New research highlights rise of the MAMIL (that's middle-aged men in Lycra)

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

by Simon_MacMichael   August 16, 2010  

Blenheim Sportive 6

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.
 

50 user comments

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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.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2059 posts]
16th August 2010 - 22:36

2 Likes

DaveP wrote:
Mooseman, why not? Fashion is a hateful thing....

All IMHO of course Wink

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.

mooseman's picture

posted by mooseman [61 posts]
17th August 2010 - 9:25

3 Likes

Yawn 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.

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
17th August 2010 - 11:33

4 Likes

Caption: "Look, I used to be a dab hand at this when I was twelve. What's this bit?"

posted by Cauld Lubter [122 posts]
17th August 2010 - 12:04

4 Likes

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!

posted by jervais [18 posts]
17th August 2010 - 15:25

4 Likes

My name is Shugg McGraw and I am a Mamil.

iLiKEBiKES

posted by Shugg McGraw [17 posts]
17th August 2010 - 15:29

4 Likes

Oh, and my caption entry: Four men who enjoy cycling being matey and fixing a puncture together.

iLiKEBiKES

posted by Shugg McGraw [17 posts]
17th August 2010 - 15:33

4 Likes

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...

andylul's picture

posted by andylul [414 posts]
17th August 2010 - 15:39

4 Likes

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. Big Grin

podgethepuffer's picture

posted by podgethepuffer [18 posts]
17th August 2010 - 15:43

2 Likes

Totally agree Podge… great name btw

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4160 posts]
17th August 2010 - 16:11

3 Likes

underground, overground, MAMILing free, the MAMILs of middle aged cyclists are we ....

posted by SimpleSimon [113 posts]
17th August 2010 - 16:49

3 Likes

Caption offer...

"I'm certain this one goes on the front"

Retriever

posted by richardelliott [20 posts]
17th August 2010 - 16:53

1 Like

"Yes I do wear Lycra, and yes, I look dreadful but I don't care."

Glad you're comfortable with yourself and confident enough to say you don't care. Regardless of how you look, why shouldn't you just relax and enjoy yourself, whether you're old or young, a CTC beardie, a Mamil or a Generation Y-er. Doesn't matter if you're riding £5k of carbon or a scuffed BMX, cycling is just fab. Cool

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2059 posts]
17th August 2010 - 16:57

4 Likes

SimpleSimon wrote:
underground, overground, MAMILing free, the MAMILs of middle aged cyclists are we ....

LOL - Love it: Can I use it?

podgethepuffer's picture

posted by podgethepuffer [18 posts]
17th August 2010 - 17:00

4 Likes

Caption Offer: -

You don't get this problem with solid tyres..... Big Grin

podgethepuffer's picture

posted by podgethepuffer [18 posts]
17th August 2010 - 17:01

5 Likes

I'm a MAMIL, I wear lycra because it's comfortable and I don't give a toss what it looks like. That's my business, nobody else's. Anyone who wants to express an opinion is welcome to do so, but I reserve the right to smack them in the mouth if I don't like what they say!

Oh yes, how can anyone claim to be a 'real' cyclist if they buy a complete bike off the peg instead of buying a frame and components and building it themselves?

It doesn't matter who you are, how old you are, what you wear or what you ride. If you love to ride the bike, that's all that matters.

Grizzerly

posted by Grizzerly [147 posts]
17th August 2010 - 18:50

2 Likes

My only gripe with Mamils is that they seem to be the ones most likely to ride through red lights and drop their energy bar wrappers on the ground.
Admittedly this is only my limited personal experience but if they reserve the right to wear lycra then I reserve the right to make sweeping judgements.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
17th August 2010 - 19:21

3 Likes

Hmm: Look, there is a danger here that this could become a battle of words between the age groups, let call them the Newbies and the MAMILS. At the end of the day, we all ride bikes because we like to ride bikes. Does it matter what age we are? Does it matter what we wear? Does it matter what sort of bike we ride? Does it matter whether its off the peg or bespoke. We all have the same desire. To ride our bikes. As for litter, I would suggest that this probably down to a range of age groups with no particular emphasis on old or young. We're all guilty of it, and it's down to us all to stop it. Plain Face

By the way, for those of you that don't now me, I'll be the fat one at the back on the first climb of the Southern Sportive and the Exmoor Beats. Smile

