Pandemic makes bikes and bike parts harder to get

Kevin Richards

The pandemic has found many people dusting off their bikes that have been sitting in the garage as they look to get out of the house.

Bike Central owner Kevin Richards at Le Mars says the point is that the bikes will be tracked with a bigger model. “There has been a huge increase in sales across the leisure industry, and in particular bicycles. We are seeing this holding up and I anticipate that as the weather improves we will continue to see an increase in people – at least when it comes to inquiries or looking for purchases or even just doing a few repairs on their existing bike,” says Richards.

Richards says they took action when they started to see interest in the bikes increase.
“Last fall we were pretty well informed that bikes were going to be in short supply. We have made the decision to bring a large number of spares that we normally don’t keep on hand, because if we need a spare that we don’t have,
we can usually get it within a day,” according to Richards. “Knowing that there would be supply issues, we started stocking spares.”

The Bike Central store owner says the majority of bikes come from Southeast Asia and the global spread of the COVID virus has forced factories and shipping to close, leading to a lack of supply. Richards says parts companies are reluctant to ramp up production.

“I know a lot of the OEMs – the people who make the shifters and the gears – have decided not to really ramp up production because they’re not sure it’s not just a bubble of demand in the bike industry,” says Richards. “So we’re kind of limited to what they’re going to produce. And I believe from some conversations that there will be some parts that we won’t be able to see until the fourth quarter of 2022.”

He says the types of bikes being sold indicate a lot of people are just looking to get out of the house and do something. “Most of the sales are what I would call active bike geometry. So something suitable for trail riding here, city riding. Obviously we don’t have a lot of mountains,” he says.

He says for now they will try to help people fix whatever bikes they have until they can look at a new bike once the supply returns to normal. Richards says interest in Le Mars is even higher after learning that they will be hosting RAGBRAI this year.

(By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, The March)