Brits are spending more on bikes - but buying fewer of them

Price of a bike has risen - but the average is still only £233

by Sarah Barth   April 27, 2014  

Bike shop

Brits are spending more on their bikes than they have been in the last eight years - but they aren’t buying nearly so many of them.

Bike sales have risen in value by £106m since 2008, but the number bought per year has dropped from 3.6 million to 3.2 million.

One explanation for the increased spending could be the rise in popularity of performance road bikes, which can cost twice as much as their urban or hybrid equivalents.

Despite that, the average price of a bike is still only £233, up from £206 in 2012.

Michael Oliver, senior leisure and media analyst at Mintel, which commissioned the report, said: "There is no doubt that Britain's cyclists have become more selective about the quality of bike they are prepared to ride, with the average cost of a bike purchased rising in value.

"In part this is due to the decline in availability of very cheap – and usually poor quality – bicycles which have flooded the UK market in the past. However, there is little doubt that consumers buying bicycles in the UK are gradually recognising that one gets what one pays for, and that it is worth spending a little more to get a good quality product.”

Just over 35 per cent of Britons are cyclists, while as many as half of 25- to 34-year-olds cycle – making this Britain's key cycling group.

By region, London (45 per cent) is the nation's cycling capital, while it has the least appeal in the South West and Wales (30 per cent) and the North West and Scotland (31 per cent).

Other findings from the report included a figure of 1 in 20 never having ridden a bike - and having no intention ever to do so. One in three said the roads were too dangerous to ride on.

18 user comments

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I'm guessing the figures include kids bikes and that is why the average value is down at £233?

Try finding ANY adult road bike for that price...

Also, does it include the sales of "Cycle to work" bikes in the factoring?

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8668 posts]
27th April 2014 - 20:32

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Bikes sold through cycle to work schemes would appear as full priced sales as the discount comes from the salary sacrifice of the person buying the bike, not from a discount applied in store.

posted by woollee23 [92 posts]
27th April 2014 - 20:42

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It's been 6 years since I worked in the industry but I recall that after years of largely static pricing, bikes all of a sudden went up by a reasonable percentage a few years back, blamed in part on high metal prices due to Chinese demand (but then bikes were arguably too cheap anyway)

For the average to increase despite Internet discounting is a good thing, no?

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
27th April 2014 - 21:25

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Second gkam's query... If £233 is an average price, with the figures presumably including a fair number of C2W sales around the grand mark, just how cheap are some people buying bikes, and from where, to still get the average down so low?!

Sad news in a sense, reads to me that a lot of people are probably just buying BSOs and then not particularly enjoying the experience, so probably not carrying on with cycling for very long. Still, you get what you pay for.

posted by parksey [177 posts]
27th April 2014 - 21:26

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Around 300 notes would be sufficient for a perfectly adequate hybrid or basic Specialised Hardrock for occasional leisure use. That sort of thing tended to be the volume seller where I worked.

It wouldn't blow your mind but it'd be fine, and massively better than the auld shyte from supermarkets. Factor in kids bikes to lower the average down to what it is, and it's not all bad.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
27th April 2014 - 21:36

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Well I sell 10-20 second hand ones a week with an average price of maybe £50, there's around a dozen other people in my local area doing the same. Mintel haven't asked me for any figures.

posted by drfabulous0 [269 posts]
27th April 2014 - 21:51

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It would be be interesting to know the stats for the average lifespan of a cycle purchased in the UK. However this figure is likely to be hard, if not impossible, to discover.

In this context, I recall a curious factoid in relation to amateur power tools: the typical usage time for an amateur's electric drill is 20 mins before it is junked. No idea how this figure (US stat) was arrived at.

Some of us have some very old bikes, serviceable even if seldom used now. But I doubt that today's £233 bicycle will see much use before it is scrapped.

