The Great COVID Bike Drought
Many of our customers have expressed concern over our empty shelves and the difficulties we're having getting bikes. Co-owner Susan Conner answer some common questions and sheds some light into the why behind the shortage.
Why aren’t there any bikes?
Bike boom: In early March of 2020, as the country locked down for COVID, we all feared for our businesses, as well as our lives. We could never have anticipated that the next few months would bring not our store closure, but unprecedented bike sales. As families were sent home from school and work, many directed their stimulus checks toward outdoor activities, and that meant bikes, and lots of them. Consequently 2020 became a surprise record year for Sunnyside, as well as bike shops around the nation. We sold every bike we had, paid for our inventory, and then...there were no more.
Supply chain issues: Why can't they catch up on bike production? Like a lot of things, it’s complicated.
Manufacturing-A perfect storm:
Tariffs: In 2019 the Trump administration instituted taxes against China that caused large US bike manufacturers to stall on orders, in hopes that tariffs would be reduced. Production had barely begun again when COVID shut everything down, putting manufacturing behind right out of the gate.
Skilled labor: We have an image of bicycle parts being stamped out by machinery, but there is actually a great deal of skilled labor involved. Taiwan, in particular, has a shrinking population, and manufacturing there depends upon importing labor from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. COVID shut down all of that, and manufacturing with it.
Transportation: Demand for shipping container space from the east increased as much as 40%, at the same time as ports were unable to staff and manage loading and unloading. That backlog, which can add 1-2 months to a bike’s delivery time, will continue to affect delivery times for the foreseeable future.
When will we see bikes again?
We have over 400 bikes on backorder, and we’ll see those trickling in throughout the next year. For bikes we don’t already have on order, well, we’re seeing plenty of ETAs that reach past the summer of 2022.
So how do I get a bike?
Put yourself at the right place, at the right time, and be ready to bust a move. A bike you see today will no doubt be gone tomorrow, so if you like it, buy it.
Get flexible. In the end, what you want is to ride a bike. How much travel you have in your rear suspension doesn’t matter nearly so much as the feel of the wind in your face. Find a bike and ride it--you can always sell it next summer when your dream machine arrives.
Don't let shop or brand loyalty stop you from getting a bike. We so appreciate our loyal customers, but quite honestly, now isn’t the time. We’ll do everything we can to get a bike for you, but if we can’t, by all means buy one somewhere else. Bring it in for service--we'll be happy to work on it or help with fitting--come and see us for your accessories--The world is a better place with you on a bike--for all of us.
Wishing you all the joy that two wheels can bring,