Cycling technology performs strongly during pandemic

Cycling is pushing boundaries, writes Sports Marketing Surveys’ Marc Anderman

Cycling is pushing boundaries. From parts design to routes to market, bike share to intelligent transport systems, the industry is making cycling safer, affordable and more accessible. Innovation in cycling technology is fueling this shift, as the Bicycle Association Market Data Service (MDS), powered by Sports Marketing Surveys reports.  

The data shows that technology was the fastest-growing sub-category in 2020 within cycling parts, accessories and apparel, rising by 67% against 2019 levels. The MDS tracked over £63 million of sales related to cycling technology in 2020. While it still only accounts for around one-third of the sales value of cycling parts and apparel, the category is on the rise. 

Working from home and restrictions on outdoor exercise have boosted this sector. Just as sales of dumbbells and free weights soared, for some consumers, products like turbo trainers, where sales value grew by over 100% in 2020, have offered novel ways to exercise from home in the absence of gyms. Meanwhile, for existing cyclists, restrictions on group riding have made home cycling more appealing.

With services like Zwift and RGT Cycling allowing structured riding, competition and social interaction, as well as a chance to mix it with the pros in virtual mass-participation races or live streams, never has cycling technology allowed people to get closer to the road. The impact of this can be seen in the increase in the average selling price within the turbo trainers and home exercise category of 42% year-on-year.

This is a direct result of people buying/upgrading to smart trainers instead of standard trainers in order to enable them to connect to services like Zwift and RGT. The race to go virtual has now propelled Zwift to a billion-dollar valuation, and a pandemic doubling in terms of subscriber numbers

The good news for the rest of the industry is that in the UK this surge has turbo-charged the rest of the cycling technology sector too. The Market Data Service also highlights several cycling computers and power meters enjoying growth.

This perhaps reflects how the pandemic has encouraged cyclists to either set more specific goals that require detailed monitoring. At the same time, many UK cyclists will also have found that reduced commuting costs have meant more disposable income to be spent on their passions. 

The upshot was that technology sales at the start of the pandemic, in April, May and June 2020, were all up by 75% or more compared to their respective months in 2019. This impressive growth, which is a combination of higher average sale prices and higher volume, shows no sign of slowing. In January 2021, sales were up 104% compared to January 2020. 

For IBDs, the deep well of information on the cycling technology sector raises tantalising stocking decisions. Sales of turbo trainers and computer accessories are both growing faster in the specialist sector than in the generalist.

However, the growth in sales of cycling technology within the specialist sector is predominantly coming from online sales, which is not only the largest but also the fastest-growing sales channel for cycling technology according to January 2021 figures.

This should not come as a surprise, since many of these products do not require store viewing or testing, but it should give some pause for thought for IBDs who do not offer this service. 

Marking one year since its launch in April 2020, the MDS has grown along with the cycling industry, providing market insights for the sector that have proven invaluable. The MDS illustrates the power of current, relevant and easy to understand data.

It highlights for buyers and data providers how sales within individual sub-categories are growing as a proportion of the market. Different levels of access allow individual businesses to find, analyse, and use the data that is most valuable to them.

Get in touch to let us know what you’re seeing in the technology market or to understand how you can benefit from the MDS. 

The Bicycle Association is the national trade body for the UK cycling industry. Its market data service now covers two-thirds of retail cycling sales across nearly 840,000 products back to January 2018. For more information about the service, please see www.bicycleassociation.org.uk/market-data.

To discuss how SMS can support your business and help you get closer to the riders, trade, fans and stakeholders who matter, please contact marc.anderman@sportsmarketingsurveys.com or visit www.sportsmarketingsurveys.com

In other news...

IAA Mobility: which cycling brands are joining and why?

IAA Mobility is fast approaching, and with it the opportunity for the cycling industry to benefit from the event’s international exposure and access to end consumers on-site