A true salesman like Peter Litterst, who runs a large bicycle shop in Gengenbach in the Black Forest, is heartbroken when he says: "We simply can't fulfil some customer wishes any more". But disappointments are also part of the daily routine for cyclists at the moment - be it when buying a new bike or when a set of tires or a new chain is due. The market is empty because demand worldwide is growing faster than manufacturers can deliver.
All segments are affected. E-bikes and e-mountain bikes in particular, but also the gravel bikes that are particularly popular at the moment. And the situation on the accessories market is also extremely tense - anyone who thinks they can quickly get a pair of brake pads at the dealer around the corner often has to leave with a long face.
ISPO.com spoke with dealers, manufacturers and experts who revealed their tips that might help you find your dream bike for this cycling summer after all.
You see a bike that fits you, you like and fits your budget? "Get it now!" is the unequivocal advice of Josh Welz, editor of Europe's biggest mountain bike magazine BIKE. Generally speaking, what's in the shops at the moment or quickly available from online retailers is what's still available this season. Most manufacturers' warehouses are empty, and the supply situation will not recover in the course of this season. All experts expect the market situation to ease significantly from the 2023 season at the earliest.
Even if it's hard: buying a bike in 2021 means making compromises. "Finding the bike in exactly the equipment and colour you're looking for is difficult," says Haider Knall from the Haico bike shop near Tübingen. Fixating yourself is therefore rather counterproductive at the moment. What helps, however, is to keep your eyes open, remain flexible in your choice of brands, and be prepared to upgrade or downgrade your equipment. "Anything is better than ending up with no bike at all," says Knall.
With all the flexibility and willingness to compromise: The biggest mistake would be to be tempted if the dream bike is available just a little too big or too small. Peter Litterst from LinkRadQuadrat knows from experience: "Only a bike that fits perfectly also brings maximum fun in the end."
Even if the manufacturers' and importers' warehouses are empty, that doesn't mean there are no goods at all. "Everything that arrives here goes out again immediately," says Bernhard Lange, head of the German Shimano general agency, where they are currently even working two shifts to ensure supplies for retailers and manufacturers. However, hardly anyone dares to forecast exact dates at the moment - especially since the sea route through the Suez Canal, which has been blocked by the freighter Ever Given in the meantime, has further aggravated the situation. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to take a look around online or at various dealers from time to time - positive surprises cannot be ruled out. Thorsten Heckrath-Rose, for example, points out that Rose Bikes prominently features bikes available at short notice on their homepage - although the selection is currently very limited.
Somehow, discount battles have always been part of buying a bike. The species of bargain hunters, however, is less and less likely to find what they are looking for in bike shops. Bikes are currently - and won't be changing anytime soon - going over the counter at the official retail price. "Everything is virtually being snatched out of our dealers' hands," Bernhard Lange describes the situation. In addition, it is to be expected that the steadily growing global demand will tend to push prices up even further.
Josh Welz from BIKE magazine describes an "overheated" second-hand market - but always with the possibility of landing a lucky strike. That's why it's worth scanning the second-hand market, but always with the motto of not being tempted here either. "Anyone who buys a seemingly well-preserved used bike, where they then have to invest in spare parts that are also not available at the moment," says bike dealer Haider Knall, "quickly shoots themselves an own goal."
If you don't find your dream bike this year and therefore want to hang on for another season with the old car, you should definitely plan ahead for repairs and wear and tear. Chains, brake pads, tires or tubes are already partly sold out - all kinds of spare parts are in short supply. Wolfgang Renner from Merida and Centurion Germany therefore recommends stocking up on the parts you're likely to need, but not hoarding: "Nothing would be worse now than if bicycle chains became the new toilet paper," he says with a wink.
"If there's nothing, we can't get anything either," says bike dealer Haider Knall admittedly - on the one hand. On the other hand, of course, every dealer will go the extra mile for a regular customer. "All the spare parts that we currently have available," explains Peter Litterst, for example, "we keep in stock in the workshop - for the customers who have bought a bike from me and bring it to me for service."