Bike shortage takes on new shape due to price hikes and supply chain issues

CHAMPAIGN – As Champaign Cycle slowly returns to its normal inventory, it is experiencing price increases for bicycles and bicycle parts that indicate the ongoing national bicycle shortage, which began after the sudden increase in sales at the start of the pandemic.

Since May 13, a Statista report found that Americans spent $7 billion on bicycles and accessories in 2020, $8.2 billion in 2021, and $7.5 billion in 2022, up from $6.1 billion in 2019.

Heather Mason, president of the National Bike Dealers Association, said the bike industry was unprepared for the surge in sales at the start of the pandemic, which caused chain disruptions. supply. “We just didn’t have the systems in place to handle such massive growth,” she said. “Our industry was actually in a slight decline, so we were better prepared to handle a downturn rather than a ramp-up.”

She said major bike manufacturers — like Trek, Cannondale and Giant — predicted the bike shortage, so they ordered large quantities of components in advance. This made it harder for smaller manufacturers to get their hands on those same parts.

The availability of bicycle components and accessories has also affected retailers.

“Some components go to certain brands, and some smaller brands just can’t get the components now,” she said. “It trickles down, and retailers get, you know, instead of 20 road bikes like they’re used to, they could get one.”

This trend was true at Champaign Cycles, according to store manager Alexander Hegeman-Davis.

In 2020 and 2021, the store stocked fewer than 20 bikes, as opposed to its pre-pandemic number of 200-250 bikes.

At the height of the pandemic, Hegeman-Davis said the store only received bike deliveries once a month. But in the past two months, the store has started receiving weekly deliveries. The number of bikes Champaign Cycle has in stock has increased significantly since last summer.

After the COVID-19 hit, Mason said consumer demand for the bikes suddenly increased, but due to tariffs, global shortages and shipping costs, she said the price of the bikes went up. At Champaign Cycle, prices have risen about 25% over the past two years, although the store currently has over 200 bikes.

“Even recently we had another price increase on some of our bikes,” he said. “So maybe the price increases will slow down, but I don’t think we’ll ever go back to some kind of pre-pandemic pricing on bikes.”

Even though bike industry growth has slowed since 2020, Mason said sales were still above pre-pandemic levels.

Although the shortage persists, Mason said she is focusing on specific bike models, components and accessories. She predicts the shortage will last until next year or two years from now.

“It’s going to have to play out naturally where demand and supply can find a way to meet in the middle,” she said. “I hate to say there’s nothing we can do, but I think he just needs a bit of a natural set up.”

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