GREAT FALLS — For many people, spending more time outdoors has been a silver lining in the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic hit North America just in time for summer, and bikes have proven to be a popular option for those looking to recreate.
But most bikes and bike parts are manufactured in Asia, where the pandemic shut down some facilities for months. Suddenly, the supply chain had come to a halt.
“Couple that with the fact that everybody in North America stayed home for eight weeks and decided to go outside and play and recreate and rediscover the joy of riding a bicycle,” said Beth Leatham, co-owner of Bighorn Outdoor Specialists. “And it's made it a little more difficult to get your hands on a new bike.”
Leatham said her store’s approach to bikes is focused on custom bikes, and usually has a smaller inventory than other bike shops.
Any other July, they might have 15 or 20 stock models in the store. But they haven’t had that many in months, and it might stay that way until October.
“That's not just us. That is not just even Montana. It's nationwide. It's actually North America, in general,” Leatham said. “So all the bike retailers across the country are scrambling and chasing product. And now we're even starting to have a difficult time finding components to repair bicycles.”
That means Bighorn has a waiting list to get bikes fixed. Leatham said her store has also seen huge sales increases in almost every kind of outdoor clothing and gear, but bikes are the toughest one to come by for customers.
If you’re looking to buy, make sure to research ahead of time to get the right one, not just what’s available.
“It's not instant gratification at the moment, unfortunately,” Leatham said. “But all the bike retailers in the world are working really hard to make sure that we get as many people on bikes as we can.”