The 2021 South African Mountain Bike Survey, presented by Garmin attracted a total of 3093 respondents, quite similar to the 3128 of 2020. Of the that number, a total 2749 answered every one of the 50 questions (not every question relates to everyone). Here’s the first of four reveals about what South African mountain bikers prefer when it comes to racing, training and sports supplements.

We will split the survey results reveal into four parts – Rider Stats, Bike Stats, Gear Stats and Performance Stats. Where relevant, we will include a comparison to the same question from 2020 and 2019. We ran the survey for a period of four weeks (essentially, the entire month of December 2021), promoting it on our website, in our weekly mailer and via our social media channels. We also boosted social media posts with the aim of reaching those outside our own regular readership.

NOTE: ON A MOBILE DEVICE, TABLES BEST VIEWED IN LANDSCAPE

Where do you live?

  2021 2020 2019
Gauteng 47.66% 51.18% 48.90%
Western Cape 32.36% 27.08% 27.31%
KwaZulu-Natal 8.86% 8.50% 8.29%
Eastern Cape 3.39% 5.18% 4.93%
Mpumalanga 2.30% 1.85% 2.74%
North West 1.62% 1.82% 2.50%
Free State 1.42% 1.57% 2.03%
Limpopo 0.74% 1.02% 1.02%
Northern Cape 0.58% 0.54% 0.63%
I live in a neighbouring country 0.36% 0.64% 0.94%
I live outside Southern Africa 0.71% 0.61% 0.70%

Have that many Gautengers moved to the Western Cape in the past year? Regardless of the reason for the shift in percentages, those two provinces contain 80.02% of the South African mountain bike market…

 

How long have you been mountain biking for?

  2021 2020
One year or less 3.85% 6.30%
1-2 years 6.76% 7.03%
2-3 years 7.24% 8.38%
3-5 years 13.45% 13.97%
5-10 years 26.48% 27.78%
10-15 years 22.50% 17.87%
15-20 years 9.67% 8.92%
More than 20 years 10.05% 9.75%

Based on this survey, the percentage of those mountain biking for five years or less went from 35.68% in 2020 down to 31.3% in 2021, with the 5-15 years segment increasing from 45.65% in 2020 to 48.98% in 2021. An industry shortage of new bikes in the past year could account for that one-year-or-less drop compared to 2020, which by contrast, was probably the biggest year for new bike sales ever.

FNB Wines2Whales

 

What level of mountain biker would you say you are?

  2021 2020 2019
Very social 3.04% 4.38% 2.50%
Recreational 23.21% 25.83% 22.14%
Very keen 51.08% 47.15% 51.10%
Highly committed 22.66% 22.63% 24.26%

Some shifts here in the past year, but actually quite similar to 2019.

 

Which is most applicable to you in terms of your occupation?

  2021 2020 2019
I am a learner (still at school) 2.33% 2.08% 0.55%
I am a student 1.68% 2.11% 2.11%
I am currently unemployed 1.68% 2.37% 0.86%
I am a stay-at-home parent/spouse 1.36% 1.79% 1.80%
I work part-time in one or more jobs 3.59% 3.42% 2.58%
I have a full-time job with a salary 58.135 59.49% 61.50%
I own a business 24.64% 23.95% 27.39%
I am retired 1.65% 4.80% 3.21%

Not much different from 2020 in most categories – pleasing to see the unemployed number go down a bit though…

King Price Trailseeker Series

What is your age category?

  2021 2020
12-15 years 1.13% 0.86%
16-19 years 1.75% 1.95%
20-24 years 2.30% 2.40%
25-29 years 3.91% 5.05%
30-34 years 7.66% 7.61%
35-39 years 12.32% 13.20%
40-44 years 17.01% 16.24%
45-49 years 17.56% 18.70%
50-54 years 15.78% 15.03%
55-59 years 10.77% 10.23%
60-64 years 5.95% 5.56%
65-69 years 2.65% 2.24%
70 and older 1.23% 0.93%

Very similar to last year and notable that 70.95% are over the age of 40, confirming the lifestyle nature of mountain biking – travel, health and fitness – as well as the relatively high cost of bikes and gear affordable to those in higher-earning positions. It’s also important to note that teens generally don’t take surveys and the teen numbers are obviously much higher than reflected here.

 

What is your sex?

Sex 2021 2020 2019
Female 20.98% 19.12% 15.88%
Male 79.02% 80.88% 84.12%

There’s definitely an increase among women riding mountain bikes. It’s evident on the trails, but this helps with some confirmation.

KAP Sani2c

In a normal year (not affected by Covid restrictions), how often would you say you participate in a MTB race – on average?

Participation frequency 2021 2020
As often as I can/more than twice a month 8.21% 7.96%
About once a month 12.38% 16.11%
About 3-6 times a year 45.13% 45.24%
Not often – two or fewer times a year 34.27% 30.69%

There’s no doubt that races/events are still essential to the South African mountain biker, with almost 65.72%% doing at least three events/races in a (normal) year.

