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Cycling and Class

DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
edited May 2009 in Commuting chat
*Yet another hot topic*

OK almost anyone can get on almost any bike and ride it to work.

But to truly engage in cycling as a hobby, given the costs involved, is cycling very much a sport for the wealthy and/or middle class?

While I think that the old British class structure has all but been blurred into a shade of grey, in society there are still clearly those who are wealthier than others and those who adhere to a different lifestyle and social habits/practice than others. From this social values develop and are ultimately different between groups of people. What is likely to be found is that individuals from similar socio-demographic groupings will mostly rationalise the value of cycling in the same way - there are exceptions to any rule.

What I’m finding is that within cycling there are less people from say (and this is a very loose example) Streatham, Thornton Heath and Croydon than there are those from Putney, Fulham, Kingston and it makes me wonder if cycling is a sport for the, supposedly, more affluent?

On a more personal note I do question whether I will truly fit in with cycling (though it will never stop me cycling and riding with others) as my lifestyle/social values do fall into the grouping who are more likely not to take up cycling as a hobby.
Food Chain number = 4

A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
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Posts

  • always_tyredalways_tyred Posts: 4,965
    DDD, have you watched the "Gods and Clods" episode of South Park? Its very instructive.

    I have to say, you sound generally as though you are on the very edge of sanity, and therefore I wouldn't worry too much about not fitting in here. Wibble.
  • Rich158Rich158 Posts: 2,348
    Not so imho. I wouldn't describe most of the guys I go mountain biking with as middle class or affluent, and yet they all ride £2k plus bikes, they scrimp and scrape to get the bike they want and then treasure it. The same goes for road bikes and clubs as well, whilst there are a number of people who can afford to buy the best and never get the best out of it, go to any club and you'll find people from all walks of life who've sold their soul to get the best bike they can afford in order to pursue the sport they love.

    You don't need to spend a fortune to start riding you can always spot those who have all the gear and no idea, and have tried to buy their way into the sport. Part of the fun of cycling is following the upgrade path until you get your dream bike :lol::lol::lol:
    pain is temporary, the glory of beating your mates to the top of the hill lasts forever.....................

    Revised FCN - 2
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    DDD, have you watched the "Gods and Clods" episode of South Park? Its very instructive.

    Unfortunately no.
    I have to say, you sound generally as though you are on the very edge of sanity, and therefore I wouldn't worry too much about not fitting in here. Wibble.

    I wish I could be in a state of wibble... currently doing socio-demographic breakdowns of my membership (work) hence the post... I can't get off the subject.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • Stuey01Stuey01 Posts: 1,273
    edited April 2009
    I see a lot of "working class" people getting around on bikes. What I don't see is a lot of them talking about it on internet forums.


    edit: working class is definately not the term I was shooting for, but for lack of a more descriptive alternative...
    Not climber, not sprinter, not rouleur
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    Stuey01 wrote:
    I see a lot of "working class" people getting around on bikes. What I don't see is a lot of them talking about it on internet forums.

    My analysis wasn't solely based on my experience with this internet forum. Other than that I'm not sure what you're getting at.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • _Brun__Brun_ Posts: 1,740
    Stuey01 wrote:
    I see a lot of "working class" people getting around on bikes. What I don't see is a lot of them talking about it on internet forums.
    Hard to post on internet forums while down t'pit. Getting up for work two hours before going to bed doesn't leave much in the way of spare time either.
  • always_tyredalways_tyred Posts: 4,965
    edited April 2009
    DonDaddyD wrote:
    Stuey01 wrote:
    I see a lot of "working class" people getting around on bikes. What I don't see is a lot of them talking about it on internet forums.

    My analysis wasn't solely based on my experience with this internet forum. Other than that I'm not sure what you're getting at.

    Ahh, but then you are looking at people who can afford a bicycle AND (broadband OR who have a job requiring computer literacy and providing access to the internet).

    EDIT - DDD; http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/103741
  • Stuey01Stuey01 Posts: 1,273
    DonDaddyD wrote:
    Stuey01 wrote:
    I see a lot of "working class" people getting around on bikes. What I don't see is a lot of them talking about it on internet forums.

    My analysis wasn't solely based on my experience with this internet forum. Other than that I'm not sure what you're getting at.

    There may be something in your hypothesis as you rightly point out that cycling is an expensive past time. I see a lot of non-middle class/afluent people using a bicycle as a means of transportation, but I suspect not as high a proportion as a hobby.

    I'm not sure how you would prove or disprove this theory short of canvassing everyone on a bike as to their socio economic background and whether they cycle as a hobby or out of necessity.

