We ran the South African Women’s MTB Survey, presented by Liv during May and June 2022. It was an update on our initial women’s MTB survey from 2018. Women currently make up around 23% of the South African mountain biking market, an approximate growth of 4% in the past four years. A total of 1362 women took our 2022 survey, a big jump on the 579 that took our 2018 survey. We have split the reveal into two parts – this is Part 1, which focusses on ‘You and Your Riding’.

 Where do you live?

2022 2018
Western Cape 40.01% 34.14%
Gauteng 38.47% 43.50%
KwaZulu-Natal 9.47% 10.40%
Eastern Cape 4.26% 4.95%
Mpumalanga 2.42% 1.91%
North West 1.76% 1.91%
Limpopo 1.40% 1.56%
Free State 0.59% 1.21%
Northern Cape 0.59% 0.52%
Currently outside SA 1.03%

For the first time since we started running surveys in 2010, the Western Cape surpassed Gauteng in terms of mountain bikers. Why? Well, a few likely reasons: 1 – the ‘semigration’ of Gauteng residents to what is essentially mountain biking paradise; 2 – the realisation by a number of women who live there that they’re living in mountain biking paradise and might as well start mountain biking; 3 – Liv, the presenting partner of this year’s survey, has a strong Western Cape presence and base. Or a combination of the three…

Photo: FNB Wines2Whales/Nick Muzik

How long have you been mountain biking for?

2022 2018
More than 10 years 22.83% 14.90%
5-10 years 29.37% 36.22%
2-4 years 18.80% 31.20%
1-2 years 12.26% 10.57%
6-12 months 6.31% 3.81%
3-6 months 4.26% 1.56%
Less than 3 months 6.17% 1.73%

It’s very encouraging to see that the number of women that are new to mountain biking (started in the last year) has grown from 7.1% in 2018 to 16.74% in 2022! Let’s hope this trend continues.

Photo: King Price Trailseeker Series

What is the main reason you started mountain biking? You can choose more than one.

2022 2018
Fun/Social reasons 34.14% 15.77%
To join my spouse/partner 25.26% 22.01%
It looked like a cool sport 25.33% 12.48%
I enjoy being outdoors 51.98% 20.45%
To get fit and compete 19.82% 1.56%
To get fit and healthy 38.99% 17.85%
To lose weight 10.35% 2.25%
Road cycling became  too dangerous 8.22%
To help overcome a major emotional trauma 4.99%
To have more ‘me-time’ 11.31%
Too many injuries from other sports 4.48%
Other 8.15% 9.88%

In 2018 we had an ‘Other’ option and based on the answers then, added four more reasons this year. Also, in 2018, we only permitted one reason per person. This time we opened it up because not everyone rides for only one reason.

Photo: Cycle Lab Active Women

 

When you started mountain biking, which did you do?

2022 2018
Bought a brand new bike 38.99% 52.86%
Borrowed a bike 10.35% 5.72%
Used a spouse/partner’s old/other bike 10.28% 12.65%
Used a friend’s old/other bike 6.75% 6.41%
Bought a second-hand bike 26.95% 22.36%
Other

‘Bought a brand new bike’ dropped substantially in four years. New-bike availability wasn’t a problem then like it has been for the past 2.5 years. A definite boost for the second-hand bike market…

Photo: KAP Sani2c

 

Rank the following in terms of what motivates you to get on your mountain bike. You may choose more than one.

2022
Post-ride social interaction 29.88%
Training for an event/race 58.22%
Getting fitter/into better shape 75.26%
Meeting my riding friends/tribe 65.49%0

 

 What is the biggest barrier to riding more than you do?

2022 2018
Work/career commitments 36.64% 29.81%
Family commitments 6.46% 8.32%
Family and work commitments 19.60% 23.57%
Difficulty getting to and from trails 4.41% 2.95%
No safe-riding group 14.68% 22.36%
No MTB trails near me 4.77%
Other 13.44% 13.00%

Nothing unexpected here although there are some changes from four years ago, but that’s likely because more younger women took the 2022 survey who do not have family commitments.

Photo: Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being extremely important and 1 being not important, how would you rank the following at a MTB trail park?

2022 2018
Safety 9.32/10 9.32/10
Trail grading signage 8.37/10 8.05/10
Directional signage 9.01/10 8.73/10

Not surprisingly, not much change from four years ago. What has changed in that time though is the number and popularity of MTB trails parks. Fortunately most are acutely in touch with the importance of these park features.

 

Is entering races important to you?

2022 2018
Yes 60.72% 59.79%
No 39.28% 40.21%

South Africans enjoy a challenge and endurance events are a big part of our sports culture in this country. We didn’t ask what kind of races women like to enter, but based on our other surveys, the most popular events are Half-marathons, Marathons and short stage races.

Photo: King Price Trailseeker Series

In which age category are you?

2022 2018
Teens 4.41% 1.91%
20-24 6.17% 2.77%
25-29 9.40% 6.07%
30-34 11.53% 12.13%
35-39 15.49% 19.58%
40-44 16.23% 22.53%
45-49 14.61% 16.29%
50-54 10.43% 11.96%
55-59 7.05% 4.68%
60-64 3.45% 1.39%
65-69 0.95% 0.35%
Older than 70 0.29% 0.35%

Yes, we had a bigger response this time so we expected some changes here, but what’s encouraging is the bigger number of young women that took our survey. Teens tend to avoid taking 6-minute surveys, but to have the Under-30 segment grow from 10.75% in 2018 to 19.98% now is amazing and bodes well for the future of women’s mountain biking in South Africa. The largest segment is women in their 40s (30.84%) with those in their 30s not far behind (27.02%). Even those in their 50s make up a big chunk (17.48%). Brands that recognise and cater for these segments can only expect to succeed.

