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Bicycle sales up 70% in June as e-bikes gain traction

Sales of e-bikes have risen briskly, though they still only represent about one tenth of total sales.

Polkupyöriä parkissa Jyväskylän Asemakadulla.
Commuting by bicycle is gaining popularity in cities such as Jyväskylä. Image: Jarkko Riikonen / Yle

Bicycle sales last month were nearly 70 percent higher than a year earlier, says the Finnish Fashion and Sports Commerce Association.

Sales of both traditional and electric bikes have been high since early this year, says the industry group's CEO, Veli-Matti Kankaanpää.

He says sales were initially perked up by the mild, nearly snowless winter in southern Finland, and then by the coronavirus pandemic, which began to spread in Finland in mid-March.

"The effects of the epidemic on people's everyday lives last spring were the final impetus for many who were already interested in cycling. When people had to start avoiding public transport and at the same time many suddenly had more time than usual to spend outdoors, there were no longer many reasons not to try cycling for commuting or as a pastime hobby, for instance," says Kankaanpää.

As of June, sales for this year were up by about 36 percent higher than during the same period of 2019.

E-biking is here to stay

"These changes will probably be seen for years to come. More interesting than the sales spike is the cultural shift in how many people have discovered cycling and adopted it as part of their everyday lives," Kankaanpää says.

The business lobby says that sales of e-bikes have risen briskly, though they still only represent about one tenth of total sales. However it forecasts that this year's sales may double compared to last year.

Riku-Pekka Mikkonen, head of sales at Finnish bike manufacturer Tunturi-Hellberg, says that this year many people have replaced their second car with a regular or electric bicycle.

"We believe that e-bikes will become more common for commuting in particular. This will get a boost if a possible tax reform is approved whereby bikes could actually be provided as employee benefits," says Mikkonen.

Cycling organisations are pushing for the change, whereby such bikes provided by employers would be free of income tax. That would place them on par with company cars and employer-subsidised mass transit cards.

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