Going Going Bike

Apr 092013

The latest Mintel Cycling study is out and as always the research gives us some interesting observations on the current state of cycling in the UK.

For businesses like ours the research provides valuable market data and interesting trends that helps inform our business.

The 2012 study found that on the back of a busy Olympic year the number of cyclists have risen from just 34% of the population in January 2012 to four in ten (41%) in November 2012.

Mintel’s research shows 6% of British consumers (amounting to 3.1 million Brits) are taking to two wheels “most days”. While almost one in ten (8%) Brits cycle 2 or 3 days a week, the same number cycle on a weekly basis. Indeed, in terms of weekly participation, the figure rises to more than one in five (22%) consumers – adding up to over 11 million bike loving Brits. In terms of increased participation, most of the growth in cycling has occurred among those who cycle 2-3 days a week – numbers increasing from 6% of Brits in January 2012 to 8% in November 2012.

Leisure riding is the most popular type of cycling, with two thirds (66%) of cyclists riding at the weekends, either alone or in a group. General purpose riding, such as going to the shops or visiting friends, is also extremely prevalent with four in ten (40%) cyclists riding for this reason. Meanwhile, 25% of cyclists use a bicycle to commute and 13% use a bicycle to go to their place of education. Off-road riding is a comparatively minor branch of the sport at 13%.

Another headline grabbing stat from the research, one in two (50%) British men are taking to their bikes.

Slow market growth

The increase in cycling participation levels has been most welcome but Mintel’s research reveals that the market value of bike and bike accessory sales has not been increasing at a rate the cycling industry expected.

According to Mintel, the market for bikes was £705 million in 2012, increasing 8.5% from £650 million in 2011. Sales of bicycles has risen but it has been at a slower rate than expected growth. The value increase in the market reflects a continued shift towards more premium-priced road bikes, as well as a recovery in sales through the Cycle to Work.

The slower than expected growth can be credited to a weakness of the economy and consumer confidence, the poor weather in the second half of 2012 and anecdotal evidence which suggests that a lot of people taking up cycling in 2012 were re-commissioning old cycles that they already owned and not buying new, Mintel said.

Boom time expected

While recent growth has been stable, Mintel does expect a boom in sales for bikes in the next five years and predicts the market to grow by 23% in the next five years, to reach a market value of £869 million by 2017.

Michael Oliver, Senior Leisure Analyst at Mintel, believes that cycling participation levels will continue to grow, especially as it now appears the tide has turned in central and local government in terms of their attitudes towards the provision of cycling facilities. This could result in making cycling a lot safer, particularly in towns and cities.

“If this happens, the evidence from several trial schemes around the country shows that there will be strong growth in cycling usage and this can only be good for sales of new bicycles in the long term.”

Previous Mintel research has found that one in two (49%) Brits agree that it is too dangerous to ride a bicycle on the road, with those living in London being the most likely to agree with this statement (58%). Having dedicated lanes and routes could take cycling participation to new levels as one of the key concerns for anyone take up cycling is whether it is safe to do so.

Gender differences in buying a bike

When it comes to buying a bike there is a marked difference between the genders on what they look for. Men are notably more likely than women to attach importance to the specification and equipment on a bicycle (36% vs 27%) and the brand (24% vs 18%). In contrast, women are much more concerned than men about a bicycle being an affordable price (80% vs 74%), its styling, colour or décor (29% vs 19%) and the quality of after-sales service (17% vs 12%).


  One Response to “Britain’s love of cycling continues to ride high”

  1. Strange that the market figures show it is a slow growth, as only last week the same figures showed that cycle sales were now higher than motorcycle sales year on year!

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