    How to define "class"? If your parents have a working class background are you by default working class? what about if you are a middle manager in a large corporate, a very middle class job.
    Not climber, not sprinter, not rouleur
  • FeltupFeltup Posts: 1,340
    If I lived in an area of a city where the streets are crowded with people, cars, buses etc and the nearest countryside was 10 miles away then I would almost certainly have not got in to cycling as a hobby. I would probably use a bike to get around i.e. to the pub or mates house but not as a hobby. Living out in an area where it only takes a short time to get in to open fields and leafy lanes means it is a joy to go out on the bike and therefore it became a hobby.

    I would therefore think that you will tend to get more cyclists in areas where there is access to nice open roads and countryside and these areas tend to be a bit more expensive to live in hence you will probably get more cyclists from better off back grounds.

    Just another theory to throw in the melting pot.
    Short hairy legged roadie FCN 4 or 5 in my baggies.

    Felt F55 - 2007
    Specialized Singlecross - 2008
    Marin Rift Zone - 1998
    Peugeot Tourmalet - 1983 - taken more hits than Mohammed Ali
  • SewinmanSewinman Posts: 2,131
    You do enjoy compartmentalising people DDD!

    I would agree that cycling in general is a middle class pursuit. I don't thinks its down to economics though...I once went to a motor-cross event and it was largely a working class crowd. The parents were clearly spending an absolute fortune on their children's bikes and all the gear. So I don't think money is the issue, just a tendancy in the middle classes to be interested in healthy sports as a hobby.
  • BoardinBobBoardinBob Posts: 697
    DonDaddyD wrote:
    *Yet another hot topic*

    OK almost anyone can get on almost any bike and ride it to work.

    But to truly engage in cycling as a hobby, given the costs involved, is cycling very much a sport for the wealthy and/or middle class?

    While I think that the old British class structure has all but been blurred into a shade of grey, in society there are still clearly those who are wealthier than others and those who adhere to a different lifestyle and social habits/practice than others. From this social values develop and are ultimately different between groups of people. What is likely to be found is that individuals from similar socio-demographic groupings will mostly rationalise the value of cycling in the same way - there are exceptions to any rule.

    What I’m finding is that within cycling there are less people from say (and this is a very loose example) Streatham, Thornton Heath and Croydon than there are those from Putney, Fulham, Kingston and it makes me wonder if cycling is a sport for the, supposedly, more affluent?

    On a more personal note I do question whether I will truly fit in with cycling (though it will never stop me cycling and riding with others) as my lifestyle/social values do fall into the grouping who are more likely not to take up cycling as a hobby.


    Did you not chuck your toys out the pram when I started a thread asking who were worse drivers between men or women :roll:
  • andy83andy83 Posts: 1,557
    im not affulant in the slightest lol

    have a relatively low paid job but as previously stated i scrimp and save whatever i can towards my bike.

    i dont drink or smoke or have gym membership so its my one luxury. i do look and dream about having a £3k plus bike and maybe one day i will but not a chance now

    it took me around 6 months to save up for the parts for my last bike but meant loads to me, until [email protected][email protected] nicked it last week

    just found out my cycle vouchers got sent to head office yesterday so awaiting that to get new bike. now that is the only way i can get the bike that i want although going to leave my disposabel cash even less lol
  • Rich158Rich158 Posts: 2,348
    Stuey01 wrote:
    DonDaddyD wrote:
    Stuey01 wrote:
    I see a lot of "working class" people getting around on bikes. What I don't see is a lot of them talking about it on internet forums.

    My analysis wasn't solely based on my experience with this internet forum. Other than that I'm not sure what you're getting at.

    There may be something in your hypothesis as you rightly point out that cycling is an expensive past time. I see a lot of non-middle class/afluent people using a bicycle as a means of transportation, but I suspect not as high a proportion as a hobby.

    I'm not sure how you would prove or disprove this theory short of canvassing everyone on a bike as to their socio economic background and whether they cycle as a hobby or out of necessity.

    How to define "class"? If your parents have a working class background are you by default working class? what about if you are a middle manager in a large corporate, a very middle class job.

    Not true, I wouldn't describe any of my MTB buddies as affluent, and yet they all ride as a hobby not a means of transport. I suspect if you take a cross section at any cycling club you'll find a fairly broad demographic.

