How 'accessible' is mountain biking compared to other sports?

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  • How 'accessible' is mountain biking compared to other sports?
  • Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    And your teling me it’s OUR fault?

    No.. I said that brands will make stuff if people buy it – OE or aftermarket customers.

    Forks or any other pricing example – look at inflation and ex rates plus the added costs of all those CTD Kashima RLC ETC bits and pieces and not much has changed. My Z1 BAMS in 98 would be £520 roughly in today’s economy, simply on inflation never mind ex rates that have gone against us in most areas. So a £900 fork is laughable imo but considering tooling, volumes, processes as well as economical variable, no suprise. And people still want them. And the higher end you go, the faster standards etc change to keep things ‘on top’. It’s mostly BS imo.
    (edit to add – Xfusion seem to be making progress, that’s vfm overcoming brand-pull and says consumers can drive things both ways eventually)

    The Grapil’s an example that backs my point that it’s not an ‘industry plot’ – if buyers don’t see good vfm (materially or some brand feel-good, whatever) they don’t buy and the product fails. So it’s not ‘your’ fault as a buyer – quite the opposite. Blame the small % of wealthy buyers who create a market for £7000+ bikes for your perceptions, or ignore all that boll0cks and ride what you’re happy on. The trails haven’t changed in the decades I’ve been riding and my bike needn’t have either.

    If I wanted a good, new bike to start out on, I can get one for £350-400, the equivalent of my £160 80s Raleigh in today’s money, or less.

    beicmynydd
    Member

    A lot has been said here about football but what about other sports,compared with say clubman rallying mountain biking is quite reasonable.

    I know someone who spends £1,000’s on engine and gearbox re builds and hundreds on tyres for a single day.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Rusty Spanner – Member

    Care to provide any evidence?
    In my experience, the first thing I do when getting into a new hobby or researching new kit is to go and buy all the relevant magazines.

    On day one, sure, but that sells one magazine, repeat readership is obviously far more important. Take Future, frinstance, 2 mountain bike mags to sell and fill with ads, they can’t do that by selling every potential cyclist one or two mags, but they can do it by selling a subscription to half as many readers. So naturally they’ll make their offerings attractive to the people who’re likely to spend a tenner a month on magazines.

    mrmo
    Member

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eritrean-National-Cycling-Team-ENCT/269259036430496

    Of course cycling isn’t accessible!!!

    It has always been a working mans sport, have a read about Sean Kelly, the only difference now is some people seem to believe that you need to spend lots of money to be good. The reality is if you want to be good get fit, ride your bike and hope that you are in the right place at the right time.

    As for needing to drive, look at the old photos of people riding out to the local tt with spare wheels. I seem to remember one of the current tt riders doesn’t drive, rides to events and still wins.

    As a kid i started by scavenging bits from skips and making things work.

    One of the reasons the UCI weight limit exists is to reduce the advantage that money will buy you.

    As for other sports, take a look at cart racing!

    >As for needing to drive, look at the old photos of people riding out to the local tt with spare wheels. I seem to remember one of the current tt riders doesn’t drive, rides to events and still wins.<

    Wouldn’t know – the OP posted about mountain biking.

    As far as I’m concerned that’s something that takes place in mountains. For sure I do most of my riding in the Central Scotland bad/flatlands but that’s just training for days and weekends away in the big hills. And that sure is neither cheap nor accessible.

    Motorsport is relatively off the scale – why even bring it into the discussion?

    1981miked
    Member

    Mountain biking has gone off the scale in terms of the pricing… I sold my mountain bike earlier this year as I thought it was becoming to middle class and full of the mimby pimby brigade! I also totally fell out of love with it and had and still have no motivation to cycle at all.. Have hardly ridden a bike this year! First time I have been without a mountain bike for about 18 years..

    Granted I mainly rode trail centres due to the group I used to ride with.. But I was at Glentress the last time I used the MTB, I was riding the pump track and came round a corner to find a family sat at the trail side with bike left on the path.. I cycles round them and never said a word.. I was followed down the track (unbeknown to me) by the parents and told I was a ” stupid idiot for riding so fast off road, I was a danger to myself and others”.. I promptly pointed out they shouldn’t be stopped there and got told to “watch my back”….

    Another visit I was riding down a rocky section minding my own business and passed a group all admiring the rocks, I was give a mouthful of abuse for not “ringing my bell, going to fast and not taking there safety into consideration”… I didn’t even stop to argue! I couldn’t be bothered anymore!

    The price of bikes and components is shocking aswell, I purchased an Orange 5 pro in 2009 for £2500, I really like this bike and wish if never sold it, so I though I’d price one up again… £3500 for the same bike.. With worse components… Really? Have they started to roll the turd in glitter?? Because you definitely haven’t changed that much!

    I’m really struggling to justify buying another mountain bike with the prices and specs on offer.. However, if people pay the prices… The manufacturers will continue to charge essentially whatever they damn well please!

