By Peter Buck, MBA Owner, Handy Bikes LLC
Yep… I said what I said. If you’re in a hurry or on a tight budget, this is probably not the best time to buy a new bike. Market conditions resulting from COVID-19 have led to production shortages with skyrocketing demand for the past 6+ months. As a result, bike manufacturers have run out of the components they need in order to build their frames into complete bicycles – and in some cases, they’re out of the frames as well.
What this means for consumers is that bikes in many price ranges are completely sold out. If the bike you’ve been eyeing is out of stock, you do have a few options:
- You can settle for whatever new bike you can find, wherever you can find it. This means you might find a great deal on a leftover model or demo bike, but it also means you might talk yourself into settling for something off-brand or even something from Amazon. Do not give in to an Amazon bike. Do. Not.
- You can roll the dice on a used bike. This means trolling the used market for likely-overpriced bikes from people who know the market is on their side. This isn’t to say that all used bikes are a bad idea, but you should use all available resources including checking eBay sold items (not just “completed” but actually SOLD).
- You can work with your local dealer to figure out whether a frame or frameset may be available for the bike you’d been looking at. Even if manufacturer’s websites say a bike is unavailable in your size, there may be a frame (likely lots of frames) sitting there ready to go. Remember, it’s components that are an issue right now, not necessarily frames… and it’s not all components that are out of stock, either. More on that in a moment.
- You can wait. The market will recover at some point, after all. Maybe your old bike needs a little work but isn’t really in very bad shape – bring it to your local bike shop for some help if you need it!
Lately, I’ve been finding that the best option is #3. Work with you local dealer to find a frame, and then have them build it up (or help you build it up) using the components that are available. Shimano and SRAM are having a lot of issues keeping up with demand right now, with dealers being told that some Shimano parts may not come til May 2021 and some SRAM components may not show up til December 2020 or January 2021.
So what is available? Look to smaller companies to do what they’ve always done – excel during difficult times by adapting to market conditions and overcoming barriers. Companies from Garbaruk in Europe (Poland) to Velo Orange in the USA (Maryland) are still getting it done. Leonardi, S-Ride, and BOX all have options available. And if you haven’t taken a look at Sunrace in the last few years, you’re missing out – they’ve really stepped up their game and are putting out some top-level products at good prices.
Bottom line is that if you’re willing to think outside the confines of the “big two” brands that everyone knows, you can still find some great options, get some great deals, and most importantly spend some time on the trails this fall!