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Global bike shortage making it hard to find wheels in the Pacific Northwest

Gregg's Cycle in Lynnwood currently has 8,000 bikes on back order due to the supply shortage and demand for bicycles during the pandemic.

LYNNWOOD, Wash. — The racks at Gregg’s Cycle in Lynnwood are mostly empty and the bikes that are hanging have already been sold and are awaiting pickup.  

General Manager Marty Pluth compared it to an all too familiar pandemic predicament. “I joke that we’ve become the toilet paper of the pandemic,” said Pluth.

New bicycle inventories have been wiped clean at stores all over the world. At Gregg’s Cycle, the wait to buy a bike is at least four to six weeks.

It all started a year ago when everything, including gyms and mass transit, shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. As people started buying bikes for transportation and exercise, the demand skyrocketed.

“People have been calling us from as far away as Oregon and California,” said Pluth. “The supply chain is pretty much broken.”

Gregg’s Cycle only has about 10% of its normal inventory right now – with 8,000 bikes on backorder, Pluth said. Asian bike manufacturers have been caught unprepared during the pandemic.

“When the pandemic first hit many manufacturers thought we’d be going through a period of slow growth or slow sales,” said Pluth. “They canceled orders. That created a shortage. When the demand increased, suppliers just couldn’t catch up.”

So now with so few bikes to buy, folks are left to fixing up their old ones.

Harvy’s Bikes in Lynnwood is experiencing a surge unlike anything they’ve seen in four decades of business.

The number of repairs they’re doing is double the usual, but now they’re having trouble getting parts because those are all going to desperate manufacturers.

Owner Harvy Massoud said people are bringing in bikes that are 35 years old to get a tune up.

“The bicycles are so rusty, but we fix them,” he said. “We go through them and we return them almost like new.”

The pandemic shortfall has pushed prices for new bikes up 15 to 20%. Pluth said the market is simply “electric.”

“We’re still selling bikes, but we have to do it differently. We’re able to work with consumers and pre-sell the bikes like you would a Tesla,” said Pluth. “You look online. You put down a deposit. We tell you when it’s here, in a month or so. You come in, pick it up and away you go.”

Industry experts believe it will be at least a year, maybe two, before supply catches up with demand again.

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