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Bicycle boom continues for third year; supply chain issues may persist as gas prices drive demand

Posted at 5:25 PM, Apr 12, 2022

CLEVELAND — As winter gives way to spring in Northeast Ohio, some commuters are ditching their gas guzzling vehicles for a cheaper, more environmentally-friendly alternative.

“I’m trying to get started back up with bike commuting,” said cyclist John McLeod, who works several blocks from Progressive Field. “I just took on a new position here in Downtown, and I’m looking forward to biking on opening day to skirt all of the traffic.”

McLeod said the one hour commute by bicycle from his home in Brecksville to Downtown Cleveland is worth the money he saves not driving back and forth.

“That’s probably my big motivating factor, as opposed to fitness. It’s financial, quite frankly,” he said. “But it’s a pretty good way to start the morning and a pretty good way to end the day.”

Inflated fuel prices may be part of the reason why a pandemic trend of surging bicycle sales could stick around for a third year. At the same time, supply chain challenges could also be a continued trend.

“Supply and demand was really, really tilted in a tough direction for bike shops in 2020 and 2021. This year, we’re seeing a little bit better availability of bikes, in general, so we have pretty good inventory right now. It’s not quite back to normal. In fact, we’re still pretty far away from normal,” explained Alex Nosse, the owner of Joy Machines Bike Shop in Ohio City.

Like many bicycle stores and repair shops, Nosse noted some of the highest demand ever in 2020. The year many communities shut down and imposed COVID-19 health restrictions, national bike sales jumped by 45%. In 2021, lifted restrictions did little to stifle demand.

“We’re not sure if this year is going to be a huge boom year, like last year or the year before, but so far it has been pretty good and we hope that it keeps going,” Nosse said.

He explained inventory is catching up to demand, though some bicycle options and smaller pieces may still be limited in stores.

“Certain replacement parts or repair parts are definitely very tight, stuff you’d never think about, like chains and brake pads,” he said.

Nosse hopes the increased enthusiasm for cycling in recent years, whether for physical, financial or environmental well-being, will continue long-term.

“We don’t want it to be a boom, we want it to be a sustained growth,” he said. “All that stuff is good for the city and it’s good for the individual that chooses to live that way as well.”

He recommends purchasing bicycles and replacement parts early in the season to avoid a limited selection or shortages.

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