The Great Covid-19 Bicycle Shortage

Bicycle. By JugendstilBikes – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Commuters seem to have lost their enthusiasm for being squished into a poorly ventilated box with suspiciously unhealthy looking strangers. The resulting rush for healthier alternatives has triggered an ongoing global bike shortage.

Bike Shortages Aren’t Going Away Anytime Soon—Here’s Why

Robert AnnisSat,
November 7, 2020, 6:02 AM GMT+10

At a makeshift counter outside The Bike Line, an independent bike shop in Indianapolis, employees regularly help a steady stream of customers looking to buy a new bike or replace the rusty chain on the an old ten-speed that’s been gathering dust in a garage for years.

In a normal year, these requests would be quickly handled. But, as we all know, 2020 is not a normal year. Inside The Bike Line, showroom floors once packed with shiny, new bicycles are now nearly bare. The repair area is packed with bikes, waiting for back-ordered parts to arrive.

The Bike Line has been feeling the pressure to keep up with demand. With sales more than doubling, they are still mostly unable to keep the store stocked with new bikes. Although primarily a Trek dealer, The Bike Line’s inventory was so low this summer, they needed to find alternative means of getting bikes. They eventually bought the entire inventory of Linus cruiser bikes—a brand that they typically don’t carry—from a dealer that went out of business just before the pandemic. Those bikes were gone in fewer than six weeks.

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It will be interesting to see whether this enthusiasm for bicycles survives the winter; riding a bike through snow can be a challenging experience. In the meantime, if anyone has a machine shop tooled up which can satisfy this raging demand for all things bike, I doubt you will get a better opportunity than now to test your product range.

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November 9, 2020 10:47 pm

Cycling in London on a warm sunny day when there is little traffic about is fine. People will quickly change their minds when it is wet and windy and there is plenty of heavy traffic about.

Bryan A
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
November 11, 2020 7:54 am

I went to my local Credit Union to make a withdrawal from my savings. They have large screen monitors (TV’s) on the walls displaying various loan programs. Yesterday the main loan program was for “Bicycle” loans…of up to $20,000 max. I’ve never seen a $20,000 bicycle that didn’t have an 1100cc ICE attached.

November 9, 2020 10:49 pm

Riding a bicycle increases your PSA levels. I have no interest in an unattractive man putting his finger up my rectum.

Reply to  Alex
November 9, 2020 11:16 pm

….so many retorts better left unsaid 🙂

Reply to  davidmhoffer
November 10, 2020 12:25 am

I left it open for a major thread hi-jacking.

Reply to  Alex
November 10, 2020 1:19 am

You succeeded. This trucker is sitting at home with a Foley cath. Ended up with a near total blockage election night. Been having trouble but always before it eased off. This time it didn’t. Went into the ER on Wed. morning and they drained 2,200 cc. See the urologist on Thursday. Waiting for swelling do go down so they can get a decent image on a CAT scan.

Reply to  rah
November 10, 2020 2:12 am

Sorry to hear that. Good luck

Reply to  rah
November 10, 2020 5:35 am


Reply to  rah
November 10, 2020 5:39 am

That doesn’t sound good. Best wishes for a quick recovery.

Harry Davidson
Reply to  Alex
November 10, 2020 3:06 am

On the other hand, it does wonders for the muscular support around the prostate gland, leading to a much more effective clearing of the prostate during orgasm. Semen being left lying around in the prostate for long periods, either due to lack of sexual activity or low quality orgasms is thought to be an important cause, if not a major cause of prostate cancer.

An orgasm that fully clears the prostate is known colloquially as a ‘blow your socks off’.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Harry Davidson
November 10, 2020 9:23 am

We have experts on *everything* here on WUWT! 🙂

Reply to  Tom Abbott
November 11, 2020 8:42 pm

Sure do.

Reply to  Alex
November 10, 2020 11:23 am

why did you feel you needed to add ‘unattractive’ as a qualifier?

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  DonM
November 10, 2020 3:15 pm

Like it or not there is a sexual component to stuff ‘down there’.
One is more likely to ‘do things’ with an attractive person.

Reply to  Alex
November 10, 2020 4:18 pm

You could surely find a female proctologist.

Reply to  JoeShaw
November 11, 2020 10:16 am

It’s actually not much better having an attractive woman putting her finger up your rectum for and exam.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  JoeShaw
November 11, 2020 5:00 pm

Urologist for prostate.

JP Guthrie
Reply to  Alex
November 10, 2020 5:29 pm

And not riding a bicycle increases your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and a large list of other conditions. I have been riding a bicycle nearly continuously since I was 6. I am now 53, and my blood pressure is the same as when I was in high school (my PSA levels are not elevated).

For the last dozen years I have been living in Japan, where most people have bikes, and where lots of walking and frequent stair climbing are a part of everyday life. Obesity and diabetes are rare here, and people have long life expectancy, despite the large percentage of smokers and the world’s highest salt consumption.

I ride my bike a lot, and I walk a lot, averaging 12,000 steps per day. I own a car, which is something of a luxury in Central Tokyo, but I seldom drive it. I prefer riding my bike to most parts of the city because public transport is always crowded, and car parking is hard to find. Cycling, which has always been a leading form of transportation in Japan, has become more popular since the pandemic began.

