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Mark W

Pro rider salaries

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So this is pretty interesting: https://www.pinkbike.com/news/how-much-do-professional-mountain-bikers-get-paid-pinkbikes-state-of-the-sport-survey.html

Some random facts from it - 21% of the top 40 riders in the UCI DH and XC World Cups, EWS and Slopestyle events don't get paid a wage from their sponsors (they may be paid expenses, but that wasn't covered in that survey). Nearly half of the top 40 downhill riders in the world are paid between $0-5,000 per year (again, not incl. expenses).

It's pretty nuts that most of the riders in those disciplines are paid so little that they couldn't afford to buy the bikes they ride at retail price on their salaries. I assume there might be (must be?) some non-endemic sponsors helping them out, but still, they can't really be making much of a living with that.

As a slight contrast, there's a stipulation for teams taking part in the UCI World Tour road cycling events that they have to pay each of their team riders a minimum wage of €40,045...

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yeah that was pretty interesting, seems pro riders either get very little wage or a really big one with not much in-between which echoes my thoughts I had.

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I wonder if to make up for the terrible salaries they are tended to for most of their needs regarding their career? for example travel, living cost, bikes, if your going to spend an entire year racing and all your needs are met why would they pay you more, is it down to you as the rider to take on a more business-savvy approach, like Kenny belay for example?

This video from Katy Winton delves pretty deep into how quickly they can have the rug pulled from them

 

 

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2 hours ago, Davetrials said:

I wonder if to make up for the terrible salaries they are tended to for most of their needs regarding their career? for example travel, living cost, bikes, if your going to spend an entire year racing and all your needs are met why would they pay you more, is it down to you as the rider to take on a more business-savvy approach, like Kenny belay for example?

With how many sponsors Kenny has been through, I'm not sure he's totally the model to point to for how to 'do the industry' right. Riders don't tend to change sponsors that frequently if a relationship is going well... In terms of longevity, he's pushed the demo side of things a lot which isn't really an avenue open to most MTB riders.

They did mention in the PB article that some riders do go for a reduced salary in exchange for their expenses being covered. I'd imagine that's probably how most brands would want to play it as they're getting the most value out of their riders that way.

I think part of it is that realistically, most of those riders aren't really spending an entire year racing at all, or even close to it. In pre-covid times there weren't that many top flight DH or enduro races. There's training and so on as well, but from a brand's POV they're getting very little coverage of a rider if it's exclusive race related. Even less so for the EWS riders with the lack of coverage that gets these days. Covid and lockdowns has probably helped nudge some riders into the kind of media they need to be doing to really justify higher salaries to brands.

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From my point of view, a pro rider at the very minimum should be getting free bikes and expenses covered, if they’re getting less than that then I don’t think they fit into the “pro” category. Bikes are just a tool and that should be provided (like a bus driver doesn’t have to supply their own bus), likewise expenses are just like other jobs that get paid when you’re on the clock. I’m surprised people wouldn’t expect every pro rider to be at least getting that.

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I think there should be a minimum wage, as Ali said tools for the job and travel should be covered as would be in any regular profession but you still need to be paid as even if you enjoy what you do it is work at the end of the day. 

You are promoting a product or number of products for a company and should be reimbursed for the labour performed.

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I think that a minimum wage on top of the benefits riders are getting, will just cause a lot of the lower ranked riders to lose contracts. We can't forget that it has to be financially viable for the sponsors, otherwise they wouldn't bother.

It's a similar story with many sports, which don't have silly amounts of money to throw around. Unless you are at the top of your game, making a living from the sport alone can be tough.

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The problem I see is that the career for most will be very short. It's fine finding out how much a DH racer earns in a normal race year but given that chances are they may only be a competitive pro for 10 years if they're lucky (assuming they don't suffer any career ending injuries) how many are actually able to continue to make a living in the industry once they retire? My guess would be that of those who take any kind of salary and can be considered a pro only a tiny proportion will be able to make a living outside of racing. 

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On 08/05/2021 at 10:48 AM, Mikee said:

I think that a minimum wage on top of the benefits riders are getting, will just cause a lot of the lower ranked riders to lose contracts. We can't forget that it has to be financially viable for the sponsors, otherwise they wouldn't bother.

That's definitely true. The only thing I'd say with that though is that I imagine a lot of brands could afford to pay athletes more, but the way the game is rigged means they don't have to. A lot of riders have a stipulation in their contract that they're not allowed to disclose what they're paid or how they're compensated for their work, and that helps deflate the overall wages of riders. I believe Katy Winton mentioned it in either her Downtime Podcast interview or in one of her more recent videos, but basically team managers expect riders not to talk to each other about wages (especially if they're told not to in their contract), but they talk to other team managers about wages.

