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How’s Business? April 2021

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Welcome to our monthly conversation with bike shop owners and managers across Australia and New Zealand. 

Knowing in advance that stock shortages would be at the top of dealers’ minds and wanting to avoid How’s Business starting to sound like a broken record, we decided to have some fun with this month’s follow up question. We asked dealers to imagine that a magical genie could arrive right now at the front door laden with whatever stock the dealer wanted most. 

Specifically we asked, ‘If you could have an abundant supply of any three stock items delivered to your shop right now, what would be your top three choices?’ 

Although some of the responses overlapped, it was interesting how diverse the responses were. 

Kris Whybro of Kidsons Cycles from the regional city of Wagga Wagga in NSW said: 

Business has been fantastic. It’s been great. It’s now coming into change of season, but the past 12 months through covid has been really positive. 

It has been very busy here in Wagga, thanks to the support of great partners in the brands we do, it has been pretty smooth sailing. 

Our main brands are Specialized, Trek and Merida. We also do Cervélo and Focus… and GT, which has been good. But our biggest stand-outs have been our three core brands. We normally carry 140 bikes on the floor with more out the back. The lowest we got to with covid was 110 bikes. We were always very fortunate. 

In the past couple of weeks foot traffic has slowed down, but sales are still very good. The people that are coming in, are coming in for a purpose. We’re selling plenty of bikes, from general purpose bikes to high end bikes. This week alone already (speaking on a Tuesday afternoon) we’ve taken deposits on four different road bikes. Good ones, up to seven or eight grand each. 

Repairs are still phenomenal. We try to keep it to seven days, just because we have a lot of outside of Wagga customers. We really try to deliver (on time repairs) to them because we know they’re travelling from a long way to come to us. 

There’s five of us working here. 

Our local Council has been very supportive of local cycling, walking, running and everything. There’s a whole stack of new bike paths. The (12 month old) Tumbarumba Rail Trail is nearby. It’s just our vicinity… we’re at the foothills of the mountains really. We’re only two and a bit hours from Canberra, Bright and Thredbo. We’re very lucky where we are. 

We’ve got two really good, big bike shops in Wagga. The other one down the road is huge and we’re only 70 metres from each other. We’ve got really loyal local people and both bike shops provide a great service. We work hand in hand, which is very rare. 

Which three stock items would you like right now?

Number one is sub $3,000 dual suspension mountain bikes. We are starting to get them. We’ve got 22 arriving at the end of the month. But for the past three months, if I had 20 a week turning up, I could have sold all 20. But I’ve only had two or three a week turning up and you can only sell what you’ve got. 

Number two is folding ebikes. It’s the grey nomads… we get a ridiculous amount of grey nomads through Wagga! 100% – they see someone else in the caravan park with them and say, ‘I need one of them!’ and we say, ‘We don’t have any!’ (laughs) 

Number three, you’re going to laugh. The most things people ask for at the moment are full face helmets. And you can’t get them anywhere in Australia at the moment. We get asked every second day. Every parent who wants one says, ‘Little Johnny is up in the hills doing the big jumps. He needs a full face helmet.’ 

Quality cycling shoes are also very low and we’re also short of Thule products. 

Aaron Hicks from the Bike Shed in Yarrawonga, a suburb of Palmerston, near Darwin NT said: 

Business is good mate. Workshop’s plentiful – plenty of repairs going on. It’s just getting stock is our hardest part at the moment. 

The shop has been going for just under three years. Our customer base is entry level mountain bikes and BMX. We do a wide range of brands, but our main ones are Haro, Jamis, we can do XDS and cruiser bikes as well. 

Which three stock items would you like right now?

For sure I’d go mountain bike, BMX and Tyres. 

Just entry level to mid-range mountain bikes are our best sellers, from the $500 to $900 mark. 

Same with BMX. We can’t get any race BMX’s in stock. Everything from your juniors to Pro XL’s are very heavy sellers for us. 

We can get certain tyres, but at the moment we’ve got range issues. We don’t have the range that we’d like to get. We’ve only got two or three types in one size, where we like to have five to eight. 

Moe Cusack of Broome Cycles normally a busy domestic and international tourist town on the northern coast of Western Australia said: 

Business is definitely down on the past couple of years overall. We’re a tourist town.  

But a lot of people have been coming up to Broome from Perth and the South West (of WA). The flights have been capped at a certain price. There’s a lot of people in the south of WA with money to spend and wanting to go places. 

It feels like we’ve got quite a lot of bookings, maybe more than normal, for hire bikes in our coming tourist season, which is the winter months down in Perth. 

Our hire bike fleet is a bit small because we did sell off a lot of them a year ago and obviously weren’t able to replace them. We’ve just been able to pick up a cheaper recreational mountain bike to help us get through this tourist season.  

We would have around 50 hire bikes plus maybe four electric bikes and six to eight fat bikes on top of that. 

I think we’ll have a good hire season this year, but only because we were able to secure those cheaper mountain bikes. 

The challenge for us at the moment is new bike supply. Business has always been quite steady for us. We’re living somewhere where we don’t really have a local riding season per se. 

We’re lucky enough to have all year-round rounding. Commuting and recreation is year round. We don’t necessarily have concentrated times of repairs. 

It would be good to have a few more new bikes, but I guess everyone’s in the same boat at the moment. 

We traditionally have a lot of brands. (Having a lot of brands) …works both for you and against you, I think. Just because of our location… if someone wants another one, you’ve got a couple of thousand k’s in each direction to the nearest capital cities. (Perth and Darwin). 

