Spike In Bike Interest Leads To Supply Shortage
December 1, 2020
Planning to purchase a bicycle for someone on your holiday list? For yourself? You may have to rethink that plan as bike companies strive to meet the demand.
Way back in April, Trek Bicycle, headquartered in Waterloo, Wi., noticed a trend: Bikes were hot. Really hot. By September, what had been a trend became a force to be reckoned with.
“The inflection point was really Easter weekend,” Trek CFO Chad Brown
told CNBC at the beginning of September. “It’s been a rocket ship since then.”
In fact, the US cycling industry’s overall sales hit $1 billion in April. That was 75 percent higher than the previous year, according to NPD Group, a market research group. In June, sales were 63 percent higher than in June of 2019. The Washington Post reported that bike sales are up more than 120 percent over the previous year.
Several factors figure into the bike boom’s tight supply. According to Brown, the Asia supply chain for bikes was disrupted by COVID-19. Why does this matter? Because the vast majority of bicycles for the US market come from China, that meant bikes were in short supply. Bike parts are also manufactured in China and were affected by the disruption. Bike component manufacturer SRAM’s spokesperson Michael Zellman reported to Bicycling that they’ve experienced material shortages such as carbon. The pandemic led many states to impose stay-at-home orders and close businesses such as gyms, which in turn led people to choose biking for recreation, transportation, and social distancing.
“After everyone bought the toilet paper, they bought kids bikes and then entry-level mountain bikes, and then as the supply started to get tight, it worked its way up,” Brown explained.
Lenny Mattioli of Crazy Lenny’s E-Bikes in Madison told NBC 15 in May that he’s seen a 25 percent increase in sales compared to last year.
Trek Madison West Manager Jake Jones told NBC 15 he saw a similar spike of 20 to 25 percent, leading to empty bike racks in his store.
Bicycling reported in mid-September that stores had a hard time keeping bikes in stock, no matter what kind they stocked. The Bike Line, a store in Indianapolis, Ind., told the web site that they’d just gotten an order of 60 Trek bikes in, but that most of them were already spoken for and the rest would probably be gone before the end of the weekend.
“If a customer were to order a new bike today, the earliest we would likely receive it is December and maybe even as late as May,” The Bike Line Co-Owner Jimmy Revard warned. He estimated that this bike fever and shortage could continue into 2021 and maybe even into 2022.
But Trek is striving to keep up. “We’re still shipping out tens of thousands of bikes every week, so there are bikes out there,” Brown said.
Revard suggested looking for more expensive bikes instead of lower-cost ones. He said it might be easier to find one with that strategy. Or try looking for a used bicycle in good condition.
If you’re lucky enough to score the bike of your dreams (or of that special person on your gift list), be aware that urban bike paths are busier than normal during the pandemic. Be sure to outfit that bike with safety gear, including lights and helmet. Then hop on to enjoy the ride.
“…It’s such a great opportunity to get people outside and off screens, enjoying the bicycle,” Brown said.