That said, I do agree that a minimum wage isn't necessarily the right way to go. In all honesty, someone scraping a top 40 on the downhill or EWS scene isn't going to be a household name, someone who's likely to influence people's purchasing decisions or someone offering much exposure to the brand through their racing. If they can demonstrate value to them through other avenues then fair enough, but I imagine most probably won't be able to do so. 

I'd say the UCI roadie teams having a minimum wage is a different story as those teams do pretty much straight up own those riders, and if you're 'just' a domestique on those teams you're never going to be in a position to elevate your own position to become as well known as some of the top names in road racing. Your role is still vital though, so the fact that you're on the road constantly slogging for those teams deserves to be properly rewarded.

There must be some insane budgets for those teams though. I happened to look at one UCI World Tour team page on the UCI site after I read about the minimum wage, and they had a 26 rider line-up that would be earning that upper minimum wage. I'd assume that some of them will be on more of that too, but even if they're not that annual budget for the team just for rider salaries is over €1million. They also had a big line-up of what seem to essentially be B-team riders who are also on a minimum wage, albeit a lower one. Crazy money...

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On 07/05/2021 at 2:57 PM, Davetrials said:

I wonder if to make up for the terrible salaries they are tended to for most of their needs regarding their career? for example travel, living cost, bikes, if your going to spend an entire year racing and all your needs are met why would they pay you more, is it down to you as the rider to take on a more business-savvy approach, like Kenny belay for example?

This video from Katy Winton delves pretty deep into how quickly they can have the rug pulled from them

 

 

If Katy Winton, hasn't already started a Patreon, she should definitely get it done with the deep content she is putting out. 

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5 hours ago, Rusevelt said:

If Katy Winton, hasn't already started a Patreon, she should definitely get it done with the deep content she is putting out. 

She got taken on by Nukeproof in the end, so it's all good. but must be super worrying know that as you get older your window potentially closes for any employment

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Posted (edited)

On 5/8/2021 at 5:48 AM, Mikee said:

I think that a minimum wage on top of the benefits riders are getting, will just cause a lot of the lower ranked riders to lose contracts. We can't forget that it has to be financially viable for the sponsors, otherwise they wouldn't bother.

It's a similar story with many sports, which don't have silly amounts of money to throw around. Unless you are at the top of your game, making a living from the sport alone can be tough.

Yeah, the MTB industry is very different than road, which has big organized teams.  It's important to understand the difference between being a sponsored rider and a part of an actual time like in road.  While many MTB sponsors may use the phrase "team", they're really not as their riders are not employed but rather promote their product for a certain level of perks (with a few exceptions of course).

So in the MTB industry, you couldn't even enforce a minimum wage, because there is no one responsible. Industry wide it means that MTB racing, even at a high level is much more accessible to privateers and such.  You can't make it to the podium in road without a team.  But a good rider with a good bike can do well in mtb riding, even if you have to foot the bill.  This isn't just a financial situation, but is reflected by the crazy team strategies needed in road, in road even the best rider in the world can't make it to the podium without a team.  Switching to high level salary, contracted teams like road would be good for a few high end riders, but I don't think the industry would really be able to financially support it.

Edited by cwtrials

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Posted (edited)

 

On 10/05/2021 at 2:08 PM, Mark W said:

There must be some insane budgets for those teams though. I happened to look at one UCI World Tour team page on the UCI site after I read about the minimum wage, and they had a 26 rider line-up that would be earning that upper minimum wage. I'd assume that some of them will be on more of that too, but even if they're not that annual budget for the team just for rider salaries is over €1million. They also had a big line-up of what seem to essentially be B-team riders who are also on a minimum wage, albeit a lower one. Crazy money...

Team Sky's budget was widely reputed to be 20mil GBP a year. I think Ineos are budgeted to piss though ~20mil euro a year. Astana, FDJ, Movestar, Lotto Jumbo/Lotto Soudal/jumbo visma, Canyon SRAM et al reputedly have budgets in the 8 - 15 mil Euro range IIRC.

It's all a boys club where wallet is used as an appendage - yeah you want the starlets of your chosen sport or discipline thereof to get paid / maketh the bank but too much wedge sloshing aroond ruins/corrupts/derails sport(s) quickly and irreparably imo - I'd sight anything the FIA, FIM or Dorna are involved in as examples.

