E-bikes boost the business in Finland

HELSINKI, Finland – The e-bike and bicycle boom in Finland which started during the pandemic continued into 2022. The market is still expanding in terms of market volumes, retailer turnover and average retail prices. According to industry insiders the current market developments show a sustainable change in consumer behaviour.
The e-bike now represents more than 45% of Finland's bicycle market. - Photo Järvenpään Fillarihuolto

The import figures in Finland for January up to and including August give a clear picture of the market. Those 8 months include some 80% of the annual import while local production has been on the same level for some years now. The statistics show that between January and August the bicycle and e-bike imports volumes combined decreased by 7% while the average value hiked by 25%. As a result, the total market value increased by almost 20% this year compared to the 2021 figures. In a matured market a growth in value is remarkable.

There is a growing demand for more sophisticated and high-end bicycles

Growing popularity of commuting

A part of the increase in the total value is based on higher freight costs, inflation and currency fluctuations. But more important are the changes in consumer behavior, which had an even bigger impact on the market value increase. A growing demand for more sophisticated and high-end bicycles is one of the main reasons for this rising average retail price. Finland sees a growing popularity of commuting and consumers tend to spend more money on quality. The more sportive riders are still interested in technical innovations and new features.

The strongest push to the business came from the growing demand for e-bikes. The number of imported e-bikes almost doubled in January-August 2022 compared with the same period in 2021. Although the sales volume of e-bikes is still much smaller than regular bicycles, the e-bike already holds a market share of 46.7% in value.

Market growth despite supply constraints

The pandemic still plays an essential role in the growth of e-bike and bicycle sales. Many commuters who chose to start cycle 2 years ago are still riding their daily trips on a bike. On top of that, the fuel prices have gone through the roof this year. They were exceptionally expensive in spring months March-June, when most bikes are usually bought in Finland. The e-bike has even lowered the bar to start cycling even more.

Finnish local authorities have a strong supportive program for cycling. More and more bikeways are being constructed making cycling safer and more comfortable. Already a few years ago, the national government introduced a bike-to-work –scheme and an increasing number of people benefit from this program. The statistics show that employees participating in the bike-to-work scheme tend to choose a higher priced bicycle than the average customer, which gave the total market value another boost. While both demand and the forecasts are favorable in Finland, the supply is short and regarded unreliable. Distributors and retailers continuously report about delivery problems and shortages. There are bikes available on the market, but not brands, models, sizes or colors the consumer is asking for, while availability is difficult to forecast.

Changing market conditions in Finland

In Finland the bicycle trade has flourished in last three years despite the supply chain problems. However, fluctuations in demand during the year makes it very difficult for retailers to plan their inventory. Also, the change in model years worries many of them. Finland still has a substantial demand for single speed and hub-geared everyday bikes, often used for commuting to schools, work and shops. However, people who cycle on a daily basis now tend to spend more money on additional gears, equipment and a better riding performance.

MTBs are still a best seller in Finland. They are very practical on all roads and terrains, and important for Finland, safe and efficient when riding in the snow in winter. Mountain bike serves the youngsters in everyday riding. Since a few years, the gravel bike has been a big hit and has taken a substantial market share from the MTBs and road bikes. Mountain bikers have found the gravel bike as a light-weight and fast alternative to MTBs and road bikes, whereas they want to ride on forest roads and paths too. The gravel bikes are very practical in winter too and that is a strong argument in Finland.

Electric means money

The real boost in the Finnish bicycle trade comes from e-bike this year. The sales volume increased by more than 30% to 58,000 units from 38,000 e-bikes in 2021. The trekking e-bike appeals most to consumers, who want a reliable and reasonably priced bike for daily use.

E-MTBs are also popular and the retailers are facing ongoing difficulties to fulfill demand. The most sought-after models retail for about €4,000 but many customers easily pay thousands of euros more for an appealing model. The electrification has helped people to cycle more easily in Finland’s road and climate conditions.

Even fat bikes are now a common sight in the Finnish holiday resorts, especially in the winter. With an e-fatbike tourists can go to places they could not reach before. The market of cargo bikes is still small, but also in Finland it is regarded as highly potential. The rapid growth of the e-bike market also comes with the introduction of new and unknown brands, traders and retailers. They are often already in business with other products but want to benefit from the booming e-bike market.