KEPT BUSY The Bike Clinic in Castlebar has had a very busy 2020
Demand outstripping supply ahead of Christmas rush
NOT since its establishment in 1988 has the famed Bike Clinic in Castlebar experienced such demand for bikes like it has over the past eight months.
Formed by cycling enthusiast Michael Kilcourse, the shop is now being steered by his sons, Paul and Michael Jnr, who have never witnessed such demand for bikes due to the lockdown.
With a combination of a slower pace of life, more family time available and some glorious weather, cycling and fitness in general started to boom.
“In 32 years of business we were never as busy as we were during the first lockdown,” Paul told The Mayo News last week. “It was absolutely insane. We closed for two weeks but were then allowed open because we were deemed an essential service and at the time all people were doing was walking and cycling.
“People became a lot more conscious of their health and their well-being and maybe realised that it is more to life than just working, so a lot of families started cycling together.
“We had a lot of new customers, people from towns all over the county coming to us and people started seeing some of the great natural amenities we had like the Greenway out to Turlough House behind the shop here, or the one in Westport. People realised that you can actually go out for a leisurely spin as opposed to just racing.”
However, The Bike Clinic, and every other bike shop around the country, is now experiencing a totally unprecedented lack of stock as bike supplies worldwide ceased and demand completely engulfed it.
“The problem we have in the bike world now is that there is no bikes to be had,” Paul, a former national cyclist himself, stated. “And this is not just Castlebar, it is worldwide.
“What happened was China stopped making bikes last December and didn’t start making them again until May – five months with no production.
“The demand now out stripping the supply and the factories who make the parts can’t keep up, so it’s a vicious cycle. Once we came out of the first lockdown nearly everything on our floor was sold.
“Since then you might get the odd dribs and drabs; a company might ring and say we have two bikes here and that’s it. We were lucky to get 20 bikes, of three different models, in recently, but theres six or seven gone already.”
Having stock in the shop in time for Christmas looks a non-runner for bike shops around the country right now, while Paul added that they’ve been told it could be Spring time before racing bikes get back on the market.
Paul has noticed ‘panic buying’ as a big feature over the last few weeks and believes the media has played a major influence in driving people towards Christmas sales this early in the year.
Their biggest problem right now is trying to explain to potential customers that the stock just isn’t there right now, which is placing undue pressure on them too.
“It’s very hard to explain to someone that we just don’t know when we will have a bike for them,” he said. “People are coming in and wanting to give deposits for when bikes come in, but I have to tell them I just can’t take their money because I can’t guarantee them they will get what they want.
“It’s a disaster really. It’s putting everyone in an awkward situation because supply is very, very scarce. It’s very hard for us to explain to people that they have to take the bike today because it might not be here tomorrow and I can’t get you another one, because it can sound horrible and offensive, but that’s just the way it is.”
For now they’ll be keeping ‘steady’ throughout the winter period with repairs and services, hoping supply with catch up with the large peloton of demand setting the pace.