By Abny Santicola
We all know the phrase, "It's like riding a bike." And most of us have ridden or ride bikes. But is that all it takes to be considered a cyclist, or is there more?
According to a 2003 sports participation study by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA), the overall bicycle riding population—made up of individuals 7 years of age or older who bike six or more times a year—numbers 36.3 million in the United States. But that's a pretty wide net. A truer representation of the cycling market is a group NSGA refers to as "frequent participants"—those who have biked 110 days or more during the year—which number 5.6 million.
A Fork in the Road
The two most recognized divisions within the cycling market are road biking and mountain biking. There are 2 million frequent participants of off-road mountain biking, according to the NSGA.
The similarities between the two groups can be seen when looking at subscribers of Bicycling and Mountain Bike, two cycling magazines published by Rodale Inc.
Bicycling subscribers are 70.8 percent male, have an average age of 41.7, and an average household income of about $85,237. Likewise, Mountain Bike's audience is 91 percent male, with an average age of 35.7 and an average household income of about $94,000.
Purchasing Power in High Gear
With a majority of cyclists earning in excess of $75,000 and NSGA data that shows total sports spending on cycling equipment in 2002 at more than $4.96 billion, this is a market worth reaching.
According to Bicycling, 94 percent of subscribers buy high-quality products even if they have to spend more; 77 percent buy from companies that support their interests; and 73 percent buy environmentally friendly products.
Thomas Pren, president of International Cycle Works Inc., says cyclists tend to be ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting technology. According to Bicycling, in 2003 its readers spent $434 million on audio equipment and video games, and have spent $686 million on PC systems.