It's no use getting into political discussions. It's likely that anyone reading this knows close to exactly where Mike and I line up on things. But, whatever your thoughts are about what's happening with Ukraine and Russia, it is causing some things that you are likely to notice and be affected by.
Russia is a huge exporter of nickel. Nickel is a metal that grows in importance as the world builds more and more and more batteries since nickel is the "Ni" in "NiCad" batteries. Nickel is also an important component of stainless steel. Stainless is an important component of spokes, and also our exceptionally popular centerlock disc brake shims.
The London Metals Exchange has been going NUTS with nickel prices over the past few weeks for the most part because trade with Russia is so limited now, and because some genius would be Randolph and Mortimer Dukes have been trying hard to play the market and are causing major convulsions.
Fortunately, we have a ton of shims on hand - the truck backed up a few weeks ago and we should be good for several months no matter what. Spokes? Yeah, we'll have to see on that. Sapim has been on the back foot for about a year on spokes anyway, and we go through a fun dance routine each time we order, trying to get usable lengths to cover our needs (we can trim and rethread a spoke about 5mm from its starting size, so that gives us good leeway), and then going through second and third (significantly more expensive) sources to acquire the rest. Now? It will be fun to see how this one winds out.
My ongoing project of collecting all the parts to build my super sweet gravel bike has just crossed the chain hurdle, as I snagged a pair of AXS chains last week. I'm not 100% sure how much nickel is in the plating in these or any other chains, but you bet your bottom I'll be paying close attention to chain maintenance and management this year since no chains = no ride your bike.
Some have claimed that supply chains (the jokes just write themselves, eh?) are beginning to ease but frankly we don't see it yet. Between the baseline situation we've been dealing with for 18+ months, the added stress of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and now the riding COVID situation in China with its concomitant lockdowns, there is a pretty profound jam up throughout the system that has significant risks of getting worse. As always, we'll two-step through it all to keep the wheels getting out, but man alive this isn't getting any easier.