It’s tricky to sort out whether the bicycle business is undergoing a recovery. Bicycle Retailer reports that exports are on track to double over last year’s dismal results.
But that’s orders. What about on the street?
Bike shop dealers in Seattle we’ve talked to say there’s no clear trajectory yet. When the weather turns nice they get a bump in business. But the spring so far has been cold and wet, and sales show no real pattern.
Inventory is an issue, as distributors cut back during last year’s downturn and there’s often not enough product in the channel to meet demand.
“People come in wanting to buy a new frame or fork and find they can’t get it for weeks,” one shop owner told us. “So there are people with money to spend — but nothing to buy.”
Once the weather improves we may get a better read. For now it appears the bike business is tracking the economic recovery in general: There are some positive signs, but hiccups as well, and nothing really definitive yet.