By Dan Parsons, founding partner and head of business at London e-bike retailer Fully Charged
Recent data shared by the Bicycle Association showed a +8% growth of the UK cycling market in the first six months of 2021 compared to the ‘boom year’ of 2020, and a +52% growth based on pre-pandemic levels.
Projections for 2022 are extremely positive, but where specifically do we expect to see continued growth?
Average prices continue to rise
With consumers switching cars for bikes and spending less of their money (and time) on public transport, sitting in traffic or paying for parking, the average sale price of bikes is on the up. The average rider is now spending more on their bike than ever before and enjoying the many benefits of riding a higher quality machine, with a possible switch in perception, from ‘hobby’ to ‘tool’, coupled with increased finance and pay-later options, as well as removal of the cap on the Government’s Cycle to Work initiatives playing a big role.
Higher price tags of electric bikes are skewing the average price, but given that the consumer is getting far greater value by spending more time in the saddle, travelling greater distance and having more fun, it’s an easily justifiable price to pay.
The challenge for the immediate future is to hold brands and suppliers to account over price and quality to ensure that the consumer retains value, with rising prices of raw materials and components putting massive strain on the supply chain, blamed on the pandemic, rising shipping costs and Brexit.
The UK e-bike market continues to go from strength to strength, accelerating enormously over recent years, with the Bicycle Association suggesting a +146% growth of the UK e-bike market over the 24 months to August 2021.
Growing pains continue to thwart the true scale of growth for e-bikes, with their more complex bill of materials impacted by shortages of rare earth metals, chips and battery cells devastating production and supply.
Our guess is that the worst is yet to come, with manufacturers already talking about stockpiling new e-bikes awaiting battery resupply and some brands already unable to supply batteries as spares. The coming year looks to be another exciting but challenging one for the e-bike market.
Possibly the largest and most exciting uptake in market activation has been electric cargo bikes. With rising e-commerce sales and massive increases in delivery demand exaggerated by the pandemic, coupled with increased urbanisation, increased vehicle congestion and the introduction of low-emission zones in our cities, e-cargos have offered a more cost-efficient, tangible, sustainable alternative.
Electric cargo bikes have allowed companies to take control of their own logistics, with increased efficiency and productivity against their vans (especially in urban centres), whilst being more economical to purchase and maintain when compared to traditional vehicle fleets.
With Germany reporting 78,000 e-cargo bike sales in 2020, up from 54,400 in 2019, and UK researcher Pegram estimating a mere 2,000 e-cargo bikes sales in the UK in the same period, we’re only scratching the surface of this new and exciting trend – expect to see much more of e-cargo.