Move over, toilet paper and ketchup.
There’s a new pandemic shortage in town.
Even local bike shops say they’re having trouble staying stocked.
While the pandemic saw sales of stationary bikes soar, some shops say some of their orders for the kind of bikes you ride outdoors won’t be filled until December.
Racks inside Ernie’s Bicycle Shop at 1325 Portage St. NW near North Canton are usually filled with colorful new bicycles waiting to be sold. Instead, the majority of those racks are filled with bikes awaiting repair or those that have been repaired.
Why are bikes harder to find now?
“We just don’t have that right now. No one does,” said Bill Flaherty, sales and service associate at Ernie’s. “Usually, we have a couple hundred new bikes for sale. Right now, we have 50. Some are kids’ bikes.
“We’ve got this big (bicycle) shortage going on. Warehouses are depleted, the factories are empty. It’s just tough getting bikes.”
People hoping for a little exercise have been dragging their bicycles out of their garages and basements, but getting them ready to ride has also proven difficult.
“We’re doing way more repairs than usual,” Flaherty said. “There’s the parts shortage. You can’t find things like chains, derailleurs, … We have been able to get around some of those.”
Yet, he said, “This is the ripple effect from the pandemic we’re going through.”
There’s also a shortage of bike parts
Ryan Cartwright, who co-owns B&B Bike Shop at 2030 Cherry Ave. in Alliance with his wife Tiffany, said he and his vendors are having a hard time finding parts since the pandemic began. “It’s probably going to affect us for awhile.”
Cartwright said he checks several times daily online for “tubes, tires, derailleurs, everything … Tires are the hardest to find. Kinda like toilet paper.”
While the small front room of his shop is filled with older bicycles, “Usually, if I order a bike now, it’s only to get BMXs. I had to order a month or two ago to get BMXs in July.”
Flaherty said some bikes are harder to get at his store, too, and when it comes to ordering some types, “We’re looking at several months out.”
Fewer bikes turning up lost or stolen
Police say fewer bikes are winding up in their property rooms with bright yellow tags labeling them abandoned or recovered property.
Stark County Sheriff Sgt. Michael Spivey said that typically, a call may come in from someone saying they found a bicycle in their yard that doesn’t belong to them, anyone in their family nor any of their neighbors. Deputies will collect it and tag it into evidence.
Bikes that aren’t eventually claimed are auctioned with other unclaimed property. Money stemming from those sales goes back to the county.
In September 2019, 46 bicycles stored at the Stark County Sheriff’s Office were auctioned, according to figures provided by the Stark County Auditor’s Office. Last year, the pandemic prevented an auction.
Spivey said deputies have brought in only three bikes so far this year.
In 2020, he counted 33 bikes in the evidence room, a number that he said is low.
“People are spending money on these bikes and they’re probably securing them a whole lot better (due to the pandemic),” he said.
Recovered bicycles are on the decline in the city of Canton this year, too.
Canton police records show that between March 1, 2019, and Feb. 28, 2020, police had 62 bicycles in their possession. That number is down by about 25%. Police had 46 bikes between March 1, 2020, and Feb. 28 of this year.
Police say more people are probably using their bicycles.
Bike sales rising
Flaherty said the sales of other types of bikes and related equipment have risen at his store as people continue to search for ways to stay healthy or travel during the COVID.
Ernie’s has a row of e-bikes or electric bicycles to make cycling easier or, as Flaherty said, “They help you to ride farther and faster with less effort.”
Those bikes can cost as high as $3,800 and, according to Flaherty, they come with a tax credit.
Flaherty said they have been popular in New York City during the pandemic for commuters to use in place of having to “ride the train.”
His store also sells Zwift software and a “smart trainer,” which fits under the back of an existing bicycle. The device is connected to a video screen that enables the rider to interact with and ride with other cyclists all over the world virtually.
The smart trainer runs from $350 to $1,000. The Zwift service costs about $16/month.
“You can ride under a waterfall or underwater. … You can climb a big mountain with Bjorn or ride with Shawn from Dublin,” Flaherty These are things that we’re doing because of COVID,” Flaherty said.
Reach Lori at 330-580-8309 or [email protected].
On Twitter: @lsteineckREP