Athens bike shops Georgia Cycle Sport, Pedal Driven Cycles and The Gear Attic have experienced an increase in demand for bikes and bike accessories since the COVID-19 closures began in March. However, because of manufacturer struggles, they are experiencing a decrease in supply as well.
Bike sales over the past two months have seen their biggest spike since the oil crisis in the 1970s, Jay Townley, a cycling trends analyst, told the Chicago Tribune. These increases since the COVID-19 closures may be due to people’s interest in exercise without access to gyms, people wanting to commute to work or the store without using public transit, or new activities for families who no longer want to sit in the house, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Micah Morlock, managing partner at Georgia Cycle Sport, said GCS saw one of their largest amounts of sales for the month of March in a long time. Usually, Morlock said, GCS keeps about 80 or more bikes in stock. Now, due to high demand, the store has about 16 in stock.
“We’ve basically sold out all of our bikes, and we’re slowly trying to rebuild it. So the popularity is that huge. And you can see that going around town, particularly if you go to some of the better places to recreationally ride. They’re packed out,” Morlock said.
Now, Morlock said it’s frustrating trying to explain to people that come to the shop to buy a bike that GCS doesn’t have the product they need. He said it would be nice to have the products that people are looking for.
The most popular bikes that GCS is selling are for kids between 8 and 12, Morlock said. He thinks this increase is due to parents wanting their kids to get exercise — they need something to replace recess since the kids are no longer in school.
Repair work has also exploded for GCS, Morlock said. He thinks people are pulling their old bicycles out of the garage and realize they need some fixing before people can ride them.
Despite increases in phone calls and website clicks from people interested in buying his products, Pedal Driven Cycles owner David Harrison said he hasn’t had any bikes in stock. Harrison sells custom bike frames, bike accessories and skate supplies, but has seen shortages from his suppliers. Most distributors have had huge delays in supplying bikes, Harrison said.
Harrison thinks the COVID-19 outbreak is what is causing the delays in bike manufacturing. As factories in America operate with minimal staff and manufactured parts take longer to come in from China, COVID-19 may have caused the overall delay in bike manufacturing.
The skate shop products have been better supplied than the bikes, Harrison said, however his distributor had been out of certain skateboard items for almost two months. Harrison is not sure when the supplies are going to come back.
“I’m low on skate wheels, and of course every other kid that comes in just wants skate wheels, and, you know, I don’t have availability for them,” Harrison said.
Eric Murphy, owner of The Gear Attic, said sales for bike accessories have increased about 300% since March, going from 20 to 30 orders a day to over 100 orders a day.
“There were two weeks there in the beginning where it just was crickets. Nothing was selling. And then, yeah, all of a sudden on that second or third week after the lockdown, it went bonkers. It hasn’t really slowed up a whole lot,” Murphy said.
Murphy said the increase in interest has maintained into June. He said The Gear Attic experienced an increase in sales and clicks on Amazon and eBay. Murphy thinks now that more people are online shopping, they’re more likely to buy things that they wouldn’t have made a trip to the store for before COVID-19 closures. A customer may not have driven to the bike store for chain lubricant, but if they’re browsing Amazon for bike supplies, they may drop it in their cart.
Rosemary Albenice, a senior economics and English double major from Brunswick, bought a bike on June 24 from someone on Facebook. She said with working more hours and earning more pay due to COVID-19, she had more money and could finally get a bike.
Since the bus route she typically takes tends to be crowded, Albenice said she plans to ride her bike this upcoming school year to avoid close contact with people. Once she learns how to ride around Athens, Albenice said she plans to ride her bike to campus.
Since school isn’t in session, Albenice has been riding her bike with her boyfriend on the Greenway Trail and other places around Athens.
“It’s actually a really nice way to get out of the house, it’s a nice way to see Athens ‘cause we’re not going out a lot right now,” Albenice said.
Morlock, Harrison and Murphy said they hope the interest in bikes remains high. Murphy said with the summer heat coming, he thinks bike interest will decrease. However, Harrison said he hopes people continue to realize how much fun and healthy cycling and skating are.
“I think this bicycle boom will last for a long time to come,” Morlock said.