We all know what happened in 2020 when it became impossible to purchase a bike under $500. That has eased up a little bit in 2021 but there is another bike storm brewing. Mid-end to high-end mountain bikes, the core of our sport are in short supply. It’s a bad situation and it’s about to get a whole lot worse. Bike supply cannot keep up with demand and there does not seem to be light at the end of the tunnel in 2021. Here are the top 5 reasons why there is a bike shortage and why you need to buy your bike today if you are in the market.

1. Not enough parts to make bikes
The graphic above illustrates the crux of the problem that each bike manufacturer is facing. They simply cannot get parts to make more bikes. There are a limited amount of manufacturers for each component group and they cannot make enough to satisfy demand. What used to be 1-2 month lead times to get a bike saddle is now looking like 1-2 years. Every part is stressed in terms of delivery and manufacturers have to work with ridiculous constraints and compromises just to spec, build and sell a bike this year. They are having to forecast 1-3 years in advance and put in an order and make deposits for bikes that they need now.

Couple that with uncertainty and long-range buying (similar to hoarding) is occurring. Manufacturers, dealers, even consumers are forced to buy in bigger quantities to ensure they have a tire, a chain, or an inner tube to use 6 months from now.

Folks have discovered that mountain biking is healthy and fun
2. These New riders are not all going back to the gym or the couch
Remember how you got started biking? In many cases, It was often a spark or a chance occurrence where the stars aligned and you got out on the bike and started to get hooked. That is cycling’s magic, especially mountain biking where it is a self-perpetuating machine that feeds itself. The more you do it, the more it appeals to you. It becomes more enjoyable each time as your body adapts to the bicycle and you discover the world around you. Many folks turn into regular riders and it even becomes a lifestyle or religion for others.

A giant spark occurred with the pandemic and many tried mountain biking because there was little else to do. Air travel to fancy vacations was shut down, gyms were closed, gatherings and team sports were minimized. The roads were empty so cycling was safe and easy. And mountain biking provided a way to get further from trail parking lots and crowds.

2021 is starting to see a return to normalcy but cycling will become a new normal for many. Some may return back to their daily gym routine or couch surfing habits but many will become cyclists for the foreseeable future. And as we know, each cyclist is good for N+1 bike purchases.

3. The demand is global

Understand that whatever you see in your neighborhood and local trail system where more people are walking and cycling is happening elsewhere. It’s happening in your entire state and in the whole US. And more significantly the increase in demand for bikes is happening in almost every country. In all corners of the globe, people want more bikes as the mix may vary between mountain bikes, commuters, and road bikes.

But while the demand is global, the components are largely made in Asia. Japan, Taiwan, and China handle the bulk of bike manufacturing and they are getting orders from the entire world.


4. Bike prices are going up

There is that issue of supply AND demand and it’s actually a law of economics. When the demand for a product rises and the supply cannot match its pace, the price for the product will go up. Initially, scarcity will rise, and wait times by the customer increase but the only way to ease this pressure imbalance is for the price to go up. If 10 people want to purchase 2 available mountain bikes for $1000 and they are waiting 6 months for delivery, the only way to balance that pressure long-term is to raise the price of that bike.
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There are also significant increases in the cost of goods in creating a bike. Because of the supply shortages across the board, prices have already increased in price as saddles, tires, aluminum, have gone up in price. And unexpected line items too like cardboard, shipping containers, freight costs to get the bike from the factories to the US have gone up in price.

These price increases have already taken effect with some manufacturers like Trek, Specialized, Orbea, Canyon have already increased their prices 5-10% across the board for all bikes. More price increases from other brands are coming with Santa Cruz looking at a May 1 10% price increase.


5. Summer is coming

If availability is already low during winter, wait until this summer. For many of the hot, relevant mountain bikes, there has been a 3-6 month wait all winter. And if you think that’s bad, just wait till June for the true impact of the bikepocalypse. We are predicting many instances of a mountain biker ready to buy a bike, finally saving up all the money, and doing all the research for the big purchase. They go to the bike store and are greeted with a delivery time of January 2022, not even in time for Christmas.

By this summer, we will see the true shortage of enthusiast bikes. What hit the entry-level bikes in 2020 will be experienced in $2-6k bikes because of all the factors stated above.

So what can you do?
The main issue is to decide if you want or need to buy a bike this season. If you have an existing bike and it fills your needs, then tune it up, buy some tools and keep it in the best possible shape.

If you need to buy a bike, the most important strategy is to buy it soon before the peak season hits. Complete your research and tap into your biking network of friends for advice you trust.

And here's where it gets painful. Lower your standards about the buying experience, even for a high-end bike. There are very few discounts so do not be surprised if you have to pay MSRP. Don't expect any test rides or demo days since they are few and far between. Have your second choice model and color handy and understand that being nitpicky about spec might result in months of waiting. The best bike is going to be the one that is on the showroom floor since that it was most likely ordered by the shop six months ago. It may have SRAM GX but if your first choice of Shimano XT is a 9-month delivery date away, then a compromise may be a good choice.

And as far as used bikes, pickings are slim too as the demand will be sky-high. But use that to your advantage as well and sell any used bikes that you are simply not using.

In summary, act now in a deliberate fashion and when you have your bike, just ride and enjoy the glorious year ahead of us.

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