Bike industry struggling to match demand amid pandemic

A nationwide bike shortage is causing back orders and long wait times for people purchasing bicycles. It’s due to an increase in demand and a lack of supply thanks to production delays during the pandemic

READ MORE: 'Food supply chain is breaking,' Tyson Foods chairman says as processing plants continue to close

"Demand has just been up three four times over what it traditionally is as a result of a lot of things being closed and cycling being one of the few socially distant things that you can do," Alex Bartholomew, the store manager at Trek Bicycle in Arlington said.

The bike shortage began last year in the early stages of the pandemic but is only getting worse. Production was stalled slightly during the pandemic but Bartholomew says the real reason for the shortage is the demand. More and people are ditching their vehicles and ridings bikes instead. Others are looking for ways to get their children who are home from school, outdoors and some people who don’t feel safe going to a gym are looking for another form of exercise. 

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather

Bartholomew says the average wait time is between four to six months but in rare cases some people have ordered bikes that won’t come in for well over a year from now. 

"People are frustrated and rightfully so. People are waiting six months for bikes that I should have multiples of in every size and every color but we just don’t," Bartholomew said.

In some cases, Bartholomew says people are driving hours away to stores in different states that have the bicycle they need in stock.

READ MORE: Sony says it will have more PS5 in stock, cites 'unprecedented' demand

Miles Smaxwell lives in Bethesda. He decided to buy a bike last year in order to commute to work. He ordered the bike last summer and it didn’t arrive until December. 

"I was surprised about the time it would take. When they said initially it was November and it was July and I was like, ‘what am I going to do?’ And then it ended up being December," Smaxwell said.

Another issue bicycle shops are facing is a lack of parts for repairs.

"Repairs have been up over 100% of where we were last year. A busy month would be about 80 tune ups a month. We’re now doing in excess of well over 110 tune ups a month," Bartholomew said.

It’s the same case at bicycle shops across the country and as a result supplies for parts are low.

"We’re putting parts on watch lists. I’m waking up sometimes at three in the morning and placing these $1,000 orders on brake pads or just random parts. Whatever I need. The service center has been busier than ever," he added.

Bartholomew says the industry is working on catching up with the demand by increasing production but he says it will likely be between 12 and 18 months before the shortage is over.