Strava collects a massive amount of data from cyclists all over the world – but lately they seem to be making an extra special effort to use that data for the good of cycling kind.
In their most recent study, the social media platform carried out a detailed survey into the cycling habits, motivations, buying attitudes and barriers to entry for female riders in the UK. The survey ran from 7 to 10 June, and received 5,024 responses in just over three days.
- 61% of female cyclists surveyed are inspired by pro cycling
- 84% of female cyclists are motivated by health & fitness
- 52% cycle for leisure and recreation, 32% commute
- 60% say there aren’t barriers to entry for more women taking up cycling
- 63% ride socially at least once a week
- 60% ride a women’s specific bike
- Specialized is the most ridden bike brand amongst female cyclists
- dhb and Castelli are the most popular apparel brands
The findings came out just before Strava unveiled their new video, aimed at celebrating the many reasons we ride, run or swim. Describing the motivations behind the report, their Director of Local Marketing Simon Klima said: "We wanted to understand more about female cycling; we’re pleased that our engaged community were happy to tell us their thoughts. With these findings we hope to serve our growing community of female cyclists even better; we also hope that the wider cycling industry gets value from the report."
Dani King was involved in the study, and said: "With women’s cycling growing both professionally and recreationally I was delighted when Strava asked me to get involved with this report. Since I’ve been cycling I’ve consistently heard two things. 1. Women aren’t interested in professional cycling and 2. There are significant barriers in place that prevent women from cycling. This report addresses these often quoted stereotypical views and shows them largely not be true."
We do have to remember that Strava's data reflects the thoughts, opinions and habits of women who the social network site could reach - and therefore won't provide us with a clear picture of the overall audience. However, the results still make interesting reading...
What, where and who with?
'Who, what, where' - the staple ingredients to the first line of any news story. And why? Because they're the most important details.
Beginning with the question nearly all cyclists ask on first meeting another rider, Strava asked ‘how long have you been riding’ and the results showed that over half of female cyclists can be considered recent – in that they’ve taken to two wheels in the last 1-5 years.
Strava asked what sort of riding cyclists were doing and the majority - 83 per cent - said road cycling, 52 per cent said leisure cycling, 32 per cent commuting and 23 per cent mountain biking.
In terms of who they went riding with, 79 per cent said they would cycle on their own at least once a week, 63 per cent would ride with friends or a partner, just 22 per cent with a cycling club and 6 per cent ride with colleagues.
Only 18 per cent said they cycled regularly with just other women whilst 44 per cent ride with just men and 38 per cent ride with men and women. We've got to wonder if those figures would be the same if more of us could actually find local women to ride with.
When it comes to time spent riding - 58 per cent dedicate 3-5 hours a week, 28 per cent 6-10, and 5 per cent find 11-15 hours. Those cycling more than 16 or less than 1 hour a week were in the minority.
Why ride, and what stops us?
Most women were originally motivated to get into cycling in a search for general fitness, and by their friends and family, and it seems those factors continue to drive us. Though events, competition, and even weight loss seem to become more important to those continuing in their cycling, they still remain secondary concerns.
We hear a lot of talk around 'barriers' stopping women cycling, and actually less than half believe there are barriers. Admittedly, we're asking the converted here - those who haven't been put off enough by those hurdles to prevent them from cycling. However, interestingly only 37 per cent of those who had been riding less than a year said they thought there were barriers, compared to 42 per cent of established riders.
When it came to what those barriers actually were, it was perceived danger and mechanical proficiency that came out top with 78 and 71 per cent respectively - and fear of the roads and how to fix punctures are concerns we hear a lot. Body image, accessibility and fitness were there too.
What do you buy and why?
In terms of where we're buying from, most women are choosing online retailers, with local bike shops soon after.When buying cycling apparel, female cyclists considered performance (92%), style (89%) and price (88%). When it comes to brands, dhb came out top of the clothing pile (they told us why they're doing so well here), with Castelli second (we interviewed the designer here).
When it comes to bike buying, Specialized were the top dogs and the average number of bikes owned was 2.1 - though unsurprisingly the number went down for beginners and up for established riders. In total, 60 per cent of women had a female specific bike, and this number increased to 67 per cent for those who had been cycling less than a year.
When those who owned women's bikes were asked what influenced their choice, 90 per cent said they were more comfy and 85 per cent said they found a better fit. Of those that rode unisex bikes, 90 per cent said they were more comfy and 74 per cent rated them for improved performance.
New bikes were purchased on average every 4 years and most spent about £1,050 a year.
And what about pro cycling?
We've heard it all before: "we can't support women's cycling / broadcast pro women's cycling / sponsor a team because no one wants to watch it." Well, if these survey results are correct then those with the power to sponsor women's cycling better rethink.
The majority - 64 per cent said they're interested in pro cycling, and that interest rose with experience level. Of those who had been cycling 5-10 years, 74 per cent follow the pros and overall 61 per cent are inspired by them.
Slightly worryingly, it was the Tour de France that got the most interest, with 94 per cent saying they followed the race. Comparatively, the Aviva Women's Tour attracted only 39 per cent and even the equivalent mens' event the Tour of Britain gained the attention of 52 per cent. Of course, these men only races do attract more media attention and are therefore easier to follow - but you can find coverage of women's races and the Women's Tour here at TWC!
Finally, Strava gave women the chance to pop in their own comments - of course with over 5,000 responses we couldn't get them all - but there were some common themes represented by these snippets...
“Women's clothing sizing needs to be inclusive for ALL sizes and shapes of women."
“Women's cycling needs a much higher profile in the media."
“It is very important that women see other women cycling, to encourage them to cycle."
“I'm really impressed with British Cycling's Breeze initiative to encourage more female cyclists."
“British drivers need more education to make cycling safe."
“More cycling infrastructure required to overcome perceived danger."
“I don't see it as women's cycling – just cycling."
“I just love the feeling of cycling: the ride; the fresh air; the scenery in countryside; the exhaustion once you're home."
What do you think about the findings of the study? We'd love to hear if you agree or disagree with the averages above, let us know in the comments...