The massive surge in demand for bicycles during the Covid-19 shutdown has caused shortages of bikes worldwide, with the industry warning that anyone leaving their shopping too late is likely to be disappointed this holiday season.
Bicycle Industries Australia general manager Peter Bourke said the shortage was affecting all bike retailers, from boutique bicycle shops to department stores. He said: “There will be people who will not be able to get a bike at Christmas. Usually you can go into Kmart or Big W the night before Christmas and get a bike, but that’s certainly not the case this year.”
Bourke said retailers around Australia had sold out of stock during the Covid bike boom and have been working with distributors for months to get what they needed, but were juggling significant back orders.
“We know that some shops have 50, 100, 600 people on a waiting list looking for bikes.”
Sales manager at Epic Cycles in Brisbane, Paddy Fry, said shops ordered stock based on past sales, but the unprecedented surge in sales since April had thrown planning out of the window.
“It will get better, but Christmas is going to be difficult for someone who isn’t prepared … I’ve been years in the industry and I’ve never seen it like this. It’s nuts.”
Fry said a global parts shortage was creating a bottleneck: “The problem is that the components are being manufactured at a different factory. The bikes might be almost ready but they’re waiting for small parts, which adds a further delay.”
He said the issue was exacerbated by long manufacturing lead times: “It takes the bike manufacturers at least six months to catch up … The machinery is set up to produce all the raw material for a certain type of bike at a certain time, so they can’t easily switch it over and produce more of something else.”
Fry warned customers needed to order early to get what they wanted. “We were able to get some orders in. We have people waiting for a 24-inch kid’s bike who contacted us a month ago and they’re waiting till December.”
Adelaide bike shop owner Stephen Kancsal of East End Cycles, said suppliers could not always fill retailers’ orders and stores were often left with the less popular bikes. “My floor fits 145 bikes, and I’m probably down to 45 … what’s missing is the basics. I have a lot of e-bikes, balance bikes, young children’s bikes, but I’m missing the bikes suitable for a 10-year-old, something for someone to ride to work, all the hybrids, even the upper-level mountain bikes.”
He said shoppers could not afford to be picky: “If you see a bike you like and it’s in store, buy it. Forget about discount. Forget about colour – whether it’s pink or purple, green or blue – just buy it. Smart people shop early: if you leave it till December there will be no stock.”