The U.S. cycling market is a $5.9 billion industry, with independent bicycle dealers capturing about 52% of those sales, according to retail sales data from global information company The NPD Group. While sales have been soft across the rest of market channel, the specialty channel is stable on account of the pockets of growth and shifts that are driving the market.
Mountain bike sales are growing at the expense of road bikes. In 2017, mountain bike sales were $577.5 million, up 3% over the prior year, while the $412.8 million road bike category declined by 12%. In 2014, road was a larger bike category than mountain, but since then the gap has flipped as sales of the latter have grown over the last three years, while sports performance road bikes have slowed.
The fastest-growing bicycle type in the market right now is electric. E-bike sales totaled $77.1 million in 2017, up 91% over the previous year. Sales of electric bikes have grown more than eightfold since 2014.
“The move to mountain and e-bikes is a function of what I call PUNY, or premium, unique, new, and young,” says Matt Powell, VP and senior industry advisor, sports at The NPD Group. “Higher price bands are growing; new, fashionable brands are emerging; and innovations in drivetrains, suspension, and electronics are taking place. These bikes also enable riders to feel young, regardless of generation; mountain bikes open doors to adventure, and e-bikes with higher price points are largely being purchased by Boomers wanting a new ride experience.”
BMX has been another bright spot in cycling. Though a small portion of the specialty market representing $22.7 million in sales, BMX bike sales grew by 27% in 2017, making a comeback since 2015, when the category was down. Since then BMX sales have been growing at faster clip each year.
Sales within the bike parts and accessories categories have been mixed, but some growth areas in 2017 were within components, wheels, forks and suspension, and lights. Sales for bike services/repairs grew 3% to $312.5 million.
“It’s a normal pattern for cycling consumers to visit and shop at bike specialty stores, which are seen as the trusted experts and one-stop shops for all cycling needs,” says Powell. These stores offer a tailored and personal approach, but that’s not to “say the remaining market cannot tear a page from their playbook. A unique retail experience echoing company values that are in line with those of the cycling consumer—whether it is sustainability, adventure, and so on—will win them over.”
Source: The NPD Group / U.S. Retail Tracking Service, Independent Bicycle Dealers, Dollar Sales, January-December 2017