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Once a key sector within the transport industry, bikes and cycling now span across the leisure and sporting industries, the travel industry, the fitness industry and even the collectables industry with brands all over the world creating new bikes and influencing cycling trends which elevate experiences and harness the power of technology as a primary factor in the growth of the industry.
As an industry, bikes and cycling encompasses not just the bike manufacturers and retailers, but also the users and influencers driving forward the momentum around the trend of cycling, the accessory manufacturers and those responsible for technology development, the cycling apparel creators, the bike and cycling event promoters and organisers, route planners and organisations, and even service providers who use bikes as part of their service offering or their customer promise.
To break the industry down into retailers and brands is to acknowledge that the cycling industry does not start and end with bikes – it also includes the parts which come together to provide the complete experience.
Top retailers in the cycling industry
There are around 2,000 companies responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of various bike parts around the world. This number refers not only to the retail companies where a consumer might go to find their ideal bike, but also to the retailers and independent brands which create and provide cycling accessories designed around enhanced experience and elevated safety among other things.
For those looking to purchase a bike, either brand new or used, the best retailers to start with include:
- One Peloton
Many of these retailers operate purely online, giving consumers access to an increased number of variations and options than can often be found in local bike shops, and also providing various deals and discounts in line with seasonal deals and applicable vouchers.
With cycling becoming more and more of a common and sociable activity, the opportunity for market growth for those retailers offering accessories and extra features in particular is huge, with some of the most successful retailer stocking bikes and accessories which are designed for and tailored to a wide variety of demographics and potential target consumers – from children up to adults, professionals athletes and beyond.
Some of the top accessories which are sold hand in hand with bikes include:
- Stabilisers for children’s bikes
- Bicycle bells
- Handle tasses for children’s bikes
- Bicycle baskets
- Bicycle seats
- Bike lights and reflective frame strips
- Adjustable tri-bars for those looking to replicate the racing form on their bike
- Bike repair kits
- Tyres and specialised wheels for different surfaces and riding styles
As you can see from this list, much of the cycling industry is split depending on riding style and knowledge of the sector, with some consumers simply looking for a standard bike to take them from A to B, while other more advanced cyclists are looking for products and brand retailers which support more of a high end vision.
One of the leading retailers in the cycling industry is a cycling-specific brand which has made a name for itself through the provision of high quality cycling apparel and accessories, including lifestyle accessories and additional features, riding style-specific accessories for the bike itself, and safety accessories for the rider – all without actually stocking or selling any bikes. This retailer is called Rapha, and has achieved a global footprint and prominence in the industry not only in their stores but also in the fact that they run exclusive members-only riding clubs and get-togethers; with all of these various aspects of the brand clubbing together to give it an air of superiority and sophistication within the cycling industry.
Other big retailer names in the cycling industry have earnt their position not only through the provision of bikes and accessories but also in providing bike services and maintenance checks: a particularly popular move for those competing in cycling races or taking part in events which require their bikes to be in their best condition. Some top examples of these kinds of retailers include Halfords and Dick’s Sporting Goods, as well as standalone community bike shops which are run by local enthusiasts and experts and provide local cyclists with the services they need.
The best brands of bikes – both for indoor and outdoor cycling
When it comes to selecting the best brand of bike, the first and more important thing for a consumer to ascertain and decide is how they will be using their bike: whether they want it for commuting or for leisure, for racing or for getting out and about on long trips with friends; whether they want it for off road cycling or road cycling; even whether it needs to be a big frame or a smaller frame. All of these decisions should be made prior to shopping for a bike, as many local and largescale retailers will offer different deals and discounts depending on the style of bike and what extra features the consumer will need in order to optimise their experience.
Some of the leading brands in the bikes industry include:
- Fuji Bikes
While not all of these are brands which boast big names outside of the cycling world, many of them benefit from the endorsement of both professional cyclists and professional triathlete’s in their industry, with some of the top brands sponsoring the athletes likely to do well in these sorts of events and races so that the media reports that the athlete performed well on a branded bike.
The reason why this section of the article deals with both indoor and outdoor bikes is because while cycling as an industry is mainly something which occurs outside, the rise in health and fitness has meant that manufacturers have developed inside structures called Turbo Trainers – which allow regular bikes to be fitted onto a fixed cycling machine inside the house or a gym, and connected to virtual rides and workouts so that training can continue independent of the weather or time conditions and restraints. While many consumers will simply fit their normal bike to the Turbo Trainer, there are others – likely more serious cyclists – who will purchase a special bike designed for inside use, to save their racing bike for races themselves.