    Don’t even get me started on the clothing.. £60+ for baggy over shorts…. Really? Shorts used to be £30, tops were maybe £20-£30.. What the hell happened to the prices.. Cycling glasses… How much?
    Ok people don’t have to buy it.. But they do because they read it in a magazine!

    It’s a conspiracy I tell u… We are a marketing mans dream!

    26″
    29er
    650b

    What’s next? 650b and 7/10ths?

    And breathe!

    Presumably you had to drive there? If so why put yourself through it?

    You’ll never encounter that kind of attitude on the open hills so why not go there?

    Clear from the last 3 posts that mtb is very different to each individual.

    1981miked
    Member

    Yeah had to drive there mate, like I said it was just the group I rode with.. They preferred trail centres, it’s guaranteed to be half decent riding I suppose..

    Even visiting larger areas like Ae, Kirroughtree, Mabie etc I noticed a difference overall..

    Maybe just volume of people.. And I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time!

    But yeah I know what ur saying, I used to ride the open hills years ago and had no qualms there.. Just a different bunch I rode with then.

    However that isn’t the industries fault.. More of a rant! The high horse is away now.. ; )

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    1981miked – Member

    But I was at Glentress the last time I used the MTB, I was riding the pump track and came round a corner to find a family sat at the trail side with bike left on the path.. I cycles round them and never said a word.. I was followed down the track (unbeknown to me) by the parents and told I was a ” stupid idiot for riding so fast off road, I was a danger to myself and others”.. I promptly pointed out they shouldn’t be stopped there and got told to “watch my back”….

    That’s interesting. There isn’t a pumptrack at Glentress.

    crosshair
    Member

    What an utter load of tripe 😀

    Too many people with not enough motivation on here!

    I also love the way everyone argues their own position with no thought of being objective.

    To get into mtbing you only need a bike and an imagination!

    I started on that bright orange £99 Apollo that everyone had. I rode everything and anything on that bike and it was only lust that lead me on to the heady heights of Carreras when I got myself a weekend job 😀

    Hell, if someone was keen enough, I reckon you could find someone to give you a bike!

    I did the full route Maxx Exposure ride last year on a £200 10-year old GT Agressor. Lo and behold, I didn’t die and didn’t finish last.

    If you don’t want to be brainwashed into believing you need an upgrade, spend less time reading and more time actually riding your bike!!!

    1981miked
    Member

    The berm track thing at the car park.. Can’t remember what it’s called..

    vickypea
    Member

    Rusty Spanner – I know the magazines only show pricey stuff but I was trying to say that you don’t have to buy a magazine or anything advertised in it.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    I used to ride the open hills years ago

    You need to get back out there, on a simpler bike like you had 18 years ago. Trail centres and £3k FS bikes, a group to ride with even, you don’t need them.

    crosshair, well said )

    1981miked
    Member

    Yeah I know mate, been looking at El cheapo bike this week.. Was thinking of going old school.. V brakes and fully rigid, or a Trek Y22..

    I think I’ll get my brother to post up the Cotic Soul I sold him last year and see how I get on..sorry for the doom mongering guys!

    Struggling a bit this week with work and other stuff!

    mrmo
    Member

    >As for needing to drive, look at the old photos of people riding out to the local tt with spare wheels. I seem to remember one of the current tt riders doesn’t drive, rides to events and still wins.<

    Wouldn’t know – the OP posted about mountain biking.

    It makes FA difference, just a bit slower. If you want to ride you ride. If you want to spend your time posing in trail centre car parks that is your call i guess.

    As far as I’m concerned that’s something that takes place in mountains. For sure I do most of my riding in the Central Scotland bad/flatlands but that’s just training for days and weekends away in the big hills. And that sure is neither cheap nor accessible.

    And for the vast majority of the population there are no mountains in the UK to have to worry about, just riding in the local woods. But if you want to ride in real mountains, I remember a few years back seeing people in Verbier doing Cristalp who had ridden from the UK… Depends on what motivates you. Bling or riding.

    Premier Icon IdleJon
    Subscriber

    Rusty Spanner – Member

    Also a big part of why you hardly see any younger people out on the trails?
    S’all middle aged old farts round here.
    Very little younger new blood at all.

    There are loads of younger riders down here in Swansea. Easily as many as the 40+ yr old fat guys. Lots of dirtjumpers coming across to MTB as well.

    yunki
    Member

    What’s next? 650b and 7/10ths?

    link please

    Premier Icon IdleJon
    Subscriber

    crosshair – Member

    I also love the way everyone argues their own position with no thought of being objective.

    Very true.

    b r
    Member

    As far as seeing Asian/black kids on bikes – there is a school of thought that some ethnic groups see the bicycle not as a leisure tool but as a poor man’s means of transport. As most of these groups have immigrated to the UK to try to improve their lot, they see the bicycle as a symbol of poverty, and aspire to greater things. This is why most of them are in cars almost from the point that they can reach the pedals.

