Cycling craze causes severe stock shortages

The city’s bike boom has been going strong. Pxhere

Bike transportation has soared during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Due to the fact that sports aren’t considered an essential service, many sports stores were tossed into turmoil back in March when quarantine measures first cracked down. Owners of shops, specifically those for summer sports, had to come to terms with the reality that this could be a record low year for sales. By March most shops have already spent some serious cash to put in their stock orders, and the possibility they wouldn’t be able to sell what they’d just ordered caused concern.

     Fortunately for bike shops, those concerns melted away once April hit. Most specialty bike shops cater to avid cyclists, yet this summer have been overwhelmed by the amount of people buying new bikes or bringing in old ones to get revamped. Sweet Pete’s bike shop in Toronto normally pulls in $177,000 in the month of April, but said in an interview with The Canadian Press that this April they made $287,000 – an insane profit increase.

     Dutch Cycle, a bicycle and repair shop in Regina, has seen a drastic increase in clientele as well. Owner Freddy Vandelinden said that at the beginning of lockdown in March when they had to close, they were questioning if they’d even make it through the year. With policies on the types of service they could offer consistently changing it was difficult to adjust, so they began a curb-side service while waiting for approval to open the store itself to the public. Both May and June brought record-breaking sales, as well as the issue of acquiring stock during a pandemic.

     Due to global lock-down measures many factories world-wide had to close which interrupted the supply chain, meaning there is currently a harsh shortage of both bikes and bike parts, a shortage of a degree that Vandelinden said hasn’t been seen since World War 2. He used cruiser bikes for an example of how extreme things have gotten; they’re normally able to be ordered and received within three to four days, but if he ordered some now they’d be waiting two months at least for that delivery. He also reported the general demand for their services and products has been threefold over normal. “If I get a shipment of 50 bikes tomorrow, I’ve got a wait-list of at least 70 people who want them so those bikes are immediately gone.” he said with a laugh. “My showroom is half-full of repair work right now because we’re repairing 30-40 bikes a day.”

     Tyler Kallio, who has worked at The Bike Doctor in Saskatoon over the past three summers, said their experience was quite similar to that of Dutch Cycle. “When I came back to work in April of 2020 we were only doing online orders… I thought we’d be sitting around but we were running around to sort the online orders.” Kallio mentioned. “We opened up to limited walk-in sometime in late May and were equally as busy. Through May and June we quickly realized we were running out of bikes to sell. The upstairs storage was almost empty when in previous summers it was packed.”

     When I asked Kallio why he thought there was such an increased interest in cycling through quarantine, he said “I think there’s been an increase because biking is an activity people can do while maintaining social distancing… At the height of the closures in March me and a couple friends would go winter biking while maintaining distance from each other. It was really nice to get out during the craziness.”

     Vandelinden pointed out that another perk of cycling is that it’s not a team sport. This makes it a more accessible option in general, and especially now when, for our safety and the safety of others, we need to maintain distancing. It’s a way to get out in nature, get in some cardio, and it can be done independently or socially depending on your mood.

     In a piece by Pat Foran for CTV News Toronto, he claimed that yet another reason for this increased interest is transportation. Choosing to commute by bike rather than by bus or carpool decreases the amount of people you come into contact with daily. Other benefits of cycling include a general betterment of attention span, focus, and mood for a few hours after – areas we could all use a boost in some days.

     One of the only downsides to cycling in Saskatchewan is our stretch of winter months. However, if you’ve gotten into cycling and feel like making it a winter sport, you can call Dutch Cycle to get set up with the right material to do it safely. Vandelinden commented that cycling through the snow and ice is “a lot of fun with the right gear, but studded tires are a must to keep you upright.” 

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