AFP, published on Tuesday 05 April 2022 at 8:09 PM
The French invested heavily in the little queen in 2021: almost 2.8 million bicycles were sold last year, with turnover being driven by the explosion of electric bicycles.
Bicycle sales grew 4% in volume and 15% in value from 2020, in a market worth more than €3.4 billion, including parts and assistance, said Union Sport & Cycle, which represents industry professionals.
“Today we are witnessing a phenomenon of the re-appropriation of the bicycle as a tool for everyday locomotion, rather than by active adults,” welcomed Virgile Caillet, General Representative of Sport & Cycle. “Cycling is now firmly rooted in the mores of the French and has become a real alternative to other means of transport,” he added.
Driven by the transport strike at the end of 2019 and subsequently by health restrictions, the sector was nevertheless severely disrupted last year by parts shortages, logistical problems, increases in transport costs and raw materials.
Despite this, bicycle sales have increased by 43% in two years. Also in 2021, almost 1.8 million scooters were sold.
The Cyclable brand, specializing in “vélotaf”, or bicycles suitable for everyday or professional use, “had a very good start in 2021, for a second half of the year with little retail traffic and sales hampered by shortages”, emphasizes Céline Forestier , the director of the network.
“The bikes arrived quite late, at the end of 2021. All bike shops are starting the year with a lot of stock,” she added.
The year 2022 started strongly and the petrol price contributed to the motivation of the buyers in March.
– A quarter electric –
In 2021, the market was also strongly driven by electrically assisted bicycles (UAE), which set a new record with 660,000 units sold (+28% over a year).
UAEs now represent almost one in four bicycles sold in France and 59% of the market value, with an average retail price of 1,993 euros. The average price of classic bicycles is 423 euros (+7% over a year).
This increase mainly benefits multisport brands such as Decathlon or Go Sport, which represent two-thirds of bicycle sales volumes, but lag behind electric bicycles compared to bicycle specialists.
In addition, sales of mountain bikes decreased slightly (-8%), as did sales of folding bicycles (-21%), while sales of children’s bicycles remained stable. Some 17,000 cargo bikes, used to transport children or goods, were also sold, an increase of 50% year-on-year.
The production of bicycles in France also increased sharply in 2021, to 804,744 units (+ 25%), of which almost half are UAEs.
The Union plans to get close to one million by 2022, with a majority of electric vehicles. Imports also increased by 20%, mainly from Portugal, Italy and Romania.
“France was a country with a real industrial cycling culture, we find that dynamic,” underlines Virgile Caillet. “It’s also a virtuous approach in terms of the environment and for public health.”
Purchase support is useful to increase the number of bicycles “but the most effective is the development of infrastructure”, such as cycle paths or bicycle sheds, he continues.
Confronted with the Dutch or German example, he calls for ‘more ambition’ in government policy.
On Tuesday, the Federation of Bicycle Users (FUB) also deplored that few candidates in the presidential elections are “taking up the challenge”, pointing to “a lack of reflection on the issue of mobility, even a decrease in commitments to an active bicycle policy”.