Since the pandemic started, people have been buying bicycles in such huge numbers that bike shops are struggling to catch up.
In 2020, San Luis Obispo was named the "Best City for Cyclists" by the nonprofit, People for Bikes, and local bike shop owners say the demand is skyrocketing.
“Never seen anything like this. Never seen anything close to this,” Josh Cohen, owner and CEO of Foothill Cyclery, said.
The demand has leveled out a bit since last summer, but shipping and manufacturing has been so affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, that it can take months to receive bicycle parts, let alone fully assembled bikes.
“The demand’s been crazy. People want everything but we just don’t have it," Danny Martinez, owner of Village Bike Shop in Arroyo Grande, said. “Manufacture, shipping, the whole logistics thing, you know, just getting the product into the country has been tough.”
Business owners say it has been a domino effect.
“One part comes from some factory that shut down for three weeks and got really behind and then those derailleurs are delayed. And the factory that’s putting that bike together, in Asia, they’re delayed because the derailleurs not showing up. So everything kind of cascades backwards," Cohen said.
One cyclist, Traeger Cotten, said he tried to purchase a part online but even then, there was a wait time.
“Tried to get a chain the other day. It was like four weeks out," Cotten said.
Cyclists are also searching sites such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for secondhand bikes or parts.
Another cyclist, Owen Gollada, tried several other tactics.
“I’ve had to travel to LA to get one part and during the pandemic I’ve kind of been forced to look into buying secondhand, it is a little bit more costly. People have been calling it the 'COVID prices,'” Gollada said.
Even bike shops have gotten creative, modifying their operations to stay afloat.
“Just repairs and getting creative with stuff, you know. Refurbishing bikes, refurbishing parts. Whatever we can do," Martinez said.