What Are The Big Changes Year Over Year in the Pinkbike State of the Sport Survey Results?

Apr 8, 2024
by Alicia Leggett  
Welcome to the 2024 Pinkbike State of the Sport Survey. This anonymous survey is designed to highlight key issues and riders' perspectives on the sport that we, pro riders, and Pinkbike readers all love so much. We surveyed the best riders in the world to hear their thoughts, ideas, concerns, and criticisms on mountain biking in 2024. Now, we're breaking down what we've learned. We're now publishing a series of articles that break down sections of the results, and you'll see the results in full shortly. This year, we introduced the public survey, which will help gauge public views on the sport and should make for some interesting comparisons to what the racers say. Stay tuned for that. To read the introduction to the survey click here, and to see all the other currently published SOTS articles click here.


Just like in previous years, we'll release the full 2024 State of the Sport Survey results very soon, but in the meantime, I'm here to focus in on some of the changes that jumped out at me. The majority of responses have stayed more or less the same: Racers mostly think the racing is fair, they'd like to get paid more, and they want to make decisions for themselves. Still, we've seen a lot of change recently in the industry - in how brands are doing, how brands are willing to support riders, and how the racing itself is organized. It makes perfect sense that some rider perspectives are shifting too. To start out with some context, we had a bit less participation in the survey this year than in previous years: 108 responses in 2024 compared with 198 in 2021 and 152 in 2023. Is the novelty wearing off? Still, there's a bit of hope mixed in: the female representation in that group is growing from 39% in 2021 and 41% last year to 45% now. Things are changing in this industry, and we're trying to capture those changes in action.

Despite industry instability, racers are generally being paid a bit more

One of the stats that jumps out at me is the increase in the number of riders who say mountain biking is their sole source of income. In 2021, 49% said mountain biking was their only job, a number that rose to 55% last year. This time around, 68.5% said all their income comes from the sport. The increase is fascinating. We've heard time and again (including through this survey) about the instability faced by riders in the industry right now and the difficulty finding sponsorship. We've seen top riders unable to find contracts this season. However, the share of riders able to make a living in the sport shows that at least some things are improving.

In addition to the increasing percentage of riders whose wages come fully from mountain biking, we've also seen an increase in the wages themselves. In 2021, 29% of riders said they made $0-$5,000 USD. That share dropped to 23% in 2023 and is now down to 19% of our respondents. There are also more riders than before in the $50,000-$100,000 USD range: 13% in 2021, 18% in 2023, and 22% in 2024 to make that now our largest wage category (overtaking the $0-$5,000 bracket).

Find a closer look at the survey results on wages here.

Future uncertainty

Despite increasing wages, riders are nervous about the future. Given the statement "I am worried about finding future sponsorship deals because of the current issues facing the cycling industry," 21.4% said they strongly agree and 46.3% said they agree. Another 25% responded neutrally, leaving a paltry 7.4% to disagree and none to strongly disagree. That isn't an especially hopeful stat, but I think it adds some important nuance to these other figures about things like increasing wages that we could interpret as signs of stability.

Similarly interesting are the responses to "I have found it harder than previously to find sponsorship for 2024." 3.7% strongly disagree and 9.3% disagree, giving us a solid 11% of riders who feel confident about future sponsorship. 47.2% responded neutrally, 26.9% agree, and the remaining 13% strongly agree.

Organization and coverage

It's no secret that some of the biggest questions people have about racing relate to Warner Bros. taking over World Cup organization and coverage. Find a much deeper look at the Warner Bros. situation on the homepage later this week - as that topic deserves a whole article of its own - but in the meantime, let's see what's changed since last year.

When we checked in with racers last year, they hadn't yet experienced a season of Warner Bros. leadership. Now, World Cup racers have spent the last year adjusting to changes: semi-finals, EDR replacing EWS, and big shifts in media coverage, to name just a few. Here is a bit of what they told us this year about the current organization and coverage.

In 2023, 55.5% responded agree or strongly agree to "Discovery taking over the broadcast rights for UCI racing has made me nervous", with 31.7% neutral and the other 15.7% in the two disagreement categories. Now, the riders seem to be slowly coming around: 13% said strongly agree and 38% agree to put the agreement total at 51% (for a slightly-differently-worded statement, "Warner Bros. Discovery controlling the broadcast rights makes me nervous.") 33.3% responded neutrally, 14.8% disagree, and a lone 0.9% chose to strongly disagree. That's a subtle shift, but any change here is meaningful.

