A Bendigo-based charity bike store is bucking the bike shortage trend, with plenty of bikes on hand for those in need.
FreeWheeling Fun in Bendigo fixes up donated second-hand bikes and gives them away to those in need.
Shed Manager Richard Hodgson said because the store had been closed for most of the year, they now have over 65 bikes in the shed.
“The rest of the year is looking very good for us,” Mr Hodgson said.
“Because we’ve been closed we’ve been getting lots of donations, so they just kept coming in and coming in and now we’ve got a shed full.
“The first day we opened we moved eight bikes, which was great.”
Plenty of second-hand bikes
Mr Hodgson said most of the demand comes from people who are cash-strapped.
“People who are refugees, single moms, people who are out of work, people who’ve just been released from prison and are now looking for jobs — we supply transport,” he said.
“They can’t afford a car and they want their kids to get to school, they want to get down to look for a job themselves.”
Most other bike stores in town are experiencing huge delays on bikes up to 12 months, due to huge demand during COVID-19.
General Manager of Bicycle Industries Australia, Peter Burke, said the major problem was the production of components like chains and gears, which were mostly made in Asia and Europe.
“There’s other factors too, including the fact that there is a shortage of shipping containers, so even when the bikes are ready, there’s an extra two, three, four-week delay on physically getting them over here,” he said.
“Every part of the bike supply is being affected by this demand and impact on production.”
Shortage hits local stores
Owner of Giant Bendigo, Nick Maroni, said his store had about 500 people on a waiting list for bikes.
“The shortage is across the board, it’s kids bikes, mountain bikes and e-bikes are very, very popular,” Mr Maroni said.
“I’ve owned the shop 13 years and I haven’t seen anything like this before, and we have all the wholesalers who come through and they’ve never seen it like this before either.”
Mr Burke said the problem highlighted how reliant Australia was on international production from Asia and Europe.
“In Australia we produce less than about a thousand bikes out of the 1.2 million bikes sold each year,” he said.
Mr Hodgson said FreeWheeling Fun would not be impacted by the global parts shortage, because they already had boxes of components from old bikes.
“We get a bike in that has a broken frame that can’t be fixed but all the components are pretty good, so we will strip it and put all our components in separate bins and label them all,” Mr Hodgson said.
“So if we get a bike in and it needs a certain component and it’s busted we just get one out of the stock.”