Industry Shifts Towards Simple, Practical Bikes

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News may not sound like an exciting read, but they cover trends long before the consumers feel/ride/see the results in the bike store showrooms.  This new article, Transportation Bikes Take Flight At Retail, explains that the market shares of  specific use bikes for road and mountain is shrinking, and that retailers are retooling production for more practical and affordable bikes.

Remember how GM allowed consumer demand to dictate and justify production of fuel inefficient vehicles?  This is the inverse of that, and I think it’s about time.

“The time is right now. So much has changed in the past few years—the price of gas, global warming and the environmental movement. Everyone is interested in bikes,” said Robin Sansom, Globe brand manager.

“New bike buyers are interested in bikes as transportation, in getting around, running errands or going to their friend’s house,” Sansom added.

When gas prices hit historic highs last summer, suppliers saw golden fields of opportunity and called Asian suppliers with optimistic forecasts. Bikes poured over the docks.

Lulled by strong sales of high-end road and mountain bikes in the past, suppliers ordered more of the same. But those weren’t the bikes customers wanted. Now a new wave of bikes is coming as suppliers double down on transportation bikes.

“We have all felt road and mountain go soft and all the companies that were heavily invested in that are now looking around for something else. We have always offered these bikes,” said Joe Vadeboncoeur, Trek’s director of product development.

“Our retailers may not be cognizant of the number of ‘get your life done’ bikes we offer, but we are excited about the potential of that market.”

This signals a more family-focused interest in bicycles, counter to the last 20 years of weekend warrior interest.  Also intriguing is the demand by gender:

“Women are predominantly the customers for these bikes, and many of them are taking their kids on errands. So these bikes need to fit smaller people and come with kid-carrying capacity. Such bikes are still needed,” said Dean Mullin, partner in Portland, Oregon’s Clever Cycles.

But how much are folks willing to pay?  And what accoutrements/features do they desire?

“A three-speed with swept back bars and a cushy seat and minimal graphics is what most customers are looking for. And $400 to $500 is about the maximum many of my customers are willing to pay,” Pastir said.

Whether it’s a hip aesthetic or an environmental message, transportation bikes are making a lifestyle and cultural statement that will change the face of the industry.

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