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“You have to dig in for the next three to five years”: What lies ahead for a struggling bike industry in 2024? More expert analysis, plus our Cycling Sgt. Pepper image discussed

With the bike industry facing severe headwinds as it enters 2024, we discuss its prospects for the year ahead with industry stalwart Rory Hitchens – and it’s not all doom and gloom. Plus, our majestic Sgt. Pepper year review image: a ‘Making Of’ special

It’s episode 68 of the Podcast and we’re turning our attention once again to the troubling state of the bike industry and its worryingly shaky prospects for the year ahead.

As we gather around our murky crystal ball, we’re joined by longtime bike industry stalwart Rory Hitchens to discuss what lies in store over the next 12 months for an industry still grappling with mounting challenges and issues as it enters the new year, following the news that Orange Bikes – one of the UK’s most iconic cycling brands and a staple of the mountain bike scene – has appointed an administrator.


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All you have to do is utter the word ‘Wiggle’ to know that 2023 was a turbulent year for the bike industry.

And just a few weeks into the new year, the severe headwinds battering the market don’t seem to be weakening anytime soon, a worrying and chaotic situation underlined already this month by Halifax-based Orange’s descent into administration and Raleigh’s recently confirmed job cuts and plans for restructuring at its Nottingham base.

Orange RX9 - riding 4

> Orange Bikes set to appoint administrator – weeks after folding racing team citing bike industry “uncertainty”

What’s more, attacks by Houthi rebels on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, a retaliation against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, has caused shipping container prices to soar, sparking fears that the cycling industry could be subject to a renewed supply chain crisis similar to those that gripped it during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

So, with that not so cheery news greeting us right at the start of 2024, what lies ahead for the bike industry over the next 12 months?

To discuss that vexing question, Ryan and Jack are joined once again by Rory Hitchens, a long-time bike industry stalwart and the founder of brand-new agency Greenleaves Cycling.

While Rory insists to us that the recovery of the bike industry is a “three to five year” project, he also asserts that cycling is not alone in the challenges currently wreaking havoc on the global economy.

And, in any case, it’s not all doom and gloom. While the road bike market continues to be squeezed, Rory notes that the ‘bottom’ of the bike pyramid – the bikes that propel many people to work or school or the shops – has the opportunity to flourish in 2024, despite the challenges gripping the rest of the industry.

roadcc The Year In Cycling 2023

When I Paint My Masterpiece (oops, wrong artist)

Meanwhile, in part two, Jack is joined by’s news editor Dan Alexander and Oli Pendrey, the creative and photography force behind the site, and the man responsible for the spectacular Sgt. Pepper’s Lovely Cycling Club Band image that accompanied Dan’s review of the year in cycling.

We take a peek behind the curtain (you lucky listeners) to chat about how our majestic Beatles homage came about, the work that went into making it (again, sorry Oli), and the stories and cycling characters of the past year that inspired it.

The Podcast is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Amazon Music, and if you have an Alexa you can just tell it to play the Podcast. It’s also embedded further up the page, so you can just press play.

At the time of broadcast, our listeners can also get a free Hammerhead Heart Rate Monitor with the purchase of a Hammerhead Karoo 2. Visit right now and use promo code ROADCC at checkout to get yours.

This content has been added by a member of the staff

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Velophaart_95 | 3 months ago
1 like

I've seen this mentioned elsewhere, and I think it's probably true. Too much of the cycling industry is concentrated/obsessed with the performance market - the majority of cyclists don't race, or have any interest in going fast.......

Yet all we see is the latest bike that is lighter, more aero, more compliant, etc  

Bigtwin | 3 months ago

Here's an idea.  Stop trying to sell bikes and parts in even greater numbers for increasingly utterly lunatic prices.  It doesn't take a genius to appreciate that there is a rather limited number of punters for £5K+ bikes, tyres at £200 a pair, £200 bibs and £300 shoes.  There's a reason there's not warehouses full of unsold Aston Martins lying around Europe, it's because most people can affort a Focus at a push these days.

shaftdrive replied to Bigtwin | 3 months ago

Exactly right Bigtwin, and this is precisely the reason why most people that rely on a car will never own an over expensive electric vehicle wether owned outright or on finance. The world will come to a standstill if this is the only option. Spot on!

Simon E replied to Bigtwin | 3 months ago
1 like

From everything I've seen, it's not the £5,000+ bikes and expensive clothing that are the problem, it is the lower price brackets where sales volumes were previously far higher, even if margins were smaller. I think you're confusing the focus of websites like, magazines and other sources such as influencers with the retail landscape as a whole. Reviewers can only write/talk about what they are sent and, despite the requests for more down-to-earth models, the brands invariably want us to see and covet their latest halo models, so SL8s and S-Works shoes are shipped out for review while the less flashy bikes and clobber are ignored. People often like to read about these things even when they have zero intention/hope of buying them. Sites and publications really don't want to bite the hand that feeds them (hint: I'm not meaning the likes of you and me).

The Covid boom was short-lived, the roads are as busy as ever with motor traffic and people have found other ways of spending money (if they have money to spend). As a result many brands are overstocked, importers/distributors, shops and brands are going under, Rapha's £12m loss is apparently due to "cost of living and supply chain problems". I'd be interested to know the story with Orange, who have said that they are not done yet:


Orange Bikes and its associated companies are currently working with Specialist Business Rescue Advisory firm J9 Advisory, with a view to restructuring the businesses in order to provide a viable platform to service our customers in the best way possible, safeguarding jobs and ensuring the continuation and strength of the Orange Bikes business moving forwards.

From the Singletrack article here.

Matthew lund replied to Bigtwin | 3 months ago

Definitely, bike shops are full of £5k bikes. When I worked in a bike shop in the late nineties half that money (dream on matt) bought you something that you knew was made by artisans. Now it gets you a choice of finance chinarellos. And god forbid your hard financed bike that you dare not even tighten a bolt on got written off or nicked. Having £1200 of bike go missing hurts but £5k?

Matthew lund | 3 months ago

It's the property crash of 2008 but on two wheels. Keep putting prices up, keep getting less product for more price, keep accepting this disappointment, keep paying then most people have run out of money and it stops. This is why I buy used. There'll be bargains after this just like there was in 2008.

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