Bike shops, deemed essential businesses under Gov. Larry Hogan’s orders, are experiencing surges in demand for both bicycle sales and tune-ups. But they’re also starting to become short on inventory, as bike manufacturers worldwide slow down production due to the virus.

Tom Rinker, owner of The Bicycle Escape on Wormans Mill Drive, said he has had to limit the amount of people in the store at a time as a precaution as the store is gaining a lot of customers.

The demand means Rinker has been able to keep all of his employees working and he hasn’t had to apply for any government assistance yet, although he did try during one week when his business slowed down considerably.

“After Hogan’s second announcement, we had a week that was very scary for us,” Rinker said. “Our business just dropped to the point where... we’re not going to be able to pay rent, or we’re going to have to make some huge changes here.”

But with the increased demand for bikes, Rinker hasn’t been able to maintain his inventory.

“How do we manage inventory with huge shortages? That’s taken some creativity and has been stressful,” Rinker said. “That’s one of the things, one of the common things I’ve heard from other business owners, many of whom are bicycle shop owners.”

Tom Peperone, owner of Wheel Base on Market Street, has experienced delays with his inventory arriving, too, with about 80 bikes currently on back order. Most of his bikes come from China.

“And China was shut down for a month because of the virus, so there’s a big shortage on new bikes,” Peperone said. “Even Walmart and all those stores are sold out of bikes.”

The lack of bikes at big-box stores have driven more customers to ReCycle Bikes, Matthew Fox’s Carroll Street store, which sells used bikes. Fox fixes the bikes up himself and also offers tune-up services as well.

Fox only opened his store last year and doesn’t have any employees. He wishes he had somebody to help him out now, but had no way of knowing how busy it was going to get.

For most of his inventory, Fox relies on trade-ins, where people either sell their bikes directly to him for cash or trade them in for store credit. By this time last year, Fox said, he had about 100 trade-ins. But since the beginning of 2020, he’s only had about 10.

He sometimes looks at Craigstlist and Facebook Marketplace to find bikes to fix up and sell.

“Because the demand is so high and everybody’s looking for them, they tend to get scooped up very quickly,” Fox said.

All bike shop owners said with so many people being cooped up at home and with the gyms closed, they’re looking for a way to enjoy the outdoors and exercise in one.

It’s also appealing for parents, who can use biking as an outlet for their kids.

“We’re almost out of kids’ bikes,” Peperone said.

That desire to get out and biking is also boosting the amount of repairs and tune-ups the shops are taking in. Rinker said many people are coming in with bikes they haven’t ridden in years, hoping to get them back in a rideable shape.

“So we’ve seen a lot of those riders, we’ve fixed a lot of mid-90s bicycles that haven’t been touched in a decade,” Rinker said. “That’s fun, it’s nice to see people getting exposed to, and excited for riding.”

While the increased business is better than no business, the shop owners are stressed and apprehensive. Peperone fears for the economy in the coming months, with the unemployment rate the highest it’s been since the Great Depression.

“It’s going to be really, really bad,” Peperone said. “No one’s going to have any money to spend.”

Fox is thankful for the high demand, but as a new business with no employees, he’s starting to feel overwhelmed.

“As good as it’s been for bike shops, it’s also been very stressful,” Fox said. “I’m going to be happy to see things turn around and get back to normal here.”

Follow Erika Riley on Twitter: @ej_riley

(36) comments

DeplorableLocalVeteran

The transformation from a superpower to a third world bike riding failed state

jwhamann

Awwww, people are getting their dusty bikes out, ones they haven’t ridden in years. They’ll give up after a couple of two-mile rides.

KR999

I remember going to High's Cycle Center on the SW corner of Market and 4th Street back in the early 60's. That was a great little shop.

DMSchobel

Love ReCycle! Bought my bike from there a few weeks ago and had two other bikes tuned up there as well. Glad to hear that business still is ok for them.

notconcerned

Go Bicycle Escape! Great people and great shop!

bosco

Any bikes built in the US anymore? Not interested in anything from China. Their previous export was enough.[ninja]

Greg F

Keep up the racism...you’re good at it.

Sensor

Sensor says: Your post violates Rule 3: Don't degrade others. You are sensored.

