toronto bikes

Toronto stores can't get new bicycle inventory this year due to huge global demand

Unfortunately for cyclists looking to upgrade their gear headed into spring, bikes are sold out across Toronto, across Canada, and around the world.

An increased demand for bicycles from people looking to avoid public transit and exercise in a time where gyms are closed, combined with global delays in production means that it's never been harder to get a bicycle in the city.

Building a bike involves more than 100 parts, and some production facilities responsible for making those parts are currently backed up hundreds of days. As one example, Velo, one of the world's largest seatmakers, is over 500 days behind demand, according to Pete Lilly, owner of Sweet Pete's in Toronto.

Social distancing and safety precautions at factories, ports, and customs agencies mean production is being slowed down at every step along the way. Combined with the increased demand, this means that getting a new bike is no longer as simple as walking into a neighbourhood shop.

"This time last year when things started to go crazy in Canada, that was the only thing families could do together," Lilly said. "It was a way of avoiding the TTC, so demand went through the roof this time last year and that's just continued.

"The double-edged sword for us is when we're finally able to start restocking our cupboards, it will be because that demand dies down."

Some in the industry are projecting that it could be 2030 before this all evens out. Even the most conservative estimates predict at least two years until customers can walk into stores and expect to find what they're looking for.

While bike shops struggle to supply their customers, with many closing locations to consolidate the stock they do have, others have chosen to see the silver lining.

"Personally, I've taken a kind of different approach on it and in some ways I see it as a really good thing that there's a lot of enthusiasm about biking. Everyone’s wanting to ride a bike," Robert Bateman, CEO of Bateman's Bicycle Company told blogTO.

"While there's some supply chain issues, I think there's this surging demand and as a bicycle retailer, I'm extremely fortunate for the most part."

For those hoping to get their hands on a new bike this year, the best course of action seems to be putting your name on a wait list and hoping your new ride isn't being delivered via the Suez Canal.

As the city of Toronto opens more bike lanes, and cyclists fight for more riding space, there's never been a better time to own a bike. Unfortunately, it seems that everyone on the planet has had the exact same thought.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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