We surveyed 152 of the world’s best professional mountain bikers – Welcome to Pinkbike’s State of the Sport Survey 2023 – Pinkbike

We surveyed 152 of the world's best professional mountain bikers - Welcome to Pinkbike's State of the Sport Survey 2023 - Pinkbike
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In the first half of 2021, we conducted our first survey of the state of the sport. The survey was conducted with the aim of highlighting various issues in the field of professional mountain biking and allowing riders themselves, albeit anonymously, to advocate what they should change – and perhaps what should remain unchanged.

For the first survey, some of the revelations were startling, and it largely painted a bleak picture of pay and financial security. Half of the riders did not feel they would receive enough support if they suffered a significant injury and about 25% of the entire pro field earned between $0 and $5,000 per year across disciplines. We also learned that XC riders tend to be better taken care of financially and downhill riders much, much worse.

The timing of the survey was well-placed during a worldwide cycling boom, and we were curious this year to see how the effects of unprecedented growth trickled down to pro contracts in subsequent seasons, if at all.

This is not to say that the second survey was conducted in exactly the same way. Although we want to track the results in the coming years, we also felt that we changed the eligibility criteria for surveyed riders from a strong overall finish in either the 2019 or 2020 season to being a top-ranked rider in the 2022 season. This is for two main reasons. Firstly, when putting together the first survey, the overall rankings were more difficult to interpret, as many riders chose not to cross over during the covid-affected 2020 season. Secondly, taking this into account, it turned out also that looking at the overall rankings and results across the disciplines, riders outside the selection pool were less likely to participate in all compliments of rounds for their chosen discipline. This reduced the total number of responses from just under two hundred to just over 150.

Finally, we conducted this survey because we really care. At Pinkbike we love racing and just want to do our best to support the World Cup and high profile athletes on their journey by giving them a platform.

Who was asked?

All riders who met the criteria were invited to participate. Of course, inviting and responding are two separate things, but we’re very pleased with the completion rate and grateful to the riders who took the time to do so.

If you’re wondering how many sessions you can buy with Vergier’s salary, or if Aaron Gwin is a bazillionaire, you’ll be sadly disappointed – this survey was taken anonymously. This allowed riders to be as open and honest as possible in their responses and gave us broader insights into the trends affecting the overall health of the sport.

Of the 152 riders who responded to the survey, 58.6% were men and 41.4% were women. The majority of riders were from Europe (59.2%), with 25% from North America, 11.8% from Oceania, 2.6% from South America, and 1.3% from Asia. There was an even split between EWS and XC riders with 32.2% of the total responses each coming from these two disciplines. 27% came from Downhill riders and the remaining responses came from a mix of slopestyle, freeride and media athletes.

Within that is a mix of junior and elite riders from across the board. From the results, we can say that there are more than a few World Cup winners participating in this year’s survey, as well as riders still waiting for the big first W.

Why did we do the survey?

We created this primarily because we love competition and we believe that more information can only make the sport better for riders and the fans who enjoy it as well. Without a broad, elevated view of the sport, we are unlikely to truly understand the issues that may be at play. Surveys like this are not uncommon in other sports, and we hope this one contributes to the conversations to make the sport more transparent, fair and enjoyable for everyone.

The survey contained 7 sections, each containing a variety of questions. The areas we focused on were:

– Media and filming
– Homeland support
– Replacement
– Support for physical and mental health
– Opportunities and equality
– Competition rules
– Specific section for women


There are some clear limitations to this study. First, by limiting it to the best individuals there is a bias against the highest ranked riders. While these riders will generally have the biggest impact on the racing scene, it ignores the many drivers who sit just below them in the rankings, but are still able to compete full-time,

Second, it was not a mandatory survey, so it may bias respondents who are dissatisfied with the status quo.

Third, we rely on riders to be honest in the survey. The survey was taken anonymously and we have no way of knowing with what level of bias, if any, the riders answered the questions with. That said, we have taken their responses in good faith.

What comes next?

Over the next week, we’ll release the results of the survey with a deep dive into the most interesting findings, followed by a data dump at the end of the week that lets you dig into the numbers for yourself.

This will be an annual project that will allow us to track changes year after year. This snapshot of the sport itself has provided some interesting insights, but by regularly revisiting the same topics we will be able to follow the evolution of the sport over time.

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