Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Is Cycling Sexy?

Riding in at 5am this morning I started to ask myself is cycling is sexy?  A strange question you may ask, but what got me thinking was an advert for motorbikes in the local paper.  The advert, like many selling motorbikes included a scantily glad I might I add very attractive blonde model straddling was appears to be a very nice motorbike.  Was it a nice bike? no idea!, but the advert stood out and in all fairness being a red blooded male it caught my eye.

Now I have been reading Cycling magazines for a couple of years and I do not recall (although that is not to say it hasn't happened once or twice) a new road or mountain bike being sold using "sexy" images.  Whether that be half naked ladies, men or glamour style shots.  Bizarrely out of the 2 sports/activities cycling is the one which involves more tight fitting clothes and body conscious activities.  Not many other sports encourage men to shave their bodies for instance?

So why is it that the motor trade have bought into the fact sex and sexy images sells products yet the cycling world has not? 

Opposite are 2 typical adverts?  Which one is more appealing?  simply from a attractice advert perspective if nothing else?

A few of things instantly come to mind:

1) As a rule motorbikes and the motor industry as a whole is a male dominated sport and pursuit. Cycling may be more male dominated as regards participants but is not really seen as a male dominated activity.
2) The demographics of the cycling community appear to be different and so I am assuming the marketers are aiming towards this.  Maybe the demographics are too open and so a more blanket approach concentrating on the product has a higher perceived affect on the wider majority.
3) Could it be the fact that the environment in which the 2 vehicles are used is so vastly different?  As a whole bike shots involve great outdoor shots, stunning surroundings, great back drops of mountains etc.  A motorbike is predominantly a road vehicle and roads are boring.  They therefore need a pretty woman to add another feature to the image.

Whilst I admire the cycling fraternity for avoiding the need for sexy images I do think by doing so it also creates a belief that cycling isn't sexy, or flamboyant and exciting.  Yes participation is growing but to what real extent?  The stats do show more bikes are bought, how many are used to commute?  2% of journeys are by bike so not many?

I do think to get more people using their bikes to commute we not only need to improve our infrastructure and facilities but we need to increase the desire to do so.  Some of the challenge is the image factor.  Before I started commuting I would never have been seen dead in Lycra.  The same feeling is held by almost all of my non cycling friends who still believe I am a big girl and very wrong for wearing lycra to commute.  Sexy images sells products as it helps to create a desire, helps to create lifestyle image for people to look up to and strive for.

I must admit though as well that as like skiing and snow boarding there is a distinct split between road bikes and mountain bikes as regards the way it is portrayed.  Road cycling still has a stuffy airs and graces feel about it (Just to add I ride a road bike) where as mountain biking definitely has the fun and more lifestyle feel. Commuting long distances on a mountain bike is hardly practical and so if we are to encourage large droves of people to get out their cars and take up cycling for their 10-20 mile daily commute we need to do more to sell the activity as a true lifestyle choice.  To do this is needs to look and feel glamorous and offer a true desire to those reading the adverts and article.

Does cycling need sex? NO!, does it need to appear more sexy?  YES!

1 comment:

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