How much are professional mountain bikers paid? – Investigation into the state of the sport of Pinkbike

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In some major sports such as football, Formula 1 or even road cycling, the salaries of the athletes are known to all and published every year. In mountain biking, this is certainly not the case. How much a rider gets paid for downhill, enduro, slopestyle or xc is often a closely guarded secret that becomes even more obscured as the earnings are mixed with bonuses, cash prizes, and sponsorship fees. This is often not as straightforward as saying that rider x will earn y dollars in any given year, as his pay is often heavily tied to his performance.

To try and get a better idea of ​​what runners earn, we’ve included compensation in our State of the Sport survey.

One thing to note is that the pilot’s salary is not equal to the total money a brand spent on that pilot. Regardless of the runner’s remuneration, the total investment of a brand to go racing with them on the international scene is significant; it’s easy to spend over $ 50,000 per rider on travel, accommodation, food, fees, mechanical assistance, etc. for a season. Especially with EWS where travel is important. There are cases where riders take a lower dollar figure to be part of a factory team versus a higher salary and all run their own freelance contracts (and sleep in vans).

The most interesting results from the compensation section of the survey are presented below. We have offered any rider who finished in the top 40 in their discipline over the past two seasons the opportunity to participate in the survey, for more information on the riders surveyed, click here. Note that junior runners have been removed from all calculations below and some runners declined to answer this section.


Additional reports: Henry Quinney

The big picture

The largest cohort of cyclists surveyed (27.3%) earn between $ 0 and $ 5,000 from mountain biking and we also know from a separate question in the survey that around 21% of riders are unpaid. all. Keep in mind that we removed juniors from this part of the survey and only interviewed the top 40 ranked riders over the past two years in each discipline. This means that it’s almost guaranteed that some of the runners you see when broadcasting an event won’t earn a dime for attending. If we go from the mode to the median, the average is slightly higher, with the average runner being paid between 10,000 and 20,000 USD per year.

Another conclusion we can draw from this data is that runners are either relatively well paid or not very well paid at all. So while 51.65% of riders earn less than $ 20,000, nearly a third of pro riders are paid more than $ 40,000 per year and nearly a quarter earn more than $ 50,000.

Some riders are able to transcend the sport of mountain biking and their relative stardom means they can start earning a hefty salary from non-endemic sponsorships. We know that a handful of the sport’s greatest runners net more than US $ 500,000, but since several runners refused to answer this question, only one person confirmed winning more than that amount. For the sake of anonymity, we have removed this person from the remaining charts (although we have included them in the calculated averages) and will not disclose further details about them.

Of all the runners surveyed, just under half (49%) were able to live their lives to the fullest thanks to mountain biking without having to supplement it with another source of income, while 21% told us they did not. were not making any money from sports. As for the remaining runners, 16.2% said it was more than half of their total income while 13.6% said it was less than half. This means that in total 51% of runners must have a second source of income.


Pay by discipline
So what happens when we break the numbers down by discipline? Well, a couple of things stand out, firstly, it seems that the compensation models are pretty consistent across disciplines. We see that the majority of runners win very little or not badly with a hollow between the two in the middle. The two disciplines that do not follow this pattern are slopestyle and cross country, where there appears to be a fairly consistent salary scale in the sport.

Based on the numbers, it looks like slopestyle runners are the highest paid, but it’s worth noting that this is from a very small sample of just 18 runners.

Median salary:

Cross country: $ 30,000 to $ 40,000
Downhill: 5,000 to 10,000 USD
Enduro: 10,000 to 20,000 USD
Slopestyle and freeride: 40,000 to 50,000 USD

Fashion salaries:

Cross country: $ 50,000 to $ 100,000
Downhill: 0-5000 USD
Enduro: 0-5000 USD
Slopestyle and freeride: 100,000 to 250,000 USD

The other striking fact is the number of professional enduro and downhill riders among the top 40. less than $ 5,000 per year. For enduro riders it’s almost a quarter and for downhill it’s almost half. We have another upcoming article that will explore exactly why downhill racers seem to be paid less than other disciplines despite being an incredibly popular form of racing among fans, and a clear proving ground for the halo products of the. sport.

