Import Data – May 2023 Update


The global bicycle industry has experienced significant fluctuations in recent times, with imports being a key indicator of market trends. In this blog post, we will delve into the latest import figures, focusing on traditional bikes and electric bikes. Although disruptions to supply chains have somewhat skewed the comparison data, the numbers still provide valuable insights into the current state of the industry.

Traditional Bike Imports on the Rise:

Over the past month, imports of traditional bikes have seen a notable surge, increasing by 26% month-over-month (MoM) and an impressive 38% year-over-year (YoY). These figures may appear substantial at first glance, but it’s important to consider the backdrop of recent disruptions in supply chains, which have affected the availability of traditional bikes. As a result, the comparison data should be viewed with caution.

Understanding the Distortions:

Supply chain disruptions caused by various factors, such as the waning global pandemic and trade restrictions, have created challenges for the bicycle industry. These disruptions have led to inconsistencies in manufacturing, shipping, and distribution processes. Therefore, while the increased import numbers are positive for traditional bikes, they must be interpreted in light of the distorted comparison data resulting from the recent industry upheavals.

Electric Bike Imports Experience a Dip:

In contrast to the upward trend seen in traditional bike imports, electric bike imports have experienced a decline. Import figures show a decrease of 16% MoM and approximately 22% YoY. This decline has resulted in the lowest monthly import number for electric bikes since April 2020. Consequently, the proportion of electric bike imports relative to traditional bike imports has fallen to 10.4%.

Factors Influencing Electric Bike Imports:

Several factors may have contributed to the recent decline in electric bike imports. Firstly, the disruptions in global supply chains have impacted the availability of components necessary for manufacturing electric bikes, leading to production delays and reduced imports. Additionally, market saturation may have played a role in dampening demand growth for electric bikes. In response, brands may be adjusting their inventories to revised projections.


The import trends in the bicycle industry provide valuable insights into the current state of the market. While traditional bike imports have seen a significant increase, it is crucial to consider the distortions caused by disruptions to supply chains. On the other hand, the decline in electric bike imports can be attributed to a combination of supply chain challenges, changing consumer economic sentiment, and potential temporary market saturation. As the industry continues to navigate these challenges, it is essential for businesses and consumers alike to stay informed and adapt to the evolving dynamics of the bicycle market.

MonthElectricTraditionalElectric Import Share
Jan 202350,560179,67822.0%
Feb 202346,132205,90718.3%
Mar 202335,999195,36815.6%
Apr 202337,656216,02814.8%
May 202331,613272,57610.4%

Bike Inventories in 2023

As we enter the fifth month of 2023, it’s evident that this year continues to be far from ordinary due to the ongoing pandemic-induced challenges. While wholesale inventories continued to climb into 2023 , traditional retail inventories have remained stagnant. Analyzing the import data from Bills of Lading, we have observed a slowdown in bicycle imports since late 2022, but unfortunately, it hasn’t been sufficient to prevent the accumulation of wholesale inventories mentioned earlier.

Taking all this into account, we now have a reasonably clear picture of how inventory moves into the US market before purchase. However, there appears to be a bottleneck in the flow of inventory from retail to consumers. Several factors are likely contributing to this bottleneck:

  • Broad economic pressures, such as high interest rates, debates over the government debt ceiling, and a record-high consumer credit card debt.
  • The pandemic has caused a surge in buying, resulting in accelerated purchases from 2023 being pushed back to 2020-2022.
  • Intense competition and low purchasing power are leading to a constricted market for used bike sales. Consequently, consumers who prioritize selling their existing bikes before buying new ones are facing reduced liquidity.
  • There is also a surplus of second-hand trade-in partners, such as Pro’s Closet and Bicycle Blue Book, which further adds to the inventory buildup.

By addressing these factors, we can gain a better understanding of the challenges impacting the inventory flow from retail to consumers in the current market.

Used Bike Listings

For quite some time, we have been diligently monitoring used bicycle marketplaces. Recently, we have redoubled our efforts to assess the exact extent to which these sales channels contribute to the overall bicycle sales system. However, our findings have been inconsistent across various marketplaces.


Craigslist has established itself as a longstanding and relatively informal marketplace for the sale of used products. When comparing the first half of 2022 to the year-to-date figures of 2023, we can observe a similar trend. There has been a consistently noticeable decrease of approximately 16% in the average number of daily listings on the platform.

This decline in average daily listings on Craigslist implies a potential shift in consumer behavior or market dynamics. It could indicate a decreased supply of used bicycles available for sale on the platform, which might be attributed to various factors. One possibility is that more people are holding onto their bicycles due to the ongoing pandemic, limiting the availability of second-hand options. Another factor could be the rise of alternative platforms or channels that offer a more streamlined and user-friendly experience for buying and selling used bicycles.

These findings on Craigslist underscore the need for a comprehensive analysis across multiple marketplaces to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current state of the used bicycle market. By exploring different platforms and their respective trends, we can paint a clearer picture of how consumer behavior and market dynamics are evolving in the realm of used bicycle sales.


