Poles Buy More Bicycles
WARSAW, Poland – According to the Polish Bicycle Association, Poles bought 992,000 bikes in 2012; almost a quarter of a million more compared to 2009, which was an exceptionally slow year for bicycles. According to Kross, the biggest Polish bike manufacturer, after some years of stagnation the Polish bicycle market is starting to move again.
Currently average bicycle ownership in Europe stands at about 46 bicycles per 100 inhabitants. For bike crazy countries like Denmark the number is 96. For Holland – 79. Germany stands at 53, but Poland comes in at a low 22 bikes per 100 inhabitants. This leaves a lot to do, with plenty of possibilities for growth.
Polish Bike Market 2012 (in units)
Source: Polish Bicycle Association, Giant Polska
More bikes than cars
For the first time in history more bicycles than cars were sold in Poland in 2012. Despite this fact, there’s still a long way to improve sales. The Polish bike market holds a market share of about 4% in the total European bicycle market. In 2011 Poland took the 7th place in the sales ranking where Germany holds the top position with 4.1 million units; the UK 2nd with 3.6 million; France 3rd with 3.2 million followed by Italy and the Netherlands.
According to Dariusz Budny, sales manager of Kross, the biggest Polish bike manufacturer, after some years of stagnation the Polish bicycle market is starting to move again. There is growth in both in quantity, as in the prices of the bikes sold while stocks are reduced.
Production, export, import
According to the Polish Bicycle Association, every 10th new bicycle in Europe is made in Poland. The country exported 514,336 units in 2012 for an average value of € 128.
Last year about 900,000 bikes were produced in Poland which is a relatively low figures compared to the production in other EU countries; Italy 2.3 million and Germany 2.2 million.
Poland imported 430,080 bikes. Average value per imported unit stood at € 102, according to the bicycle association.
Electric bicycles are not very popular in Poland. The ones that are for sale at supermarkets are heavy and have weak batteries. E-bikes that offer more advanced batteries and more reliable drive systems are way too expensive for the average Polish buyer. However, regular, non-electrified bikes sold by Giant Polska are sold for prices up to three times the market average. It proves that well-established brands sell.
Growing popularity of city bikes
A recent market survey showed that 9.3% of the Polish public claimed that the bicycle is their main transport mode (in Holland this stands at 31% and in Denmark at 19%).
Leading Polish manufacturers and importers are increasing their city bike offering as the share in total bike sales of this category is growing and stands currently at about 15%. A couple of years ago city bikes made less than 6% of the market and the leading seller was the typical ‘naked’ semi-mountain bike. Nowadays city bikes make 35 – 45% of the total bike production, and still growing. Currently buyers start to understand that a stretched riding position, lack of mudguards, of luggage carrier, and lights is limiting the use of the bike seriously. All this contributes to declining sales of sports bikes.
Recently Arkus & Romet Group (42% share on the domestic market) clocked a sales increase of about 20%. Now city bikes make approximately 35 – 45% of the company’s production, which is expected to grow further.
“City bikes now make up 68% of our sales, including export,” said Grażyna Moskal, sales manager of Arkus & Romet Group. He added, “A couple of years ago production and sales of city bikes took 6.25% of whole Polish market. It now could reach 21%.”
“City bikes are the fastest growing sector of the market,” said Jan Zasada, president of Polish Bicycle Association and president of Zasada Group, a company specializing in the production of city bikes.
Next to regular dealers or retail chains, city bikes are bought at shops that import used bikes from Holland; from Dutch bike shops and workshops. They also buy the Dutch city bikes at Police auctions. In fact, some of those bikes look, like they were parked for years and years on some bridge in Amsterdam and coped with lots of winters. But Polish students love them…
Education by sharing
The popularity of the Warsaw’ public bike share system plays a big role in the switch from sports to city bikes and “utility cycling” education. Bicycle users – the ones afraid to commute with their bikes, (How to lock it? Where to park?) started to cycle. And when they discover the limits of the heavy, 3-speed public bikes, some of them returned to their own bikes again.
On the other hand, the owner of the Warsaw public bike system wants to educate users and have them take an example to the commuters that use their own bicycles. Public bike users are like the Red Army – they do not care about losses as they can swap bikes faster, than car owners can repaint their bodywork…
Warsaw’s Popular Public Bike System
In August 2012 a public bike system in Poland’s Capital Warsaw started with 55 docking stations and 1,000 bicycles. Currently there are 2,600 bikes for hire at 160 docking stations. The first one millionth hiring was recorded last June. Bikes are hired on average 4-5 times each day and each bike covers nearly 2 kilometer. Current daily hiring record stands at 14.978. Nearly 80% of all hiring is for the free-of-charge first 20 minutes. The next 40 minutes costs only one Polish zloty (€ 0.25). The next (2nd) hour the rental fee rises to 3 zloty (€ 0.75).