Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
5 reasons for the 2020 bike boom
Unlike toilet paper that was stockpiled once the world took to their residences during the Covid lockdown, it took more time for the world's commuters and bicycling enthusiasts to realize that both old and new bicycles were beginning to experience shortages, too.
It's happened before. In the 1970s, a bike boom was documented by the media. "Life" magazine ran "The Bicycle Madness" article, citing glutted roadways, ecological concerns over fuel emissions as reasons bikes were flying off shelves. The situation grew more dramatic when the 1973 OPEC oil crisis led to fuel shortages that further depleted inventories.
Fast forward to 2020. A recreation renaissance re-emerged due to virus confinements that triggered a hunger for outdoor exercise. According to cycling experts at YesCycling.com: bored social distancers and folks sequestering in place turned to bikes for workouts, leaving riders, retailers, and manufacturers in the lurch. The 2020 bicycle boom was on a collision course with untenable circumstances.
These five reasons continue to drive this trend.
Reason #1: The virus. Early in 2020, as the pandemic swept across the globe, people resurrected old bikes from garages, cleaned them up, and counted on them to get out of the house without wearing masks. Folks with no bikes turned to the Internet and bike shops. Sales exploded. What shoppers didn't realize was that stock was disappearing at a faster rate than usual and supplies of new models counted on to replenish inventory was further diminished by virus-related work shutdowns that impacted both bicycle and component production.
Reason #2: Economics. With job losses associated with the pandemic, reality struck. Could hefty car payments be kept up? What did it matter since nobody was commuting anyway? Economics struck at the heart of global communities, but societies, demanding transport of some sort, were forced to rethink driving behaviors. For many cash-strapped consumers, bicycles became the family transportation alternative. By summer, the shortage of commuter bikes and component parts tipped the scale further as demand outpaced supply.
Reason #3: Exercise. Treadmill sales increased, as did other fitness equipment consumers needed to install workout areas now that spas, gyms, and fitness centers were closed down in reaction to the spreading virus. Bicycles remained a vital component of fitness activities that allowed folks to leave their homes for the outdoors, where social distancing was elevated to an art. By summer's end, retailers and bike shops were getting "rain-checks" from manufacturers for a product, pushing back new product introductions and delivery schedules dramatically.
Reason #4: Trade wars. During President Donald Trump's term of office, relationships between the U.S. and China had become dicey, further weakening the supply chain of bikes and components manufactured in Asia. Lockdowns continued to impact manpower and labor shortages on both sides of the Pacific and problems finding raw materials to manufacture components were exacerbated. To be fair, China wasn't the only nation with whom the U.S. experienced frayed business ties, further complicating commerce between myriad nations.
Reason #5: Supply chain delays. The situation became dire as 2020 droned to its inevitable conclusion. Because used bikes were trending, parts became hard-to-find commodities triggering additional shortages. As news of Covid vaccines began to resonate around the globe, the bicycle industry continued to be mired in material, labor, shipping, logistics and other dilemmas that would take time to re-institute before the supply chain could be fully re-established. According to industry projections, new supplies of parts and bicycles aren't likely to start showing up until later in 2021 – perhaps September or October, indicating a long road to go before normalcy is restored.