The combination of rising prices at the pumps and being locked down for the better part of two years has led to a desire to get outside and be active, which is being reflected by bike sales.
“I’ve been in this business for quite a while and every time gas prices get really high we have a spike in demand for bikes. I wish we had a spike in supply for bikes that would match it,” said Greg McKee, one of the owners of Bike Doctor in Saskatoon.
For cycling stores like Bike Doctor it’s been a positive result from a negative situation in the form of the pandemic.
“People found fitness and they found whatever they needed — solitude, friendship, family time on a bicycle,” added McKee.
The demand has continued to rise in recent years for a variety of reasons.
“On the service side it’s been a huge increase especially in here for us. Some days we’re taking in 30, 40, 50 bikes even,” said Roy Toews, a manager and junior partner at Dutch Cycle in Regina.
“Our big bump in demand in terms of customers was people who have 25 year-old bikes and it was okay to ride a few times a summer, but these people wanted to ride a couple of times every week or some people wanted to ride to work,” said McKee.
But as the demand for bikes and subsequent maintenance increases at many shops across Saskatchewan, the supply chain simply can’t keep up with most of the manufacturing being done in China.
“Instead of getting a huge shipment of like 50 bikes we get five or 10 bikes at a time, so it’s a lot different that way. Then my ability to order bikes — I don’t even have an ability to order bikes currently,” said Toews.
“We would tell them a bike would be here in a year and then two weeks before they were supposed to get it a factory would tell us it’s pushed back another two months. It happens sometimes,” said McKee.
“We might just be a service centre here within the next two months because we won’t have any more bikes to sell,” continued Toews.
Both Dutch Cycle and Bike Doctor say they have appreciated the patience shown by the majority of their customers in dealing with the long wait times for bikes to arrive.
“For the first time ever we were selling hundreds of bikes in advance of them ever showing up here. We didn’t really have a system for that. We had to invent that system. It’s not easy for little businesses like ours to start doing that,” said McKee.
However, like seemingly everything else these days, the price point has gone up.
“I had a bike when I first started here that was $600. One part on it has changed on it where it’s now a tapered head tube as opposed to the straight. It started at six (hundred). It’s now $1,000,” said Toews.
“I haven’t bought or sold anything in the last two years that hasn’t gone up in price so bikes have gone up. No doubt about it. Probably the same as milk has, not as much as gas has,” lamented McKee.
The price isn’t stopping people from buying e-bikes, which are increasing in popularity. Dutch Cycle says they’ve already sold more this year than previous years combined.
“E-bikes are the future whether a person likes them or not. People really love them. They keep a lot of people on a bike instead of in a car for commuting or just for adventure.”
The pedal assistance gives cyclists the ability to extend their rides and keep up with whoever they choose to ride with.
“I think a lot of people within my age into that 40 year old age range is thinking about that right now. Because we all still want to go out and have a good time and play. This now gives us the legs to get up the hill because you can turn it off when you get up to the top and the bikes are still well balanced going down. It’s just a joy again,” said Toews.
With or without a motor, you can expect bike paths to be busy in Saskatchewan this summer.