2019 - how the US bike industry fared

Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
In a word, not good on a lot of fronts, despite continued excitement in the world of ebikes.


The article is an interesting look back with some perspective on the industry. This includes ebikes by the way, on import numbers.

The quote that stands out...
”This shows 2019 was not just the worst year for imports in 10 years, it was the worst year for imports in the present era of our industry."

It's humbling for those who have been in the industry for years. It's probably humbled a lot who have been in and then out for whatever reason.

There are a lot of newcomers to the industry via 'E-Bikes.' (I'm one of those. 5 year anniversary was in March)

It's also interesting that one of the most successful and longest running ebike only operations, run by Sam Townsend, got out of the business and sold it in the past few months. Super successful ebike store from what I observed. Being in a warm climate, with year round riding, and on the west coast where ebikes have been adopted a lot sooner than other parts of the country, sure didn't hurt success there. Timing is everything though, as is location. The ebike industry is likely to continue growing, and the rest of the bike business likely to continue its decades long decline here in the US.

2020 will be a significant test for all though, and will probably make the 2019 imports drop look tame.

Ricks take on how he breaks up the era's and now being on era 3.0 per his definition is one way to look at it all, and try to absorb it. Most consumers could probably care less, but the audience for their website is dealers themselves. If it doesn't interest you just ignore it. If you disagree with it, and are not a dealer in the business, please also ignore it.
 

steve marino

Active Member
Where I live, especially in these virus times, bike riding, both pedal and electric, is going through the roof. Bike shops are busy as beavers with repairs and sales. If there is a problem in eBike sales, it's due to the industry overpricing the bikes like crazy. Not everyone can afford, or is even interested, in $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 and up bikes that will need an expensive battery not far down the line. People want low cost, reliable eBikes. My $600 Ancheer will do almost everything a bike costing 4 or 5 times will do, so where's the value in paying lots more and getting not much for it? The market will determine the sales, it's always going to be about demand and supply working together in any business model.

I don't buy my bikes from a brick and mortar bike dealership, it's a lot cheaper and easier to buy them online and have them shipped to my place. Believe me, I've looked at new bikes in bike stores and talked to the shop workers, and 90% of the bikes are overpriced, and the sales and mechanical staff do not have a clue about selling or servicing eBikes. It's scary how uninformed they are.

When I was a dealership mechanic for Toyota, Fiat, Mazda, Alfa Romeo etc, we were highly trained professionals who had vast resources behind us. Your average fix it guy is more capable of fixing an eBike than the people I talk with in the bike shops. This is also killing eBike sales. You have to be trained and knowledgeable about the products you sell and service, or people will stop coming to you. So what is happening with declining sales IN DEALERSHIPS, not necessarily in world wide sales, is a necessary shaking out process of getting rid of the problem shops, and retaining the ones who make it their business to offer professional and knowledgeable sales and service.
 
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Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
I would question that report's credentials. Where I live, especially in these virus times, bike riding, both pedal and electric, is going through the roof. Bike shops are busy as beavers with repairs and sales. If there is a problem in eBike sales, it's due to the industry overpricing the bikes like crazy. Not everyone can afford, or is even interested, in $2,000 and up bikes that will need an expensive battery not far down the line. People want low cost, reliable eBikes. My $600 Ancheer will do almost everything a bike costing 4 or 5 times will do, so where's the value in paying lots more and getting not much for it? The market will determine the sales, it's always going to be about demand and supply working together in any business model.

I don't buy my bikes from a brick and mortar bike dealership, it's a lot cheaper and easier to buy them online and have them shipped to my place. Believe me, I've looked at new bikes in bike stores and talked to the shop workers, and 90% of the bikes are overpriced, and the sales and mechanical staff do not have a clue about eBbikes. It's scary how uninformed they are.

When I was a dealership mechanic for Toyota, Fiat, Mazda, Alfa Romeo etc, we were highly trained professionals that had vast resources behind us. My average fix it guy is more capable of fixing an eBike than who I talked with in the bike shops. This is also killing bike shop eBike sales. You have to be trained and knowledgeable about the products that you sell and service or people will go elsewhere.