Reply to  JP Guthrie
November 11, 2020 8:21 am

There is a lot to what JP says.
If you look at epidemiological data relating body mass index to early mortality, the data show a different pattern for Western countries versus Eastern countries.

In the East, you can find “overweight” people, and even “obese” people. However, in general, the risk of early death is not as high as overweight or obese in the West because these overweight and obese people in the East are wildly more physically active with “activities of daily living” than in the West. Folding clothes, preparing home-cooked meals by hand, traveling by walking or bicycle, etc., sustain physical activity.

It is not the body mass index, but the physical inactivity, that will kill you.

Body Mass Index is beloved because it is easy to get. Just get weight and height. Height can be a bit tricky, but it does not change much, so you merely need to ask, and you will get a measure that is within an inch in most cases. Weight is easy: stand on the scale.

A far superior measure of physical inactivity is “heart rate variability.” This is the degree that your heart beat changes from beat to best, across time, as your body adjusts beat to sustain ideal blood pressure / blood flow.

At rest, your heart may beat 60 times, but the beats are not all exactly one second apart. The beat should have micro-adjustments across that minute. You measure the time from beat to beat, and divide by number of beats, and you get the measure of variability. This beat-to-beat time span a bit longer, that one a bit shorter. This measure has to be done by machines – it cannot be done by stop watch.

With physical inactivity, your heart rate variability gets lower. Less variability. Less fine-tuning of heart rate moment by moment.

There are many heart rate variability metrics, but we should figure out a consensus, and then devote a great effort to using this, not Body Mass Index, to guide our concept of health and illness when it comes to weight and physical activity.

Best heart rate variability measure may be resting.

As automatic dishwashers and video games grow in popularity in the East, this body mass index – death risk difference will shrink and may disappear.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Alex
November 11, 2020 8:05 am

Please please please! Riding a bicycle with an axe blade for a seat may increase PSA levels. That’s why they are called up-wrong bicycles.

I can recall NO recumbent bicycle or tricycle with an axe blade seat. In bicycling, in general, if it is uncomfortable then it is being done incorrectly.

November 9, 2020 11:18 pm

Did you see that in the Twin Cities they have a police shortage? They are trying to import cops from surrounding areas and the police dept said these imported cops were there to take care of criminal activity (911 calls.) They explicitly said they are not going to answer complaints about stolen bicycles.
I did not make that up.

Reply to  Joel
November 10, 2020 5:45 am

I run across homeless people in Boulder stealing bikes and in the homeless camps there are always massive quantities of wheels and frames, basically bikes parted out. They’re pretty bold about it and don’t seem to worry about being caught. They often ride these pilfered bikes but there must be an underground economy for parts.

Walking through campus these days, I see a lot of seemingly abandoned bike frames chained to racks and many bikes are missing wheels and seats.

Reply to  Scissor
November 10, 2020 8:15 am

My brother took his thousand $ insurance payment to get a new bike. At the shop he found his old bike for sale. The owner gave it to him for nothing once he proved the serial number, I think to prevent him reporting him to the police for handling stolen goods.

Reply to  Scissor
November 10, 2020 9:45 am

Scissor said: “homeless people in Boulder stealing bikes” … About two years ago a GIANT homeless camp was cleared out of a riverbed in Southern California. Hundreds of homeless. Left behind was a cache of 1200 stolen bicycles in one of the drainage tunnels leading to the river. When you see a person pedaling a bike while holding onto an empty bike with one hand you can be it’s stolen. And it’s a common sight.

Reply to  Joel
November 10, 2020 5:49 am

Twin Cities are lucky to have any police remaining. They should make the city council start responding to the 911 calls.

Richard Patton
Reply to  Joel
November 10, 2020 8:41 pm

Cops not doing anything about stolen bikes isn’t something new-they haven’t done anything about stolen bikes for over fifty years. Primarialy because there is no way to prove ownership. Even if there were a way such as something similar to a VIN on the frame, it wouldn’t do any good because the thieves will just take everything but the frame.

November 9, 2020 11:21 pm

I tried biking for a few weeks, about 8 miles or so to work. It was in OK. It was easy pedaling. Flat as a pancake. There was no wind in the morning when I drove in and I had a tail wind biking home. And, it never rained in the summer.
Only problem was trying to carry anything or stopping off to pick up some food.
I decided it was just not practical, esp if I had to ride through a “bad” neighborhood.

Reply to  joel
November 10, 2020 5:50 am

I’ll ride a bike to work when the weather and as importantly light are obliging. It’s tough in winter and I live in an area with lots of hills.

Rick C PE
Reply to  Scissor
November 10, 2020 7:39 am

I loved riding my bike to work when the weather was nice. About 20 miles each way and hilly, but no problem for the Harley.

