New Zealand Mountain Bike Web
Excerpts from Brendan's draft thesis:
  1. The Development of Mountain Biking
  2. Mountain Biking in New Zealand
  3. Official Statistics for Mountain Bike Morbidity and Mortality
  4. Summary of New Zealand Injury Statistics
  5. Academic Research on Mountain Biking Mortality and Morbidity
  6. Summary


Firstly, thanks to all the riders who completed the questionnaire. I asked the same questions of both downhill and cross-country riders and had a really good response rate from both. By asking both downhill and cross-country riders I was able to compare the two groups. Sorry the questionnaire was anonymous so I canít tell you exactly what you or your mates scored! As you may remember I asked you some questions about mountain biking, but I also asked heaps of questions about driving, alcohol and drug use, and involvement with the police etc. The point of this was to try and figure out how many risks you take, not only in your sport, but also in everyday life. As it turns out you all take heaps of risks! Now I know you will all be saying "But I donít take risksÖI am such a good driver, have such fast reactions etc that itís OK for me to drive at 130 kph". Whatever. Sure if your grandmother drove at 130kph it would be more of a risk, but its all comparative! By the way did you know that 85% of drivers under the age of 25 rate themselves as an above average driver. The other 15% rated themselves as an average driver! So we can argue all day about risk but I think youíll agree all the behaviours I asked you about involve some degree of risk.

The most interesting result was that as a group, downhill riders took more risks in driving, alcohol and drug use and criminal behaviour. Youíll also remember filling out another questionnaire that asked heaps of weird questions (itís from the USA). Well this is called the Sensation Seeking Scale, and provides a measure of your risk taking tendencies. Well no surprise, but downhill mountain bikers scored considerably higher that cross-country riders on this scale. This probably explains why they take more risks than cross-country riders. Sensation seeking is assumed to be a personality trait. Recent research has isolated a gene (the dopamine d4 gene) that may be responsible for this risk taking tendency. So far this is only in rats, but hey, whatís the difference?

In summary, people who take risks in their sport are also more likely to take risks in their driving, alcohol and drug use, and criminal behaviour. There are always going to be exceptions, but as a whole, downhill mountain bikers (and high sensation seekers) are more likely to have a mountain bike accident, drive a car faster, drive while drunk, have a motor vehicle accident, use alcohol and drugs (but not cigarettes), and more likely to be involved with the bad side of the law! Ok, so there are some risk takers out there, but they arenít necessarily stupid. They are no less likely to wear their bike helmets or other protective gear, and like the rest of us, they also buckle up most of the time. So their crazy but not stupid!

Check out the cool graphs below. They give you an idea of some of the risk taking characteristics of the cross-country and downhill groups. If youríd like more information about any of this stuff or just want to comment then feel free to email me at Once again thanks for your time in completing the questionnaires, and good luck for this years racing!

Brendan Anstiss

The first graph shows that both groups are pretty good with protective gear. Downhill riders, understandably, wear more protective gear than cross-country riders, especially when it comes to body armour.


This graph gives an indication of the number and severity of mountain bike accidents for cross-country and downhill riders. As you can see downhill riders had more accidents that cross-country riders and they also required more serious treatment following these accidents. Overall, 77.5% of all downhill riders had an injury that prevented them from riding for at least one day, compared to 56.8% of cross-country riders. While this may seem like a lot (or maybe not!), remember it covers the last 12 months.


This next graph is all about alcohol and drugs! Cross-country riders use slightly more legal supplements (Leppin, Powerade, Exceed etc) than downhill riders. But the downhillers make it up with the other stuff. They use more alcohol, marijuana, performance enhancing drugs (steroids), and other hard drugs (cocaine, psychedelic drugs etc). But over-all use of hard drugs is still pretty low.


This last graph gives percentages for involvement with the police. Again downhill riders are more likely to of been warned, arrested, and convicted (non-traffic offence). Only 2 of each type had been to prison. Amazing that almost 50% of downhill riders had at some time been officially warned by the police! Didnít ask what they were warned or arrested for but given the previous data on drug use, this may make up a big proportion of it.



New Zealand Mountain Bike Web