0406 Korea′s bicycle industry riding wave of changing demographics， established
With the weather warming up， people are
heading outdoors for fun and fitness，… and cycling tops the list of activities for
most people here in Korea. The bike－riding population has surged in
recent years， and that′s fueling a thriving local market， but it′s the taste for high－end
equipment and accessories from home and abroad that′s likely to keep the industry on track
for years to come. Shin Se－min reports.
″More than one in five Koreans that′s around 12 million men， women and children
ride bicycles regularly，… making it one of the most popular outdoor leisure activities
in the country.″ The domestic bicycle market was worth a cool
644 million U.S. dollars as of last year，… and it′s a number that′s expected to keep
rising. Korea′s largest bicycle manufacturer and
retailer Samchuly says it recorded sales of over 111－million dollars last year，…
up 10 percent from the previous year. Its close rival Alton Sports posted 62－million
dollars，… an 11－percent surge from 2013. Local manufacturers aren′t the only ones
fueling the expansion，… Koreans are buying imported bicycles by the boatload.
Last year alone， Korea imported bikes worth 210 million dollars and that translates into
annual average growth of nearly nine percent since 2012.
Cycling is a simple pleasure that anyone can enjoy，… but there are certain types of
bicycles dominating the local market… and they are high－tech， super－premium models.
The demand for these bicycles，… which can cost more than a second－hand car，…
is stronger now than ever. ″I spent over 4 thousand dollars on the
bike alone and I own a couple of spandex bike－suits. Spending a lot of money on all the related
products just makes me want to ride my bicycle even more.″ ″It′s like，… you start out driving
a compact car. Then you see a sports car speeding by you，… automatically you will want to
get yourself a better car. It′s the same with the bike. You start spending more because
you know it will get you better speed， stability and the design， and once you feel that，
there′s no turning back.″ Experts say the growing interest in expensive
bicycles and accessories was foreseen，… given Koreans′ spending habits and shifting
household dynamics. ″The size of an average Korean household
continues to shrink. There used to be mostly three－ or four－member households， but
now we are seeing a rise in two－ and even single－person households. These people choose
to spend their free time on activities that satisfy them，… even if their hobby costs
them tens of thousands of dollars.″ The future for the local bicycle industry
looks even more promising… as more and more Koreans take up bike riding to keep themselves
fit and in tip－top shape. Shin Se－min， Arirang News.