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Bicycles have undoubtedly become an essential part of our daily lives. They continue to revolutionise transport systems, providing an environmentally friendly and sustainable way to travel.
However, have you ever wondered where your two-wheeled wonder comes from? In this article, we’ll explore the world of bicycle manufacturing, looking at global production broadly and some individual brands specifically, to see where and how they’re made.
Understanding the trends in bicycle production is a key part of creating our sustainable future, and so, with a little help, we can help to choose bikes that aren’t just good for us, but for the planet as well.
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Where Are Most Bikes Made in the World?
In terms of bicycle production, there are certain countries that dominate the global market. China, by far, is the largest producer of bicycles in the world. It’s estimated that of the 100 million bicycles produced each year, China produces around 75%.
Of the 76.4 million bicycles produced by China in 2021 (1.5% more than in 2020), 69.23 million of those were exported. Incidentally, they also produced 45.51 million e-bikes in the same year, representing a 10.3% increase on the year before.
Other significant manufacturing hubs include India, Taiwan, and Europe.
One European country is ready to give China some stiff competition, though. Of the 13.5 million non-motorized bicycles produced in Europe in 2021, nearly 3 million of those were produced in Portugal, accounting for around 20% of the EU’s total production.
To fully understand the origin of bicycles, it’s essential to differentiate between the different aspects of ‘making’ a bike, such as design, manufacturing and assembly. We can simplify the process as such:
- Design involves conceptualising and engineering the bike’s major components, as well as its overall functionality.
- Manufacturers turn these designs into physical parts, constructing and to a certain extent assembling them.
- The assembly stage involves putting these different components together, at least until the point of sale.
When we talk about where bicycles are made, we really mean to say where they are manufactured. It’s common to see bicycles that are designed, manufactured and assembled in three different countries.
In fact, manufacturing can also take place in multiple places. Premium frames, for examples, are often produced in Taiwan, but other parts may be produced in other countries if there’s a specialised workforce to do so.
Usually, it’s the manufacturing stage which is outsourced (to China, Taiwan) in order to save costs amongst other reasons. But are there any bicycles still made outside of Asia?
Are Any Bicycles Made in the USA?
Contrary to popular belief, bicycles are still manufactured in the USA. Whilst the majority of bike production takes place in Asia, several notable American companies continue to manufacture bicycles domestically.
However, manufacturing bicycles in the US is not common. In fact, around 99% of the bicycles sold in the United States are imported from China and Taiwan. Whilst popular US-based manufacturers like Trek or Specialized may design and/or assemble domestically, manufacturing is almost always done elsewhere.
Where Are Bikes Made in USA?
A number of prominent bike brands manufacture their bikes in the USA. Here’s a list of a few:
Some of the bikes manufactured in the USA include:
- Allied: Carbon Fibre road and gravel bikes made in Little Rock, Arkansas.
- Guerrilla: Revved Carbon mountain bikes made in Denver, Colorado.
- Moots Cycles: Road, gravel and mountain bikes made in Steam Springs, Colorado.
- Squid Bikes: Track and BMX bikes made in California.
- Detroit Bikes: Commuter bikes, majority of which are made in Detroit, Michigan.
There are of course many American bicycle brands, but the number that manufacture domestically is slim. The ones that do are generally considered to be premium brands.
It’s also important to note that while bikes are still manufactured across the country, it’s difficult to ascertain to what extent they are manufactured domestically. That’s so say, whether it’s just the wheels, or, the whole bicycle. Brands are not always as transparent with this as one might expect.
Are Any Bicycles Made in Europe?
Europe also plays a significant part in bicycle manufacturing. Behind Asia, it’s the continent that produces the most bicycles. Cycling is extremely popular in some parts of Europe, such as the Netherlands and Germany, so it’s good to see some brands also choose to manufacture there.
In 2021, just under 13.5 million bikes were produced in Europe, from Bosnia and Herzegovina all the way to Portugal. There are also a number of e-bikes produced in Europe. In Germany, for example, 1.3 million e-bikes were produced there in 2020.
Where Are Bikes Made in Europe?
Within Europe, the country that produces the most bicycles is Portugal. In 2021, they produced 2.9 million bicycles. Italy and Germany come in a close 2nd and 3rd, having produced 1.8 million and 1.4 million bikes respectively.
Whilst many brands claim to make bikes in Europe, surprisingly few brands actually manufacture them there. Some of the brands to produce bicycles in Europe are:
- Órbita: Bikes, electric bikes, folding bikes etc. Based in Águeda, Portugal.