The discipline with the fewest unpaid runners is cross country. While mountain biking doesn’t have the same minimum wage requirements as road cycling, it seems the culture of runners paid for their races has passed on to the XC. Whether it’s because it’s an Olympic sport, its competition with road cycling for top athletes, or something else is unclear.


The gender pay gap
There appears to be a significant pay gap between men and women in mountain biking. For starters, many more of the Top 40 women earn less than $ 5,000 for their constituency – 32.4% for women versus 23.4% for men.

There also seems to be a very clear cap for women’s pay which is lower than men’s. For the most part, the salary of professional mountain bikers is between $ 50,000 and $ 100,000, while some of the highest paid men are paid much more than that.

Median salary:

Men: 20,000 – 30,000 USD
Women: 10,000 to 20,000 USD

Fashion salaries

Men: 0-5000 USD
Women: 0-5000 USD

The reasons why women have not been able to enter the top pay brackets with as much regularity as men are varied and complex, but the issues surrounding media coverage, exposure, influence of purchases and dominant attitudes in sport all play a role. We will explore this in more detail in other articles and follow it throughout the years as the investigation continues as an annual event.


What makes up the compensation package for a professional mountain biker?

Mountain bikers’ contracts usually don’t just have a round number that they cash in the bank every month. Most professional runners will have some sort of base salary, but they are incentivized to increase their salary through bonuses that can include anything from scores to social media posts to magazine covers.

In fact, of the nearly 200 runners we surveyed, only 21.9% made all of their money on one paycheck. The largest group of runners (33.3%) made 60-80% of their money from a salary, but this was followed by 28.6% of runners who did not make money from a salary. This could put runners in a truly precarious position if an injury (or a global pandemic) prevented them from completing any of their bonuses.


What do the sponsors like?

We asked runners what their sponsors value most about an athlete and the majority of runners (50.5%) said these were consistent results in their chosen discipline. Another 13% of runners said it was good one-off results. If you’re wondering why athletes are so nervous at every event, that’s a good illustration of why – almost two-thirds of them will try to justify their pay over the next few minutes or hours and they’re usually under 10. year chances to do so.

Other notable qualities for runners included an active social media presence (23.2%), face-to-face interaction with the public (6.1%), and media coverage of events (3.5%). %).

Again, please note that this is what runners think their sponsors value. This may not reflect what their sponsors in fact value. Anecdotally, we hear that very few sports marketers are willing to spend a lot on the Top 40 athletes if they don’t add something else: strong social media presence, disgusting style for the catalog shoot, good relationship with a distributor in a key market, etc. Maybe we will also need to do an anonymous survey of sports marketers next year.


Do professional mountain bikers think they are paid fairly?

So we’ve established that the majority of mountain bikers don’t make a fortune, but do they think their pay is fair despite it? After all, for most of these riders, getting paid to ride a bike is a dream job, and they may be willing to forgo the higher pay that a 9 to 5 grind could bring in exchange for the lifestyle of their own. ‘a professional cyclist. For many cyclists, their profession is more than just earning a salary. The thrill of competition, the ability to ride their bikes full time, the gear and travel that comes with it, all factor into their career choices. Mountain bikers are also aware that they don’t race stadiums, but their jobs also come with enormous physical risks and sacrifices.

We have asked runners to respond to the statement, “I get paid fairly for what I do” and the responses are mixed. 29.1% of runners agree to some extent, 43.4% disagree to some extent and the remaining 27.6% answered the question neutrally.

When we break this down further, no one will be surprised to learn that the answers seem to follow runners’ wages. The biggest disagreement came from runners earning between $ 5,000 and $ 10,000, where 89.48% of runners did not feel they were being paid fairly.


The results on this subject are interesting, and it is a subject that deserves to be deepened. How much brands should pay athletes who may or may not influence purchasing decisions will be a major talking point, but the big plus for us is that running remains incredibly privileged. Even when they “do” on the World Cup stage, many of these runners depend on the support of their families to pay for their races. Stay tuned for more thoughts on athlete compensation in the near future.

What do you think? Are professional pilots paid fairly? Are you really buying products because a runner is in the top 40? Is sport losing talent because of its lack of opportunities?

Editor’s Note We are counting on the confidence of the athletes to complete this investigation, any attempt to identify runners will be removed from the comments section.



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