Still, Warner Bros. ain't perfect. Another admittedly subtle but real change we've seen this year is that the riders increasingly want better communication. To the statement "There has been adequate communication to racers about this year's racing", 3.7% said they strongly agree and 10.2% chose to agree, leaving 21.3% neutral and the largest shares wanting more: 33.3% disagree and 31.5% strongly disagree. That's reminiscent of last year, but a little worse: In 2023, 2.2% said strongly agree, 18% chose to agree, 25.9% stayed neutral, 38.1% said they disagree and the remaining 25.2% said they strongly agree. Between the two years, the results are pretty similar (and not different enough for me to make any big sweeping statements), but the biggest changes are the decrease in agree and the increase in strongly disagree.

Confidence in Warner Bros. is a little shaky right now. To the 2023 statement "I have confidence in Discovery and their plans for mountain biking", which for 2024 was slightly reworded to "I have confidence in Warner Bros. Discovery and its plans for racing", 39.4% last year fell into the two agree camps, with 47.4% staying neutral, 11.7% responding disagree, and 2.2% choosing to strongly disagree. This year, the results are skewed toward the negative. None strongly agree, 16.7% agree, 45.4% chose neutral, 22.2% disagree, and the last 15.7% strongly disagree.

As we all know all too well, change can be unsettling. It seems natural that rider confidence is low right now, but we hope things turn around as soon as possible. The people at Warner Bros. have the resources, media experience, and connections to make something great happen. For the love of racing, we hope they figure it out sooner rather than later.

Looking around

Beyond the big questions about what riders are paid and what they think of the organizational changes, the survey also gave us some details in the fun fact category. Here are a few of the things I noticed.

Over the last few years, there's been a decrease in concern about performance-enhancing drugs in cross country racing. To the statement "Performance enhancing drugs are a problem in XC racing", 8.4% chose to strongly agree in 2021, compared to 2% in 2023 and none in 2024. The results for agree were even more positive: 27.8% in 2021, 16.3% in 2023, and 6.7% in 2024. The neutral cohort stayed loosely around 40% all three years, with the two disagreeing groups moving from 25% to over 36% in that time period.

There seems to be a real shift against eMTBs in competition. The statement "eMTBs have a place in the competitive mountain biking scene" brought out some interesting results. The strongly agree category shifted from 9.7% in 2021 and 7.2% in 2023 to 2.8% in 2024. The agree category? 36.7% in 2021 to 28.9% in both 2023 and 2024. Neutral stayed between 24% and 30%, disagree moved from 15.3% in 2021 and 19.7% in 2023 to 20.4% in 2024, and strongly disagree shifted from 10.7% in 2021 and 13.8% in 2023 to 24.1% in 2024.

Could that be because eMTB racing so far hasn't lived up to what riders once thought it could be? Or could it be because support all around feels finite these days, so there's more pressure to prioritize what feels valuable and cut out the rest? The reasons aren't clear, but it's all interesting to follow and guess at.

A last note about the industry instability right now: I recommend checking out the enduro-focused State of the Sport article, which digs into how racers feel about the current state of enduro racing. The most interesting questions aren't ones that made sense to ask until this year, so there's no comparison to look at here, but the results themselves are fascinating and completely worth a read.

Author Info:
alicialeggett avatar

Member since Jun 19, 2015
743 articles

  • 131 1
-Racers are making more money
-Racers are slightly more concerned with landing sponsors, but haven’t really had a harder time getting sponsors
-Racers have a better outlook of Warner Bros
-Racers think communication in competition is a little worse
-Racers are less concerned with performance enhancing drugs
-More racers don’t think we should have ebike categories
  • 29 1
 Thank you for doing the Lord's work
  • 10 1
 TL;DR of your TL;DR: Racers can't make up their f*cking minds.
  • 19 0
 TL;DR of your TL;DR of the TL;DRL: Rcrs cn't mk p thr fckng mnds.
  • 8 2
 Conducting a survey and articulating the results in a manner that provides value is difficult. The question order, wording of questions, open ended or closed, response type are critical especially when trying to evaluate year over year. Presentation of the results can turn the best survey into garbled mess of verbiage and stats. If PB is serious about providing value to the industry and readers with this survey topic they should consult with a firm or individual with the proper expertise. To expect PB resources talented in the review of mtb products to achieve adequate results with this project is unrealistic.
  • 4 0
 @ownyourtime: I’ll do it for free if they just send me the data
  • 4 0
 @alicialeggett and whoever else it pertains to, my above offer stands for a future article
  • 4 0
 "-Racers are slightly more concerned with landing sponsors, but haven’t really had a harder time getting sponsors"

Danny Hart strongly disagrees
  • 2 0
 @ownyourtime: Completely agree. Ideally exactly the same questionnaire should have been used so another variable can be removed.
  • 1 0
 tldr should be part of all articles. could be the section headlines.

much easier to scan the content that way and decide if its worth the time to digest all the text.

