The Italian bicycle market gets a renaissance thanks to electric bikes

On the Italian bike market, while volume sales of conventional bikes have fallen by 10% in 2022, those of electric bikes continue to grow. At the same time, local production is reinventing itself and becoming stronger thanks to the manufacture of electric bikes, sparking new interest in the Italian bicycle industry.

The e-bike segment, a performance booster for the entire market

Affected by supply problems like the rest of the European market, the Italian bicycle market saw a 10% drop in volume in 2022, the first since 2020. However, led by electric bikes, the overall value of the market still increased. In fact, between 2019 and 2022, it rose by 52%, reaching sales of 3.2 billion euros in 2022. According to ANCEMA, the Italian association of cycle professionals, the volume of e-bike sales increased by 14% in one year, for a growth of 72% over a 4-year period. As a result, the market share of e-bikes in Italy rose by 4 points between 2021 and 2022, from 15% to 19%. In terms of volume, this represents over 370,000 e-bikes out of a total of 1,772,000 sold.

As throughout Europe, the various e-bike sub-segments are driving this growth. For example, between 2021 and 2022, sales of e-cargo bikes increased by 100%.

E-MTTs: a segment on the rise on the Italian market

The sportive practice of cycling is deeply rooted in Italian heritage, and is reflected in the distribution of sales. In fact, 43% of electric bikes sold in Italy are intended for sporting use and this trend is gaining strength: between 2021 and 2022, the electric mountain bike (E-MTB) sub-segment grew by 30%.

Despite the boom in electric sports bikes, 52% of bikes sold are still city bikes. This category continues to dominate the Italian market. Nevertheless, the rising popularity of electric sport bikes indicates a growing interest in a more popular and accessible way of riding, and is enabling a new public to try out the sport.

All in all, these data underline the importance of sporting activities in Italy, and offer good prospects for the e-bike segment, both for urban use and for outdoor sports and leisure.

E-VTT bike ride

Italy shifts local bike production to e-bikes

With a production forecast of 2,765,000 bicycles by 2022, Italy is the 3rd largest producer of bicycles in Europe. This figure reflects a revival of local production in response to a growing demand for quality bicycles.

The Italian bicycle industry: reinventing itself around the electric bike

bicycle repair

Supported by a growing national demand, the national production of electric bicycles in Italy increased by 10% over the previous year. By 2022, 380,000 e-bikes had been produced in the country. By contrast, production of traditional bicycles fell by 18% compared with 2021.

This trend reflects the change in consumer preferences and the rise in popularity of e-bikes. Italian manufacturers followed this trend, directing their production more towards e-bikes. In 2022, electric bikes accounted for 13% of national production. This proportion increased by 10% in one year and by 78% in 4 years. The Italian bicycle industry has been quick to make the investments needed to meet demand.

Italy’s trade balance reflects trends on the Italian market

A guarantee of quality, “Made in Italy” is what makes Italy a major bicycle exporter. With national references such as Bianchi, De Rosa and Pinarello, the Italian cycle industry has a healthy balance of trade.

Italy produces classic bikes for export

With 1,430,000 classic bicycles exported, almost one in two bicycles produced by the Italian industry is destined for export. This shows that the national market is losing interest. Imports, meanwhile, also fell by 14% in one year, reinforcing our analysis.

Strong national demand for electric bikes

In the e-bike sector, Italian production also stands out, so the trade balance remains in surplus. However, after a boom in exports between 2019 and 2021, domestic demand is such that the pace of exports is slowing slightly, with a 3% drop in one year. Today, 2 out of every 3 electric bicycles produced in Italy are destined for the local market. Italian manufacturers are seeking first and foremost to meet the needs of the local market. As a result, the share of imports is declining as domestic production increases. Between 2021 and 2022, for example, imports rose by just 1%, whereas between 2019 and 2020, when the e-bike trend was emerging, the rate of change in imports was 67%.

Italy, the new supplier of bicycle components?

At the same time, Italy also plays a key role in the international market for quality bicycle parts. The Italian market for bicycle parts is estimated at 600 million euros. As the components crisis has stimulated international demand, almost 90% of this production is destined for export.

Faced with its dynamism, the Italian industry is looking for support from the government, with which it maintains tense relations.

The Italian government, between support and conflict with the bicycle industry

With €3 invested in cycling policy per inhabitant, more than twice the French figure, Italy is one of Europe’s best performers. The Italian government is showing its commitment to developing cycling in the country.

The general bicycle mobility plan: an ambitious project

In 2022, Italy has launched a general plan for cycling mobility, with a planned overall investment of 1.154 billion euros.

This is a three-year program comprising various areas of intervention. Its aim is to guarantee change at urban, regional and national level. Its objectives are to

  • Increase the modal share of cycling by 20% in Italy’s provincial capitals and major cities
  • Increase the density of cycling infrastructure in provincial capitals and metropolitan cities to reach the national average of 32 km per 100 km.
  • Create enclosed parking spaces for at least 30 bicycles and outdoor parking spaces for at least 30 bicycles, for every public building and facility.

In addition to these measures, which are essentially focused on urban planning, the Italian government also wants to introduce legislative measures to make the experience of cyclists safer. These have been poorly received by industry professionals.

Winter city scene. Woman on bike in traffic

Italy: what are the consequences of more restrictive cycling legislation?

Earlier this year, the Italian government announced its intention to revise the highway code and the obligations of cyclists. In this bill, the Italian government is planning to make it compulsory for cyclists to wear helmets, to register bicycles and to take out dedicated insurance. According to the Italian Minister of Transport, the primary aim of these measures is to reduce the number of deaths linked to road accidents.

According to Paola Magri, President of ANCMA, this bill would halt the current market dynamic by discouraging potential cyclists from taking the plunge, and existing cyclists from using their bikes. In contrast to these measures, professionals are calling for a reduction in VAT on bicycles and supply chain products to encourage demand.

In conclusion, despite the 2021 shortage, the Italian bicycle market is enjoying a revival thanks to electric bikes, whose increased share is boosting market value. To support this dynamic, local production is being reinvented and strengthened, with a significant increase in electric bike production. Although destined for the domestic market, Italy retains its reputation for classic bicycles, which has enabled it to achieve a trade surplus.