BikeBiz editor Alex Ballinger looks at the expected developments in the coming 12 months
This piece first appeared in the January edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
So what can we expect from 2023? Last year we began to feel the effects of the hangover from the Covid-19 pandemic, from the realisation of the predicted overstocking issues, to the continued growth of micromobility in the cycling market.
The next year is going to be challenging, that much is clear. Most of the people I’ve spoken to from across the bike trade are concerned about the squeeze on consumer spending, recession, and the threat of overstocking leading to mass price reductions.
But cycling, both as an industry and as a pastime, is resilient. The biggest tail-off in sales we saw last year was in the mid-range road bike market, and I believe that market will continue to struggle, as a squeeze on consumer spending prevents potential new riders embracing a new hobby.
However, the commuter market is likely to continue its rapid growth, as more people explore cheaper alternatives to car travel, while also trying to avoid ever-worsening congestion in towns and cities. As more people discover the efficiency and savings of cycling, more people will invest in convenient and space-friendly commuter bikes like Brompton and Dahon folding bikes.
This of course comes with a whole host of potential accessory sales, like locks and lights, but only if cycling businesses are willing to wholeheartedly embrace new commuters and make the most of potential upselling opportunities.
Another huge market is the e-cargo sector, which again will be bolstered by low running costs and time efficiency. But due to the big-ticket nature of e-cargo bikes like brands Tern and Benno, the bike trade needs to put in additional effort to convince consumers to invest thousands of pounds in a car replacement.
Offering a sales experience, including aftercare and accessory deals/discounts, is going to be essential in converting non-cyclists into everyday riders. E-scooters will no doubt become an increasingly significant part of the transport mix, and expect more cycling distributors to be offering e-scooter products as legalisation looms in 2023.
Overstocking issues also remain a very serious concern, the long-term impact of the resulting discounting is hard to predict.
Here’s what experts from around the industry are predicting:
Aaron Budd, Canyon UK head of sales and marketing
“We continue to see strong growth in e-bikes in urban and e-MTB. We’re also seeing a strong trend toward gravel bikes, and continued growth in road bikes. Societally we expect customers continuing to be concerned with fitness, health, wellbeing and green mobility. Inflation and high fuel prices will drive people towards bikes.
“New tech will also play a part, especially when it comes to digital solutions to control aspects of your bike. Finally diversity in cycling was a strong trend last year and it will continue to be important for us in 2023.”
Tom Copeland, PaceUp Media founder and director
“2023 will be a testing year in the cycling industry, especially the first few quarters while stock levels in the industry remain high and consumer spending low due to the cost of living crisis. The knock on effect of this will be deeper discounts to liquidate stock and incentivise spending.
“Some brands will continue to struggle in these tougher times which could see mergers, scaling back or even certain brands dropping away. Another effect may well be more brands going D2C to retain more control and margin, leading to an evolving distributor space. We’re also noticing increased Private Equity interest in cycling brands as they snap up cheaper investment deals during this dip time or step in to help steady the ship.
“I don’t envisage all doom and gloom though as cycling continues to be a more attractive (and cheaper long term) prospect than driving, and paired with the great work many are doing in the cycling infrastructure space we’ll see more turning to the bike when the weather improves. This should see continued growth in the e-mobility and utility cycling space with electric and cargo bikes, bike sharing and e-scooter use rising.
“Social media will continue to be important in cycling but we’re seeing its use change from community tools to broadcasting so expect to see less active ‘engagement’ from followers, in favour of views – with video content still taking prominence.
“Finally, sustainability is sure to continue taking more and more of our attention, and rightly so. We’re expecting a push for greater transparency around sustainability – something we’ll see in the pro scene too. Teams, brands and organisations will need to be more vocal about what they’re actually doing – British Cycling being a good example! Time’s up for brands to hide behind long-term pledges – authentic change and advocacy will be rewarded by customers spending on mission driven brands, products and services.”
Amy Marks, head of marketing, and Dov Tate, founder, Parcours Wheels
AM – “The first trend we think will be key for 2023 is a move away from outright aero performance to a more holistic view of this. We also believe that supply chain management for brands will be key.”
DT – “Things like handling stability, comfort, durability and flexibility (i.e. multi-discipline products) will have more impact rather than the outright aero trends which have dominated for the last few years. It will be important to find balance between good stock availability and over-ordering during an economic downturn.”