Reply to  Rick C PE
November 10, 2020 2:55 pm


Bryan A
Reply to  Scissor
November 11, 2020 8:01 am

Used to bike to work, but now that my commute is from my bedroom to my laptop in the living room (Ca mandatory work at home), by wife was unhappy about the tire tread marks on the hardwood floor

November 9, 2020 11:24 pm

I was one of those people looking to buy a new bike. I ended up getting a mostly pre-assembled mountain bike from Amazon because the bike shops were all empty unless you are over 6’2″.
A word of caution to those of you wishing to do the same. The bike is mostly assembled but, derailleurs and brakes will still need to be tuned in and I would check every bolt for correct torque. Those of you not mechanically inclined should drop the kit off at a trustworthy bike shop for assembly.

Bryan A
Reply to  Brad-DXT
November 11, 2020 8:05 am

Put a GPS tracker in the frame Bicycle LoJack

Reginald Vernon Reynolds
November 10, 2020 12:08 am

Shock, horror, you can’t make a modern bicycle without fossil fuels – steel requires coal, while rubber, plastic, etc. require petroleum. Only the fit and determined will ride bicycles in the winter in most western and northern European countries.

Tom Gelsthorpe
Reply to  Reginald Vernon Reynolds
November 10, 2020 2:56 am

Bicycles require smooth roads as well, preferably with a wide, otherwise unused, designated lane, and a blacktop surface free of frost heaves and potholes. Not only is winter biking daunting; spring potholes are a mere annoyance to a motorist, but can be life-threatening to a cyclist. Theft of a precious bicycle in urban areas is more common and untraceable than car theft. I learned that the hard way as a bike-to-school undergraduate at UC Berkeley in the 1960s. Like Joel above, the Berkeley cops said, “We’ll report it, but don’t expect us to find it.”

Concrete roads are too rough in the first place, and the seams are jarring. Dirt or gravel are unusable.

Asphalt and concrete roads need a big carbon footprint for construction and maintenance. There’s also the limitation Joel mentioned, that you can’t carry much cargo on a bike. High-quality tricycles can accommodate groceries and such (in good weather) but they’re slower and take up almost as much width on a road as a small automobile.

Remember the newsreels of massive numbers of Chinese biking around town in the 1960s & 70s? They replaced most of that transportation with cars as soon as they could afford them, and are now building an interstate highway system larger than the U.S. Contemporary Chinese newsreels resemble urban traffic in other advanced countries.

In short, except for a few spacious, exquisitely maintained, low-crime suburbs, commuting by bicycle is NOT the wave of the future.

oeman 50
Reply to  Tom Gelsthorpe
November 10, 2020 6:59 am

My city has built a patchwork of unconnected bike lanes in various neighborhoods. The biking community is vehement about how useful they are, but stories abound about the near misses. In one of the longer stretches, one lane of a two lane one-way street was repurposed to a bike lane. But then in some blocks they put the cars in the right lane, parked cars in the middle and two lanes for bikes on the left. And then they switch the lanes around. It is not uncommon to be driving in your can in one block and then come up behind parked cars if you don’t switch lanes. I think the designer was on acid. But, let’s have a grand course of virtue signaling all around. We have bike lanes!

Reply to  oeman 50
November 10, 2020 6:05 pm

“My city has built” with federal highway funds from the gas tax.

Mark Lee
Reply to  Tom Gelsthorpe
November 10, 2020 7:03 am

I grew up in Alaska. Didn’t ride a bike in the winter, but I lived on one after the spring thaw. Rough pavement, dirt, gravel, animal paths in the woods. On a 10 speed with narrow tires and it was never a problem. Then again, there are a lot of things that weren’t a problem when I was 12, not so easy (or even possible!) now.

Reply to  Tom Gelsthorpe
November 10, 2020 4:05 pm

Most bikes sold today do not need great roads. Road bikes yes, but most bikes sold today have fatter tires.
I ride about 5,000 to 6,000 miles a year. I have the off road SUV of bicycles. A fat titanium cargo mid drive electric bike. It’s very comfortable even in the winter with heated saddle, handle bar grips and battery. In winter I run a 5″ wide fully studded tubeless tires and summer I run a 4.5″ off road or a 2.5″ smooth tire on road.
I built the bike for long distance travel. The bike has a 3.5kWh battery. range is easily 250 miles on a single charge. Fully loaded, me and the bike top out about 435 lb. This bike gets a surprising amount of respect on roads. Bikes like I have are a lot more useful than a dime store Huffy and I expect to see more bikes like mine in the future.

I still drive more miles than I ride.
Already having the bike before ChiCom 19 hit was a blessing. Did I build the bike to be a virtue signaling greenie? Hell no, I built it cuz its a lot of fun. It’s charged up with coal fired electricity. I live a very green environmentally friendly life but I don’t believe in CAGW.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Tom Gelsthorpe
November 11, 2020 8:12 am

So much WRONG in this discussion thread.

Bicycles are traffic by every state’s vehicle code, entitled to all of the rights and burdened by the responsibilities of every driver except those logically inapplicable.

Highways are NOT built or maintained only by fuel tax. Taxes are commingled in common funds.

Bicyclists fare best when they are seen and treated as drivers of vehicles.

Reply to  Reginald Vernon Reynolds
November 10, 2020 8:40 am

And Reg,
for most bicycle owners, the energy exerted riding the bicycle won’t be greater than the energy it took to manufacture the bicycle.

