According to the mobility federation Traxio, E-bikes now account for more than half of bikes sold in Belgium, with a 51.2% share. This doesn’t quite equate with a rise in cycling in Belgium. Actually, bicycle sales decreased by 12.9% compared to the top year of 2022. Still, more than 600,000 bikes were sold in Belgium in 2023, which is higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic. If my arithmetic is correct, that means that 5.2% of the population of Belgium purchased a new bike in 2023.
Velofollies attracts thousands of cycling enthusiasts
The popularity of cycling in Belgium is also reflected by the success of Velofollies, the largest bicycle fair in the country and the second-largest in Europe (after Eurobike in Frankfurt). The 16th edition of Velofollies took place in Kortrijk 19-21 January and attracted almost 40,000 visitors. The fair showcased the latest trends and innovations in the cycling industry, from e-bikes and longtail bikes to racing bikes and everything in between.
E-bikes dominate the commuting segment
One of the main reasons for the rapid growth of e-bikes in recent years is their increasing importance in commuting in Belgium. More and more people are choosing e-bikes as a convenient and eco-friendly alternative to cars, especially in urban areas. The growth of the network of cycling highways in Belgium is definitely supporting this trend. E-bikes also appeal to older and less fit cyclists, who can enjoy cycling without too much effort.
Also big in the sporty segment
But e-bikes are not only popular among commuters and leisure cyclists. They are also gaining ground in the sporty segment, as evidenced by the Traxio figures. In 2023, 8154 electric racing bicycles were sold, almost double the number of 2022 (4697). Electric racing bikes offer the advantage of speed and performance, while also allowing the rider to adjust the level of assistance according to their needs and preferences.
Longtails: the new trend in cargo bikes
Another interesting trend in the Belgian bicycle market is the growing popularity of longtails. These are bikes that have a longer rear rack than normal bikes, which can accommodate up to two children or other cargo. Longtails are a more compact and agile alternative to cargo bikes, which are often bulky and heavy. They also have the option of adding an electric motor, making them even more versatile and practical. Longtail bicycles almost doubled in sales in 2023, reaching 6328 units.
Mountain and gravel bikes
We’re not talking about e-bikes here, but I thought it interesting that sales of mountain bikes in Belgium fell sharply: 54,096 units were sold in 2023, compared with 88,943 in 2022. One reason seems to be that cyclists are increasingly opting for a gravel bike, which is a mix of a classic road bike and an off-road mountain bike. Last year, 19,225 gravel bikes were sold, compared to 17,664 in 2022.
I must admit that one of those 19,225 gravel bikes was bought by me! In October I became the proud owner of a Trek Dual Sport 3 which I purchased from my local bike shop. I love the bike. Weather permitting, I take it out every morning for my pre-breakfast wake-up 12 km ride. I’m bucking the trend as it’s not an e-bike. If I had to commute to work I’d get an e-bike, but for exercise and to maintain good health I am perfectly happy (for the moment) relying solely on muscle power.
Mind you, if any Belgian e-bike manufacturer would like me to test and review one of their bikes, I would be very interested!