In this guide we’ll be briefly looking at a range of different adult bikes including road, gravel, touring, city and hybrid bikes.
Despite the rapid growth in ebike sales, non-electric bikes still constitute the lion’s share of the Australian market, both in terms of total units sold and total dollar value of sales.
This term us usually used to define road racing style bikes with drop handlebars. Although these days only a minority of road bikes are ever used in an actual race.
Road bike sales have tapered off since the ‘glory days’ of the Lance Armstrong / Cadel Evans era that spanned the first decade of the 2000’s.
Unfortunately there’s no data available in Australia for sales of bikes by category, but some major retailers have recently been telling us that their road bike sales have been rebounding, at least slightly.
A couple of factors that might be helping are that, of all the categories in short supply due to covid, road bikes probably have the best wholesale stock availability right now.
Also the transition from rim to disc brakes is now in full swing, and this, added to new electronic group sets and new, wider tyre and rim combinations, give customers incentives to buy.
Rumours are running hot on Bikeradar, Road.cc and other international media sites that Shimano will be launching a new Dura-Ace group set for 2021 that upgrades from the current 11 speed to 12 speed and to wireless electronic shifting. They may even take the unusual step of upgrading Ultegra in the same year, rather than their more usual ‘one model at a time, trickle down’ approach.
As dealers who sell bikes in this market would be well aware, SRAM and Campagnolo have already taken these steps last year and earlier, but Shimano is a significantly larger manufacturer than both of these two combined. Therefore major new group set introductions from Shimano are always a two edged sword for dealers. Whilst the new technology, particularly a big step up if the rumours are correct, will incentivise new road bike sales. On the other hand, the challenge is not to get caught with old stock.
This will be an even more difficult juggling trick this year. With such a shortfall in supply to demand across Shimano’s product range, tooling up to introduce a new groupset and getting sufficient numbers into the marketplace will be even more challenging than usual.
It’s only eight years since the first bike model was officially designated as a ‘gravel bike’, the Salsa Cycles Warbird in 2012. It’s even less time, about five years since most of the major brands added gravel bikes to their ranges and gravel bikes really started to become a category in their own right.
They may be new, but all of the anecdotal evidence suggests that gravel bikes are not just a passing fad, certainly for the Australian market.
Some research into our road network gives you one strong reason why. According to the website Fleetcare, there are 817,000 kilometres of roads in Australia. Of these, less than half, 355,000 kilometres are sealed, 257,000 kilometres are gravel (built up and formed roads) and the remaining 205,000 kilometres are dirt.
According to the site Nationmaster, Australia has 42.88 kilometres of roads per 1,000 people, fourth highest in the world and second of major nations, just behind Canada. That per capita amount is almost double both the USA and New Zealand.
Meanwhile our vehicles per kilometre of road, 17, is at the lowest end of the scale for developed nations.
In other words, once you get out of our cities, we have more kilometres of quiet gravel and dirt roads than just about anywhere else on the planet.
Sure, a lot of these are in our remote centre, north and west, but there are plenty of quiet gravel roads within an easily accessible radius of all of our capital cities waiting to be ridden.
Unlike mountain biking, where trails and parks need to be purpose built and maintained for mountain bikers, this vast network of gravel and dirt roads is already built and maintained for motor vehicle traffic.
Although it’s not completely traffic free like mountain bike trails, it’s quite common to ride for long stretches of gravel roads without seeing a single motor vehicle. That’s a strong attraction for cyclists.
Pre-covid, gravel bike events were growing in popularity, so dealers can reasonably expect that once things get back to ‘normal’ there will be plenty of ongoing demand for gravel bikes.
Another great aspect of gravel bikes for dealers is that it’s a new category of bike that you can sell to your existing customers who may have already bought one or more road or mountain bikes from you in the past.
Touring and Adventure Bikes
Traditional touring bikes with racks and panniers has always been a small niche in Australia. It will continue to have a devoted following, but unlikely to grow rapidly.
Meanwhile adventure cycling, also known as bikepacking, has been another new growth area. It overlaps with gravel bikes but a ‘pure’ adventure bike is designed for cycling across extreme distances and topography. Anything from snow to desert.
This niche is also serving as growth market for steel and titanium tubed frames.
Bikepacking / adventure bikes offer dealers more potential for higher margin accessory sales than just about any other category.
Hybrid, City and Retro Bikes
The descriptions and design subtleties for hybrids, city bikes and retro bikes are somewhat blurred and overlapping.
Retro ladies road bikes with bright colours, low stepover heights, often fitted with baskets and mudguards, still seem as popular as ever since they made their resurgence about a decade ago.
Hybrids remain the go to, ‘bread and butter’ option for any new or general cycling customer not wanting an entry level front suspension mountain bike.
At the time of writing, bikes across this category have been in short supply for six months due to the covid induced surge in demand.
But if any category is influenced by safety, or at least the perception of safety, on our city and suburban roads, this is it.
Therefore post-covid future sales levels depend, at least in part, upon how many of the temporary ‘pop-up bike lanes’ in our cities become permanent, how much new, safe separated infrastructure is built and how many residential and secondary roads have their speed limits reduced.
Read the Latest Adult Bikes Product Features
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Adult Bike Distributors in Australia
The Latz Report YearBook lists any organisation that supplies goods or services to retailers, or interacts with them in some bike industry related way.
For summaries of adult bike distributors in Australia, please follow this link to our Yearbook and use the Search function or Direct to Page option, to find:
- Bikes – Comfort, City and Hybrid on page 76.
- Bikes – Gravel on page 76.
- Bikes – Road on page 77.
- Bikes – Touring on page 77.
- Bikes – Vintage, Retro on page 77.