2023 set to be year of bike bargains, according to retailers

Lots of stock vs a dip in demand means potential bargains as industry attempts to right itself post-covid

Image shows cyclist training in Wales
(Image credit: Future)

If you're in the market for a new bike this year, you may have picked the right time to buy. At least that's what  industry commentators and retailers are predicting, and the theory looks to be playing out across stores and suppliers worldwide.

Most obviously Specialized's recent "we made too many" sale, which saw major price drops on a huge range of machines, pointed to a need for retailers to move stock. 

Equally, Evans Cycles is currently popping out some serious discounts on a wide range of 2022 Cannondales, with plenty of sizes available.  

We also spoke to a raft of retailers, most of whom were reluctant to go on record who say these aren't isolated instances and that 2023 could be the year of the bargain. 

Henry Silvester of Silvester Brothers Cycles in Farnborough, was one willing to speak up. "The market is so saturated, there's so much stock about," he tells CW. "And I think also dealers like us, and I'm not speaking for every dealer, but definitely us, there was quite a lot of pressure for us to take stock when it arrived last year. We did take what we could."

The reasons for the glut are multi-faceted. Big orders placed during covid are now being fulfilled, both at supplier and retailer level. While we've we've hit a global cost of living crisis, and the empty days of covid lockdown that begged to be filled with leisure pursuits are now gone. 

All that, according to many of those in the industry we spoke to, is adding up to a lot of bikes and a lessening of demand. 

"If you're going to buy a bike, this year is going to be your year," predicts YouTuber GC Performance – a cycle shop worker himself.

Silvester elaborates: "You're not really selling straightaway, because it's quieter than it has been. And there's still new products arriving sort of later on in the year that you want to stock, but because you [already] bought quite a lot of stock, you're going to find that there's going to be a lot of discounting probably coming later on, sort of maybe March, April, May time.

"I think you'll find that people are shifting what they still got stuck on from the 2022 season, to make way for the 2023 season stuff."

"From our point of view, we're in a relatively good position, we've not got a stupid amount of stock," says Silvester. "A lot of people had the wrong type of stock, that one particular bike, because in lockdown what everyone really wanted was a sort of entry level to sub-£1,000 bike. Down the road, get out because there was nothing else to do. Now people have shops full of sub-£1,000 bikes, but that's not what everyone wants."

'Shopping when you're hungry'

GC Performance likened the root cause of situation to "like going to the grocery store when you're hungry".

"You eat with your eyes, you're over-ordering and over-ordering. All of a sudden everything seemed to just fall off. So now we have these massive amounts of back orders".

It goes back up the chain too, he says, with shops are cancelling orders they'd placed and distributors left with surplus.

"Yeah, I'll agree with that," says Roger Williams, owner of Michael's Cycles in Beccles, Suffolk, when we put predictions of this being a cut-price year to him. He is loathe to make any hard forecasts but, referencing the difficulties experienced by major suppliers such as Giant – which reportedly asked to delay payments to its suppliers – and Specialized (which recently made eight per cent of its worldwide staff, 125 people, redundant) he says the issues affected everyone, and that the retail industry is "up the creek without a paddle".

Williams has cut his stock "right down", he says, and has branched out into electric bikes. He's ended up selling some stock at low prices, he adds, but that couldn't last forever, saying: "We've had some silly prices, but we have to cut our margins, and if we cut our margins, we aren't going to survive."

Not all the retailers we spoke to were gloomy about the situation, certainly outwardly. One chain of shops says its ability to move stock between stores made things much easier, while another said it remained optimistic though conceded it was a challenging time.

Either way, it feels like a market blip that won't be repeated any time soon. As Silvester says, "We all had that sort of false sense that [the demand] was gonna carry on. It didn't really. It's never happened before and it will probably never happen again."

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 

Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.

A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.