    I also think this class issue is a red herring, I know plenty of people who would describe themselves as working class, and they are still affluent. Likewise I know many middle class people who are up to their eyeballs in debt and haven't got two pennies to rub together. It is true though, money does give you access to leisure pursuits you may not otherwise enjoy, if only through the fact that rather than just trying to survive from day to day, it buys you time to pursue your hobbies.
    pain is temporary, the glory of beating your mates to the top of the hill lasts forever.....................

    Revised FCN - 2
  • lost_in_thoughtlost_in_thought Posts: 10,563
    Rich158 wrote:

    I also think this class issue is a red herring, I know plenty of people who would describe themselves as working class, and they are still affluent. Likewise I know many middle class people who are up to their eyeballs in debt and haven't got two pennies to rub together. It is true though, money does give you access to leisure pursuits you may not otherwise enjoy, if only through the fact that rather than just trying to survive from day to day, it buys you time to pursue your hobbies.

    +1 to that.
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    edited April 2009
    Another thing to think about is how you define 'affluent', consider that the average London salary is around £25,000...
    You do enjoy compartmentalising people DDD!

    I don't enjoy it and on a social and more personal level I hate the very notion of it as I find that that attitude limits people from learning and exploring different things and different types of people. That can lead to misuderstanding, prejudice and the purvey of the right wingers...

    From a professional perspective, generalising groups of people, finding similarities within groups and marketing on that is the name of the game and purpose of my business/art.
    I also think this class issue is a red herring, I know plenty of people who would describe themselves as working class, and they are still affluent. Likewise I know many middle class people who are up to their eyeballs in debt and haven't got two pennies to rub together.

    +1 in as much as money isn't the sole signifyer of class. Its why I included lifestyle and social habits and practices in my original post. The class structure, if you choose to believe in it was mostly about lifestyle and how a person chose to live not necessarily how much they earned, however to live in a certain way implies you earn a certain amount of money... i.e. Holiday 2-4 times a year for example.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • andy83andy83 Posts: 1,557
    Another thing to think about is how you define 'affluent', consider that the average London salary is around £25,000...

    we dont all live in london lol, just got my new contract from work and after bike voucher and health insurance comes off im on 14k
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    andy83 wrote:
    Another thing to think about is how you define 'affluent', consider that the average London salary is around £25,000...

    we dont all live in london lol, just got my new contract from work and after bike voucher and health insurance comes off im on 14k

    You mean they pay you people now!?! :wink:

    But seriously, yes I'm aware of that and I'm aware of the difference in pay and cost of things (house prices for example) in and outside of London. Living in Derby for 4 years I was amazed how far my money went. And a girl I used to live with prided herself that her parents and sisters were all 'middle class' despite their combined household income being half of what my Father took in by himself. I wouldn't consider my Father middle class.

    But this is why I said that Class isn't solely measured by money or wealth. You could live in London earn a high wage and still not be able to maintain what could be a middle class lifestyle, whereas you can earn half that amount outside of London and have a arguably higher standard of living.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • vorsprungvorsprung Posts: 1,953
    i don't think you need to be a genius to work out that most leisure cyclists are middle aged white men.

    Most of the wealthy "middle class" people are also middle aged white men

    But there is no necessary connection between "weathly and/or middle class" and "leisure cyclist"
  • bluesacsbluesacs Posts: 95
    I don't want to be too hard and fast about this but chaps and chapesses in

    lycra on racing bikes are generally middle class, very probably middle managers, if it's a bit dirty then working class made almost good

    those wearing helmets, day glo stuff, face masks and with lights on during the day and cycling at a ridiculous cadence are over achieving geeks and geekesses in the city, and obviously lower middle classes perpeptualy worried about their status

    those on bromptons are upper middle class, possibly higher

    whilst those on a quite knackered old heavy bike with something made out of whicker on it generally own the county that you are cycling through

    but if it's old and knackered but with no whicker and only a sturmey three speed then probably skilled working class, the blue overalls will confirm this

    those on ridiculously small bikes cycling in the lowest gear possible are an under class member making a drugs delivery

    otherwise no member of the sub proletariat will be seen dead near a bicycle other than driving over it in a stolen car

    Anybody carrying ortlieb panniers are artists and therefore classless, but really probably very upper class.

