WASHINGTON, DC (BRAIN)—Usually by the time November rolls around suppliers have brought in well over 17 million bikes. But overly optimistic imports two years ago, coupled with poor sell-through last year, slowed down the bike business 22 percent from 2010.
Hardest hit are imports of kids' bikes destined for the mass market. Sidewalk bikes, those with wheel sizes under 20 inches, are off 27 percent compared with last year and imports are at their lowest level since 2002.
Imports of 20-inch bikes are harder hit, down 32 percent from 2010, and lower than they have been in more than 10 years, with only 3.5 million units brought in. For comparison, the average number of 20-inch bikes imported by suppliers over the last eight years through November is 4.7 million.
The only category to show growth is 700c bikes, up 12 percent. Since 29er, hybrids and road bikes all sport 700c wheels, strong growth in the 29er market probably accounts for most of this growth. The popularity of 29er mountain bikes partly explains the 18 percent drop in 26-inch imports.