In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, from the outset to phased re-openings, the bike business is booming.
Bicycle industry trends everywhere, as well as local shop experiences, are reporting unprecedented demand in sales and parts even as quarantine conditions have had communities and businesses hunkered down for weeks and weeks.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Zach Scalf of Biker’s Edge Cycling, 10545 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria, said May 27. His father, Robert, owns the shop.
The full-service cycling shop has been serving the Valley for more than 30 years. And even though communities are starting to slowly re-open, this cycling surge started almost at the outset, Mr. Scalf stated.
“(Customers) were looking for something to get outdoors, to get outside, to get out of their houses, to exercise because all the gyms were shutting down,” he said. “They were looking into finding new hobbies.”
Cycling sales increased 31 percent to $1.3 billion in the first quarter of the year nationwide, according to NPD, in a study reported by SGB Media, business media companies serving the active lifestyle market.
“More than half of those sales dollars came in March as consumers sought stay-at-home fitness options and families reinventing recess due to school closures turned to cycling as a viable choice to satisfy entertainment and fitness needs,” said Dirk Sorenson, executive director, industry analyst, sports at NPD, said in a statement.
The industry spike during coronavirus has been massive.
“That’s an understatement,” added Braxton Horejs, lead mechanic at Bicycle Depot of Arizona, 6030 W. Behrend Drive, Suite 113, Glendale. “We kind of started before the total shutdown happened. I’d say around the 10th of March. That’s normally our busy time of year. We just thought it was a little more than normal. After that it basically went insane.”
Mr. Horejs explained that the shop has been closing early in the past weeks -- not because of coronavirus, since bike shops, as transportation providers, were deemed essential and have stayed open. But rather to use the downtime as needed to re-stock shelves.
The hectic pace for the shop’s four guys working six days a week has even cut into some of their service time for the past three months. Sales have dominated the effort, with the staff pivoting to quicker on-the-spot repairs for customers.
And it’s hardly just sales in bikes themselves, although enthusiasts have been buying beachcombers and mountain bikes.
“We’re making more off rubber tires and tubes than we are off anything right now. It’s just been crazy,” Mr. Horejs said. “We’ve been literally getting tubes in the hundreds each week. In Arizona that’s one of our biggest things -- every plant that grows is not nice to your tires and inner tubes. We’re having a hard time keeping inner tubes in stock.”
Same story at Biker’s Edge. The crew there changed the shop’s opening hours from 9 to 11 a.m., but that’s just to open the doors to the public. The guys are in there at 9 to work on bike repairs.
“We’ve been trying to get all the tubes we can,” Mr. Scalf said. “Every one to two weeks we’re always ordering some.”
Even as lockdown orders are lifted and entertainment and recreation options return slowly, Mr. Scalf doesn’t see the boom slowing. Once rookies enter the biking community, odds are that they’ll get hooked.
“I think this is gonna last for a while,” he said.
Bike shops have been there during quarantine and available for residents who for too long have been putting off getting into bikes, have been putting on the extra pounds during stay-at-home, are opting to bike to work with less traffic, or who are renewing a sense of the outdoors after being cooped up.
“We have our normal customers that have been using their bikes to get to work,” Mr. Horejs said. “But I’d say by far the majority of people coming in are just wanting to either have some kind of bike to stay sane during all this or a lot of people are using this as a time to get in better shape and remembering why they came to Arizona in the first place: the beautiful weather and the beautiful outdoors.”