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In The Fast Lane

Bike sales surge in Warren amid pandemic

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Pictured are members of the Warren Cycling Group, including Dr. Jay Endres, Bill Sorvelli, Fonda Johnson, Troy Johnson, Mark Simpson, Rich Bimber, Craig King, and Dave Campbell, as they head out of downtown Warren at the start of a ride earlier this week.

Beginning in April, around the time the coronavirus pandemic took grip of the country, bicycle sales began to jump at the Warren Cycle Shop.

“It really started in April when this all hit and people were looking to get out because the gyms were closed,” said Andy Georgakis, Warren Cycle Shop manager. “People still wanted to get outdoors.”

Sales have included all types of bikes, including mountain bikes, recreational bikes and even hybrids. Georgakis said the local market has “pretty much dried up” since the pandemic took hold.

“We have a large backorder waiting to replenish our stock,” he said. “Our used bikes largely sold out.”

Warren’s surge in bike sales comes as PeopleForBikes — a bike advocacy group — named the city as the 64th most bike-friendly community in the nation. For bike safety, Warren came in at No. 1.

The organization combined data on crashes involving injury or death with information about how safe people feel when riding to come up with the safety score. In general, the scores are based on publicly available data and PeopleForBikes’ research tools, according to PFB.

Area bicycle shops, like others across the country, have been having a hard time keeping product and accessories in stock.

It’s largely due to a combination of factors: more Americans are turning to bikes amid the COVID-19 pandemic to get moving outdoors and supply chains used to keep local stores stocked during the busy time of the year have been disrupted due to the virus.

Allegheny Outfitters does not sell bikes, but the Warren store does provide maintenance. Owner Piper VanOrd said because Allegheny Outfitters only started providing maintenance within the last year, it’s tough to gauge if an increase in bike sales has translated to more business. Nonetheless, she said there is a 12-13 day wait for customers to get their bikes in for work.

“We definitely have a lot of bikes coming in,” VanOrd said.

Twenty minutes to the north, rows of largely empty bicycle racks have been lining the inside of the Jamestown Cycle Shop. At Hollyloft Ski, Bike & Snowboard Shop in West Ellicott, N.Y., where new and used bikes that typically take up copious amounts of showroom space now sit mostly open.

“This is all new territory,” said Les Johnson, owner of Hollyloft at 600 Fairmount Ave., who has seen a jump in sales the last two months but now faces uncertainty with fewer bikes coming in with demand at a peak. “We’ve been busy for two months now, busier than normal for spring time. People have been forced to stay at home, and what better way to get outdoors and get some fresh air?”

Not only are bikes flying off the shelves, but accessories including helmets, chains and tires are selling as well. “We’re scrambling to find accessories,” Johnson said. “We’re selling all our helmets, and we’re having a hard time getting tires.”

The situation is similar at the Jamestown Cycle Shop, where sales have increased this spring. Manager Mike Donner said in May 2019, the 10 Harrison St. store sold 62 bikes. In May of this year, 110 bikes were sold.

Donner noted that almost 165 bikes have been on back order, and it’s not clear when that product will find its way to Jamestown, N.Y. He said companies that produce bike brands such as Trek closed briefly due to the pandemic, cutting off new supply that is trickling down to local bike shops.

“None were being manufactured, so stock got depleted,” said Donner, noting that accessory supplies have also dried up at the Cycle Shop.

Most in demand are adult mountain bikes and adult comfort bikes. However, it appears just about everything is selling, including kids bikes, as evident by rows of most empty racks. In the past, Donner said he liked to keep the racks full at all times; if one bike sold, another would be put in its place.

“I’ve never seen a need like this for new bikes,” Donner said.

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