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While supply chain problems have proved to be a major challenge for the cycling industry, the latest research from Mintel reveals that 2021 bike sales (including standard and e-bikes) are estimated to be £400 million higher than before COVID-19*.

Following 2020’s ‘COVID boom’, 2021 was a more challenging year for UK bicycle sales. In 2021, the total number of bikes** sold fell below pre-pandemic levels to an estimated 2.6 million from 3.3 million in 2020. However, value sales dipped only slightly (down -2%), totalling an estimated £1.25 billion in 2021, as the average price increased by over 20% for the second consecutive year. Overall, the total value of the UK bicycle market was estimated to be around 47% higher in 2021 than in 2019 when it was valued at £850 million, the last full year before the pandemic.

Supply problems have put a major spoke in the wheel as a quarter (25%) of cyclists reported delays in purchasing a bike in the past 12 months and 16% other cycling products.

Just over a third (34%) of British adults are cyclists – the highest level of participation over the last five years, according to Mintel research. This comes as almost six in ten (57%) Brits have noticed an increase in petrol/diesel and gasoline prices in the past two months, while a quarter (25%) have noticed an increase in commuter related costs.

John Worthington, Senior Analyst at Mintel, said:
“Although cycling activity has fallen from the dramatic peak reached during the first few months of COVID-19, the pandemic appears to have provided a lasting boost to the cycling industry.

“Rising petrol prices, and the possibility of a protracted oil crisis as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, could help to ‘nudge’ more people from car travel towards cycling. The cost-of-living crisis, including the recent increase in public transport fares, may encourage more people to ride more often. Our research shows that amongst those working mostly, or entirely, at an out-of-home location, 28% are interested in commuting by bike.

“These events, along with UK net-zero carbon targets, are likely to strengthen the long-term case for energy security and investment in green transport infrastructure, such as building new safe cycling lanes.”

E-bikes now account for over a quarter of all consumer spending on bikes

One in seven (14%) cyclists now owns an e-bike. This is up from 9% in 2021, and double the number who owned one in 2020 (7%). Amongst ‘regular cyclists’ (those who ride at least once a week), almost one in five (19%) now owns an e-bike. Accounting for a quarter of spend on bikes, sales of e-bikes reached an estimated £315 million in 2021 – up from £275 million in 2020.

Some 12% of those who intend to purchase a bike for themselves expect their next bicycle purchase to be an e-bike. This suggests a continuing upward swing in e-bike ownership. Currently, only around 6% of new bike purchases are e-bikes.

John Worthington, Senior Analyst at Mintel, said:
“Up until now, e-bike buyers have tended to be men aged under 45 – a group which is a typical early adopter of new technology products and is also the core customer group in the cycling market. However, Mintel research shows that future purchase intentions are strongest amongst older groups. Amongst those who intend to buy any kind of bike in future, 10% of under-45s and 18% of over-45s say it is most likely to be an e-bike. Amongst over-55s, intentions to buy an e-bike are even higher at 28%. An aging population, which is constantly seeking ways to stay fit and active, offers a growing opportunity for e-bike brands and retailers.”

*£400 million higher in 2021 than in 2019
** bikes and e-bikes combined