Bikes are sold before they have time to collect for display. Attayi said it was matching its sales for 2019 by the beginning of May. He had to hire new employees to meet the demand, and had not taken a day off since February. Al-Attiy said he gave increases and began buying lunch for his stressful staff.
They thrive whether in auto-controlled cities such as Houston and Los Angeles or traditional cycling areas like Portland, Oregon, New York and Washington DC. Keeping enough bikes in stock, and finishing repairs in time, has become a challenge. In some cases, customers are diverted to the road.
A recent survey by the National Bicycle Traders Association showed that 83% of stores are concerned about their inventory levels. Bicycle manufacturers are struggling to keep up with it.
“We are usually a very slow and wonderful store,” Atay said. “Now the phone keeps ringing. My comrades are overwhelmed and I totally understand that.”
New clients are looking for ways to get active in the outdoors. The owners of bicycle shops say the closing of gyms and yoga studios during the epidemic has contributed. Others say customers are looking for an alternative to public transport. Social spacing is easier on individual transports, like cars and bikes. In March 2020, American bike sales increased 39% compared to March 2019, according to the NPD Group, which tracks retail sales.
“Bicycles are like new toilet paper,” al-Tai said. “If available, buy it.”
Garfield Cooper, owner of the bike company ZenCog in Jacksonville, Florida, has additional mechanics to keep up with the backlog of repair. Usually 24-hour repairs now require up to a month. Cooper, like Atty, said he had not had a day off since February.
While his sales usually drop in the summer months with increasing temperature and humidity, Cooper said he has not experienced a business delay yet.
“It’s been a long time since the bike was important to the American people,” Cooper said. “It’s great that they are interested in bike riding.”
He is struggling to keep things like bike seats and helmets in stock. Cooper said he regularly calls other stores to find the parts he needs to fix.
Robert Keating, who owns the Triathlon Lab outside Los Angeles, said he had not seen anything like the current bike boom in the 37 years he worked in bicycle shops. He has switched his store from focusing on high-end bikes to affordable bikes that people are likely to ride in their neighborhood. He said that beach cruisers are especially popular.
“Some people say” it is a pleasure to be back on my bike, Keating said. I can’t believe I gave up on it for so long. ”Some people say,“ I can’t believe how difficult it is to ride. I’ll build my strength again. ”
Phil Copman, owner of BicycleSpace in Washington, DC, compared the current bike boom with 1999, when many people bought computers to prepare for Y2K.
“After that, these companies haven’t sold a lot of computers for a few years because everyone already had one,” said Copman. “This is the big question. Is this a one-time thing or is it sustainable?”