    +1

    When I was working in India the Senior Manager I dealt with commented:

    “what, can’t you afford a car?”

    When I mentioned I commuted on a motorcycle. I then Google’d my bike (Triumph 1050), and he was gob-smacked. As a 150cc is a big bike in India.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    Rather than jump in on this topic last night I had a think about the whole topic and thought I’d post today, sorry for unearthing a now old thread. Forgive the long post also…

    I think the thing is “Cost of entry” or “Expense” all depends on what what sort of cycling you are looking at to start with.

    As a “leisure activity” purely cycling for the enjoyment of it, Non-competitive cycling? It can be as cheap or expensive as you want really. A couple of hundred quid or less and you can roll about on a BSO or a reasonable 2nd hand bike for several years without much bother that’s probably sufficient for most of the population…
    Reading some of the comics you’d be forgiven for thinking you Have to spend £700+ on an “Entry” level bike to ride round your local woods or do a loop on the roads, and half as much again on “Accessories”, we all know £300 – £350 (maybe less if you are canny) will buy you a functional Road bike or MTB that you can probably drag through a couple of winters and maybe have a pop at racing on without too much trouble…

    Interested in Competition? well that’s a broad topic isn’t it.
    I suppose it covers everything from Sportives to DH racing and all points inbetween, suffice to say again you can compete in most disciplines on a relative shoestring, but go to any race and your attention will probably be drawn by the exotica and brand new bling on display, and you’ll maybe miss the fella still doing OK on a 10 year old ‘Nag’… The cost is relative though, if you enjoy cycling enough to want to compete, you’ll probably end up balancing what you can afford against what you “need” to take part…

    Cycling as Transport? My current commuter cost ~£200 and pretty much paid for itself in petrol savings within about 3-4 months. Spend more, ride to work more, pretty much any bike can be justified for getting to work in the long run TBH. The Cost of cycling as transport compares rather favourably with the alternatives and that ignores the health benefits…

    The comparisons drawn with football are interesting. Yes all you need to play football is a ball, some space and at least one other person (the more the merrier IME) but the costs of football can escalate a bit too the more you get into it, Boots, kit, club subs, etc, you can spend some money on it… but then you are probably getting more back out in terms of fitness, endorphins and being sociable than the simple financial outlay would indicate…

    Then there’s the cost of following a sport, again following football can cost a fortune, season tickets, traveling to away games, the apparently mandatory sky sports subscription, or spending hours and hours in the pub; I’ve got mates who are “into” football, which means they watch it a lot, talk about it a lot, but don’t seem to play it much, despite this, the “Beautiful game” soaks up a reasonable chunk of their income and does rather little for their health…. Following cycling? well its pretty much free, you seldom have to pay to watch it, if you do it’s comparatively cheap, most of the broadcast coverage is either on free to air channels or via the interwebz…

    I’d say on balance, yes cycling equipment is comparatively expensive, but you can get a lot out of it for the money, and the cost of participation (club memberships, race entries, etc) is about on par with any other mainstream sporting activity.

    Different sports/pastimes/hobbies appeal to different people for different reasons, the conspicuous display of wealth element exists within cycling (as in any sport or hobby probably), as does the “Look what I can do with next to no money” brigade, perhaps simply enjoying it and not worrying about the cost of everything is the key thing…

    mindmap3
    Member

    I think the big thing with off road riding is that to most people it seems a bit odd – why would you want to ride round in the woods in the rain and mud, getting cold and filthy? On top of this you have the marketing depatments and Red Bull / Monster trying to promote it as an extreme sport whoch makes people think that you’ll get hurt (on top of being cold and muddy).

    It’s also pretty niche – not many people outside of those already into it will know who Steve Peat or Rachel Atherton are. I hate football with a passion, but I know who the bog teams are and can name players etc.

    The prices have escalated massively – my first bike was an inherited Barracuda which I rode whilst saving up for my first proper bike; a ’97 Spesh Rockhopper which was £400. That was a lot of paper rounds! Although the bike was rigid, I think it was still better value for money then some of the modern bikes. I think VFM peaked around 07 and has since gone downhill. A current £700 Rockhopper was rubbish forks and Acera bits yet a few years ago it has Avid brakes, proper Rock Shox forks etc.

    I would say that I have a pretty nice main bike but I am pretty price conscious. The forks were second hand and I’ve had them for ages and all of the new bits were bought in the sales. I bought a posh (for me) frame this year because I was seconded to a client in London and getting paid extra so treated myself. Had I not been, I would have kept on riding my beaten up old SX Trail. RRP prices are insane – a chap from work wanted to get a reasonable bike through the C2W scheme for commuting on and couldn’t get his head around how much bikes and components were. It was pretty hard to explain / justify!

