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Today's midlife crisis more likely to result in purchase of Pinarello than Porsche...

New research from leading market research firm Mintel has helped dispel the myth often portrayed in certain elements of the media that cyclists and motorists are two distinct groups and never the twain shall meet by highlighting that the keenest cyclists are most likely to have at least two cars in their household.

Mintel has even coined an acronym to describe those cyclists – MAMILs, standing for ‘Middle Aged Men In Lycra,’ which generated some discussion on our forum over the weekend – although here at road.cc we have to admit that we’re big also big fans of more flattering fabrics such as sportswool. It adds that those cyclists are suffering from "the noughties version of the mid-life crisis".

The consumer research company’s report, Bicycles in the UK 2010, which has received widespread coverage in the mainstream media including The Guardian and the BBC, also says that regular cyclists – which it defines as people who get on their bike at least once a week – are more likely than average to read broadsheet newspapers, shop at Waitrose and have household income in excess of £50,000 a year. They’re also twice as likely to be male as female.

Michael Oliver, who wrote the report, said: "Thirty or 40 years ago, people would ride a bike for economic reasons, but our research suggests that nowadays a bicycle is more a lifestyle addition, a way of demonstrating how affluent you are."

The research shows that growth in bike sales is being propelled by 35- to 45-year-old men with families, who instead of going off and buying a sports car as they approach middle age now go for high-end bike instead.

Besides the one in eight people who cycle once a week or more, there is a similar proportion who cycle occasionally, but the biggest barrier to getting non-cyclists to take to two wheels is the perception that cycling is dangerous.

The report adds that while it is attuned to many trends that currently resonate with consumers – “health and wellbeing, a sense of community, and environment,” cycling lacks “some of the less acknowledged selling points favoured by car drivers: personal safety, comfort, style, convenience and speed.”

It concludes that getting more people in Britain to ride bikes therefore remains a challenge.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

50 comments

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Jon Burrage [998 posts] 6 years ago
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I was in a bike shop in Bristol last year and there was a guy, maybe 50-55, walked in, looked at a £4500 orbea orca with DA and zipp 404's, asked if it was a road bike...then bought it.

I would have loved that bike, cleaned it every day, kept it in the warm...its probably in a shed not being used now.

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gazzaputt [221 posts] 6 years ago
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Unfortunately I came across quite a few of these MAMILs yesterday.

Really are all the gear and no idea. A few of them had the road sense of a 6 month old baby.

And as for the guy with a £5k BMC who had no idea how to repair the puncture he had.

It is lovely and I really support more people getting out on bikes but please remember when buying Bradley's bike it doesn't also come with his legs!

Edit: and please can we have caption quote competition for the pic above?

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therevokid [972 posts] 6 years ago
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and the other end .... me, 47, Trek 1.9 that's out as often as poss (which is less than I'd prefer  2 )
and capable of repairing most mishaps on the road side
whilst in me lycra  4

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DaveP [412 posts] 6 years ago
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I'm the wrong shape, so I don't do lycra...

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 6 years ago
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Lycra should be a privilege - not a right!

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Super Domestique [1609 posts] 6 years ago
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Middle age starts at 35?????  20

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marsbar [15 posts] 6 years ago
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I'm well into middle age (more like old age at 51) and my lycra is hidden under sensible shorts

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stever [65 posts] 6 years ago
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Ah so that's where this story originated. Mintel have done well out of this story, the number of times this stuff's been repeated.

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Tony Farrelly [2871 posts] 6 years ago
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The more the merrier is my view I'd like to think that there are plenty of new cyclists reading road.cc

To most people of course one middle aged man in Lycra is going to look very much like another, they won't know whether he's been riding for years or since last week.

I also have lots of respect for big-boned types in Lycra too, good for them at least they're giving it a go. It's pretty easy to look good in lycra if you're a skinny fella. Much worse in my book is getting stuck behind a long time rider in lycra shorts that are so threadbare they've started to go see through… the mental image is putting me off my lunch.