November 10, 2020 12:12 am

Like Rome, my Home town on the South Coast of England was built on seven hills. As it has the sea it also has a sea level at zero feet, so the hills are therefore more pronounced than in many other places. Much of the population here is not in the first flush of youth.

Age, many steep hills, rain, gales and dark evenings do not make for the pleasurable experience our elite would have us believe.

So people will continue to load their bikes into their cars to enjoy a rode miles away, but as a means of regular commuting or going to pick up shopping, cycling-which I enjoy on suitable routes-will remain a minority activity.

Mind you I got my first electric bike 15 years ago and charged it with a solar panel. Great fun! Do remember the first law of e-biking though, that it will run out of juice at the furthest point of your journey at the foot of a long steep hill. E-bikes are VERY Heavy to push


Reply to  tonyb
November 10, 2020 12:50 am

Hi Tonyb, E-bikes are as common as muck in Norway, not really surprising since billiard table flat commutes are the exception to the rule. My good lady wife used to ride a foldy-uppy commuter bike to work and in her mind, the biggest risk to her health was of collisions in underpasses when some MAMIL on an overpriced mountain bike flew around blind corners at speed – and many cyclist commuters here seem to dream that every commute is a training session on the way to a glorious Tour De France victory. As has already been mentioned, even here where the mantra is “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”, the enthusiasm for cycling wanes dramatically at the first sign of winter rains, at which point the main roads become congested with single occupancy cars.
Another impact on the popularity of bikes here seems to be the electric scooters, most of which are rented using a batphone application so when they’re not racing around on footpaths, they’re lying discarded in the street where ever the last patron finished their journey; the phenomena is best described in this blog post;

Reply to  tonyb
November 10, 2020 8:53 am

The cemetery is at the top of the steepest hill. If you don’t make it to the top one way, you’ll make it another.

Huub van Roosmalen
November 10, 2020 12:35 am

No shortage of bikes here in the Netherlands, we have more bicycles than people in this country. And fortunately, we also have separate bicycle paths in most places to keep cyclists safe from car traffic.

Good rain gear helps to get through wet, windy weather. Electrically assisted bicycles can help covering large distances or negotiating hilly terrain. When you come to think of it, it is odd that you need a 1450 kg car to transport an 80 kg person. Power to weight ratio of bicycles is way better,

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Huub van Roosmalen
November 10, 2020 12:53 am

“Huub van Roosmalen November 10, 2020 at 12:35 am

When you come to think of it, it is odd that you need a 1450 kg car to transport an 80 kg person. Power to weight ratio of bicycles is way better,”

In a 1450kg car you can transport 5 people AND all their luggage (Usually). Even if I was supremely fit on my own, I would not be able to cycle the 1024kms from Sydney to Melbourne in a day. Stay off the hash cakes!

Huub van Roosmalen
Reply to  Patrick MJD
November 10, 2020 1:56 am

Absolutely, it is about the right tool for the job. It is just all too often that people travel a short distance by themselves. The healthy exercise on the bike is a nice bonus.

Reply to  Huub van Roosmalen
November 10, 2020 3:18 am

“Absolutely, it is about the right tool for the job.”
The bike or the hash cakes ???

Reply to  Huub van Roosmalen
November 10, 2020 1:49 am

Horse, between 500 and 850 kg. And to do shopping or carry more people you still need a wagon.

Best option is an electric tricycle.

Reply to  Robertvd
November 10, 2020 2:56 pm

I’m holding out until they invent a teleporter.

November 10, 2020 12:40 am

This was known long ago, April I couldn’t find a store, even Wally World, with bike tires.

So what month is this?

November 10, 2020 1:06 am

Lots of shortages across a range of products in the grocery stores is still evident. One of the products this trucker misses most is Dinty Moore Chicken and dumplings. Great meal for cooking in my little 12 V cooker in the truck. Haven’t been able to find a single can, large or small, since about the time of the great TP shortage. Tried other brands available and they aren’t worth buying. The beef stew is still available but it is also in short supply at times.

Sometimes it seems to me that the powers that be are trying force people to order out as much as possible. Commercial after commercial on TV for delivery and carryout.

Have noticed recently a big spike in grocery prices here in my little piece of Indiana about 30 miles NNE of Indianapolis.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  rah
November 10, 2020 4:56 am

On the same latitude in Sweden my morning orange and most other groceries have increased between 50 and 75% during the last nine months.

The Green world is best suited for the upper middle class and above. But maybe Biden/Harris will free us from the expense of fossil fuels and give tax relief on the horses we will use as tractors and personal transport.
So Rah, be prepared to exchange your 18 wheeler with a horse driven stagecoach. It will not be a problem for you, as long as you are payed well per hour and not per ton of fright.

Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
November 10, 2020 5:38 am

No horse and wagon or electric trucks for me. I’m over 65 y/o. My time as a truck driver is limited. Hell, for all I know right now it might be over.

