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Bike shortage takes on new form because of price hikes and supply-chain issues

CHAMPAIGN – As Champaign Cycle slowly returns to its normal inventory, it’s experiencing price increases in bikes and bike parts that are indicative of the ongoing national bicycle shortage, which began after the sudden increase in sales at the beginning of the pandemic.

As of May 13, a report from Statista found that Americans spent $7 billion on bikes and accessories in 2020, $8.2 billion in 2021 and $7.5 billion in 2022 — compared to $6.1 billion in 2019.

 

 

Heather Mason, president of the National Bike Dealers Association, said the bike industry wasn’t prepared to accommodate the increase in sales at the beginning of the pandemic, which caused supply-chain disruptions. “We just didn’t have the systems in place to keep up with such a large growth,” she said. “Our industry was actually on a slight decline, so we were better prepared to handle a slowdown, rather than a ramp up.”

She said large bike manufacturers – like Trek, Cannondale and Giant – predicted the bike shortage, so they ordered large amounts of components ahead of time. This made it more difficult for smaller manufacturers to get their hands on those same parts. 

The availability of bike components and accessories affected retailers too. 

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

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

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

During the height of the pandemic, Hegeman-Davis said the store only received shipments of bikes once a month. But within the past two months, the store has begun receiving weekly shipments. The number of bikes that Champaign Cycle has in stock has increased dramatically since last summer.

After COVID-19 hit, Mason said consumers’ demand for bikes grew suddenly, but because of tariffs, global shortages and shipping costs, she said the price of bikes has increased. At Champaign Cycle, prices have increased by about 25% over the last two years – despite the store currently having more than 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 will ever go back to sort of pre-pandemic pricing on bicycles.”

Even though the bike industry’s growth has slowed down since 2020, Mason said sales are still above pre-pandemic levels. 

Although the shortage is still happening, Mason said it’s focused on specific bike models, components and accessories. She anticipates the shortage to last until next year or two years from now. 

“It’s just gonna have to naturally play out where demand and supply can find a way to meet each other in the center,” she said. “I hate to say there’s nothing we can do, but I think it just needs a little bit of naturally falling into place.”  

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Sydney Wood

Sydney Wood

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