Plus I'd much rather have a middle aged bloke roar up behind me on a country lane riding a five grand bike than sitting at the wheel of a sports car like that numpty telly chef… whose name I've just forgotten  22

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Simon E [2855 posts] 6 years ago
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At 43 (though clicking up another digit at the end of the month) I'm well into the 'target' age range but certainly don't fit the profile. A rubbish wage, a 20 year old car that worth even less than my SCR 2 and we certainly don't shop at Waitrose. I have acquired the standard wife and two kids but not a dog, or even a GPS for that matter. I read the occasional non-Tory broadsheet and wear lycra to ride to work every day except in torrential rain.

Most of the riders I know are what I'd call keen cyclists. I've seen a few MAMILs (do a large proportion of them wear team kit?) and I'm sure the bike shops are glad of their business too. At least they're helping the industry and perhaps providing good value secondhand bikes for people who don't have so much cash to splash. Also I hope that when they get behind the wheel of their car these guys remember what it's like for cyclists on the road.

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mooseman [87 posts] 6 years ago
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Arragh, Camelbak. No!

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abudhabiChris [692 posts] 6 years ago
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I guess I fit the profile.

It started just for a bit of recreation a few years back, you know... nothing serious, just a bit of fun.

After a while I started doing it at work. I'm only commuting, I can handle it I thought. I can take the tube anytime. But I started on the hard stuff - rain, even snow.
I even started wearing lycra under my baggy shorts.

Then I hit 40. Someone told me I could get some steel at a place called Roberts not far from me. You just don't know, these places are tucked away in the suburbs. Custom stuff, specially made. I couldn't resist.

Soon I joined a gang called Audax and we used to get together to eat sliced peaches and rice pudding. Nobody talked - we couldn't think of anything except malt loaf. Nobody else I knew understood my longing for lugs.

But it wasn't enough. Next I had to get a fixed.

Then a mate offered me something brought in from Italy. It was red and shiny, I was hypnotised. A bargain he said, doing him a favour to take it from him.

Now I've hit the bottom. Total carbon fibre. My wife doesn't even know it's got Super Record. She even wants me to get rid of another bike to make room.

My name is Chris, and I'm a cyclist.

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Fringe [1047 posts] 6 years ago
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shouldn't it be 'mamir' (middle aged man in Rapha)...  4

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DaveP [412 posts] 6 years ago
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Mooseman, why not? Fashion is a hateful thing....

Isn't the reason road racers don't use them the UCI ban due to aerodynamic advantage or some such?

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stever [65 posts] 6 years ago
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Absolutely, bring on the mamils. One more biker is one less driver after all.

And every BMW-driving executive that gets on his Colnago/Trek/Pinarello on a Sunday is likely to give the rest of us a tiny bit more space when they drive past the rest of the time. Kudos too to road.cc for giving the backgound to the story, rather than passing it off as a bit of lifestyle journalism.

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 6 years ago
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DaveP wrote:

Mooseman, why not? Fashion is a hateful thing....

Isn't the reason road racers don't use them the UCI ban due to aerodynamic advantage or some such?

They may be banned on road stages, but Garmin-Slipstream were using CamelBaks during the TdF time trial.

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pedalingfuriously [1 post] 6 years ago
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I definitely fit the profile and beyond the embarrassment of being so easy to categorise I don't care! I love cycling, have ridden bikes non-stop since I was a kid, and now finally have some money to indulge my passion - hence the 9 bikes in my basement, 5 of which I have built-up myself. Yesterday I took a friend (who was so jealous of me cycling 75 miles to visit him) to buy a 1500 bike. Does his riding justify it? Of course not. Was he the most excited bloke in the county yesterday when we went for a short trip around the lanes? Yes. Another convert, more money into the industry and who really gives a damn if he looks bad in lycra? Isn't cycling about having a good time not conforming to some arbitrary definition of 'cool'?

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dekerf74 [1 post] 6 years ago
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Caption: Erm my wife told me that this should be filled with something....

