Thankfully we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to Covid. We are now able to see our families and friends, grocery shop without masks on, and even go to concerts! But we are still seeing quite a few lasting effects, leaving us scratching our heads and asking questions like:
Where are all the bikes?! And (more importantly) how can I get one?
Well those are somewhat complicated questions involving:
- Global supply chain logistics
- Canal blockages
- Huge growth in the outdoor industry
- Bike component shortages
- And more
But it’s all pretty interesting, let’s break it down!
Global supply chain:
At the beginning of the pandemic it seemed sure that commerce would decrease dramatically largely due to the economic recession. However it turned out that people didn’t stop buying and, as stores closed, ecommerce actually ended up growing significantly. With stimulus money in hand and the inability to go out to shop, people ended up ordering a lot online. Like a lot.
Those goods were coming out of warehouses and factories from all across the globe. With Covid guidelines it wasn’t possible to continue to produce and ship goods at the same rate as we have been used to.This led to early backups in shipping. It also depleted warehouse stocks as product was shipped out at a rate faster than it was being produced.
Factories were slowing down (or completely at halt) with production. People were (and still are) ordering more things online. And then shipping got more complicated. Apart from just Covid adding another level of complexity there were many other factors large and small that led to shortages. For example, a huge canal blockage.
The Suez Canal between Egypt and Israel was completely blocked for days leading to more strain on the global supply chain. As much as 12% of global trade passes through this important canal. Many similar problems arose, causing rippling effects throughout the shipping industry. Even we had strange unprecedented problems...
Here at Bakcou, as we waited for our container of Mules to get to us for the holidays we felt the effects hard during the winter months. Although the bikes had been scheduled to get to us with plenty of time to get them under Christmas trees. We ended up having our shipping container stuck at a port in California for months.
Because so many shipping containers had reached this port there wasn’t enough man power and freight train space to move the containers. So what did they do at port? They pushed our container farther and farther to the back of the yard while new containers arrived. So we had to wait for all those containers to be cleared out of the way before there was any hope of them getting to ours.It was frustrating to know that the bikes our customers were waiting for were sitting around just a few states away. That is just one other example of how so many products, especially bikes, ended up delayed.
Bike Industry growth:
Another factor that has made it harder to get bikes is simply the growth and demand for outdoor products. With everyone cooped up and unable to go to gyms, many people started participating in outdoor hobbies. Of these the biggest growth was seen in running, hiking, and, you guessed it, biking. There was a huge surge in bike sales. This led to brands quickly selling through their warehouse stocks and with factories closed down it made it hard to keep up with the demand.
With all the bike brands scrambling to manufacture more bikes there is now a shortage of components such as brake levers and drive trains. Our lead time on bikes used to be around 6 months. We are now planning years in advance. And this isn’t just a problem we are facing, this is industry wide, from small manufacturers to the biggest players.
Alright so that's the (long) story of why it is hard to get a bike these days. But you want an eBike and you want it now...
So how do you get an ebike ASAP?
Even with all the odds stacked against the industry there are still brands with bikes in stock. And not to toot our own horn but Bakcou is one of these brands! We still have stock of most of our bike models with more on the way. So there are still brands with bikes in stock. You may have to do more digging than usual to find instock ebikes but they are out there still!
Apart from digging around if you need a bike ASAP you may have to keep an open mind. Most big brands like Trek and Giant are in very short supply of stock. But there are other brands out there. It is also important to be open to different colors, models, and/or sizing than you initially had planned for.
But let’s say you know exactly what you want and are in no rush to get it. A great way to ensure that you will get a bike when they are back in stock is to put in a pre-order. This is becoming more and more commonplace, it is something that we have started doing and our customers are really appreciating this model. A pre-order is like getting in line for a bike when it does come back into stock. You pay now and then when the bikes get to us we are able to ship out immediately and you get the exact bike you want!
So to wrap it up, it’s an incredibly weird and chaotic time when it comes to ecommerce and the global supply chain. The bike industry is experiencing large setbacks that are basically a delayed result of COVID factory shutdowns. However, there are still bikes to be found; many brands, including Bakcou, do still have bikes in stock and ready to ship. To get a bike now you may have to be flexible about the color or size of your bike and go with what is available. But if you really want an exact bike, pre-ordering is now a great option to ensure you get that bike when it does come into stock.