“As Britain gears up for a summer of sport and cycling champions get set to inspire the nation to take to their bikes, latest research from Mintel projects sales of bikes to reach an all time high – with the market set to grow by a further 8% on 2011 to reach £700 million in 2012.

Indeed, the wheels are in motion for a boom time for the cycling industry as sales of bikes are set to gain momentum over the next five years. The market is forecast to increase an impressive 23% reaching £800 million by 2016.

The bicycle market had a difficult year in 2011 when sales fell 7% (almost £50 million) from £698 million in 2010 to £650 million in 2011. However, things are looking good for the bicycle industry, while volume sales of bicycles declined by 15% between 2006 and 2011, in value terms, the market saw strong growth of nearly a fifth (19%) reflecting a shift towards cycling as a leisure and lifestyle choice rather than buying a bicycle purely on price alone. Over the past five years, the retail price paid for bikes has increased by more than 40%.

Michael Oliver, Senior Leisure Analyst at Mintel, said:

“”Although the UK market for bicycles contracted slightly in both value and volume terms in 2011, the longer-term prospects for the industry are very positive. An unusual combination of circumstances led to oversupply in 2011, which resulted in discounting, impacted on both turnover and profitability. With obesity rates rising among both adults and children, there is clearly a political and financial imperative to encouraging greater physical activity and cycling is a relatively inexpensive way of doing this. Role models in the Olympics means there is now an almost unrivalled opportunity to try to stimulate cycling participation but it needs some central funding and co-ordination.””

Today, over a third (34%) of the nation cycle. The ‘hardcore’ cyclists – those who ride about once a week or more often – account for around half of all cyclists (16% of UK adults), with 6% of Brits taking to their two wheels most days. However, some 5% of the country (around two million people) admit to not being able to cycle while a further 1% of Brits say they can’t cycle but intend to learn to do so in the future.

Britain’s men are considerably more likely to take to the road by bike than women, with over four in ten men (41%) admitting to being a current cyclist versus just a quarter ( 26%) of women, meanwhile, twice as many men (8%) than women (4%) claim to cycle most days.

In praise of cycling, six in ten (60%) Brits agree cycling is a good way of helping reduce road congestion, however, around half (53%) the nation agree not enough is done about cyclists who break the rules of the road and a further 49% say it is too dangerous to ride a bicycle on the road. Over four in ten (41%) say that having more dedicated bicycle lanes or routes would encourage them to cycle more often. In terms of safety, just a third (31%) of cyclists own a helmet, although only around two thirds of them (19%) wear it regularly. For a fifth of the nation, a helmet is a big deterrent as 21% of Brits admit they would be put off cycling if they were required to wear a helmet by law. Male cyclists (23%) are notably more likely than female cyclists (15%) to wear their helmets regularly.

“”Around one in three people who can cycle own a cycle helmet, which is certainly an improvement on a few decades ago when helmets were still something of a rarity. However, the fact that there is still some stigma attached to wearing a helmet is illustrated by the figure showing that more than a third of helmet owners do not, in fact, wear their helmet.””Michael continues.

Just 2% of Brits have used a self-service hire scheme, however as many as one in ten (9%) say they would be interested in using one in the future.

“”There is considerable interest in using a self-serve bicycle hire scheme, indicating that there would be demand for additional schemes to the one currently running in London.””Michael concludes.”

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