The supply problems faced by bike companies have pre-pandemic roots.
Toward the end of 2019, major brands held off placing orders from China, where most bikes and parts are made, to await an exemption on 25% tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, said Jay Townley, a former bike company executive who now works at consultancy Human Powered Solutions.
The exemption came through and bike companies placed their orders in early 2020 when Chinese factories were closed for Lunar New Year, he said. But then Covid-19 hit, and the factories remained shuttered.
Now they’re running full tilt and reluctant to expand capacity, likely because of concern over how long increased demand will last, Townley said.
Meanwhile the tariff exemption for bikes has expired, and there’s no indication it’ll be renewed. And the price for shipping a container from China to the U.S. West Coast has been hovering near record highs for several months. Many of these added expenses are set to remain, with high shipping prices getting sealed into contracts for the next year.
How many of you have a bike currently on order? I do and I just pulled my deposit from my LBS because I was able to find a bike through an online retailer. Sad to do it, but I don’t want to wait until autumn for a bike that inevitably might end up costing more than it did when I put my deposit down back in February, let alone even arrive.