Trends & Features

Bike loving Brits in a spin

British cycling is riding a wave of positivity, according to a new study from market research specialist Mintel.

The number of British cyclists has risen from 34 per cent of the population in January 2012 to 41 per cent in November 2012.

Today 50 per cent of British men are taking to their bikes, while London is the cycling capital of the nation.

Mintel’s research shows six per cent of British consumers (amounting to 3.1 million Brits) are taking to two wheels “most days”, while eight per cent cycle two-three days a week.

The same number cycle on a weekly basis.

In terms of increased participation, most of the growth has occurred among those who cycle two-three days a week – numbers increasing from six per cent of Brits in January 2012 to eight per cent in November 2012.

“Interest in cycling continues to grow, with a combination of factors contributing to consumers seeing cycling in a different light,” says Michael Oliver, senior leisure analyst at Mintel.

“Undoubtedly, there is considerable momentum behind bikes at the moment, driven by high profile sporting successes in the Tour de France and Olympics, rising fuel prices and higher public transport costs.

“As an environmentally friendly type of outdoor exercise, cycling is very much on trend.”

Valued at £705 million last year, the bike market increased 8.5 per cent from £650 million in 2011.

While different types of buyers look for different qualities in a bike, the biggest differences are evident between genders.

Men are more likely than women to attach importance to the specification and equipment on a bicycle (36 per cent vs 27 per cent) and the brand (24 per cent vs 18 per cent) is also important to them.

In contrast, women are more concerned about a bicycle being an affordable price (80 per cent vs 74 per cent), its styling, colour or décor (29 per cent vs 19 per cent) and the quality of after-sales service (17 per cent vs 12 per cent).

Oliver says: “Perhaps the most surprising aspect is the lack of importance attached to brand, with price, specification and styling, colour or décor being seen as more important than whether a bicycle is a brand that the potential buyer is familiar with.

“To a certain extent, this reflects the lack of investment in branding by the major suppliers and indicates there is the potential for a supplier to make itself the brand that stands out, perhaps through capitalising on its association with one of the big British cycling stars of the moment.

“It also provides encouragement for new brands because it demonstrates that a well priced, well specified, well designed bicycle will always sell, regardless of whether it is a brand people have heard of.”

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