In 2022, around 47.8 percent of newly sold bicycles in Japan were city bicycles in various configurations. The second most popular category by sales was sports bicycles, including cross bikes, road bikes, and mountain bikes. What explains the success of each bicycle type?
City bikes: Mommy’s favorite
City bicycles, commonly known in Japan as mamachari (literally “mommy bikes”), refer to a range of general utility bicycles, which are popular among homemakers, the elderly, and students - commuting to school or running daily errands. Typically, they have a step-through frame, where the top-tube and down-tube are either straight (‘staggered frame’) or slightly bent (‘double-loop frame’). The frame designs and the sparse technical features underline the user-friendly, affordable characteristic of a bicycle made for the masses. Most of the sold city bikes cost only between 10 to 30 thousand Japanese yen. Despite its great popularity, other types made up some ground in recent years.
Bikes for power - bikes with power
The second and third most popular bicycle type by new sales were sports bicycles and pedal electric cycles (pedelecs). Both categories have increased their shares over the last couple of years. While 14.7 percent of adult men and 8.9 percent of adult women stated to cycle as a physical exercise at the end of 2021, while in 2016, only 10.3 and 7.3 percent respectively were actively pursuing this sport, indicating an increased interest. Compared to customers of city bikes, this group was willing to pay a little extra. Rather than a sports trend, the popularity of pedelecs, on the other hand, is explainable by their market niche. Since most models are city bikes equipped with a pedal supporting engine and a rechargeable battery, pedelecs combine versatility, reasonableness, and power. Pedelecs typically had a price ranging between 70 and 150 thousand Japanese yen. These attributes make them an attractive substitute in everyday life for conventional motorized bicycles, which are more expensive, heavier, and have higher maintenance costs.
Distribution of new bicycles sold in Japan in 2022, by type
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JBPI. (May 17, 2023). Distribution of new bicycles sold in Japan in 2022, by type [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1212560/japan-new-bicycle-sales-volume-share-by-type/
JBPI. "Distribution of new bicycles sold in Japan in 2022, by type." Chart. May 17, 2023. Statista. Accessed September 29, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1212560/japan-new-bicycle-sales-volume-share-by-type/
JBPI. (2023). Distribution of new bicycles sold in Japan in 2022, by type. Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: September 29, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1212560/japan-new-bicycle-sales-volume-share-by-type/
JBPI. "Distribution of New Bicycles Sold in Japan in 2022, by Type." Statista, Statista Inc., 17 May 2023, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1212560/japan-new-bicycle-sales-volume-share-by-type/
JBPI, Distribution of new bicycles sold in Japan in 2022, by type Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1212560/japan-new-bicycle-sales-volume-share-by-type/ (last visited September 29, 2023)
Distribution of new bicycles sold in Japan in 2022, by type [Graph], JBPI, May 17, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1212560/japan-new-bicycle-sales-volume-share-by-type/