    As for other gear, this does seem to be going the same way. I mean £100 for some 5 10’s. Really? I have a pair but waited until they were heavily discounted. Again, a lot of my gear is bought in the sales because I could never bring myself to buy a pair of shorts for £80 plus.

    For someone who wants to get into MTBing as a hobby, the cost of kit must be pretty shocking especially when picking up mags like STW who have £1,500 starter bikes for advice.

    On the other hand trail centres do make it more accessible because you know that you will be able to ride it as well as have an OK ride. Whether you approve or not, it must be more fun for someone giving it a go to visit Cannock, Glentress etc than get lost round the Peaks being shouted at by angry walkers / walking stuff that doesn’t look rideable etc.

    As for it being a white male dominated sport, as far as I can remember, it always has been and it doesn’t appear to have changed much over the years. How you change it, I don’t know but there are more ladies riding which is a good thing. It is currently pretty elitist from the outside and does have an image that you need to spend loads to participate.

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    In my experience, the accessibility of mountain biking is as much a function of your desire to do it as it is a function of your disposable income.

    I started out on a Raleigh Maverick and it was a great bike. Technology moved on, suspension came into play, disc brakes became the norm, lights improved massively to the extent that I think that today it’s cheaper to get riding than it ever has been. What my first mountain bike did was open up a whole world of possibilities that I’ve embraced ever since.

    There is no compulson to spend thousands of pounds although the option to do so is there more than ever. That’s a choice for folk to make and if they have the means, why not? It won’t necessarily mean that they are having more fun though than anyone else. I have a wry smile when I see carbon full sussers costing £5k and upwards. I’m not sure where the tipping point is but there is definitely a point at which the incremental benefits decline, the more you pay. Of course, that point for me will no doubt differ from everyone else. I like kit that is reliable and is hopefully less likely to fail when out in the boonies or when being subjected to hard riding on technical trails and on all day adventures. The riding I do today could still be done on my old maverick. However, the advances in technology have meant that my bikes are now a bit lighter, more reliable, stop better and are more comfrtable than ever before which in their own way contribute to a better experience. However, if I was still riding the Maverick, I’d still have the same sh*t eating grin.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that the bike and the gear are secondary, it’s committing to riding in the first place that is key. 😀

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    Rustyspanner

    Just reading some of your comments.

    I’m laughing at the thought of the team at the mag holding a meeting to discuss aspirational reader demographics! 😀 Magazines test the bikes that they are given. If manufacturers and distributers want to profile their higher end products in order to generate wider brand awareness, that’s nothing new and is pretty much standard in todays consumer society. Muddy Fox were doing it over 25 years ago with their £5,000 gold plated mountain bike!

    Prices have gone up but then so has the cost of everything. Petrol prices, gas and electricity, housing etc. It’s not something peculiar to bikes. What has changed since I started mountain biking in the late 80s is the technological development which has gone through the roof. Back then, you could still buy really expensive bikes e.g. Klein, Fat Chance, Mountain Goat and of course dead cheap bikes – Emmelle anyone? If memory serves, a Klein framest back in the day was over £2k. Eek!

    Back then, suspension was a rarity and almost all mountain bikes available were fully rigid. Frame material and drivetrain were the main differentiators. Fast forward to now and the main mountain bike I am currently riding has disc brakes, full suspension, a dropper post and is a fair chunk lighter than my maverick. It costs £2,000 and is a considerably better bike. If I could jump back in time, my younger self would probably have a fit to see the improvements.

    Ultimately, each person has to choose what their cost / benefit trade off is. As such, there will always be an element of exclusion. Even if it was free, I suspect many folk would still not get a bike as it doesn’t fit in with their view of life. No one has to ride a bike. It’s all about choice. 🙂

    edlong
    Member

    Magazines test the bikes that they are given.

    Yes, but:

    1) Only from the manufacturers / distributers who they invite to submit a bike for test. This will usually bear a more than passing resemblance to the ones who advertise in their mags. which is fair enough, but does generally mean you won’t see stuff from other sources.

    2) They’ll get given the bikes that fit the test they’ve asked for bikes for. If the magazine put out the call for £1,500 hardtails, they’re not going to get sent any £300 basic models are they?

    And it is the magazines who call this, they are the ones who set a price point when they do the group tests, and they did all shoot up a lot round about the time the world’s economies went wappy, and have continued to do so since. For example, in 2007, when I was looking for a cheap full suspension bike, What Mountain Bike’s “Cheap Full Suspension” group test review was based on a £500 price point. The bike that won (Rockrider 6.3 from Decathlon) was actually only £300, although shortly afterwards they went up to £350. Anyway, their 2008 “Cheap Full Sus” price point was £1,000. Decathlon, at the time, were still selling the previous year’s winner at £350, which calls into question the rationale for a doubling in price for what constitutes “cheap”. I’ve not looked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a “cheap full sus” is now a couple of grand?

    cybicle
    Member

    Some fantastic responses just above. Really interesting points of view.