Anyone remember Matt Prior's pet project ONE PRO cycling? Wikipedia Linkety

Aye well it flew high but crashed like the Hindenburg Link to tactful press statement when they met the kill one club esk glass ceiling that is the pro conti circus - I remember mr. Prior chucking quips around at the time like "It became obvious you'll not get in without 10 mil euro/year, gratuities and 5 yr obligation" or similar.

Essentially if you aren't one of the boys with an account in the caymans and your money going through Luxembourg and a "shh don't tell anyone" fund in UBS Geneva then you will/your team will never progress beyond the races that the Astana's of this world snobbishly look down on [eg. Tour of Britain, national champs, national points series] - that's how it appears to me anyway. 

Edited by CC12345678910
Typo

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Is there such a thing as government grants that would pay a salary to professional athletes for representing their country?

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Posted (edited)

Like Track and Field you mean?

Yeah, there are - that's what British Cycling and Sport England are supposed to be for - and historically they haven't given any unless there is a photo op of the CEO stood next to the Olympic gold medal and the "supported" athlete is in the works.

In a what i'd suggest is a highly cynical attempt to be down wit de kids init - British cycling have got Alex Coleburn and Charlotte Worthington on full time gigs - potentially under rewarded and again, because there is high chance of yielding a gold shaped return on their investment.

They are a good example of what I was on about above - you want the stars to get paid but it comes with baggage of all shapes. I always question the motives of brands sponsoring sport and/or women/girls because I suspect, British Cycling sponsoring Messrs Coleburn Worthington included, that it is just a big ol' bout of band wagon jumping or worse in the case of girls/women in niche but hip new sports [used ironically], nowt but woke quota filling. :sick:

Sky Brown for example, has all the marketing boxes ticked and the "aww isn't she such a brave little sausage" story to go with that means she nowt more than a near the top of the hour "...and finally" circus side show to those people [on breakfast TV].

 

To bring it back on topic the upshot is that big money (energy drink sponsors aside - even they only want trendy overnight superstar viral tiktok sensations) has no idea what mtbing truly is and it's probably still not of a long enough established, matured, dare I say - sophisticated sport to warrant say, a public sector funded TV contract like the Tour de France has.

We're having an upturn in frequency of strongly worded 'discussions' with the upsurge of post lockdown dog walkers and public woodland users :cough: pond scum karens :cough: 'round our way at the minute (...and it's not gonna get better as the sun comes back) and it always reminds me of the opening scenes of chainspotting where Rob Warner is explaining the nuanced, land "issues" - that was filmed the thick end of 25yrs ago and yet still things on two wheels are utterly abhorrent to the all of a sudden countryfied general populous. <_<

Dogshit bags hanging out of trees, nitrous cans everywhere, sheep worrying bullmastiffs and erosion that somehow <300 bicycle users a month vs >2500 pairs of feet cause - all that is OK and "it's youn'uns on bikes that are't problem" 

EDIT: My point being that perceived public opinion sways which way sponsor cash goes. It also insights this kind of carry on. Not the 1st time I've heard of stuff like wire across trails because some jam butty eating rambler thinks it their countyside and not mine or yours. Cnts.

https://road.cc/content/news/horrific-medieval-trap-mtb-trail-near-newcastle-282857

 

Edited by CC12345678910

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1 hour ago, CC12345678910 said:

In a what i'd suggest is a highly cynical attempt to be down wit de kids init - British cycling have got Alex Coleburn and Charlotte Worthington on full time gigs - potentially under rewarded and again, because there is high chance of yielding a gold shaped return on their investment.

They were announced as being on the British Cycling Team, but only in the sense that they're competing in the UCI Worlds with a view to them then competing at the Olympics. BC's primary focus is creating pathways to Olympic medals, so it's just a continuation of that.

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Christ! I’ve only just come across this thread, I’m genuinely shocked about the DH salaries. On the other hand, stuff that doesn’t count as wages can really stack up, transport, clothing other equipment and more bikes and spares than it would be possible to ride and break. I’m not sure if this is still the same but hope used to expect riders sell their team hope stuff on as they didn’t used to pay anyone, but were happy to give away boatloads of stuff. 
 

I guess it further confirms how ridiculously lucky I was when I joined Ashtonbikes. I got paid (not much but was able to do a full time job at the same time!), got loads of stuff and had lots of fun. And looking back had no right to it given my level :lol:

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On 25/05/2021 at 8:33 PM, manuel said:

And looking back had no right to it given my level :lol:

In the nicest possible way, f**k off m8888 

Your riding still stands up now, and looking at the media you put out, you produced a hell of a lot more quality content than most sponsored riders do now. The production value and actual content of it was always right up there. Not just getting by putting 5sec clips up on Reels with some f**king heinous 'music'.

