Someone on a highway riding a bike overlooking a mountain.
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Bicycles have been around for more than 200 years now and were far from a high-growth industry prior to 2020. But then COVID-19 happened.

Bike sales exploded during the pandemic. According to National Bike Dealers Association data, bicycle sales increased nearly 30% in 2020. Sales increased another 15% through the 12 months ending in July 2021. A permanent shift in global consumer behavior means bike purchases could remain elevated for years.

According to some forecasts, bicycle sales could increase by an average of 7% per year through the end of this decade. Factors driving sales include an increased interest in exercise and wellness, more time spent outdoors, environmental consciousness, and bike-sharing technology. Stocks that play a part in this suddenly expanding industry could present an investment opportunity.

Investing in bike stocks in 2024

Bicycle manufacturing stocks -- part of the industrial sector of the economy -- are difficult to invest in directly. Many bike companies are subsidiaries of larger manufacturing conglomerates, transportation parts suppliers, vehicle makers, and the like. But a few stocks more focused on bicycling could present an opportunity to bet on the industry's growth in the years ahead. 

Data source: YCharts. Market cap data as of January 13, 2023.  
Company Market Capitalization Description
Shimano (OTC:SMNNY) $15.1 billion A Japanese manufacturer that makes bike components.
Peloton Interactive (NASDAQ:PTON) $3.4 billion A top at-home workout company and stationary bike maker.
Vista Outdoor (NYSE:VSTO) $1.6 billion A manufacturer of various outdoor gear, including bike accessories.
Accell Group (OTC:ACGPF) $1.5 billion A Dutch conglomerate that owns multiple bike brands popular around the globe.
Halfords Group (OTC:HLFD.F) $574.2 million A leading motoring and cycling retailer in the U.K.

1. Shimano

Japanese manufacturing conglomerate Shimano is a top name in outdoor gear. Its bike components are a regular feature on all sorts of bicycle models from affordable to the highest-end road bikes. From brakes to cranksets, Shimano is an important parts supplier for the biking industry.  

Historically a slow-and-steady industrial business, Shimano's sales have picked up the pace in the past two years. Don't expect big double-digit percentage returns, but if you're looking for a way to bet on renewed interest in bicycles, electric bikes (e-bikes), and related outdoor equipment, this manufacturer should rank as one of the best ways to profit over time.  

2. Peloton Interactive

There was arguably no bigger fitness and gym business beneficiary from the pandemic than Peloton. The at-home high-end workout equipment company picked up millions of users in 2020. Momentum slowed dramatically in 2021, though, as people began leaving home once again and competition for connected workout equipment increased. Peloton stock is currently down nearly 90% from all-time highs.  

Of course, Peloton is no traditional bicycle company. Its popular Bike+ product is stationary, relying on a large tablet and engaging content to keep users pedaling like mad. Nevertheless, a bike is a bike. Millions of additional people could pick up a Peloton cycle product in the years ahead since stay-at-home workouts look like they'll remain part of many household routines.

Just bear in mind that Peloton's slowdown from triple-digit percentage revenue growth in 2020 will likely continue to create some incredibly volatile share price action.

3. Vista Outdoor

If you're an avid outdoor enthusiast, there's a good chance you have some accessories made by Vista Outdoor. The company's subsidiaries include CamelBak, Bushnell, Camp Chef, and Remington. In addition to accessories, Vista Outdoor also owns the QuietKat e-bike brand -- a popular choice for those looking for a greener commute and a more efficient ride.

Like Shimano, Vista Outdoor is historically a slow-and-steady affair. In fact, sales had actually been struggling to gain positive traction in the years leading up to the pandemic. But outdoor equipment and bike demand since 2020 has quickly reversed this small company's fortunes. If interest in bicycles remains strong, it could be a boon for Vista Outdoor and its shareholders.  

4. Accell Group

This is a small Dutch multinational organization, but it has various subsidiaries that specialize in bike manufacturing. It's also Europe's largest e-bike business. Brands include Haibike, Ghost, Raleigh, and Sparta, as well as parts maker XLC. A tender offer to shareholders is now underway in which a consortium led by private equity firm KKR (KKR -0.17%) is acquiring Accell Group. Shareholders can still gain a little exposure to Accell by owning KKR stock.  

While traditional bike sales fell in 2020 across Accell Group's lineup, e-bikes were a big standout and helped power profitability higher. Growth started to slow again in 2021. However, as trends such as short-distance travel, bike-sharing platforms, and a conscious effort to make transportation greener pick up steam in Europe and in other markets, Accell Group could be a long-term winner.  

5. Halfords Group

Halfords Group (along with its Tredz subsidiary) is the leading motoring and cycling retailer in the U.K. Much like the other companies on this list, Halfords Group was not a growing business leading up to 2020. The pandemic provided a surge of activity for the company. It reported record sales in 2021 and a big rebound in profitability.

Halfords Group began a concerted effort to increase its online sales and focus on core offerings back in 2018. The strategy has paid off so far. In early 2021, the company also launched its own e-scooter and e-bike brand, Carrera, as it retools its offerings for a new generation of cycling and motoring enthusiasts.

Don't expect this to be a high-growth company. But if bicycle popularity remains strong, Halfords Group could be a long-term winner in the industry.

Related investing topics

Are bike stocks a good investment?

Whether it's a way to enjoy the outdoors, a sporting event, or a short-distance commute solution, bikes feature prominently in the transportation industry. The pandemic has turned this mode of human movement into a possible growth theme in the years ahead.

Just bear in mind that booming sales during the onset of the pandemic are unlikely to continue. That slowdown could cause some volatility in bike stocks. Nevertheless, an average annual growth forecast in the high-single-digit percentages over the next decade or so is nothing to balk at. Investing in bikes could be a lucrative theme to ride along with.

Nicholas Rossolillo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends KKR and Peloton Interactive. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.