Propain Pauses its Factory Race Team for 2023

Nov 12, 2022 at 11:33
by Ed Spratt  

Propain will be joining Norco on the growing list of companies not putting factory teams together for the 2023 season.

Following Norco's announcement in October that it would be skipping next year's racing Propain has come forward to say it will be taking a break from having a factory team in 2023 although it sounds like there could be a return in the future.

The pausing of the team means Henry Kerr, Luke Meier-Smith and Remy Meier-Smith could be on the hunt for a new team although Propain has said "it is a matter of course to us that we care about our team members and keep them on track for 2023 with our connections to industry partners and co."

It is sad to see another high-profile team pulling out of next year's racing and we hope there won't be too much more of this news to come.

bigquotesIt really hurts us to say but the Propain Factory Racing Team will take a break in 2023. This was definitely not an easy decision, and we want to explain why we need to do this.

Since 2016 we were part of the Downhill World Cup with our first professional team, “Propain Dirt Zelvy”. Always driven by the thrill we get from racing competitive, three years later in 2019 we had big plans for this team and took it more serious than ever before. We changed the team structure to run as “Propain Factory Racing” with the main goal to become a Top 10 Team at the World Cups.

Another three years later the whole world has changed again. We do not want to blame everything on the pandemic, but it was a significant part that changed not only our surroundings but also Propain itself. We are a growing owner-operated company from South Germany and just getting started to get our hands in the markets outside of Europe. In the last three years, times were hectic and stressful as we tried to conquer the increasing demand for bikes and the simultaneously increasing delivery times for all kinds of bike parts. At this time, our minds were not focused on a World Cup Downhill Team, but we kept going and 2022 turned out to be one of the most successful years for the team.

This made the decision definitely not easier but with better riders, this also means more responsibility, time and effort we have to invest. The competition for good riders is always high, and in the end we could not keep the existing team in its current set-up.

In 2023 the MTB World Cup is going to change with more stops across the globe in a shorter period. We made this strategic decision to take that time to build a strong team for 2024 and focus all our energy and power on our customers to ensure we build the best bikes for us and our friends. We will dedicate the upcoming year to recalibrate and pave the way for 2024 to come back fully reloaded.

We want to thank our athletes, the whole team with team manager Ben Reid, our sponsors and of course every fan for the last seven years of racing Downhill World Cups with Propain. It is a matter of course to us that we care about our team members and keep them on track for 2023 with our connections to industry partners and co.

This is not a goodbye, we will be back!
Propain


bigquotesI can honestly say it’s been a pleasure running the World Cup Team for Propain for the past 7 seasons. Meeting the company owners Robert and David for the first time in 2016 and seeing their passion to build the best bikes for their friends it was immediately something I felt proud to be a part of.

Two extremely hard-working and down-to-earth mountain bike riders who run their business on fairness and loyalty and it's really no surprise that their company has grew into what it is today. It’s been an easy partnership as our goals to develop the best race bike for the team were very much aligned and anything the team needed it got.

Gearing up for the 2023 season this news initially came as a shock but having chased the World Cup circuit for the past 21 years of my life as a rider and manager I welcome this opportunity to focus on other projects and although not as a team manager I hope to stay involved with the brand as the guys at Propain truly have felt like family and there really is no other bike id rather ride. From the riders we have had over the years, staff and sponsors, thank you all very much for being part of it.”
Ben Reid, Team Manager