A striking departure from the gradual decline observed on Craigslist is the remarkable surge in listings on Pinkbike, a popular platform renowned for its focus on enthusiast mountain bikes. Beginning in early 2023, the volume of listings on Pinkbike experienced a substantial explosion, showcasing a significant deviation from the trend seen on other marketplaces.

The surge in Pinkbike listings can likely be attributed to two distinct parties vying for attention within the platform. Firstly, there are the passionate enthusiasts who are eager to sell their existing bikes, possibly to take advantage of retail discounts or upgrade to newer models. These individuals recognize the appeal of Pinkbike’s target audience, consisting of fellow enthusiasts who share their passion for mountain biking.

Secondly, retailers have also recognized the potential of Pinkbike as an effective advertising channel to address their stagnant inventory concerns. By leveraging Pinkbike’s dedicated user base, these retailers hope to generate increased interest and sales for their stock. Utilizing the platform as a promotional outlet allows them to target a niche market segment that aligns with their offerings, thereby maximizing their chances of finding motivated buyers.

The contrast between the decline witnessed on Craigslist and the surge observed on Pinkbike highlights the nuanced dynamics at play in the used bicycle marketplace. It underscores the importance of understanding the unique characteristics and preferences of different platforms to gain a comprehensive overview of the overall market landscape. By considering the motivations and strategies of both individual sellers and retailers, we can better grasp the evolving trends within the Pinkbike marketplace and the impact it has on the wider used bicycle sales ecosystem.

“Trade-In” Aggregators

In the past decade, there has been a notable rise in bicycle liquidity facilitated by enterprises such as The Pro’s Closet and Bicycle Blue Book. These organizations play a crucial role in the ecosystem by purchasing used bikes through trade-in partner retailers. The liquidity generated from these transactions helps consumers in acquiring new bikes from retail establishments. However, it’s important to recognize that these businesses are not impervious to the economic challenges faced by the wider market.

Taking a closer look at the chart provided, we can observe the inventory trends of both The Pro’s Closet and Bicycle Blue Book. Interestingly, neither of these entities is experiencing a significant increase in their inventories. In fact, The Pro’s Closet seems to be actively focused on reducing their stock. This could be indicative of several factors at play, such as the impact of market conditions and the need to manage their inventory levels efficiently.

The chart provides insights into the average daily inventory listed on various public-facing platforms. It allows us to gauge the overall availability of bikes through these key market players. By examining this data, we can gain a better understanding of the current state of inventory in the used bicycle market and how it is being managed by prominent businesses like The Pro’s Closet and Bicycle Blue Book.

Considering the role these organizations play in facilitating the trade of used bicycles and the implications of their inventory trends, it becomes increasingly important to monitor their activities and assess their influence on the broader market. By doing so, we can make informed decisions and predictions about the availability and liquidity of used bicycles in the industry.

  • The disparities found in the datasets mentioned above are indicative of the variability in the availability of underlying data. Addressing this issue could be a potential area of focus for future development, as it would enhance the accuracy and reliability of our analyses.
  • Upway, a relatively new player in the trade-in market, has recently emerged with a distinct emphasis on low mileage electric bikes. As a consequence, their current inventory in the United States is somewhat constrained. However, this unique market positioning presents an opportunity for Upway to leverage the existing market conditions to their advantage. With the current state of the market, they may capitalize on the opportunity to acquire lightly used bikes at more favorable valuations. This strategic move allows them to build up their inventory of desirable electric bikes, catering to the growing demand in this particular segment.


Examining the dynamics of the used bicycle market reveals a complex landscape influenced by various factors. The analysis of different platforms and marketplaces provides valuable insights into the trends and challenges impacting the industry.

While traditional platforms like Craigslist have experienced a consistent decline in daily listings, Pinkbike has witnessed a surge in volume, likely driven by both passionate enthusiasts and retailers aiming to capitalize on the platform’s dedicated user base. This divergence emphasizes the importance of understanding platform-specific dynamics when assessing the overall market.

Furthermore, the role of businesses like The Pro’s Closet and Bicycle Blue Book in enhancing bicycle liquidity cannot be understated. These entities have played a significant role in facilitating the trade of used bikes, offering consumers an avenue to acquire new bikes while reducing inventory levels. However, their inventory trends, as seen in the provided chart, indicate the need for effective inventory management amid the market’s economic challenges.

Moreover, emerging players like Upway, focusing on low mileage electric bikes, have entered the trade-in market. Although their current US inventory is relatively limited, they can leverage the market conditions to acquire lightly used bikes at favorable valuations, positioning themselves strategically within the growing demand for electric bikes.

Overall, analyzing these various aspects of the used bicycle market highlights the importance of comprehensive data analysis, platform-specific insights, and adaptability to navigate the evolving landscape. By understanding the interplay between consumer behavior, market dynamics, and the strategies of key market players, industry stakeholders can make informed decisions to address challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities. As the market continues to evolve, it remains crucial to monitor and adapt to the changing trends and developments in order to thrive in the dynamic world of used bicycle sales.

US Import Data- What are bills of Lading?

