
  • 4 0
 If we want spectators then dh racing has to be available to watch and be more digestible (bite sized):

1) The video coverage has to be better, so that the top racers can be shown riding the entire track

2) Maybe shorten courses and make them more gnarly (rocks and steep, I'm not talking jumps here) with many turns to provide time separation. How many post-race videos showed the rock garden at Cairns (every one)? How many showed the pedal out, which was the main portion of the live feed (none)? Man that pedal out does not appeal to the extreme sport fan...

3) with good video and 3 min race runs, a video program with the last 20 runs should be broadcast far and wide for free, with men's and women's versions. The goal here is to get people watching... create fans... attract the casual couch potatoes that watch commercials and buy stuff.

4) Promote racer personalities, every team should be required to provide promotional video to be used at will by UCI and the press. People eat up colourful personalites and get attached to stories.

In summary, create compelling video footage that will appeal to the masses. How many people ride motocross and how many watch the xgames on TV?
  • 1 0
 I absolutely agree. Well said.
  • 4 0
 I agree with all you wrote, it would be a good thing to start asking for money (sponsors won't be giving us free t-shirt forever).
Actually in France we had in "La Bresse" twice a DH WC (back in 2009 and 2011), and twice it was elected best event of the season.
Why ? Because there were sooooo many people on the side of the track (very few forest part so great view on the track and a big big clean arrival with technical part where riders were able to gain some time).

But the organization made spectators pay (for the entry inside the paddock and on the boarder on the track). So I think that some people told themselve "If you have to pay, it must be good !" (a free spectacle is not really appealing). And since you've pay, make you money worths by screaming as loud as you can (yes yes you can scream here nobody will thell you to shut up !) The place where it happen is not a big city or resort with many people all knowing about DH racing, I am still amaze with the crowd we saw there !

Yet your article reveals also the american-economical model for sports (professional sports). Which is something that is not happening in Europe (sport federations still believe that people can invest themselves at a 100% into a sport without gain any money, just the pride of accomplishment... PUH-LEASE... you need to put butter in spinach !). People in Europe are not use to pay (to watch or to do or to organize) sports. But still it worked in La Bresse ! (nostalgy... nostalgy)


Anyway great, fantastic article, the best I've read in a long time (well since your last article actually !)
Amanda for president !
  • 1 0
 As always, you're too kind! Smile Thank you for the well-written comment and the very applicable thoughts... You're right! It's about creating demand and the psychology of engagement and piquing interest. Humans are fascinating creatures, but not that difficult to figure out, once you know what they want.

For every culture, there will be a slightly different demand, but each individual event should be given the flexibility to cater to the different locales to create interest and engagement... As well as give the rest of the world a peek into how 'that place' does it. Why else have a 'World Cup' if not to showcase what is spectacular around the world?

Excellent comment, as always. Smile
  • 5 1
 Dear Amanda Batty,
Sorry for my drastic words: Are you completely crazy?
Suggesting to follow the snowboard path, like that was a success???
Snowboarding is dead (as a business)!!! Market is shrinking and shrinking, sales are further down than they ever where.
One Company after another goes into bankruptcy or is sold...
Yes, it finally ended up on Fox and people who don't know and don't care can watch it.
Now Grandma down in Florida had heard of "Shaun White" great success!

Starting with 98 Olympics the sport got ripped apart. Athletes had to decide if the are going for Olympics with the ski-federations or ride the Traditional Contests.
This resulting in guys that where definitely not the best being promoted as the superstars.
It multiplied the costs for everyone, sponsors had to decide what series to go for and the majority withdrew from it at all.
It worsened stuff.

We should be grateful DH is what it is. Its true to what it is. Its accessible, super close to the fans. And everyone can do it (provided he/she has the guts)
If you blow it up artificial all that will happen is that small companies will not be able to afford a team or support riders at all anymore plus it will not be the most talented riders making it from regional races up to the top ranks any more but the ones with the biggest wallet! And in the end your big corporations putting in all their money will loose their interest pull out and will leave behind nothing more but a wreck beyond fixing. That's the snowboard model ...you don't want that.

leave it alone! its not broken!
  • 5 2
 After taking a long hiatus from the mountain bike world (2001/2008.), the sport became exponentially bigger and significantly more mainstream than it ever was. I'm not really sure how it could reach a broader audience though. Kids can easily get hold of used FR/DH bikes for bargain prices (e.g.: Spesh Big Hit sells for roughly 500€/600€), they participate in local events even the national cup here in Portugal is pretty much open to everyone...
...if the average Joe in America gets more kick watching 500 left turns well, f*ck him, he isn't the kind of audience you're looking for.

The masses will always cater for team sports and i it's easily understandable. Everyone gets their chair in a stadium watching the game, insulting the referee when they find the score unfavourable and they can even make some money betting on their favourite team. I'm not sure if there is gambling involved in DH or other cycling events, very likely so...

Downhill will always be expensive and not just because it requires expensive bikes to get involved with. It's a sport that takes place in high altitudes, logistics will always be an "if" because fuel prices work as a deterrent (for the masses of course).

I wish there was a simple answer to the great big question: Will downhill become obsolete?

Well it probably might, but think this way, if bike sports didn't evolve we would be all riding road bikes today, wouldn't we?

Now if you ask me, will Downhill disappear as a sport? Well, i don't think so... Smile
  • 5 2
 While I respect your opinion, I don't agree that DH is more mainstream than ever before... While it may SEEM that way thanks to social media and the internet (Facebook, Instagram and Pinkbike, etc), the numbers simply aren't there, and industry companies and events can see that. Pre-2001, the competitive DH circuit here in the US was mind-blowingly strong (even carrying sponsors like Chevy, etc), but the world wasn't ready for it, as I've stated in my article. 'Adrenaline sports lifestyle' wasn't a thing, and it didn't exist. Lots of things have changed, but one thing hasn't: the cultural need for entertainment.

If DH wants to thrive, we need better promoting and broadcasting, as well as better hospitality services for guests.

Also: skiing and snowboarding take place at high altitudes, in very inconvenient and hostile conditions, and they are two of the most profitable action sports in the world. In my honest opinion, that's not a valid argument.
  • 4 1
 Skiing and Snowboarding were always sports for wealthy people. In response to your last sentence. And i'm not the only one sharing this opinion...

uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100218103551AADZBct
  • 1 0
 "I'm not sure if there is gambling involved in DH or other cycling events, very likely so..." A good solution, especially there in america that people gamble more often, if they bet in horse races and car, what ever, betting on someone from dh it's a good ideia
  • 1 0
 Pedro is on to something here and his comment about "500 left turns" is pretty spot on.

You have to ask yourself why so many Americans think oval track (NASCAR or Indy) is so cool and ignore road courses. Things like MotoGP, Formula 1, Touring Car, World Super Bike, etc.... Things where the technology and tracks are far more involved and interesting.

This however also plays into what you are saying about marketing because IT IS marketing. On regular everyday TV you'll see tons of ads and chatter about NASCAR but you'll hear very VERY little (if anything) about Formula 1 or MotoGP by comparison.

This is a perfect analog for the relationship between road(ie) events and mtb events. EVERYONE has heard of the Tour De France but how many (in the general population) have heard of Fort William?

The same issue for DH is the same that has existed for various forms of other sports. There are too few venues, media outlets, and sponsors that will put up the kind of money needed for DH to become a well known and talked about spectator sport.
  • 2 0
 Honestly, I don't think that for downhill to be popular it requires spectators to be downhillers. That's what we're doing now, and its not working. We need to look at the ways other extreme sports got injected into popular culture. Bmx, skateboarding, and surfing have made their way into popular culture by the way of movies, in the 80s. In fact these movies were really popular, and many times they were silently financed by the industry they represented. They boosted sales and attention in that sport. Snowboarding was next as the snow cousin of skateboarding. These sports have stayed in the culture, now, by way of very popular competitions (xgames, etc). These sports market their heros. Anyone can tell you the name of a few pro skateboarders, snowboarders, surfers, and bmxers. We need to show our stories to the world. Let's make a movie that showcases the struggles and victories of our sport. The big bike companies should bring financing to Hollywood and let them make their magic. That's how you popularize DH. It wouldn't hurt to try to get DH included in xgames, though.
  • 3 0
 I believe that part of the reason it is not as popular in america is because of the lack of large scale events. If you look at the world cup dh schedule they usually have only 1 race the entire year in america. I think they need to expand the world cup season and include more tracks in the states. I know that I would love to go see an event and then word gets out once people go and have a good time it builds excitement. my 2 cents
  • 3 0
 The world wasn't ready for DH in '98? What? DH racing was starting to blow up back then. Big name sponsors were all over the place. Heck, there was even a WC event not too far down the road from DC in Virginia. However, from my understanding, there were some shenanigans with NORBA which effectively stunted the American racing scene for the next decade.
  • 1 2
 The world wasn't ready for 'extreme' or action sports, was my point, that I made pretty clear... I compared it to snowboarding, the '98 Nagano Olympic debacle with snowboarding, etc. 1998 was not a world of social media and energy drinks that made 'action sports' a household term... The only mainstream acceptance of 'action' in 1998 was the Batman 'action' figure. My point was that DH racing was too extreme, too early for the larger global public acceptance and assimilation rate that other action sports now have.
  • 3 1
 Sorry, I don't think you made anything clear. You're just speculating without any data or evidence that DH racing didn't take off back in the day because it wasn't a "lifestyle" sport yet or too 'extreme'. Sure, mountain bike riding's popularity has grown dramatically since '98 and more people can make a living off the sport (not just at racing), but as I mentioned, you had big name sponsors ready to dump money into the sport. Lots of recognizable names were racing back then and some events were even covered on TV.

As for other 'extreme' sports, X Games was getting big in '98, Tony Hawk even came out with one of the most popular video games in '99. Skateboarding was coming out of it's death that happened in the early 90s. The same with every other 'action' sport. People and sponsors were ready then.
  • 1 2
 Chevy dropped the NORBA series because of viewership and rider rates, and screwed a lot of people over in the process, simply because the mainstream wasn't ready for extreme sports AT THAT MOMENT. Not the core, the mainstream. There's a difference. The facts, data and emergence of the entire action sports industry supports that. Do your own research.

Instead of looking at the facts (and actual history), you're up in arms for fear of being wrong. The world has changed drastically in the last 15-20 years, and I was simply saying that DH was too early. If it's not true, then why did DH all but disappear in 2004? If it's not true, why did huge companies drop races series across the globe?