172 Comments

  • 167 1
 great start for discovery lol
  • 91 2
 Sadly I believe this is part of the plan, which is to make the cost of entry high enough (now 20k just to start, I think) to dissuade the small teams from joining, as Discovery is looking for fewer but bigger teams, as in almost every sport. The newer format is better for less teams, too. A new DH series is badly needed.
  • 4 4
 @gemma8788: given that the live feed only shows the top 30 then it direct make any difference to the audience how many more turned up
  • 4 0
 @gemma8788: so you must be on a team that pays 20k Frank's or dollars in order to race a WC in 2023 ?
  • 11 4
 @dmock157: correct yes. Discovery drastically raised the team fees for this upcoming season
  • 4 1
 @pierceklinke: is that so? My understanding was that 2023 would be a transitioning year and there wouldn’t be any drastic changes.
  • 3 1
 @pierceklinke: so there are no privateers allowed in Jr or elite or women's at all for any WC uci races in any discipline or just DH or ?
  • 19 5
 @gemma8788: to me this is why ama motocross/supercross is so far superior to most other professional sports! If you have your pro license and a not so expensive entry fee money you can try to qualify!
  • 2 0
 @pierceklinke: Do you have a source for that? So far I've only seen rumors...
  • 2 0
 @gemma8788: I was hoping to win that $2b lottery to do just that.
  • 1 1
 @dmock157: I'm not totally sure, but I think privateers are still allowed, just that teams will have to pay the $20k fee. As if pro teams aren't already spending a ton of cash to make these competitions happen.
  • 2 0
 @pierceklinke: I've heard this too. But thinking about it, isn't it the UCI that determine race entry fees? Discovery are just the broadcasters of the race, not the event organiser right?
  • 6 3
 People somehow seem to prefer Redbull over Discovery, for whatever reason. And in their hatred for the latter, it seems nobody read more than the headline. At least, that’s the obly explanation I have why everybody makes up some “reasons” for Propain’s decision that clearly ignore that they will be back in 2024.
  • 4 1
 @meditationman: It's not race entry fees, it's team registration fees. I'm not sure if they're happening in 23 or not. The UCI have taken a step back and Discovery are now making more decisions around the sport. What remains to be seen is how close they'll have to get to killing it before the UCI step back in.
  • 1 0
 @commental: Ah ok, it that still seems like it should be a UCI decision? Obviously it's not, it just doesn't seem to make sense to me. Do football broadcasters (I don't know who shows it, sky?) determine premier league registration fees?
  • 1 1
 @meditationman: just another line in a contract I guess
  • 2 0
 @dmock157: No I believe it means Team registration, which probably includes pit locations and other things I'm unsure of. A privateer should still be able to register show up and race like before.
  • 1 1
 Not exactly how it works.
I guess misinformation is king @bbc611:
  • 1 1
 @Durtwrx: what did I say that’s miss information?
  • 1 1
 @dolface: nonsense. You do not need to be on a team to race WC.
  • 1 1
 @dmock157: yes of course they are allowed to race, this pierceklinke character doesn’t know shit
  • 1 2
 @pierceklinke: get your facts straight and we're all good...Bruh.
  • 45 0
 Feels like just the start. Such a bummer where I think the sport is heading.... hopefully I'm dead wrong.
  • 8 4
 Well take a look around at any smart biz right now...next 3 years will be about survival. Layoffs etc
  • 7 0
 Commencal team 1 Commencal team 2 Commencal team 3 Commencal team 4 Commencal team 5 Commencal team 6 Etc
  • 51 16
 I'm pretty sure it is because of Rémy Métailler's Instagram. He must be the main reason why people are buying Propain bikes. No more needs for Porpain to be visible elsewhere... Wink
  • 28 2
 Well, it's a fair point, what sells more bikes, instagram with Remy doing some cool stuff or a full on DH team traveling the world?
  • 26 1
 @HeatedRotor: Plus Jono Jones, Carson Storch, and Ryan Radriguez. They're pretty well-represented for a smaller company.
  • 52 6
 @HeatedRotor: I tried making this point but got downvoted into oblivion. Sam Pilgrim will sell more mountain bikes riding on his youtube channel than greg minnar will riding the WC circuit. GMBN probably sells more Orbeas and Canyons than the EWS team.
  • 15 4
 @Ironchefjon: Here"s another unpopular opinion: racing is entirely a self serving activity. From a business standpoint, racing by itself doesn't mean anything unless the exposure sells bikes. This became painfully obvious during the pandemic. A lot of companies realized that without racing, many paid athletes didn't add any other value.
  • 16 1
 I ghink the clock gives the bikes a lot of credibility. The meir smith bros and henry kerr and super fast up and comers. Give them a so so bike and theyre results would suffer. Remi could still do his burly squamish riding on a so so bike. I think propains young gun race team gave them a lot of street cred this year. Not big salary riders but 20k sign up fee def puts a new wrinkle in the mix. Too bad. They were a team and name that had my attengion after last year
  • 8 0
 @Ironchefjon: In Chatel or Morzine there are much more Santa Cruz or Commencal bikes than Ghost
  • 4 2
 @Ironchefjon: made a similar point. If I wanted to sell bikes in 2023, Id ensure my insta and youtube exposure was sh!t hot. Racing is a very limited in time and not very accessible activity in terms of in person or by screening.
I wonder what sales difference Norco and Propain will see? If any.
I wonder who bought a bike because they saw it in a DH or even XC race?
  • 4 0
 @Exbow: This is exactly why the focus of Pinkbike Academy is on more than just racing and fitness. They have outright said they are looking for a brand ambassador, being fast might come along with that but it's not necessarily required.
  • 2 2
 @stevemokan: that’s great in all but if they were all on trek or giant they’d be saying they ride the best bikes so that really doesn’t matter lol
  • 4 1
 I’d definitely like to try riding a propain. Always been intrigued.
  • 1 0
 @txcx166: I love my hyugene.
  • 3 0
 @HeatedRotor: absolutely agree. I would be curious to see how many customers could cite a brand or teams racer vs. sponsored influencer like Remi when buying company x’s bike.
  • 1 1
 @ilovedust: I wanted to support a local company plus I like the looks of Norco's, and don't follow DH / XC.
  • 1 0
 I almost bought a Propain, and I discovered the brand on Remys youtube. If it wasn't for that wait time...
  • 1 0
 @stevemokan: Never heard of any of them. I bought my Tyee around the time Remy started with Propain. For me it's nice to see a prevalent rider on the bike, but I'd much rather see a race team on it.
  • 1 1
 @ilovedust: when I worked at a shop I would often questions customers who their favourite rider is or ask them if they saw the EWS/WC results etc.

