Bikes roll out the door
Bike Works reports that new bikes — and even those that had been rentals — are selling quickly in the midst of the pandemic. August Howell / Review

With many Coastsiders working from home, entertainment and recreation options are limited. Biking has become a go-to activity.

The staff at Bike Works Half Moon Bay, a family-owned bike seller, has been pedaling as fast as possible in an effort to keep up. Housed in a Victorian-style building on Kelly Avenue, the store has seen a massive influx of business in recent weeks.

And it’s not just Half Moon Bay. It goes beyond just pure recreation; bikes are also a means for avoiding public transportation. Though the first few days of shelter-in-place in March were somewhat slow, Bike Works has seen a surge in demand in just about every facet of the business, from clothing and parts to bikes off the racks. Chris Nishkian and his brother, Matt Claudius, are the co-owners, and they are hoping the surge in bike use is a positive trend that will extend beyond the lockdown.

Because of the store’s tuneup and maintenance work, similar to an auto shop, Bike Works was labeled as an essential business and has remained open during the shelter-in-place order. The company decided to discontinue its bike rental program for the time being, and all rentals sold quickly.

“I think it’s really encouraging and good for the sport,” Nishkian said. “I also feel that it’s good for the bike culture of the community. And to grow that progression is amazing.”

Published reports have recounted a nationwide bike shortage. The New York Times reported data from NPD Group, a market research company, which revealed that sales have jumped dramatically. Sales of commuter and fitness bikes increased 66 percent in March, year over year. Leisure bike sales jumped 121 percent, children’s bikes went up 59 percent, and electric bikes rose 85 percent.

Nishkian agreed that the larger bike manufacturers weren’t ready for the surge in demand.

“A whole different facet of riders are coming in these days,” Nishkian said, “which is a bit different from before, when it was just the enthusiasts. Now it’s the commuter, the enthusiast, the avid cyclists, the beginners and those who just want a bike to get outside.”

Nishkian said beach cruisers are sold out, and low-end bikes are not far behind. Big brand-name manufacturers such as Specialized, Giant and Trek are nearly out of inventory. Bike Works employees are extremely busy, with back-ordered tuneups and bikes flying off the shelves.

“We’re waiting for more inventory to become available,” he said. “But with every bike shop being desperate for inventory, it becomes a bit more difficult to get.”

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