    So on an economic level, there appears to be an argument that those with less disposable income are being ‘priced out’ of mountain biking, with a counter argument that suggest mountain biking is relatively ‘cheaper’ in terms of capable equipment being available for comparatively less money now than it was previously. The recent price spikes have reinforced mountain biking as an ‘expensive’ hobby though, undoubtedly, as the various threads on the cost of the sport on here will attest. Sure, there have always been expensive bikes, but it seems there are a lot more now, so somebody must be buying them!

    I’m laughing at the thought of the team at the mag holding a meeting to discuss aspirational reader demographics!

    I’d be amazed if they weren’t considering who their target market is, quite frankly. They wouldn’t survive long is they didn’t. Again, it would be interesting to read their views on this, particularly in relation to Rusty Spanner’s suggestions that they do behave in an elitist and exclusive manner.

    And then; is there perhaps a small element of not wishing to broaden participation further, by those central to the sport? That it is indeed preferable to keep things exclusive and undiluted? A sort of ‘gentlemans’ club’ type ethos? I’m not saying that this is in any way deliberate, more simply a subconscious need to retain control of something good, rather than see it ‘degraded’ through mass participation. Would it be fair to suggest, as Rusty Spanner seems to be doing, that this is possibly the case?

    On a cultural level; hopefully issues which prevent or exclude other groups from participating will evaporate over time, but I do think these issues need to be addressed from both sides. No good spending loads of time and effort on targeting particular groups, is no members of those groups have the desire to become involved; parading Oliver Skeete didn’t see much of an increase in the numbers of black people getting involved in equestrian events, it’s still very much a ‘white upper class’ sport.

    I don’t think an ostrich mentality, as displayed by some people on here, is helpful though. Maybe we should all be asking what we can be doing to help introduce others to the sport, and help them enjoy it as we do, or should a sport gain prominence purely through it’s own merits?

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    Why must it seek to gain prominence? Why should we be introducing others to it?

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner
    Subscriber

    Funnily enough, just sat here reading issue 85.

    After making an effort recently to include a few cheaper bikes, the bikes tested in the latest issue come in at an average of £4497.00.

    Yes, I know a few people on here spend that much on bikes.
    The vast majority never have and never will.

    I always assumed the tests of ultra high end vehicles in car/bike magazines were aimed at small boys furiously masturbating over pictures of Ferraris and Ducatis in their bedrooms.
    Is this the bicycle equivalent?

    I don’t mind reading about the high end occaisionally, but FFS give us a break, will you?
    Truffles and caviar for every meal would get a bit tedious after a while (I imagine 🙂 ). Can we have beans on toast a bit more often?

    The rest of the mag is as good as it usually is, but the feeling that it isn’t aimed at people like me anymore is getting hard to ignore.

    cybicle
    Member

    Very good questions njee20. Personally, I’d love to see more people enjoying something I love doing, and seeing more of the world in which we live. Mountain biking is a great way to do that. It’s also a healthy activity, so has many potentially positive social benefits.

    Do you not want to see more people becoming involved? Would you prefer it if remained something exclusive to yourself and a small number of others?

    And for you and Rusty Spanner (and anyone else interested):

    Cyclists can help Britain’s economy get back on its bike suggests research

    Cycling contributes almost £3 billion to the UK economy shows a new report from the London School of Economics and Political Science which also reveals that almost a quarter of the population are now cyclists.

    The study quantifies for the first time the full economic success story of the UK’s cycling sector which generates £2.9 billion for the British economy, equating to a value of £230 for every biking Briton in the country.

    208 million cycle journeys were made in 2010 meaning that there were 1.3 million more cyclists bringing the total UK cycle population to 13 million. The increasing levels of participation mean more money with new cyclists contributing £685 million to the UK economy.

    cycle pathDr Alexander Grous of LSE’s Department of Management calculated a “Gross Cycling Product” by taking into account factors such as bicycle manufacturing, cycle and accessory retail and cycle related employment. A 28 per cent jump in retail sales last year led to 3.7 million bikes being sold at an average price of £439 each. Accessory sales also made a significant contribution, followed by a further £500 million through the 23,000 people employed in the sector.

    The increased levels of cycling also bring a range of benefits for businesses. Regular cyclists take one sick-day less per year, which saves the economy £128 million per year in absenteeism. Dr Grous found that over a ten year period the net present value of cost savings to the economy could rise to be £1.6 billion. A 20 per cent rise in cyclists by 2015 could save a stretched NHS £52 million in costs. There are also potential benefits associated with reductions in congestion and pollution

    spockrider
    Member

    I have pondered all the points in cybicle’s post in the past, as I was looking for some low cost sporty fun. Having already had family participating in motorsport and horsy competition in the past, mountain biking is the most accessible. BUT only if you ignore the hype and big sell. You don’t need expensive toys to have fun on your local trails and tracks. I have a cheap, it does the job bike for less than 500 quid., a pair of cheap thick ladies leggings for winter riding. Cheap supermarket T shirts, fleeces, hiking boots and a pair of high top trainers for dry days. You don’t need shimano shoes and pay 100s for clothing which gets snagged on bramble and covered in dung 😉

    It is so easy for newbies to mtb to come to a forum like this and get put off by all the huge prices being thrown about and in some ways I think some people do alienate others who can’t afford top end machines. There is perhaps too much focus on trends and fashion and not enough on practical needs for lower budget buyers who just want to get out and have a go at grinding a granny ring and hopping a few bumps downhill in the woods or ride the red trail at a trail centre. Plenty of old retro bikes are out there, being ridden so you don’t need brand new and expensive.