BRAIN did a survey just very recently of all bike shops. Only 25% report an increase in sales, service during this Covid 19 outbreak period. 22% are seeing revenues less than 50 of normal, and 21% are closed. Thats a whopping 43% not doing well at all. 32% are doing revenues 50 to 100% of normal. (meaning less than 100%). My take is for regular bike shops the activity is a very short lived blip on additional service, where people are pulling out, old seldom used bikes out of their garage, and spending enough to get them working ok. I've seen a lot of this myself at my own shop. Once lockdown is over, they'll (regular bikes) will resume their position in the garage rafters or basements.
Ebikes are doing well in certain pockets, but its likely demand being pulled forward, (with also many purchases being deferred due to economic uncertainty of job layoffs, and also fear by many over 60 who simply do not want to risk going to stores, and not willing to risk buying on line). Those thinking of ebikes now do have more time to pull the trigger, if they arent scared of physically going to shops, and some also may be using the stimulus checks as their 'justification' to push them over the top and get one. But most of those aforementioned were already thinking about getting one. (anecdotally, many of my recent buyers mention they have been considering an ebike for the past 1 or 2 years, which is typically what I hear in a normal year). Ebikes will maintain their regular sales pace growth outside of this virus event. A lot of ebike OEM players will miss out, or already have, bc they just didnt have enough inventory at the right time, and got caught by some big time delays from China (loads of deliveries which would have come right after Chinese new years, got completely cancelled or delayed by more than 60 days), and many ebike OEMS are still being impacted right now, and for the next 3 to 4 months at least. Entire regions in China were shutdown for more than 75 days. That included the areas where most ebikes are made. If ebike dealers had a good inventory before this Covid 19 started back in January, then they are likely doing fine. Even if social distancing in some form continues, longer than the lockdowns, I dont think its going to help the regular bike industry much at all. What will really harm the industry this year at least, is a major decrease overall in consumer discretional spending, particular the more than 17 million layed off, a big chunk of which could become permanent. With an expected up to 30 million layoffs before the dust settles on the economic fall out. This is per Goldman Sachs estimates, JP Morgan, and other big macro economists.

On your comment "You have to be trained and knowledgeable about the products that you sell and service or people will go elsewhere."

Very true.
 
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AlanDB

Well-Known Member
I guess everyone has an opinion on whether paying the extra price to buy an ebike from the LBS instead of buying online is worth it. If you have mechanical skills, have invested in the necessary tools, have an adequate space to do your own repair/maintenance and enjoy doing it, then I can see the attraction of buying online and saving some money.

In my case, I don't fit those criteria so spending the extra money to buy from and get service from my LBS is well worth it. I feel lucky that I have two local shops in my area that sell and service quality ebikes. They have both been in business for many years and both have knowledgeable sales staff and qualified service tech's.

In full disclosure, I did buy one of my 3 ebikes online (an Evelo Compass eTrike for my wife) because it had features I wanted that were not on the brands sold at my LBS. Fortunately Evelo contacted my LBS and they agreed to assemble it and do the initial setup/adjustments. I am hoping they will also service it when the time comes.
 
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erider_61

Well-Known Member
Not everyone can afford, or is even interested, in $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 and up bikes that will need an expensive battery not far down the line. People want low cost, reliable eBikes. My $600 Ancheer will do almost everything a bike costing 4 or 5 times will do, so where's the value in paying lots more and getting not much for it?


I have to disagree on this line of thought....I paid $2,200 CDN for my Voltbike Bravo last August after doing almost a years research on this forum.

The Bravo compared to the Ancheer is apples to oranges. The Bravo is 48 Volt vs 36 Volt. It has hydraulic brakes...fork lockout and preload. A higher Ah battery for longer range and in general a higher level of components in every aspect.

Yes they both go from A to B but the Ancheer is lacking in so many respects in terms of what I wanted as a commuter...trail bike.

Reading the specs I lost interest quickly and not even sure if it came with rear battery integrated light, fenders and rear rack.

A 3rd of the value of my ebike is tied up in the battery for sure...but it should last almost 3 yrs. Every time I ride I drop a $ in a jar so I should have some coin left over when replacement time comes.

Considering I no longer have a car...the savings already made in 2,400 km are leaning me towards an even higher end ebike next purchase.
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
In a word, not good on a lot of fronts, despite continued excitement in the world of ebikes.
The article is an interesting look back with some perspective on the industry. This includes ebikes by the way, on import numbers.
The quote that stands out...”This shows 2019 was not just the worst year for imports in 10 years, it was the worst year for imports in the present era of our industry."
It's humbling for those who have been in the industry for years. It's probably humbled a lot who have been in and then out for whatever reason.
There are a lot of newcomers to the industry via 'E-Bikes.' (I'm one of those. 5 year anniversary was in March)
It's also interesting that one of the most successful and longest running ebike only operations, run by Sam Townsend, got out of the business and sold it in the past few months. Super successful ebike store from what I observed. Being in a warm climate, with year round riding, and on the west coast where ebikes have been adopted a lot sooner than other parts of the country, sure didn't hurt success there. Timing is everything though, as is location. The ebike industry is likely to continue growing, and the rest of the bike business likely to continue its decades long decline here in the US.

