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‘Bikepocalypse:’ National bike shortage showing up in Idaho shops

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The coronavirus pandemic set up a summer of outdoor activities. For some retailers, that led to a flurry of sales, without enough inventory to make everyone happy. It’s what one Ketchum bike shop owner calls the “bikepocalypse.”

Paddy Mcllvoy, the managing partner of Backwoods Mountain Sports has watched this happen at his shop.

“I think this sort of national pause where what there was to do was be outside has reignited a love of biking and the outdoors for a whole lot of people,” he said. “The global supply chain has (been) greatly interrupted and then couldn’t just be instantaneously restarted again. When suddenly business in the outdoor industry was a whole lot better than anyone could have predicted.”

Bikes are selling out everywhere. According to Olin Glenne the owner of Sturtevant’s Bike and Sporting Goods shop in Sun Valley, it’s just about impossible to find a bike that costs less than $2,000. 

Glenne also credits the shortage to a supply chain issue in the outdoor and bike industry.

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“Asia was shut down for three or four months,” he said. “So that’s kind of capping us.”

[Sun Valley sees shift in tourism: conferences out, longer stays in]

Business booming – to a point

He explained that business is booming for his company, like most outdoor shop owners. But, because there are supply shortages, there is only so much he can sell.

Similarly, Mcllvoy ordered a bike for a customer a few days ago, and the bike is eight to ten weeks out. Before the pandemic, he could get a bike delivered in around three days and it would take another day or two to build. 

He says that people will wait and understand the high demand for outdoor products. 

Backwoods Mountain Sports specializes in high-end bikes. Entry-level bikes start at about $4,500. These bikes sell well within the community, but Mcllvoy says they are working on getting a more affordable bike brand next year. But for now, he says, people want to pay. 

“We’ve seen an odd trend this year to people buying the high end of the high end,” he said. “A bike where there’s a $4,000 build and a $10,000 build and there has been a surprising number of people buying the absolute top end.”

Not just a bike problem

While bike shortages are a hot topic within the recreation world, many other outdoor items will be hard for customers to get their hands on. 

“We sell stand up paddle boards , and we’re Redfish Lake adjacent, so we sell a lot of standup paddle boards,” Mcllvoy said. “… We had a fairly large first order (of paddle boards) that we very quickly sold through. So, I’d like to do a reorder which had never been a problem before. The rep sent me they’re available to sell reports… and in all of North America, this company has four boards left.”

If you are someone looking to buy a new bike or another outdoor product, you may wait awhile. Mcllvoy says there’s a lot of guessing as to when stock will be normal again, but he’s not sure when.

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Autum Robertson
Autum is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Ketchum, McCall and general news. Contact her at autum@boisedev.com.

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