Myers said that fielding phone calls became a full-time job. The Napa Valley Bike Shop hired extra staff to help handle all the sales, which tripled or quadrupled from last year, he said.
Duke Tuchman, owner of Napa River Velo, said most shops began running out of bikes by late spring, and new shipments didn’t come in till late summer and early fall. During all of the peak summer months, Tuchman explained, most shops had little to no inventory.
“The demand hit at the worst time possible for the bike industry,” Tuchman said.
In the beginning, bicycle shops took pre-orders to help customers secure bikes. But as manufacturers struggled to keep pace and wait times became more questionable, many shops abandoned the pre-order system.
Customers would call asking where their bikes are, and most shops couldn’t provide a clear answer. Manufacturers “stopped giving ETAs,” Myers said.
Production problems in Asia have been blamed for the lack of inventory, but Kimbrough pointed out that demand is also up nearly ten-fold.
Every stop along the supply chain is facing issues and is working to catch up, he said.
“The inventory challenges are very real,” Kimbrough said.
Bike manufacturers are also in a tricky position. They’re wary of ramping up production too much, because they don’t know how long the demand will continue, Tuchman said. Manufacturers don’t want to end up with a ton of unsold bikes, he said.