Inflated gas prices boosting bicycle sales

Posted at 3:49 PM, Apr 08, 2022

SEATTLE, Wash. — It’s a hobby for some and a way to commute for others. No matter the reason, more people are saying ‘yes’ to pedal power.

“People learned during COVID that cycling is fun again,” said Martin Pluth, general manager for Gregg’s Cycle in Seattle.

After a year of record sales in 2020 and a year of record supply chain holdups in 2021, this year is set to come with a different challenge: inflation.

“We're up 20% and there's really nothing that can account for that other than the fact we have bikes in stock that we didn't have a year ago, and I think the gas prices are having an impact as well,” said Pluth. “It definitely, I think, will have a long-term effect if the prices remain where they're at today. I don't think high gas prices are good nationwide, but at the same time, it's good for our business.”

Pluth said the bike shop, normally quiet in the cooler spring months, is bustling with people coming in for repairs and new bikes.

“We've seen a few bike booms and in the over the years where we've seen a real surge in sales and then it will taper back. This is not predicted to do that this time,” said Pluth.

Pluth thinks the pandemic and the inflation crisis are starting to permanently change attitudes. More people see cycling as a viable transportation solution.

The electric bike market is growing the most.

“I started this company when I was 15 years old, and I did it because I couldn't afford to keep my old broken-down car running,” said Mike Radenbaugh, founder and CEO of Rad Power Bikes.

Radenbaugh said his sales have spiked across the country as customers started to feel that same pain.

“We're finding that about 30% of customers today, the primary reason for coming in is to it's to skirt high gas prices,” said Radenbaugh.

With more than 250 million cars on the road, Radenbaugh is hoping this moment becomes an opportunity to put some of those cars in the garage for good.

“Electric bikes get 1,600 miles per gallon, energy equivalent. Compare that to an electric car, which gets about 100 miles per gallon and equivalent or traditional car, which gets between 20 and 40 miles per gallon, energy equivalent,” said Radenbaugh.

With 77% of car trips being less than 10 miles and 60% less than 5 miles, replacing a couple of drives for a cycle might not be as tough as most think.

“E-bikes go up to 45 miles on a charge, and on a single charge. And they do that with about nine cents of electricity,” said Radenbaugh. “There really is no better solution right now to some of these major macro challenges in our society.”

These avid cyclists hope this seemingly endless price hike gives more people a chance to see the value of having two wheels instead of four.