If you’ve been trying to buy a bicycle or bicycle parts any time since 2020, you’ve noticed that prices are astronomical, and wait times are soul-crushing. But have bicycles really gotten more expensive during the global bike shortage?
Luckily, there are still ways to get your hands on a new or used bicycle or bike parts. You’ll just need to be savvy, search a little longer, and be a bit more patient.
Let’s break down what goes into the cost of manufacturing a bicycle, and why entry-level bicycles are so hard to find in 2022.
Why are Bicycles so Expensive in the First Place?
For many cyclists, cycling means buying a bicycle and that’s where the costs end. But, if you’re cycling for more than recreation or commuting, cycling is incredibly competitive.
You’re racing against time so to increase your speed, you’ll naturally want equipment that’s lighter, stronger, and crafted from the best materials money can buy. Along with this, cycling can be an injury-prone sport so you’ll want the best protective gear you can afford.
The saying, “If it’s too expensive, you’re not the target market,” couldn’t be more true when it comes to cycling. Yes, there are cyclists out there that have a genuine need for a $10,000 bicycle – but if you’re a newbie you probably won’t see them in your social ride.
Bicycles require research and development, engineering, design, hand-labour, and high-end materials. When you consider how much work goes into building a bicycle, the price tag on high-end bikes makes sense.
In fact, Matt Phillips of Bicycling.com argues that bicycles should be even more expensive so that everyone – particularly mechanics and bike store staff – can be paid fairly for their expertise.
Why Bicycles are So Hard to Find in 2022
If you’re in the market for a mid-range or high-end bicycle or components for your existing bicycle, you might find yourself shocked at the prices and wait times you’re seeing – but the fault doesn’t necessarily lie with bicycle manufacturers.
According to The Latz Report, the vast majority of bicycles sold in Australia are built with parts sourced from Vietnam, Taiwan and China, so when the pandemic struck and factories were forced to close down, it disrupted the manufacturing and transport of bicycles.
At the same time, bicycles became more in-demand as people avoided going into the gym and taking public transport.
To complicate matters even further, the blockage of the Suez Canal in 2021 caused the price of shipping containers to skyrocket 500% to over $20,000 – and eventually, those costs were passed onto consumers.
Decreased supply combined with increased demand will cause shortages in any industry, and the bicycle industry is no exception.
But now, two years later, the industry is struggling to meet the demand. Low-end adult bikes, BMX bikes, and kids bikes are the easiest to find while those priced at $2,000 and above are in short supply – no matter what kind of bike you’re looking for.
According to experts, these are the key factors that influence the availability of bicycles and parts:
- Global covid situation
- Availability of materials
- Availability of components
- Bicycle assembly rates
- Availability and price of shipping containers
- The global freight transport situation
How to Buy a Bicycle in 2022 (Without Getting Scammed)
With such a sharp increase in demand for bicycles and parts, there are also people posing as legitimate sellers in to take advantage of potential buyers.
Here are some pointers to help you steer clear of scams when you’re shopping for a bicycle:
- If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. Inventory is so low at the moment that there’s no reason for sellers to offer steep discounts on bicycles or parts.
- If possible, buy your bicycle from your local bike shop. Bicycle stores that are struggling to get inventory may not be reaping the rewards of the high demand. Bonus: The information and tips you can get from your local bike shop aren’t something you get when buying online.
- If you’re buying a used bicycle, ask for the serial number and look it up on the National Bike Register to make sure it isn’t stolen. Unfortunately, the demand for bicycles gives thieves a strong financial incentive to resell stolen bikes.
- If you’re buying online, buy from a reputable online store. Steer clear if the website looks sketchy (mismatched fonts, no contact form, long loading time) or you can’t find reviews of the retailer.
- Look for a bicycle during the off-season (autumn and winter). In spring and summer, demand skyrockets as more people want to get out and be active.
- Be prepared to wait a few weeks (or months) for a new bicycle if you can’t find a used bicycle that meets your needs. Patience is key!
Keep Your New Bike Safe with Specialist Bicycle Insurance
Nothing dulls the magic of new bike day faster than getting your bicycle stolen. Upwards of 30,000 bicycles are stolen each year in Australia, and those are just the ones that are reported to the police.
While your home and contents insurance may provide cover for your bicycle, the cover is likely to be partial and may not insure you for many common scenarios unique to cycling.
With a specialist bicycle insurance policy from Velosure, your bicycle will be covered for accidental damage, theft from & away from home, while in transit domestically, while you’re using it to race, and for worldwide travel if you activate this optional cover add-on (Premium only).