Now in September, with the biggest road cycling race, the Tour de France, in progress (delayed due to the pandemic from its usual July time period) the business around cycling continues strong.
The U.S. cycling industry witness rocketing sales in April -- up 75% to sales of $1 billion, according The NPD Group. This continued in June, with bike sales 63% higher -- in particular for high-end bikes.
Just a couple of days into NBCSN’s live coverage of the Tour de France has revealed steady -- but nowhere near top-level U.S. sports TV programming -- viewership.
Through four days, the Tour de France is averaging 359,000 viewers -- on NBC and NBCN -- exactly the same number the race averaged for the entire three-week event a year ago.
The 2019 race was up 11% from the previous year -- its highest numbers since 2015.
Sales of bikes with average selling prices above $1,000 had “impressive” growth. Full suspension mountain bikes, 92% higher; gravel bikes rising 144%; and sports-performance road bikes 87% more. The best results: E-bikes, growing 190%.
While all this appears frothy and high-class, there is a connection with toilet paper.
Chad Brown, CFO of Trek, the big U.S. bike manufacturer, told CNBC the rush to buy bikes came right after many stay-at-home orders were instituted: “After everyone bought the toilet paper, they bought kids bikes and then entry-level mountain bikes, and then as the supply started to get tight, it worked its way up.”
For the last several months -- whether you are looking in Target, Walmart or Amazon -- bikes for sale have been scarce. Yet Brown says conditions are improving. “We’re still shipping out tens of thousands of bikes every week, so there are bikes out there.”
Other cycling-related news -- or with referenced to specific cycling terms -- have also seen somewhat related growth.
Peloton, the big at-home video streaming cycling/fitness platform, witness its stock up 9% (to $91.06) on Wednesday. Much of this comes from stock market analyst raising price expectations of $105 a share.
For the year, Peloton’s stock -- also helped by stay-at home orders, and many health-club closings -- is up a giant 220%. And those Peloton bikes -- the ones that can sit in your living and travel nowhere in the real world -- are a mere $2,245.
At the same time, a number of would-be cycling/fitness streaming companies -- Zwift, Echelon, and others — are growing.
With the pandemic still lurking, perhaps with high expectations of it returning this fall/winter, look for customers -- and businesses -- to do more than just spinning their wheels.