By Chris Marshall-Bell published
You need - or, perhaps more appropriately, want - a new bike. But, like almost everyone is finding, getting one is proving very difficult.
Supply chain issues that are currently severely affecting most industries in the UK are also hampering, to a lesser extent, industries across the world, exacerbated by Covid-19, the Suez Canal being blocked for around a week, vacancies being unfilled, a shortage of shipping containers and in the UK partly due to Brexit paperwork that is keeping items held up at ports and adding cost onto products.
It means that the problem of finding bikes last year when demand for bikes far outweighed worldwide stock hasn’t improved; speak to most, and they’ll say the issue has even got worse. Some industry insiders don’t think stock levels will be back at pre-pandemic counts for another two years.
Paul Darke, operations manager of In Gear and Maison du Velo, told Cycling Weekly that:
- bikes that are not already pre-ordered are unlikely to arrive in bike shops until 2023's stock comes in;
- a large proportion of bikes that have been pre-ordered are not expected to arrive until next July or August, even if it is sold as a 2022 model;
- custom-built bikes that once took 8 weeks now take a minimum of 16 weeks to be delivered;
- there remains a major shortage of components, too, with Shimano struggling to source all the electrical components that they need, with bigger brands like Apple and Panasonic willing to pay more.
Darke added: "A year ago we still had some stock readily available; now, it's all about getting yourself in the queue.
"As a salesman, I don't want to be too pushy, but if there's a bike you want, you know the shop's going to get it, you've got to commit to it. Put down a deposit and know that you'll probably get it by next spring."
In spite of the disheartening picture, fear not: it is still possible to get your hands on a new bike, whether that’s a road, gravel, cross, hybrid or electric. Here’s how.
Where to buy a bike online
The online giant is many people’s go-to place for cycling gear, and that is reflected by their current low stock. Don’t be too alarmed, however, for their website currently states that they have 10 road bike models available to buy, 13 gravel models, seven different types of e-bikes and three hybrids. Rondo, Fuji and Vitus are Wiggle’s main bike brands.
Partnered with Wiggle and thus offering many of the same brands plus Cube and De Rosa, there are significant greater number of bikes ready to buy, with it being possible to purchase a road, e-bikes and town bikes in a matter of seconds.
De Rosa Merak Ultegra road bike:
£4899.99 £3919.99 at Chain Reaction
Save £980. The Merak has been at the heart of De Rosa's line up for many years. It's a high-end, race-orientated machine, which in this iteration, features a matte black carbon frame, Shimano's Ultegra 8020 hydro groupset and Fulcrum Racing 400 wheels. De Rosa's fine Italian pedigree usually comes with a significant price tag but here you can save close to £1000 from the original price.
There are a number of other medium-to-big sized online retailers that have stock, including Tredz who sell Orbea, Giant and Scott bikes among their range. Cyclestore have a good number of Specialized, Giant and Kona bikes ready to buy, while there remains a huge choice of Liv bikes from Rutland Cycling. Hargroves Cycles, meanwhile, have Specialized, Cube and Ridgeback road, hybrid and gravel bikes available, and Leisure Lakes - who also operate 10 stores - have Merida and Trek among the variety of bikes still in stock.
Specialized Allez Sport Endurance 2021 road bike:
£999.00 £799.00 at Hargrove Cycles
Save £200. Entry-level road bikes aren't all created equal. Specialized have managed to offer the Allez at an attractive price point while still delivering a bike that looks, and rides, like something more high-end. The Sport Endurance model comes with rim brakes, a carbon fork to help kill some of that road buzz and a reliable Shimano Sora gruppo. The Allez range is attractively priced without a discount but when you save £200 it becomes a genuine bargain for anyone looking for a quality entry-level road machine.
Where to buy a bike in-store and online
An iconic name in the UK, there are almost 100 stores dotted around the country, and a website that offers unlimited browsing and in-store collection. Specialized, Cannondale and Trek are the three big brands that are stocked by Evans, and there is a bike to match most wallets. They state that they only show a product online if they have it in stock.
It is said that 90% of the UK population is within 20 minutes of a Halfords, and Britain’s biggest bike retailer has been inundated with demand since the pandemic hit. Typically stocking lower-end budget bikes, they are the ideal outlet if looking for a hybrid or cheaper electrical bike, as well as an entry-level road bike such as Boardman or Carrera. Boardman make excellent road bikes, we awarded the SLR 8.9 the win in our best £1k grouptest.
