Coronavirus outbreak causes bicycle shortage; Oak Ridge business aims to cycle in new bikes soon

Investigations

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — A few weeks ago, as Safer at Home orders were relaxed by the state, a small business owner in Oak Ridge welcomed the news. He was able to sell almost all the new bicycles in his shop within weeks.

However, there’s now a bicycle shortage disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The global supply chain of new bicycles got behind in January and February as the virus hit Asian countries first. Then, when the weather started warming up, and as COVID-19 guidelines were relaxed, new bicycle sales soared.

This not just happening in East Tennessee, but across the country as people got outside.

Now, when you go to look for a bike at a specialty shop, it’s hard to find one.

“This time of the year the shop would be full of new bikes. They’d be in all the racks, in the walkways, piled up against the counters, they’d be everywhere.”

Shop Owner Bill Winters

There are only two new bikes left in his showroom, they’re special ones because of their extra large frames. What you see inside his shop are customers’ bicycles lined up for repairs.

His supply of new bicycles started selling fast in late April as Safer at Home orders from the coronavirus were relaxed.

“They sold within the month, May was probably one of the best months that the shop has ever had. Now I can’t get them.”

Bill Winters

He’d like to order more bicycles made by Trek, as he’s the local dealer for the company which is top in market share among specialty bikes.

For the time being, Winters is depending on repairs to keep him busy. He says the supply chain of new bikes was disrupted when the virus first hit Asia in January.

The Oak Ridge Bicycle Center is a fixture in the city as Winters has operated it for 45 years. He’s never experienced a year like this one.

“The virus hit at the worst possible time, this is a seasonal business. By the time spring was fixing to get off to a good start, we closed down as did other bike shops.”

Winters

For the time being, until a new supply of bikes arrive, it’s loyal customers that Winters appreciates.

Winters says he hopes to have new bikes in his shop by the end of June, but until then, he’ll continue fixing a lot of bicycles.

WATE looked into the shortage, and most American importers say they expect the first shipments of new bicycles to arrive by mid-June. Because of the coronavirus, many manufacturers were not able to bring production back to capacity until April.

Winters says he has already put in his order for new bikes.

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