But a shop that specialises in just one brand would get some preferential treatment, because they have that dedication to one brand. 

Which three stock items would you like right now?

I would have to say first, some sort of affordable mountain bike, retailing between $400 to $500. Because everything is such short distances here, there’s a lot of people whose kids are going to ride to school and things like that, maybe more so than other places. That’s the market. They don’t want to spend $1,000. We’d like to get more kids bikes as well, so I’ll just say ‘bikes’ as my number one. 

Probably floor pumps… every now and then we can get some budget floor pumps, which are not that great. But anything decent… maybe that’s just because we’ve been limiting our range of what we’ve been buying. We’ve been stocking Specialized ones that we haven’t been able to get – a $70 to $80 kind of pump. So many people come in trying to get pumps and we just haven’t had them for ages. I haven’t got one floor pump for sale at all at the moment. 

I would say fat bike tyres. We can’t really get anything. There’s never going to be a huge range, but at the moment the range is so limited. We’ve got the Gibb Challenge coming up. It’s not really a fat bike event but a lot of people do ride fat bikes on it. We’ve got a lot of people wanting to get new tyres or spare tyres and there’s not really anything around. 

Mat Weir from Bikeaholic Mountain Bikes in Queenstown, the mountain adventure tourism town in the South Island of New Zealand said: 

Business is good. We had the foresight to order big, early, so we have lots of bikes and lots of stock. There’s lots of people who are not in the same position. 

We only sell mountain bikes. We do Yeti, Transition, Marin, Merida – mostly ebikes in Merida… and Norco. We’re very high end. 

We’ve gone for locals not tourists. That has helped us immeasurably because obviously there’s no tourists (since Covid) but there’s still lots of locals. 

The whole thing about Queenstown is, you have to want to live here. You have to make sacrifices to live here.  

You get paid less (wages). You have to pay more (living expenses). It’s hard. But the reason you live here is because it’s radical and such a good place to ride bikes and live. Most people have come here to go riding, go climbing, go kayaking.  

You’ve got more time for leisure. It’s very interesting. 

Which three stock items would you like right now?

We’ve pretty much got what we need, except for ebikes. Anything! We need full suspension e-mountain bikes. We just can’t get enough. That’s our biggest hole. We don’t sell hard tail ebikes, we don’t sell town ebikes.  

We’re not your average shop. Most other bike shops around town have got massive holes in their stock. But we’ve been very proactive in making sure that we don’t. 

Dave Richards, Croydon Cycle Works in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges said: 

Our service department is insane, as I think you would find across most bike shops. 

In bikes, we tend to gravitate towards gravel bikes at the moment. If we can get more stock, then we can sell more types of bikes. Supply chain is still a challenge. 

It’s definitely coming into change of season now. That means clothing changes, of course. We’re seeing people moving to more winter based tyres. Even moving from road bike to more off-road bikes that they’re more likely to utilise those grubbier off road conditions. 

Which three stock items would you like right now?

Gravel bikes – in particular Cervélo Aspero. 

Groupsets – both SRAM and Shimano but in particular Shimano Ultegra. 

DT Swiss wheelsets. I’m able to get Zipp wheels and I’ve sold plenty of those, but I can’t get DT Swiss at the moment. 

John Pittendreigh of Epic Cycles in the inner western suburbs of Brisbane, Queensland said: 

It’s still holding up for us. As with everybody else, we got crazy busy last year. We’re just into the 12 month anniversary of that. 

In Brisbane we were more fortunate than some other parts of the country, through the whole pandemic and even right from the get go, that our lockdown wasn’t as severe or as long. 

We were able to trade right through the lockdown period, albeit very modified trading, outside the shop.  

It was hard work bringing products out to show people products in the open air, but it also created a bit of buzz at the front of the shop. As much as there were queues and people frustrated having to wait, on the whole, it was a positive thing. 

I never saw the end of the queue. We were too busy helping people! But they went around the corner and up the hill about 20 metres or so. We had queues on both sides of our table coral. 

Going back to the 12 month anniversary, all of last year was an increase (on the respective month) over previous years. So I thought, ‘Well this is going to be the first month where we drop back and not achieve what we achieved for this month last year.’ 

But it appears that we are achieving what we achieved last year. When we get to the peak months from last year, we probably won’t repeat those numbers. That’s unlikely. It was unprecedented and probably never to be repeated. But things are still going strong. 

Which three stock items would you like right now?

We’ve got significant holes in our road bike range. I know they’re not necessarily flavour of the month, but that’s what we’ve got holes in – lower to mid range road bikes. Up to about $4,000. That’s a cut-off point that new riders get uncomfortable about going above. 

Then of course, trail oriented dual suspension are the flavour of the month! Price is a bit more flexible. A decent one starts off around the three grand mark, so the cut off point is probably up around $5,000 but four k’s is about the sweet spot. 

It largely depends upon whether they’re an experienced rider looking to upgrade or a new rider just wanting to suck it and see. 

For the third one, there’s a whole bunch of different things that compete and it changes at different times when suppliers manage to get a container in of particular stuff. 

We do quite well with adventure bikes, so having greater supply of gravel / adventure bikes up to $3,000 price point. A lot of people are new entrants into this area. They might already have another bike. I think demand for this category might be partly because supply has dried up (for other bike categories) and every shop thinking, ‘Well, what can we get? We need something!’ 

If I had a fourth item, we’ve had particular issues with cranksets being difficult. So many parts are being diverted into OEM for bikes so there are going to be shortages in parts continuing.  

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