Reels really has made me second guess a lot of riders I thought were pretty interesting/cool people...

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Haha, I guess I was happier with the media part of the riding I did! And technically I was videographer for the team as well as rider, so maybe the money was for that bit mostly :lol:

if you slice it down, there were tons of people who could have done what I was doing, but didn’t. It did feel a bit embarrassing sometimes,  like at the bike shows/demos. 
 

It’s interesting, today as a rider if you want a steady income you kinda need to be producing content very very regularly, which isn’t always great for quality. Maybe that’s part of the big gap problem, people without the backing have less opportunity to create the Uber banger that they are capable of, and the big boys get ever increasing budgets and can create mind melting stuff that puts them further out in front? 

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On 25/05/2021 at 8:33 PM, manuel said:

I guess it further confirms how ridiculously lucky I was when I joined Ashtonbikes. I got paid (not much but was able to do a full time job at the same time!), got loads of stuff and had lots of fun. And looking back had no right to it given my level :lol:

Funnily enough it was one of your vids I found on YouTube that got me back into trials years ago! 

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Posted (edited)

On 24/05/2021 at 4:21 PM, Mark W said:

They were announced as being on the British Cycling Team, but only in the sense that they're competing in the UCI Worlds with a view to them then competing at the Olympics. BC's primary focus is creating pathways to Olympic medals, so it's just a continuation of that.

Oh, right. I was under the impression (wrongly it would seem) that the aforementioned were drawing a wage, as in, did bikes for a dayjob, exclusively for BC - That means BC's PR machine is working just swell then, right?

Assume you are correct, then their [the rider's] talent vs support ratio is worse then I was suggesting? The talent is greater than the received perks [of being on team GB]/the scales are still tipped against the worker (rider)? You have 2 world leaders in a subject, who's stock is potentially still undervalued/at a massive disparity to say, Jason and Laura Kenny? These two's stock value is based squarely on multiple gold round things, granted.

And I still stand by that the old farts of the funding bodies and Olympic committees wouldn't be allowing BMX (either discipline) or pre-teen skateboarding girls houseroom, if it weren't for attempting to be a trendy wendy and the Tiktok hits or such like.

If the talent gets recompensed on a proportionate level as part of going along with the big corporate machine then great, but I'd wager the disparity is there on a similar level to Marquez and Rossi accruing :ahem: amount of monies in a salary basis and most road racers feeling they are doing well/"getting there now boy's!!" on a semi pro basis. Sub Optimal.

For context of my POV: Dainese flew in Mr. Rossi (who even in my list comes in the top 25 GOAT) to the TT one time for a guided lap - They were shown round on showroom fresh crossplane R1's @ a steady away 6/7 tenths and on return VR was quoted as saying "F**K THAT. You people are f**king nuts - crayzee people...

So the men/women idolised by millions earn the bank, and the people with a high probability of them being more talented than all of 'em are working class heroes working multiple gigs to fund the circus.

Graham Obree might be a good cycling pop reference for this point BIO HERE

Non cycling but similar in nature would be Peter Williams and his monocoque John Player Norton

Edited by CC12345678910

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4 minutes ago, CC12345678910 said:

Oh, right. I was under the impression (wrongly it would seem) that the aforementioned were drawing a wage, as in, did bikes for a dayjob, exclusively for BC - That means BC's PR machine is working just swell then, right?

Assume you are correct, then their [the rider's] talent vs support ratio is worse then I was suggesting? The talent is greater than the received perks [of being on team GB]/the scales are still tipped against the worker (rider)? You have 2 world leaders in a subject, who's stock is potentially still undervalued/at a massive disparity to say, Jason and Laura Kenny? These two's stock value is based squarely on multiple gold round things, granted.

British Cycling don't have a 'Team' of riders in the way that it appears you think they do. They are a governing body, not a direct sponsor. They provide funding for different disciplines and can fund riders kit, travel expenses and so on, but to my knowledge they wouldn't just pay a rider a wage for being on their team. Being selected for their team just means that you've been selected to represent the country at an international event. In the case of those BMXers, it's representing GB at the UCI Worlds. It's the same as how they have to put forward the riders who would race the DH Worlds, Track at the Olympics, etc.

I expect that broadening the appeal of the Olympics was probably part of the decision to include BMX, skateboarding and surfing, but that will have also factored into the decision to add things like karate and baseball too. It's all about money at the end of the day, hence the IOC being one of the most litigious groups out there in terms of protecting their IP.

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