Nothing to get crazy on or be rude about.
  • 4 1
 I think a lot of the hype in motor sports is all about the engineering. Even "how it's made" has done a piece on nascar technology... the engineering that goes into the bike designs as well as the course development, the safety equipment, the core techniques behind the maneuvers and "stunts" the riders (pilots?) Of these machines pull off each and every race needs to be broken down and analyzed and explained to the average Joe that happens to flick past a dh event on TV or the net... focus on suspension dynamics on a brand by brand basis. Frame geometry and how a few degrees of tube angle can affect the bikes performance. The mystique and desirability of one brand over another. Course layout and prep. Pre and post race shows. And most of all the names faces and personalities of the competitors. It all needs to be broken down for the lowest common denominator over and over again. Don't assume that the fans will know it all . Lay it out for us
  • 4 1
 I am a bit tired of this perspective that Downhill is dying. In my opinion, it simply isn't true. Downhill doesn't have to be a mainstream ESPN sport to be considered successful. I also do not think that downhill riders are "deranged participants". Some of us just get a buzz from going fast that others will never understand.
  • 3 1
 Exactly, show some reliable figures that DH is dying. In my opinion it is stronger than ever. And to the author, there is a world outside USA where nascar is a joke and F1 events are sold out.
  • 1 0
 This entire piece was about downhill racing not being an 'Everyman' sport, about the direction that mainstream efforts are going in and about how we can grow DH sustainably, profitably and intelligently without losing the soul..

I think you missed the point. Wink
  • 1 1
 I follow F1, and I know there's an outside world. However, I am an American professional DH racer, and this is my OPINION on what I'm seeing inside of the larger industry core concerning marketing, racer support, overall interaction and user engagement, etc.

There's a larger world than just your perspective. Wink
  • 3 0
 Bring back 4x too while you're at it! Another exciting mountain bike event, easy to understand, fun to watch.....watch the Winter Olympics....two of the most popular events judging by the coverage on NBC- DH skiing and Snowboard cross.....I wonder why?
  • 1 0
 One sport at a time, please... I can only save so many endangered disciplines before my morning coffee, you know. Wink Thanks for the support and the perspective on 4x though! I completely agree.
  • 3 0
 downhill was always in the mountains, hard for casual spectators and even the fans to hike up a mountain so less exposure for sponsors, less money for riders etc.

why not promote downhill within the city? in my home country we have tons of malls and im sure if a little kid sees downhill riders flying through the escalators he would want to get a downhill bike.

www.redbull.com/cs/Satellite/en_US/Video/Filip-Polc-Takes-Downhill-Mountain-Biking-to-a-Colombia-Shopping-Mall
021243186050213
  • 3 0
 DH MTB needs to be in the Olympics, that would get it some attention, if the winter Olympics can introduce slop style skiing and snow boarding then we need DH MTB in the summer Olympics. Not long ago slope style skiing and boarding where only a X-Game thing, DH MTB is not even included in the summer X-Games. Any one else think that DH MTB should be an Olympic sport?
  • 1 0
 I do. I think it should be, but we haven't earned it yet. However, it's all about to change. Wink We'll see that IOC stage in the near future, if some folks get where they're going... Stay tuned.
  • 3 0
 Comparing it to snowboarding is interesting. Nobody watches snowboard races and they are not aired on TV (except the olympics). Big companies like Burton abandoned alpine snowboarding a long time ago. Halfpipe and slopestyle are the only disciplines that get national attention, with Shaun White greatly helping the exposure. So given that example, we can see where DH might be going. Add to that the extremely high costs for bike companies to send crews and equipment all over the world, and it does not look bright for DH racing.
  • 1 0
 Exactly. This touches on my point in another comment, but I believe it's down to events that you can *see*, and stand and watch like slopestyle and halfpipe.
  • 1 0
 Thank you. That's exactly the comparison I was making... It's nice to see that someone understands the concern. The thing is: we have the chance to learn from that history and create something of our own... A positive story. Smile Thanks for the comment, as always.
  • 8 1
 Sucks cuz all these comments are long and I dont want to read that much
  • 3 1
 I know what you meen, yours was the first coment I read!
  • 3 0
 Not sure if anyone mentioned this... but you could start by having more races you know - in America. Because the continent is much larger than Europe (where you can hop country to country in less than an hours time in some cases), you can't expect people to latch on if you have one round in the series here. It's just not accessible to the bulk of the country that way. There's so much to do / watch / see in America that for DH to make a mark it needs a lot more exposure to compete alongside the "money events" - NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, UFC, WWE, NASCAR, etc. etc. Sure - those sports have a ton more money thrown at it to promote it, but they all started somewhere - and got big by exposure, not by having most of the events viewable on an internet feed at 4am. DH is a small part of mountain biking but it should be promoted as the F1 of our genre.
  • 5 0
 more down, less physical, more technical and relying on talent, not fitness. those where the days riders like Sam Hill and Danny Hart where on top. pure DH
  • 3 0
 Frankly I think the entire premise of the article is flawed, where's the data that downhill is in decline? All the new kids I see riding are DH, not Enduro, not XC, they are mostly on 7"+ bikes. This article isn't calling for more support for DH it's actually a cynical attempt to present it as being in decline when it simply isn't.

The simple truth is that Enduro is a new segment, so companies are pushing it. It's nothing more than that.
  • 2 0
 the only sports that are popular in the states are ones that are marketable for ticket sales. aside from the business aspect the dh culture or more specifically the cycling culture in america is not as fully formed as say western europe. without the cultural foundations you will not get the corporate following that other sports garner.
  • 2 0
 First off I want tomy comment ay amazing article, we'll written with a great point . Secondly let's expand the sport with the riders itself. If you have ever been to certain groups or clubs they are all about getting more people into that club or group, we should do the same by always bragging why downhill is the best sport in the business. If you promote downhill enough it will grow like a virus but we need to encourage the sport as much as possible. Now let's go over the advantages and disadvantages,

Advantages :
-easy to get into
-not to expensive

Disadvantages :
-some of my friends think the sport is to easy and not fun, this has happened because they were promoted the wrong view of the sport
-a lot of are target market doesn't know about downhill
-the tracks need to look cool and fun to the average Joe so they will want to watch it
-more coverage of the tracks when filming
-make the sport attractive and fun so you want to participate, like promoters on advertiments
-promote, advertise as much as you can

I didn't cover everything in my comment but the big ones are listed, the sport will not grow if us racers do not water the sport to grow Smile Smile
  • 2 0
 Downhill races need to get the attention of mainstream channels in North America, Europe everywhere because to be honest i watch all races on Red Bull.com and everyone know about red bull (the DRINK) but not that fact that red bull has such a presence in Extreme Sports. Also UCI needs to expand too many races are being held off of North American soil there are two races Windham and MSA when there are millions of places to hold DH events over here. Not to take anything away from the present and past courses but cleary they are capturing the eye of the audience if we have an issue with DH fading, DH needs to get popularity in POPULATED areas or else no one will catch on. Because having events in South Africa and Norway and Fort William which is miles away from major population is not working the courses are great and have history but are too far out of the way for the general public to spend there time and money to go and watch. So in all i think the main issue is the the location of these races obviously you cant have a race in the city centre (unless its Urban DH) so you need to find venues close to major populations so they know about the race. Lots of writing for someone who doesnt even ride DH Smile
  • 2 0
 It all comes down to money. With the shit economies worldwide its hard for all of us to spend our extra cash on the sport. In turn pushing that new DH bike, parts, gear off until "next week". That also goes for the sponsors. When we cant flood them with money, they cant pay the riders big bucks or go all out at every race. Once we all start getting paid better we can make the strongest vote, which is where we DH riders spend our money. Is it a coincidence that most enduro/xc riders are 40ish ? (at least in socal) Most likely making good money or at least enough for that carbon enduro 650b thingy, making their niche boom.
  • 2 0
 Masses have no idea that there's more than one type of mtb bike.
Masses probably don't know kelly slater, and that he's probably the best athlete ever. (Results/travel/fitness/occupation)
Masses will simply lump mtb(dh) into "a crazy x game thing"(rampage) until its an Olympic sport.

By the time 18-34 have spending power, they're 35 starting families, and riding enduuuuro/dang it.
  • 1 0
 I think the masses most are talking about are the masses of the mountain bike community, not non cyclist nascar people.
  • 2 0
 500 entries at Port Angeles at the first NW Cup with no World Cup pros! What are they doing right? I do think a vet pro and a semi pro class would help the sport grow and not burn out young guns trying to make it in the pro ranks. Most other sports have some kind of ladder system in Dh it's pro or go smoke the cat 1 guys. The vet pro class could showcase some of the old guard and the bad ass old guys.
  • 2 0
 For us in different time zones, the real issue for televising is the time its on if you watch live. Last week the Cairns World Cup was on at 4pm NZ time. We had about 50 of us watching it cheering on the boys and girls from NZ after a great morning/early arvo of riding. It was awesome, and if there were more events on at reasonable times, we'd probably do this often, but no one wants to get up a 4-5am, go to someone elses house, and crack a beer at that time of the morning!
  • 2 0
 Great article, I'm not here to smash downhill racing because I ride all mountain because I get excited on the weekends to watch the world cup downhill. Mountain biking is expensive, NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF RIDING YOU LIKE !!! I agree, there needs to be more promotion to this crazy and frankly scary side of mountain biking. You're right, it shouldn't cater to the masses and be taken part in by the masses because it is an ELITE SPORT it's not for everyone. And for all the haters out there that are all fuck road biking, fuck this fuck that because I'm a self centred pig that can not accept that people do things different than me. Not everyone rides the same bikes, the same trails and in the same way. GET OVER IT !! At least they are out enjoying riding a bike and thats the real reason we all ride.
  • 2 0
 North America is not a heritage built in time trials of any type. It is steeped in the Arena/stadium of sports and every child here has and will always grow up watching the full event unfold in every possible slow motion replay angle. As long as there isn't a WRC stop in North America, DH will stay quite low in the greater peoples minds.Europe on the other hand is a culture born into Time trials like the Tour de France/WRC where is it acceptable to personally view a tiny fraction of the race.

Consider the price per hour it costs to actually ride a DH bike when the riders average use of it is around 20 to 50 hours a year. Everyone here knows what they shell out for a fresh rig, gas, travel, spare parts, fresh kit, hotels, injury, tools, tires, etc. and divide that total number by the ACTUAL time you're riding(not the three hours of getting shuttled or sitting on a lift) and you will find it to be the most expensive cycling a consumer can engage in. It was close to $300 an hour for me. Road bikes may be more expensive but the consumer gets more ride time. DH is the wake boarding of cycling.
  • 2 0
 Here on PB you can have four page arguments just about tire pressure and consider how many parts on a DH rig are susceptible to ignorance and more importantly create a level of insecurity that is second to none in any other professional sport. "What brand, model, durometer, stock or cut, tire pressure front or rear, tubeless/tube, kevlar/wire, type of sidewall, presta/shrader, Front or rear, width and direction tires do you use?... and we haven't even gotten to the rim-strip yet let alone the thousands of individual decisions of brands and settings a DH bike capable of being wrong for the rider.

