Road bikes heading for a dive in the US?

Bike Biz has obtained May and June bike sales stats which appear to show that US suppliers had overly optimistic forecasts for road bike sales in the run up to the Tour de France.
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The stats come from monthly member-only market breakdown reports from the US Bicycle Product Suppliers’ Association (BPSA).

Inventory for May and June 2006 was massively ahead of actual sales in those two months. Year on year sales for May and June were up slightly but it appears from the BPSA figures that suppliers ordered in far too many road bikes.

Hopes of a market rescuing sales upsurge will have risen with the Tour de France victory of American Floyd Landis but would have then been cruelly dashed when, a few days after the end of the Tour, Landis was embroiled in a doping scandal.

Compared to just a few short years ago, road bike sales have made an almost miraculous return to favour and even some mainstream multiples now stock low and mid range road bikes but pessimists fear the market could be about to implode because of the over-loading of inventory. Road bike sales did not increase as far or as fast as suppliers hoped. Much of the inventory glut is due to Johnny-come-lately suppliers piling in road product when the market was already close to saturation.

Some suppliers are afraid of a BMX-style sales collapse with a glut of road bikes on the market at cut-throat prices to shift units.

In May 2005, the US saw sales of 27 137 road bikes worth $22.6m at retail. This year there was a 11 per cent uplift in unit sales to 30 844, worth $24.5m. This would be good news if it wasn’t for the unsold inventory waiting in the wings.

In May 2005, there was an inventory level of 55, 068. By May this year this inventory level had risen 98 per cent to 109,495. As road bike sales account for roughly 30 per cent of the US market, any dumping of product into the retail scene could severely impact on suppliers.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. US sales of hybrids are doing extremely well, perhaps indicating there’s an urban utility cycling boom on the way?

28,128 hybrids were sold in May 2005, rising by 70 per cent in May 2006 to 47,870, worth $10.4m, about 17 per cent of the US bike market.

And because when America sneezes, the UK catches a cold, the road bike glut in the US will likely impact over here in the next few months.

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