Bike sales have surged during lockdown, but e-bike boom is slowing

E-bike sales should be encouraged to get even more people riding, according to the Bicycle Association

(Image credit: In Pictures via Getty Images)

We’ve seen a huge surge in the number of people riding bikes during the coronavirus lockdown and new sales figures have confirmed cycling’s popularity.

But while low-end bikes are flying out of the shops, the e-bike boom has been slowing down, according to the Bicycle Association (BA).

The BA, the national trade organisation for the UK cycle industry, is now arguing the government should do more to promote the sale of e-bikes to get even more people out riding.

Executive director of the BA, Steve Garidis, said: “It’s brilliant that the UK has been out buying and repairing their bikes under lockdown. Especially for commuters, every journey made by bike frees up space for those who have no alternative to using public transport.

“E-bikes have the potential to make even longer or more hilly cycling commutes practical and enjoyable – which is why it’s disappointing that take-up under lockdown hasn’t accelerated as it has for bikes.”

The BA has used its Market Data Service to uncover details behind bike sales for the first four months of 2020.

According to the statistics, bike sales were down by four per cent in value and eight per cent in total number of machines when lockdown was imposed in late March.

But the coronavirus restrictions rapidly reversed the tide, with the sale of bikes costing between £400 and £1,000 more than doubling in April 2020 compared to the same period last year.

The number of bikes sold has risen by 60 per cent and the value has jumped 57 per cent, but the sale of bikes costing more than £3,000 has dropped.

Meanwhile the sale of e-bikes was slowing down before coronavirus lockdown, increasing by just 29 per cent rather than the expected 50 per cent.

After lockdown came into effect, e-bike sales did increase 58 per cent in April, but the Bicycle Association said this is just the normal level of growth expected.

The value of e-bikes sold actually dropped by two per cent compared to the first quarter of 2020.

To reinvigorate the e-bike market, the BA says the government needs to introduce a purchase incentive scheme.

Garidis said: “We suspect that many people still don’t know just how good modern e-bikes are – or they are put off by the cost. That’s why the BA believes this data for April reinforces the case for the Government to really push e-bikes as a transport solution with a purchase incentive scheme.”

The BA said ministers should address the cost barrier of e-bikes by offering a purchase incentive of £250 and fund a public awareness campaign to promote e-bikes as transport.

Cargo e-bikes should also be promoted and removing VAT on all cycling products should also be considered, the organisation said.

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Garidis added: “As lockdown eases there’s just a short window of opportunity for the UK to build itself a cleaner, lower-carbon and healthier transport system. E-bikes and cycling must be a core part of that, which is why we’ve made detailed proposals to Government as they develop plans for a post-lockdown stimulus package.”

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