As I write this I find myself sitting in my lounge during another nationwide lockdown and stay at home orders. It's been 482 days since we were last in a hard lockdown, so we can consider ourselves pretty lucky in comparison to the rest of the world. Over those 482 days, we've had an entire summer with a couple of minor scares, we've partied, holidayed, rode bikes in all sorts of parts of New Zealand and our domestic industry has been booming!
One industry in particular has boomed, and boomed has it what! Yes, the humble bicycle industry has seen one of the most astronomical rises it has ever seen. some 473~ days ago we hedged our bets on what we thought was going to happen, so we thought we'd check back in and see how we went.
In our previous article we theorized on a couple of major things so we thought we'd quickly recap those for you.
- Online sales - √
- New Bikes sales - √ and X
- Big companies strengthening - √
- Smaller shops strengthening - √
- Second Hand Market - √
So we kind of nailed all scenarios we theorized which was something quite unusual... These do all come with a bit of a caveat though as it's not that clean-cut.
The root mean cause of the below is primarily due to the pandemics halt in production across parts of the world, but the minor hiatus in production has stretched much farther than the 4-6 weeks of initial impact.
First of all, the world wide cycling industry has seen some astronomical levels of sales and demand on the already stretched industry. New bikes, upgraded parts, high demands for replacement consumables and the list goes on. It seems that if it's for a bike, it'll be in hot demand.
Starting with the major items, like Bikes, we've seen demands peak higher than they've ever been, with some manufacturers selling out of new models before they've even hit shop floors . This is often coupled with horrendously long lead times with deposits too. OEM parts supply seem to have become the true driver for these delays with most manufacturers (shimano, sram, fox etc.) only able to supply their product to complete, factory built bikes and much later than the bike companies would like to allow. Some companies even forced to deviate with parts from their published spec's simply because, they just can't get them!
This has though, caused the major companies to strengthen even further with their buying power. Once again the smaller brands have been put to the back of the cue simply due to the big vs small mechanisms of business. Buy more stock traditionally, get more rewards. In the case, the rewards are simply just getting stock....
Consumables have been in such demand that all forward stocks have been depleted already and primarily made only available as OEM product. Things like chains, replacement brake parts, complete brakes and even bottom brackets have become items that we would normally consider readily available consumables, now absolute essentials.
And then we come to the second hand market, the market that was flat and completely flooded is now thriving and just as lucrative as the new market. Because you can't buy new, the humble second hand upgrade is now a prized new purchase in some minds. Old bikes are selling for solid values again and spare, second hand parts are now worth gold!
The constant market place posts of old, lightly used parts are now something of a get it or loose it game. Right now it's a "if it's there, buy it" type approach as chances are ya wont get it new at the moment.
To replace something new thats as simple as a broken brake lever or damaged mech is now a very long lead time and thats only if you're lucky enough to have the manufacturer even be able to say there may be one coming. Stories are surfacing of people having to purchase cable braked calipers to replace the old and faulty hydraulic variant on their 8 year old bike. Granted these are specials cases, but still around none the less.
On a plus side, the local bike shops and importers are absolutely buzzing. Sure they're struggling for stock and new bikes, but given the industries demand, they have absolutely flourished. Mechanics are become resourceful heroes that are keeping peoples bikes running and for once, the customer is not trying their darnedest to undercut their prices and seem to be happy to pay the going rate. I mean, what else are you going to do?
So where to from here? Basically, the bike industry is in massive disarray. Excessively long lead times and extremely tight stock levels are meaning the whole world is feeling things. My advice? Love your local mechanic, go easy on those brake pads, keep the maintenance up on your drivetrains and suspension components and just ride on through on what you have. My other advise is go through your old spare parts bin, if you think it still works, chuck it up on a classified page as it's likely another mountain bikers saving grace.
Is this all over soon? you can bet your ass it's not.....