What a month. First we had the Cycle Show – complete with the first live BikeBiz Awards (following the online-only event last year).

COMMENT: Vital statistics

And then the Government goes and gives the world of cycling more backing with the Cycle to Work Guarantee – something that will, hopefully, benefit companies across the whole cycle trade.

And that’s not to mention the fact that Dorel grabbed Hot Wheels’ assets and created Cycling Sports Group UK. A busy month by any standards.

While the trade debates the pros and cons of all of those, usually with some vigour, on the BikeBiz Forum, the industry is also getting its teeth into a subject that always seems to be bubbling beneath the surface – the fact that there is disagreement over the size of the UK bicycle market.

It might be a bit of a hoary old chestnut, but as cycling gets ever more attention and is being held up as a textbook example of how to ‘buck the credit crunch’ (a phrase that needs copyrighting surely), the demand for cast-iron-no-one-can-argue-with bike sale stats is bigger than ever.

Whether it’s frustrated mainstream journalists trying to get a handle on just how well the cycle trade is really doing, or budding entrepreneurs looking for some figures to dazzle financial backers and banks when they’re trying to open a new bike store, or even the policy makers of the country looking to decide on matters that will affect the future of retail, public health and other important stuff, the need for concrete signs of prosperity is indisputably there.

Fair enough, we’re not exactly blindly fumbling around in the dark for stats here, and the sources for the figures we do have are solid – many of whom have kindly allowed us to publish them in this month’s cover story. But when there’s a variance of over £650 million between the lowest and uppermost valuations from different sources within the bicycle industry, confusion will, inevitably, reign. At worst, it makes for mixed messages and a potential undervaluing of the cycle sector. In some cases, the issue is made foggier by a lack of clarity over whether figures include repairs and parts and accessories. And so the subject gets ever murkier, and the message – hopefully that the cycle sector is doing rather well – gets muddied. That’s surely not in the interests of anyone in this industry.

Feel free to disagree (let me know at Jonathon.Harker@intentmedia.co.uk), but surely the time is nigh for the UK bike trade to share its sales data and create some statistics that we can all agree on?

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