Would say less than 15% of males knew what I was even talking about. Women it was less than 1%.

Blinki rides for Norco, is a Kiwi and essentially nobody has heard of that guy in terms of consumers on the ground.
  • 2 0
 @bonfire: i think a lot of the keeners/nerds out there know who blenki is and those guys influence quite a few sales. Its like trail building. A good community has those 2 or 3 guys that motivate everyone. Every community just needs those 2 or 3. Same for bike brands and style of bikes. The fast local guys influence sales and those fast guys probably race and know whose who on the WC/ews
  • 37 3
 Pros are gonna feel the pain of this announcement.
  • 26 1
 No propain, no gain.
  • 7 0
 Foul Taste of Freedom
  • 3 0
 @vinay: I remember this album ruling so hard when it came out.
  • 1 0
 @danstonQ: I, too, feel their pain...
  • 1 0
 @danstonQ: username checks out
  • 4 1
 @danstonQ: hey,
If pain is your friend
Does it mean that
bread est ton ami?
  • 1 2
 @uponcripplecreek: on a une chaine de boulangerie ici qui s'appelle "Les Délices du Pain", alors va savoir ;-)
  • 1 1
 They must be Tyeed of this shit by now...
  • 32 1
 Time for RedBull DH Cup?
  • 25 0
 hank hill gives this news a thumbs down.
  • 16 0
 Dang it Bobby!
  • 8 0
 No more Propain accessories Frown
  • 2 0
 That's my purse! I don't know you!
  • 21 1
 Propain propain.
  • 16 0
 I am the liquor
  • 2 1
 He's a drunken horror show.
  • 17 1
 I’d rather a bike company take a year off from supporting a pro race team than a year off from supporting their customer base.
  • 16 1
 It's almost as if there isn't much money in downhill racing.
  • 1 0
 Bingo!
  • 4 0
 @jlauteam1: Yes, there is quite a lot of money in bingo.
  • 11 2
 I'm sure this is very much not a budget issue. Well it might be to some degree, but that certainly not the main problem.

This is rather everyone making preparations to abandon ship, should the worst case scenario really come true and WC DH racing turn into a dumpsterfire. Everyone would rather have the others be the guinea pigs for the experiment that will be the first season of DH under new management.

At this point, there's just too much uncertainty for these smaller-scale factory teams. Will the official UCI sanctioned WC DH series turn into a shitshow because of Warner Bros involvement? Will there be a monetization scheme in place? If so, how will that impact viewer numbers and ultimately the relevancy of the series? Will there even be people watching? Will RedBull organize their own series? Will THAT become the new de-facto DH race format? Will these hypothetical series be exclusive from each other? Too many questions unanswered. Very difficult to make commitments in such uncertain times.
  • 3 0
 I think it was a budget issue, note the mention of "more stops across the globe in a shorter period". They were likely putting together the travel budget for all the flight/hotels/meals/transport and decided nope, not worth it when spread out on a per bike basis.
  • 2 0
 It sounds like it's sort of a combination of budget and logistics.
The increase in cost to factory teams just for participating, plus the increased cost of more races with less time between races (and the logistical hurdles that involves), plus the late schedule announcement from Discovery made it more difficult to set budgets for the new year.

Add all that to Teams/Sponsors/Manufacturers hedging their bets to see if things fall apart under Discovery and you have teams sitting out this year.

