The big boom in the bicycle industry is over for now

Munich During the pandemic, many people discovered cycling for themselves. Because the demand was so high and the supply chains were interrupted, customers sometimes had to wait months for a new e-bike or just the right shifter.

In the meantime, however, the warning signals are piling up in the growth-spoiled industry. “Dealers’ warehouses are full of goods that they ordered a year or two ago,” says Urs Keller, head of Germany at American bike manufacturer Trek.

Shortly before the start of the new season, the industry is nevertheless combative. “2023 will still be a difficult year, but we don’t see any crashes,” said Burkhard Stork, Managing Director of the Bicycle Industry Association (ZIV), the Handelsblatt. Manufacturers and dealers have tripled their sales in the past ten years. Stork: “We’ll be able to hold this plateau.”

Bike leasing is helping the industry through the doldrums

Entry-level models are currently less in demand. Expensive, lavishly equipped bikes, on the other hand, sold well, affirms Trek manager Keller. E-bikes are also still in demand. According to the ZIV, many customers rented the expensive electric bikes for a certain period of time. “With leasing, customers are not so price-sensitive, which helps everyone,” says ZIV boss Stork.

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However, the industry is still suffering from the upheavals of the Corona period. Despite huge demand, 2021 was difficult for the industry due to supply bottlenecks. The number of bicycles sold fell from around five to 4.7 million.

Many a company has certainly ordered too much and has to clear the warehouse at a discount. Burkhard Stork, Managing Director of the Bicycle Industry Association

Meanwhile, sales increased slightly to 6.6 billion euros as customers accepted higher prices and chose more expensive models. Including spare parts and accessories, the industry in Germany now has sales of around ten billion euros.

Because they could hardly get any more supplies, dealers eagerly ordered more at the height of the boom. “Many a company has certainly ordered too much and has to clear the warehouse with a discount,” said ZIV Managing Director Stork. But that is rather the exception.

Trek Managing Director Keller confirms this: “The price pressure is there, but no greater than before the pandemic.” Five or ten percent discounts are often possible for customers, says the manager.

Even if people buy fewer new bikes this year in the face of inflation and recession, the many models sold over the past few years need repair and maintenance. New sources of revenue are opening up: “There is a great opportunity in service,” says ZIV boss Stork. “The new e-bike customers expect a service similar to that of a car.”

The accessories market is growing

In addition, the newly won cycling enthusiasts are increasingly stocking up on accessories. The business with bicycle lights, waterproof bags and rain pants is developing extremely dynamically, says Dominic Land, head of online retailer Bike Components.

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In the longer term, the ZIV sees a lot of potential. “Things will start to pick up again as early as 2024,” predicts Stork. When it comes to new sales, every second bicycle is now an e-bike. In the stock, however, only a small part is motorized. In addition, e-bikes have so far mainly been used in rural areas, but there is still potential in the city.

The head of Bike-Components also believes this: “During the pandemic, many people noticed that the bike and especially the e-bike is a real mobility alternative.” People would now mount the saddle all year round and no longer just when it’s warm.

Investors have discovered the industry for themselves

Professional investors are counting on a long-term boom and have been increasingly involved in the industry for several years. The investment company GBL took over the German bicycle manufacturer Canyon, which relies heavily on internet sales. According to reports, GBL paid 800 million euros.

Most recently, the Dutch group Pon Holdings (Gazelle, Urban Arrow) bought the bicycle subsidiary of the Canadian conglomerate Dorel Industries for 700 million euros. Pon Holdings thus secured brands such as Cannondale and Schwinn and doubled sales in the bicycle business to around 2.3 billion euros.


When it went public a year and a half ago, Bike24 was valued at 660 million euros. The market capitalization is now almost 170 million euros.

(Photo: Bloomberg)

However, not all cycle paths lead directly to the destination: Anyone who relied on the shares of the online retailer Bike24 had to be brave in the past few months. When it went public a year and a half ago, Bike24 was valued at 660 million euros. The market capitalization is now almost 170 million euros.

ZIV Managing Director Stork is nevertheless convinced that the bicycle shop is worthwhile. “The industry remains interesting for long-term investors, and the market will continue to grow in the medium and long term.”

In any case, after years of empty exhibition spaces, consumers are again spoiled for choice. “The vast majority of the bikes are available,” says Trek manager Keller.

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