For those inside cyclists who prefer to use specialist static bikes as opposed to adjustable turbo trainers, some of the top brands of indoor bikes are:
- Schwinn Airdyne
These brands and their subsequent bikes are just as likely to be found within the fitness industry stores as the cycling ones.
Trends in the bikes and cycling industry
In establishing the growth of the bikes and cycling industry and mapping its trends, the first thing to note is the way in which cycling is becoming embraced more readily as a form of daily exercise which is also conducive to productivity – with schools, colleges and workplaces all introducing their own forms of cycle schemes which rewards colleagues and pupils who cycle to school or work and thus opt to leave the car at home. This is a double whammy in terms of effectiveness, as it promotes an active lifestyle and also does its bit to protect the environment.
Because of the rise in commuting via bike in particular, manufacturers have spotted and plugged a gap in the market with regards to ease of commuting via bike – particularly for those who cycle to a train station and then get a train for the last bit of their journey, thus saving on parking and also getting a little exercise in every day. The issue of course is that bikes take up a lot of space – and so manufacturers have now created folding bikes which are growing increasingly popular with commutes who can fold up and carry their bikes more easily, creating a product which meets demand for a very specific type of user who is interested in convenience and practical function rather than racing speeds or aesthetics.
Other trends have popped up as a result of the increase in cycling commuters: including bikes for hire in main city centres all over the world, bike racks outside all major transport stations and in city centres, and cycling lanes on major roads through city centres in order to keep cyclists safe. All of these initiatives and trends show the commitment to cycling as a growing phenomenon.
Another trend which is particularly prominent in the bikes and cycling industry is the rise in technology and the way that technology has not only changed the bikes that we use, but has also enhanced the user experience on a bike through the provision of additional features and wearable technologies. One example of the influence of technology in the cycling industry is the rise in e-bikes, which utilise electricity to power bikes forward as the user pedals, thus making the entire process easier and less strenuous on the legs. As a trend, this is one of the biggest steps that the industry has made in making cycling on the whole more accessible, as it has provided the mass market with a way of experiencing cycle routes and paths which they would otherwise have struggled to take on and enjoy. As e-bikes have developed further over the last few years, they are becoming more advanced with various settings, longer charge times, and e-bike hire portals whereby consumers can experience the joy of an e-bike on a holiday or for a day hire without committing to a purchase.
Another example of technologies prominence in the bikes and cycling industry can be seen in the rise of bike computer and wearable technologies which are responsible for navigation, route planning and mapping, heart rate and speed monitoring, and linking all of the data from the bike onto fitness apps like Strava for communal sharing. These kinds of technology gadgets are often used by those who are committed to the fitness industry rather than those using their bikes for commuting or leisure, however with smartphones taking over our mobile devices and with more and more users downloading apps like Strava to track their fitness goals and activities, it seems as though the industry around cycling technology and wearable is becoming more appealing to the average consumer.
The rise in the aesthetic value of bikes is another major trend which is sparking not only a focus on how bikes look but has also created a space in the industry for specialised cleaning products and tools which are designed entirely around enhancing the look of the bike. A lot of this has to do with social media and the growth of fitness apps linking closely with these social platforms, with social media not only letting consumers share images of their own bikes and cycle routes with friends, but also giving them access to view and track the products and routes used by professionals in the field. The bike retail industry is increasingly seeing users looking for bikes which not only ride well but which also look great and come in a range or colours and designs, with personalisation options adding a little extra.
For those looking to get into the bike and cycling industry, whether as a supplier or a consumer, the biggest trend driving the sector forward now and in the future is the ways in which the industry can become and continue to grow more accessible – devising cycling maps and routes which are suitable for all demographics, from the professional cyclists down to those looking for a route to the local pub. The fact is that cycling is one of the easiest activities for anyone to get involved in, and with so many brands and retailers on the market offering a wide range of bikes at different prices and qualities, the opportunity for growth is high. For more information on where the best discounts and deals in the industry can be found, consumers can head to our Bikes and Cycling industry page, or else get online and start browsing both the new and used bike sites – you never know what gems you might find!