COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Last year, the Danish bicycle market enjoyed a small but important growth in volume. In 2011 the number of bicycle sold went up 1.4%, from 497,876 to 503,966. Although only small, this growth figure could mark a new trend after three years of a declining market. Between 2008 and 2010 the market volume went down by more than 1%.
Contrary to the slow market, Denmark is enjoying a very lively cycling culture. In the past decade Copenhagen evolved as the example for modern urban planners around the world, showing how to get people out of their cars and onto their bikes for commuting and urban transport. But this successful change in mentality by the Danish policymakers has not yet translated into a steady growing market.
Danish Bicycle Market in Units
Source: Danske Cykelhandlere
The main growth segment is, surprisingly MTB. The market share of this category increased from 11% in 2010 to 14% in 2011 (from 54,766 to 70,555 units). This market development might be the result of the growing popularity of external gear systems, although the internal gear hub is still the most popular gear system for the total market. Besides MTB, the road bike also enjoys a growing popularity among consumers although the volumes were not so big as with MTB. The road race market expanded from 54,766 in 2010 to 60,475 in 2011.
The rising market share of MTB and road bikes doesn't mean that the Dane are using them for sports only. Many 'long distance' commuters use their sportive bike for daily transport. The most common type of bikes bought by the Danish are still the classic Dutch style and the city bicycles. While the market share of the city bikes is stable, the classic bikes are facing a declining popularity. Excluding e-bikes, the average price of bicycles sold in Denmark in 2011 was DKK 4,800 or €643, one of the highest levels in Europe.
"Everything is allowed"
A positive aspect of Denmark's cycling culture is the rising trend for bicycles made on demand. People not only want to ride a bike to get from A to B, they want to express themselves. As a cyclist they want to show themselves off in the streets. This results in a rising market for individual bikes with all types of distinctive accessories and colors. "Everything is allowed" means that people specify their bike, preferably a Fixie, with a green frame, orange wheels and a red saddle. On the other hand the color black is still regarded a safe color for your bike and remains very popular among city bikes.
Geographically and market wise the Danish situation looks ideal for e-bikes, although sales volumes are not increasing very rapidly. Even the high retail price for e-bikes doesn't have to be a problem, as the people are already used to paying €643 on average for new bicycle. The total number of e-bikes sold in 2010 amounted to 17,425, growing to 20,158 in 2011 – an increase of 15.6%.
The market share of e-bikes went up a mere 0.5% point from 3.5% in 2010 to 4 % in 2011. According to Thomas Johnsen is Managing Director of the Danish association for bike dealers 'Danske Cykelhandlere' the e-bike still has lots of potential. "A market survey shows that approximately 10% of all adults in Denmark who want to purchase a new bicycle are considering buying an e-bike", says Thomas Johnsen.
Cycleurope's decision to close down its Kildemoes factory in Denmark brought an end to bicycle production in the country. Last year the number of produced bicycles was virtually zero. What's left of Denmark's bicycle production are a few small manufacturers producing for the home market only, such as Cyckelfabrikken in Copenhagen. The decline of Denmark's production started after 2005, when the volume amounted to 143,000 units and ended abruptly in 2010 with nearly 49,000 bicycles. Allof Denmark's bicycle exports consists of transit business only and amounted just 21,000 units in 2011.