The global sports retailer’s presence is slowly getting bigger in the UK with almost 50 stores. Selling every type of bike and covering every price range, the Van Rysel range is a highly impressive brand that offers great value for money. A quick scan through available bikes shows that every store in the country has bikes in stock.
Van Rysel EDR Carbon Disc 105 women's road bike:
£2,299.99 £2,249.99 at Decathlon
Save £50. Van Rysel's EDR model is an endurance road bike that's designed to deliver plenty of comfort during long rides on mixed road surfaces. It features a full carbon frameset alongside then tried-and-test Shimano 105 hydro groupset. Van Rysel bikes have performed well in our tests and this provides a good opportunity to save a few pounds on the retail price.
Where to buy a bike at a local bike shop
Independent retailers tend to only stock a few brands, but they will be able to offer friendly, personalised service. Should they not have any bikes in stock, they can advice you when they will be able to sell you a bike again. You will also be able to pre-order a bike from them.
Some, such as Peddlers in Redcar, Hargroves cycles in Hampshire, and Wheelbase in the north have multiple stores, increasing the possibility of bikes in stock.
Where to buy a second hand bike
The good thing to know is that eBay, Gumtree ands Facebook Marketplace are awash with bikes. You could pick a one up tomorrow.
Being the second, or maybe third or fourth, owner of a new bike means that you’ll pay much less than the retail price and if you do your research, and go for a test ride, you could grab yourself a real bargain.
But you’ve really got to do your homework with second-hand bike purchases: don’t take the seller’s word for it. Inspect the bike properly, read reviews, get a friend who has better knowledge to impart their advice, and decide before purchasing if it needs new components. If it does, knock the price of the new parts off the asking price.
Where to buy an ex-rental bike
Places like bike shops and holiday resorts that rent out bikes typically sell off their products in the autumn, hoping to raise a bit of cash that will go towards updating their fleet. The same applies to professional and elite teams - it’s not uncommon for they to sell bikes off once the season comes to a close.
This is often a better alternative to second-hand websites because you know you’ll be buying a bike that, by and large, will have been well-maintained throughout its life as a rental bike. Expect to pay around half the price of the RRP.
Where to buy a manufacturer direct bike
By one count, Ribble are one of 37 bike brands who sell directly to the consumer, cutting out the middle men. The Lancashire company’s USP is their popular online bike builder. Like all companies, they are warning of longer waiting times but crucially are still taking orders, building bikes and delivering them to customers. They sell every kind of bike - bikes like the R872 road bike and Ribble SL e electric road bike have performed very well in reviews at Cycling Weekly.
The German brand are one of the leading manufacturers in the world and a variety of their bikes are ridden by the likes of Mathieu van der Poel. They are reporting standard delivery times on 90% of orders, and have road, cyclocross, e-bikes and hybrids all available for purchase.
Where to buy a kids bike
When it comes to where to buy a kids bike, there are several choices available. The larger online retailers, including Wiggle and Chain Reaction, all stock a range of bikes designed for children as do in-store retailers such as Evans Cycles, Halfords and Decathlon. Local bike shops are also a good option, and as with adult bikes, there is always the second-hand market to consider.
At the time of writing, Wiggle has a range of kids bikes in stock. These included models from major brands such as Cube, Vitus, GT and Fuji and range from balance bikes to junior bikes with a choice of wheel sizes.
Like Wiggle, Chain Reaction currently holds a decent number of kids bikes in stock. These also include junior and balance bikes from Cube and Vitus as well as models from lesser known brands such as Ghost and Creme.
Evans will be high on many lists of where to buy a kids bike. The high street giant currently has good stock levels of its children's bikes. Brands include in-house favourites Pinnacle and Hoy as well as the likes of Muddy Fox, Schwinn and Specialized.
Halfords are another obvious option when considering where to buy a kids bike. As it stands they have decent stock levels of bikes suitable for a range of ages, from balance bikes to 24" wheel junior models. Much of its selection is centered around its in-house brands, Carrera and Apollo.
Decathlon's growing presence in the UK makes it a good choice for kids bikes. At the time of writing it had a wide selection of children's models, including balance bikes, BMXs, hybrids and girls' specific options. It's own BTWIN marque provides much of the current available stock.
Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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