Cycle shops struggle with supply of bikes, parts

·4 min read

THUNDER BAY — Attempts at purchasing bikes by ordering them from big box stores or independent bike shops have proven challenging because there isn’t enough bikes available.

Farzam Etemadi, a bike technician at Thunder Bay’s Petrie’s Cycle and Sports, says the reason people are not getting any bikes is because the supply chain is interrupted. He says there is a political side to things that have already been jarred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In Canada, the control of the supply is given to suppliers and wholesalers,” he said.

“It’s very political.

Etemadi says at least 95 per cent of the bike products that are carried in Canada come from China, which is currently involved in trade tensions with Canada. The manufacturers of bikes and parts that were in Canada, relocated to China because it is cheaper to produce them there.

Chinese bike manufacturing plants have to fulfil the Chinese market demand first before they can export.

To add to the bike shortage issue, numerous plant closures due to environment or pandemic reasons has also contributed to the interruption of supply.

Will Takacs, a purchaser for Fresh Air Experience, says transportation of bikes and parts from overseas is also challenging with no available sea containers and ships that don’t have room due to overloads of other merchandise.

“Also, manufacturing plants are shut down because COVID-19 is hitting Asia hard again,” said Takacs. “The biggest supplier, Shimano’s Malaysian factory, has been shut down for all of June with really no opening in sight.”

Takacs says they have been busy his since March of last year when the first lockdown exploded with everyone wanting bikes.

“It’s just been non-stop for us,” he said. “As a purchaser, it’s incredibly difficult to find anything. We are finding parts, bits and pieces and things we have never stocked just because it’s something that fits and works at this point in time.”

With the unavailability of bikes, people have been digging out their old bikes from the cobwebs in the back of the shed.

“They have been tucked away in the shed and forgotten about,” says Takacs.

“They are bringing them to us because we repair bikes and the parts, and after-market parts, to fix these bikes is in short supply. These bikes were left in the rain and they are in bad condition. The tires are rotten, brake pads are not working, cables are corroded and parts are worn out.”

Over at Petrie’s, they too are extremely busy fixing these old forgotten bikes.

“Almost 95 per cent of the repairs we are doing is not on a bike that has been purchased from a local bike shop . . . the other five per cent are,” said Etemadi. “The repairs are insane. These are the bikes that normally get thrown out in the garbage dump every year. Now they can’t replace them so they are coming in to fix it.

The shortage didn’t stop with bicycles, ski equipment was in very high demand over the winter months because people just needed to get out of the house.

“We were flying skis in from Austria because of the demand,” said Takacs. “Everyone in lockdown wanted to do something and skiing is great activity to do in the winter.”

Again there was the same problem with the availability of equipment. Takacs says one of the larger ski manufacturers had a fire in a European plant, causing it to shut down and constrain supply “This winter, skis are going to be in short supply and equipment will be hard to get because the factories haven’t been able to catch up because they are going through their own lockdowns,” he said.

Meanwhile, people are buying bikes in lieu of public gyms that remain closed.

“That’s their social life. They can’t travel, can’t fly to go anywhere, they have done all their renovations on the house and they’re done fixing the cottage, now they want to get a bike to ride to the cottage . . . they just don’t realize just how far 70 kilometres is,” Etemadi laughed.

“Once you open up the gyms, you can kiss the sale of bikes goodbye.”

Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal

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