Since the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic, more people have discovered the joy of cycling than ever before. It's a great way to get outside and exercise in a responsible, socially distanced way. Unfortunately, this surge in demand could never have been predicted. Suffice it to say, the entire industry's inventory - from warehouses to showroom floors - was completely wiped out. As you can imagine, the system just wasn't designed to completely replenish all of that inventory in a few months. The ramping up of production in the bicycle industry - as with most other industries right now - has led to major shortages in the parts needed to assemble bicycles, all the way down to the raw materials. Combine this with the fact that supply chains worldwide are bursting at the seams, and well... you get a perfect storm. What does this mean to you, the consumer, and what can we do here at Chain Reaction Bicycles? Well let's start with the positives first...
Because of the current lead times on everything... well... in the world, we've made a great effort to place our parts and accessories orders early, and we ordered MUCH more than we would in a pre-pandemic world. Recognizing that replenishing inventory mid season is not going to be possible, we made sure to have enough on hand to take us well into the summer. We're very well positioned for common repair and replacement parts, and most other cycling necessities. We've got a great selection - right now - of chains, cassettes, bar tape, tires, pedals, power meters, pumps, repair stands, DIY tools, GPS computers, etc.. There are always exceptions of course. But for the most part we should be able to sort you out with most common consumable parts and fun accessories. Don't wait until mid season when it gets busy and we start selling through this product.
Here's another area where we have already received a great deal of our summer inventory. We have fresh new helmets, clothing, and sunglasses from POC. Pearl Izumi clothing - including our new custom Chain Reaction jerseys - has arrived. Assos is in stock in a way we've never had before. Specialized helmets are in good supply so far and we've also added Lazer helmets if you're looking for a little more Euro flare. Troy Lee Designs helmets and clothing is here for MTB, casual, and gravel as well. We've got a wide range of road and mountain/gravel shoes from Shimano and Specialized. (Including S-Works.) Crank Brothers is filling out the casual, mountain and flat pedal shoe selection. We're feeling great about some of the clothing choices we made. So get in early and grab a new kit or two while the selection is so great.
We got caught way off guard on this front last year, but we've remedied that for now. We've got 2, 3, and 4 bike hitch racks in stock from both Yakima and Kuat. If you need one of these for the spring, we recommend pulling the trigger sooner rather than later. We'll even store it for you until the you need it in the spring.
As of now, we are still working with a turnaround of about five weeks without an appointment, and 2-4 days with an appointment. We are still booking appointments for mid July right now, but... may need to push the pause button to get it under control if it gets much further out.
With less people able to get new bikes this year, we're seeing lots and lots of upgrading going into existing bikes. We've got the best selection of Enve, Roval, Shimano, Mavic, Race Face, and Ibis wheels we've ever had. Lots of options for road, gravel, MTB and everything in between. As someone much more hip than me once said, "Refresh your ride with some pimp new sneakers today!" We've been doing lots of custom builds as well. Get in touch and let us run you through some ideas. We've still got some more stuff coming too!
This is by far, the trickiest and toughest issue right now. It literally takes dozens of parts to make up a bicycle. The parts to assemble one bicycle are purchased from no less than a dozen different suppliers. Those suppliers in turn, purchase all of their raw materials - aluminium, rubber, carbon fibre, silicon chips, etc... - from dozens of suppliers. Any one of these parts or raw materials being late or in short supply causes a domino effect on the system, drastically elongating the timeline it takes to get a bike from the factory to the showroom floor. If by chance you can get an entire bike together in Asia, you then have to ship it to North America. With the ships and ports full to the brim, and the added complication of a worldwide container shortage, that's a small miracle on it's own.
What this means is, we - and every other dealer - has a fraction of what they would normally have in stock. Because of these shortages and delays, the vast majority of manufacturers have had to move to an allocation system rather than the traditional pre-season order model. We weren't even given the opportunity to place an order for the number, and mix of bikes we would like. We were simply presented with a list of bikes - derived at by algorithm based on previous year's purchases, and commitment levels - and told we have the choice to take what's on that list... or leave it. We pretty much take everything we can get our hands on. But it definitely isn't the mix of bikes we would have if we could take our pick. Still... beggars and choosers and all that...
So, what are we doing about it? We've reconfigured our website to ONLY show bike models that we have at least one of in stock. If you see a bike in the size and build you want, grab it up! We really have no idea - as crazy as that sounds - when the next one will arrive. We do have lists of bikes allocated to us, but the ETA on any bike right now is a complete guess. We're seeing estimations from Giant on 2022 product pushing well into 2023 for delivery. In fact, we just received a dozen 2021 bikes in the second week of February 2022, and we still have outstanding 2021 bikes yet to come. Specialized is much the same. We have a list. But some of the 2022 bikes are already estimated not to arrive until December. Our more boutique brands like Ibis and Salsa are VERY low in supply, and we are only getting one or two bikes at a time from them every few weeks or so. Going the full bespoke route with a titanium bike from Seven Cycles is a great way to get exactly what you want for that "forever bike". They are still able to produce a frame in about 18 weeks. But the parts kits will push that timing significantly in most cases. Still, it's an exciting and super cool way to getting something truly unique.
Despite the difficulties in this particular area of the business, we are still finding creative ways of matching folks with new bikes in many cases. If you don't see the bike you want on our site, it's still worth giving us a call, or sending an email to see if we have any insight on something in the pipeline. Road bikes are particularly hard hit in terms of availability, but we're managing some wins here and there. Gravel is better for sure, and mountain bikes are not too bad either. For the casual commuting and cruising around the neighbourhood categories, we are actually doing pretty darn great, all things considered.
The trick here is going to be keeping in touch with us and seeing what we might have on the horizon. Don't be afraid to shake our tree once in a while if you have something specific in mind.
We're doing lots of work behind the scenes to list as many of our products on our site as possible. In fact, we've even secretly and quietly turned on the "Online Shopping" portion of our site. That's right! You can now purchase items, and pay online for pick up in store, or delivery. It's a rather time consuming task to get every product listed on the site. So don't hesitate to contact us directly if you don't see something you're looking for. We just might have it in stock at the ol' bricks and mortar.
Here's wishing you all another great season of outdoor riding and fun on your bikes. Stop in to see some of the great new product, have a chat, and grab a coffee!
Chain Reaction Bicycles Inc.