Bicycles, by the Numbers

Using over a dozen sources, estimates current annual bicycle production at 108,799,200. They list China as the top producer of bicycles, with an estimated 80,430,000 bicycles manufactured in 2005. Even though China produces over 60% of the world’s bicycles, ridership in China is in a freefall, with bicycle trip share at an all time low of 20% (compared to 33% in 1995).

Estimates put the total number of bicycles on the planet at around 1 billion. The following table breaks down the top dozen countries (the numbers are somewhat dated, and the data sources are sparse, but the relative ranking is probably fairly accurate and has not likely changed much over the past decade).

Country Quantity Year
China 450,000,000 1992
USA 100,000,000 1995
Japan 72,540,000 1996
Germany 62,000,000 1996
India 30,800,000 1990
Indonesia 22,300,000 1982
Italy 23,000,000 1995
UK 20,000,000 1995
France 20,000,000 1995
Brazil 40,000,000 1996
Netherlands 16,500,000 2000
Canada 10,150,000 1992

I was surprised to see the high number of bicycles in the U.S. given our dismal bicycle trip share numbers. It seems an overwhelming majority of bicycles in the U.S. are being used for purposes other than transportation. View Bicycle Retailer and Industry News’ “Stats Issue” [PDF] if you’d like to dig deeper into these numbers.


10 Responses to “Bicycles, by the Numbers”

  • Sharper says:

    Based on donations we’ve received at the Sac Bike Kitchen over the last year or so, I’m not surprised there are that many bicycles in the U.S. There are a whole lot of people with bicycles just gathering dust in their garage or storage unit.

    What’s encouraging, though, is that those bikes are now starting to find some riders.

  • Elliott @ Violet Crown Cycles says:

    You need to remember all the crappy Walmart/Target/department store bikes are in that number. (I call them disposable bikes) How many people get a cheap bike for their birthday or Christmas to lose a few pounds then let the bike sit in the garage or basement?

  • Frits B says:

    The Netherlands have 16 million inhabitants, and most people make do with just one bike. Now that makes for an interesting figure …

  • jamesmallon says:

    So, in Canada (where I live) and the US, there is about one bike for every three people. In Japan, where I have lived and far more enjoyed cycling due to more clued-in drivers, there is a bike for every 1.7 people: essential double.

    No $#!+.

  • Molnar says:

    To expand on the last couple of comments, it would be nice to have a “bicycles per capita” list. I think that would be more meaningful (but I’m not volunteering to compile the data).

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    Well, the US has a lot of stuff period. It’s a consumer culture, but once the goods are purchased they are not necessarily used. Many if not most of these bicycles probably fall into the “athletic gear and exercise equipment” category. Plus, jamesmallon is right that we need to take proportions into account to really compare the US to other countries.

  • Charlie H says:

    I am going to guess that a good many of the US bicycles were children’s cycles that are sitting at the bottom of a landfill somehere. Also, there is a huge export market from the US to third world countries in used cycles. They are basically sold by the pound, along with second hand clothes and exported by ship. At a recent police auction i attended, the vast majority of the bicyles were sold for a $1, several hundred in fact. Guess where they were headed. .

  • Sharper says:


    Country Bike QuantityYearPopulationBikes Per CapitaNetherlands16,500,000200015,892,2371.038Germany62,000,000199681,900,0000.757Japan72,540,0001996125,864,0000.576Italy23,000,000199558,138,3940.396China450,000,00019921,171,700,0000.384USA100,000,0001995261,638,0000.382Canada10,150,000199228,377,0000.358France20,000,000199557,840,4450.346UK20,000,000199558,025,0000.345Brazil40,000,0001996157,079,5730.255Indonesia22,300,0001982154,662,0000.144India30,800,0001990846,000,0000.036

    I grabbed what population data I could for the corresponding year and sorted by per capita. The US is right in the middle of the other developed nations, even if a number of our bikes are stuck in garages.

  • Sharper says:

    Bah. Preview showed the data properly, but the final post didn’t carry over the HTML. Quickie retread version here.

  • J.. says:

    Hey, Sharper, nice data.

    Apparently, I live in the only member of the 1-bike-per-capita-club. Whooohooo!! Glad to be contributing with both of mine.

    I’m not surprised to see the USA in the middle there. Americans may not cycle a lot, but they’re sure proficient at buying crap they don’t need or use (see: TelSell).

    What I’m missing here is Denmark. With all the “copenhagenize” ”n’ stuff, I’d expected them to be in there somewhere. So lets google:

    cycling share is the second highest in Europe, after the Netherland. They’re at 19% share (versus roughly 30% in the Netherlands). It seems Danes own 0.83 bikes per capita, which would put them neatly in second place in Sharper’s list.

    For more interesting statistics:
    I found the cyclist-killed-per-million-miles statistics very surprising.

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