Bike Shops Shift Into High Gear
Workers at Charlotte bike shops say they’re pedaling harder than ever, as a lack of entertainment options and glorious spring weather have customers wanting to buy and repair bikes in record numbers.
“We’re pulling our hair out. We’ve probably increased business three-fold,” said Dread Fiyah, manager of The Spoke Easy on Elizabeth Avenue. Workers there are using ultraviolet light wands to sterilize bikes and aren’t allowing customers in the shop to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Nationwide, sales of adult bikes was up 121% in March over a year ago, according to retail sales data from NPD Group. Independent bike shops saw a rise in service/repairs of 20%, according to the data.
Fiyah says he’s seen the increased bike demand play out different ways:
May isn’t typically the hottest month for bike sales, Fiyah said. The cycling season for avid cyclists starts in late February or early March, he said, and then he sees another peak again in July and August.
“That’s what we feel like we’re in now — a strong peak season,” he said.
At The Bike Gallery on Park Road, owner Andres Lizarazo is helping customers by appointment only and has had to reduce hours from the normal 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. to 11 a.m. -- 3 p.m. to avoid too much contact between employees and customers.
Only one customer is allowed in the store at a time, and appointments are limited to 30 minutes.
Longer waits, longer lines: The high demand and limited bike shop capacity means bike owners looking for service are having to call around and wait in lines like they haven’t before.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, Dilworth resident Mike Rizer felt lucky he was able to get a quick fix done on his Orbea carbon bike at Charlotte Cycles.
He’d called two other bike shops, where he’d have to wait a week or more, but Charlotte Cycles was able to get him in quickly and do his repair in an hour while he waited outside in the fresh air.
Rizer’s riding schedule has picked up greatly since the stay-at-home order started, and he’s riding with friends about three times a week, so having a well-functioning bike seemed essential.
“It’s a really good thing, right?” Riser said of the big bike demand. “We’re trying to stay healthy, and people are getting around more.”
Reach managing editor Cristina Bolling at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post first appeared in the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter. It is reprinted with permission.