Russia’s Cycling Market Not Recovered from Ruble Devaluation
MOSCOW, Russia – Despite its population of 143 million people, Russia’s bicycle business is still small and humble. However the market has a potential to expand. This proved the Velo-park show that took place last February.
The Russian bicycle market has changed dramatically in the past few years. Due to major devaluations of the Russian ruble people interested in buying a new bike walk around bicycle shows armed with a calculator these days, instead of just waving their credit cards like they did in the past. As consumers are more price-orientated today, Chinese made products attract more attention on the Russian market.
Russia’s eastern neighbor China closely watches these market development and offers products hitting this consumers category. For example the folding bike brand Jaunty, showed next to well-known Strada or Brompton, attracted a lot of attention. For sure consumers looking for bike gadgets could be interested in Uomi Smart portable electric pumps but not many people in Russia are prepared to pay 100 euro plus for the possibility to set the tyre pressure fully automatically by simply pressing a button.
Obviously Russia still has a group of people who don’t care about prices at all. They are the sweetest target group and companies like Specialized are preparing for a better-customized approach of these of bike enthusiasts. A Yeti dealer said they were still surprised by the high demand for expensive full suspension bikes.
E-bikes present at show not on streets
Russia’s leading e-bike brands Eltreco and OxyVolt were clearly present at Velo-park. The latter company had set up their booth around its first electric motorcycle that took part in this year’s Africa Eco Race which runs from Morocco to Senegal. For its e-bikes OxyVolt uses an in-house developed controller and firmware. Haibike was also present with its own displays while several other brands were spotted occasionally on bike shop booths.
Limited e-bike volumes
Although the presence of e-bikes was evident, the market volumes are still limited and e-bikes have yet to appear as a major trend in the streets. Dealers who attended the show pointed out that the e-bike sales are growing, but you would hardly notice one in action on the Russian streets. This is partly due to the lack of safe storages in apartment buildings and offices. A number of non-guarded parking facilities are installed, but there are no charging stations.
Also in Russia’s cities electric bikes could be a convenient mean of transportation for the people in wealthier neighborhood. The growing restrictions for car users might also result in a growing number of e-bikes in the streets. For example Moscow is pushing the excess number of cars out of the streets by introducing toll parking downtown but also in more distant districts.
Shift to new show venue
Velo-park, Russia’s leading bike show moved this year from the upscale Crokus Expo outside Moscow to the historic park of Sokolniki near the city centre. Last autumn Velo-park had to face the new competitor Bike-Expo who had chosen Sokolniki park successfully for its first edition. Compared with Velo-park in Crokus their rates for exhibitors were much lower. The main question was how it would affect Velo-park? Apparently the autumn show has geared up for presenting bike products and services in spring as well and Velo-park flourished this year.
The main hall of Sokolniki park was fully booked. Along with large and flashy presentations, there were numerous participants in tiny booths. Noticeably absent were the two leading names in Russia’s bike business – Velomotors and Forward bikes. Together both companies represent approximately fifty percent of all bikes assembled in Russia. Shimano appeared to be one of the few exhibitors taking part in every Velo-park show since it started 13 years ago. Obviously the organizers struggled renting the second adjacent hall.
SKS and Decathlon
Despite a shift to smaller sized companies compared with previous editions of Velo-park, the business program was lively. Several components makers like German SKS presented their new models, large retailers like Decathlon met with their suppliers and workshops were organized in the presentation area.
For the first time exhibitors in Russia had the option to choose between two shows, Bike-Expo in autumn and Velo-park in winter. Both exhibitions are popular among visitors. Especially the foreign exhibitors prefer a more B2B approach but bike business is done differently in Russia. Yet they point out the number of useful contacts made during the show and long-time participants stressed that the competition between Bike-Expo and Velo-park took down the costs considerably.