November 10, 2020 1:14 am

I was at my bike shop yesterday and they are now at full stock of bicycle inventory, but they said parts for repairs are still hard to come by.

stephen richards
November 10, 2020 1:24 am

No worries. Yet another way the chinese will make a fortune from their ERROR

Reply to  stephen richards
November 10, 2020 5:12 am

Don’t assume it was an error.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  stephen richards
November 11, 2020 8:17 am

PLANdemic. PLAndemic. Faux FauXi

The conspiracy of ignorance masquerades as common sense.

As a ‘bicyclist’ I often find presumably soiled face-panties on the roadside. Are they effective and hazardous waste or not? Should I call 911 and guard them as I was trained to do with radioactive material adrift?

Ron Long
November 10, 2020 1:32 am

Interesting, Eric, but what about safety? I checked some data sites and it appears that, due to increasing construction of some bike paths, bike accident events are decreasing, but bike death incidents are increasing. One report suspected the travel of bike paths gave a false sense of security and mixing in with vehicle traffic when off the bike path was extra dangerous. Stay safe.

Reply to  Ron Long
November 10, 2020 2:34 am

“One report suspected the travel of bike paths gave a false sense of security and mixing in with vehicle traffic when off the bike path was extra dangerous. ”
In Edinburgh, the council has put in new bike lanes all over the place using white paint and plastic posts. The problem is that they’re retro-fit, and start and stop, forcing cyclist to leave the main traffic flow, and then re-join it later. In the dark car drivers can be forgiven for not realising that the cyclist ahead is going to have to re-join the traffic . I don’t use these new cycle lanes on the fast downhills, as the transitions are more dangerous than staying out in the traffic where I can be more easily noticed. As we have a 20 mph city centre speed limit , I’m not going obstructively slow on these sections. Uphill? I’ll use the cycle lane if there is one.

Reply to  sonofametman
November 10, 2020 4:29 pm

The Edinburgh cycle/tram lane is a deathtrap.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  sonofametman
November 11, 2020 8:19 am

An effective separate network providing equal access doubles the number of intersections where all hazardous interactions occur.

oeman 50
Reply to  Ron Long
November 10, 2020 7:23 am

Ron, I am not surprised about the increase in deaths. I used to bike over 1,000 miles a year on the road and found you need awareness and instincts to stay alive. I almost got flattened by a dump truck whizzing around a curve on a 2-lane county road with no traffic. When he saw me, he locked his breaks but I dived off into a driveway and he went past, unable to stop. I heard him when he came around the curve.

I told my kids to never use earphones when biking, you need every sense you have to survive. I see many people from all walks of life with earphones on in the city and in the country. Head shake.

Carl Friis-Hansen
November 10, 2020 1:44 am

Here in Sweden I have a very nice lightweight bike with 26″ wheels and 7-speed.
I bought it when I lived in The Netherlands, where I used the bike a lot. I used it also to ride to the train station a few miles away from my home.
Back to Sweden, where the nearest city is 10 US miles away, I only drove the bike once. Not only is it a good distance, but Sweden is not flat like Netherlands, the country roads are often without wide shoulders and thus extremely dangerous to ride a bike on.

November 10, 2020 1:48 am

China has a lot of used and second hand bikes. They have discarded it for SUVs and cars. Electric cars is not a problem with them as more coal fired power and nuclear power plants comes on line. Haha haha

Reply to  eo
November 10, 2020 2:21 am

Not forgetting the millions (many millions) of bicycles made for the hire to ride market which was so oversupplied that they ended up with mountains of them.
Here is a photo of one of many such mountains.
comment image?1521743422

Reply to  eo
November 10, 2020 6:01 am

You’ll still see a lot of bikes in China, many electric assist, in rural areas and around schools where many parents use them to drop off and pick up their child.

My first visit to China was in 1982 and there we essentially no private automobiles and bicycle was the major mode of transportation. People had to wait a year or more to purchase bicycles. As a foreigner, I was able to use U.S. dollars and buy one immediately and sold it for about the same price (in Yuan) at the end of the summer.

It used to drive me crazy riding a bike there because traffic was slow and it was so crowded that it was difficult to pass the slower bikes.

JP Kalishek
November 10, 2020 2:28 am

Cool old Miyata. The wheels are newer though.

November 10, 2020 2:44 am

“It will be interesting to see whether this enthusiasm for bicycles survives the winter; riding a bike through snow can be a challenging experience. ”
It will likely not.
I have been ‘cycling to work’ for 50 years now, on and off. At my old out-of-town office there would about 35 bikes in the sheds in summer, and only 3 of us in winter, which is a 90%-ish drop off rate.
Here in Scotland the winters are not really that bad. The biggest deterrent is wind, if your ride is a long-ish one. I have found that a 6-mile ride is one I can sustain no matter the weather, but at 10 miles I’m much more weather-sensitive.
Snow is OK, if a bit claggy on the tyres and gears. Sleet , a Scottish speciality, is the worst, you get cold and wet very fast.

John Bennett
November 10, 2020 3:26 am

Here in Ontario, Canada, there is a bit of a cycling culture, but it mostly extends to club riding — organized groups doing their weekly rides in the peripheral areas outside of the city, and some mountain biking. But in general, commuting cyclists are the extreme exception, even in summer.

