Login | September 26, 2020

Bicycle buying in the era of COVID

Pete’s World

Published: June 29, 2020

When my Colorado cycling buddy told me he was having a hard time finding a bike to buy I thought he was goofing with me, I mean the Boulder/Denver area is a bicycle buyer’s mecca for goodness sake. But then my sister, who lives here in Lakewood, parroted that exact same lament about bike buying problems…and well, that caught my attention. So I’ve been doing a little digging, and here’s what I found.
Bicycle sales had been going through the roof this spring, and bike shops all across the nation are seeing a huge spike in demand. Turns out that the nationwide COVID-related gym closures have helped persuade fitness consumers to buy new bicycles for exercise and stress relief.
Not only that, but as the country’s recently been grinding towards a reopening, more and more commuters are seeing the bike as a social distancing alternative to mingling with the masses of humanity who typically populate our subways, buses and trains.
In it’s April 16, 2020 blog, https://blog.trekbikes.com/en/2020/04/16/national-study-reveals-u-s-cycling-behaviors-during-coronavirus-pandemic/, American bicycle manufacturer Trek - in conjunction with the research firm Engine Insights - proclaimed: “Data indicates Americans are turning to cycling for mental and physical health as well as an alternate means of essential transportation during COVID-19.”
And the study revealed these stats to support its essential transportation supposition: 85% of Americans view cycling as a safer mode of transportation than public transportation while social distancing; if we have to travel within a five-mile radius, 90% of us include biking in our top three primary modes of transportation; and 14% of us bike as a replacement to public transportation.
And there’s more interesting stats that support this major uptick in bicycle sales. According to the market research firm, N.P.D. Group, during March 2020 the US has experienced a nationwide doubling of bicycle sales, bicycle equipment sales, and bicycle repair services compared to the same time last year. Commuter and fitness bike sales are up 66 percent; leisure bike sales are up 121 percent; and children’s bike sales are up 59 percent.
So all that heightened demand has led to the supply side issues I’ve been hearing about. By the end of April, this increase in demand had many stores and distributors in the US out of low-mid end consumer bikes. Yet this situation is compounded by the fact that it’s way more than just an American problem. That’s because the global supply chains - disrupted by COVID-19 - have been scrambling to meet this unprecedented surge in bicycle demand worldwide.
And a large part of this global supply chain disruption is because of labor shortages in…come on now…follow the bouncing ball…in China. Yup, about 90 to 95 percent of US bikes come from China, and what with the COVID-related Chinese labor shortage and the Chinese New Year, many bicycle manufacturers have been absolutely clobbered with respect to meeting their production schedules.
Thus, Australian bike retailers are struggling to keep up with the boom in bike sales, Russian retailers are struggling, Italian retailers are struggling, British retailers are struggling, and it goes on and on and on, country by country, around the world.
So new bicycle buyers in the US are left with this question: Will it be possible to buy a new bicycle in the summer of 2020? And we’re not talking about buying any new bike off the showroom floor, we’re talking about buying that specific new bike that really trips your trigger.
Well, word is that many US bicycle importers expect the first shipments of new bicycles to arrive here in mid-late June. Problem is that many of these same retailers and shops have already pre-sold a lot of this inventory.
So it just might be that you’re going to have to wait until July…or maybe even August or longer to get that special bicycle you’d been eyeing. Remember, lead time for many bike manufacturers is 90 to 120 days - and that’s when things were rolling along as they did prior to COVID.
In the end, amidst this current COVID situation, your best chance of getting that new bicycle just might rest on your reaching out to one of our many local bike shops as soon as you can.
Place your order and pull the trigger now because delivery times can vary widely.