Our Predictions for Bikes in 2023
Each year, we reflect on the world of bikes and look for clues as to where the industry may be headed in the coming year. Many of the current trends and corresponding predictions aren’t new, but rather exciting inflection points that signal growth and expansion. Here are our best bets for bikes and more in 2023:
Prediction 1: The electric bike revolution will continue
By now, it should be clear that electrification is coming for everything – our gas ranges; our home heating systems, our cars, and our bikes. Thankfully! With the spotlight increasingly trained on the destructive effects of dino juice and with the passage of the historic Inflation Reduction Act, we expect the electric bike revolution will continue with more momentum than ever.
This prediction isn’t exactly breaking news: E-bike adoption has been on the rise for quite some time; research shows that e-bikes convert drivers to bicycle riders; and demand is outpacing supply. Denver was forced to place their e-bike rebate program on a temporary hiatus due to overwhelming popularity in the later half of 2022.
So what’s new for e-bikes this year?
- Cities and states will begin to offer rebates, hopefully triggering a national subsidy. We already mentioned Denver’s generous program, but others are following: California shared some key updates on its upcoming $10M electric bike rebate program, including vehicle eligibility, income threshold, and how the money will be spent. Nashville is now also considering a resolution to create an electric bike rebate. And Oregon has a bill in the works.
- Battery safety will increase due to awareness and pressure from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Many in the bike industry are concerned about electric bicycle safety right now, as reports of lithium ion batteries catching fire continue to surface. Thus far, the CPSC has merely requested manufacturers adhere to applicable UL safety standards, but we believe a strict crackdown is coming, similar to their eventual response to hoverboards in 2016.
E-bike charging infrastructure will get better. We’re talking racks with charging capabilities built-in plus convenient and safe spots to take your EV batteries to charge during the work day. As an example of this, a Taiwanese EV moped company partnered with the Indian state of Maharashtra to establish state-wide battery charging and swapping infrastructure.
Prediction 2: Micromobility, Now With Minimobility!
The world of micromobility is expanding rapidly to include a new category of “Little Vehicles.” Minimobility is a class of vehicles one size category above e-bikes, scooters, skateboards, etc. These vehicles generally have three or four wheels; can travel faster; fit one to two people; and may have protection from the elements or serious cargo capabilities. Some communities, like Babcock Ranch in Florida are already integrating minimobility in development plans. Minicars that are allowed to operate in bike lanes and paths have been the norm in some European cities for a while. And one manufacturer is working on a minicar made expressly for commuters, not just those making short around town trips.
To put a number behind this trend, a global McKinsey report found 30 percent of respondents are likely or very likely to consider minimobility in the future. Given all this, we believe minimobility users are people that may not consider micromobility as an option, but would hop on a trike or golf cart because those vehicles offer the comfort, functionality, and stability they are used to when traveling.
Prediction 3: The Bike Boom Will Fade, But Ridership Will Hold Steady
The economics of the bike world are a little topsy turvy right now. First, inflation: The average bike price has risen 26% since 2019 – yikes! But we suspect prices will fall as retailers try to clear out the extra stock they ordered during the pandemic when demand was high, but can’t move now that demand is lower.
According to the NPD Group, “the 2022 market was estimated at $8.03 billion. Compared to an average of 2019, 2020, and 2021 YTD markets ($8.24 billion), 2022 was down 2.6%. [December, 2022] did represent a 10% increase over 2019, the smallest year-over-year growth for any month since the beginning of the pandemic.”
There are other signs the bike boom is waning: Giant recently had to postpone payments to suppliers; Specialized let go of 120 of its employees; and Rad Power Bikes went through another round of layoffs. During Q4 of last year and into Q1 of this year, we saw cutbacks from other industry players, including Zwift, Wahoo, Strava, Pearl Izumi, The Pro’s Closet and Outside. E-bikes will certainly buck this trend.
But, here’s the big caveat: While bike sales were down in 2022 compared to the previous two years, participation grew. According to a recent report by PeopleForBikes, “Thirty-four percent of Americans ages 3+ rode a bicycle at least one day in the past year” and more Americans were riding bikes in 2022 than in any year previously measured. And according to the NPD Group report mentioned above, shops are still servicing bikes at an increased rate, indicating that ridership is still very strong.
Perhaps everyone who wanted a bike got one in the past three years. And now they’re all riding. We’ll leave you with that happy mental image.
Need help bringing bikes to your company? Bikes Make Life Better is dedicated to helping large organizations use bikes for healthy sustainable transportation. We’ve designed and run bike programs for Airbnb, Meta, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Netflix, Salesforce, Stanford University, and many others.