Mintel has published its latest cycle market figures, placing the UK's bicycle sales at £745 million in 2013, up 14 per cent in five years from £639 million in 2008.
Mintel expects bicycle sales to rise 22 per cent to reach £909 million in 2018. Details on the rising average price of bicycles in the UK has been released too.
It will shock few in the trade to find that road bikes have seen the strongest growth over the past year - with volume sales up 4.2 per cent, reflecting the successes of British riders internationally and the sportive boom.
However, the UK cycle industry is notoriously backwards looking when it comes to sharing bicycle sales statistics, so Mintel's figures should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Senior Leisure and Media Analyst at Mintel Michael Oliver said: “It is clear that the market is poised to see some good growth in the next five years, as consumers begin to feel better off again in real terms. The promised investment in safer cycling facilities, particularly in London but also elsewhere in the country with the Cycle City initiatives, should also help to encourage more people to start cycling or get back on their bikes. Although this doesn’t always translate into new bicycle sales, as often people already own bikes that they just need to re-commission, in the longer term, a larger base of cyclists will undoubtedly generate higher new bicycle sales.”
“Interest in taking part in competitions is highest among younger people and particularly men, reflecting the fact that it meets their need for a competitive element, as opposed to just a form of exercise. There is also little doubt that riders like Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome have acted as an inspiration and role models to younger male cyclists who want to do what they do.”
Mintel also uncovered safety to remain the biggest obstacle. One in three Brits (32%) agree it is simply too dangerous to ride on the roads - a view shared by 27% of men and almost four in ten (37%) women. Similarly, four in ten (38%) believe cycling in towns would be safer if cyclists were separated from traffic.
But while safety represents the number one barrier to cycling, not wearing a helmet is commonplace. Fewer than two in five (39%) current cyclists own a helmet, with around two thirds (27% of all current cyclists) wearing one regularly. Women are more likely to own a helmet but not wear it (14% of women versus 11% of men).
Participative rides, such as sponsored rides and sportives are important drivers of bicycle purchases and use, Mintel said. One in ten (10%) cyclists have taken part in a sponsored cycle while slightly less (8%) have taken part in a sportive cycle ride, however, this rises to 14% of 25s to 34s.
The report found that just over one in three (35%) Brits are cyclists and as many as half (49%) of 25-34 year olds cycle - making this Britain’s key cycling group. By region, London (45%) is the nation’s cycling capital, meanwhile, cycling has the least appeal in the South West and Wales (30%) and the North West and Scotland (31%).
While one in three Brits are cyclists (35%), almost the same number (31%) would consider cycling in the future, most of these (27%) are lapsed cyclists who have ridden in the past. In contrast, one in seven (15%) Brits has never cycled - this is made up of 11% who have never cycled and would not consider doing so in the future and one in twenty (4%) who have never ridden a bike and would not consider doing so in the future.
Oliver added: “There is still considerable latent potential in the market. If current measures to make cycling a more safe activity are successful, this could potentially open the floodgates to a significant expansion in cycling participation. Mintel’s research shows there is a substantial base of lapsed cyclists who, in the right conditions, could be encouraged to start again and this could provide a huge boost to sales of new bicycles. However, they will need to see that dramatic improvements have been made in safety before they can be tempted back and these have yet to be made.”