- Avantisbike: Bicycle factory located in Aveiro, Portugal.
- Cube: Premium MTB, road, trekking and commuting bikes. Based in Waldershof, Germany.
- Avenue: Mixture of bikes, produced by parent company HF Christiansen in Randers, Denmark.
- Koga: Wide range of bikes produced in Heerenveen, The Netherlands.
Unfortunately, many brands aren’t necessarily transparent about where their bicycles are made. Whilst some may claim to be ‘built by hand’, this could really mean that they are assembled by hand, rather than the pieces being manufactured there. There is, regrettably, little that can be done to avoid this.
Are Any Bicycles Made in the UK?
There’s fortunately a great number of bikes made in the UK. Given the UK’s rich design and manufacturing heritage, it’s little surprise that there are a number of brands that choose to produce there.
Whilst we couldn’t find any comprehensive statistics on the number of bicycles made in the UK per year, there are a number of very well known brands, such as Brompton and Hummingbird, who continue to manufacture in the UK.
Where Are Bikes Made in the UK?
Bikes are made across the UK. Here’s a list of some of the famous UK manufactured bike brands:
- Volt: Electric bicycles designed in London and manufactured in Milton Keynes.
- Brompton: Folding bikes designed and manufactured in London.
- Hummingbird: Lightweight folding bikes made in Milton Keynes (and assembled in Banbury).
- Enigma Bikes: Titanium and steel road, gravel and mountain bikes made in Sussex, England.
- Swarf Cycles: Carbon and steel bikes made in Peebles, Scotland.
Unsurprisingly, bikes manufactured in the UK do tend to carry a premium price tag. It’s also unclear whether all the components of the e-bikes ‘manufactured’ in the UK are are actually made in the UK. It’s possible that they’re imported.
Where Do the Biggest Bike Brands Make Their Bikes?
The location where the biggest bike brands make their bikes varies from brand to brand, and while some choose to design, manufacture and assembly directly, many have chosen to outsource their manufacturing to countries with lower production cost.
It is increasingly common to see bikes produced in countries with low labour costs, such as China or Taiwan. Another reason that they’re manufactured in these countries is that there is a greater availability of specialized manufacturing facilities than there is available domestically.
Bike brands, ultimately, choose to make their bikes in specific locations for various reasons. Whilst cost-effectiveness is a driving force for outsourcing manufacturing, access to skilled labour and efficient supply chains are also significant factors to consider.
It’s also interesting to note that brands frequently change where they produce their bikes. Italian Legend Bianchi, for example, now manufactures their frames in Asia to keep the cost down. However, they still design, assemble and rigorously test the final products on site in Treviglio, Italy.
Where Are Trek Bikes Made?
Trek, one of the world’s largest bicycle manufacturers, has its headquarters in the United States. Whilst it may design its bikes and accessories in the US, over 99% of Trek bikes are not made in the US. The leading factories that produce Trek products are predominantly in China and Taiwan.
It’s understood that there are some bikes from Trek still made in the US. At least the Emonda series (which professional racers use) is still manufactured there, and there may well be others that are domestically produced.
Where Are Giant Bikes Made?
Originating in Taiwan, the leading global bike brand GIant continues to produce its bikes domestically. The company has a domestic ‘state-of-the-art’ set of production facilities, allowing them to produce a wide range of models there.
There are reportedly supplementary manufacturing facilities in the Netherlands, China and Hungary, and it’s understood that these are used to assist in their dealing with its European customer base.
Where Are Specialized Bikes Made?
Specialized, another prominent American bicycle brand, has its headquarters in the United States and operates manufacturing facilities both domestically and overseas.
Their bicycles are designed and ‘prototyped’ in California, then production takes place either in Taiwan or China.
Where Are Cannondale Bikes Made?
Renowned for its high performance bicycles, Cannondale designs and engineers its bike in the US. While their frame manufacturing takes place predominantly in Taiwan, some of the company’s production facilities in the US handle final assembly and quality control.
Prior to 2010, Cannondale bikes were made and assembled entirely in the USA, but manufacturing has since been outsourced to Taiwan and Vietnam in order to cut costs.
Where Are Scott Bikes Made?
Scott, the Swiss band infamous for its innovative designs, has its roots in Europe. Whilst initially producing ski equipment, it ventured into bicycle production and is now a global name. Scott bikes are manufactured in various locations, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Cambodia.
The frames, however, are manufactured in Taiwan. But, as always, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Scott bikes are of a high quality, and they are rigorously tested before being sold worldwide.
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