DH is economically, geographically and too time costly to be approachable and expose a vast youth culture for a duration long enough to create a skill set that is more easily absorbed economically by any other American sport. Motocross is NA's honeypot and WCDH will always be a commonwealth-centric experience. Dh may be fun to watch but 20 laps of Supercross at the stadium is unbeatable for sponsors.
  • 1 0
 "It's always impossible until it's done."

Wink
  • 2 0
 its safety. A lot of people who race down hill let it all hang loose on one run to be competitive. Some people who like to go down hill fast don't necessarily like riding at the absolute limit of their abilities.people have work on monday and family's and cant afford to hurt themselves. Then when you have a race where to be competitive you have to finish all the stages it is a lot safer because your laying off a little because you don't want to throw it all away with one crash.I hate to see down hill go but now enduro is the better option for the average person.
  • 2 0
 I love watching Slopestyle, I've just recently started to follow the DH World cup and I'm hooked. One major area I feel can be improved it TV/Internet broadcast camera angles and course coverage. Red bull does a great job getting shots of the runs but you cant see the entire run like slope style. I few videos has been posted lately of Helmet cam POV videos of race runs. More and more ridders are starting to do this. Hopefully one day soon the live broadcast footage can use the helmet cam footage of the race runs in unison with the gnarly shots they already have to show the different views of the course and how fast these guys shred them. just a thought, Go-Pros are getting so nice these days
  • 2 0
 united states needs world cups. so many people is US just say shut up and take my money. If there is a world cup in winter park you will get a packed crowd from denver and sponsors will once again see there is money to be made
  • 1 0
 Agreed, it would get some people there but I still think most watch DH like they watch a circus high wire performer. Crazy to see people do, but not something many think to go do them selves.
  • 2 0
 I didn't read every post but I'm just gona go for it.

THE X GAMES.

Snowboarding was mentioned in the arttical and really that's how it got its big break. Make sure it doesn't become a gimmick winter sport. Have it be part of the uci world championship perhaps?
  • 2 0
 Actually I think the reason DH is dying is because it's really not that fun to watch. Slopestyle/freestyle are more appealing to the extreme sports junkies, while XC and Enduro are more affordable, fun, and rewarding for the every day rider looking to have fun and stay in shape. Downhill is dying because it has a poor risk to reward ratio for riders and isn't appealing to most viewers because it doesn't look as tough as it is.
  • 2 0
 I completely agree with this Article. As a teenager who lives in Texas there isn't a big DH or even mountain bike culture among other kids at all. Mainly because nobody knows about it! Televising races and behind the scenes stuff would be very effective in enlarging the sport. Every kid i show videos of DH riding or even of myself riding think its super cool i have kids wanting to go ride every weekend. and the only reason they didn't before is because they didn't know about it! If we can start putting DH out there more there are plenty of kids who will want to get in on it. Also i agree with the fact that bike parks are starting to take the technicality from DH 10 yards wide and as smooth as a road its no where near the technical fun as you can see on world cup tracks or pure DH trails
  • 4 0
 Please keep downhill alive. If DH dies, enduro tracks will have too much xc, cause no one will know how to properly ride gnar.
  • 2 0
 Obviously WE all think DH is great and don't understand why DH isn't a larger sport with more participation and coverage but this isn't a problem unique to DH. Most extreme sports do not have a large following outside of those that participate or have participated in the sport at some point in their lives. That being said I do not think DH is as accessible as other similar extreme sports and the number of participants directly reflects this. However, I do not believe that the number of people who ride DH is limited due to the difficulty of the sport. Sure the sport is not for everyone but it is not so incredibly difficult that only a select few have the "talent" to recreationally ride or race DH.

DH participation is low for two reasons: because DH bikes are not cheap and there are limited trails on which to ride them. Price is very restrictive. If you are a struggling middle class family spending even 2-3K for a bike per kid plus the added associated fees is outlandish at best. Even if you can afford a dh bike(for yourself and/or kids) you will likely need to drive several hours to the nearest bike park in order to ride it. In contrast dirt bikes are nearly the same price and don't require driving to a lift assisted mountain to ride them. Basically if you can afford DH it is likely easier/more convenient to ride/race dirt bikes, and if you can't afford it there are many far cheaper extreme sports.
  • 2 0
 As for the suggestion to monetize the sport I think it is naive to suggest that this strategy has not been thought of and at least attempted to be implemented. Redbull is a perfect example. Sure coverage isn't what we would like it to be but I would bet the quality of coverage is relative to the potential income Redbull believes they can garner from their involvement in the sport. I know they seem to throw a lot of money around but they are not in the business of losing money. Redbull clearly thinks DH has potential for monetization in some form or another. Redbull's new Final Descent race format may be their attempt to actualize this belief. Time will tell if it is successful.
  • 2 0
 DH doesn't need to go mainstream. I think it's OK that it's the sport that mountain bikers of all disciplines watch for inspiration, which it is.

The answer for more participation in mountain biking generally lies with better promotion of entry level bikes and better access to trails. A rented Spesh Hardrock or similar is a good enough bike for 95% of UK trail centre runs, but you wouldn't know it from most magazine coverage. Once people are in they can upgrade and specialise in DH, XC, freeride or whatever else they gravitate towards.

Making the sport less exclusive is the answer IMO. More mountain bikers = more DH fans
  • 2 0
 I think that if the people could watch a race on a tv channel instead of over the internet on redbull live than the sport would grow to a state we couldnt imagine. Monster energy supercross is aired on fox sports 1. If they could even replay the world cup races people would be turning downhill racing into what freestyle motocross is today, which could lead to better race series in the states. Maybe even bringing a UCI WC race to the states. We have Fontana, China peaks, and Mammoth on the west coast unless you count the drive up to PA that most people cant make due to the economy and jobs that pay the bills. But a coverage on national tv could completely change downhill racing as we see it, and changing for the better. I lived in Ohio before I joined the military and transitioned from racing atv's to racing downhill, I count down everyday that I am closer to being off of active duty and bringing downhill to Ohio with a race series in the near future if everything goes to plan.
  • 2 0
 Take a look here in the UK, we have Bradley Wiggins who wins the tour de france and gets an OBE or whatever... you get Rachel Atherton who lets be honest is plowing the field of other femal downhillers and gets no mention what so ever, she was mentioned once in a series about cycling the BBC put on!
  • 2 0
 I'd like to see the sport grow and the participants make a good living. But I know better. People who go to NASACR, get a comfy seat, near the beer, and they wait to watch the carnage. There is also a sound smell thing thing about motorsports that can help. Extreme sports aren't making huge amounts of cash for the athletes, and the BMX is getting phased out for motrocycles. I still ride BMX and the number of families that show up every week-end to race is pretty amazing, but you get no BMX on TV. There is something about sport where a participant gets more out of than just a viewer. As a mountain bikes, I appreciate the skill needed to make it down a WC course, let alone race it. Your average viewer, has no clue. Golf to someone who doesn't play is boring, and looks easy.
  • 2 0
 OK
I Think
I may have the
SOLUTION
for this one
Just hear me out
and as MC Hammer once said "break it down"

I thought of this at the World Cup in Cairns
because of the low coverage the DH had from cameras, especially no whoops, big jumps, rock garden caught on Red Bull's tape
what we could do is, because being a community and all provides it's benefits is;

Everyone who attends the races, most of those will no doubt carry a smart phone (iPhone, Win mobile, Android)
If your data plan is good enough, just install USTREAM
from there, if we built a USTREAM channel into Pinkbike
then everyone on the course with USTREAM can stream to the main channel
have a PINKBIKE Ustream editor
who then can cut the clips together, it's easy and they all go onto the cloud
and all the while the race is being streamed all over the world
and it's also being archived during that time

Then Red Bull would have to step up their coverage or Pinkbike would take over and be the underground provider of the race footage

How 'bout that, we could have full coverage of the track, almost even every corner if you wanted to, way more choices

Have a think about it my PB friends, it's been rattling my brains since the WC left us here in Cairns
  • 2 0
 The whole point of riding DH is to ride a DH bike. 8" of travel, dual crown fork, dual ply tires, slack, and low. That's where the fun is. It doesn't matter how many people are doing it or who's into racing on what. I love DH because I love riding a DH bike. A 6" single crown bike doesn't even come close to having the same feeling of pure joy.
  • 5 0
 Amen sister, excellent article
  • 2 0
 Thanks! Smile
  • 1 0
 Great article Amanda. This sport should be broadcast nationally for sure. I'm as much of a fan of watching and I am of riding. I know a lot of people would get excited for these races if they were regularly broadcast.
  • 7 2
 only Redbull can save downhill
  • 1 0
 It seems to me that it is growing. Just need more races in places like southern california were you can ride year round.also the demographic is huge for this kinda thing here. Just need the coverage and advertising to get the kids on the hill. Just remember this is the dirt capital of the world when it comes to offroad racing of alm types.
  • 3 0
 In the grand scheme of things, in relation to DH racing specifically, it's not unfortunately. Back in the late 90's, it was insanely popular whereas now we don't even have a national DH racing series. I guess you could say recently mountain biking as a whole is getting more popular with the introduction of more solid and affordable gear along with exposure but those are just recreational riders. Racing takes a bit more commitment and is much more expensive than riding for fun. Not only do you have to reach people who are currently not interested in mtbing, but those people who will be into that competitive spirit and are willing to invest a lot into it.

It's hard to get a grasp of how popular it really is when you live in a cool area with so many active people. Here in SLC the DH races seem to be insanely popular due to the number of racers but you can still tell that there isn't a large amount of spectators that you'd find at other sporting events. On that note, you could say that access to local DH trails and being able to "shuttle" those trails is a major detractor for people to even own DH bikes... at least that's how it was for me growing up.

It seems that when a U.S. rider dominates at the top level that it helps, but I think there needs to be more organized and affordable means to get into racing itself. I haven't been in the DH racing scene for a long time but the organizations running them, along with XC races, needed to clean up a lot and needed to focus on keeping that entry-level base of racers interested. Maybe it grew too quickly and that period of popularity was just a bubble but there is a great disparity between participation numbers in athletes but more importantly, spectators as well. Hell, in HS there were only 4 other kids in our entire school that mtbed which was mid-2000s. The races around New England were more of local gatherings but I have heard the WC races at Mt. Snow were a bit more popular.
  • 5 0
 The whole scene itself is definitely geographic to begin with. First you need hills to have DH, and a proper DH bike really isn't all that cheap. So commitment as you say certainly is a big part of it. Typically you spend quite a bit for the bike, money on travel and accommodations, and if you're trying to race, the costs just go up that much more as travel increases and usually does the distance away from your house.

On the issue of marketing, it definitely starts with the companies themselves. I think the biggest comment about the "shows" this past year before our seasons started was that the companies didn't represent at all in any form of biking. They just kind of leave things up to the local reps to showcase their gear and in the end it's just boring as crap and nothing much to see. I'd like to see more committment from the companies themselves to bring out bikes, riders, video premiers etc. But it's definitley a starting point. If they want US to buy their bikes, they should be bombarding us with promo's but I just don't see it. Seems they just build the bikes and leave it up to us on forums like this to argue about which one is best and make determinations in that manner about how to spend our money.

