Bicycle prices in Japan are rising, because of high iron prices and rising labor costs in China, a major producer of Japan’s imported bicycles.
An increase in the number of electric bicycles, which are more expensive than regular bicycles, is also pushing up the average price. However, as iron prices start to fall and people refrain from purchasing new bicycles as a result of worsened economic conditions, prices are highly likely to drop again in the future.
Between 1950 and 1970, the average shipping price of bicycles was around 10,000 yen. Guidelines set the retail price at 3,000 yen plus shipping price.
In the early 1970s, when “mini cycles” — those with a wheel size of about 20 inches — began to spread, the average shipping price of bicycles soared to about 1.6 times the original price. Prices leveled off for about 10 years after that, but from about 1985, imports from China and Taiwan started to increase, and excluding certain times during the mountain-bike boom between 1988 and 1993, and the period between 1995 and 1998 after electric bicycles went on sale, prices plummeted.
However, between 2002 and summer 2008, the price of iron for each bicycle (about 20 kilograms) rose by 1,700 yen, and from 2005 shipping prices for imported bicycles also started increasing. Standard bicycles are now priced between around 8,000 and 30,000 yen, while electric bicycles are priced between around 40,000 and 150,000 yen.
However, iron prices began to drop in October last year, and the global recession has resulted in consumers becoming increasingly thrifty.
“A reduction in the price of low-priced bicycles may be inevitable in order to maintain sales,” commented one bicycle manufacturer.