Since we’re so involved in buying new bits and pieces for our bikes – a never ending opportunity to make our bikes better, lighter, faster or just plain bling – it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that cycling appears to be in a kind of golden age.
Stepping back a bit soon throws up bits of news and information that makes you realise that for cycling we’ve never really had it so good, at least in the UK.
Bike Europe recently reported that Accell Group (which includes Lapierre, Loeke and Ghost amongst it’s brands) has specifically named the UK as one of the countries where ‘sales of bicycles significantly increased in the first half of 2010’. Shimano too have seen their profits recover strongly over the past year. Then just today I read on Bikeradar an article titled ‘Cycling on the up in UK‘, citing the UK Department for Transport’s recently published National Travel Survey that shows the average cyclist now rides more than he/she ever did fifteen years ago. Not exactly earth shattering news but welcome all the same.
What’s driving this increase? An increase particularly noticeable among high earners apparantly. Well, no direct correlations are drawn but if I had to name one thing that’s driven bike sales more than anything else I’d say it was the government supported Cycle2work scheme which offer sizeable discounts to anyone buying a new bike.
These discounts are more marked if you happen to pay higher rate tax – in effect you can buy a £1000 bike for around £600, and pay for it over a year interest free. Exactly the sort of thing to appeal to higher earners who can afford to ‘maximise their savings’.
This isn’t a bad thing but a favourable tax-break helps explain the sales boom and long may it continue. Add in the ‘green halo’ of bicycle riding, some considerable sporting success in all disciplines (road, track and mtb), the rising cost of petrol and the much-vaunted health benefits of cycling and it’s clear there’s much positive pressure for bicycle ownership.
There’s more to come too. Those pressures mentioned above are unlikely to go away anytime soon but with the launch of bike-hire schemes similar to the Paris Velo system in UK cities such as London, a growing interest in e-bike technology and a developing network of leisure and commuter based routes across the country things are looking promising.
And it could be good for us, the hard pressed bike enthusuiasts who have selflessly carried the Uk through recession by buying more and more bling. The anodising retro craze couldn’t have come at a better time for the world economy after all.
At least this way there’ll be plenty of under-used, ‘previously loved’ (no, not in that way) stuff turning up on eBay!