As for the scare factor. I turn 40 this year, and have turned more so called "mountain" bikers into roadies in the last 5 years that I can count on my hands and feet. People are just scared. Come a certain age it seems you either lose your balls, or grow bigger ones, (but everyone is still riding), it's just seems once you hit a certain age, the fear of serious injury due to mountain biking creeps in. My biggest laugh, well not really, is that more than half have now been hit by cars while out road riding. I'd rather hit a tree thanks. Besides, technical mountain biking is much better for your "senses" than just touring flat lands, it keeps you agile, reflexes quick, and works your brain much harder.

P.S. GO HABS!
  • 1 0
 Just a thought but supporting local trail builders in smaller towns, rural communities and starting new ones could definitely encourage people to start riding. Another thought that just pasted through my mind is that you have to shoot for a young age group. If you hook them when they're young (but not to young) that they could be come interested. This is from personal experience being only 15 years old. I got hooked when I was eleven or twelve when I did a mountain biking camp and since then I've spread the word to friends and others alike and constantly finding connection with great people!
  • 2 1
 I think to watch freeride is a lot more interesting. To truly enjoy downhill you need to be into the seen. I ride but don't race and the world cup seems boring to watch. At this day and age ski racing is dying but big mountain is growing, it's the same for mtb. It's more interesting to see somebody back flip a canyon gap than ride a tecky trail fast. To sell it to the masses the trails need to have bigger airs or something.
  • 4 0
 Give it a new name, call it Enduro. Make the DH race track ultra gnarly so only large travel bikes will work.
  • 1 0
 There ya go. We have people racing so called WORLD CUP tracks on bikes my daughter would ride. Blah blah blah, yes, I obviously realize there's a skill level and all that. Not the point. Build real tracks. They don't have to be deadly gnarly but they should once again test a rider in every aspect of the sport, which I think is the draw to this new sport of enduro...er...mountain biking as we call it... These people are supposed to be the elite of all of us. The cream that rises to the top. They very least they deserve is an equivalent battle ground for then to prove that upon.
  • 1 0
 We did that in the late 1990's to create the sport you now know. and making things more exclusive doesn't always help things.
  • 1 0
 OK. I'm just breaking into this scene. Your welcome. I'm a mechanic by trade and building my first DH bike was due to watching freeride videos on you tube. The one with Norbraten before he had pubes comes to mind. I didn't care about age or skill I only knew that this is what I need to do and I'll die trying. Since then I'm alcohol free, healthy and starting to see my ab muscles again. Mainstream or not I'm in love w my demo. I will push it and my armor all the way up if needed, if not for this infernal Colorado snow. Im gonna need some year round gravity riding gang. On the subject, I feel it might be hard for me to just sit and watch without full race coverage. One race in the motorsports world that comes to mind is king of the hammers. Its in adverse terrain. Of course there is also big money sponsors but the coverage was awesome they had a jumbotron on a semi so every one in the pits could of course spectate.
  • 5 0
 More people getting into DH = my fave trail getting more breaking bumps.
  • 1 0
 I wanted to add a point about why it is difficult for televised downhill to appeal to a mass audience that is not already familiar with the sport and its riders. In any other televised sport there are teams, drivers, fighters etc that people root for... That's MY driver and hes going to win this race, that's MY team and they are going to crush the other team, etc... It is difficult for people to truly become engaged in a sport simply for gnar factor. If the average joe is going to sit through 2.5 hours of world cup coverage (or lets even say an hour) then they will lose interest pretty fast seeing a bunch of dudes fly down the same sections using slightly different lines unless they are waiting for their favorite rider to root for them.
I understand there are many sports that are similar in format (single person timed events) but they are not generally televised save for the Olympic broadcasts or other special events.
This is why I think Rampage is so integral. Even though it isn't actually an "Downhill" event, it puts gravity riding in the spotlight and gets names in front of the people. Since Geoff Gullevich's rampage run went viral (as did many other runs) he and kyle strait were invited onto network television - That's huge!
Things like DH Texaco, or other really unique gravity events should be used to prime the public and pique interest, then the average joe will learn names, and the characters behind them, and thus someone to root for and a reason to watch gravity sports on television.
  • 1 0
 Event coverage needs to get dramatically better for more mainstream coverage. The promoters need to stop relying on team videos and sites like pinkbike to cover races and instead put a person with a $3k camera and every good spot on the course and put together better coverage and then highlights of the top 20 runs.

With that said, I would rather ride at a resort than watch a race live. I would definitely watch highlights and race coverage at home though.
  • 1 0
 DH racing is a pretty amazing feat in my opinion. I think it does need more exposure then I believe more people will "get it". It will take alot more $ to get it there but I think it would pay off and possibly get an Olympic spot. It would be great to see zip line cameras that can run the entire course following the riders or possibly a live feed from helmet cams.
  • 3 0
 DH/ Freeriding is alive and we'll! It's for the special few who truly dare to live in this sport! It's the only Mt. Biking decipline that advances the bike technologies!
  • 1 0
 I think that downhill is fun for the person who rides not for the public cause you just see it 10 seconds and they gone. The uci world cup its more fun when you see it in your computer because you can see more of the track no? That's my opinion! Good article amanda!
  • 2 0
 Sounds like the mountain bike industry trying to shove downhill down our throat, like they've been doing with the whole wheel size debate. If it dies, oh well. People will still be riding what they love.
  • 2 0
 speaking to watching WC and EWS online, there is no substitute for watching the absolute looseness of DH WC. In my opinion, Spectating enduro doesn't come close to DH and the unpredictability every WC.
  • 2 1
 One problem, at least this year is scheduling. Why on earth would I race at our "National Championships" when they are being held on June 20th? Angel Fire's opening day is May 15th and Keystone doesn't open until June 13th. So what, I get a few days in on real mountains before I pay to race National Championships? Not everyone who races lives in So Cal or races Fontana, Sea Otter etc. It seems like Nationals should be later in the season. Thanks USAC.

Also, Bike Parks and "Flow Trails" have killed DH racing.

Finally, for the record, Winter Park sucks
  • 1 0
 accessibility is our problem. Any sport with a $3000+ buy in will struggle to become main stream. Then add in lift tickets or the need to own, maintain and operate a vehicle capable of shuttling.....this is some exclusive shit we do. Most people that have the money to do this sort of thing don't have the time or interest or desire to take the risks involved.
  • 1 0
 RISK = HAZARD X EXPOSURE
  • 2 1
 1st need better coverage on the uci and other races around the world, on the news , not just the head douche bag telling about it but in the sports edit . how ESPN doesn't do this is retarded.
2nd. Companies need to show more love and get more teams in different areas.. this will allow for more people to follow some people that ride in the same area and can actually follow.
3rd. Rob Warner should be plastered on billboards everywhere. ( I know a lot of us wouldn't watch uci dh if it wasn't for him and all his quacks about chocolate hostages and old laddies hitting ship decks).
4th.like said before RED BULL / MONSTER do sponsor these guys but seems they give nothing more than a drink and a helmet. they need to step up with some commercials !! ( yes I know they sponsor events but we want more coverage GO buy some TV time slots )
5th Better tracks , nothing groomed this is Dh , my GOD I see single crown forks out there now / show some separation in the track system that demands a triple crown.
6. Companies need to make commercials ! it was said in an upper post 30 sec's short and sweet get people brainwashed.
7. This should be in the Olympics already. riders are from all over the world how has this not happened yet is just baffling...
8. NEVER GET HIGH ON YOUR OWN SUPPLY .
9.People who don't race need to help out more and promote in better ways . You dick ride the bike that won but don't fully appreciate what it took for that to happen stop hatting because you free ride and just cant keep up with the BIG boys, or have the BALL$ to put your own life on the line ..
10. Go participate in a DH race even if you dont race . nothing wrong about giving it your all at least once in your life ..
  • 1 0
 RIGHT ON, this guy is onto it. It's now time Red Bull listened to the crowd!!!
  • 1 0
 CT-lowrider

Agree with a lot of what you've said but think we may need to think outside the box on a few things e.g. maybe the tracks would be more entertaining if there were rampage-esque man-made sections to give non-riders a perspective on what it is these guys are actually doing......risking their necks at ridiculous speeds. Secondly, at some point in the future a DH bike may be very very similar to an enduro bike (the cross-over is already here but it's gonna get closer) - when this happens the average Joe may have some access to DH using their everyday bike. Lastly, there needs to be lots of investment in DH tracks that are suitable for beginners and intermediate riders and they need to be within 30 miles of every populated area in the countries that host DH races, otherwise the have-a-go rider won't have anywhere-to-go.
  • 1 0
 26er for life.....I can only speak to the truth of "its not an every Man's sport"....I am an ex soccer goalie and I find I get a long better with DH minded people---but there is only 1 goalie and 10 other look a likes out there....I like to think of strikers as clipped in 29er spandex riders....But if you want a bigger interest in the sport-you have to get access to all the smaller ski resorts that are all over this countyr United States
  • 2 1
 I don't want dh to ever be mainstream, or to be watched by mindless hoards of peasants who do not understand it... All the public is interested in is carnage, hence the droves of losers getting drunk and waiting for crashes at NASCAR events. Keep bikes for bike riders.
  • 4 0
 Reading this made me feel the same way finding out the world was going to end when I was 11
  • 1 0
 Ahhh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it that way, I just meant it as more of a 'pssst, guys! We're in trouble. Wanna fix it with me?' than some sort of horrible doomsday prediction.

I love DH. It's not currently dying, but it is in trouble. It's a sport that needs some TLC, but it's not going anywhere. Buck up, sugar... We're all in this together! Keep riding and loving DH. Share it, preach it, show it, and downhill will be just fine. Wink
  • 1 0
 It's been said about 10 times already, but more cameras to beam the whole track into your lounge room. Not 2mins++ missing each run... You could save the $50,000 cameras for the gnarlier bits and utilise, dare I say, GoPros for the rest of the track or where it's hard to get back far enough due to trees etc. You'd have people leaning in their arm chairs by the 1000s. Split screen helmet cams footage would also kick ass but I'm guessing lugging around a transponder would be a bit sucky. Cable cams would also be cool.
You want boring! in Aus, we're obsessed with swimming!!!! Swimming FFS, the most boring sport to watch, but people tune it (mainly because we're good at it). Then to 'mix it up' they add back stroke and butterfly...
Personally I'm waiting for the new batch of 650b DH rigs to come out before I purchase a new rig. It's still massive round where I live. I still see truck loads of shuttlers ever weekend plus lots of youngens doing push up runs. Long live DH!
  • 1 0
 Dh isn't necessary dying. It will always be around because what do you think "Endruo" would be without the influence of dh on one side of it. Plus to anyone who reads bike magazines such as MBA or Bike, how many adds still have a downhiller for the picture( the answer is alot.) Downhill will always be there in mountain biking. It might be overshadowed by "Enduro" at the moment but its not going anywhere.