    If you want to race, well that’s going to get very expensive if you need to use road fuel and pay for accommodation, food, entry fees and bike repairs, but it is far far less expensive than any motorsport I know and can be cheaper than ferrying a car load of kids to football sessions every week, which can quickly bankrupt the unwary and ill advised in pursuit of that end of season glory. I have met some extremely wealthy people involved in motorsport who actually ran on a budget and won because they had talent and experience not expensive equipment. The same applies to mountain biking as sport.

    I am mixed race ( part african american) although on the paler side and there is a massive void in ethnic participation across most wheeled sport. It is due to culture and culture fashions. All it takes is one person to be encouraged to join in or to win races and more will find the confidence to follow suit. It happened with cricket, tennis, football and formula one but it took years to shake down the poor image of sport being only for people with money and of a distinctively light skin tone. It only takes one person or a club to sponsor the kid with talent. As a child it was damn hard being a bit ethnically challenged and having little money to compete. I had a bit of talent with horses and the right contacts but just wasn’t plummy enough to be totally accepted into some circles without some sort of confidence sapping knock. I don’t see much of any ethnic challenge with mountain biking other than amongst men and women of other cultures who are forbidden from such pursuits.
    I think we all need to be more accepting to all types of two wheeled people we meet on our much loved trails and spread the word that our woody pursuit is great for anyone to have a go at. The more people involved from all backgrounds, the better chance we all have of seeing more trails built and more new mtb clubs/groups/friendships initiated to help keep the variety alive.
    Personally I don’t think there are enough local MTB groups and local trails. I live close to the som/devon border and am amazed that my nearest suitable group and complete forest trail is Exeter. I am happy to ride regular around the Quantocks and the Blackdowns, but many new people will only get involved in the same way they use gym membership, for the club, social and encouragement in a safe happy group. Especially women. Go to any trail centre and you have accessibility for all and a big sport club style environment at a cost. Go to the local woods and we may get to practice our dark art of trail cheekiness in secret bliss but I don’t think it encourages other people to have a go as we are often rarely noticed.
    We need more people to get out and ride on a budget, I think that is the key to full accessibility for everyone. The expense comes later, but only for people being silly and elitist over prices and fashion. I don’t want a Lambo or Bently, just an affordable bike like most people.

    cybicle
    Member

    Thanks spockrider, that’s a very informative and interesting post. Lots of points to consider.

    Some points I’d consider important are:

    BUT only if you ignore the hype and big sell.

    I think some people do alienate others who can’t afford top end machines. There is perhaps too much focus on trends and fashion and not enough on practical needs for lower budget buyers who just want to get out and have a go at grinding a granny ring and hopping a few bumps downhill in the woods or ride the red trail at a trail centre.

    If you want to race, well that’s going to get very expensive if you need to use road fuel and pay for accommodation, food, entry fees and bike repairs,

    On the economic side, there are suggestions as expressed here, that the ‘industry’ isn’t making mountain biking more accessible, by concentrating on an affluent ‘core market’. Deliberate or not, I think this is true to an extent, certainly that’s the impression you’d get if you walked into a bike shop specialising in mountain bikes. The most expensive bikes more prominently displayed, the more expensive options of items stocked (tyres, shoes, helmets etc), display cabinets full of high end kit. And things like “the bikes tested in the latest issue come in at an average of £4497.00” when the UK average price is a tenth of that, can’t help promote mountain biking as accessible in terms of cost.

    there is a massive void in ethnic participation across most wheeled sport… It only takes one person or a club to sponsor the kid with talent

    So we have to ask, why isn’t this happening more? How can we all help achieve greater integration and diversity? Some comments I’ve read on this forum alone suggest some folk might prefer mountain biking to remain exclusive, both economically and possibly socially and culturally. That’s quite depressing.

    Personally I don’t think there are enough local MTB groups and local trails.

    With mountain biking being a more ‘rural’ pursuit, and the vast majority of people living in large towns and cities, this is always going to be an issue I think. Then gain some might think there are already too many/the wrong ‘type’ of people out on the trails.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    Some comments I’ve read on this forum alone suggest some folk might prefer mountain biking to remain exclusive, both economically and possibly socially and culturally. That’s quite depressing.

