Is now the time to buy a bike?

Is now the time to buy a bike?

By Linda Laker

Thinking of upgrading your bike to finally get your ‘dream’ bike?  Or maybe you want to join the growing ranks of e-bike owners?  But you’ve heard about supply chain disruptions and stories of bike stores with no stock and waits of six-nine months for new bikes.

Well, this week Pedal Power checked in with a couple of bike shops to see what the reality is in Canberra (… reality and Canberra – two words many Canberra critics would not expect to see in one sentence…).  And it seems that many of those stories are a hangover from the first and second years of the COVID pandemic.

Over the past couple of years, Canberra – like elsewhere – was caught out by an incredible surge in demand for all types of bicycles.  While much of this was fed by cycling being one of the available forms of exercise as we moved through quarantine periods, working from home also gave many people – and particularly families – a new interest in cycling and more time to cycle.  But the surging demand for all types of bicycles was also happening overseas.  And at the beginning, bike brands were gearing up for the European summer and that also rolled over to shortages for the southern hemisphere.

It is still the case that demand is high, and Australia – being a small market in the world marketplace – is at the mercy of the global environment.  And that demand is across the board for all styles of bikes, across all age groups and for all types of riding.

It is still the case that demand is high, and Australia is at the mercy of the global environment

E-bikes are increasingly popular.  Interestingly, e-mountain bikes are amongst the most popular sellers from one Canberra store, with mountain bikers being able to get more laps in and more enjoyment from their riding. An increase in cycle commuting has also increased demand for e-bikes.  And it seems there is quite diverse demand for e-bikes.  The bike shops we spoke to is seeing growth in demand at the very high end of the market, but also at the basic entry-level as consumers ‘try out’ whether an e-bike is for them. 

General recreational mountain bikes are also seeing surging demand, particularly as a good starting point for someone who’s never ridden a bike, or hasn’t ridden for a long time.  It’s easy for such a newbie to just go for a 5km off-road ride on local tracks or Stromlo Forest Park whereas taking on a 15-20km or more road (or path) ride would be off putting at the beginning. 

And, according to the bike shops we spoke to, there’s certainly more people adding to their bike collection!  Many are adding a gravel bike as a comfortable option for more versatile riding on a range of surfaces that their road bike isn’t suited to, or for which their mountain bike is heavier than needed.

But the good news is that stocks are now more available as manufacturing catches up.  One local store indicated that is now back up to a level of around 2,000 bikes in stock. And as one single-brand bike store pointed out, being able to source bikes not in stock from other stores or from stock that is already on shore and in transit means that most consumers can get the bike of their choice.

One local store indicated that stock is now back up to around available 2000 bikes

Our local bike stores are an important part of our cycling ecosystem.  Having local knowledge, not just about where we are riding but also how Canberrans ride, means they are a good source of advice about your next bike purchase. 

So we asked for their tips to make the most of your bike purchase experience.  Probably unsurprisingly, the key suggestion was to do your research.  The more you have thought about and understand what you want from a bike – how you will use it, how often, what style of riding you see yourself doing, your skill level – the better a bike retailer will be able to help you get the bike that suits your needs and price point.  And, be patient:   notwithstanding bike stock levels getting back to normal, there can still be one-off gaps for particular sized or models. 

Once you get your new bike, make sure you keep your Pedal Power membership up to date so that you are covered by your member insurance wherever and whenever you ride, often!