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posted by harman_mogul [113 posts]
27th April 2014 - 23:35

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Quite sobering when used to all these over-specced MAMIL machines to note how much the average Brit actually considers a reasonable amount to spend on a bicycle. They need to be even cheaper if we're going to to encourage more people out of their cars or off their sofas.

posted by Yennings [205 posts]
28th April 2014 - 4:05

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It's difficult to really draw any valid conclusions from this. Clearly, the average price is heavily weighted by kids bikes and cheaper end tat. The fact that the average has increased by a relatively high percentage could be a sign that higher priced bikes are being sold in greater numbers and pushing the average up (but then again, it might not!).
I'm also a little surprised by the stats on numbers of cyclists - "35% of Britons are cyclists" - really? What classes someone as a cyclist? Anyone who has been on a bike in the last 10 years perhaps?

posted by numbercruncher [28 posts]
28th April 2014 - 7:54

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I don't think they need to be cheaper, I think the quality of the really cheap bikes needs to be improved, even if the cost goes up it would make people realise that if you're buying a complete adults bike for £100-£200 you're not likely to get a particularly nice bike to ride.

Former Fat Lad on a Bike

posted by RobD [91 posts]
28th April 2014 - 8:25

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When we have £50 catalog crap at one end and the recent boom in the mid life crisis brigade dropping up to 5K in one go on carbon it's hard to see how an "average" is a proper indicator of how much people are spending because of the extremes skewing the figures so much.

£233 to £300 how ever will not get you complete rubbish and it's just as usable as some very expensive kit that gets replaced every year by those with deep pockets. Fixed and single speed also skews the figures as perfectly usable bikes are much cheaper in this part of the market.

I am using a cheapy EBC fixed to commute on at the moment, it has in fact saved me money over a geared bike with discs, leaving me with more money to spend on my own kit and lights.

posted by MKultra [195 posts]
28th April 2014 - 9:22

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Yennings wrote:
note how much the average Brit actually considers a reasonable amount to spend on a bicycle. They need to be even cheaper if we're going to to encourage more people out of their cars or off their sofas.

I dunno. I think people maybe just need to adjust their expectations on some things. The cost of a halfway decent bike is probably only a month or two's worth of fuel and takeaways for a lot of people.

EDIT Obviously that's not to say manufacturers can just charge what they want but just making stuff cheaper is not the only part of the solution.

posted by Chuck [355 posts]
28th April 2014 - 9:29

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Would be interesting to know what the median is, guess it's about £150, if so then the majority of new bikes are still cr*p.

@rich22222

posted by rich22222 [106 posts]
28th April 2014 - 12:39

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I'm about to buy my third bike - a Genesis Flyer - which will also be my second 'cycle-to-work' machine.

The other two cost £1,350 and £1,500 respectively.

'It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning' (Henry Ford)

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posted by cyclingDMlondon [193 posts]
28th April 2014 - 14:14

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I haven't bought a new cycle since the seventies. In fact, I can't think of a single member of my family who's ever bought a new bicycle from a shop, and yet we all cycle regularly without Mintel ever knowing about it Wink

Personally, I think the best gauge of cycle useage in the UK would be to look at tyre sales, a far more accurate reflection of cycle useage than just the sale of new bikes.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
28th April 2014 - 16:28

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Without info on price by volume this article simply generates useless speculation about what's happening.

Sudor

posted by Sudor [179 posts]
29th April 2014 - 8:37

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Yennings wrote:
Quite sobering when used to all these over-specced MAMIL machines to note how much the average Brit actually considers a reasonable amount to spend on a bicycle. They need to be even cheaper if we're going to to encourage more people out of their cars or off their sofas.

You do understand how averages work right?

It doesn't tell you what the public is prepared to pay does it, it tells you that when you add up all the bike sales and then divide them by the number sold it gives you an average price.

That means you could have a Halfords special in there at £60 and a Pinarello at £10,000 - it has no bearing on what we're prepared to pay.

Do try to be factual when you're trying to be a smart arse or you tend to just make yourself look a bit on the dim side.

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posted by chrisp1973 [57 posts]
29th April 2014 - 15:10

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Sudor wrote:
Without info on price by volume this article simply generates useless speculation about what's happening.

Exactly - Utterly useless information. Plain Face

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posted by chrisp1973 [57 posts]
29th April 2014 - 15:12

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