Many people across the country are turning to bicycles to stay active while socially distancing themselves from others.

The trend of buying new bicycles and bringing old ones into the shop for tune-ups is keeping inventories low and repair staffs booked at bike shops, including two on the Palouse.

“Nobody expected a worldwide pandemic to lead to a rush on bicycles, which is essentially what we’ve seen,” said Colleen MacDonald, service manager at B&L Bicycles in Pullman.

MacDonald said the bike shop’s “entry-level, bread-and-butter bikes” are low in stock but back-ordered bicycles are trickling in.

“We basically went through nine months of inventory in about a month in all warehouses across the country,” she said.

If customers cannot find the bike they want in the shop, MacDonald said she encourages them to reserve one so they can pick it up when the bike arrives in Pullman.

“We’re receiving fewer shipments because there are fewer bikes available in the warehouse,” she said.

T. Jay Clevenger, owner of Paradise Creek Bicycles, said his business is at 30 percent of his normal inventory and that will likely be the case until as late as September.

“This affects my business huge,” he said.

Clevenger said he should be selling four to five bikes a day, but because inventory is low, he is selling one or two.

He said the low inventory can be partly attributed to China, the world’s leading producer of bicycles, which was forced to halt its bike production right before bike shops’ busiest season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Clevenger said customers will likely not be able to buy a bike for under $1,000 for another six to eight weeks, at which time, more bikes will be available for purchase by bike shops.

MacDonald and Clevenger both said their shops are tuning up a great number of bikes.

“They’re pulling bikes out of garages that haven’t been pulled out of garages in years,” MacDonald said of customers. “We see a lot of bikes that have a lot of what we call ‘garage miles.’”

Clevenger said he has service orders out until mid-June.

“One of the things that I’m thankful that I see is bikes coming out of garages,” Clevenger said. “I don’t like bikes in garages.”

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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