The last couple of weeks have been pure panic here at TPC as our team rushed to fulfill the landslide of holiday orders. This is always one of our busiest months, and I usually wait until the dust settles before digging into our sales data for the year, but I'm going on vacation after Christmas so I decided to do it a bit early this year! It's time to unpack our bike sales trends for 2023.
Do more people buy road or mountain bikes? How much does the average TPC shopper spend on a bike? What bike models have left the competition in the dust? If you're new here, TPC has the world's biggest bike selection, so our sales data is always a treasure trove of insights. I'll reveal our best-selling brands and models, so guess the winners now if you can!
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What Was the Most Popular Bike Discipline of 2023?
This one is interesting because we usually see mountain and road bikes locked in a dead heat. During the height of the pandemic though, road bikes surged ahead as many new riders arrived on the scene. Then things balanced back out, but this year mountain bikes have taken off — we sold over 10% more mountain bikes than road bikes. More people are getting out and hitting trails, and I love it.
I think one big reason for this shift is the consistent growth of the gravel bike category, which rose by a couple of percentage points this year, and the massive growth in the E-Bike category. “E-Bike Road” doubled this year. Still, “regular” road bikes makeup over a quarter of our bike sales, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. The TT/tri category has held steady at 4.2%.
Average Selling Price and the Most Expensive Bike
- Average Bike Purchase: $3,423
- Most Expensive Bike Sold: $13,249
The average selling price for all bikes sold so far in 2023 was $3,423. This includes both new and Certified Pre-Owned bikes. This is about what I expect, as this number often sits in the $3,000-4,000 range.
My opinion is that bikes in this price range are ideal for the vast majority of dedicated or experienced cyclists. They generally don’t need much in terms of upgrades. When compared to high-end ($5,000+) bikes, they often don’t give up much in terms of performance. Plus, you don’t need to freak out as much about scratching the paint.
Of course, a $3,000 bike isn’t exactly “affordable,” especially for beginners and budget-conscious riders. At the time of writing this, we have a total of 286 bikes under $3,000 available, which likely won’t make hardcore bargain hunters too excited, but I do see some appealing bikes in there that I’d jump on if I were in the market.
As for the other end of the spectrum, the most expensive bikes we sold were these brand-new 2023 Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7s which sold for $13,249. These came straight from Specialized, and we’re not even allowed to ship them — they have to be picked up in-store.
I thought there was no way we’d move any of these bikes but we did. I’ve worked in the bike industry for nearly 10 years and it still blows my mind that there are people who will just walk into a store and pay this much for a bike. It’s worth more than all four of my bikes combined. Maybe I need to start reading r/wallstreetbets or become a cryptobro or something…
The Top-Selling Bike Brands of 2023
No surprises here. All the big brands are represented. Though it's interesting that Orbea has passed Giant and Cannondale. This old Spanish brand is gaining a pretty solid foothold here in the states. I've personally been seeing a lot more Orbeas out in the wild!
Top Road Brands1. Trek
Trek just narrowly beat out Specialized in road bike sales. There are still two weeks left in the year, and it’s close enough that it could change (I’ll tweak this list if it does). Cervelo has jumped up a couple of places. I have to assume that it’s the Jumbo-Visma effect after winning two consecutive Tours de France.
Top MTB Brands1. Specialized
4. Santa Cruz
This one wasn’t even close. Specialized sold nearly double the number of mountain bikes as any of the next three brands. Santa Cruz and Yeti are much smaller, but are always able to hang in the top 5 since they’re the two most popular "core" MTB brands, although Yeti came very close to getting knocked out of the top 5 by Rocky Mountain.
Top Gravel/CX Brands1. Specialized
The big surprise here is Bombtrack. How many of you have heard of Bombtrack? This little German brand is great at making tough and affordable bikes, and their steel and aluminum gravel/adventure bikes seem to strike the right chord with our buyers. A couple of its bikes can currently be had for under $1,500, which is RAD.
Top TT/Tri Brands1. Cervelo
2. Quintana Roo
5. Specialized / Trek
TT/Tri is the one category at TPC where the big brands can never get a stranglehold on the top 5. Cervelo and Quintana Roo are far and away the most popular. Then Felt is solidly ahead of Canyon in 3rd. Specialized and Trek just squeak in, tied for 5th, and barely beating out Argon 18 and Ventum. Triathletes are definitely willing to branch out and try different things!
Best-Selling Road Bikes of 20231. Trek Domane
2. Specialized Tarmac
3. Trek Emonda
4. Specialized Roubaix
5. Trek Madone
These are the same five bikes that topped our bestseller list last year. The ever-popular Trek Domane is still number one, but the rest of the top 5 have shuffled around a bit. Also, the Trek Domane was our overall best-selling bike model of 2023! It’s super comfortable thanks to the IsoSpeed Decoupler, and 2020+ models have massive 38mm tire clearance (that’s edging into gravel bike territory) which makes it one of the most versatile bikes on the market.
The Tarmac got a boost up to 2nd place thanks to all the used Tarmac SL7s showing up. With the release of the super-gimmicky Tarmac SL8, this is the best time for all the SL7 holdouts to finally start scooping up the previous Tarmac generation.
Best-Selling Mountain Bikes of 20231. Specialized Stumpjumper
2. Specialized Epic Evo
3. Orbea Occam
4. Trek Fuel EX
5. Trek Top Fuel
Will any mountain bike ever take down the Specialized Stumpjumper? It's unlikely. The Stumpy has been around since the dawn of mass-produced mountain bikes and it's the benchmark for do-it-all quiver-killer trail bikes. No other mountain bike comes close to its sales numbers. (Note that I filtered out the Stumpjumper EVO because it has very different geometry and suspension, but it did nothing to affect the Stumpy’s standings.)
