Road continues to ride high at retail, but are these other two key markets showing signs of an upward curve?

COMMENT: Green shoots for MTB and BMX

Road cycling, road cycling, road cycling. It’s all you seem to hear about these days. The likes of Wiggins, Froome, Cav and Armitstead have no doubt played a role to keep road cycling high on the cycle retail agenda but for once let’s also pay credit to the brands, distributors, journalists and retailers who have all performed an essential role in putting road up on its current, seemingly unassailable pedestal.

However, there’s a decidedly less skintight figure appearing on the horizon. In our wanderings around the country to various trade shows over the past weeks we’ve heard first-hand how both BMX and MTB are displaying signs of being on an upward curve.

A bit of a stretch, you’re thinking? Maybe. We were surprised too.

First off let’s take mountain biking. Clearly there is an ongoing expansion of facilities for mountain biking in the UK. More trail centres (Bike Park Wales, Cardinham Woods Trail Centre, etc) are springing up – springing up in the sense that lots of blood, sweat and tears have gone into making them happen. One distributor – Fisher Outdoor Leisure – spoke to us about how road has been stronger in recent years at the expense of MTB, but over the last six months there has been more activity in the mountain bike sector than over the past two years. For this company, front suspension seems to be coming back in vogue – whether it’s down to 29ers or 650Bs or something else…who can tell?

Switching over to BMX, there’s a similar story to tell in terms of facilities, we hear. There are now over 120 BMX clubs in the UK and councils are installing pump tracks and the like, keen to be seen to keep that Olympic legacy going. CSG told us that from their perspective, BMX hit rock bottom about six months ago, but since then there has been a significant rise.

Encouraging times for BMX and MTB then? Of course I’m not entirely daft (don’t listen to what everyone else tells you) – many of the people who talk to us have an interest in shifting MTB and BMX product, and the trade will forever speculate on what the next big trend will be…but maybe, just maybe, there is respite on the way for any of those specialist companies who have been struggling through what has been a barren period for many.

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