KR999

Sensor

[ˈsensər]

NOUN

a device which detects or measures a physical property and records, indicates, or otherwise responds to it.

censor

[ˈsensər]

NOUN

an official who examines material that is about to be released, such as books, movies, news, and art, and suppresses any parts that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.

steelersfan2005

where is the racism comment at?

KR999

What racism would that be, FedUp? Do I take it you condone the "export" of a lethal virus? And also the fact that the Chinese government hid knowledge of the virus from the world while they started buying up and hoarding the necessary medical supplies to combat it in their own country?

bosco

KR, when all else fails, cry racism. It's so over-used that it means little anymore. [ninja]

Greg F

A virus knows no borders. If it exists, it will travel. Saying it wouldn’t and blaming the origin is a play by the ones who can’t or won’t understand that who seem to also, like Orange-man, shift blame to others. It’s worse here because we have people who can’t follow guidelines and are too self-centered to care if they spread it. Deflecting back to China is ignoring how it spreads here unabated compared to elsewhere...where here we have a leader who ignores it.

CheetoBenito

Wasn't the article about bicycles? Dear lord.

bosco

That's previous, fed-up. The fall back of the left. Cry racism. [ninja]

KR999

"Racism" is but one of many fallbacks for the left, bosco. Don't forget Nazi, Fascist, Homophobe, Capitalist, and the list goes on and on and on.....

bosco

Define racism fed-up and explain how it applies to my comment.

bosco

How is Buy American racist, fed-up? Care to explain?

mikec

Therr might be a few frames and components made in the U.S. These are Gucci-type bikes, with Gucci prices. Hope you have deep pockets.

public-tertiary

“Gucci” is an odd choice to talk about expensive American brands.

awteam2000

Bosco, You do know the underwear you wear is made in China? Hang loose 🤙.

bosco

My Fruit of the Looms are made in Honduras. Nice try, though.[ninja]

KR999

Ummm, aw, how is it you know if bosco even wears underwear, let alone where it comes from if he does?

bosco

Somebody's been peeking in my bib overhauls. If I'm wearing a clean Sunday-go-to-meeting shirt and my best bibbers, it's Fruit of the Looms. If it's not Sunday, it's commando.[ninja]

Hollowed Ground

Nope, no bikes are made in America. No ventilators or masks are either, save for some women sewing a few and selling them on Etsy. Delivery in 4 months given the backlog.

cravacor

Yes, there are plenty of US made bikes but they aren't cheap.

Greg F

Maybe they should consider consignment. Some of us have decent bikes or vintage racers that could serve as inventory. I have a 1986 Pougeot Racing bike that hasn’t been ridden in years but would be a great find for an enthusiast....not giving it away for peanuts on Craigslist or Facebook...but would consign.

Jestusg

Same. Good idea.

mikec

This was mentioned in the article. Recycle is a dedicated used bike store. Wheel Base, in addition to new bikes, buys and sells used bikes. This is especially great for kid's bikes, since they outgrow bikes so fast.

steelersfan2005

Why would i want some garbage from 1986 when i can buy new for less.

gb4baseball

Because, as the article says, there is a big shortage of new bikes. For some that means "garbage from 1986" or nothing.

bosco

Fed-up. That's a good idea. I've got a Schwinn Le Tour that I've had since 1982. I rode it in several half-centuries and two centuries. Quit riding when I moved to FredCo because the roads are so narrow and cars, back then, wouldn't give any leeway.

I'll get it down, dust it off, and see if anyone is interested.

public-tertiary

I have a Maino built in the 1960s. I’m the third owner. I’ve owned this bicycle for 39 years. A few years ago I encountered a gentleman in his 70s examining my bike which was on the back of my vehicle. He had owned a Maino 30 or 40 years before and was amazed to see one. We chatted on the sidewalk of downtown Frederick for about 30 minutes about our bicycling adventures.

bosco

Public - before my Schwinn, I had a Motobecane that I bought in late 1960s and rode for years. It's been passed down in the family and is still in use.

Nowadays I ride a Harley. Mine was made in York PA.

public-tertiary

Nice!

cravacor

What Peugeot is it? What frame size? I might be interested. Also, you will get a lot more than peanuts if you sell it on FB. There is a lot of demand for bikes now, as the article says. Just keep in mind any bike over 30+ years old, unless it is something really special, isn't worth more than $100 so, especially if it had just been sitting and needs work.

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