Interest in cycling has grown in this second pandemic spring — but so have waits for bicycle orders.
Red Deer’s specialty bike shop owners, who are experiencing a surge in customer inquires, are seeing a certain irony in the situation: They can’t fully capitalize on rising demand for bicycles during the coronavirus crisis because COVID-19 is squeezing various parts of their supply chain.
Rod RySavy, of Savy Cycle, said temporary factory shutdowns and work slowdowns have hampered bicycle production — so have shortages in raw materials, such as aluminum, which is needed to make certain light-weight bike parts.
Getting ordered bikes into Canada has also been difficult: “I have some electric bikes that are stalled in a port, right now, so there are logistical difficulties of even shipping some bikes here.” said Rysavy.
He has more bikes on order “than ever. But they’ve been trickling in. Where I used to get 30 bikes delivered, I just get one or two…”
Some of Rysavy’s suppliers aren’t taking any new orders for next summer because they have to catch up on so many previous orders that they can’t promise deliveries before 2023.
His home-based shop, like other local specialty bike outlets, has limited inventory on hand. What’s available are some electric bikes, “dirt jumpers, super high-end mountain bikes, and some used bikes, said Rysavy.
Inventory is also limited at Mud, Sweat and Gears. Salesperson Seth Fulton said his customers can browse through a selection of in-stock street cruisers in the $400 to $700 range, or $5,000 mountain bikes. But everything in between sold out at the tail-end of winter.
“I was one of the smart ones and ordered my bike in January,” said customer Stu Sheppard, who was getting his new ride adjusted at the shop on Wednesday.
Sheppard has always been into cycling, but plans to do more of it this summer. With fewer activities available, Sheppard feels it’s a great time to get into better shape through more exercise.
Fulton believes interest in cycling is even outstripping demand at the start of the pandemic, as Red Deerians contemplate another summer season with few trips and less activities. Everyone from young families to older people who haven’t been on a bike in a decade are coming in to see what’s available, he said, and ‘it’s nice to send them out on that first drive.”
Fulton hopes to get more stock in before the end of June. He said bike parts are in the shortest supply, so people needing repairs are having to consider some more expensive options.
Wipeout Ski and Bike is also seeing an influx of customers. Although there are no bikes in stock now, an order is expected by mid-June, said salesperson Sydney Sikora. “Hopefully they will come in then, but there’s no telling… We have some (on order) that were supposed to be here by the end of March” and still haven’t arrived.
Meanwhile, some bikes are still available for purchase locally at some big-box retailers.
Sikora said she’s telling customers who are frustrated with the situation to consider equipping themselves for other outdoor activities. “We are bringing in some pickleball supplies and we have some paddleboards. We are trying to spread our wings a little bit.”