Bike parts Hunger Games

Looking at the slope in COVID cases and the increasing restrictions that states are starting to reapply, I'm starting to think we'll need to fire up a redux of this spring's "blog a day" thing and let me tell you people, I'm not yet recovered enough for that. That was like a three grand tours in one year effort, and I'm no Adam Hansen. 

Last night, I placed an order with our distributor for 2 rear skewers. The cost on this was barely $50, and the shipping cost was about $12. These are to cover a customer order. The skewers haven't been in stock at the distributor since I can remember, and the front ones still aren't. We sign up for alerts when stuff we need that is out of stock comes into stock, and the normal process is that you build a shopping cart and when it hits a critical mass you place the order and that's that. Not anymore. 

Between the time I got the alert and when I placed the order (which was about 40 minutes - I was Zwifting), the availability had gone from 30 pieces to 3 - 2 of which  I needed. No one is well served by this situation. The distributor doesn't want to send us $50 orders, the earth doesn't want the carbon produced by boxing and sending 2 fracking skewers from PA or MN or wherever to us, we don't want to pay 25% of the invoice value in shipping and have that eat up all of our margin, and customers don't want to wait for stuff. And I sure don't want to have to spend all day and night and weekend waiting to pounce on needed stock that becomes available, but what can you do?

We really don't mean to be in the business of small parts. Centerlock rotor shims, sure - we invented them and perfected them and we have some amount of pride in all of that. But the reason we sell "not wheel" stuff is to increase the value of buying wheels from us, not to be the internet's big vendor of Ultegra cassettes (and good luck finding one of those these days). It's nice to get your wheels, unbox them, inflate the tires, install the wheels and go ride. That's why we do it.

Seriously, though, most tires are unavailable, tubes are in ridiculously short supply,  we bought all the rotors we could find a while ago and that wasn't enough, cassettes - hah!, even tubeless valves are tough. 

We don't have a great solution for this. We don't track inventory in the site and don't want to. But because of this, when the big internet stores run out of Ultegra skewers, people find us and we get bombarded with orders for them. Normally within the 3 weeks it takes to ship the average set of wheels, we can figure out how to find skewers or a cassette or tires. We sure don't want a thing that was meant to be a good thing ("you mean all I'll have to do is inflate the tires and then go ride?") into a bad thing ("but your store didn't show that they were out of stock :<!") but for the moment it might be one or the other. 


Older Post Newer Post


  • Kein on

    I’m glad I stocked up on tires & tubes when I saw them on sale a while ago at PBK and Mike’s Bikes. Who would have thought that bike parts would become the new TP crisis. 2020’d again…..

  • Matt on

    This sounds rough for all involved. A work colleague mentioned that he ordered a new bike and he should get it by … March or April. So much for instant gratification! A year ago it would have been unthinkable to order a mainstream production bike and expect to wait 4 or 5 months for it.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published