U.S. bicycle imports set a record in January, but data show less expensive sidewalk bicycles captured the majority of the increase at the expense of higher priced road and other bikes sold by independent bike dealers.

Import units of all wheel sizes for the first month of the new-year increased a substantial and record setting 16 percent, or by 192,749 more new bicycles imported during January 2014 compared to January 2013, said Elliot Gluskin, managing partner of the Gluskin Townley Group in making the announcement.

One-Month Year-To-Date U.S.Bicycle Imports: 2014 compared to 2013

Total Units

Total FOB Value US$

Average FOB Unit Value US$

1-Month YTD 2014




1-Month YTD 2013








Variance %




Source: U.S. Department of Commerce Import Statistics and Gluskin Townley Group Analysis

“2013 did not go down as a good year for bicycle imports, so any improvement would be welcome, but January’s record setting total import bicycles for the month was off-set by a drop of 4 percent in total FOB value, driving average FOB unit value down by just over 17 percent,” Gluskin continued.

“The analysis in our Q1 January 2014 U.S. Bicycle Import – Export Report found that over half of the month of January’s record setting unit increase was in HTS 1510, 19-inch wheel and smaller sidewalk bicycles – which are sold primarily by mass merchants and Toys-R-Us, and they also captured 45 percent of the increase in FOB value.

“The conclusion is the U.S. mass merchants and big box toy retailers either replenished depleted inventory or over bought, or some combination of both.


“As we continued to peel back the detail we found a decline in HTS 2500, arguably the most important category of imported bicycles to the U.S. market and business…a decline of over 14,000 units month over month equating to 61 percent of the total unit decline during January 2014 compared to January 2013, and a 44 percent share of the decline in FOB value month over month.”


HTS 2500 includes 700c drop-down and flat-bar road bikes and 27- and 29-inch wheel mountainbikes that are typically sold by independent bicycle dealers at MSRPs of $500 and above.


“Lastly, we found that HTS 3500, 26-inch wheel bicycles had an increase in units imported representing a 19 percent share of the total month of January 2014 record breaking increase over the same month a year ago – but with over a $5 million decline in FOB value month over month representing a 44 percent share of the total decline recorded for the first month of the year.


“The record setting increase during the month of January 2014 over January 2013 was primarily in small sidewalk and juvenile imported bicycles and the decline that the increase masked was in adult bicycles – in HTS 2500 units and value and HTS 3500 value.


“Given that January 2014 imports were on the water the month of December, produced in Asia the month of November and ordered and scheduled in August and September, this is both unusual and signals a potential shift in the market away from HTS 2500 bicycles and a lowering of value, and eventually prices of HTS 2500 and 3500, or adult bicycles in the U.S. market,” Gluskin concluded.