Surprisingly, the Trek Fuel EX slipped from its usual second place. Riders were more eager to scoop up the many 2021+ Specialized Epics and Epic EVOs now becoming available (conversely, I decided to combine Epic and Epic EVO models because they use the same frame). I love the Epic EVO so much that I’ve called it the best bike I’ve ever purchased. The Orbea Occam has experienced a huge spike in popularity this year too, probably because it’s a great combo of value and performance.
Best-Selling Gravel & Cyclocross Bikes of 20231. Orbea Terra
2. Specialized Diverge
3. Trek Checkpoint
4. Bombtrack Hook
5. Giant Revolt
What’s this? The Specialized Diverge got knocked off the top spot!? I didn't expect this. Maybe people listened to my glowing review of the Orbea Terra. I knew I was a trendsetter! All jokes aside (I am definitely NOT a trendsetter) I think the Terra was perfectly positioned to blow up. The frame is good-looking and well-designed, it comes in aluminum and carbon, and there are a lot of affordable builds available too. Orbea is doing a seriously good job of taking market share from the other big players.
The big winner though has to be the Bombtrack Hook. This versatile rig comes with either 700c or 650b wheels and tires, and it offers a few different frame material options. The bombproof steel frame with the extra mounts was the most popular. Steel is still real, it seems.
Best-Selling Time Trial & Triathlon Bikes of 20231. Cervelo P3 / P-Series
2. Canyon Speedmax
3. Trek Speed Concept
4. Quintana Roo PRfive
5. Felt IA
I combined the stats for the Cervelo P-Series and the P3 since they’re essentially the same (the P-Series is the P3’s successor). If I had chosen to separate them, then the Canyon Speedmax would be number one, with the P3 and P-Series sitting just behind. Cervelo is clearly the most popular brand among triathletes though. The P5 and P2 were also in the top 10.
My Semi-Interesting Thoughts on Our 2023 Bike Stats
Are Aero Bikes Still Hot?
The TDF-winning Cervelo S5 isn't as popular as I expected. Photo: A.S.O./Paulin Ballet
There was a time when I wouldn’t consider buying a road bike unless it was aero. #aeroiseverything right? Aerodynamics is obviously important, but it seems like riders these days are more interested in all-rounders that balance aerodynamics, weight, and comfort. The Trek Madone is the only dedicated aero bike in the top 10. Bikes like the Cervelo S5 and Cannondale SystemSix aren’t even in the top 20 but the Specialized Aethos, which is NOT aero, managed to break into in the top 10.
Bikes like the Cannondale SuperSix Evo, Cervelo R5/R3/R-Series, Giant TCR, Canyon Ultimate, and Orbea Orca (the non-aero version) are all crushing their dedicated aero siblings in terms of sales. The lower weight and greater versatility are likely making them more attractive.
Endurance Bikes Are Slipping Too
Endurance bikes were the best choice for rough roads. Is that still true? Photo: John Watson
It wasn’t that long ago that I was wrote that most riders are better off riding endurance bikes rather than race bikes. This was mirrored in our stats too, with bikes like the Trek Domane and Specialized Roubaix dominating our sales. While the Domane is still holding strong, the Roubaix has slipped. Other bikes like the Cannondale Synapse, Giant Defy, and Canyon Endurace have all plummeted in rank, while their racier counterparts (SuperSix Evo, TCR, Ultimate) have risen.
My theory is that modern disc brake road racing bikes have gotten so much more comfortable thanks to the extra tire clearance, that many riders don’t see the need for purpose-built endurance bikes anymore. Add in the greater comfort and versatility of gravel bikes, and endurance bikes might be caught in limbo between the two genres.
27.5” Isn’t Dead, but It’s Not Doing Well
When 29ers win DH world champs you know the end is nigh. Photo: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool
If you’re a mountain biker, you probably knew this was coming. This is the first year that a 27.5” mountain bike hasn’t been in the top 10. Our best-selling dedicated 27.5” bike, the Santa Cruz Bronson, has slipped from 9th down to 16th. Santa Cruz’s other 27.5” classics, the 5010 and Nomad, are in 18th and 34th respectively. The 27.5” Trek Remedy is down in 22nd.
The industry has been favoring 29” wheels for years, and it really shows. A lot of brands don’t even make a 27.5” option anymore. Some, like Santa Cruz, only offer 27.5” bikes in a mullet or MX configuration with a 29” front wheel. I don’t think full 27.5” bikes will die out completely, but it will become a more niche category within the sport.
Are Cyclocross Bikes Still a Thing?
Cyclocross courses favor steeper and more agile bikes. Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi / Red Bull Content Pool.
For this post, I combined gravel and cyclocross bikes into one category, but in our data, I can actually view gravel and cyclocross bikes separately. This gets confusing though because certain bikes will get tagged as both, even though they're technically different disciplines. A great example is the Specialized Crux, which has long been Specialized’s cyclocross bike but is currently being marketed as its lightweight gravel option.
When I look at our top 20 gravel/CX bikes, there is only one that I’d consider a “pure” dedicated cyclocross bike: the Trek Boone in 8th. Many bikes that were once pure cyclocross bikes have undergone heavy “gravelization,” switching to more stable endurance geometry (lower bottom brackets and taller head tubes). This is better for endurance gravel racing, but isn’t ideal for the tight corners found on cyclocross courses. As a result, a lot of the casual ‘cross racers I know just race 'cross on their gravel bikes now.
We used to sell a lot more dedicated cyclocross bikes from brands like Ridley, Raleigh, Felt, Van Dessel, and Blue, but I’ve barely seen any on our site in recent years. Dedicated cyclocross bikes are more popular in Europe, where cyclocross is much bigger, but in the US, gravel is king and that’s reflected in our sales data.[button]Shop All Bikes[/button]