On the other hand it would do the sport wonders to get more coverage. Even if it was on channels you had to upgrade to get on tv at least its on there. On my tv we get road cycling once in a while and that's it. I feel like biking in general has gotten way more popular over the last couple years so maybe that will translate into mountain biking then dh getting more popular eventually. I don't get why dh gets so little attention from the media. As said before it is dangerous, fast, unpredictable, and bad ass. It seems like it would be the perfect sport. I don't see why you can't just have like 10 or so cameras in different sections of the course filming the run. You would still get enough footage.

Nevertheless, no matter what happens downhill will always be alive in the mountain biking community. Because IMO it tests the technology of the bike and the skills of the rider more than just the fitness of the rider and weight of the bike like in xc. Dh is the poster child of mountain biking it is pure, bad ass, and every mountain biker wants to have there picture in full moto gear doing a huge whip on a add.
  • 2 1
 DH doesn't need saving, just because it is not popular in North America doesn't mean it is dead!!! it will never be that popular with non-MTB'ers as it doesn't televise very well, steep tech tracks when filmed look easy to ride, I assume this is why more bike park sections are coming up in WC races, as jumps look exciting. It is pointless comparing it to road biking, one of the main reasons road riding has so much coverage is because of sponsorship, non-biking firms sponsor teams as they get great coverage as it is easy to film, you have motorbike cameras , helicopters etc.. filming riders for extended periods of time, making logo's easy to see, with DH you can hardly catch a glimpse of a sponsor logo so non-mtb companies basically have zero interest apart from energy drink firms. Also you have to think about access at live events, you are not going to get some fat out of condition folks hiking up a hill to catch a glimpse of a rider whizzing past for 2 seconds, hence why stadium sports are so popular, you turn up , sit down and enjoy the show. Enduro certainly will not help MTB in general become more popular as this even harder to televise and there is less action to film and it is more complicated to understand the rules. At the moment DH is more popular than ever, trying to cater to non-mtb fans to help it gain more appeal will more than likely will damage the sport.
  • 1 0
 More urban dh races!! i know its not nearly the same thing as a true downhill race, but take the sport to the people. If a city like San Francisco or Seattle (just thinking about citys with lots of hills...) hosted a bit red bull urban dh event, people would flock to the streets. Just an idea, bring our sport out of the woods so people know what its all about and pretty soon they will be willing to drive an hour up into the hills to come watch.
  • 1 0
 Dh is alive and well. No need to be mainstream. Mind/body control is way beyond John Doe can relate to. Watered down Enduro better fit. It is what it is: Elitist, demanding, longterm comittment, dirty, painful, expensive and a shitload of fun.
  • 1 0
 Road biking may be boring but from a sponsors perspective it's worth gold. Imagine a rider staying ahead of the peleton for 3 or 4 hours and getting in focus on TV all the time : that's millions worth of publicity he gets for a bargain.
That's the problem with DH : races are too short, you can't even read the name of the sponsor. So who wants to invest money in it apart from the people that are involved in the sport itself ?
  • 1 0
 This is a hard sport to appreciate on TV. The gnar doesn't really show in photos and videos that well. To be impressed by DH is to go to a DH track and try to ride/walk it yourself and then see the skill and speed the Pro racers carry down that nasty track!
It is just uninteresting without a closer point of reference.
  • 1 0
 The biggest issue I see for DH getting broadcast and bringing it to the living room or drawing people to the race event is all the other events you get to see the entire run, race or event from start to finish. To get that down is the first piece of the puzzle. After that their is no telling what could happen.
  • 1 0
 An interesting article and point of view in the eyes of an American. I grew up in a country that doesn't have 'proper mountains' yet if fields the most professional athletes in the elite category of the UCI DH World Cup. Down Hill is not dead or dying in the UK. Yes 'enduro' is more appealing, but that's because it's more accessible. For a group of people who get enjoyment out of exercise, we are lazy! Who can be bothered to push up a hill and do 5 laps in a day vs. Pedalling laps on their local trails? The UK has adapted, more and more up lift days and dedicated downhill trails are opening up, on any given weekend you can be riding an uplift service.
Where I live now, downhill is not dead or dying, it doesn't need saving. The lifts open up from June to September, and in that time, I along with most of the town will be riding our DH bikes, in-between those days we will be out on the enduro or road bikes.
  • 1 0
 UCI! UCI is the problem. Ditch the UCI and start a WC without an organization that's deliberately wrecking the sport. Start a WC with as much sponsors as you like and as much cameras you like. Ok, that sounds so easy. I believe that UCI is holding "us" back more than we know and if we set it free there's no holding us back. I mean, all the sports mentioned above like football, nascar and such doesn't have an organization behind them that's restraining them! What if Nascar applied a lot of bullshit rules, didn't promote the sport and just filmed a small part of the track? Do you all think it would be as big as it is now? Of course not!
I don't have the solution for bringing a whole new DH format to the world but I sure as hell can point out the problem!
  • 1 0
 Take a look at the videogame industry. Why is League of Legends such a monster game and the games I work on are not? Why do they have 32million players and we have...not 32milllion.

League;
- Basically two arenas to play in.
- It's free to play.
- It's constantly improved.
- recognizable teams.
- easy to watch and generally understand.
- easy to broadcast (sorry, WC DH broadcasts are like amateur hour most of the time)
- massive participation in play, but also in rebroadcasting, supporting broadcasts and writing tools and software to support the casters. That's an engaged community.
- The company that builds the game put up $1million in prize money for their world championships.
- with prize money like that at stake, the competition is elevated to the extreme. Aaron Gwin might be good, but how deep would the field be if there was serious money around.

DH isn't easy to participate in, it's not aspirational for a lot of people, it's really niche. You can't simply say, 'It should be broadcast and be in the news and monetized'. By whom? For what audience?

I make complicated, niche video games. We don't aspire to massive audiences...but we can aspire to a way bigger niche by improving accessibility, features, community tools, and adding fresh content. That maintains retention and maybe just adds a big more acquisition of some new audiences.
i think that's about the most mtb racing - of any kind- can aspire to; just a bigger niche...at least without turning into something it's not.

Build it and they will come. But not a lot. Enough people that maybe some sponsors show up and you get a little bit of coverage on Sportscenter.

Which I won't see anyway, because I'll be out riding my (non) downhill bike.
  • 1 0
 Downhill races in the UK seem to be booming. Pearce cycles series sells out all races within an hour or so of entries going live. All the national entries sell out weeks before the 1st round. Allot of the crappy winter 1minute races sell out, often a week before the event.

And I don't think they are advertised or marketed particularly well. Don't see allot of race reports or videos (other than nationals)and there's never allot of spectators, despite free spectator entry. Allot of people I know who ride mountain bikes know nothing about or have never heard of the races we do.


I really don't see the point in Enduro. It's just a half-assed format. You only race the DH sections so why not race DH and do it properly? And if you enjoy the transfer sections then race XC. Enduro is a confused mess.
  • 1 0
 I ride DH but don't race. I don't demand monetization, commercialization or generalization of the sport. we are 1% of 1% of 1%. that's why I like it. the appeal is not in being the most popular, easiest, or mst accessible. I don't want DH to be the Walmart of cycling, or to be a Hollywood sport. I will spend hundreds of dollars a year on parts, service, maintenance, apparel, passes, travel, etc. until - it is monetized. I guess my view won't matter since I'm not a racer. but I probably spend more $ in total on MTB than a racer

honestly, you can stick your commercialized monetized version of DH. the very thought of it unpleasant. all me me me, and egos

as a non racer I guess I am more FR than Dzh even tho I ride a best in class WC DH bike?

I honestly care about as much for this type of discourse as I do for the fake, egotistic and probably soon to be short lived Enduro fad
  • 1 0
 I really don't like all of these "______ branch of MTB is dying!!!" articles. The sport is alive and well, and trying to compare such a free-spirited and unique sport to other extreme sports doesn't work. MTB has a different vibe to many other sports, and the danger involved is part of that. It is just more fun to do than watch, and monetizing or selling out to the masses won't change that.
  • 1 0
 Kids out grow DH bikes too fast which makes no sense for parents because bikes are EXPENSIVE as hell.The future of our sport will not survive without youth participation but it is so expensive that it is becoming a sport for the wealthy.
  • 3 0
 NASCAR is more exciting than redbulls coverage of DH riders pedaling that flat section... Fix the coverage so that DH riders don't find the coverage boring.
  • 1 0
 EXACTLY RED BULL!!!!
  • 1 0
 Monetize is obviously the answer. The struggle is in accomplishing this. But the only way to accomplish this is to get race coverage off the internet and on to network television. The internet is great for those of us who already know, love, and follow the sport, but to be able to reach out to new audiences, we need to get on network television. This will increase the degree of access to advertising and sponsorship revenues, as a result of increased viewer audiences. But televising DH may not ever be accomplished, as there are a number of barriers. First is finding an audience. It's would be an uphill battle to change viewer preferences and attract them to watching a new sport. The degree of promotion that would be required would be phenomenal. Second is the coverage. RedBull has done a great job so far with the HD coverage, but it's just not going to be enough. For a televised event, there simply need to be way more cameras covering way more of the track. And with the difficulty in accessing locations on many of the tracks, the equipment required to get good camera angles and coverage, the costs would be insane. This is why events like slopestyle are so much more appealing to broadcasters. Not because they're a more exciting sport to watch, they're simply easier and less expensive to film. Or Alpine ski racing. Handful of camera mounted to cranes or booms can cover large amounts of the track. But in DH, in the trees, this doesn't work, and you have to one camera for each section of trail that you want to film. As much as I love DH and think everyone in the world should love it too, I just don't know if the economics exist to achieve this goal.
  • 1 0
 @Ambatt

Interesting article, and some interesting comments too. Personally my gut instinct is that downhill and other MTB disciplines have expanding here in the UK.

Also just to comment on your engagement point and providing more exposure to the general public. It is my belief that creating new, safe secure indoor and convenient MTB facilities will help do this - this will bridge the 'new comer' gap and help make the sport more accessible and in turn create a wider audience - and some people will get hooked.

