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Keeping Loudoun Rolling: Bike Shortage Creates Bumps as Cycling Makes a Comeback

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Holding Loudoun Rolling: Bike Scarcity Creates Bumps as Biking Makes a Comeback

When Jacqueline Harlow’s youngsters determined they needed to learn to trip bikes this spring, the household hit Loudoun’s large field shops. And like bike buyers throughout America, they struck out.

As COVID-19 has led people and households to search for new methods to remain lively, curiosity in biking has skyrocketed. However provide chain issues are inflicting a scarcity in new bikes. This has people getting artistic. Loudouners are repairing, upcycling and swapping cycles for youths and adults. And for the county’s impartial bike retailers, it’s a blended blessing as they wrestle to satisfy demand.

Harlow’s hunt for bikes for her son Eason, 7, and daughter Declyn, 5, initially led to disappointment.

“The racks have been empty. Heartbroken youngsters,” she stated. She looked for used bikes on yard sale websites however discovered that costs have been sky-high—no less than double what she had seen earlier than the pandemic hit.

Harlow struck gold when a neighbor in Lovettsville was cleansing out his storage and had a few youngsters’ bikes to provide away. The neighbor had an outdated Spiderman bike that was an ideal match for her daughter, and Harlow determined to upcycle it to Declyn’s specs.

“I took off all of the stickers, painted it pink and changed the handlebar covers and seat. My daughter loves her ‘new’ bike,” Harlow stated.

After refurbishing Declyn’s dream bike, Harlow was finally capable of finding a motorbike for Eason at an space WalMart later in the summertime. So now the Harlow youngsters are rolling. However some Loudouners are nonetheless having bother discovering the appropriate bike. Used bikes on market websites are promoting like hotcakes, costs are up and fairly priced new bikes are nonetheless exhausting to search out.

The county’s impartial bike retailers are nonetheless having bother restocking mid- and lower-range bikes. For Doug Graham of Leesburg’s Maverick Bikes & Cafe, the uptick in curiosity within the sport he’s captivated with is each a blessing and a burden.

“Individuals on the skin take a look at it and say, ‘These bike retailers are doing so nice. It’s actually great,” Graham stated. “However for those who’re working a enterprise with out product to promote and there’s a excessive demand, that’s the unequivocal worst doable enterprise situation.”

Nearly all new bikes offered within the U.S. are made in China. Rising demand mixed with provide chain shortages associated to the pandemic and U.S. tariffs on Chinese language merchandise, have introduced issues to a standstill. Maverick makes a speciality of bikes from Taiwan-based Big Bicycles, which has manufacturing services in mainland China and presents every little thing from high-quality youngsters’s bikes to fancy upscale street bikes.

Gary Moon of Maverick Bikes & Cafe in Leesburg works on one of many lots of of repairs the store has executed since March.

[Courtesy of Douglas Graham]

“Every thing within the retailer is made in China—similar to each different retailer in the USA,” Graham stated. “There simply was nothing to purchase from WalMart to Joe’s Bike Store on the nook. Bikes at an inexpensive worth level have been gone and are gone. They’re simply now beginning to reappear. We’re hoping we’ve turned the nook on this”

Graham stated the store’s bread and butter lies in high-quality mid-range bikes for youths and adults, within the $450 to $1,000 vary. Maverick began transferring tons of these bikes in March—till they hit a brick wall later within the spring.

“We reordered a number of occasions, after which the availability chain ended,” Graham stated. “It was fairly evident that bike retailers throughout the nation had utterly offered out.”

Graham stated the store missed out on tens of 1000’s of {dollars} in bike gross sales—and in addition ran out of helmets, clothes and tools.

“All of the widgets that go together with biking—you title it, I couldn’t get it,” Graham stated. “That’s an actual downside.”

With no new inventory to be discovered, the repairs began flowing in.

“Individuals began pulling bikes out of their barns and garages as a result of they realized there have been no bikes to promote,” Graham stated.

Demand for repairs went by means of the roof. At one level, Maverick had 150 bicycles in for repairs at its downtown Leesburg store and off-site storage facility. Maverick’s full-time mechanic Justin Hanger had extra on his plate than he may deal with, so the store introduced in one other restore guru, Gary Moon, from Winchester.

“These guys are certified to work on every little thing out of your WalMart particular to the $12,000 electronic-shifting street race bikes,” Graham stated.

Together with a booming restore enterprise, Maverick has additionally been in a position to sustain with supplying high-end bikes for critical riders the place demand is decrease, with machines priced at $2,400 and approach past.

Maverick Bikes, which is about up as a non-profit co-op, has additionally stored up with its charitable work, getting donations for Alternatives, Options and Assets (OAR), a Fairfax-based non-profit that works to assist launched inmates rebuild their lives. Maverick works with OAR to offer bikes to assist individuals get to work after their launch from the correctional system. The store can also be working with Loudoun County Public Colleges on a donation of fifty refurbished bikes for low earnings college students.

For Graham, a longtime bicycle owner, there’s good purpose biking is a sizzling exercise in the course of the pandemic–and he doesn’t assume it’s going to vanish if and when COVID goes away.

“It’s so straightforward to do. There are such a lot of locations–particularly on this space–to go trip. And it’s one thing the household can do collectively that’s enjoyable and pretty secure. Individuals had been cooped up of their homes for months and it is a method to get open air. Climbing and biking have gone by means of the roof so far as actions,” he stated. “I feel this new pattern and new love of biking is one thing that’s going to stay and stick with us. Individuals have rediscovered the love of it. There’s a constructive impression behind the pandemic”

“It’s a good way to get out and get some train and in addition social distance,” stated Lisa Campbell, who heads Bike Loudoun, an advocacy group that works with native governments on increasing and connecting bike trails for larger accessibility and performance.

Campbell, who lives close to Aldie, led group rides for Maverick Bikes earlier this summer time and was inspired to see extra riders out on weekday rides as soon as they resumed throughout Virginia’s Section 2 reopening. She says she’s additionally seeing extra households on bikes in her neighborhood.

“I hope it continues. It’s such a very good factor for households,” she stated. “It’ll be fascinating to see how the elevated curiosity in biking this yr will affect biking infrastructure sooner or later.”

For extra data on Bike Loudoun, go to bikeloudoun.org. To be taught extra about Maverick Bikes & Cafe, go to revolutionsmaverickllc.com.

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