 

How often do you ride outdoors?

2022 2018
Seldom – about twice a month 14.46% 12.44%
Regularly – about once a week 30.91% 31.09%
Frequently – two or more times a week 54.63% 56.48%

It’s wonderful that 85.54% of women ride outdoors at least once a week with more than half heading out more frequently.

Photo: KAP Sani2c

For your mountain bike rides, which do you prefer?

2022
Riding alone 2.79%
Riding with a friend (or friends) 42.36%
Riding with an organised group/leader 4.26%
A combination of the above 48.38%
Other 2.20%

This is a new question and confirms the relevance of the social and safety elements of mountain biking for South African women.

 

Do you do any indoor cycle training?

2022 2018
Yes 65.20% 74.44%
No 34.80% 25.56%

Quite a big change here. Likely a number of reasons, including the bigger number of newcomers (new riders generally aren’t committed enough to invest in indoor training gear and time), the fact that more younger respondents took the 2022 survey; and women are appreciating the freedom to ride outside after it was removed by the government’s reaction to the Covid-19 virus.

Photo: FNB Wines2Whales/Nick Muzik

If you do indoor cycle training, what type do you do?

2022 2018
Power training in a studio/gym 16.28% 32.27%
Power training at home 54.52% 21.28%
Stationary bike at home/gym (no power measurement) 19.40% 22.88%
Spinning at a gym (no power measurement) 9.81% 23.57%

Fascinating how these numbers have changed! The lockdown of 2020/2021 has changed how women train indoors with ‘power training at home’ going from 21.28% in 2018 to 54.52% in 2022! The gyms/studios drop in numbers confirms this shift.

Is there any other form of exercise you do?

We had 1166 answers to this open-ended question. Here are the most frequently mentioned other forms of exercise in no particular order: Crossfit, Gym training, Hiking, Jogging, Pilates, Road cycling, Running, Swimming, Trail running, Triathlon, Walking, Weight training and Yoga.

 

Do you ride with ICE ID or similar emergency personal identification?

2022 2018
Yes 46.84% 49.66%
No 53.16% 50.34%

The drop in the Yes column is a concern. Even if you are riding with others, they need to have some information should you be unable to communicate so that they can contact your family and ensure you are taken to an appropriate medical facility.

Do you have medical aid cover?

2022 2018
Yes 78.63% 79.38%
No 4.41% 4.13%
I have a hospital plan 16.96% 16.49%

Not much change here. Based on the high risk of crashing, it makes complete sense to have some kind of medical cover.

 

Which of the following applies to you?

2022 2018
I am a learner 2.64% 1.20%
I am a student 5.65% 2.58%
I have a part-time job 8.52% 10.14%
I have a full-time job 70.48% 74.05%
I am retired 1.62% 2.06%
I am a pensioner 1.17% 0.69%
I am unemployed 2.28% 0.69%
I don’t work 0.88% 0.52%
I am supported by my partner/spouse 2.72% 2.75%
I am a stay-at-home Mom 4.04% 5.33%

Most South African women mountain bikers have a full-time job, the reduction in percentage from 74.05% to 70,48% likely due to the fact we had a lot more younger respondents this time compared to 2018.

What is your relationship status?

2022 2018
I am single 24.52% 17.53%
I am in a relationship 18.43% 15.64%
I am engaged 2.06% 2.75%
I am married 21.22% 19.42%
Married with young children (under-16) 17.84% 24.23%
Married with older children (over-16) 11.75% 15.29%
Single mother with young children (under-16) 1.91% 1.72%
Single mother with older children (over-16) 1.69% 2.58%
I am a widow 0.59% 0.86%

Interesting changes in these stats in the past four years. The percentage of women who are married (with and without children) has dropped to 50.81% from 58.94%. The fact that we had lot more responses this year and from younger women is likely to have an impact on this.

If you own a car, which brand do you drive?

2022 2018
Volkswagen 16.22% 14.88%
Toyota 15.81% 14.70%
Ford 11.59% 11.76%
Hyundai 5.10% 6.98%
Suzuki 4.70% 2.94%
Nissan 4.54% 3.30%
Audi 4.20% 5.88%
BMW 4.20% 5.51%
Kia 3.73%
Renault 3.73% 3.12%
Mazda 2.75%
Land/Range Rover 2.35% 2.94%
Honda 2.27%
Mercedes 2.18% 3.30%
Volvo 1.78%
Mini 1.45%
Mitsubishi 1.37%
Jeep 1.21%
Opel 1.21%
Chevrolet 1.21%
Other 8.27% 24.69%

No change for the top three brands since 2018 with Volkswagen and Toyota very close and Ford a little way off in third. Suzuki, Nissan and Renault all increased women’s mountain biker market share in the past four years. Last time we only listed 11 brands, this time we listed the top 20, hence the big change in the ‘Other’ percentage.

Look out for Part 2 – Your Bike and Gear coming soon.

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