I’m one of them, but then my commute is 6 km downhill in the morning. I’m lucky enough to be able to follow roads through some protected “conservation” land, and the ride is wonderful in good weather — that applies pretty well from April to October. In bad weather, it’s no fun at all. I’ll see maybe three or four cyclists on the road on the way in and out (more on a local rail trail). But once November hits, there’s virtually no-one. My criteria for riding are fairly loose: Dry roads, sunshine, temperature generally above -5 degrees Celsius. I figure if I can ski it, I can ride it. But then, I’m obviously an outlier.

To clarify, though: I’m not a crazed ecolunatic. I just like riding my bike. We have a very nice car, and a house that’s far too big for the two of us. But bikes provide free exercise, you get to be outdoors, and there’s a social aspect to club riding. If carrying things is an issue, add a rack and a couple of panniers and you’re good to go for groceries, laptops, and up to six bottles of wine (don’t ask me how I know).

But no, the bike craze will not survive the winter.

Tom in Florida
November 10, 2020 4:43 am

Wouldn’t it be better to simply make your bike stationary and attached to a generator and the battery of your electric car? You would then spend your free time getting exercise while charging the battery. That would eliminate the worries about biking with bad weather, unsafe roads, heavy traffic, and the inability to carry groceries home.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
November 10, 2020 9:11 am

The obvious flaw with that idea is that an average rider can sustain only about 100 watts of output. Even professional bike racers can’t generate any more than 400 watts. An average rider would need to ride for 10 hours to generate one kW-hr of charge in their EVs battery. That kW-hr would go 2 to 3 miles in an EV.

Les Francis
Reply to  Meab
November 10, 2020 2:33 pm

Track cyclist toasts bread

Reply to  Les Francis
November 10, 2020 6:37 pm

Thank you, nice demonstration.

Hence the term horsepower, very relatable at one time. Now Roberts!

Bryan A
Reply to  Drake
November 11, 2020 11:58 am
Power to the people…How many friends does it take to take a shower

November 10, 2020 4:44 am

Shank’s pony for me on my daily 4-mile round trip the office.

Much cheaper than a bike, although I breathe more rapidly so expel more CO2

Better watch out for the enviropolice

November 10, 2020 4:52 am

Commuting to work is not the reason for the bike and bike part shortage during the covid crisis. No-one commutes to work when they are working from home, furloughed or made redundant.

The reason for the increase in sales and the lack of spares was due to lockdowns across large parts of the western world where exercise (cycling) was one of the few reasons allowed for leaving the home. People also found themselves with more spare time.

What’s more, there is no reason why people can’t cycle to work in the summer and then use public transport or drive their own cars in the winter when the weather is poor once things go back to normal where possible and of course, if they want to.

I used to commute 9 miles each way by bike in the UK and the number of times I got rained on in a year could be counted on both hands. When the weather was really bad (snow/sleet) I’d take the car. Nowadays many can just work from home on those days.

There’s always a drop off of cyclists on the roads in the winter. We now have turbo-trainers so there’s even less of a reason to go out.

November 10, 2020 4:54 am

I’m a bike nerd. The wife and I are childless and everyone needs a hobby, so I build and collect GT brand bikes. I have 22 bikes currently. I also own three cars though. I live one mile from work and commute from time to time, but I mostly ride for stress relief and health, usually between 5,000-8,000 miles per year. I typically put less than 3,000 miles on my cars. But yes–the bike supply crunch is real. My two local bike shops have been slammed since March with repairs and all their inventory went out the door within weeks. Parts are on back-order for even new bike builds. The owner of the LBS sells Giant brand and his distributor told him that parts were 18 months out for Giant. There have been loads of new bike riders on the greenway, none of which know the rules and etiquette and like moronic drivers, wear their masks while riding. Since the economy has picked up a bit here in middle Tennessee, the new cyclists have subsided and now their shiny new ride will sit in the garage until the next pandemic.

Juan Slayton
November 10, 2020 4:58 am

Bikes are like solar installations. They make sense where they make sense. In my case I live a few hundred feet from the San Gabriel river bike trail, and it gets me off the road a good part of the way to work. So I ride close to twenty miles a day when schools are open (which can’t happen soon enough). We have 2 cars, but at age 79, carrying 5 stents and an implanted defibrillator, when the doc says exercise, I exercise. I stay out of his office as often as I can.

Part of ‘where they make sense’ is good weather. There’s a reason the movie industry came to Southern California early on. Rain? We’ve heard of it…

Mad Mac
November 10, 2020 5:35 am

I started cycling seriously in Indianapolis when I was a resident in 1970 and did my first 100 mile ride on my 30th birthday in 1972. At the end of my residency I was offered several jobs and I chose UCLA for the weather and cycling. I commuted to UCLA and later when I opened an office and we moved to Topanga canyon I built a shower in my office. The round trip commute was 40 miles and up a steep hill in the evening.
Lived in Sydney for 4 years and cycling there is a challenge due to no shoulders on many of the roads but still many enjoyable memories.
Lots of snowbirds in the Coachella valley of so calif and the guys I cycle with are very fit and most in their 70’s and a few in their 80’s.
I tried to buy a new mountain bike recently and few available. The supply chains are broken due to Covid.
I would not enjoy cycling in the winter and some of the snowbirds I know from Canada and England are not able to travel due to virus restrictions.