    I think that’s a misinterpretation or misguided perception, MTB isn’t an old-money exclusive club, it’s just f’ing about on bikes in the mud. Hard to be all exclusive doing something as daft as that )

    And my experience of mags from the trade/test bike supply side of things is that there’s probably no meetings to decide their socio-economic pitch. They may plan tests in advance, some do 6-12 months ahead, others seem to just test the most fun (often same as ‘priciest’) toys they can get their hands on in time for a deadline, ie like riders with a few more strings to pull. It all seems fairly loose to me. Some brands get a lot of bikes into tests – they have a lot of choice and a big demo fleet, usually a good ad budget too, it all goes together. Got a test coming up? Call the reliable suppliers of test bikes, ideally those that you can return dirty )

    spockrider
    Member

    With mountain biking being a more ‘rural’ pursuit, and the vast majority of people living in large towns and cities, this is always going to be an issue I think. Then gain some might think there are already too many/the wrong ‘type’ of people out on the trails.

    Very valid points but it depends on where we all draw the ‘unsavoury’ trail sharing line. Most of us don’t want to share our trails with thieves with an eye on our bikes, are out to trash and leave litter. Some clearly do want trails to themselves and bikes that reflect their perceived status, some people are unhappy about the jeans wearing crew with no helmets and not a stitch of lycra between their knees. Most people who may look a bit unsavoury usually are OK and are less judgemental about the types of people they are likely to meet.

    Mountain biking is a rural pursuit but there are plenty of people who find it hard to get access to decent trails who live in rural areas.
    Personally I for one would like to see every county in the UK have accessible areas of forestry commission or private land with developed trails and free ride, DH and good skills areas for use for everyone and that includes the townies who need a refreshing break from brick walls and busy roads. From a rural perspective the powers that make the decisions only appear to have an interest in building city skate parks and allowing developed trail centres to flourish near city hubs, which means we all have to travel and use a lot of time and fuel to get to them.
    You only have to look at a map of the Southwest to see why Haldon and Ashton Park gets busy and Bike Park wales is so popular. When trail centres get too busy you may as well spend the day in town as people start to get competitive over crowded spaces and other people slowing down their flow or strava times.

    We need more trails in some areas, promotion of lower budget practical options, more free skills/taster training days (for all not just kids and their parents) and a better national working group of mountain bikers that represents everyone, from all backgrounds whatever their financial or personal status in life, without such a group the elitist high cost elements will likely turn people off mountain biking to the eventual demise of retailers that need to sell to future generations who will have less cash to spend than todays generation. I know there are organisations that represent us but they don’t seem to be doing much to push our sport under the general publics noses.

    As a lady looking for places to ride and other people to ride with I find that I have no suitable skills areas in my locality and absolutely no complete trails suitable to even persuade newbies to spend some hard cash and I can’t see many of my friends and associates wanting to do illegal mud moving in the local woods. I actually find that far more depressing than not currently having a 4 grand bike 😥

    cybicle
    Member

    jameso; I don’t believe there’s a deliberate move by the ‘industry’ to exclude any particular group/s, just that possibly those involved in mountain biking media are unable to identify other potential groups of participants, or aren’t best equipped to work with other groups to expand participation. My own experience of the mountain biking ‘media’ is that it appears almost exclusively to comprise that very demographic which seems to be the most dominant within the sport. The media exists to help market and promote the sport as part of a wider industry; perhaps the industry as a whole is naive and a bit parochial. But the fact that a relatively expensive sport is relatively inaccessible to certain minority groups is surely an issue within greater society, not just mountain biking.

    Very valid points but it depends on where we all draw the ‘unsavoury’ trail sharing line. Most of us don’t want to share our trails with thieves with an eye on our bikes, are out to trash and leave litter. Some clearly do want trails to themselves and bikes that reflect their perceived status, some people are unhappy about the jeans wearing crew with no helmets and not a stitch of lycra between their knees. Most people who may look a bit unsavoury usually are OK and are less judgemental about the types of people they are likely to meet.

    Certain walking/rambling ‘types’ can seem quite insular and elitist, and I’d imagine there may be a small minority of such types in mountain biking. But you get that in all sorts of activities. I have perceived a sense of ‘we don’t want other people enjoying our trails’ from some walking/rambling types I’ve met, and the same in a few mountain bikers too, sadly. But I tend to ignore such narrow-mindedness, as I’m sure anyone with any sense would. It does point towards a perceived sense of ‘ownership’ and ‘entitlement’ amongst some groups/individuals though. People can be quite territorial if they think they’re being ‘threatened’ in any way.

    As a lady looking for places to ride and other people to ride with I find that I have no suitable skills areas in my locality and absolutely no complete trails suitable to even persuade newbies to spend some hard cash and I can’t see many of my friends and associates wanting to do illegal mud moving in the local woods. I actually find that far more depressing than not currently having a 4 grand bike

    Now you’re talking about creating trails, as opposed to using what’s already there/organic development, which opens up a whole new field of discussion. Should be be creating more place to ride bikes? I’m not sure if that’s the ‘answer’ personally, but an interesting perspective nonetheless.