And i don't mean replace the outdoors, i mean provide a facility in a major city next to lots or people where they can go have a try of riding a bike. Then whilst having a snack in the cafe area they might catch a glimpse of Peaty ragging it down some mountain and be like 'hey, thats cool as fcu.k - i woudlnt mind getting into that'
  • 2 0
 Why is road biking more popular than mountain biking and road biking is sooo boring to watch! We need more DOWNHILL! This World Cup has been a blast to watch! I even get my siblings to watch it also! Go Athertons!!!
  • 1 0
 Because anyone in the world can ride a road bike and therefore relate to the sport, and it has a hundred plus year history of being considered a classic sport, used to be bigger than team sports in the US a hundred years ago, go look up Major Taylor etc. DH took the sky surfing, DH skate marketing ride.
  • 1 0
 *My opinion*
What is just thought about was, that its maybe not the just the fault of "normal" people, but of the whole industry, mountainbiking is getting more popular and a lot people are focusing on Enduro, which makes the downhill crowd look smaller and causes the companies to promote Enduro bikes to make more money, because downhill doesn't seem so attractive anymore. (They're even trying to combine Enduro stuff with downhill, 29er Enduros in PMB, 650B wheels and forks, which is in my opinion just senseless for DH). Maybe the popularity of DH within all the MTBers will increase if they start focusing on it again, what will maybe lead to a bigger popularity to everyone outside of the sport… Or maybe it will just turn around in a few years and Enduro will become less popular…
Anyway, if it stays like it is now (or just a bit more attention), everything is okay for me...
  • 1 0
 DH racing isn't racing, it's a time trial and time trials suck to watch! A race has a mass start where people actually compete against each other, a time trial has a conga line of participants competing against someone else's number.

And they take forever to finish!!

Don't get me wrong. DH guys have balls of steel and I'm in awe of their riding skills, but the race format sucks.

They should have a mass start/run with 5-8 lines DH set up that cross/jump each other. Get drone cameras up in the air to provide actual live coverage (shocking I know), have points/time added for stunts, and the first person to cross the finish line wins - unless someone does a double back flip - then all bets are off.

Or just have uphill sections and call it Enduro!
  • 1 0
 We don't need beer-swilling-couch-ridden-troglodytes to understand/accept/enjoy/finance mtb downhill.

When you buy a Civic you're financing honda's F1 program whether you watch it or not. Honda pays for it's F1 program not the viewers of F1.

If certain trendwhore manufacturers want to leave dh to "focus" on endure let them. Good riddance. Plenty of other manufacturers looking to prove their mettle in (one of) the world's most challenging form of competition.
  • 1 0
 We need streaming helmet cams, spectators with streaming cams linked to a main source, and RFID/Bluetooth/iBeacon so the spectator cameras periodically switch as the rider comes within viewing distance. It can be done, just give it time. Also - why the hell doesn't oakley goggle or some other goggle company pair with google glass? Google glass by itself isn't moving fast, but put it in the hands of ultra progressive individuals and watch things happen... /rant>
  • 1 0
 Umm fix the goddamned red bull media player would be a start.....seriously though I like that DH is a fringe sport you want to ruin it make it like snowboarding look at the numbers snowboarding is down %20.. Do you really want dh to be super marketed with some ass clown talking about mtn dew helped him get stoked for his run..... I like watching dh World Cup races because I like watching the best ride the toughest courses you want to grow the sport make it more accessible to kids and the rest will fall into place
  • 1 0
 I didn't say 'make it like snowboarding', nor did I claim that snowboarding did it right. After having watched the snowboard industry fall nearly %80 in three years, I have absolutely no interest in creating a mini mock up of the snowboarding industry debacle. Believe me... That's what I'm trying to AVOID. Right now, all we have is this fake bubble of 'growth', and it's not benefitting very many people involved.

My goal, by beginning discourse like this, is to have the racers and riders decide where DH goes. We want so many things from our sport, but what do we give back? It takes an investment of time, energy and some TLC to make a sport amazing for all an create continued growth.
  • 1 0
 In my opinion,i found the actual Dh world bad:to much money,featureless track,muscle is more important than riding!
Isn't my view of what is mountain bike!
Now i'm interesting more about FEST series than WC!Nothing more to say!
Oh and sorry for my english!^^
  • 1 0
 Not EXTREME enough!

Peitmaritzberg Carins butta fest lets just get those 2 outta the way first!
Joke, no walk access, no sponsor's access look we can all bitch moan about whats wrong and it comes back to those at the top, im not trying to kick people!

But Im sick to death about MTB people who blame money, no crowds, its tough, the internet!

These people are killing mtb everywhere always excuses!
Peoples job in management is F***n solutions! Not whinning bitching and moaning the world is going to end.

Go get a real f.... job and find out how tough life actually is!

Stop pissing around, as we say bud and they will come!

Build it properly and they will stay and thrive!

Btw bring back Freecaster bitches!
  • 2 0
 In my opinion any kind of downhill orientated mountain biking is much better than foot ball or other such sports but some people do not find this kind of action sport as thrilling as others.
  • 1 0
 DH is to exclusive now. It used to be an ever man sport in that it could be done with anyone with a bike, maybe not win but could be done without a special bike that only does one thing and cost as much as a motocross bike, you could do it without risking your life crashing on massive rock gardens and on big drops constantly. DH tried to become freeride racing at the turn of the century boosted by the free ride revolution but really only made it's self more exclusive. DH to have the feel of DH ski racing until the Palmer and freeride took it the motocross direction and we were happy because we were the poster boy of extreme MTB, until Slope style and Rampage took that away from us. So either start doing time trials down the rampage course or make DH more assessable to the average mountain biker. Limit impassable rock gardens, do or die drops, make it rid able competitively on a 6" bike that everyone has now and bam, the masses can participate and bring sponsors and exposure. I know few will be stoked at the idea of giving our title of the tip of the spear of MTB progression to the Rampage guys but we can't compete on the Wheaties box kind of sponsorship anymore so we need to make it so more people can do our sport. I know everyone likes the exclusivity that their XC buddy cant even ride down the trails you do, but DH riders were still cool even when the spandex guys could ride down the kamikaze with us and survive. I guess kind of an extreme enduro time trial, but I am sure everyone would rather just run things into the ground than adapt.
  • 1 0
 Easy, get better tracks. I'm a long time rider and just recently a downhill fan. Sure these tracks are technical and a true test of a riders downhill abilities, but a lot of them are boring to watch. Skipping down rocks and roots is intense as hell but if you've never done it it just looks stupid. Smooth big jumps berms and high speeds, thats whats fun to watch. Throw in some buttery singletrack and done. The first two races this year were boring tracks, its true. Who cares if its a longtime course, adapt and build something thats entertaining to watch.
  • 1 0
 I have a few thoughts of why I think DH will never go mainstream. Too many self serving people who make up the sport. I could give names. I could give situation after situation I have seen first hand. Here is a prime example I experienced first hand. The 2009 World Championships in Canberra Australia. The entire event had to be rescued from the idiot MT Bikers who ran the World cup the year before. It was handed over to real professionals who had no clue about MT biking. They knew how to run a venue. The volunteers were all non Mt bikers. The parents of the participants didn't volunteer. The local riders didn't volunteer. There was just a general feeling of entitlement from those who actually participate in the sport. To try and do an event at Whistler is total bullshit. The companies who are mountain sponsors make it nearly impossible to have a race series and forget ever having a World Cup event there. It is a bunch of greedy people who are all trying to get to the top of the heap. The people who have a foothold in the sport close out anyone they feel threatened by. It is a sport full of Bro's. It is such a shit show where people stroke each others egos to gain the upper hand or get the Bro connection. The Dh aspect of the sport is rotten from the top down. Racing just proliferates the bullshit in the sport and teaches the younger generation coming into the ranks how to be selfish and the 'Get mine' mentality. Same goes for the guys who started Pinkbike and those who 'work' for them. Just another group of people trying to get in good for the deals. So many people who are all part of the problem. The sport is so un pure the closer you get to the people who think they are at the top of the sport.
  • 1 0
 NW Cup is a great series for DH, courses and categories for all riders (most of the time), something for everyone, from little kids to the pros. Way more fun for a family to go out and everyone can race. Plus good for development.
  • 1 0
 high powered wifi and gopro's all over the track. Hang em on every tree. Just kidding. I don't get why they need those huge camera's for filming the events. I think a DSLR with a steadicam can do an awesome job. Have some of those scattered over the entire track. should bee good. Some wifi antenna's and you can stream it.
  • 1 0
 How do you feel about being a visionary? Wink Seeing as how GoPro just released their new antennae system, I would say that you were pretty dead spot on. Wink
  • 1 0
 It occurs to me, and i think its been covered to an extent already, that 'Downhill' is a many headed serpent.... it means different things to different people. Different groups also want different things from it.....most obviously; racers want a professional sport with funding which enables them to make a living. Your weekend DH rider isn't concerned about the money coming into the sport but does want a more competitive (lower) price for what is, lets face it, an extremely expensive passion/hobby/lifestyle/sport as well as access to decent trails/bike parks to emulate the plethora of videos on PB and others.

This discussion is a debate about direction as much as anything and the cynic in me is unsurprised that people who make their living from racing DH through the attributed sponsorship, want to 'save it'.

I guess that sports like ours are led from the top, and that makes sense to an extent, but for non-pros (most definitely like me) the money is less of a concern. I just wonder whether or not the focus for 'saving DH' should be at the top? Is it led by a small number at the top (who i love watching, reading about and cheering on) or is it in reality led by those who purchase the products that get used every day? The 'where the pro's go you should follow' argument is effectively marketing isnt it? I dont know...

Isn't the best way to save DH to make it more accessible to the people who want to ride and buy the bikes? And in order to do that; drive down prices on equipment. There has generally been a global economic downturn but all i've seen is higher prices justified by the Pro's that use the products to get to the podium, something most of us are never going to do. Much like sports like skiing, snowboarding, rallying etc this sport is/was extremely expensive to get into as a kid, more so for families....if thats where we want our special little sport to go.....
  • 1 0
 I'm slightly bothered by your accusation that A, I make a living from DH racing and B, that's why I want to save it, but I'll let it go because neither of those could be closer to the truth.

I wrote this because I understand the unique relationship between 'core' money and 'mainstream' money, and let me tell you this: getting more mainstream interest (aka money) into DH and mountain biking in particular is what will save it. That starts with creating something interesting in the first place... Something aspirational and entertaining.

In the MTB market, we have two very extreme ends of the spending spectrum -- the Walmart bike on one end and the $5000+ bike on the other. Between the $250-$4200 marks, there isn't that much that's quality, accessible material. Why? Because there is very little spending done at that level because of MARKET INTEREST and lack of demand. Why? People aren't interested. They don't know how much fun biking is, or why spend money on it. There has to be personal value in riding, which is what drives a consumer to spend money. Do they love it? Do they want to sped money on it? People only spend money on things they VALUE and CARE about. How do we fix that? Creat interest. How do we fix the high cost/low quality ratios and create more reasonably-priced bikes? Create market demand. Build something of interest that will create affinity, which will grow to value and they'll spend money = demand.

So please. Don't marginalize my efforts to create lasting sustainability in mountain biking because of some stereotypical fairy tale you store inside of your head because of a skewed perspective. I'm a racer, yes... Because I like going fast. If I gave a shit about the money, I'd have become an advertising lady, a lawyer or a trophy wife.

