There were 13% more mountain bike rides last year, according to Strava's 2023 Year in Sport report, but that's nothing compared to the boom in gravel riding


Were the trails and carparks busier than ever round your way last year? Yup, ours too, and now Strava’s confirmed the uptick, seeing more knobbly tyres on the ground than ever before.

Called the 2023 Year in Sport report, Strava took data from an incredible 120 million users and activities in 2023, and found mountain bike rides were up a cheery 13%. Great news for our sport, particularly if some of them tapped into our guide to the best mountain bike trails to get you riding this winter.

The report logged rides between 1st October 2022 and 30th September 2023 to define the year to extrapolate the global uptick, largely from riders aged people between the ages of 57-75. Go boomers!

Strava’s Year in Sport report need to know:

  • Increase in users logging mountain bike rides up 13% 
  • Gravel riding also increased by an insane 55% globally
  • Boomer generation most likely to upload a ride to Strava

13% more users logged mountain bike rides in 2023 than in 2022

Strava’s Year in Sport report 2023

So what exactly is the Year in Sport report and why does it matter? Essentially, Strava takes all the data from users that log activities and collates it to provide statistics on what activities are the most popular and by whom. And new for 2023, Strava looked at what’s been motivating people. There are over 210 million users on Strava, and the company took information from activities recorded btween 1st October 2022 and 30th September 2023 to gather the results of their report – that’s a lot of data to get through.

It’s important to note that if you upload your activities under the privacy setting ‘Only me’ (as in, only you can see it), then Strava didn’t include it in their data gathering. Similarly, if you have opted out of sharing with Strava Metro, your activities were not counted.

So what were the key things that stuck out for mountain bikers in 2023?

Well, the biggest one is that there were more of us across the globe recording rides. The number of users recording at least one mountain bike ride in 2023 increased by 13% compared to 2022. Our curly bar brethren the gravel riders also saw a massive increase too – by 55%. That’s a lot of shaking skeletons and bar bags.

Together, gravel and mountain bike rides were the fifth most popular activities to be uploaded to Strava – three slots behind the roadies.

The report also broke down generational divides, and found that the Boomer generation (people between the ages of 57-75) were twice as likely to record a ride than a run. Interestingly, the younger users, Generation Z (ages 11-26), were twice as likely to record a run rather than a ride. It’s worth bearing in mind that’s a broad category and includes all kinds of rides, but interesting nonetheless.

Boomers were also the generation to post the longest rides – although again we’re without a more detailed breakdown to see which discipline they were enjoying the most. The report also revealed the three most popular bike brands used were Trek, Specialized and Giant – although we don’t know how many of those are mountain bikes.

The Year in Sport report took data from 120 million users throughout 2023

What’s motivating us?

As well as looking at the facts, the activity tracking giant asked over 6,900 users what motivated them to get out there and well, do stuff. The biggest motivators were friends or family that exercise, as well as pets. We love a good trail dog, so what better way to spend time with your four legged pal than seeing them rip alongside you on your mountain bike? 76% of pet owners on Strava cited their pets as motivation to move, and it was even greater in the UK, with 88% of pet owning athletes saying the same thing. So if you were looking for an excuse to get a dog – here’s your reasoning.

The report also asked people what barriers they felt were there when it comes to exercising, and answers included things like work, climate change and safety. Working full-time and having other commitments outside of that can make getting out on the trail hard, especially if you don’t live close to anywhere decent. Safety is another factor, with women 9% more likely to cite a lack of safe places to workout globally – but in the UK, women are 160% more likely than men to say this.

But overall, it looks like good news – there’s more of us hitting the trails, so let’s hope the trend continues for 2024. You can read the report in full here.