2020 will be a significant test for all though, and will probably make the 2019 imports drop look tame.

Ricks take on how he breaks up the era's and now being on era 3.0 per his definition is one way to look at it all, and try to absorb it. Most consumers could probably care less, but the audience for their website is dealers themselves. If it doesn't interest you just ignore it. If you disagree with it, and are not a dealer in the business, please also ignore it.

Thanks for sharing the trade article... very interesting to see the market trends over the last 40 years.
The data shows that 2019 was the worst year since the beginning of the mountain bike era forty years ago.
I remember the first bike boom of the 70s... What is your prediction for recovery following the 2020 Pandemic?


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harryS

Well-Known Member
Another month of lockdown and I think too many people will be out of money, much less looking to buy toys. However, in the town where I live and where Mikes Ebikes is now located, 33% of the households make too much $$$ for a stimulus check, so that bodes well for them. If anyone asks me about ebikes, I'll send them over.

When I didn't understand what an ebike was, I drove 200 miles to Crazy Lennys, rode a few, and bought one. Then I saw how simple they were, and started converting my old ones. It's not for most people, but I like hearing the clang of a wrench falling on the garage floor on a hot summer day.

It's easy to upgrade bike components. That Suntour XCM suspension fork with lockout is only a $70 component and I can get air shocks for $120. Shimano hydraulic disks are $79, but you have to glue on electric switches. Every bike needs a better seat. Can't beat a $5 walmart bell though.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
In a word, not good on a lot of fronts, despite continued excitement in the world of ebikes.


The article is an interesting look back with some perspective on the industry. This includes ebikes by the way, on import numbers.

The quote that stands out...
”This shows 2019 was not just the worst year for imports in 10 years, it was the worst year for imports in the present era of our industry."

It's humbling for those who have been in the industry for years. It's probably humbled a lot who have been in and then out for whatever reason.

There are a lot of newcomers to the industry via 'E-Bikes.' (I'm one of those. 5 year anniversary was in March)

It's also interesting that one of the most successful and longest running ebike only operations, run by Sam Townsend, got out of the business and sold it in the past few months. Super successful ebike store from what I observed. Being in a warm climate, with year round riding, and on the west coast where ebikes have been adopted a lot sooner than other parts of the country, sure didn't hurt success there. Timing is everything though, as is location. The ebike industry is likely to continue growing, and the rest of the bike business likely to continue its decades long decline here in the US.

2020 will be a significant test for all though, and will probably make the 2019 imports drop look tame.

Ricks take on how he breaks up the era's and now being on era 3.0 per his definition is one way to look at it all, and try to absorb it. Most consumers could probably care less, but the audience for their website is dealers themselves. If it doesn't interest you just ignore it. If you disagree with it, and are not a dealer in the business, please also ignore it.
Have you already posted a follow up in all your freetime Post Covid Mike?
 

Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
There is no 'freetime' really. only time I choose to select to visit here. I will however, decrease hours from my 'Covid season' run of many 14 to 18 hour days, as that just is not sustainable, nor healthy. I have a other engagements outside of ebikes, that I am active in as well, so really no 'rest for the wicked' as they say. When you are passionate about what you are doing, it doesn't quite 'feel' as much like work, but I do find I have to be careful as you can still suffer 'burn out' even when you are passionate about your livelihood. Sometimes just breaking away, and checking out whats here on the forum, or posting can be a bit of a stress reliever.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
There is no 'freetime' really. only time I choose to select to visit here. I will however, decrease hours from my 'Covid season' run of many 14 to 18 hour days, as that just is not sustainable, nor healthy. I have a other engagements outside of ebikes, that I am active in as well, so really no 'rest for the wicked' as they say. When you are passionate about what you are doing, it doesn't quite 'feel' as much like work, but I do find I have to be careful as you can still suffer 'burn out' even when you are passionate about your livelihood. Sometimes just breaking away, and checking out whats here on the forum, or posting can be a bit of a stress reliever.
Yep. That's what I meant when I found this old thread... "freetime" in quotes. You probably can't stop to breath, I'm guessing. Appreciate your posts on the business side of these "interesting" times b/c not all high tech markets make economic sense, and your belief came through in your posts before Covid.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
I am not a dealer nor a prospect nor in the industry BTW. I am a new rider watching this new industry ... wow ...
 

Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
BRAIN always has some interesting industry-side perspectives like this....


