Demand for bikes continues to rise in Saskatchewan as supply lags

The combination of rising prices at the pump and lockdown for the better part of two years has led to a desire to get out and be active, which is reflected in bike sales.

“I’ve been in this business for a while and whenever gas prices really go up we have a spike in demand for bikes. I wish we had a spike in bike supply to match that,” said Greg McKee, one of the owners of Bike Doctor in Saskatoon.

For cycling stores like Bike Doctor, this has been a positive outcome of a negative situation in the form of the pandemic.

“People found fitness and they found everything they needed – solitude, friendship, family time on a bike,” McKee added.

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The demand has steadily increased in recent years for various reasons.

“On the service side, there has been a huge increase, especially here for us. Some days we even take 30, 40, 50 bikes,” said Roy Toews, manager and junior partner at Dutch Cycle in Regina.

“Our big increase in demand in terms of customers was people who have 25 year old bikes and it was good to ride a few times a summer, but those people wanted to ride a few times a week or some people wanted to ride to work” , McKee said.

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But as demand for bikes and subsequent maintenance increases in many Saskatchewan stores, the supply chain simply can’t keep up with much of the manufacturing done in China.

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“Instead of getting a huge shipment of 50 bikes, we get five or 10 bikes at a time, so it’s very different that way. Then my ability to order bikes – I don’t even have the ability to ordering bikes right now,” Toews said.

“We would tell them a bike would be here in a year, 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,” McKee said.

“We could be a service center here in the next two months because we won’t have any more bikes to sell,” Toews continued.

Both Dutch Cycle and Bike Doctor have appreciated the patience shown by the majority of their customers in the face of long wait times for the arrival of the bikes.

“For the first time we were selling hundreds of bikes before they got here. We didn’t really have a system for that. We had to invent this system. It’s not easy for small businesses like ours to start doing this,” McKee said.

However, like seemingly everything else these days, the price has gone up.

“I had a bike when I started here that was $600. A part has changed on that where it is now a tapered head tube as opposed to the straight tube. He started at six (one hundred). It’s now $1,000,” Toews said.

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“I haven’t bought or sold anything in the last two years that hasn’t gone up in price, so the bikes have gone up. No doubt about it. Probably the same as milk, not as much as gas,” McKee lamented.

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Price doesn’t stop people from buying e-bikes, which are growing in popularity. Dutch Cycle says they have already sold more this year than previous years combined.

“E-bikes are the future whether a person likes them or not. People really like them. They keep a lot of people on a bike rather than in a car for commuting or just for adventure.

Pedal assist gives riders the ability to extend their rides and follow whoever they choose to ride with.

“I think a lot of people my age in that 40-year-old age bracket are thinking about it right now. Because we all still want to go out and have a good time and play. It now gives us the legs to get up the hill because you can turn it off when you get to the top and the bikes are still well balanced on the way down. It’s a joy again,” Toews said.

With or without a motor, you can expect the bike paths to be busy in Saskatchewan this summer.

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