Portugal’s bicycle makers are putting the pedal down on production in order to keep up with global demand.
It’s very good news, considering that earlier this year there were concerns it would survive at all. It had to shut its nearly 40 factories, putting an 8,000-strong workforce on furlough.
Bruno Salgado is on the executive board at RTE Bikes now says those few months were a blessing in disguise.
“From mid-April we started to realise there was a great demand for bikes online. And that brands continued to sell almost as much online as they did before the stores closed.”
The factory in the city of Gaia is the largest on the continent and made 1.1 million bicycles last year.
Portugal exports about 90% of the bicycles it produces, with key markets in Germany, France, and Italy.
RTE Bikes is now working at full capacity, producing about 5,000 bicycles a day, up from an average of 3,000-4,000 this time last year.
Rival manufacturer In Cycles has also seen an increase as they are already racing to fulfill 185,000 orders for 2021 – more than double what they made in 2019.
Even before this recent boom in demand, bike makers were already into a busy period, because of increased public concerns over climate change and a move to healthier lifestyles.
Portugal’s production had jumped 42% in 2019 to a record 2.7 million bicycles – almost a quarter of all those built in the European Union, according to data provided by Eurostat.