CTC Ride to the Pies Sportive in Dorset
CTC Ride to the Pies Sportive in Dorset

UK bike sales expected to reach all time high

A new report from Mintel predicts sales of bikes will reach an all time high in 2012 - with the market set to grow by a further 8% on 2011 to reach £700 million this year.

Every year Mintel produce a report on bicycles in the UK, and interview 2000 people about their thoughts and attitudes to cycling.

CTC Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen said: "The Mintel report backs up CTC’s view that cycle use in Britain is set to continue growing.  Nationally it rose by 20% during the past decade, but so far London has led the way, having nearly trebled since 2000. More recently though, we have started to see strong growth in cities as diverse as Bristol, Sheffield, Cambridge, Leicester and Leeds."

Roger added: "What’s more, there is good evidence that cyclists gain from ‘safety in numbers’ – it gets safer the more cyclists there are. The Government now needs to seize this opportunity, and ensure that main roads and junctions are designed to be cycle-friendly. Cycling needs to be promoted as a safe and normal activity for people of all ages and backgrounds, in order to maximise its benefits for our health, our environment and our wallets."

The market

According to the Mintel report, the bicycle market had a difficult year in 2011 when sales fell 7% (almost £50 million) from £698 million in 2010 to £650 million in 2011. However, things are looking good for the bicycle industry. While volume sales of bicycles declined by 15% between 2006 and 2011, in value terms, the market saw strong growth of nearly a fifth (19%) reflecting a shift towards cycling as a leisure and lifestyle choice rather than buying a bicycle purely on price alone. Over the past five years, the retail price paid for bikes has increased by more than 40%.

Michael Oliver, Senior Leisure Analyst at Mintel, said: “Although the UK market for bicycles contracted slightly in both value and volume terms in 2011, the longer-term prospects for the industry are very positive.

"An unusual combination of circumstances led to oversupply in 2011, which resulted in discounting, impacted on both turnover and profitability. With obesity rates rising among both adults and children, there is clearly a political and financial imperative to encouraging greater physical activity and cycling is a relatively inexpensive way of doing this.

"Role models in the Olympics means there is now an almost unrivalled opportunity to try to stimulate cycling participation but it needs some central funding and co-ordination.”

Cycling levels

Mintel interviewed 2000 people and over a third (34%) of them said they cycled. The ‘hardcore’ cyclists – those who ride about once a week or more often – account for around half of all cyclists (16% of UK adults), with 6% of Brits taking to their two wheels most days.

However, some 5% of the country (around two million people) admit to not being able to cycle, while a further 1% of Brits say they can’t cycle but intend to learn to do so in the future.

Gender imbalance

Men in Britain are considerably more likely to take to the road by bike than women, with over four in ten men (41%) admitting to being a current cyclist versus just a quarter (26%) of women. Meanwhile, twice as many men (8%) than women (4%) claim to cycle most days.

60% of those surveyed agree cycling is a good way of helping reduce road congestion. However, around half (53%)  agree not enough is done about cyclists who break the rules of the road and a further 49% say it is too dangerous to ride a bicycle on the road.

Call for more cycle lanes

Over four in ten (41%) say that having more dedicated bicycle lanes or routes would encourage them to cycle more often.


Just a third (31%) of the cyclists interviewed by Mintel owns a helmet and only around two thirds (19%) wear it regularly.

For a fifth of the nation, a helmet is a big deterrent - 21%  admit they would be put off cycling if they were required to wear a helmet by law.

Male cyclists (23%) are notably more likely than female cyclists (15%) to wear their helmets regularly.

Bike hire

2% of those surveyed have used a self-service hire scheme, but as many as one in ten (9%) say they would be interested in using one in the future.

The report concludes that there is considerable interest in using a self-serve bicycle hire scheme, indicating that there would be demand for additional schemes to the one currently running in London.


Victoria Hazael