I'm out to change the industry, however, to make riding bikes interesting, accessible, feasible, and fun for all... No matter the discipline. So please. Have some respect.
  • 1 0
 I don't think it's dieing in the UK, perhaps where the OP lives.

However to address the point of growing the sport: it's closest 'successful' comparison sport is DH skiing and even that struggles to get much air time. DH ski racing is the racing pinnacle of what most skiers do; DH mountain biking is the pinnacle of only a very small part of the sport. As much as it is the most entertaining, the size of DH as a sport is always going to be a percentage of mountain biking as a whole, which is a percentage of cycling as a whole. To grow DH you need to grow cycling and MTB as a whole. Happily I think these are happening, certainly cycling in the UK is growing.

As for coverage, technology is moving in our favour. Not long ago HD videos were hugely expensive, but now you get GoPros here there and everywhere and movie cameras are significantly cheaper. Wireless tech is also improving and in time will mean no more cable runs for camera installations.
  • 2 0
 Tracks need to stop being dumbed down too. It's supposed to be downhill mountain biking, but then you see tracks with people riding "pedal motorcross bikes" on XC tracks. Looks ridiculous.
  • 1 0
 Lay Days and mindless adherence to the UCI schedule destroyed the last example of the World Cup for those we are trying to bring to the sport. When Surfing in the 90s became boring and finals were being held in 2 foot onshore slop, the concept of lay days and moving to other breaks with better conditions occurred. Has fixed it and the footage is all time, if it's not working why show it. The point of a World Series is to show the best athletes going the fastest and balls out with the best footage possible.

Can anyone....anyone say if you were a layman and had discretional cash and tuned into the last round a) as a tourist you would want to go there and b)the footage that Redbull put out was interesting, exciting and showed the sport or athletes at their best. So, it is a fail for all concerned in regard to any external audit of investment and for the sporting administrators. So we need to know why lay days were not introduced and they raced two days later when the course was significantly faster ( and for those greenies judging the sport is it not so hypocritical for the racing authority to demand track closure of the mums and Dads and new kids coming to the sport but why hellwe are having an event, all our heros are instructed to carve this place a new river and beam it around the world).
  • 1 0
 Oh sure this is probably not appreciated, and for those already in the sport and raced or invested it's all a bit closed so all will congratulate themselves. But really that event was a debacle and the footage was appaulling......absolutely appaulling, the black edits coming out tell us that. If they can't do it, give it to someone who can. But you are not going to get new spectators or fans by making fully decked riders in huge bikes slog up hill through mud, period. And as I have a bike from the 96 event and was there and have watched and ridden for longer, it's too separated from its base riders and become elitist at the bike not athlete level, the money has not increased the footage for the punter and the racing framework needs a revision to excitement. And for that the only people who can be held accountable are those administrators responsible for delivering this to my kids as a sport above all else they wish to participate in. Cause if it doesn't, my money is not going to be paying for them to do so. And that's the demand talking, period.
  • 1 0
 Forget about the SPORT part of biking and focus on making better products for the people who actually pay for their stuff. Most riders never race and therefor don't follow racing they just ride all the time with their buddies. While the "pros" are having a party in Whistler their race technology is failing someone who paid retail and is causing the retailer to lose money and consumer confidence. Sponsored freeloaders should get a real job actually doing something useful like rebuilding my fork after a mere 30 hours of riding, so much BS in the bike industry.
  • 1 0
 Why is the World Rally Championship WRC less well followed than F1 or NASCAR? Simple, it's bacause one competitor on a track is less interesting than several on the track at the same time. Moto GP gets boring because only one or two people ever fight for the win. Forget the masses, everyone wants to see wheel to wheel racing. Don't get me wrong, I personally LOVE watching the world cup as it is , but until someone comes up with a 'DH 4-Cross' the sport will remain only for the enthusiasts.
  • 1 0
 I am really surprised to read this "death of downhill." From Pinkbike, no less. I've always thought it was quite alive and healthy. Even here in the Philippines, DH is growing with the number of DH events, alongside enduro. It's XC racing here that's getting smaller and smaller, with less "executive" XC races happening although there are still big XC races held. Then again, not being in the USA or Europe, I know nothing about the "death of DH" in those places. It would be a sad day for mountain biking if DH "dies."
  • 1 0
 For god's sake already... This isn't about the death of downhill! It's about saving downhill from its impending bubble burst. Arguing about whether or not downhill is dying doesn't make the situation better or fix anything... Things need to change to keep downhill from dying, and THAT is the point.
  • 1 0
 Biking should be in the place skiing is, hope you agree. People watch downhill skiing for high end skills, and emotions of their favorite sport. They watch it on tv cause they try/can try skiing, and barely ride easy/blue track. They can pack their kids in car and try this sport on easy, safe track.
In our sport unfortunatelly its not possible. Almost all trails are too hard, at least for beginners or kids. They are steep, narrow, full of roots. There are no small (20", 24") downhill bikes for kids for buying nor rent. There are no "bike schools" near every trail. And last, this sport is more expensive than skiing.
  • 1 0
 This was always going to happen. Once the brahs like Bender came out & said "hey all you pussy c*nts, this is how we can do" it was all over for DH. Racing is boring when you set it next to goin' big. When you consider what potential freeride had/has, no one will care any more about coastin' down a hill over some bumps doin' a few speed wheelies. The MTB is too versatile a tool to remain constrained to something as boring as DH racing. We all had the skills needed to coast down a hill on a bike when were 5. Big f*ckin' deal. Blank Stare We were always destined for more. To be greater. It just makes sense. The freeriders are usually the most entertaining ones to watch shredding a trail anyway. Racers like Cryin Brian feared it, because they knew freeride would take over like it does in every other sport. That's progress. All I can say is "natural selection".
  • 1 0
 I wouldent say dh is dying. In the uk you can just about race every single weekend in the year. Some races even clash. Check rootsandrain.com callander its all there. I started racing in 2006 and now there is triple the amount of racing i can do. I do agree with a lot of the artical though. Somthing has to be done to push the sport upwards.
  • 1 0
 I apologize now if some of these ideas have been already said but I think the coverage needs to be about more than the race. Coverage should also showcase the riders-where they came from, stories about their life, how there season is doing, rivalries with other riders etc. You need to get people to connect with the riders as people. When people connect they'll start to buy the merchadise of their favorite riders. They should also showcase the new technology- new trends, whose riding what etc. Im sure companies would pay to have their gear showcased on tv. Lastly the event location could have its own show to preview the track, changes from last year, what the riders think about it and changes to their bike or riding style for the course. This way when people are watching the coverage they know which parts to watch out for. Id also showcase the other types of riding the location has to offer. People who might not be into dh will relate to the trails they can ride and might stay to watch the dh event. Get the dh riders to ride these trails. Id relate a lot more to a rider if I saw him/ her riding my bike. Remeber the shows "ride guide" and "drop in"? I loved those show and used to watch then all the time. Do a drop in tour following dh races!
Make the race the main event but there are so many other things available to draw in spectators.
  • 1 0
 Using drones to video tape full runs or long cable cams would help also. As a spectator you see about 5 seconds of the person you are there to watch, most people are too lazy to hike hills to watch us race, they would rather sit on their couch ,drink beer and watch drivers do left turns all day and hope people crash for some mayhem!!!!
  • 1 0
 Warner & Tippie coverage of more than the standard Redbull 15 seconds of a WC run. Throw it on a VHS tape. Get 2000 DH riders to hand deliver it in one go to every major sports network.

