Bike retailers warning of shortages after Covid-19 lockdown sees interest spike

Laura James
Source: 1News

Bike retailers are warning of delays and product shortages after Covid-19 and lockdown's led to an increased interest in cycling.

The trend’s being seen both here and overseas, with US media reporting stores in New York drew “block long queues” and a retailer in Washington DC’s getting “more pre-orders than ever in its 50-year history”.

Central Auckland’s Adventure Cycles’ workers have been run off their feet selling and fixing bikes.

Staff member Luke Ward, 14, told 1 NEWS they’d usually have about four bikes dropped off to be serviced per hour. But, due to Covid-19, that’s risen to 10.

He said it had been fairly consistent since the start of Alert Level 3.

Another staff member Ayub Sayed said “we're running out of space”, pointing out where there’d usually be gaps in the now packed yard.

Fix-up jobs are keeping Hastings’ The Hub Cycle Centre busy too.

Owner and former Olympic cyclist, Robert Oliver said some of the bikes being dragged in have “cobwebs and everything”.

The store’s sales and workload is at a peak.

“We've been busy all through, right through shut down,” Mr Oliver said.

“We're running out of bikes too, it's caught us at the wrong time of the year because at this time of the year it's our lowest stock level… and the virus has also put the factories behind trying to supply us."

Mr Oliver added: “People are time poor and it's not often you get a family together to go and try do things together, but the shutdown created that, it gave families time to think ‘what shall we do now, we want some exercise’”.

Trade Me’s Head of Marketplace Lisa Stewart said: “Bikes have been very popular on Trade Me since the lockdown was first announced and are still in the top five most searched for items onsite at the moment.

“In the last seven days we've seen 780,000 searches for bikes which is a 27 per cent increase on the same period last year,” she said.

Customers of Bike Barn, one of NZ’s largest bicycle retailers, have been facing huge delays.

The company apologised online and said, “the surge in demand we have experienced over recent weeks has put a major strain on logistics.

"We are working around the clock to get on top of the demand."

Evo Cycles is also warning of delays after a spike in orders, putting it down to “the whole of NZ realising how awesome cycling is”.

Prisca Pieters, 23, bought a new bike on the first day of Alert Level 3, after looking on Trade Me during Level 4.

She said she spent the rest of lockdown going on long rides through Christchurch.

“I actually noticed it make a massive difference on my mental and emotional health, just being able to get out of the house being able to move around."

She was taking a break now, after falling off and breaking her elbow.

“I couldn’t clip my foot out,” she said, “But, I'm very excited, I can get back on the bike in two or three weeks and I can't wait to start biking to work.

“Now that we’ve had to make more time to bike, it seems silly not to carve that into our day to day as life gets slowly back to normal… it’s also great for the environment.”

Mr Oliver’s not convinced the newfound demand will last, “I’ve been in the trade 38 years so we’ve been through some trends, you could say… you can’t crystal ball gaze.

“We’ve got to see how the economy goes over the next few years too, that will influence it”.

But for now, 14-year-old Luke, who’s busy fixing up bikes for Aucklanders, thinks people are keen to keep up the activity.

He’s seen more commuter bike sales and servicing than usual and said: “I think everyone just started riding their bikes during lockdown, and they want to keep riding them."