    Nick Evans wrote:

    Why must it seek to gain prominence? Why should we be introducing others to it?

    Nobody’s really answered this yet – plenty of people suggesting why mountain biking might be perceived as inaccessible and ways to change that, but no real commentary on why that would be a good thing.

    FWIW, I ride solo about 50% of my rides and in the company of one other friend for the other 50%. I couldn’t care less whether other people ride mountain bikes or not – it doesn’t affect my enjoyment of it. Sure, more people means more purpose-built facilities like BPW, Antur, Swinley and so on, but if they weren’t there I wouldn’t ride any less.

    It’s all very well saying we need to get more people cycling, but I don’t see why that matters to anyone but the industry that makes money from it?

    cybicle
    Member

    I think it matters, because more people cycling = hopefully less people driving, better facilities for cyclists, a better environment and a healthier population.

    As for a greater diversity; as with anything in life, things are improved when you have a broad mix of people involved in something. Music is the perfect example of this. Football has an almost universal appeal due largely to it’s truly inclusive nature. I fail to see how cycling can’t be improved by more people doing it.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    I think it matters, because more people cycling = hopefully less people driving, better facilities for cyclists, a better environment and a healthier population.

    I’d disagree with that on the grounds that if you build a “facility for cycling” in terms of leisure (ie a velodrome, a closed circuit, a trail centre) you actually encourage MORE driving – people will drive their bikes to the facility, ride round (or race) for a few hours or a day, drive home which sort of fosters the exclusivity aspect in that you really need a car – yes it’s possible to go to some trail centres by train but it’s a pain in the arse compared to driving there!

    If by “facility for cyclists” you mean better infrastructure generally – segregated cycle paths, secure/safe off-road tracks (eg converted railway lines), signposted routes then yes, you can encourage people to ride instead of drive but that’s for utility cycling rather than leisure cycling (mostly)

    cybicle wrote:

    I think it matters, because more people cycling = hopefully less people driving, better facilities for cyclists, a better environment and a healthier population.

    Ah, but you’re talking about cycling in general as a mode of transport, not mountain biking as a recreational activity. Very different situation there entirely.

    Cycling in and of itself is very accessible, and everyone knows it – a basic bike is very cheap, and you can ride a bike as transport in any clothes you like, the Dutch certainly do. The benefits to society as a whole of greater cycle usage as a form of transport are well-proven; less time off work sick through better general health, more money put into funding cycling infrastructure, less cars on the roads, and so on – all of which benefit those who currently use a bike as transport.

    What are the tangible benefits to people who already mountain bike as a leisure activity of more people getting involved?

    cybicle
    Member

    I’d disagree with that on the grounds that if you build a “facility for cycling” in terms of leisure (ie a velodrome, a closed circuit, a trail centre) you actually encourage MORE driving

    Not necessarily. I don’t see anyone driving to the bmx tracks near me. And the new Olympic velodrome in London has fantastic public transport links. And trail centres built nearer to urban areas would be more accessible by bike. There are problems, but there are also solutions.

    Ah, but you’re talking about cycling in general as a mode of transport, not mountain biking as a recreational activity.

    I’m not, I’m talking about cycling as a whole here. Of which mountain biking is a part.

    What are the tangible benefits to people who already mountain bike as a leisure activity of more people getting involved?

    Larger numbers would lead to greater need for access. English access laws are woefully outdated and restrictive. Greater numbers of participants would provide a larger pool from which to draw potential sporting talent. Larger numbers of people wishing to travel to mountain biking areas would call for better facilities for travelling, such as improved transport provision. A far greater percentage of the Dutch population cycles regularly, and facilities, as well as consideration for cyclists are much better there.

    Would you argue that less participation is better for cycling/mountain biking?

    Actually, it has been shown in the US that greater numbers of mountain bikers has, in the higher population density areas (like the UK), let to greater restrictions and reduced access. If you have an area that has no official mountain bike trails, if there are only a few mountain bikers then they can pretty much go where they like; if you suddenly get hundreds turning up then the areas available to them will get restricted – that seems to be how it goes.

    Improved transport provision? Can you clarify that please?

    Yes, I believe I made the point about the Dutch, but that’s cycling, not mountain biking. The thread is about mountain biking specifically, not cycling in general.

    I still don’t see why mountain biking must be seen to be accessible?

    More people mountain biking would not benefit me personally, no, so I’m quite ambivalent. I don’t care if anyone else rides a mountain bike or not. In fact, the recent swell in numbers simply seems to mean a greater number of thefts of high-end bikes as they are now more of a target, and greater numbers of people on the trails leading to less of a feeling of getting away from the world (which is mostly why I ride offroad as opposed to on the road). Why are either of those good things?

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