UK cycling numbers down despite ebike growth

04 Apr 2019

By: Sport Industry Group

The number of cyclists in the UK has declined for the third year in a row despite a growing interest in electric bicycles, according to market intelligence agency Mintel.

The new research has found that the number of cyclists in the country has dropped from 38% of the population in 2015 to 27% in 2018.

However, 2.5 million bicycles were still sold in the UK in 2018, of which 70,000 were so-called e-bikes, with 30% of cyclists now either interested in buying a ‘smart trainer’ or owning one already.

Although only 6% of cyclists currently own an e-bike, 14% of cyclists intend to buy one over the next 12 months – up from 11% in 2017. Sales of e-bikes by volume have increased by 8% year-on-year, although the total sales value has rocketed by 15%.

The study also found that male cyclists are four times more likely than female cyclists to own an e-bike. Among male cyclists aged 25-44, e-bike ownership has reached 11%, the research added.

Mintel Senior Analyst John Worthington said: “E-bikes are still in the ‘early adopter’ stage, their core customers most likely to be technophile men under 45. The challenge and opportunity for bike brands and retailers is to market the e-bike as something less ‘techy’ and more mainstream.

“The emergence of e-bike hire schemes is likely to provide a stimulus to the burgeoning e-bike market. For major retailers and dealers this is now the fastest-growing product.

“It is likely that many customers may delay purchasing an e-bike, waiting to see if prices come down. Current economic uncertainty may also cause would-be buyers to defer payment. While younger generations are far more sensitive to these economic pressures, those over 40 are more likely to spend in the £1,000+ category – which is what most e-bikes cost.”