Mountain bike sales are soaring worldwide. The latest figures show bicycle sales of 15-20 million units in the United States alone – and mountain bikes sales were the most popular category. Other studies indicate the value of the global mountain bike industry will reach nearly US$7 billion by 2024. So what is it about rough terrains, rocky outcrops, and hilly roads that attracts so many people to tackle them on their mountain bikes? Why exactly are mountain bike sales soaring?
Why are Mountain Bikes Gaining Popularity?
Exercising in Nature
The growing popularity of mountain bikes has been put down to a number of factors. These include the increased buying power of many enthusiasts in places such as Australia, India, and South Korea. The opportunities opened up by mountain biking have also been cited as a reason for their growth in sales. The robust nature of the bikes and their heavy, thick tyres means they can tackle landscapes as diverse as valleys, mountains, and glaciers.
For a truly refreshing and rejuvenating experience, nothing beats exercising outside in nature. “Green exercise” has long been directly linked to improved physical and mental health. In fact, studies point towards the positive effects on self-esteem and general overall mood. Add a touch of adrenaline and adventurous exploring, and it is no wonder that demand is growing for mountain bikes. What better way to get out and exercise in nature?
Transportation in Difficult Terrains
Increasingly too, mountain bikes are being called on to play a part in transportation. For example, they provide great transport in small towns blighted by potholed roads after years of under-investment.
The Health Benefits of Cycling
Cycling in general has many health benefits. Scientific studies draw strong links between cycling and the prevention of diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure, cancer, and obesity.
Mountain Bikes Can Promote Mental Health
Cycling is also beneficial for mental health wellbeing, especially for working people. Many modern workers are in a persistent “fight or flight” mode that is not healthy for anyone in the long run.
Using mountain bikes for therapeutic purposes is also catching on. NHS Scotland has launched a pilot program for those suffering from mental ill health. The idea is that mountain biking in peaceful, isolated, and picturesque landscapes in the Scottish countryside helps people recover by learning techniques such as mindfulness. Similarly in the United States, millions of Americans placed cycling second in their list of preferred sports for tackling mental ill health.
In addition, professional mountain bike racers are often subject to intense strain on their mental health, due to the competitive nature of their field. Mental health resilience and the ability to remain calm under pressure are hallmarks of many mountain bike racers. Moreover, this stretches beyond the professional field. The challenging, unpredictable nature of mountain bike terrains encourages flexible thinking and quick decision-making under pressure.
New Innovations in Mountain Bikes
As with many outdoor pursuits, technology is a major driving force of the increased possibilities in mountain bike riding. This includes improvements to geometry to enable a smoother and more balanced ride, as well as the advent of electric mountain bikes – which make mountain biking possible for an even wider range of people.
There have been significant advances in the power and durability of mountain bikes, equipping mountain bikes for increasingly challenging and rough terrains. Over the years, mountain bikes have become faster and more manoeuvrable.
The Changing Image of Mountain Bikes
Improved style and aesthetics are attracting a new generation of mountain bikers. Mountain bikes have traditionally been associated with rugged masculinity – but not anymore. It is true that surveys still show a gender imbalance in the mountain bike market. However, this situation is changing. There are now many notable female mountain bikers, including many who are active on social media.
Improved Cycling Infrastructure
As more people from urban areas take to cycling, more separate cycle lanes are being built to meet their needs. This in turn has led to increased interest in other forms of cycling, such as mountain biking and rougher cycling over more challenging tracks and terrains. Now, more people can safely ride their bike to nearby off-road tracks.
Mountain biking has great implications for the environment, as mountain bikes cause zero pollution. Mountain bike riding is often a viable alternative for commuting. Commuting by bike offers big financial savings on fuel costs, car insurance, and general maintenance and repairs. And the impact on local health systems around the world cannot be discounted either. The average cost of obesity and sedentary lifestyles is calculated to be in the billions each year. Regular bike commuting could make a big difference to these numbers.
In short, mountain bikes offer an ideal way to get out and enhance your physical and mental health in nature. And also improve the world. And now, mountain bikes are better than ever, and offer choices for a huge variety of people. No wonder mountain bike sales are soaring!
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