Mar 15, 2021 - Business

Why it's really hard to find a bike in the Twin Cities

An employee at Erik's bike shop in Richfield rolls a new bike into the shop. Photo: Nick Halter/Axios

The bike shortage of 2020 is probably not going away any time soon.

Why it matters: Bike season is right around the corner in the Twin Cities, but it may not be until spring 2022 when supply is back to normal, according to Jay Townley, bike industry analyst at Human Powered Solutions.

The state of play: Demand has increased with forced closings and gym restrictions, but the bigger reason for the shortage is a pandemic-disrupted supply chain in Asia.

  • Townley estimates that prices went up by 10-15% late last year and they're about to go up by 10-15% again, driven mostly by freight costs.
  • That means a bike that cost $1,000 a year ago will cost $1,200 or $1,300.

The big picture: Big corporations are faring better than the mom and pops.

  • Big-box retailers with deep pockets like Target, Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods are at the front of the line for new inventory, Townley said.
  • They're followed by regional chains. Erik's, which has 30 Midwest shops, posted on Facebook Friday that "inventory on some bikes will likely still be tight β€” so buy early!"
  • Small independent shops are typically last in line. Angry Catfish owner Josh Klauck said his South Minneapolis shop "could use probably 10 times the inventory that we currently have and are getting. It's pretty dismal at the moment."

The trading of used bikes has becoming hugely popular, Towney said, leading to a demand for repair services.

  • At Angry Catfish, the wait time on repairs is three to four weeks, per Klauck.

What's next: Townley sees the current trend as more of a short-term surge that has created some new bicyclists, but doesn't predict this level of demand persisting.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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