June 25, 2021

Gp Delivers1

The excellent automotive artisans1

Local retailers find that peddling bicycles is tough these days

In 1997, armed with a small loan and big dreams, Eric Dilg opened the Bikeway Source in Bedford.

Since then, the bicycle industry has experienced multitudes of changes. Dilg thought he had seen everything. Then the pandemic hit last March.

“It is completely new and foreign,” Dilg said.

These are crazy times for area bicycle shops. Demand is high. Cooped up for so long, people want to exercise outside in a safe manner. That’s good. But due to a global shipping crisis caused by the pandemic, shipments are behind schedule. How far behind? Some bicycles won’t be delivered until well into 2022. That’s frustrating.

“It’s not a question of demand. It’s a question of supply,” said John Reischutz, who owns Pedal Power Bike & Ski in Acton with his wife, Joyce.

A link to a New York Times article explaining the shipping crisis is on Pedal Power’s website. Two other notes are also on the website. One says some desirable road bikes, if ordered today, may not arrive until August 2022. The other reads, “It sounds nuts, but if you’ll want a bike within the next 18 months, it would be wise to talk to us now, and get it on order.”

Reischutz recently sold a bike to someone who had called 22 shops.

“They were looking at a certain model, and we just happened to have it,” he said.

In the business since 1975, Reischutz was asked if he has ever seen anything like this.

“Heavens, no,” he said. “Almost always we’ve been able to order things and have them come in a couple of days. It’s never been like this.”

Pedal Power went three weeks in March without receiving a single bike. A recent shipment was five bikes; normally the store would get 50-60 at a time.

“It is out of our control,” Reischutz said. “What’s interesting is it’s actually gotten worse than it was. I’m still getting parts that I ordered in May.”

Few parts or frames are built in the United States. Many come from China, Japan and Taiwan. Shop owners have learned far too much about shipping lanes and tariff policy decisions.

The demand for shipping has far surpassed container availability in Asia, creating shortages. In many cases, the metal boxes that move goods are piling up in American ports.

At RJ Bradley’s Skis and Bikes in Littleton, demand is brisk.

“What we do have is (selling) quickly,” said Andrew Hawes, the co-owner with Robert Dolins. “At this point, about 75{184722e0e226bcc33313b73fd463388417f454aa3a20797559fe2c0007fff18a} of the people who walk through the door have some context about what’s going on. It’s a really unique time. It’s amazing for our business. Bike service is going crazy. People have brought their old bikes in (for service) earlier than ever because they can’t find the new bikes.”

Hawes said a parts shortage has also made consumers frustrated. He said it’s no time for those wanting a new bike to be hesitant. If they find a bike they’re looking for, and it’s the right size, he encourages them to buy.

He’s not being a pushy salesman. He’s simply being honest “because there won’t be a bike around the next day,” Hawes said.

One of the bigger bicycle shops in the area is Cycle Loft in Burlington. Anthony Laskaris, the vice president, said business is booming. Rail trails are full of cyclists thrilled to be getting fresh air outdoors.

“It’s always been fun,” he said of the joy of cycling. “A lot of people are now remembering how fun it was.”

But depending upon the model, some bikes ordered today will not arrive until the summer or fall of 2022. Since it ordered hundreds of bikes last spring, sensing the pandemic was going to linger, the Cycle Loft’s inventory is actually fairly large. Laskaris said family and kids’ bikes are plentiful.

“We are selling more than ever,” he said. “There are no bad bikes out there. It might not be the one you dreamt about when you walked in.”

The $5,000 carbon fiber bike? That will require a considerable wait.

Dilg said he has 700 bikes on back-order at his Bedford store.

“They come in all the time. We have no control when the bikes come in,” he said. “Mountain bikes are completely scarce. I’d give anything to have 50 or 60 mountain bikes at the right price. But I have to wait. It’s definitely been challenging the last six months.”

Some people are shocked to hear the bicycle they want to purchase won’t arrive until this fall at the earliest. Most, however, have heard the rumors.

It’s a strange time to be selling bicycles. Customers aren’t haggling over price like they used to. Demand is great.

“That’s a positive thing. But the bad part is that the world’s (shipping woes) make it more difficult,” Reischutz said.

Of course, not every bike purchased has to be new or cost $2,000. Places like Facebook Marketplace have loads of used bikes for sale, many at a substantial discount price.