Current status and future changes in the Japanese bicycle market

Current status and future changes in the Japanese bicycle market

Japan’s bicycle market is one of the largest in the world.

Japan’s urban environment is suitable for cycling, so bicycles are extremely popular in Japan, and are the main means of transportation for people’s daily commuting, shopping and other trips.

As an important country for bicycle production and sales, Japan has many famous bicycle brands and manufacturers. Who are the top 10 electric bike brands in the world?

However, after a long period of development, the market is gradually approaching saturation, and the size of the Japanese bicycle market is shrinking year by year.

The traditional light bike market is shrinking, but the electric bike market is expanding, and the aging market is gaining momentum due to demographic changes.

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    Japan bicycle market - electric bikes rising rapidly

    Japan’s bicycle market is large, but the market has contracted significantly over the past decade, falling from nearly 10 million sales in 2011 to 7.5 million in 2018, with sales rising during the epidemic.

    But after three years of market rebound there has been a significant decline in 2022, and in 2023 there is still no sign of a rebound.

    Sales of bicycles in Japan, 2011-2023 (thousand units)

    On the contrary, sales of e-bikes have increased year-on-year at a high growth rate, from 468,000 units in 2011 to 1.25 million units in 2021.

    In terms of production, e-bikes have reached nearly 80% of bicycle production, and e-bikes have become a major production segment in the Japanese bicycle market.

    Production of tradition bikes and e-bikes (thousand units)

    Although Japan is a large bicycle country, its bicycle industry is still very dependent on imports, China is the main importer of Japan’s bicycle industry.

    In 2021, Japan’s bicycle imports from the main areas of China, China Taiwan, Indonesia. The main import areas of electric bikes are China, Taiwan,China, Vietnam.

    Import of tradition bikes and e-bikes (thousand units)

    Key consumers - aging market segment growth

    Japan’s e-bike penetration rate is far ahead of the rest of the world. Not only has Japan’s long history of bicycle use made market penetration of electric-assisted products easier.

    But Japan’s aging population has also led to a growing demand for electric-assisted products.

    As seen in the above chart, the age mainstay of the main users of bicycles is roughly in the 50-60 year old range, with people over the age of 50 accounting for more than 50% of the bicycle use base.

    And the elderly have become the main consumer group in the Japanese bicycle market.

    According to statistics, as of September 15, there were 36.23 million elderly people over the age of 65 in Japan, a decrease of 10,000 people compared to the same period last year.

    Penetration rate of electric bicycles in Japan by age

    But according to the National Institute of Social Security and Population Problems of Japan, it is predicted that the number of elderly people in Japan will increase to 39.28 million in 2040, when the generation born during the second peak of Japan’s fertility period (1971 to 1974) will be older than 65, and the percentage of elderly people in the country’s total population will rise to 34.8%.

    As the physical functions of the elderly decline and their mobility decreases, e-assisted products are very friendly to the elderly, saving energy and making them lighter, and people over 60 are the main buyers of electric bikes, with a purchasing ratio of 23.7%.

    Main purchase models

    At present, the Japanese bicycle market is still dominated by light city bikes, which account for 53.3% of purchases.

    Electrically assisted models come in second place with 17.3% of total consumption, and mountain and cross-country models are smaller in the Japanese market.

    There are a lot of vintage markets in Japan, and the second-hand market is mature, so there are a lot of consumers choosing to buy second-hand products as well. How to choose the second hand bikes?

    Main bike purchased

    Purchase price

    The highest average purchase prices for bicycles in Japan are in the 20,000, 100,000, and 70,000 yen ranges, meaning that the largest number of people buy city bikes, electric bikes, and off-road bikes.

    Average purchase price of a bicycle in Japan

    The most popular price point for light bikes is between 10,000-30,000 yen, the largest number of people apparently purchased electric bikes between 50,000-150,000 yen.

    And electric bikes have the highest average price, off-road bike consumers mostly prefer models priced at 30,000-50,000 yen, and toddler bikes tend to be priced at less than 100,000 yen.

    Average purchase price of a bicycle in Japan-2

    Main purpose of purchase

    Shopping, commuting and cycling are the main uses of bicycles in Japan, with women accounting for 74% of users for shopping and 37.8% of users aged 60 or older, and commuters accounting for 37.8% of users aged 50-60.

    In Japan, the number of bicycle stores is large, and most people will first choose a brand-name store, such as Giant, to buy a bicycle, and then choose the nearest store, where service and price are also important factors in attracting consumers. How to find the electric bike shops near me?

    The Japanese bicycle market is still very large and consumer demand is still strong, and consumer demand for bicycles is also evolving.

    The main uses of bicycles in Japan

    The younger generation of consumers is more focused on individuality and fashion, and they tend to buy bicycles with unique designs, while middle-aged and older consumers value the comfort and safety of bicycles.

    China, as a major importer of Japanese bicycles, needs to adjust its export strategy according to the changes in the consumer population and demand in the Japanese bicycle market.

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    Hi, I'm an experienced writer about mechanic and an expert on bike and e-bike tech who appreciates practical, beautifully-engineered things. And of course, I love cycling.
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