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Record number of people pedaling their way through the pandemic

Cycling shops wait months to get new bikes in
Posted at 5:23 PM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-25 18:35:50-04

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — Sales records shattered and repair requests are racking up as a growing number of people look to peddle their way through the pandemic. A disruption in the supply chain, along with soaring demand has put the brakes on bike sales in Northeast Ohio.

"Gone are the days of walking into a shop like Century Cycles in Rocky River and leaving with a new ride. We knew it was going to be a mess," said Scott Cowan, who works at the shop.

Customers are now putting down deposits to secure bicycles they won't see for several months.

"In fact, we had five bikes just come in that I ordered back in April," said Cowan.

With more people choosing to socially distance themselves on two wheels, people are having to go to great lengths to get a product with a depleted inventory.

“We’ve had people drive from New York, a 10-hour drive, to get a specific bike. Overnight, they drove here," said Cowan.

The coronavirus has hit the cycling supply chain hard.

“Instead of taking 60 days to get a product here from Asia, which is where is 90% of the stuff is coming from, now it’s taking over 150 days and expanding," said Cowan.

For those who already have bikes, they're dusting them off and bringing them in.

“Thirty, 40, 50-year-old bikes coming in for their first tune up,” said Cowan.

At one point this summer, there were so many, Century Cycles had to stop taking repair requests.

“Every facet of the business has been in demand. Repair parts, rentals, accessories, helmets, bicycles, car racks, inner tubes," said Cowan.

Jess Vanness got her bike in this week, but she'll have to wait a while to get it back.

“Was I surprised? Yeah. I live in an Instagram society. I want it done now, but I totally understand and that’s actually pretty good, two weeks for what’s going on right now," said Vanness.

With no relief in sight, Cowan is encouraging people who want to buy a bicycle for next summer to put money down right now.

“We’re being told now that through 2021, our industry is going to be upside down and you should plan on not being able to walk into a bicycle store and being able to walk out with a product,” said Cowan.

Cowan said the increased demand is not impacting prices for now.

“I know that’s going to happen, it has to," said Cowan.

For the cycling industry, the pandemic created some pitfalls, but Cowan said there's definitely an upside.

“We know there’s going to be some residual positives from this whole COVID mess. Everybody took to cycling. It’s like someone flipped a switch. It’s awesome," said Cowan.