Global shortage hits Bradley bike shop | Local News

Thinking of buying a new bike? Expect to wait at least a few months, if not longer, to pedal your favorite path or street.

Due to a surge in demand caused by the year-long pandemic, a shortage of parts and a slowdown in production, some bikes have been out of stock for over a year. It’s a worldwide shortage, and it’s affected Tern of the Wheel, the local bike shop at 404 W. Broadway in Bradley.

“There are bikes that we have had out of stock for a while, like August [2020], and some of those bikes weren’t even going to see this year,” said Marty Linneman, 37, director of Tern of the Wheel. “…That’s up to a two-year wait on a lot of bikes.”

Tern of the Wheel exclusively sells Trek and Electra model bikes, and Linneman checks the status of his order online daily with the Wisconsin Bike Warehouse. The push began shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the United States in March 2020.

“When lockdown hit, it created a really big bike boom,” Linneman said. “But I think at that time too the factories were at lower capacity or some were closed.”

He said orders for the bikes were soon running out and there was a lot of competition for the bikes from retailers.

“Whoever claims them first or orders them first, they’re in line to get it,” Linneman said. “If for some reason I decided I didn’t want [a certain bicycle] … it goes to whoever is next.

Bicycling Magazine reported in November 2020 that bicycle sales were up 120% year over year, citing an article from The Washington Post. People were looking for new ways to exercise with closed gyms and alternative means of transportation. Interest has not diminished, nor has the backlog.

“I was hoping that as the vaccinations and all that happens that the production will increase, but I think at this point it’s just such a deep hole that it’s going to take a while to dig it,” Linneman said.

To complicate matters, Linneman added, the two major parts suppliers SRAM and Chimano encountered a shortage of materials.

“They can’t produce that much,” he said. “Trek and Electra are just two of hundreds, if not thousands, of bike manufacturers around the world who all want these parts as well, so they can only distribute them and be available. They might even have thousands of frames built but no parts to put on them and are waiting for some parts.

Before the pandemic, Linneman said he could order 15 bikes at a time once a week or every two weeks. With an order of 15 bikes, he can benefit from free transport. Now he is barely able to order one bike at a time, and it costs $25 shipping for each bike, which adds to the cost.

“There’s a couple who bought a pair of bikes,” he says. “I ordered them in August. Their original ETA when I sent the order, they thought it would be March. And then I checked again, and it got pushed back to April. Now hers is pushed back to August or beyond and her husband won’t even have his until 2022.”

If Linneman ordered the popular Trek Dual Sport 3 today, it wouldn’t arrive until May 1, 2023.

“If you have a bike that you ride, hang on to it,” he said. “They are hard to find and we have had people traveling from very far away. Some that come to mind there was someone from Detroit, someone from Columbus, Ohio, one from Madison, Wisconsin where they’ll find online you had this bike, pay for it with a debit card credit and say, “I’m going to be there to get it when I can.

{p dir=”ltr”}The parts shortage also affected his repair business, but they were able to circumvent some of the shortages. Last year there were no inner tubes for fat bikes.

“There were a few months where we just patched a lot of hits, because that’s all we could do,” he said. “Generally, most bike shops don’t patch inner tubes. It’s something you do more in an emergency. You walk into a bike shop and they’ll sell you a new tube, but we’d end up fixing a ton of them because that’s all we could do.

{p dir=”ltr”}Tern of the Wheel’s bicycle sales represent approximately 45% to 55% of the store’s business.

{p dir=”ltr”}”We’re losing so many sales and the accessories that go with it,” said Steve Linneman, Marty’s father, who bought the bike shop in 1986.

{p dir=”ltr”}Steve, 69, is the owner and still works at the store until he retires next year when Marty will become the owner. The shop has four full-time employees, and they handle the repair business.

{p dir=”ltr”}In 2019, Marty Linneman said that if a customer wanted a bike in stock at the warehouse, it could be delivered the next day. The pandemic has changed all that.

{p dir=”ltr”}”If we had the same bike availability in 2020 as we did in 2019, we probably would have sold at least twice as many bikes last year,” he said. “That’s probably a low number.”

{p dir=”ltr”}Tern of the Wheel is the only bike shop in Kankakee County, and others are over 25 miles away in Frankfort, New Lenox, Watseka, Homewood, Joliet, and Cedar Lake, Ind.

“It puts the whole load on us, which is good,” Marty Linneman said. “We love the business and everything, but nobody likes being totally overwhelmed either, so it was pretty stressful last year when you had to tell people it’s been that long, but it’s not not like we’re all just sitting around.”

Other area retailers that sell bikes — Dick’s Sporting Goods and Target, for example — also have limited supplies. Dick only had a few adult bikes and was waiting for delivery of a dozen more. A sales associate said his inventory “took a hit” during the pandemic. It has plenty of bikes for small children. Target in Bradley’s Water Tower Plaza mall had two hybrid bikes, a mountain bike and a handful of youth bikes.

Tern of the Wheel has a limited number of bikes in stock, including a large Electra e-bike. The good news is that some bikes ordered today could ship by the end of the year or in about three months, depending on the model. These would be mostly children’s bikes and the like, Lineman said.

Back To Top