Now, let's all get out and pump pedals and wave a cheery hello to one and all: especially fellow cyclists, old and young, fat and thin, skinny or knobbly. Wink

podgethepuffer's picture

posted by podgethepuffer [18 posts]
17th August 2010 - 21:54

5 Likes

Confused what is it with Lycra? Olivia Newton John has a lot to answer for.
Lycra should be banned ! a health hazard... accident causing, sweaty microbial infestation....
BTW Moosehead, don't u mean 'Cameltoe'? eeeew Surprise

"Inside every car is a pedestrian, just Waiting to get out..." S.J.L.

scotter's picture

posted by scotter [64 posts]
17th August 2010 - 23:05

4 Likes

Must be true. The only Waitrose in the area (Plymouth / Cornwall) has a Specialized Concept store next door...targeted lacation by Specialized I reckon

Bianchi on the road.
NMD in the water.

posted by rowes [56 posts]
18th August 2010 - 8:44

4 Likes

What's with this middle age stuff? I'm 67, still racing, ride 6 days a week and wear the best sport cycling gear I can get. I have four bikes, all top end and a cyclocross bike just for Oh yea! I still work full time too. Come on you researchers widen your boundaries

Les

posted by lesviner [2 posts]
18th August 2010 - 9:23

3 Likes

I'm 60 years old in six months time, been riding a bike for about 55 of them, wearing lycra for the last 30. After reading this, I've realised that I'm too old for nice racing bikes and definitely lycra, am making you young studs feel sick and should get some tweeds and slippers and hang up my wheels.

Nah, don't think so. I might get some very tight team gear though, and stick two fingers up (not the trendy American one finger that you young trendies favour) as I speed past.

posted by bikeylikey [173 posts]
18th August 2010 - 9:35

3 Likes

Great, I slog away for 15 years on me bloody bike then finally, 3 months before I turn 46, I get my own acronym.

Can I appeal for an age range change or is this now set in stone or wobbly lycra somewhere in Brussels?

We could cycle on the offices of British Cycling and demand the age range be re-assessed. I sense that some in the 35-39 age range may be with me on this (Super Domestique?).

Look at what the "Pink Pound" has achieved, think what the "flabby middled aged lycra pound" could do (once we come up with a snappier name for it obviously).

Greensox's picture

posted by Greensox [14 posts]
18th August 2010 - 9:45

3 Likes

Love thy Mamil.. We need these people! how else can we expect to pick up one year old barely used top flight bikes at a bargain price. Big Grin

boffo's picture

posted by boffo [34 posts]
18th August 2010 - 9:53

2 Likes

Devil
And Another thing: Wearing Lycra reminds me just how fat I am and encourages me to do that buit extra to get thin. Well, that's what the little voices in my head tells me anyway.
Devil

podgethepuffer's picture

posted by podgethepuffer [18 posts]
18th August 2010 - 10:11

1 Like

This a rather fruitless argument. I am 73. I wear Lycra. When I was younger, I sailed a 30ft boat in the South China sea, and wore sailing clothes. When I climbed rock, snow and ice on various continents, I wore climbing gear. When I now ride a bike, I wear bike gear. I don't do it to look good. I don't! But the suggestions of those who think its stupid are themselves lacking in taste and sense. Wear whatever you like!

posted by jphilipc [1 posts]
18th August 2010 - 14:25

3 Likes

podgethepuffer wrote:
SimpleSimon wrote:
underground, overground, MAMILing free, the MAMILs of middle aged cyclists are we ....

LOL - Love it: Can I use it?

'course you can - attribution goes to Mike Batt and the Wombles! Cool

posted by SimpleSimon [113 posts]
18th August 2010 - 17:54

4 Likes

I'm finding this thread quite amusing. I fit the profile perfectly, I'm 36, I shop in Waitrose, I read the Guardian, the household income is in the right range. OK, we only have 1 car, but it's not exactly a Ford Fiesta. I've got 4 bikes (2 are mountain bikes, so I sometimes wear lycra and sometimes baggies...). And I'm thinking about buying more bikes (Lapierre....mmmmm). I ride a bike nearly every day. There's just one problem. I'm female. Now where do I fit in?

posted by katgood [1 posts]
23rd August 2010 - 16:33

3 Likes

katgood wrote:
There's just one problem. I'm female. Now where do I fit in?

You do appear to fit the profile really rather well. Are you absolutely certain that you're a girl?

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
23rd August 2010 - 16:43

6 Likes

MAWIL possibly… although got to say 36 is a little early for middle age in my book and I said goodbye to 36 before the last century was out …sniff Crying

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4160 posts]
23rd August 2010 - 16:56

10 Likes