The fact that Propain basically said they will be back in 2024, sounds like that's the case. If DH falls apart they save the expenses for the year, if things go great they are back in 2024.
  • 13 1
 Rumour is that Luke and Remy Meier-Smith are off to Giant anyway.
  • 4 1
 noooooo!
  • 8 0
 I don't really feel fair that even though bike industry is way ahead of where it has been before Covid, after the boom as we face some slowdown (not slowdown of the industry but slowdown of growth!) brands stop supporting teams in panic. Man, you had the resources to support teams when bike business reached cca. 40% less people and it was a really seasonal sport, and after earning a truckload of cash for 2 years selling literally the warranty frames and everything from your warehouse from january to december, you don't have the resources now?
  • 1 0
 It's part of the capitalism environment, but bike brands (clothing, parts and bike MFG's) aren't endearing loyalty from this consumer. Someone in the supply chain was making a heap of cash, because the economies of scale were there.
  • 2 0
 Several bike brands will go bust this year, guaranteed. Pandemic period wasn't as good for companies as you think, particularly small-mid size ones I'm sure if you asked Propain and Norco if they would have preferred 2-3 steady years with good parts availability and predictable demand or the absolutely shitshow that was the pandemic, they would opt for the steady option. I'm pretty sure nearly every major brand would agree. It's likely only retailers that enjoyed the bike boom and even then I promise you a lot of bike retailers will go bust this year.
  • 1 0
 @tom666: I only know of one anecdote about Norco from a local shop in the Greater Van area, from May 2022.

He asked for 44 bikes and received 4. If Norco couldn't get the parts or was hamstrung on supply agreements (IE having to use Rockshox instead of Marzocchi), then it's hard to call it their mistake.
  • 11 1
 So Propain and Norco both putting a team on the soon to be announced Redbull Urban DH circuit?
  • 1 2
 man that would be sick
  • 5 0
 Commented by our Rob????
  • 1 0
 I think for Propain would work very well,their YouTube athletes would sell way easy in an urban series,like more underground,more chill out series than WC circuit. It is not a bad move,if you come early to the series you can have a ton more revenue if your name is there like a serious team.
  • 15 7
 Knock knock… recession coming
  • 12 1
 Been here for a bit according several markers used to gauge a recession for the last few decades
  • 4 2
 Recession if we're lucky
  • 4 3
 Yes that is very true. But also the dumb fees Discovery are demanding.
  • 1 0
 @Bro-LanDog:

Robert Redford and Ben Kingsley said it in 1992
  • 6 0
 I don’t think people understand how dire the financials of bike companies are right now. Over bought and over inventoried. Still getting f*cked by vendors.
  • 1 3
 Knock knock, whose there, recession, recession who, recession is an economic indicator, ok
  • 20 4
 Ah yes, the classic indicator of a recession used by central banks and economists everywhere: Small time mtb race teams being unable to afford to race the next season.
  • 9 3
 Armchair economists have entered the chat
  • 23 0
 Looks like a re-session.
  • 1 0
 Cheap money gone. New evaluations...mass layoffs silicon valley.
All about value/cash flow/pricing power.
  • 2 0
 @suspended-flesh: it's back to the basics/how's your fridge+ dinner table..
  • 1 0
 @enis: Sneakers
  • 1 0
 @IamSeaDevil:

Fantastic Movie. The scene at the end where they talk about manufacturing a recession...kind of ahead of its time
  • 1 0
 @plustiresaintdead: looking forward to being able to walk into a bike shop and actually buy the bike I want without being put on a list for 6 months.
  • 5 1
 It seems to me like the time is right to develop a lower level DH racing class catering primarily to privateers that works in tandem with the elite WC DH series. Something akin to the 250 class in motocross. Race the same tracks on the same day, but with smaller rider counts. Top 30 for both classes. Limit the lower level class bikes by disallowing carbon, titanium, and any electronics (including suspension data acquisition). You could potentially limit suspension pivot point counts too in order to keep costs down and generate better parity between racers to make it less of a technological arms race like it is at the top level.

