Business is booming for many bicycle shops during coronavirus lockdown

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Are you thinking of getting your bike tuned up for the summer season?

Well, get in line. The community bicycle shop is one business that’s been booming during the Covid-19 pandemic, not the best thing for those who suddenly want to buy a new bike or get an old one repaired.

The scene outside Gregg’s Cycles in Bellevue

Many governors, such as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, have ruled bicycle shops as “essential businesses” during the pandemic so they could stay open and provide repair services. Apparently they’ve also created a bang up job on sales.

One bicycle shop in Bradenton, Florida, however, is closing in the midst of the pandemic. Ringling Bicycles is facing two problems — the sale of the property the shop leased and a shortage of affordable bicycle inventory, according to the Bradenton Herald.

A fixture on Manatee Street since 1980, the shop is owned by Dave and Julie Holt. They were known for hosting the starting point for countless rides, and fitting bicycles to all shapes and abilities, including those with illnesses or disabilities that made conventional bicycling difficult.

When the property was sold, the Holts could not reach the new owners to determine plans for the site. By the time they hooked up, booming sales across the bicycle industry had evaporated their ability to restock.

Bicycle shops across the country are seeing an upswing in visitors.

In Portland, Oregon, River City Bicycles marketing director Ryan Barrett told KGW8-News: “The amount of business is not like anything we’ve seen. Everyone wants to ride.”

At Portland’s West End Bikes, owner Mark Ontiveros says there’s a shortage of bikes in the $1,000 and below price range. Also, he said, bike repair shops are extremely busy with everything from fixing flats to tuning up bikes that haven’t been ridden in years.

As with elsewhere, Boise, Idaho, also is experiencing a shortage of new bicycles.

Although its doors are closed, the nonprofit Boise Bicycle Project cooperative reports it is still working behind the scenes and selling online. “I know here at the Boise Bicycle Project we are selling every bike that we fix up and get on the shelf,” Jimmy Hallyburton told KIVI TV news. “We have really had a huge demand for those bikes.”

The New York Times reports that bicycle, accessory, and repair sales doubled in March over the previous year, according to industry research N.P.D. Group. According to the Times:

Sales of commuter and fitness bikes in the same month increased 66 percent, leisure bikes jumped 121 percent, children’s bikes went up 59 percent and electric bikes rose 85 percent.

“By the end of April, many stores and distributors had sold out of low-end consumer bikes. Now, the United States is facing a severe bicycle shortage as global supply chains, disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, scramble to meet the surge in demand.”

The reporter describes daily scenes where people are lined up down the block outside bike shops in New York City, which are open as essential businesses but still limit the number of customers in the store. They’re waiting to buy equipment or have someone adjust or repair their bikes. If they want to buy a new bike, they’re finding the lower cost bikes are long gone.

In Asia, where the majority of bicycles are made, the coronavirus closed factories, according to the Times. Lower-end bikes might not be available in the US until June or July.

E-bicycles have seen huge growth this spring. Seattle-based Rad Power Bikes reported a 297 percent increase in April sales over last year. Many of those bikes were sold to businesses in the delivery market. The demand of e-bikes has prompted the company to hire more employees in customer service and product support.

If you live in the Seattle area, the Cascade Bicycle Club compiled a list of bike shops that are open during the lockdown.

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