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Cycling Statistics: How Popular Is Cycling In The UK 2021?

Cycling is one of the most popular forms of exercise across the UK, which is no surprise given the sense of freedom it provides - not to mention its wide range of health benefits and the oodles of fresh air that comes with cycling! There’s been a huge spike in interest in cycling here in the UK throughout 2020 and 2021, as the coronavirus pandemic has led to more and more of us wishing to spend more time outdoors and put our health first.

To discover just how much the pandemic has impacted cycling’s popularity in the UK and to find out more interesting facts and figures on the topic of bikes and cycling, we’ve compiled all of the most up-to-date cycling statistics of 2021.


Cycling Statistics: The Quick Version

  • More UK adults enjoy cycling than running, playing football and strength training
  • Average monthly online search volumes for mountain bikes were six times higher during the coronavirus lockdown (May 2020 compared with May 2019)
  • Cycling at a steady pace for 1 hour burns around 500 calories 
  • Giant Bikes are the most popular brand of bike in the UK.

How Popular is Cycling in 2021?

To find out how popular cycling is compared with other forms of exercise, we conducted a survey of 2,000 UK adults in July 2021 using Censuswide.

We asked respondents ‘Which forms of exercise, if any, do you most enjoy?’ and gave them the option to tick up to three from the following list:

  • Walking/Hiking
  • Swimming 
  • Cycling
  • Football
  • Running
  • Strength training 
  • Dance Tennis
  • Badminton
  • HIIT Training 
  • Zumba 
  • Squash 
  • Rugby 
  • I don’t enjoy any forms of exercise 
  • Other (please specify)
most popular exersise types chart

Responses from 2,000 UK adults to the question ‘which forms of exercise, if any, do you most enjoy?’

  • As you can see from the graph, walking/hiking is the most popular form of exercise in the UK, with 38% of people choosing this as one of their most preferred forms of exercise. 
  • Swimming came in second place, with 14.1% of UK adults selecting swimming as one of their favourite forms of exercise. 
  • Closely behind swimming is cycling, which was voted as a favourite form of exercise by 11.4% of respondents.
  • The survey also found that a staggering 25.5% (1 in 4) UK adults don’t enjoy any form of exercise.

Who Enjoys Cycling Most?


Region

Percentage of People Who Say Cycling is One of Their Favourite Forms of Exercise

Yorkshire and the Humber

15.66%

North East

13.58%

North West

13.39%

East Midlands

13.10%

South East

12.73%

East of England

11.67%

South West

11.49%

West Midlands

10.67%

Greater London

10.07%

Scotland

7.55%

Wales

6.12%

Northern Ireland

5.56%

Cycling Enjoyment by Region, Based on Responses by 2,000 UK Adults

Our survey also revealed that: 

  • More men enjoy cycling than women, as 14.6% of men and 8.4% of women say that cycling is in their top three favourite forms of exercise. 
  • Cycling is most popular amongst those aged 45-54 as 17.3% of people in this age group said cycling was one of their preferred forms of exercise. 
  • More people living in Yorkshire and the Humber say they enjoy cycling the most than any other UK region.

How Many People Cycle in the UK in 2021?

The most recent government statistics for cycling in England found that:

  • In 2018, 11% of UK adults cycled at least once a week (just over 1 in 10)
  • That’s equivalent to 6.1 million people!
  • In areas such as Cambridge and Oxford, more than 20% of people were found to cycle at least once a week.

Which Type of Bike is Most Popular in the UK?

To find out which type of cycling is most popular in the UK, we used the online search analysis tool Keyword Finder to find the average monthly search volumes for mountain bikes, road bikes and hybrid bikes. 

Our keyword analysis found that: 

  • Mountain bikes are the most popular style of bike, receiving a whopping 2.4 million online searches a year
  • Road bikes are the second most popular, being searched for approximately 707,000 times a year. 
  • Hybrid bikes are the least searched-for style of bike, receiving an average of 506,000 annual searches.

Mountain Biking Popularity in the UK

So now we know Mountain bikes are the most popular style of bike in the UK, but which cities are home to the most mountain bike fans?

To find out, we obtained average monthly search volumes for each of major towns and cities in the UK and divided this by town or city’s population*. This gave us the average number of searches per person, which we then multiplied by 1,000 to find the number of searches per 1,000 people.

mountain bike search table

Cities and towns in the UK searching for ‘Mountain bikes’ the most?

As you can see:

  • People in Liverpool search online for Mountain Bikes the most, followed by Rochdale and Stockport.
  • 4 of the top 5 towns and cities where Mountain bikes are most popular are in the North West.

