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The bicycle market: supply chains and global developments require strong networks

National and international bike associations are important points of contact in the cycling scene, which is becoming larger and more demanding worldwide. Industry connections are indispensable in light of the complex challenges in the bicycle market. High-tech products, calls for transparency and sustainability, the issue of global supply chains, and the ups and downs of global crises offer many opportunities that can be taken advantage of through pooled expertise.

The bicycle sector experienced an unparalleled boom in recent years and was simultaneously confronted with unprecedented, new challenges. “In the course of the pandemic, demand for bicycles and accessories increased tremendously. But due to supply constraints, the demand could never be completely met,” says Dominique Roshardt, Category Manager Bike at SPORT 2000 Austria, outlining the exceptional situation since 2020. “In the meantime, production is in full swing again and large quantities are being delivered, so the warehouses are accordingly full.” Industry experts expect that supply and demand will only re-stabilise within the next two years.

Complex supply chains for bicycles
The sports retail sector experienced firsthand how international events affect supply chains, especially in a sector as complex as the bicycle market: “Each bicycle is made up of a few hundred parts, which in turn are composed of multiple components from various suppliers. There are numerous suppliers behind every finished bicycle, which necessitates extensive planning, logistics and organisation,” explains Roshardt. For this reason, the desire to manufacture as much as possible in Europe is understandable.

Brands and prices are the decisive purchasing criteria
Sustainable bicycle production is gaining ground, despite the current situation. But it remains a niche issue that is currently overshadowed by other developments: “As bicycles became scarce, consumers had to resort to available models,” notes Edgar Schorn, Product Manager at SPORT 2000 Austria. And in times of inflation, the personal budget plays a decisive role in purchasing decisions. “Currently, brand preference and price dominate bicycle purchases. However, a development can be observed which shows that companies that produce sustainably are reaching a growing customer segment,” says the product manager. In addition to the sustainable production of bikes and equipment, producers are also fine-tuning other aspects, such as packaging, CO2 reduction and recycling, to make the entire product lifecycle more sustainable.

More transparency along supply chains
There are many uncertainties on the path to sustainable supply chains and production. Reasons given by the SPORT 2000 bicycle experts include prevailing political conditions, technical developments and trends in consumer behaviour. One thing is certain: the planned EU supply chain law states that, in the future, companies will be required to take more responsibility for the protection of human rights and the environment. This means analysing the upstream and downstream processes more closely – from raw material extraction to supplier companies, up to usage and disposal of products. “Even if the EU supply chain law still has potential for improvement, it is an important step in the future of the bicycle market,” says Roshardt.

New consumer behaviour shaping the bicycle industry
The reduced availability of new bicycles has stimulated the used bicycle market. Repair services have also gained in importance, and specialised bicycle dealers with integrated workshops are benefiting from this development. According to Schorn, there will no longer be seasonal or yearly tyres in the future, as a consequence of the developments on the world market: “The models will simply phase out, thereby alleviating the old/new issue. If new innovations hit the market, previous technologies will be replaced.” In light of the fast-paced developments, it is not yet possible to gauge how these innovations, bicycles in general, or their value chain will look in five or ten years.

SPORT 2000 focuses on specialisation and networking
The challenges surrounding supply chains are complex. However, the bicycle market has grown continuously in recent years, and the outlook remains positive. “We are meeting the increased demands and the complexity of the bicycle sector with specialisation and networking within our international specialist dealer community, and within the sector,” says Roshardt. In addition to international exchange, SPORT 2000 Austria is also working on the concept of a bicycle association on the national level, and sees itself as a partner for specialised, Austrian bicycle dealers. “The affiliated specialist dealers benefit from improved purchasing conditions, professional exchange and training, general marketing activities and wide-ranging support,” says Roshardt, capturing the added value of networking in a nutshell. The pooling of expertise is considered a success factor for the future, allowing quicker and more dynamic reactions to changes.

Dominique Roshard – Category Manager Bike- SPORT 2000 Austria

Edgar Schorn -Product Manager – SPORT 2000 Austria


Photo Credits: Daniel Frank (Pexels.com)

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