BIKE sales are expected to reach a record high this year, buoyed by the exploits of Olympic cyclists such as Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton.
The UK market will grow to a new high of £700 million this year – or £2m every day – and could reach £800m in four years, analysts Mintel predict.
They said cyclists were also buying more expensive bikes, with the average price paid increasing by more than 40 per cent in the last five years.
A further boost could be provided by the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, with the public able to try out its Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, which opens this October.
Mintel said the rosy outlook followed a dip in total sales last year, from £698m to £650m, which it attributed to oversupply and discounting.
Senior analyst Michael Oliver said: “Although the UK market for bicycles contracted slightly in both value and volume terms in 2011, the longer-term prospects are very positive.
“With obesity rates rising among both adults and children, there is clearly a political and financial imperative to encouraging greater physical activity, and cycling is a relatively inexpensive way of doing this.
“Role models in the Olympics mean there is now an almost unrivalled opportunity to try to stimulate cycling participation, but it needs some central funding and co-ordination.”
Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign, said improvements such as cycle lanes had helped boost cycling rates in Edinburgh to 7 per cent – three times the Scottish average.
Lead organiser Dave du Feu said: “Leisure and sport may be the case for cycling in UK terms, but we suspect utility use, such as commuting and shopping, is growing rapidly in Edinburgh.”
However, Richard Dowsett, owner of Leith Cycle Co in Edinburgh, said: “There is more of a buzz about cycling than there has been in the past and it may well be more people take to it than last year. But when everyone remains guarded about their spending, I cannot see more going on bikes.”
Scottish Government-funded umbrella body Cycling Scotland said: “There’s a real momentum behind cycling now from the growing ranks of people turning to bikes for everyday journeys.”