November 10, 2020 5:47 am

It’s really quite funny here in the USA that the perceptions of bicycling are so skewed towards the negative.

I’m 63 now and disabled. From 1999 to 2010, an upright diamond frame bicycle and from 2011 to 2015, that changed to a recumbent tricycle were my only means of transportation. I lived in Denver, CO and commuted daily, year round on that DF bicycle. Grocery shopping was a breeze with two wire rear baskets that folded up when not needed to carry two bags of groceries (even shopping at Costco!). After an industrial accident that left me disabled, is when I switched to the recumbent trike as I couldn’t ride the upright DF bike anymore.
In 2012, at the ripe age of 55 and disabled, I became homeless due to that industrial accident and used the recumbent trike pulling a trailer to travel from Denver, CO to Pensacola, FL. An exciting journey of 2,600 miles that took just under 3 months. Could have easily done it in a much shorter time, but hey!, I had the time.

Bicycle commuting can be done in all weather, one just has to dress properly. In winter, the roads are usually cleared of snow for motor vehicles, which makes it fine for bicycles. One does need situational awareness, which many lack, any time you ride a bicycle due to the horrendous driving habits of most in the US.

Sadly, bicycle touring has taken a major hit with this Covid nonsense. Where just before it started, many used a bicycle to tour all over the world. Check out CGOAB for more info. Now, with all the silly and inane rules and regulations, it has become much more difficult, if not impossible to travel.

Bruce Cobb
November 10, 2020 6:10 am

I suspect it has more to do with people being stuck at home more, with more free time, and wanting something they can do outside that is fun, invigorating, and healthy. Cycling sure fits the bill. As things get back to normal, that enthusiasm will wane, though I suspect some will continue cycling, having a new-found appreciation for it. A lot of bikes, though, are going to wind up gathering dust, in garages, sheds, etc. I have an old 10-speed, circa mid-70’s, which I recently dusted off, and took for a short spin. I think it had been at least a decade since I had last ridden it, so I was a bit rusty. I have a bike helmet, somewhere (I think). I keep meaning to take it out for a spin, even if just a mile or two, but haven’t yet. Too busy with other stuff. Like today, I’m raking leaves and chopping them up with the DR mower. Leaves don’t want to biodegrade very easily unless you do that.

John Garrett
November 10, 2020 6:54 am

It’s not just bicycles that are in short supply, it’s also parts and other supplies (such as tires and inner tubes).

Every bicycle shop proprietor or employee I’ve talked with has confirmed the shortages.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  John Garrett
November 10, 2020 1:17 pm

I found (I think) replacement tires for my old 10-speed road bike at a site called BikeTiresDirect for $14.95 ea., plus shipping. I think mine may be over 40 years old, so probably time. Sidewalls are definitely cracked.

Richard Hill
November 10, 2020 8:18 am

Three years back I had disrupted plaque resulting in a 99% blockage of the LAD coronary artery whilst cycling. The subsequent wait for stenting saw me buy a bottom bracket torque sensing electric drive for my commuter bike. Absolutely marvellous fun, so easy up the hills. Fully fixed now, to the disappointment of my more senior friends who were waiting like vultures to take the electric drive off my hands for a song, I decided to keep it for around town stuff and small shopping trips, it’s that brilliant.

Here’s the thing. For an extra 10% weight I get a 250% increase in power and a range of 50 miles. What’s more it takes about the same time refuel and rest the rider as the bike. This is of course in stark contrast to the electric car which takes all the stats for power, weight, range and practicality in the wrong direction. I try to explain these facts to my non-technical friends and they go blank in the face and stare. It’s small wonder the green blob can pull the wool over their eyes when it comes to global warming.

November 10, 2020 8:55 am

Be like Tom Hanks in movie Man with one red shoe, secure bike in apartment. There is a huge down side to riding a bike in bad weather and arriving at work sweaty, soaking wet.

November 10, 2020 9:03 am

A mulching lawnmower is the best lawn fertilizer you can buy. It also keeps the soil built up and the earthworms happy.

If you insist on a “clean” lawn you’ll have treat for weeds occasionally. They like good soil too.

Kent Allen
November 10, 2020 11:40 am

Been a good year for me. Just about at 3000 miles ridden so far.

Bruce of Newcastle
November 10, 2020 12:21 pm

China makes many bicycle brands like Cannondale and Giant. So it’s harder to get such bicycles with the trade problems between China and the West. China has been throwing its considerable weight around regarding Australian trade because of the Australian push for an inquiry about the source of Covid-19. I wouldn’t be surprised if bicycle retailers here are finding it hard to get consignments delivered – I know my local bike shop has very few bicycles on their shop floor, and most models are listed as sold out on their website.

Reply to  Bruce of Newcastle
November 10, 2020 3:29 pm

Giant is a Taiwan company which manufactures its own brand and manufactures for many brands worldwide. Cannonade is also made in Taiwan I believe. China copies many brands ie fakes.

