Londoners looking to buy reasonably-priced bikes are being warned that they are “basically stuffed” at the moment due to widespread shortages throughout the capital. There are also delays getting bikes serviced due to high demand.
The start of lockdown brought what the managing director of one bike brand described to us as “a perfect storm” for cycle usage – a combination of more free time as a result of being furloughed, cycling being a permitted exercise option, cycle shops being classed as 'essential' and excellent weather.
In April we reported how UK bike sales were booming, with Evans Cycles saying it had seen "unprecedented demand" and Decathlon’s CEO apologising for shortages.
This was then followed by a surge in cycle commuting as the government discouraged people from using public transport unless absolutely necessary – Cycle to Work scheme bike purchases doubled in June.
Compounding this increased demand, COVID-19 has also affected the supply of many bikes, components and accessories as a result of temporary factory closures and worldwide disruption of the flow of goods.
Simon Munk from the London Cycling Campaign, recently told MyLondon that there was a “massive problem” with bike shortages across the capital.
“Our members get discounts at hundreds of bike shops across London, so we have a retail network of a lot of independent bike shops that we talk to regularly,” he said.
“We're hearing from loads of them that they are out of stock. If you're really short, or you’re really tall, or you don't mind spending a huge amount of money on a bike, you're okay, but everyone else is basically stuffed at the moment."
Munk also highlighted issues getting bikes fixed.
"Every Londoner who owns a bike, whether it's a rusty old thing that they've pulled out the shed or not, is trying to get their bike serviced at the moment,” he said.
"All of the mechanics that we're in touch with are just rushed off their feet trying to get bikes up and running."
This is partly as a result of the Government’s Fix Your Bike voucher scheme – which allows people to claim £50 to get a neglected old bike back on the road.
In a bid to spread the workload, these vouchers are being released in waves – but elsewhere in the country there have been complaints from mechanics that this approach has resulted in work drying up as potential customers are choosing to wait for the next wave of vouchers to be released before booking repairs.