Jobs a good 'un!
  • 3 1
 The thing is watching DH racing is just boring. I love to ride some sweet dh trails, and i do as much as i can, but i do not like watching the racing.
  • 1 0
 Equipment is to expensive to really become a mainstream sport, and too many newcomers get hurt and won't do it again, just like people who try and snowboard and break their wrist on there first fall.
  • 1 0
 Your right but look at racing. Racing is one of the most expensive sports, cars can cost more than 10 times as much as our bikes, and it gets lots of coverage. As for the injuries well look at football, there is always the people in high school who get one concussion and quit but the ones who get back up and become great go to the NFL. Plus not very many people that I know of just go straight into downhilling without doing some general trail mountain biking first. There are plenty of people who get up after they get hurt and go right back and try the line that they crashed on again.
  • 1 0
 progression goes in baby steps!
  • 1 0
 @mofyman yeah that's what I was trying to say.
  • 1 0
 right on Vans4life14, guess more MTB instructors are need much like Ski/ Snowboard instructors. Teach em right first time and they will have skills for life!
  • 3 0
 enduro will be big for a few years but people will get bored and go back to downhill
  • 2 0
 Care to place wager on that?
  • 1 0
 Enduro is just like going for a ride but the track is busy and some guy blows a whistle when you pass almost every corner…..or maybe that's just racing!
  • 5 1
 Save DH? Good luck with that while its still part of the UCI.
  • 1 0
 Well, Brian Cookson is the new head of the UCI, and he's done a major job of making British Cycling successful in EVERY discipline, so it remains to be seen. As a Utah man, I would think you'd be more prone to hating USAC -- it's all the rage. Wink
  • 1 0
 Ha! Ya, the USAC is prob worse. Of course we all sit here and complain on the internet but then most of us don't do anything about it.
  • 4 1
 Maybe faux journalists should stop talking it down and insisting enduro is king then asking how to save dh!
  • 1 0
 How well spoken. How wonderfully elucidated... I'm overwhelmed by the intelligence of your comment. Faux journalists be damned, I'm not even a professional blogger. This is my opinion, and it was about how Enduro is king, but instead, how we could fix certain issues in the DH racing market.
  • 1 1
 really? first off all very often i had seen alot of great dh videos with alot of favs and stuff and doesnt get elected for vod but if its enduro or xc doesnt need to be too col to be vod... and now they clame about the solution? this is hilarious lol
  • 1 0
 It's not a 'they', it's a 'she', and that 'she' is me. This is clearly an opinion piece, as stated in the title... And if you think my suggestions are such 'hilarious' solutions, I'd love to hear yours.
  • 1 0
 if you are a pinkbike admin and you elect the VOD's than yes i was talking about you... if you are not a pinkbike admin and just created this thread thank you very much i think also that downhill is diyng in some sort of way ... the fault here is the pinkbike admins... if you watch out carefully you may find alot of great bike videos of downhill created like today or yesterday full of favs and stuff and insted of beying elected for VOD most of the times a xc or enduro clip is elected for VOD even if it has less favs... so well if you see every day the vods at least 3 in 5 its enduro or xc or even dirt jump... so this is going inside your will without you getting noticed of it...
  • 2 0
 when people see the nfl football is the easiest sport, maybe they will move on. or give spectators free tickets for lifts, drawings, free anything
  • 1 0
 There was never "days" that Danny hart was on top
  • 1 0
 Maybe if DH bikes didn't cost as much as a car or moto then maybe it could appeal to more people... The vast majority see the costs involved then turn and run before the even get to experience DH....
  • 1 0
 And "enduro" bikes are any cheaper?
  • 3 0
 Agreed, but the whole appeal of enduro when it first started was that you could experience mini-DH fun on normal bike... Obviously it's progressed very far very quickly and hence the bikes have followed suit and now even they have become Enduro specific... but the fact remains is that enduro gives the Average Joe a chance to take part in a sport with any bike and be confident it wont be torn to pieces when they get to the bottom.... Looking at DH bikes in DH races scares people off... Why is soccer so popular? because every guy and his dog has played soccer at some point and can afford to buy a ball.... Can we say the same about DH? even though it's a million times more exciting than watching a bunch of pussies kicking a ball around? Hell no... The first step on the ladder is far too high...
  • 1 0
 Exactly what DH was like in the 90's basically a time trial enduro. I think you are spot on. DH is paying the price of trying to be more extreme and exclusive rather than keep it a sport anyone could try. The ladder is far to high, and has isolated us from the masses of the MTB community in many ways and is why enduro is greeted so warmly, because it is something any mountain biker can try and maybe be good at with the bike they have.
  • 1 0
 I'm one of like two or three people at my school that take part in Downhill. I've been called "Weak" or a "Pussy" ect for riding Downhill. I ask the people that tell me that and they've got no clue exactly what Downhill is.
  • 1 1
 Why you all want to to make it bigger??if we keep it true will always be fun, original, healthy, why you want a big outside bike company set the guidelines of your sport? Enjoy your ride... Personally is all about having fun
  • 2 0
 Ummm, Downhill Racing is alive and well on the East Coast. So is enduro, XC and road for that matter. Just move here and you'll be happy !
  • 1 0
 we need complete coverage top to bottom then the people will watch..i watch every race i need complete top to bottom coverage.. and jburaandt09 you are right they need to fix that redbull crapplayer
  • 1 0
 We need to make it a bit like formula 1, by looking at how each teams bikes are set up because formula 1 fans love that stuff so why wouldn't they having the same technical stuff with a far more exiting race after.
  • 1 0
 Well when ever it go to the barber there always playing downhill and freeride videos on the tv inside there to watch something while waiting and it seems to get a lot of attention.
  • 1 0
 Good luck...its boring. Period. Hell I race DH and I hate watching the worldcup races... Helmet cams make it even more boring. Its like someone above said...hard to make people like it as its hard to relate to it.
  • 1 0
 Hey, there is no death of downhill racing in Northern BC. An amazing event is happening in Taylor BC this summer. Come check it out and participate... woohoo www.fsjmtb.com cheers to those who ride we love ya all!!!!!
  • 3 0
 Surely it won't die, lots of humans are hooked on the clock..
  • 4 0
 What does Peaty think?
  • 1 2
 I love watching DH racing, but there is no product to save. Motorcross, and Nascar, are high speed racing events. What Moto lacks in speed it makes up for with BIG JUMPS. The Redbull Rampage, again BIG JUMPS. DH world cup races are a single guy, racing against a clock, threw some extremely technical stuff, that the riders make look easy, and the camera's slows down. Do you think anybody would watch Boarder Cross if they ran the guys down the course one at a time. NO. DH will need to catch up with the times, and go all in. The racers need to be bar to bar, the slow technical rock gardens need to go away, (why do you think they have endurocross in little arenas, and towns where the fans don't have a home town Supercross) and get replaced with big sweeping corners leading into Big Jumps.
  • 2 0
 Make cheap/good downhill bikes and build more parks and DH trails. That'll draw more people to this mind blowing sport.
  • 2 0
 I always wondered what all that travel on a DH bike was for. Tomfoolery it is!
  • 3 0
 Great read. Way to get people thinking.
  • 1 1
 I love shredding DH and watching the pros rip world cups. But I don't really give a fuck about entering races. DH as a whole is as popular as it has ever been, cause it's fun. Racing is a niche group. Same as it ever was.
  • 2 0
 Ugg mainstream. That would truly suck. I'd rather watch grassroots races than a WC race thats overrun with NASCAR fans.
  • 2 0
 We'll in the NE, the ESC has ADDED races to its DH venue and split them.
  • 3 1
 so many paragraphs in the comments
  • 2 0
 The bottom comments are always tha best! Holy shit Pinkbike!!!
  • 2 2
 New rules: All bikes must have at least 8 inches of travel. All bike must have a dual crown fork. All parts must be downhill specific.
  • 2 0
 Could go with an AMA style rule and make it so that all bikes are available to the public before the start of the race season.
  • 3 1
 I'd rather bike myself. I don't watch much sports on TV.
  • 3 5
 wow...to summarize this article... we should try to profit from dh racing.... we aren't profiting from dh racing... someone should do something about this... i have no clue how to do profit from dh racing, but we should try to profit from dh racing... zero insight, zero conclusions as to why its a 'dying sport', i have learned nothing from reading this. other than you think we should 'monetize it!' whatever that means.
  • 4 3
 Wow. Your reading comprehension sucks.

Also: it's an 'opinion' piece. What you CAN'T see is the hours I put in outside of Pinkbike, trying like hell to fix these issues with teams, with companies, with race series and social media and cooperative efforts between brands and press and locations and events. Oh, and racing professionally. Yeah.

So please, tell me again how my opinion piece somehow simply threw a fit about not making money? It's easy to be a keyboard jockey, isn't it? So much easier than actually doing something, raising discourse, and getting people talking and working together to build something better.

Puh-lease.
  • 3 1
 i apologize if the comment came as a bit cynical. what did you offer in your article? did you offer anything novel that the marketing folks at "bike company" havent thought of? obviously you and i think that DH racing is exciting and we have a passion for it. what is your idea for why it doesnt relate to more people? you never connected any dots. Personally i think its because we dont capture racing well on video AND deliver it to the audience in a 'real-time' manner. The technology to do that is there, we just havent done it yet. it also isnt popular because people are racing against a clock and not each other, atleast that part of why. These are two ideas i have. which specific ideas do you have for why DH racing isnt appealing to more people?
  • 1 0
 Maybe it's a jump off point. Maybe it was an opinion to help stimulate the discussion about DH racing's future. Maybe it was simply a writer, putting down thoughts about commercializing downhill. Maybe it was actually an introductory piece to a series of articles... Maybe it was simply a feeler to get a pulse on where Pinkbikers stand.

Strange how such cynicism is drawn out in such a way... You criticize my opinion, yet failed to note the comparisons to other sports' successful tactics or through marketing and ENGAGEMENT.

So because I didn't map out marketing and industry improvement specifics for here, it means that this article added nothing valuable to the discussion or the discourse? It's a crying shame you would so easily dismiss that.
  • 2 0
 Is their such a thing as recreational bobsled?
  • 2 0
 I like DH and DH likes me. end of discussion.
  • 1 0
 enduro racing is hardly cheaper then DH, ive seen enduro rigs going for a lot more then DH rigs
  • 1 0
 But you can ride that enduro bike every day on any trail, un like a DH bike that just sits there unless you have a lift or can wrangle a shuttle crew. Enduro does well because it is something everyone can do with their one bike. So yes you can spend as much on a bike as you want but you could also take a cheap hard tail mtb on an enduro and if you are baller you may even win. DH used to be that way also, I remember Myles Rockwell destroying everyone in his first races in Durango in jean and a t shirt on a fully rigid bike. There was a time when people didn't need a quiver of bike to compete in mountain biking.
  • 2 0
 Downhill is so much cooler than enduro.
  • 2 0
 Who the f*ck says dh is dying?
  • 1 0
 What is the problem with dh racing? It's doing perfectly fine as it is.....
  • 1 0
 Ha ha ! Enduro is the Diet Coke of downhill. Guys riding downhill on the wrong bikes.
  • 1 0
 They need to build proper downhill tracks not silly bike park motorways. That's what is killing downhill
  • 3 1
 Put Emily on a DH bike.
  • 2 1
 this article is gold man, pure gold
  • 2 0
 Boobs and bacon.
  • 1 0
 Mmmmmmm, boobs.
  • 1 0
 Holy wall of text. Imma need some cliffs
  • 1 0
 Gee Atherton is on BT sport sat AM (UK only)
  • 1 0
 Why should i give a shit if downhill is popular?
  • 1 0
 I dont think both UCI races this year were on the news.
  • 1 0
 Pinkbike for President! Then just declare it law.
  • 1 0
 Monetize mometize monetize.....wrong!!!!
  • 1 0
 I can tell that here in Switzerland it's not dying, rather exploading !
  • 1 0
 Build it and they will come! Wswyg urgh!
  • 1 1
 ain't gona happen! DH is cool but exotic/hardcore sport! can't do anything, Enduro is already here and will take over
  • 1 1
 Make DH tracks that people can race with their enduro bike without dying. Drink their milk shake.
  • 1 0
 GoPro....get in there! $$$
  • 1 0
 There is no "Impending death of downhill". Nice trolling PB!
  • 1 0
 take the coverage away from redbull and give it to TV,
  • 2 0
 I would like to know if Redbull would allow television affiliates to use their footage in a sportscast or online.
  • 2 0
 With the right contract, I don't doubt that they would. NBC ran RedBull footage when they aired Rampage... It's about setting up with the right affiliates and getting marketing involved. All it takes is one person flipping through the channels to suddenly stop and say 'Holy f*ck, what is THIS?!'
  • 1 0
 Urban Downhill!!! That will save us all!
  • 1 0
 The solution stop watching XC
  • 1 0
 There is a lot of comments to read Smile
  • 1 0
 WHOA who ever said Nascar is a sport...
  • 1 0
 Unfortunately lots of people.
  • 1 1
 I'll bet it would be a lot more popular if the pros stopped holding up this swagfag gimmick.. Haha
  • 1 0
 people won't watch if dh ain't gnarly
  • 2 2
 How about you racers build trails rather thanks destroy them?

CM!
  • 1 0
 I like the wind
  • 1 0
 run eliminator events
  • 1 2
 If only the same amount of energy marketing Enduro went to DH!
  • 3 0
 The marketing for Enduro is aimed at MTB'ers not the general public, as the bike companies want you to buy an Enduro bike !
  • 1 0
 That is because masses of people are getting into enduro it is an inclusive sport rather than exclusive like DH. The crazy money for DH sponsorships back in the day were because DH was to tip of the spear of mountain bike progression, we no longer hold that title it has gone to Slope style and rampage stuff if marketers are looking for that random clip of "extreme" Money for DH will have to come from making it more available to mountain bikers like enduro to sell more bikes and parts. Make DH doable on a 6" travel enduro bike everyone is buying and people will participate again, the sport will grow the become more specialized and exclusive again and the cycle will continue.
  • 4 0
 You don't need to make DH more doable to people riding 6" bikes so they can participate, the whole point of DH is too be gnarly. The point of this article is from a spectator point of view not the riders !!
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