Bruce of Newcastle
Reply to  MadMac
November 10, 2020 6:21 pm

Hehe, I’m not doing too well! I didn’t realize they were Taiwanese. Sorry. And I went to my local bike shop this morning (after my comment) and found they’d received a fair bit of stock. So had no problem buying a couple of tubes, which is what I was in need of. Batting zero today…

My current ride is a Cannondale, which I’ve been very happy with for several years so far.

November 10, 2020 2:01 pm

I lived in Boulder Colorado for 47 years and witnessed the explosion of cycling, ultra fitness, big-money bike races, and the whole bit. The city has spent many 10s of millions (including gobs of federal “sustainability” grants) on bike trails, bike lanes, bike/pedestrian underpasses, raised cross-walks, bizarro flashing crossings for bikes/peds, bike parks, bike-to-work day/week/month, and so on and so on. There are more insufferable bike superiorists per square mile in this place than probably any other locale in the US.

Yet I venture to say (based on personal observation) more than 97% of the bikers/cyclists are riding for recreation, exercise, “training”, and such. The other few are young parents who’ve gone full-bike-crazy with a cargo rig used for shlepping groceries, kids, dogs, and assorted flotsam and jetsam.

Essentially no one rides a bike to replace a trip by automobile (I can already hear the howls of protest). Maybe once a month for some small item neglected on a car-shopping trip.

All the “sustainability” blather is just that – virtue signalling to support an ever-growing government sustainability bureaucracy that accomplishes essentially nothing in terms of reducing carbon (dioxide). Which, as we here at WUWT know, is not a problem but rather a net benefit for the biosphere.

I’ve ridden my bikes for 65 years, love cycling, but make no pretense about doing it for anything other than the sheer joy of turning the crank and feeling the breeze in the face. I would never be so stupid as to cycle in the snow. Darwin-award candidates do that.

November 10, 2020 2:22 pm

FOR MONTHS the local Walmart in Lucas has been out of adult bicycles … tires and tubes are sporadically out-of-stock too.

I’ve bicycled to the local Kroger (1 and 1/2 miles each way) since March; lost pounds and re-developed needed leg muscles and lung capacity!

November 10, 2020 8:23 pm

Houston can be a stone bitch for a bicycle commuter. The winters can be unexpectedly cold and extremely wet. One winter a few years back, I finally worked out a layering routine of 5 layers, which had to be peeled off at pretty much regular spots about 2 – 3 miles apart, and stowed, then onward! It added about 20 minutes to my ~15 mile ride. No biggie. I’d get to work, grab my towel,take a shower in the shop (this was a combined design/fab outfit, maybe 50 employees. Lots of sawdust, swarf, and fiberglass dust. HAD to provide an employee shower for the shop rats, about 35 of the 50). I’d hang my garb to dry, put on a suit and tie, go to my office. Most days I had to fab stuff myself, so I kept a box of Tyvek overalls in a desk drawer. Just parked my bike in the shop bay.
A couple years later I had to work (plant engineer) at a BIG hotel. Much closer, maybe 7 miles. No employee shower. I could see the space where one had been, but no. Too much trouble to keep it stocked with towels, I was told. I started out just parking my bike in the shop. Nope. So I moved it into a disused storeroom. Nope. All Employees must park on the roof level of the garage. Sorry, you can’t use a parking space.
So I locked up my bike and lowered it over the parapet of the roof level. On the outside. Where it got picked up by a local news channel. I think the story lead was ‘Suicidal Bicycle Spotted in Galleria Area’. The hotel GM was not pleased. Circulated a memo demanding to know who was responsible. Well, that’s me, Bossman. I explained the situation, and the head of Engineering was told to let me keep the bike in the shop, which, by the way seems to have a lot more space. And neatly organized. I like the labels on the parts bins, and the running inventory. Keep up the good work. And while I have your attention, could we re-attach the shower in the employee head? I mean, I fixed those 4 machines in the laundry room, the 75 lb washers and 150 lb dryers that been down for 2 years when I started here 6 weeks ago, up to 100% capacity from about 40%. Not a chance.
Summers as a cyclist in Houston? (Them) Wow! you seem to be losing weight, and you’ve such a healthy glow about you! Amazing how you can do that at your age! (Me) Must Hydrate. Must Hydrate. Must Hydrate while checking email in airconditioned office.

Doug Huffman
November 11, 2020 8:28 am

I am 72 y.o. and Milady Wife is 82 y.o. Our cycling season is coming to an end next week due to freezing temperatures here at 45°N. This years mileage is just about the same as last year’s, at about 2100 miles. They include our tenth annual 400 mile road trip down Lake Michigan’s Lakeshore Drive and home again.

I did add electric assist to her nearly fifteen year old Greenspeed trike. My routine still includes about 1500 Calories three times per week on my ICE trike Sprint 26”

Yes, parts, tires, are a bit of an issue now, but stock up early for what you know you will need.

November 11, 2020 8:34 am

Yes, bike sales went crazy once the plandemic looked to be here for a long time.

Also, sales of guitars. Commuting by bike wins out over the guitar, though. Or, this proves that people were developing recreation versus commuting with social-distance.

All the fire arms are also sold out, but that is another social phenomenon.

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