Bike shops keep us going, despite global shortages

The VeloNews Awards 2021 take place throughout the rest of the month for VeloNews and Outside + members.

Most years we give technology awards to the fastest and the lightest this, or the aerodynamic and the brightest that. And 2021 has certainly seen many great bikes come out onto the world stage. But do you know which is the absolute best bike? The one you can ride today.

As the global bicycle shortage due to COVID-19 has pummeled the dreams of new bikes of thousands of cyclists across the country, many good bike shops have been able to ride dozens of people, assembling new bikes and handing them over. to new through creativity and ingenuity, or to give some love and care to the bikes that many riders already owned.

Reduce, reuse, repair and recycle was an absolute good thing in 2021, and for that we are giving our bike cap to all the hard-working service bike shops.

“Just do the job”

AT Cycle N + 1 in Framingham, Mass., repairs have increased 200% this year, said manager and chief mechanic Francisco Cornelio.

“Since people can’t find bikes, they clean their basements, sheds and garages, or they take out their old bikes or get bikes from friends and family and try to fix them,” Cornelio said. . “It’s a better way than before, when the attitude was just to put them on the metal heap and buy a new bike.”

Longtime cyclocross racer Erik Tonkin said his Sellwood bicycle repair Portland, Oregon store was prepared to face the shortage because its shop had been doing lockout and repairs for nearly 30 years.

“We were able to meet the strong demand for repairs, I won’t say it easily, but we were well positioned,” said Tonkin. “We weren’t telling people ‘two to eight weeks’ like some stores did. We’ve made an increased effort to save used parts and have them really well organized for quick access for repairs or preparing to ship.

Tonkin said having employees empowered to resolve issues also made a difference, rather than surrendering when suppliers of bikes and standard parts were out of stock.

“I kept noticing all these new dealer accounts, as my staff bought a part on eBay here and there, doing whatever it took to get a bike built or serviced,” he said. . “We just took it as it comes. They can’t get the part from a traditional supplier, so they just do. It was fun to watch.

“The flexibility of the staff to think on their feet, to immediately switch to whatever fills the void, instead of being really disappointed that they can’t get that pedal you want. Just get something that gets the job done. Half the time this year I was watching things I had never seen before.

“An essential part of the community”

AT Moore Bicycle Store in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, store founder James Moore said he, his family and staff “truly felt like a vital part of the community” as he revived dozens of used bikes over the past two years. years.

In March 2020, with Moore planning a closure, he and his daughter ordered as many bikes as they could cram into their store. And then, as businesses were steadily closing, Moore asked the city’s mayor to allow the store to remain open.

“I didn’t ask for an exception for transportation, but for recreation,” Moore said. “Our parks were closed. Our zoo was closed. But we had cycle paths.

Moving used bikes and doing nimble repairs meant a steady business. With three generations of family in the building, Moore was careful with COVID-19 precautions, keeping bikes in the parking lot and transacting through a small cutout in the wall.

Whenever a customer came to his store, he would often surprise him by asking what bikes he already had in the house and offering to buy him old bikes.

“They were like, ‘oh, you wouldn’t be interested,’ and I would say, ‘oh, yeah, we would,'” said Moore.

Much like the Tonkin team, Moore and his team would demonstrate almost everything, then organize them and use them to rebuild other bikes. Moore went so far as to advertise on billboards, asking people to come and sell them their “used bikes.”

“It was amazing for me to see how many people pulled up with bikes and didn’t want anything for them. They were just happy that someone could use them, ”he said, adding that it takes about the same time to refurbish an old bike as it does to build a new one.

“The best and the busiest”

AT Mt. Airy Bike and College Park Bike in Maryland, owner Larry Black said the COVID-19 crisis made 2020 and 2021 two of the best years in 42 seasons of operation. Black had kept a stock of old steel bikes in a barn, and these quickly became staples.

“While the illnesses and deaths that have resulted from the pandemic are sincere and tragic, since the day our governor declared us essential, we have experienced a wave like never before,” said Black.

Last year, Black was preparing to temporarily close its stores.

“The afternoon of the day we were supposed to close at 5 pm, I got a call from our mayor. He had been in contact with officials at Homeland and other agencies campaigning to have bike shops declared essential. He was successful and his actions reverberated across the country. “

“Suffice it to say the place seems to be back in the ’70s thanks to my 50-year treasure trove of worthy bikes selling as fast as we can give them a tune-up and a blessing,” Black said. “We’re making more friends than ever as we get more cigarette butts on bikes.”

“I have to say,” he said, “these are the best and busiest times of my career.”

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