March 05, 2021 0 Comments
Words by Shane Stokes
Photos by Trek, Shimano, Balint Hamvas (Cyclephotos) for SRAM
It’s been a weird twelve months for cycling, with a rollercoaster of demand and supply for bikes, components and accessories. Shane Stokes talks to several within the industry about the current situation. They explain the challenges and what they believe will happen longer term.
SRAM is one of the companies which has had to cope with uncertainty during the current pandemic. © Jacob Kennison (Trek Factory Racing)
The explosion in online sessions in the past year has been one of the biggest changes to cycling in a long, long time. Rather than clashing on the roads of Europe, the world’s top pros were instead squaring up in the virtual world. Thanks to Covid-19, e-racing replaced stage racing for a chunk of spring 2020.
Industry giant Shimano was put under pressure by factory shutdowns, then an unexpected surge in demand. (c) Shimano
“We really held our breath…we didn’t know what was going to happen”
The demand is clearly there for product: how about supply? Conquista spoke to three companies within the industry. They gave their perspective on what has been a very unusual and challenging time.
Trek said that the Trek-Segafredo's 2021 men's and women's teams were unaffected by equipment shortages due to forward planning
© Jacob Kennison (Trek Factory Racing)
Coping with heightened demand:
SRAM has expressed confidence about meeting the requirements of its customers. © Balint Hamvas, Cyclephotos
So what’s the future?
With a clearer picture of what the past year meant for cycling, what’s the likely future for the industry? Will the boost in sales continue? Could it disappear once the current demand is satisfied, or when Covid-19 is finally a thing of the past? Shimano and Trek both commented on what might happen.
Trek's Madone is used by its pro teams, but Eric Bjorling sees the company as catering for cyclists of all levels. © Jojo Harper for Trek
And yet there is a bigger, broader picture too. Working with organisations such as the advocacy group People for Bikes helps increase the numbers of those on bikes. It also helps make conditions better, safer and more enjoyable for them. The same applies to adopting a lobbying role. One such role is to encourage global municipalities, local civic designers and others to plan for more space for cyclists and for pedestrians.
“I think the future post-covid is a much more public-health aware society. That is my hope,” he said. “If we can continue to push those communities to do that, if we can help guide them, if we can show them the opportunity and show them the need for this, if communities can plan for that, then I think it is going to be a healthier future, a more resilient future, a more environmentally sustainable future.”
There is an additional reason for hope. Former US President Donal Trump was famously dismissive of environmental concerns. For example, he announced in June 2017 that the US was withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord. He also made things generally easier rather than harder for fossil fuel companies. Trump was defeated in the November 4th election and left office on January 20th.
Since then Joe Biden has signed up again for the Paris agreement. He warned recently that climate change “is a global existential crisis, and all of us will suffer if we fail.”
Bjorling anticipates a lot more pro-cycling measures ahead. “I would say we have a much friendlier administration coming in. The new secretary of transportation Pete Buttigieg has already given us a couple of signs,” he said. “I think he is going to be much more open to discussing and planning for more pedestrian and cycling-friendly infrastructure. This makes us incredibly enthusiastic.
“We are really hopeful for how things are going to go. It has been a really tough four years for us. Not just in the industry, but for so many people. So coming into this new administration, we have representatives that are pitching tax credits for e-bike purchases. That is a fantastic thing, and not something that could have been discussed even a couple of weeks or months ago.
“E-bikes are one of the great things that can help close a lot of the gaps that people have. But those people still need to feel safe. They still need to space to be able to do ride safely.
“Again, I think the transportation secretary has taken a really strong look at sustainable infrastructure. There is so much need in the US. Our infrastructure is really in a tough spot. But I think if we can have sustainable design and planning for that, that is where we feel like the bicycle has an incredible future.”
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