The bicycle business continues to be booming a 12 months after the pandemic

Bicycles continue to spin out of stores in record numbers.

In March last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, people started buying bicycles. A year later, the industry continues to see sales spike – to the point where manufacturers struggle to deliver products, experts said.

“We used to get a truckload of bikes and now we get two or three at a time,” said George Gatto, co-owner of the Gatto Cycle Shop in Tarentum. “The providers cannot keep up with the demand. It’s been a really challenging time in the past 12 months. ”

Around this time last year, Gatto said he was reluctant to place a large order, but colleagues in stores in other states suggested it.

“I’m glad I did because now there is no inventory anywhere,” said Gatto. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Gatto said the store typically has three times as many bikes in the showroom and many more in inventory. A shortage of bicycle parts has also resulted in manufacturers – from Trek to Specialized to Cannondale to Schwinn and others – being able to make bicycles, he said.

This happens with all types, from racing bikes to electronic bikes.

Gatto’s store currently has 60 bikes, a third of what he normally stocks. And the shortage isn’t just in bicycles, he said.

He sees the trend also encompassing other outdoor recreational items such as jet skis, dirt bikes, ATVs, and motorcycles. He adds pontoon boats to inventory so he can offer another product to outdoor enthusiasts.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune review

A bicycle hangs from the ceiling in the Flat Tire Co. Bike Shop in Greensburg.

Do not wait

At the Flat Tire Co. bike shop in Greensburg, owner Ashley Reefer said that when a new bike comes in, it’s usually gone within 48 hours. She has a list of the bikes she has ordered, but there is no guarantee that they will arrive.

Reefer said she had about 25% of what she would normally have in inventory.

“The sale went over the roof,” she said.

At the beginning of the pandemic, people started buying bicycles when children were not having exercise and the gyms were not open for exercise. Everyone was looking for something to do outside, where they could feel safe and socially distant, and where they could exercise, she said.

“Bicycles can help them with that,” she said. “It’s going to be a rough summer because I don’t see this change in the next few months or maybe even longer.”

A bare showroom

At Dirty Harry’s, the showroom isn’t nearly what it usually looks like this time of year, said Jeffries, who has been in the bike business for 41 years. He said they usually have “a few hundred bikes”.

“Demand far exceeds the supply chain,” said Jeffries. “The supply chain was interrupted due to the pandemic, which in turn affected the industry. The industry is trying to fix itself, but a year later it’s worse.

“I’ve never seen anything like it.”

He said he would go to his computer, order bikes and know when they would arrive before the pandemic. He has a list of more than 400 customer names waiting for a bike or a bike to be repaired.

“We love cycling and we really want people to start cycling,” he said. “If you want a bike and you see one in a store, get it that day because it will most likely be gone tomorrow.”

He said a positive result is that children’s bikes are selling well because that means a future for the cycling community.

Jeffries said that, As people are more at home, it encourages more family time. He remembered one day riding a trail that was typically home to about 40 people. It stopped and counted 504, including many families.

“People pull old bikes out of garages and attics because they want to go outside and do something,” he said. “Pittsburgh has so many good trails. We as the bike community will keep pushing forward and get over this mountain, because that’s exactly what bike riders do. We keep pedaling to get where we want to go. ”

At your service

Bike shops are also seeing an increase in service calls. Gatto said he was having trouble hiring a bicycle mechanic and the store manager had been doing repairs.

At Flat Tire, the waiting time for service is typically a week, but lately it’s been at least two weeks as more and more bikes need to be repaired or adjusted.

Flat Tire Service Manager Justin Sweed said they assess what a bike needs before picking it up to make sure they have the correct parts in stock.


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Barry Jeffries, owner of Dirty Harry’s Bicycles in Verona, shows a large collection of bicycles in the repair shop. Due to the pandemic, it has been difficult for bike shops to get parts.

100 bikes were serviced and 60 repaired in the basement of Dirty Harry’s Bicycles in Verona. Owner Barry Jeffries said parts that would normally take 90 days to arrive now arrive in 350-440 days.

