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  • Gary Roethenbaugh

Here come the girls! Strava Women’s Cycling Report

Strava, the social network for athletes, has released a comprehensive new Women’s Cycling Report, believed to be the biggest of its kind, based on survey analysis of over 5,000 active female cyclists in the UK.

The survey of UK female cyclists aims to determine motivations, influences, buying attitudes and views on barriers to entry for more women taking up cycling.

Globally, Strava members currently upload 6 million activities per week; and in 2015, on average, 5.3 activities were uploaded to Strava every single second. The average speed per ride of UK female cyclists on Strava in 2015 was 19.8 km/h (12.3 mph), while the average distance per ride of UK female cyclists was 34 km (21.1 miles).

Based on when they took up cycling, UK survey respondents were segmented into four groups: ‘new starters’ (less than one year), ‘recent’ (1-5 years), ‘established’ (6-10 years) and ‘long term’ (10+ years). Around two-thirds of respondents got into cycling in the past five years.

Pro cycling The report comes during the Aviva Women’s Tour, which features the Strava Queen of the Mountains competition for the third year running. The survey reports that 61% of female cyclists are inspired by pro cycling, and overall 64% take an active interest.

94.1% of respondents follow the Tour de France, 52.4% follow the Giro d’Italia and 39.6% follow the Vuelta a España. The Tour of Britain and Women’s Tour show their appeal with 52.0% and 39.6% saying they follow the races respectively.

Motivation Respondents have a diverse range of cycling experience. 51% have been cycling for less than 4 years. 62% took up cycling for general fitness and 56% were influenced by friends & family. When asked ‘What motivates you to cycle now?’, 84% said general fitness, 59% said friends & family, and 32% said events. 29% said weight loss and 26% said commuting motivates them to cycle.

Overall, for all female cyclists on Strava, two thirds ride up to 5 hours per week on average. For riding activities at least once a week, just 22% say they ride with a cycling club, while 79% ride on their own and 63% ride with others – friends, family or their partner.

Low barriers to entry Respondents expressed a view on the presence of barriers for women's cycling, and the majority feel that cycling is an accessible sport. 60% disagreed that there were barriers in place for women wanting to get into cycling.

Of the 40% who agreed that there were barriers, 78% believed this was due to a perceived danger of cycling, followed by mechanical proficiency at 71%, with 59% flagging barriers around the subject of body image.

Buying habits Survey respondents were asked to rank a number of influences from 1 through to 7, with 1 being the biggest influence. The aesthetics and price of cycling apparel/equipment scored 1 to 3 for around two-thirds of female cyclists. 31% state that they buy their gear from specialist online retailers and 23% buy from an independent bike shop.

On average, female cyclists spent £1,050 in 2015 on cycling – including apparel, equipment, events and other related expenditure. The majority of female cyclists on Strava own 2 bikes, with an overall average of 2.1 bikes per person for all survey respondents.

16.2% ride a Specialized bike most often, 12.1% ride a Giant and 11.7% ride a Trek. On average, they purchase a new bike every 4.1 years.

60% of female cyclists ride a women’s specific bike. 90% agreed or strongly agreed that they chose a women’s specific bike because of comfort, 85% because of better fit and 68% for better performance. 62% said it was because of the best design and 49% because they presumed they needed a women’s specific bike.

When buying cycling apparel, female cyclists considered performance (92%), style (89%) and price (88%). dhb came out top as the most popular brand amongst women (12.4%), followed by Castelli (12.2%) and Altura (10.2%). Amongst new cyclists (less than 1 year’s experience), interestingly Castelli is the most popular brand.

Olympic 2012 Gold medallist and Wiggle-High5 rider Dani King, said of the report, “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.”

She continued, “There is however still more to achieve and with growth of media coverage surrounding women’s cycling and increased focus from the industry, I hope women’s cycling can reach its full potential; both in a sporting and recreational context.”

King added, “I hope that participation in women’s cycling continues to grow and that the industry uses this report to help serve female cyclists even better.”

Simon Klima, Director of Local Marketing at Strava, 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. As supporters of the Aviva Women's Tour for the third year running, we look forward to seeing women's cycling go from strength to strength."

The Strava Women’s Cycling Report will be available free of charge to the UK cycling and sports industries.

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