Bicycle Sales Skyrocket: Coronavirus Is Changing the Cities

By Monica Buck

Few businesses could report an upswing in their sales during these trying times. However, everything bike-connected is sold out as soon as it is restocked. New bike sales on eBay tripled in April and sales of secondhand rides were up 23 % in comparison with 2019. Halfords, the UK’s biggest cycle retailer, reports they sell double the normal amount of bicycles. And the bike-repair shops are busy as well. In the UK, it is fairly common for the shops to work three shifts, including the night.

For years, the market was dominated by the needs of “MAMILs” – middle-aged men in Lycra. However, that has changed dramatically in the last couple of months. Female customers are pouring in as well as the younger under-35 generation. Commuter-friendly hybrid bikes are all the rage. The cheaper variants (under a 1,000 EUR) are really hard to find. Older people are looking for an alternative to public transport as well. And that resulted in bigger sales of e-bikes.

The sales of e-bikes have rocketed. © Profimedia

“There is most definitely a problem facing the trade at the moment and that’s supply issues,” Paul Walker, owner of cycle parts and accessories distributor Hykeham Wholesale, told the Guardian. “It’s gone absolutely crazy. I have done three months of sales in a month. It was really unexpected. It looks like this month will be similar – or it would be if I still had stocks to sell.”

People struggle to find inner tubes, bike helmet sales are up as well. And if you find a cycle repair kit, you should consider yourself lucky.

The UK, in particular, is in a cycling frenzy. With the government unveiling its £2bn cycling package, it was to be expected. However, other countries report similar stories. In Germany, the burst of sales saw e-bikes outpace regular bikes.

If you find a repair kit, consider yourself lucky. © Profimedia, Royalty-free

The same thing happened in the US. “E-bike sales initially got hit pretty hard during lockdowns since many retail stores were closed down,” Ryan Citron, senior research analyst at Guidehouse, said in an email to The Verge. “However, since bike shops have reopened, sales have been increasing rapidly.” The sales are reportedly up by 90 % in comparison with last year.

The influx of new bicycles means we need better infrastructure to keep the riders safe. And that won’t happen overnight. However, countries and municipalities all over the world are unveiling programs to support the new riders. Even Copenhagen didn’t happen overnight. Let’s hope we can all meet out there and share the roads responsibly. Stay on the safe side!