Industry Needs To Draw More Amateur Competitors To Achieve Long-Term Sports Bike Growth
In 2016, Japan’s bicycle industry has run into a serious slowdown. The sports bike market, which manufacturers are hoping to cultivate in combination with electric power-assist bikes to offset lethargy in light cycles, currently stands at around 600,000 bikes, but is expected to eventually reach 1 million bikes.Looking at the growing enthusiasm for amateur races, cycling events and other events taking place all around the country, it appears that the base of the industry is steadily growing. In actuality, however, many bicycle stores have found themselves holding surplus inventory starting from sometime in the latter half of last year, and some have begun selling major brands at giveaway prices. In July, when 2017 models began coming out, we spoke with manufacturers, agents and retail stores about the situation in the sports bike market.Unfortunately, we got back very little that was encouraging.
Has the Yowamushi Pedal boom come to an end?
Has the Yowamushi Pedal boom come to an end? The popularity of the animated f ilm called “Yowamushi Pedal” was not something that was engineered by the bicycle industry, and as a result, no one expected that it would continue over the long term. The Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred in 2011 generated an unusual surge in bicycle demand that kept companies busy producing and selling their products in 2012. That led to a glut of inventory, but stocks were gradually whittled down through a long period of subsequent adjustment. The popularity of the “Yowamushi Pedal” film also played a role in alleviating the surplus, and helped drive a wider range of variations in sports bikes. A number of people who bought entrylevel bikes at that point later went on to upgrade, with a resulting upturn in sales of high-end models, accessories, clothing and other items.
It turned out, however, that the market was not as straightforward as it first appeared. Makers had assumed
that more first-time sports bike buyers would go on to upgrade to higher-level bikes, but for the last few
years, that has not been happening; rather, many of the newcomers to sports bikes have either stopped riding, or have stayed at the level of urban cycling.
Moreover, the economy has been less than thriving, and there has been a strong tendency for people to hold
back from spending money. With all of these factors coming together, the sports bike market is clearly ending
up in an oversupply situation in 2016. Ultimately, the balance between supply and demand has been lost,
resulting in fiercer competition among manufacturers. Stores have begun selling 2016 models of major brands at
sharp discounts early on and taking other steps to dispose of inventory, creating additional turmoil on the market.