Sam Pilgrim

“The main goal is to have fun”

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You’re a free rider and slopestyle star, for those who don’t know, can you tell us what that involves?
Yeah, you just do tricks on a course and you’re judged, so you basically have a course that you ride, and you’re judged on the trick difficulty and the style.

You’ve been doing this for 20 years now, so what got you hooked in the first place?
I used to go on bike rides with my dad and we found local jumps in the area. Then we found a UK Mountain Bike magazine and from there I knew that it was a big sport. I’d seen the jumps before but when I saw it in magazines I knew it was a real thing.

At what point did you decide that it was time to turn it into something that was more than a hobby?
I never went to work or anything. I had my first competition when I was 17 in Europe and I finished in third place. After that I knew I could be pro, I wanted to be pro since like forever really. But then everyone does!

Can you tell us about your decision to partner with Haibike?
Yeah well E-bikes are the new big thing. Everyone can have fun on them even older people. But for true mountain bikers, well, it wasn’t really cool. I wanted to ride them because I thought they were really awesome and I wanted to change people’s view on them.

How do you think it’s changed your performance?
It’s just different. I don’t use an E-Bike for like my contests. I only use it for fun. I’d say that my fitness will be better now because I ride more you know. Even though the bikes are powered, I still ride so much more that you end up being fitter anyway because of it.

“After that I knew I could be pro, I wanted to be pro since like forever really. But then everyone does!”

Can you talk us through the models of E-bike you ride and what you ride them for?
The E-Bike that I use for everything is the Haibike xDuro AllMtn 10.0, it’s the lightest one that they have. It’s still heavy because it’s an E-Bike but it’s the lightest one that they do, and it makes it easier to do tricks.

Can you tell us about your most memorable competitions you’ve won?
Well I won the world tour 2013, freeride world tour, then there was a big one in London called the London Challenge 2010…

Can you describe the moment that you became a world champion?
I knew about it for quite a while but unofficially because of all the points and stuff. I didn’t celebrate until I got the award, but it was still amazing.

You’ve travelled the world. Where are your favourite places to ride?
They are all so cool, the places I go to, so it’s hard to say that one place is better than another really. I like Switzerland because the events they have there are really well put on and the scenery is crazy. Switzerland yeah, good stuff to ride, good events and super clean.

Would you say that the sport has changed much since you started?
The level of tricks are way harder, and the bikes have improved, they are stronger and lighter and now we’ve got E-Bikes which didn’t exist back then. So, the technology is better, and the better technology equals more fun.

Do you see more people taking up E-Bikes?
Normal people that don’t use them, people that might not know what mountain biking is, go and get an E-Bike because they’re easier to ride, and that can introduce them to mountain bike parks. I think the E-Bikes are really good for getting people into the sport.

“I bet half the people who watch my videos don’t even know what biking is. So, from that, I’ll probably get new people. I’ve had people messaging me saying that I got them into biking.”

So just in terms of social media, obviously you have quite a huge following. How much do you think social media has played a part in reaching out to a bigger audience in terms of mountain biking. Would you say social media has played a big part in that?
That’s how the world works now. If I make a video on FB and 100,000 people see it, most probably aren’t even mountain bikers and they’ll be like’ oh wow’, and they might follow me. It’s a big circle really. Even on YouTube, if a video comes up of mine, like random stuff just shows up on the side. I bet half the people who watch my videos don’t even know what biking is. So, from that, I’ll probably get new people. I’ve had people messaging me saying that I got them into biking.

What would you say has helped grow your social media following?
I’ve always posted a lot and used it a lot because I really liked it. What really helps with social is posting a lot. That’s just how it works. You have to post a lot on there to let your page be seen. Especially with YouTube. I do three videos a week, which obviously shows your page to more people. The more you get the more YouTube want to show you. I guess that works for everything. It’s quite hard work but it’s something that I want to do.

What tips do you have for anyone who wants to take mounting biking more seriously?
Well, I’ve always said to kids who have asked how to get sponsored and how to get better, “. Because if you’re not having fun and you’re thinking too hard about being good then you’re not going to get better because you won’t be having fun doing it. As long as you’re having fun, you’re going to learn stuff.

Can you tell us your favourite trick and the best way to pull it off?
The best trick is a straightforward back flip, because it’s impressive for a crowd. With the back flip, once you’ve landed, you can add in lots of different combos. And if you want to start being my kind of guy then you need to know how to backflip really. The back flip is the best trick. If you want to learn it. It’s pretty simple. Just got fast at the jump you’re about to hit and they just pull back and look backwards and you will back flip. But don’t go and try it. Try it in a foam pit first!

Sam Pilgrim is an ambassador of Haibike, the leading e-performance brand.