Jeffries said there is usually downtime in winter but not last year. They usually have 100 bikes in boxes ready to be set up. He had one in a box one last Friday.

At PRO BIKE + RUN in North Park, the store typically stocks 500-600 bikes. They had 120 last week.

“Our numbers are way lower than usual,” said Shane Muro, in-store sales rep. “As soon as you come in, go. We don’t have a lot of bikes to show people around. ”

The store stocks many types of bikes, from simple bikes to mountain bikes, to electric and other high-end bikes.

Technology has found its way into bicycles. Electric bikes offer an easier way to ride uphill and are good for someone who needs extra assistance. They cost more than a manual bike and cost anywhere from $ 600 to $ 800 and can go as high as $ 8,000 or more.

According to Muro, PRO BIKE + RUN is one of the largest bike stores in western Pennsylvania.

He said they noticed more people were coming in right after they got their state stimulus checks. He also said that people who bought an entry-level bike last year often came back to upgrade.

Muro said the city of Pittsburgh has bikes for people to rent downtown and is a catalyst for cycling, he said.

“People became active during the pandemic,” he said.

Some statistics

According to The NPD Group, a research firm based in New York, the bicycle industry grew 75% last April to reach $ 1 billion in revenue for the month.

Purchases for traditional bicycles, indoor bicycles, parts, helmets and other accessories increased 75% year over year.

Bicycles suitable for family use, neighborhood driving, and at lower prices saw the strongest year-over-year sales increases, according to the report. It is also said that lifestyle and recreational bikes that sold in the $ 200 range grew 203% while mountain bike sales rose more than 150%. Sales of children’s bicycles increased by 107%.

“For far too long the cycling industry has focused solely on the elite athlete, but these results show that a broader focus on families and beginners can be profitable,” said Matt Powell, advisor to NPD Sports Industry in the report. “This is a silver lining and one of the most important sports retail lessons emerging from the pandemic.”

Dirk Sorenson, sports industry analyst at NPD, said in the report that consumers are showing interest in recreational and family riding. It’s one way of getting new drivers, he said.

“For continued growth, they not only need to have products in stock, but they also need to focus on the basic needs of new riders, such as fixing a flat tire or finding a family-friendly trail,” said Sorenson. “With these fundamentals in mind now, there is an immeasurable return on investment and the industry should focus on servicing these new drivers.”

According to the National Bicycle Dealers Association website, the bicycle industry will benefit from the behavioral change during the pandemic. The industry is evolving and the cycling trend is accelerating rather than slowing down.

The pandemic has disrupted the lives, work and games of consumers. People who work from home appreciate personal mobility and, according to the association, recognize the value of a bicycle.

The website shows that retail sales grew more than 40% in 2020 and sales are projected to reach $ 8 billion by 2025.

To go on tour

Here are a few reasons bicycles are so popular, According to the National Bicycle Dealers Association:

Change lifestyles – People spend much more time at home, both for work and for leisure. As travel shrinks, people are willing to spend more on recreational activities near their home and invest more in themselves.

Discover the joy of cycling – Consumers want enhanced relief from isolation and stress and want the freedom of simplicity. Cycling is just the thing for them. Bicycles are a way of staying socially distant and satisfying the need for social engagement from like-minded people, family members and friends.

Human power pedals new wheels – Studies have shown that consumers drive more for sport, recreation and performance, but also for transport.

Tips for buying a bike

Ashley Reefer, owner of Flat Tire Co. in Greensburg, offers this advice for buying a bike:

• Sizes come in different sizes, so choose a bike that fits you. If you buy the wrong frame size, you are purchasing a pair of shoes that will not fit. It won’t be pleasant.

• Buy from a local bike shop as the people there have knowledge of bikes and will assist you after the sale. When you buy something online, you don’t know what you are getting.

• Buy a bike that fits your budget.

• Bring your bike for annual service.

• If you buy a used bike, make sure it is matched.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a contributor to the Tribune Review. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062,, or on Twitter.

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