In Part 3 of our four-part reveal of the 2020 South African Mountain Biking Survey, presented by Garmin, we look at the performance segment of the survey. The 13 questions were designed to find out more about how mountain bikers measure their training/racing performance and which brands they choose for GPS devices, home trainers, workout apps and more. Where relevant, we have included the previous year’s stats for comparison.

The 2020 South African Mountain Bike Survey, presented by Garmin attracted a total of 3128 respondents. Of the that number, 2877 answered every one of the 50 questions (not every question relates to everyone). This is an impressive sample size when compared to the 1213 (1034 100% completion) from the 2019 SA MTB Race Survey, presented by Garmin.

Do you wear a GPS smart watch to monitor your riding performance?

Response %
Yes 63.14%
No 36.86%

GPS Smart watches have become popular due to their convenience and the fact that they have so many cycling-specific features. They’re also ‘lifestyle-measuring’ devices, offering stats on sleep quality, weather and recovery – and they tell the time, like a regular watch…

If yes, what brand and model do you currently use?

GPS smart watch brand % 2020
Garmin 70.86%
Apple Watch 7.50%
Suunto 6.49%
Polar 5.43%
Samsung 3.41%
Huawei 1.96%
FitBit 1.06%
TomTom 0.67%
Wahoo 0.33%
Other 2.29%

We expected Garmin to come out tops here, but not quite with such dominance. Garmin’s Fenix is essentially the benchmark in smart watches for cyclists, while its Vivoactive (Active Lifestyle) and Forerunner (Committed Athlete) models also showed significant popularity in our survey. Interesting to see Apple Watch at #2 ahead of hardcore sports brands Suunto and Polar and most likely due to the Discovery Vitality offering with the Apple Watch in South Africa. There were a total of 1785 responses to this question.

Do you use a traditional non-GPS cycling computer or a GPS cycling computer to measure your performance whilst you ride (that’s mounted to your handlebar)?

Response %
A traditional non-GPS computer 9.30%
A GPS cycling computer 54.56%
Neither 36.13%

So, the 36.13% that said ‘neither’, are likely mostly using a cycling-aligned smart watch, which measures most of what a handlebar-mounted device measures, as well as off-the-bike measurement, such as sleep, recovery and other activities.

If yes, what brand and model do you currently use?

Cycling GPS brand % 2020
Garmin 71.53%
Wahoo 6.48%
Bryton 3.12%
Polar 2.76%
Cateye 2.76%
Lezyne 1.94%
Giant 1.88%
Sigma 1.82%
Ryder 1.35%
Other 6.36%

Garmin is incredibly dominant again here, but it is the brand that essentially created the cycling GPS category in the early 2000s. A total of 1697 answered this question.

Which data metrics are most important to you?

Metrics %
Distance, speed & time 93.08%
Heart rate 80.03%
Average speed 56.62%
Accumulated ascent 43.27%
Time of day 31.80%
Cadence 29.03%
Calories burned 27.96%
Navigation capabilities 25.00%
Elevation above sea level 21.63%
Slope gradient 17.71%
Power metrics 16.42%
Air temperature 16.16%
Smart notifications 14.64%
Advanced physiological metrics (VO2 max, training effect etc) 10.95%
Safety features 10.50%
Training plans & workouts 10.02%
All of the above 8.65%

Survey-takers could choose as many as they felt necessary. This does give an indication what the priority features are on cycling-specific devices for South African mountain bikers. We had an ‘Other’ option and were pleased to see a few mentions of the Garmin Varia, a radar function on your device that alerts you to vehicles approaching from behind. More about the Varia here.

Do you currently use a power meter?

Response %
Yes 12.69%
No 87.31%

Due to their price, power meters remain a nice-to-have for most, but those committed to improving their racing performance will prioritise measuring their power, both in training and races. Top racers use their power numbers to pace themselves in races as power is a far better measure of current effort than heart rate.

Do you train indoors to achieve cycling fitness/strength?

Response % 2020 % 2019
Yes, mostly on my home trainer 43.85% 35.11%
Yes, mostly at a power-training studio 2.42% 5.91%
Yes, mostly on the power-measured bike at my gym 10.10% 22.03%
No 43.64% 36.96%

Quite a change from 2019 and no doubt significantly influenced by the South African government’s stringent lockdown from March until July 2020. With both power training studios and gyms being heavily affected by the lockdown regulations, their numbers were most impacted in the past year.

Did the Covid-19 lockdown motivate you to buy a home trainer?

Response %
Yes 20.64%
No 40.87%
I already had one 36.00%
I already had one but did buy a better one 2.49%

Never have so many South Africans felt the need to purchase a home trainer as in 2020! A total of 2892 answered this question.

If you use a home trainer, which do you have?

Response % 2020 % 2019
Basic manual resistance trainer 48.19% 42.70%
Smart trainer 51.81% 57.30%

Smart trainers generally range in price from R9000 to R32000 (not including the smart bikes, which are more expensive). Basic manual resistance trainers, which, with some relatively cheap modification, can be connected to popular training app, Zwift, generally cost from R1500 to R4000.

If you use a home trainer, which brand and model do you have?

Home trainer brand % 2020 % 2019
Wahoo 33.54% 39.46%
Tacx 18.29% 17.01%
Giant 13.31% 11.34%
Saris/CycleOps 7.56% 9.98%
Elite 6.65% 3.40%
Trojan 2.58% 3.85%
Wattbike 1.93% 3.40%
Raleigh 1.80% 1.59%
Spinning bike 1.42% 0.91%
RavX 0.77% 1.13%
Other/Unknown 12.15% 7.93.%

Wahoo, a smart-trainer only brand, remains the category leader, but has lost some of its market share to Tacx, which sells both basic resistance trainers and smart trainers and Giant, which sells basic resistance trainers. Elite, which sells both types of trainer, has also gained market share over the past year.

Whilst on your home trainer, do you use a cycling training/workout app?

Response % 2020
Yes 46.78%
No 53.22%

As regular users of home trainers, the TREAD team members are impressed that such a high percentage are able to stay motivated without using a training/workout app!

If you use a cycling training/workout app, which do you use?

Workout app % 2020
Zwift 66.70%
Rouvy 7.41%
TrainerRoad 4.18%
Tacx Training 3.49%
The Sufferfest 3.49%
Wattbike 1.71%
FullGaz 0.87%
Wahoo 0.70%
Kinetic Fit 0.70%
RGT Cycling 0.61%
BKook Simulator 0.26%
Golden Cheetah 0.26%
Other 9.62%

No real surprise that Zwift is by far the most popular. We have used at least half of those listed here and can confirm that Zwift is certainly the most engaging and customisable.

Did you miss Part 1 of our four-part reveal of the 2020 South African Mountain Biking Survey, presented by Garmin? Check it out here: