By Jonny Long
UK bike sales are soaring during the coronavirus pandemic, with stores around the country seeing a massive increase in demand and new stock selling out immediately upon arrival.
Online retailer Wiggle says its UK sales have increased by 192 per cent since the start of lockdown, while Halfords report a doubling in demand for hybrid bikes, with their share price also up 80 per cent.
The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown has created the perfect storm for more people to get on their bikes. With people working from home and advised against non-essential travel, roads have become quieter, while exercise has remained as one of the only permitted outside activities throughout lockdown. The nice weather experienced in many parts of the country has also contributed.
Commuters are also preparing to return to work, as lockdown gradually eases, but public transport capacity will be limited due to social distancing measures and will still provide a significant risk of transmission. The UK Government has therefore been encouraging people to consider cycling or walking to work if possible, and Halfords are reporting a substantial uptick in Cycle to Work discount applicants.
Bike shops have remained open throughout the coronavirus lockdown, deemed an essential service, with people rushing to buy bicycles or get their old ones repaired at one of the few locations on high streets that have remained open.
"It’s been the busiest period of trading I’ve had in 27 years," Andy Rackstraw, owner of Saddle Safari in south Buckinghamshire, told the Guardian, who also report the store has been working through the night to tackle a waiting list of 300 repair jobs as well as fulfilling a tripling in bike sales compared with this time last year.
In order to encourage this surge, which will also improve the public's fitness and reduce air pollution, the UK Government will provide up to half a million £50 vouchers for people to get old bikes that may have been abandoned in their sheds back in working order, as well as statutory guidance for councils to improve cycling safety on the roads.
London-based Sigma Sports has also experienced a year-on-year increase of 977 per cent in the sale of turbo trainers and static bikes, which managing director Ian Whittingham has called "unprecedented".
However, with more bikes comes increased thefts. One insurer, Admiral, has reported an almost 50 per cent increase over the past two months, prompting the company to warn cyclists to protect their bikes.
"One of the effects of the lockdown has been so many more people buying bikes for exercise or just to get around," Admiral's Head of Household Underwriting, David Fowkes, said. "Several cycle retailers have reported that they’ve sold out of many models, and while this is good news for the nation’s fitness, our data suggests it’s also resulted in an increase in bicycle theft."
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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