As quoted in Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, the Bicycle ProductsSuppliers Ass'n (BPSA) says tandem sales were down 24% this year.
So go see your tandem dealer and maybe you can get a great deal on a new 2-seater!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
I'm curious to know just what segment that pertains to, e.g., all tandems or speciality bike shop (e.g., premium) tandem brands and models. I suspect that it's speaking to the entire market where the majority of product that has been sold over the past few years is the stuff coming in from off-shore and sold for a couple hundred bucks as everything I'm hearing from the major builders suggests that their sales are up, not down.
In fact, Santana Inc. has openings for frame builders, noting that the traditional 2-month production surge that happens in May & June had to be expanded to 6 months in '07 (Feb - Jul), and for the '08 production demand Santana purportedly went into surge mode last month. I believe Co-Motion has also been experiencing continued growth, particularly with their Periscope and high-end models.
That info is in the print issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) Dec. 1 issue starting on front page "Third Quarter Sales Reflect Weak Growth" and continues on page 23 with a graph on slowest growth categories this year.
US tandem builders *may* be an exception, but *overall* tandem sales in US were down 24% according to the BPSA figures.
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
No offense, but this data point sounds about as useful to an enthusiast as the quality of the League of American Bicyclists' reference data... most of which is woefully out of date or dubious given how it was obtained by the original source... http://www.bikeleague.org/media/facts/. Pretty sad given what they purport to be.
Less I digress. Back to the 24% drop off, on the bright side perhaps this is the back end of the bell curve that accompanied the dumping of bicycle and tandem shaped objects into the US market as off-shore manufacturers tried to deal with all of their excess production capacity.
FWIW: Buried in the nearly unsearchable archives (something's screwed up in their search logic that makes it more trouble than its worth) you'll find something that I wrote regarding tandem sales that attempted to parse another annual bicycle sales report's statistics. Again, from an enthusiasts' point of view, you have to focus on professional bike shop sales numbers and statistics if you're trying to filter out the department store variety of bicycles and tandems. That being the case, and based on what I've learned from the folks manufacturing and selling premium quality tandems, i.e., the "tandem dealers" business is definitely not falling off from annual benchmarks. In fact, from all accounts the Periscope line of tandems from Co-Motion have exceeded anyones expectations for sales and the high-end of tandems continues to get higher with gusto, i.e., the > $10,000 tandem market.
Further to T'Geek's post...The last couple of times I have stopped by The Bicycle Outfitter (LBS tandem retailer), I have not seen an overstock of tandems and it has been quite the contrary. But let's work with your data and hypo that the sales are down and therefore, one should get a good deal. Where is that deal going to come from - dealer's inventory, manufacturer's inventory but not yet shipped or unused manufacturing capacity? Dealers will not discount merchandise that they do not have and will only offer discounts if authorized by the factory. Duh. And a manufacturer will not say gee, let me run my factory at a loss because sales are down to increase dealer inventory to lose even more money. IMHO, higher end tandems from companies like Santana and Co-motion are manufactured and stocked to closely follow demand to do just the opposite - keep prices, margins and resale value up. So yes, if there is unsold inventory with new models on the way then I could see some discounting due to slower than anticipated sales. But if the companies and dealers have managed their capacity and inventory I fail to see much if any discounting other than what is seasonally normal and customary. Low end tandems may be a different story since they will require large production runs based upon projected sales to meet price points. If they are wrong on the demand side then prices will fall.
Having poked on this a bit more, interestingly enough it turns out none of the US tandem speciality builders like Santana, Co-Motion, Rodriguez, Bilenky, or builders like Calfee, Ventana, etc... belong to the Bicycle Products Suppliers Association. Therefore, it is unlikely that their production numbers have been taken into consideration in the BPSA's reports. Cannondale and Trek belong, as does KHS and Pacific. For a complete list go here: http://bpsa.org/page.cfm?pageID=54
Ignoring BPSA membership, feedback from various sources suggests that premium / enthusiast-level tandem production is at least stable on units, in some cases growing on a dollar basis, and growing in volume + dollars in a few others. There is also a very strong secondary / used market being fueled by existing owners who sell and/or trade-up to S&S or higher-end models that is off-setting some of the entry-level new market.
At the end of the day, I still believe the major drivers captured in this 'metric' were Raleigh and perhaps KHS cutting back on tandem production coupled with the downhill side of the spike in very low-cost department store and tandem shaped objects. It's also possible that they factored in the publicly available production numbers revealed by Burley when they left the market. Aside from that, there are only a few reports of fall-offs in tandem sales from economically, very-hard hit regions.