Then we get the elite racing we already know and love and a new pathway to the top with another interesting class to follow utilizing bikes that are more affordable for everyone.
  • 2 0
 Actually not a bad idea. For years BMX did the same with with 'Super Class' / 'Pro' in the NBL and 'A-Pro' /'AA Pro' in ABA.
  • 7 2
 The (DISCOVERY) of team fees have a roll in this; i'm more inclined to believe.
  • 6 1
 Propain. Now focussing on providing riders with Propain and Propain accessories.
  • 3 0
 This industry needs to consolidate. Pandemic bike craze and growth is over and now the going back or below pre-pandemic world. There's too many brands and not enough customers to keep all these brands healthy.
  • 2 0
 At this point I'm not sure for what brands other than spesh and trek a factory team even makes any sense cost-wise. Its R&D sure but mainly it's advertising. And it's a million dollars of advertising at a time when those manufacturers sell out of their bikes at msrp regardless. Some of us fanatics will buy differently without an investment in racing, but not enough to factor into ROI IMO.
  • 4 3
 Can someone like Seb please do some polls around Audience? Ie are you interested in buying brand X if it wins in DH? or buy brand X because you see rider X do cool sh1t on social media?

This is probably more of that hidden survey stuff for brands but would be nice to see.
  • 18 2
 I bought my Tyee becaude of the geometry and the ratio equipment/price. I don't care about instagram or racing honestly.
  • 2 0
 Winning bikes and cool stuff of social media definitely helps to sell bikes. I'm guessing subconsciously it factors in and so a survey probably wouldn't get the correct answers. At a minimum it gets the bike on your watchlist if you follow the sport.
  • 4 0
 @ajaxwalker: Yep, brand awareness is huge. Can't consider choosing a Propain if you don't know they exist.
  • 1 2
 Yeah you're right. Thinking about it I remember talking with Phil Atwill two years before buying the bike. But the thing that made me bought it was definitely the geo and price, not the people riding it in WC and instagram. It'd be interesting to know about other people here, even if we're a small bubble in the industry.
  • 1 1
 @Ptitbeau025: Same. Geo, price, build, quality, and a company that looks after it customers.
  • 4 0
 So Propain can now focus on designing a 110-130 mm XC/DC/Shorttravel-Trailbike. I would buy it in a heartbeat. :-)
  • 2 0
 Old like some folks will be getting jobs, tough times being a professional athlete if your not in the bigs( FB, BB, BB, etc…)
  • 3 0
 Has no one else not noticed the lack of punctuation
in the first paragraph alone??
  • 2 0
 Smith brothers were seen in Lac Blanc beginning of October riding new bikes with Remy Thirion. 2023 will somehow be a strange season.
  • 3 0
 You don't buy a bike because of a race result, but you only buy a bike you know and the races help to get known.
  • 2 0
 Settle down, y'all: it's still gonna cook your steak to a perfect medium/rare. Mmm
  • 1 3
 @BobbyHillbomb: worst way to cook a steak since ever
  • 2 0
 I wonder if Phil Atwill will still be running his Propain team. Could end up being a defacto factory squad
  • 2 0
 I ride Norco, Giant and Scott. Would love a Propain. Racing has zero impact on my purchasing decisions.
  • 1 0
 They rode the boom but didn't figure in the bust many team will be cut cut cut and discovery are the final nail in the coffin.
  • 2 0
 Gonna pour all that money into making their bikes certified for the shore.
  • 3 0
 No Red Bull? No party !
  • 3 2
 Does anyone know if the adage, "race on Sunday, sell on Monday" is true in MTB?

Is there any ROI to having a team?
  • 3 2
 It used to be that way when racing was the biggest deal in MTB. In the 90s,everyone was into racing. It's not anymore,so it's only normal that this happens. We don't want to,but DH is dying.
  • 3 1
 This is the right question to be asking. From a corporate finance perspective, it's probably an objectively poor initiative to keep in flight.
  • 3 5
 I challenge everyone to name the bicycle manufacturers of the racers, you can’t.
  • 6 1
 @kingbike2: Bet. I can
  • 2 1
 @kingbike2: I can barely name any racers!

Thinking of my local shops and the brands they carry, neither race results or signed pro riders have a bearing on which bike or components I would consider purchasing. I'm looking for value from components and features.
  • 4 2
 @kingbike2: pretty much everyone is om Commencel in DH
  • 2 0
 Well, thanks for that, UCI.
  • 4 3
 I just hope this means they have the resources to make a mullet Tyee Smile
  • 4 3
 To focus on e-bike development?
  • 1 0
 @brianpark let us know if you want us to chip in for PBR 2023.
  • 2 1
 Redbull is laughing hard at Discovery...as they watch things implode.
  • 2 1
 North Rican dumb censorship in this thread, like always.
  • 1 0
 I miss RedBull already
  • 1 0
 me too!
  • 3 5
 Well, I scrapped Norco from my new bike short list, and now Propain has a strikethrough as well..
  • 3 1
 Don't forget about YT
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