 

What type of mountain bike races/events do you participate in mostly (you can choose more than one)?

  2021 2020
Fun Rides (less than 20km) 4.95% 5.82%
Fun Races (20-25km) 11.74% 15.60%
Half-marathons (30-45km) 36.76% 41.59%
Marathons (50-90km) 51.73% 48.82%
Ultra-marathons (90-180km) 22.05% 18.22%
Ultra-endurance Races (180km+) 12.77% 12.18%
Short stage races (2-4 days) 39.28% 37.21%
Long stage races (5-9 days) 9.57% 10.36%
Cross-country (XCO) 13.39% 11.25%
Downhill 2.20% 1.66%
Enduro 7.53% 6.62%
Dirt jumping 0.97% 0.80%
I don’t do races/events 9.09% 8.06%

Half-marathons, marathons and short stage races are still the most popular, but it’s interesting to see the growth in XCO, Downhill and Enduro, all of which generally appeal to younger riders and more serious racers.

Momentum Medical Scheme Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen

Did you participate in any mountain bike races in the Covid-19-affected year?

2021 2020
Yes 55.32% 40.31%
No 44.68% 59.69%

Although still quite restricted, there was more racing in 2021 than in 2020, so it makes sense to see this shift. Thanks to the resilient, committed race organisers and their sponsors that are trying to keep things as normal as possible. Let’s hope 2022 has no government-enforced disruptions!

 

Do you feel that the growth and accessibility of MTB trails parks has reduced your desire/need to enter races/events?

  2021 2020 2019
Yes 16.17% 14.67% 16.04%
No 59.30% 58.82% 54.93%
To an extent yes 24.54% 26.47% 27.54%

There’s still a really good appetite for events/races. This will hopefully be maintained in 2022, which has started well in terms of events taking place, albiet with some number restrictions.

Wolwespruit MTB Trail Park

Do you feel that the depressed South African economy in the past couple of years has reduced your ability to enter races/events?

  2022 2020 2019
Yes 40.93% 36.51% 34.98%
No 31.49% 34.43% 32.24%
To an extent yes 27.58% 29.06% 32.79%

Unfortunately, the economy continued its slump in 2021. Trails parks have reported that numbers remained high in 2021 despite the lowering on restrictions for races/events.

 

Are you a member of an established/official cycling club?

  2021 2020 2019
Yes 45.20% 41.98% 45.15%
No 54.80% 58.02% 54.85%

Very similar to 2019, which is rather positive for clubs.

 

Do you normally take an annual Cycling South Africa (CSA) membership?

  2021 2020 2019
Yes 34.17% 33.70% 40.30%
No 41.13% 42.07% 35.68%
Only if I have to 24.70% 24.23% 24.02%

For those that are highly committed to racing, it can become costly to keep paying for a CSA day licence (R50 per day) at races. An annual licence at R250 just makes sense (R150 for 16-and-unders). A full racing licence – for those intent on racing at provincial, national and international level – costs R450 per year.

Sox Footwear Enduro Series

Do you have a Strava account?

  2021 2020
Yes, I’m a subscriber 41.32% 34.78%
Yes, I use the free version 49.43% 55.56%
No 9.25% 9.65%

The overall percentage of Strava users is similar to last year, but there’s a fairly big shift from free version users to subscribers. It costs R600 per year (upfront payment), or R110 per month. It’s really very useful with loads of insightful features. It makes a great birthday gift for a keen mountain biker.

 

Do you use sports supplements for riding/racing energy/recovery?

  2021 2020
Yes 63.30% 58.95%
No 14.71% 15.47%
Sometimes 21.99% 25.58%
KAP Sani2c

If you use sports supplements, which brand do you prefer?

  2021 2020 2019
32GI 15.91% 13.03% 10.97%
Biogen 15.00% 16.94% 18.09%
USN 13.23% 13.18% 15.40%
Cadence 6.26% 5.85% 6.18%
Enduren 5.24% 3.31% 2.80%
PVM 4.90% 5.77% 2.57%
Hi5 4.86% 4.88% 5.48%
Powerbar 4.79% 6.18% 4.55%
RaceFood 4.79% 5.21% 1.63%
GU 4.18% 3.98% 4.78%
Hammer 4.15% 4.50% 5.83%
Named Sport 4.11% 2.32%
Herbalife 1.70% 2.05% 1.75%
SISS 1.32% 1.38% 2.68%
Cytomax 1.28% 2.31% 1.40%
Sponser 0.68% 1.53% 1.40%
Others 7.61% 7.58% 14.49%

Interesting to see 32GI continue its steady market-share increase and take the top spot in 2021. Other notable increases come from Enduren and Named Sport.

Look out for Parts 2, 3 and 4 reveals of our 2021 SA Mountain Biking Survey, presented by Garmin over the next couple of weeks.

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