Mountain bikes are searched for online a staggering 2.4 million times on average each year, which is around 203,000 times a month.

MTB search trends in the UK

Google Trends data for the search term ‘mountain bikes’ from July 2016 to June 2021 in the UK.

The above graph shows that there was a huge increase in interest from around April 2020 to July 2020, which was just after the coronavirus lockdown restrictions were implemented across the UK.


Road Bike Popularity in the UK

We used the Keyword Finder tool alongside the same method as above to conduct an analysis of searches for the term ‘road bike’ across all of the most populous towns and cities in the UK.

road bike search table

Cities and towns in the UK searching for ‘Road bikes’ the most

As you can see:

  • People in Cambridge conduct more searches for Road bikes than any other town or city in the UK, with 26 searches per 1,000 people being carried out every year.
  • 3 of the top 5 areas searching for Road bikes the most can be found in Southern regions.
road bike search trends UK

Google Trends data for the search term ‘Road bikes’ from July 2016 to June 2021 in the UK.


Similarly to Mountain bikes, there was a huge spike in interest from around April 2020 to July 2020. As you can see, there’s often spikes in searches for this term during the summer months each year, however the sudden increase in April 2020 represents the largest ever increase in search interest for this term.


Hybrid Bikes Popularity in the UK

Hybrid bikes are known for containing some of the best parts of both mountain bikes and road bikes and are a great, versatile option for many cyclists. But which parts of the UK appear to favour them most? To find out, we used the same methods as above to conduct a search analysis of the term ‘hybrid bikes’.

hybrid bike search table

Cities and towns in the UK searching for ‘Hybrid bikes’ the most

As you can see:

  • Bristol, Cambridge and Stockport are all joint most popular with 15 searches per 1,000 people annually.
  • Hybrid bikes also appear to be popular amongst those in Warrington and Glasgow, where 13 and 14 searches are conducted per 1,000 people, respectively.
hybrid bike search trends UK

Google Trends data for the search term ‘Hybrid bikes’ from July 2016 to June 2021 in the UK.


Just like the two searches above, search interest in Hybrid bikes had an enormous rise in 2020, peaking its peak in late May. Before this, search interest in the term was relatively low.


The Rise of Gravel Bikes

A newer style of bike which saw the most drastic increase in online interest during the coronavirus pandemic is the Gravel bike. These bikes also appear to have maintained their newfound popularity well into 2021, as the term ‘gravel bike’ is now searched for an average of 46,200 times a month here in the UK. That’s even higher than average monthly search volumes for ‘hybrid bikes’ which is searched for just 35,800 times a month.

Gravel bike search trends UK

Google Trends data for the search term ‘Gravel bikes’ from July 2016 to June 2021 in the UK.



What is the Most Popular Brand of Bike in the UK?

So now we know a little more about our country’s love of bikes... but which brands of bikes are most popular here in the UK? To find out, we used Keyword Finder to obtain average monthly search volumes for 12 of the top bike brands across the UK.


Brand Of Bike

Average Monthly Searches In The UK

Giant Bikes

43,400

Trek Bikes

43,300

Cube Bikes

22,900

Raleigh Bikes

19,300

Specialized Bikes

18,300

Marin Bikes

13,500

Santa Cruz Bikes

13,300

Cannondale Bikes

11,500

GT Bikes

11,000

Merida Bikes

8,600

Kona Bikes

8,200

Yeti Bikes

5,100

As you can see:

  • Giant Bikes are the UK’s most popular bike brand in terms of average monthly searches over the past year, being searched for approximately 43,400 times a month.
  • This is then followed extremely closely by Trek bikes, which is searched for an average of 43,300 times a month. 
  • Cube, Raleigh and Specialized bikes also make the top 5 most searched-for bike brands.

How Many Calories Are Burned When Cycling?

Although it varies depending on weight, gender, cycling intensity and many other factors, cycling at a steady pace can burn up to 500 calories per hour. If you’re riding faster and more intensely though, this could rise to 600 calories.

We hope these cycling statistics and figures for 2021 have helped inspire you to get on your bike and go for a ride! If you’re thinking of getting into cycling but are unsure of which parts of the country are safest for cycling, check out our recent blogpost where we discover the safest places to cycle in England.

*Population data is for 82 of the UK’s most populous towns and cities obtained from the following sources: England and Wales (ONS 2011 Census), Scotland (National Records of Scotland 2011 Census) and Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency).


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