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cycling.fan [3 posts] 6 years ago
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started about 3 years ago. big fan of road cycling. was lucky to finally get a road bike. started with simple cotton shorts and t-shirt. even without helmet. it took some time to realize that helmet is not just a style. and lycra short and synthetic jersey are not just look nice. they are more convenient and appropriate for getting on and out of saddle and pedaling.

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cycling.fan [3 posts] 6 years ago
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sorry for the small orthographical type error - "they don't just look nice" i should have typed...

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Simon E [2855 posts] 6 years ago
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@cycling.fan - did you know you can edit your posts?

And BTW starting out in cotton shows you're not a real MAMIL, it seems they're supposed to walk in and spend a wodge with little or no prior enthusiasm for the sport/pastime. But that's not a criticism; cycling is a broad church, we should welcome everyone who takes to cycling.

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mooseman [87 posts] 6 years ago
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DaveP wrote:

Mooseman, why not? Fashion is a hateful thing....

All IMHO of course  3

1. It looks wrong. So wrong.
2. It will clout you on the back of the head when you're on the drops (if you have your bike set up right)
3. Are 2 750cc bottles not enough?
4. What do you keep in it?

However, a tasteful (colour co-ordinated, not over stuffed) musette is acceptable on occasions.

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simonmb [353 posts] 6 years ago
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 37 I think the fact that anyone chooses to get on a bike can only be a good thing and it's something should be encouraged on every level. Those that spend thousands of pounds and end up with a bike that will always be faster than their legs are subsidising those of us who ride more humble machines, and all of their glorious technology does eventually trickle down to the rest of us. Cycling is no different to golf, or fishing, or any number of different sports in this sense - and I for one welcome anyone who shows interest in getting out on a bike. Show me a cyclist and I'll show you a friend. And leave the guy with the Camelbak alone! He's out for a bimble, and doing it the way he likes best.

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Cauld Lubter [135 posts] 6 years ago
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Caption: "Look, I used to be a dab hand at this when I was twelve. What's this bit?"

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jervais [18 posts] 6 years ago
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The issue is not MAMIL, it's simply MAM, cuz i am becoming one. At least have the sense to wear shorts over ones lycra. Heed me!

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Shugg McGraw [25 posts] 6 years ago
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My name is Shugg McGraw and I am a Mamil.

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Shugg McGraw [25 posts] 6 years ago
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Oh, and my caption entry: Four men who enjoy cycling being matey and fixing a puncture together.

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andylul [410 posts] 6 years ago
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I fit the age profile but not much else. I haven't got £3K plus to wedge out on a carbon road rocket so I spent a fraction of that recently on getting a Ribble Audax, just in case I was in danger of taking myself too seriously.

Started 'proper' cycling five years ago because I wasn't allowed to drive at the time and found that lycra was actually the best thing to wear while cycling.

Why should this be such a alien concept? No one seems to baulk at the Rooneyfication factor of wearing base layers and gloves while playing football? I bet there are plenty of Sunday morning wannabes decked out in all the most expensive compression gear (and wearing alice bands in what's left of their hair, FFS) kicking a ball round a turd-strewn council pitches up and down the country.

Now it makes sense to be properly dressed to go properly cycling - have never ridden either of my last two bikes in anything other than the 'proper' gear (which, sad to say, includes mirror shades and BG gloves) - I do possess bib-shorts but draw the line at a skin suit...

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podgethepuffer [19 posts] 6 years ago
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So What if the so called MAMIL's (and yes I am one of those) go around on expensive bikes wearing Lycra. Personally, I couldn't give a fish's doo dah who wears what and who rides what. We all love and ride bikes and that's what is important. Most of the 'MAMIL's' were probably cycling long before the new breed even existed. I love my bikes and yes, they do cost a lot but so what. Yes I do wear Lycra, and yes, I look dreadful but I don't care. I do what I like to do and as a by the by, I have introduced my partners two boys to the sport as well. Don't forget, it's the MAMIL's that have born and continued the sport and all newbies will also be MAMIL's in the future.  4

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Tony Farrelly [2871 posts] 6 years ago
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Totally agree Podge… great name btw

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