    I dunno though, could be wrong.
  • SewinmanSewinman Posts: 2,131
    bluesacs wrote:
    I don't want to be too hard and fast about this but chaps and chapesses in

    lycra on racing bikes are generally middle class, very probably middle managers, if it's a bit dirty then working class made almost good

    those wearing helmets, day glo stuff, face masks and with lights on during the day and cycling at a ridiculous cadence are over achieving geeks and geekesses in the city, and obviously lower middle classes perpeptualy worried about their status

    those on bromptons are upper middle class, possibly higher

    whilst those on a quite knackered old heavy bike with something made out of whicker on it generally own the county that you are cycling through

    but if it's old and knackered but with no whicker and only a sturmey three speed then probably skilled working class, the blue overalls will confirm this

    those on ridiculously small bikes cycling in the lowest gear possible are an under class member making a drugs delivery

    otherwise no member of the sub proletariat will be seen dead near a bicycle other than driving over it in a stolen car

    Anybody carrying ortlieb panniers are artists and therefore classless, but really probably very upper class.

    I dunno though, could be wrong.

    Very good :P
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    But there is no necessary connection between "weathly and/or middle class" and "leisure cyclist"

    Apart from the fact that they can afford it and therefore its more accessible to them as a leisure activity....
    I don't want to be too hard and fast about this but chaps and chapesses in

    lycra on racing bikes are generally middle class, very probably middle managers, if it's a bit dirty then working class made almost good

    those wearing helmets, day glo stuff, face masks and with lights on during the day and cycling at a ridiculous cadence are over achieving geeks and geekesses in the city, and obviously lower middle classes perpeptualy worried about their status

    those on bromptons are upper middle class, possibly higher

    whilst those on a quite knackered old heavy bike with something made out of whicker on it generally own the county that you are cycling through

    but if it's old and knackered but with no whicker and only a sturmey three speed then probably skilled working class, the blue overalls will confirm this

    those on ridiculously small bikes cycling in the lowest gear possible are an under class member making a drugs delivery

    otherwise no member of the sub proletariat will be seen dead near a bicycle other than driving over it in a stolen car

    Anybody carrying ortlieb panniers are artists and therefore classless, but really probably very upper class.

    I dunno though, could be wrong.

    Excellent post!
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • andy83andy83 Posts: 1,557
    DonDaddyD wrote:
    andy83 wrote:
    Another thing to think about is how you define 'affluent', consider that the average London salary is around £25,000...

    we dont all live in london lol, just got my new contract from work and after bike voucher and health insurance comes off im on 14k

    You mean they pay you people now!?! :wink:

    But seriously, yes I'm aware of that and I'm aware of the difference in pay and cost of things (house prices for example) in and outside of London. Living in Derby for 4 years I was amazed how far my money went. And a girl I used to live with prided herself that her parents and sisters were all 'middle class' despite their combined household income being half of what my Father took in by himself. I wouldn't consider my Father middle class.

    But this is why I said that Class isn't solely measured by money or wealth. You could live in London earn a high wage and still not be able to maintain what could be a middle class lifestyle, whereas you can earn half that amount outside of London and have a arguably higher standard of living.

    yes and for the things i have to do its not enough lol

    to be honest i couldnt care less if people said i was working class or middle class, at the end of the day its about living within your means and enjoying life.

    we shop at waitrose sometimes but dont mean were snobs lol

    i used to spend loads on the never never and not appreciate it and people thought i had a lot of money, but now i have to work hard for things and dont walk round in designer stuff but am paying for my debts now and people may think i aint got a lot of money. but to be honest i dont care what people think

    i personally class is what you think of yourself and how you want others to percieve you. when i spent on extravagent things i wanted people to notice me, now i dont care what people think, although people think im mad spedning £800 on a bike

    the moral to this is i would say im working class but cycling is my hobby and passion. Anyone can cycle of any class. to some levels all classes partake in everything in life, just to what extremes is upto the individual, regardless of class
  • prawnyprawny Posts: 5,409
    My Father in law is an ex club rider from the 60's his old club buddies are all very middle class (blue suit pink tie types). Not saying that it is totally middle class but when I'm on my road bike I do feel very erm, aspirational?

    I think there's a broader spectrum of MTBers than roadies though, but that could just be round my way.
    Saracen Tenet 3 - 2015 - Dead - Replaced with a Hack Frame
    Voodoo Bizango - 2014 - Dead - Hit by a car
    Vitus Sentier VRS - 2017
  • RockbuddyRockbuddy Posts: 243
    :lol::lol::lol: I think Bluesacs seems to have the measure of us all, :wink:

    Funny as these generalisations are, I think it's really hard to put people in categories, espcially when talking to people they may not know where they fit in themselves. I come from a fairly low income and definately working class family in Yorkshire. That's my roots so that's what I consider myself to be. However, I have a few degrees and a couple of letters after my name and fairly nice salary. I also have a car a house and a couple of cheapish bikes (mtb and roadie both sub £500). I definately wouldn't consider myself middle class but maybe moved away from my roots a little too, I do enjoy biking and not just as a means of transport. I don't wear lycra or have ortleib panniers but I generally commute on the roadie at the moment. Where do I belong??? :cry:
  • always_tyredalways_tyred Posts: 4,965
    DonDaddyD wrote:
    andy83 wrote:
    Another thing to think about is how you define 'affluent', consider that the average London salary is around £25,000...

    we dont all live in london lol, just got my new contract from work and after bike voucher and health insurance comes off im on 14k

    You mean they pay you people now!?! :wink:

    But seriously, yes I'm aware of that and I'm aware of the difference in pay and cost of things (house prices for example) in and outside of London. Living in Derby for 4 years I was amazed how far my money went. And a girl I used to live with prided herself that her parents and sisters were all 'middle class' despite their combined household income being half of what my Father took in by himself. I wouldn't consider my Father middle class.

    But this is why I said that Class isn't solely measured by money or wealth. You could live in London earn a high wage and still not be able to maintain what could be a middle class lifestyle, whereas you can earn half that amount outside of London and have a arguably higher standard of living.
    Well, that's what employers paying half a London salary would have you believe.

    With the exception of purchasing diamond encrusted coffee beans in central London, and accommodation there's not a hell of a lot of difference through the UK. The price of groceries is the price of groceries - once you have been to one Tesco, you've been to them all. The price of petrol is variable, everywhere. I have family in the west country, the commuter belt and I live in the frozen north. Pertol here is more expensive than the commuter belt, but cheaper than rural Devon. The most expensive petrol, or groceries, I've ever seen have been in the far north of Scotland (only Coop seem to realise that people live there, and I'm not entirely sure if it was, in fact, petrol coming out of the pumps at £1.20 a litre (at a time where it ws about 85p in the cities)).

    And then there's property. That's different. But then, try looking for a house in Bath or Oxford or Edinburgh New Town.
  • soy_saucesoy_sauce Posts: 987
    you don't need to ride a £500+ bike or spend a lot of money on it to classific cycling as your hobby. as long as you enjoy cycling and go cycling offen then that will count as a hobby even though you are just riding a second-hand halfords bike.
    "It is not impossible, its just improbable"

    Specialized Rockhopper Pro Disc 08
  • always_tyredalways_tyred Posts: 4,965
    you don't need to ride a £500+ bike or spend a lot of money on it to classific cycling as your hobby.
    but it helps.....
  • soy_saucesoy_sauce Posts: 987
    you don't need to ride a £500+ bike or spend a lot of money on it to classific cycling as your hobby.
    but it helps.....

    that will depend on what your attracted to cycling for. if you enjoy cycling fast then lighter bike and better components will def help, but if you just like cycling in general to relax and get some fresh air then it doesn't matter what you are riding.
    "It is not impossible, its just improbable"

    Specialized Rockhopper Pro Disc 08
  • Rich158Rich158 Posts: 2,348
    you don't need to ride a £500+ bike or spend a lot of money on it to classific cycling as your hobby. as long as you enjoy cycling and go cycling offen then that will count as a hobby even though you are just riding a second-hand halfords bike.

    +1 to that. I've lost count of the amount of couples I pass in the countryside out on their £100 Halfords specials. They're obviously enjoying themselves, and would probably class cycling as a hobby. Just because you're fully lycrad up on a £3k plus Italian carbon masterpiece doesn't mean you get any more enjoyment out of the sport, in fact I suspect many people take the sport far too seriously and would benefit from taking time to smell the roses rather than worrying about whether a new wheelset would add .5mph to their average speed.

    It's an unfortunate fact that the more afluent among us fall into the trap of trying to buy succes rather than using more traditional methods of going faster like training harder :shock:
    pain is temporary, the glory of beating your mates to the top of the hill lasts forever.....................

    Revised FCN - 2
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    andy83 wrote:

    to be honest i couldnt care less if people said i was working class or middle class, at the end of the day its about living within your means and enjoying life.
    I agree 100%
    we shop at waitrose sometimes but dont mean were snobs lol

    My girlfriend and I argue about "Supermarket status" all the time. I can count on one hand how many times I've step foot in waitrose or M&S for that matter. She loves the place. She forced me in there and I saw Frosties (Waitrose I think) selling at £3 a box! I was out the door and moaning for the rest of the day.... If I had it my way it would be Lidl and Netto all the way.

    "damn lawyer girlfriend from essex insisting that my chicken be allowed to perch and play before I eat it...." = grumbles....
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
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