Finns Prefer Either Expensive of Cheaper Bikes
HELSINKI, Finland – In the past years, the Finnish bicycle market showed two parallel developments. The demand for better and more technical bikes is increasing, but on the other hand the market for low-cost bikes is also flourishing. This trend continued in 2015.
According to the latest estimates of market insiders, the total sales of bicycles in 2015 will be the same level as in 2014. The import statistics are only available for January – August showing a small decrease of 2% in volume while local production is estimated to be slightly higher. January till August generally account for 90% of all bicycle sales in Finland. This year the average price of imported bikes increased by 6.8%. The riding season in Finland is very short, from April to September, and the sales depend heavily on the weather conditions in this season. This year it was rainy, windy, and cold in spring and early summer. As a result most retailers reported low consumer traffic and less demand for new bikes.
The bicycle market in Finland 2012 – 2015
Year 2012 2013 2014 2015
Import 268,038 263,169 283,905 238,149*
Production 27,000 34,000 40,000 44,000**
Export 6,495 6,386 9,492 4,721*
Domestic deliveries 288,543 290,812 314,413 315,000**
Import of e-bikes 3,340 1,418 2,192 2,247*
Source: Import statistics, *January-August 2015, **estimate Sporttimyyjä-magazine
In Finland demand for better and more technical bikes has been growing. As a result the average price of hybrids and MTB increases, though the sale of road bikes has been pretty steady. The MTB market is also stimulated by a growing number of events. Cyclocross has been practically non-existent as a sport in Finland, but according to many, the Finnish riding conditions are the best you can get for this category. The bike is at home on asphalt and gravel, on paths, and most important, on the snowy and icy roads. As a result, Cyclocross bike sales are steadily growing.
Quite unusual in Finland was the waiting list this year for fat bikes, thanks to booming demand for this category of bikes. For Finland, fat bikes are not just fashion; the wide tires are comfortable in summer and very practical on snowy roads in winter. Thanks to growing demand for high-end and low-end bikes, the mid-segment is under pressure. The only exception is the Jopo bike by Helkama Velox, which is retailing for €300 – €400. For many years sales of mid-end city bikes has been decisive for bike retailers. As a result of the new market conditions retailers have to upgrade their shops with more high-end bikes and take more a professional approach towards their business.
E-bikes sales still slow
The market for e-bikes is still very low in Finland, accounting for less than 1% of bicycle sales. No one seems to know why e-bike have not appealed to Finnish customers. Perhaps the e-MTB will spark interest among younger riders, especially if e-MTBs generate more publicity and renew the image of the e-bike. The expectations for 2016 are still uncertain however. The retailers have no excess stock and can order new models and show fresh selections in spring. Also the e-MTB can count on more interest by consumers. On the other hand, consumer expenditure is still hampered by a weak economy. Most of them still postpone purchasing a new bike especially when the weather looks unpromising.