USA electric bike sales growth rate 16-fold general cycling sales

New data released by USA retail sales analysts at the NPD has placed the growth rate of electric bike sales at 240% leading into July of this year.

That astonishing acceleration is far outstripping the growth of general cycling equipment, which sits only 15% ahead in the past year, though given the anomalous trading conditions of 2020 to 2021, the growth comes on top of the spike seen at the start of the pandemic.

The NPD’S Dirk Sorenson makes this point clearly at the start of his assessment of the data, writing: “I’m seeing many comparisons being made to 2020, when the pandemic kicked into gear, which are mistakenly interpreting this slowdown as a signal of lowered interest in cycling. The reality is cycling equipment’s revenue growth between 2019 and 2020 was massive, and sustaining those levels would have required an expansion of both demand and supply that would have been impossible. I take the continued growth in cycling as a strong indication of an industry poised for long-term health.”

Having not always been popular, electric bike sales have grown to become the USA’s third largest category in value terms and have now surpassed road bicycles. Road cycling hasn’t slowed up either, revenue through to July was up 41%, though this again fell behind trends such as gravel riding which posted a 109% revenue growth when compared to two years ago. Going further off road, mountain bike sales are 70% ahead of 2019’s data.

Sales of children’s bikes also benefitted from the ‘boom’ at 57% ahead in the past 24 months, but certain areas lagged and in fact 12-inch kid’s bikes were 6% down on 2020 levels.

Cycling equipment as a whole (excluding e-Bike) came to be worth $8.5 billion to the U.S. economy, with bicycles making up $5.3 billion of that tally (up 65% in two years). Accessories tallied $903 million, up 36%, while component parts topped $1.1 billion, up 31%. Soft goods and helmets were worth $445 million, up 20% on 2019 levels.

In a further assessment of the retail segment, Sorenson outlines that consumers are increasingly looking to blur the boundaries of what they can get from one bike. “Many consumers are off put by bikes designed for a single purpose,” he writes, alluding to the performance of the gravel, utility and mountain bike segments.

The bicycle industry will struggle, as other industries may, in the short term as the battle for supply rages one in the face of enhanced consumer demand. Industry leaders have come recently been more public about the shortages that exist and will remain for much of this year, a problem that is vastly exacerbated by other factors such as shipping backlogs.

Picture: Bosch eBike Systems

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