Where are all the bikes and parts!?
Having a hard time finding a bike or parts over the last year? What’s the delay, and when can you expect to see more options in your local bike shop? In this video, Neil talks about this unprecedented bike supply shortage, the boom, and talks with several bike and components companies to find out when things will get back to normal.
As most of you know, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a massive shortage of bikes, components, and bikepacking bags, as well the outdoor gear. In our latest video, Neil digs into the supply chain woes and issues that the bike industry is currently facing and talks to companies such as Industry Nine, Rogue Panda, Ultradynamico, and Club Ride to try and figure out when things will be back to normal. Watch it below and then scroll down to read some of the interviews with those companies…
How has the pandemic affected business, overall?
Oh boy, it has been a roller coaster going from starting to produce PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when the Pandemic first started, to seeing orders drop last Spring in 2020, to an unprecedented increase in order volume that no one could forecast—which is still ongoing, as seen across the entire industry. We were fortunate enough to keep our entire staff throughout the past year and have only added to the team. Know anyone looking to work in the bike industry? Send ’em our way!
Are you seeing a lot of new customers or repeat?
We have had record growth across the board, seeing both new and repeat customers alike. Our OE and distro channels have remained largely the same, and actually have not been able to take on new high volume customers due to the increased demand currently in front of us. But, the aftermarket world and bike shops that are thriving with the popularity of bikes are seeing lots and lots of new customers, which is pretty awesome for our sport as a whole!
What are current lead times for wheelsets and are you able to keep up with the demand?
Current lead times as of June 2nd, 2021 is up to 22 weeks, or 5-6 months. We have been expanding rapidly to the point where it looks like a new place every 3-4 weeks, making seven-figure investments in new machines for manufacturing, increasing capacity, and hiring more staff to meet the current and foreseeable demand. One of the coolest parts is our engineers have been able to make some of these improvements themselves rather than waiting months for something, like a new automated laser etching cabinet. Much faster and cost effective when it’s made here in-house by our team, specific to our needs in the bike industry and specifically our products.
Even though your hubs and spokes are made in house, have you run into supply chain issues on raw materials?
With over 50+ years of manufacturing experience, our machine shop managers have done a great job planning and bringing in raw materials.
Has We Are One been able to keep up with demand?
WR1 has been incredible throughout all this! Dustin and the crew over there have reacted to the changes of the past year in a big way and have been able to keep up with the demand producing the best rims in the industry—no easy task.
Are you projecting things to slow down, if so what do you anticipate lead times to be in a year from now?
Well, to be honest, we never expected it to last this long. We have more orders than ever before, we are also expanding and growing more than ever before, with more coming up from the machine shop than ever before, shipping more than ever before—but the variables that could go into that are too great to be able to tell. Remember the toilet paper fiasco last spring? Are people ordering based on scarcity or out of need? Hard to say. But hopefully all the changes and improvements being made here at i9 will lead to shorter lead times.
What are current lead times and what was it before the pandemic?
Lead times are 10 weeks for custom frame bags. Before the pandemic we kept it at 2-4 weeks. We’re doing our best to increase production and reduce that lead time, but it’s been difficult to hire until recently.
Has the pandemic enacted any funny, useful, or frustrating day to day changes at Rogue Panda?
Our day-to-day was really complicated for about a year, with people sewing at home and alternating days in the shop. It got pretty frustrating to only have access to the shop a couple days per week, but we managed. We’re very happy to be fully vaccinated and able to work together again!
Have you run into any supply chain issues?
We’ve been lucky and we’ve only had a couple supply chain snags so far. Nothing we haven’t been able to work around.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned during this time?
I’ve learned how flexible my team can be (and our customers, and the Flagstaff community). We’ve all coped with a lot of changes but everyone has kept a pretty good attitude about it all.
Angry Catfish Bicycle
With a lack of bikes and parts available, how are you compensating?
We have been fortunate to be getting enough bikes to maintain similar volume to years past, it is really the demand and the missed opportunities that are painful at this point. We aren’t compensating as much as pivoting. We have more frames on hand than we’ve ever had in the past and are trying to help folks build up their dream bikes from the parts we’ve been stockpiling. I think right now most folks are starting to understand the supply chain issues and are willing to wait an undetermined amount of time to get their next bike.
What investments have you made as a result of the pandemic?
We thankfully had been in the process of creating a comprehensive ecomm platform just before the Pandemic hit and have been leveraging and growing our presence there. We also have been extremely fortunate in being able to secure a new building that will double our square footage which will help us invest into future efficiencies.
What has been the biggest surprise from this period of time?
The demand continues to be something that is just mind boggling. Our suppliers inability to effectively communicate is something that is terribly challenging and continues to surprise us. The flexibility and patience of our customers has been refreshing and a blessing.
If you could do one thing different during this time, what would it be?
We’ve done the best we can and were fortunate to not have anyone get sick. I can’t imagine doing anything different at this point.
You and your staff have worked extremely hard over the last year, what do you all do to take a load off?
We have been careful to not over promise so no one is working crazy overtime. Riding, fishing, drinking beers, creek floats, and the like all help to take a load off.
So, how has the pandemic treated Ultradynamico?
Well, I’d like to think that our tires are good enough to sell at any moment in history—even before the bicycle had been invented… but the bike boom and panic buying frenzies of late have certainly helped. We are a young brand that has for all intensive purposes grew up during the pandemic. We only existed for about a year prior, so its been a pretty wild ride.
Have you run into supply chain issues or delays in new products?
Yes and no. The big delays have hit us a lot later than most of the big brands—although they are certainly here now. Sampling new products and production of exiting products takes about 3-5 times as long as it would have in 2019.
Has this boom made forecasting and purchasing more difficult or easier?
We are in a weird scenario we only existed for a year pre pandemic and bike boom. We have zero reliable data of forests. We are basically small town meteorologists. Our advantage is that we don’t have big loans, and we love tires. We started this brand not to make money, but to make tires that we wanted; and thats what we will keep doing regardless.
If you could redo one thing as a business owner during this time what would it be?
We certainly would have placed bigger orders last year! But thats really it. I think we ended up doing pretty well… we had fun with the brand and made some tires we are very proud of, and thats what we are in it for.
Mike Herlinger, Founder and CEO
How has the pandemic affected Club Ride overall?
Our new customer rate has doubled vs seasons past. New cyclists are getting into the sport and are finding brands to identify with. Club Ride, being an inclusive brand that is about the social aspect of riding a bike vs racing, seems to be on point with both existing and new cyclists lens in which they perceive their ride.
Has Club Ride made any significant investments as a result?
We have switched our model to work with 17 partners across the country vs a longer list of retailers along with a focus on direct to consumer sales model. Stock seems to be an issue for many but it looks pretty good on the website, how have you coped with this? We are doing well with inventory. There have been some bumps along the way but with a quick pivot we have been able to accomodate inventory demands.
If you and the business could re-do one thing during the pandemic, what would it be?
Buy more chamois and shorts earlier. This seems to be the category where there is the biggest growth. This is great because we have traditionally been a mens tops company and this new awareness to the brand allowed people to see just how amazing our shorts and chamois program is. Its cool to be the mens plaid shirt company but cooler to be the shirt, short and chamois go to brand for both men and women.
What is the biggest take away from this period of time?
People are resilient and believe in the healing and wellness power of outside and exercise
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