also: imo the questionnaire is biased, because of suggestive statements vs neutral questions.
  • 45 1
 Every single one of these graphs is missing a title. 0 points awarded. Only the top 2 are even close to legible by themselves.
  • 2 11
flag vinay FL (2 days ago) (Below Threshold)
 Strictly speaking, yeah. Though the bold font in the accompanying text above does give it away. I can imagine if these charts would have had titles, it would have appeared like the accompanying text were below the chart rather than above. I'm just a casual reader though, not here to award points.
  • 2 0
 Graphs ? I thought they were pie slices and whos getting the big slices
  • 17 0

Untitled pie charts were not a good choice for displaying the information, particularly when comparing year-over-year results. A labelled bar chart would likely be a better choice, especially as only 2 or 3 years' worth of information are being displayed in each chart.

  • 1 0
 @revystoked: Only if she indeed wanted to show the progress over the years. As it was now, it only appeared like she wanted to visualize the current distribution of responses for which a pie chart is perfectly fine. I do agree charts do deserve titles though IIRC, it typically was Taj who'd draw these charts in the best way possible. Maybe he didn't make it this time around and these were the rough graphs that were sent his way for him to process.
  • 1 1
 @vinay: The dont want to show how things are improving as it goes against the whole PB narrative of how unfair it is you cant be a millionaire riding a bike (although I suspect a few are)
  • 26 0
 as a scientist, agree, love the graphs, want all this data in charts, but need less written word, and flip through pics and captions of graph. if a graph is not self-explainable, it is not a good graph.
  • 28 0
 "There seems to be a real shift against eMTBs in competition."

  • 16 0
 They have shifted from:
'Are you having a laugh?! :-P '
  • 15 0
 Yeah, I don’t think anyone, casual or pro, wants e bikes to be used in competition. They are for adventure/exploration and training imo.
  • 15 0
 I honestly do love this type of content, it's really interesting, so sorry to hark on... but please PLEASE turn the Pie charts into something more intuitive to interpret, they are not the tool for this job.
  • 4 0
 This is the ONLY time a pie chart should be used.... flowingdata.com/2008/09/19/pie-i-have-eaten-and-pie-i-have-not-eaten
  • 2 0
 what style of graph would you prefer to see?
  • 2 0
 @dendens: Just make the Pie Charts 3D and all's good /s
  • 5 0
 @dendens: The human brain can interpret the difference between different length lines very easily, but it's really hard to see the difference in pie chart segments, so a bar chart would be far better. Labelling of data in pie charts with more than 4 segments always becomes really messy. Pie charts are really only good at showing the difference between 2 (maximum 3) results. You can see examples in this link (that I also put in the junior survey results article): scc.ms.unimelb.edu.au/resources/data-visualisation-and-exploration/no_pie-charts
  • 4 0
 @bigtim: now ive learned something today, thank you. I have a client presentation that I just put together, it has a pie chart. Time to rethink the chart!
  • 6 1
 Given that the number of riders surveyed is only just over half the number from 2021, you could interpret the pay changes as riders being paid less. Most of the riders not getting paid have are probably too busy working to have time for a survey.
  • 1 2
 You could make that guess if you want to but its not an interpretation of anything
  • 4 0
 Or could it be that emtb racing is all about the bike and not about the rider…meaning the most expensive bike wins versus the best rider.
  • 2 0
 Most modified >>> most expensive
  • 3 0
 Please change the charts to bar charts or line charts with normalised data. Pie charts are honestly the wrong way of doing it. 0/10 maybe 2/10 for effort.
Seriously Pinkbike ?!?!
  • 3 0
 I agree, and with bar charts they could also show the results from previous years, so that we could see the trend..
  • 4 0
 Having said that, this survey is awesome and Pinkbike is awesome for doing it...I just can't read those graphs.
  • 1 0
 Shoulda been using pie charts about 3 weeks ago (3/14). As the saying goes, April bar charts bring May racers...or something.
  • 5 2
 Pinkbike gets worse every year
  • 4 4
 Don't let the door hit you on the way out
  • 1 0
 With the amount of neutral results makes a mockery of the survey. Not sure why anyone would choose this over giving an actual result
  • 4 1
 Mmmmm pie
  • 1 0
 The industry is in bad shape when we have to look at a pinkbike post to see how it's doing.
  • 1 0
 Incomplete data lacking content without addressing gender esp. with regards to wages and sponsorship.
  • 1 1
 Too many charts. I'll just wait for the vid so someone can tell me what others think.
  • 1 1
 yeah, I’ll just wait for the vid as well
  • 1 0
 Who cares.
  • 1 2
 Can we just say the biggest difference is GIRLS? Like FR

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