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E-bike sales rise as bike sales drop, research shows

Joe Robinson
29 Mar 2019

E-bike sales on the rise as cycling in UK seems to be past its peak

Sales of e-bikes in the UK grew to a record high in 2018 despite research showing that the number of cyclists overall has dropped for the third consecutive year.

A study by Mintel found that 70,000 e-bikes were sold across the UK last year, an 8% rise in sales from 2017. It also saw the average value of sales climb by 15%.

While only 8% of cyclists own e-bikes currently, 14% of all adult cyclists said they were considering turning to the pedal-assisted technology within the next 12 months.

However, nearly half (45%) of current cyclists said they'd be interested in testing an e-bike, while 32% of those identified as 'potential cyclists' could be swayed by the assisting technology.

This came despite a third consecutive year in which the number of cyclists across the UK fell. Latest figures show that only 27% of UK adults currently cycle, a drop of 2% from 2017 and far below the peak of 38% in 2005.

Bicycle sales also fell in 2018 to the tune of 3.8% despite the market value actually rising by 1.6% to £925million in the same period.

Bike upgrades are also on the decline currently with 40% of cyclists saying they purchase an upgraded bike less frequently while 34% are deterred by current economic uncertainty.

The trend of decline is not nationwide, however, with 2018 actually seeing a 2% increase in those cycling specifically to commute across the UK, a figure that rises to 4% in London specifically.

Nearly one in two of those who don't cycle identified concerns over safety as the leading reason deterring them, while a quarter were put off by the cost of buying and maintaining a bike.

A similar number identified a lack of fitness as a factor preventing them from taking up cycling.

Commenting on the figures, John Worthington, a senior analyst at Mintel, suggested that e-bikes could be vital in addressing these issues and making cycling a more considered form of transport.

'The e-bike could be the catalyst for opening up cycling as a whole into a more mass participation activity, becoming far less dependent on its Lycra-clad image. The emergence of e-bike hire schemes is likely to provide a stimulus to the burgeoning e-bike market,' said Worthington.

'For major retailers and dealers, this is now the fastest-growing product. While some may be happy to rent, others will no doubt wish to acquire their own models. It is likely that many customers may delay purchasing an e-bike, waiting to see if prices come down.'

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