The United States bike industry is in the midst of an unprecedented boom, triggered by the COVID pandemic. Bike sales rose sharply in the spring of 2020, as gyms, yoga studios and other exercise centers shut down and Americans sought outdoor activities like biking, a relatively safe form of exercise. In 2021, the sales surge continued. Estimates suggest retail bike sales are today around 50% higher than 2019 levels, held back by a widespread supply shortage. Indeed, for some bike models, bike manufacturers are quoting unprecedented one to two year lead times.
In this report we look first at the history of the U.S. bike industry to gain some understanding of the forces that led to the decline of the U.S.-based industry. We look at the case of the European Union, which holds an important lesson for the U.S. By protecting its industry against predatory Chinese dumping and supporting European-based production, the EU industry succeeded in maintaining a large locally-based industry, which is now expanding. We also look at the rise of the electric bike which promises to double or triple the size of the U.S. industry. Finally, we look at a strategy to re-shore this industry, which would mean thousand of new U.S. manufacturing jobs, freedom from dependence on China, and economic growth in an industry that is increasingly using advanced technology.
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