This post marks the beginning of our monthly report series, where we break down US container ship imports using Bills of Lading (BOL) data. Our primary objective is to provide electric bike import data, which has been lacking in public discourse due to inconsistent use of the proper Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes. But before we delve into the methodology, let’s whet your appetite with a chart showcasing electric and traditional bike imports since 2019.

Initially, the volume of traditional bicycle imports dwarfs that of electric bikes. However, when we examine the import share of units, a trend begins to emerge. The unit share of electric bikes follows a seasonal pattern and is trending upward. The latest peaks in late 2022, reaching 30%, are somewhat surprising but may be slightly misleading, as they coincide with a substantial decline in traditional bike imports in the fourth quarter of 2022. To gain a grounded perspective, it’s important to pay attention to the longer-term trend. Electric bike imports are increasing as a proportion of the overall inflows and are likely to continue doing so in the foreseeable future.

Where does this data come from?

All importers of goods are required to fill out bills of lading (BOL), which document the imported items and the applicable Harmonized System (HS) codes. These bills of lading are consolidated by a vessel into a shipping manifest, which must be transmitted to US officials at least 24 hours prior to loading on the vessel. This shipping manifest data serves as our primary source of information on US imports. Once the shipment arrives in the US, a tariff invoice is compiled for each specific item in the shipment. This invoice is what informs the US ITC Dataweb Service.

However, there are some challenges associated with this data. Firstly, the HS code is not the same as the US government’s HTS codes, and only one code per shipment needs to be applied, even if it is a blended container. As a result, sometimes the codes will be for entirely unrelated products. Secondly, value declarations are not provided with the BOL.

Isn’t this data public?

While this data is technically in the public domain, it is not as readily available as the aggregate invoice data released by the government. US officials make import data available through three methods:
1. Direct sharing with specific partner companies such as S&P Global (Panjiva)
2. Aggregate statistics released through the USITC website.
3. Freedom of Information Act requests.

Is the data accurate?

When we talk about accuracy, we refer to the repeatability of a result. Since we use the same dataset and model for each report, the resulting data is accurate. Even as we adjust the model, we will do so retroactively, ensuring that subsequent posts reflect the newly adjusted figures.

However, it’s important to note that these numbers are NOT precise. For example, the estimated 151,349 bikes delivered in January 2019 is very likely not the exact figure. This discrepancy arises from how this data is loaded into BOL databases. Undercounting may occur when bikes are grouped into larger quantity units, such as pallets or larger boxes, which is particularly common with small balance bikes or children’s bikes. On the other hand, overcounting of units may occur when a bicycle shipment is blended with other items that may not all appear in the “product description” field of the BOL data.

Should we trust this data? Absolutely. It serves as an indicator that was previously unavailable, contributing to a better understanding of emerging trends. Just as with visitors to a brands website, this is just one of many indicators that should be used to inform our perspective.

Where do we go from here?

We aim to establish Bicycle Market Research as a consistent source of this import data by providing aggregate-level information for free on our website. We analyze this data using a model that is still in development. As both the data and model are updated, we will continue to post refined data.

MonthElectricTraditionalElectric Import Share
Jan 20198,975151,3495.6%
Feb 201910,614192,4955.2%
Mar 20197,858133,2345.6%
Apr 20199,303105,7968.1%
May 201913,342178,7776.9%
Jun 201917,021112,52913.1%
Jul 201924,014146,73714.1%
Aug 201923,901143,95914.2%
Sep 201923,251120,16116.2%
Oct 201929,786163,96215.4%
Nov 201922,048142,41413.4%
Dec 201919,676163,13010.8%
Jan 202015,933149,9809.6%
Feb 202012,884124,7149.4%
Mar 20208,72298,6818.1%
Apr 202012,993172,3927.0%
May 202035,511168,87317.4%
Jun 202044,204222,64016.6%
Jul 202063,851311,75617.0%
Aug 202056,629270,86617.3%
Sep 202063,771208,31623.4%
Oct 202048,653251,09216.2%
Nov 202052,477225,83418.9%
Dec 202049,628252,89716.4%
Jan 202133,391277,01810.8%
Feb 202134,277220,58113.4%
Mar 202133,964194,36014.9%
Apr 202141,673223,21015.7%
May 202178,362206,68127.5%
Jun 202149,302246,03116.7%
Jul 202148,316237,92816.9%
Aug 202145,223229,82516.4%
Sep 202153,616199,89221.1%
Oct 202149,844224,81718.1%
Nov 202138,542293,82211.6%
Dec 202138,124290,61911.6%
Jan 202236,290279,83111.5%
Feb 202231,821292,9039.8%
Mar 202247,851229,20917.3%
Apr 202239,750214,29815.6%
May 202240,436197,27817.0%
Jun 202252,056160,55824.5%
Jul 202257,028192,00622.9%
Aug 202270,319182,81827.8%
Sep 202278,600208,27727.4%
Oct 202269,302143,17732.6%
Nov 202250,447144,34125.9%
Dec 202259,252124,03732.3%
Jan 202350,560179,67822.0%
Feb 202346,132205,90718.3%
Mar 202335,999195,36815.6%
Apr 202337,656216,02814.8%