Early in the pandemic, with gyms closed, recreational sports teams shut down, and travel out of bounds, people in Langley and around the world headed for the bike shops.
According to local bicycle retailers, that frenzy continued for a whole year.
Travis Peterson, owner of Walnut Grove’s Velocity Cycles, said he’s still got lines forming outside of his door some days.
About five to six people a day are still walking into the store, looking to start cycling.
“People were still on the hunt,” he said. Some didn’t get a bike last year, and they’re trying to get one for this spring now.
Bicycle orders are taking months to fill, basic starter bikes are in high demand and short supply, and some replacement parts are still difficult to find.
“There’s major parts shortage, like chains,” he said.
Other shortages have come and gone – tubes and tires saw supply shortfalls in the past, but have since recovered and are available again.
As for new basic bikes?
“I’m doing orders right now for next year,” he said.
“It’s like toilet paper a year ago,” he said.
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A simple, ordinary bike for someone getting back into casual riding could take until November to arrive, Peterson said.
Some stores are only allowing two bike purchases per person and limited numbers of pedals – which can be sold separately for road and mountain bikes – to keep any one person from scooping up too much of the limited supply.
Even the Suez Canal delays, caused by a ship that got wedged sideways in the Egyptian waterway, was a problem, because it delayed cargo shipments from overseas factories, said Peterson.
People are also still scooping up bikes on online auction and listing sites, then bringing them to local bike shops for repairs.
The same thing happened last spring, when anyone who owned a rusty, broken down old bike that had been in the back of a garage or shed for years discovered they could get a few hundred bucks for it.
READ MORE: Langley bike shops still low on inventory
The other big trend, which was building before the pandemic, has been the popularity of electric assist bikes.
“The electric bike boom is really something,” Peterson said.
For a long time, bikes that could use both pedals and electric motors were large and clunky, many more like heavy scooter than bikes.
But in recent years, smaller batteries and motors have allowed a number of brands to produce light bikes that can give a rider an extra power boost while smoothly pedaling.
Peterson said most of his customers for the ebikes are older riders, some with bad knees.
“Now with electric bikes, they are able to enjoy the wind in their hair.”