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2020 bike unit imports up nearly 30% through November

Published January 7, 2021

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Bike imports in the first 11 months of last year were up 29.4% if you count by bike unit, and up 12.2% if you count by the imports' dollar value. In the period, the average import value of a bike fell 13%, from $92 to $80.

The U.S. Department of Commerce released the figures Thursday. They include all bike imports — with the bulk of the units going to mass merchants like Walmart. The numbers do not include e-bikes because e-bikes share an import code with electric motorcycles and other electric cycles, making it difficult to separate them. E-bikes have an average value much higher than other categories, which would pull up the overall average price somewhat if they were included.

The latest figures show the industry imported 15.9 million bikes through November, compared to just 12.3 million bikes in the same period the year prior. That means the industry has already passed the 2019 total of 12.9 million bikes imported (in fact the 2019 total was surpassed in October). 

Comparing the figures to 2019 is somewhat deceptive however because that was a modest year. In 2018, annual total bike imports were 17.2 million; in 2017 they totaled 15.2 million.

Source: US Department of Commerce/BRAIN analysisStill, at the current rate of nearly 2 million bikes imported each month 2020’s total imports will very likely exceed 17 million bikes.

In value, 2020’s bike imports through November totaled $1.3 billion, compared to $1.1 billion in the same period in 2019.

The average bike value decline shown in the figures is probably mostly due to demand for lower-priced models in 2020.  It's worth noting that the import values do not include freight costs or tariffs. Ocean and air freight costs increased dramatically in 2020 and importers say that is one of several factors leading to wholesale and retail price increases.

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