It is more and more visible in town and in the countryside. After having been a preferred means of transport in the middle of the 20th century in France, the bicycle ended up being dethroned by the car, but it made a comeback after the health crisis. And you only need to walk around Paris to observe that the practice, four years after the first confinement, is still progressing. From the most classic mechanical bike to the “cargo bike” or “long tail” including a slew of electric bikes of all kinds, there is now something for everyone. So much so that the most popular models are often out of stock and many alternative offers – such as long-term rental – are developing almost everywhere.

“More than a social phenomenon, it is a real popular movement which goes beyond ages and territories, as well as social levels or political opinions,” confirms Thibault Quéré, spokesperson for the French Federation of Road Users. the bicycle (FUB). He speaks of a “global aspiration of the French to be able to travel differently”, and this, in particular, via this “inexpensive and low-polluting” mode of transport, offering “the flexibility of individual transport” and “obvious well-being” . The FUB advocacy director also observes that this “strong movement is now extending to peri-urban and rural areas, towns and villages”, thanks to “an increase in dedicated infrastructure” and an “increasingly strong commitment from Locally elected “.

And the figures speak for themselves: according to the National Attendance Platform (PNF) run by Vélo

In Paris, the numerous counters installed on major cycle routes – on Boulevard de Sébastopol (2nd), on Boulevard de Magenta (10th) or even on the high quays, both the left and right banks, to name but a few – continue to break attendance records. On the most used track (boulevard de Sébastopol), which goes from Gare de l’Est to Châtelet, the Paris town hall’s open data records more than 12,000 passages per day on average, with peaks that can reach more than 20,000. It is followed by that of rue de Rivoli (1st), which has more than 8,000 passages per day on average and peaks of more than 16,000.

A craze which logically has repercussions on the sales figures of manufacturers. So much so that more and more brands are experiencing stock shortages. This is the bad experience experienced by Élise, who was in a hurry to invest in an electric bike before the reduction of 100 euros in purchasing assistance proposed by the Île-de-France region, on September 1, 2023. “When I wanted to buy this electric bike from the French brand Sunn, I first chose the model before going to a retailer to try it and there, they explained to me that all the Ile-de-France distributors were out of stock”, says the young Parisian, assuring that she was then “sure” of her choice: “Rather than opting for another model, I ended up finding one available in a store in Quimper, in Brittany, which I then repatriated to Paris”. Sometimes you have to be patient and show imagination to hope to finally receive the bike of your dreams.

At Decathlon for example, the two models of long tail electric cargo bike are currently unavailable online as well as in a large majority of the group’s stores. To obtain them, the only solution is to wait until they are available again by registering on the waiting list. On this subject, the large retail brand specializing in sport and leisure has an explanation: “we are at the end of marketing the previous version of our “long tails”, and we are waiting for the new models”, attesting that these bikes worked “super well”. “It’s a booming market,” further recognizes the group’s “urban mobility” sales director, Harrisson Hor, who also specifies “having observed a sharp slowdown in sales of traditional bicycles in favor of electric bicycles.” “A clearly identifiable trend,” according to him.

However, if “the sale (of bicycles) has significantly accelerated since the health crisis”, he emphasizes that Decathlon has experienced “since 2023 a slowdown in this trend”, in particular because competition is stronger. In other words, today there is much more market supply than demand. As proof: the recent creation of numerous specialized brands – Gorilles Cycles, Mustache Bikes, Voltaire – which have jumped at the opportunity of this emerging market. This is also the case for Gaya Bike, a French manufacturer of electrically assisted bicycles based in Paris since 2022, very present on social networks and supported by a community of influential mothers. With more than 3,000 bikes sold in less than two years and more than 1.7 million kilometers traveled by the Gaya fleet, the group prides itself on having exceeded 6.5 million euros in turnover since its launch. .

“Our company is experiencing a real boom, in a context that is not easy with all the players that already existed,” says the brand’s marketing director, Mathieu Maître, who recalls that Gaya’s decision was to “create a bicycle designed by and for users”, particularly families and mothers. And to succeed in this challenge, driven by the ambition to extend cycling to everyone “so that our cities are more sustainable”, the brand’s owners wanted to add a number of safety elements to their two-wheelers, such as indicators, hydraulic brakes or even a real horn, for a price starting from 2000 or 2700 euros which they consider “accessible”, and this, by carrying out as many stages of construction as possible in France. Since the end of 2023, Gaya has chosen to relocate the assembly of its bicycles to the Arcades Cycles factory in La Roche-sur-Yon, in Vendée. A winning bet? You have to believe it, since “a victim of its success”, the brand currently only works on pre-orders, with lead times ranging from 1 to 2 months.

As for whether this craze will last forever, no one can read the future. But for Bike

And to try to convince the most undecided, several figures are put forward: “during rush hours, a car takes 70 minutes on average to travel 10 km in town, whereas a bicycle only takes 35” or even “traveling at cycling is 10 times cheaper than driving.” A sluggish official speech which aims in particular to avoid possible congestion in public transport. What can convince Parisians to change their habits? “Not mine anyway,” replies this restaurateur, who plans to continue taking public transport to get to work this summer, “unless it’s really unbearable.” When contacted, several Parisian stores specializing in the sale of electric bikes confirmed their good sales in recent months, but “did not notice any particular surge for the Olympics.” In all cases and whatever their level of attendance, the “Olympists” – these cycle paths designed by the public authorities and linking the main Olympic sites to each other – will remain a legacy.