This year has been interesting from a competitive standpoint as I've had a lot of guys that I know are owners of bike shop's who are competitors, set up apmts pretending to be prospective customers, trying to uncover what my 'formula' is. They are fairly easy to spot, so I play along. (acting naive as all get out too ;) - thats the fun part). That said, There are so many shops around here that are in serious decline, and basically barely hanging on by a thread. You can immediately tell, by the staff morale, or pretty dusty inventory, except this year when everything sold if it had 2 wheels and pedals. 5 years ago when I started, I figured I'd have tons of ebike competition in only a couple to maybe 3 years tops. That was baked into my business plan as far as preparing. Thus far, I was way off, as there is only one other ebike only, shop here in our 10+ million resident, 7 county chicago metro area. And the regular bike shops, are still mostly either not carrying ebikes, or basically just 'dabbling' in it, except for the Erik's chain of stores, which is brand new in Chicago. (HQ in MN.) Its odd bc every category of bikes is in decline, and has been for years, yet they still either don't want to embrace or 'chance' taking on ebikes, or maybe they think its a short lived fad soon to die out like other bike fads have. I don't know what they could be thinking. This season though, a few completely ran out of regular bikes, found they could not get more until 2021, and as I discovered from a couple of my customers, some of those same shops FINALLY decided to try ebikes,since apparently that's all they could get for any kind of bike. Man, what a stressful way to operate any business, and pretty much at the whim of the markets, and in a knee-jerk reactionary posture. Covid is no doubt going to shake out some of these shops, even if those shops managed to get some ebikes in and sold them. And if they are counting on a new secular bike 'boom' to carry them past 2020 and rescue them in 2021 and beyond, where they suspect many more people now having begun 'biking' again will keep at it, bc they were in essence forced to do something since they could not go to gyms, or whatever the 'covid' cause, that notion could make it even dicier for them, because there is just no underlying and permanent sustainability to the motivation for biking. Old habits die real hard, and people who largely have not been biking for the past 2 decades, but for the first time in years jumped back on here in 2020, and somehow re-discovered the novelty of it, could very very easily revert back to their prior (often sedentary) ways, especially once society at large gets either used to wearing masks, 'social distancing'. Or they figure its going to be just like the flu, sticking around year in and year out, and has every year for decades, or maybe they hope an EFFECTIVE vaccine does get developed, then these already borderline shops sort of banking on a new 'boom' to develop and carry them through without a real plan for their product mix, or other market strategy, could find themselves in an even worse world of hurt if this new biking 'boom' doesn't pan out, and even end up with too much inventory or too many of the wrong brands, or with no real commitment to high capital intensive ebikes, mess that up too. As the Chinese saying 'may you live interesting times' is sometimes offered up in a dubious manner, ironically the Chinese certainly gave the US 'interesting times' (whether accidentally or intentionally) in spades actually, here in 2020.
 
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Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
According to Specialized executive vice president Bob Margevicius, we can expect another 12–18 months of product shortages before the supply chain can provide on-demand availability of bicycles.

"There were 82,000 bikes (23,000 e-bikes and 62,000 traditional bikes) on hand on August 1 of this year," he told me. "Last year, same time, there were 597,000 on hand (31,000 e-bikes and 566,000 traditional)." That's an 86% year-over-year inventory drop versus 2019, which remember, already had the lowest inventory levels on record.

(the above facts or 'fear' is what is going to drive many ebike dealer owner buying decisions going on now, and into early 2021. Nobody wants to be caught short of inventory like this past year, and the election adds a double-whammy on uncertainty. So count on supply side shortages to exist at the component build level, where so many are going to try to meet dealer demand, before the consumers resume buying in early spring next year. So with competition FIERCE for parts, getting factory space, and every ebike brand wanting more from their chinese factory sources, availability could be very spotty with some having all kinds of ebikes on dealers floors, but many absolutely struggling to get product to their dealers, which means no guarantee that shops in any specific geography will be sufficiently stocked up by even May or June next season. Even if consumer demand drops from 2020 levels, there could very likely be many shortages occurring in random brands, where consumers once again find it hard to get access to new bikes or ebikes going well into 2021).
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
"May You Live in Interesting Times" has the sign for danger plus the sign for opportunity in the I Ching. It is a curse in Old China IIRC. ;)
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Not Chicago but Miami area. Interesting to see how the 1% lives.
Interesting history... they could use a few EBikes on the island. ;)

...half of the residents are over 60, making them particularly vulnerable for COVID-19.
The island has always been a place for the 1% to get away, ever since it was formed in 1906, when a canal was dredged so boats could go from the Port of Miami straight to the ocean.