Behind the "Difficult to have a bike": A Survey on the Current Shortage of Bicycles in the Market
In the past two years, the phenomenon of “out of stock” in the bicycle industry has attracted much attention. On the one hand, the cycling trend is very popular, and more and more users are joining the cycling movement. The goods are serious, "Difficult to have a bike". In this regard, MagicCycling Media Department specially planned this article to take you to a detailed understanding of the current situation of the industry behind the shortage of bicycles through the perspective of amateur rider Xu He.
Cyclist (Xu He): Won the championship, but was not happy
At the beginning of 2021, I finished my postgraduate studies, and after completing my contract with the Spanish team, I returned to China in the early autumn. At that time, I was optimistic about COVID-19 prevention and control and looked forward to maybe a "post-COVID-19 era", at least China's "post-COVID-19 era" is about to start in 2022. I am full of expectations for the future, fantasizing about showing off on the field. In order to prevent these good wishes from turning into fantasy, I decided to go to Hainan for winter training to prepare for the new season.
There, I met a few friends. Among them, there are running bike shops, and there are also relatively "hard-core" cycling enthusiasts. After training and being separated for a few months, I was invited to participate in the fun riding activity of the "No Riding No Friends" bicycle shop and reunited with everyone. The fun race was held quite successfully, and everyone enjoyed the happiness brought by bicycles.
However, the champion disappeared into the crowd after the award, packed up his equipment glumly, loaded his bike, and prepared to leave. After knowing the whole story, I found it understandable: he won the race but broke the new bike. Ordering a high-end bike now can often take months to deliver. I believe that whoever encounters this situation will not be happy.
The owner of the bicycle is called ShouYi, an Australian student who has been cycling for many years and can be classified into a group of "hard-core" enthusiasts. The bike that broke that day was purchased by him in September 2021 and did not get it until April this year. Such a long waiting time was unimaginable before COVID-19.
Later, the first one took the broken bicycle to the bike shop for inspection. Although the whole bike was not declared to be scrapped, it still suffered heavy losses - the Da9270 hand change was broken. On the one hand, the price of kits is soaring now; on the other hand, it is also difficult to find a set in stock. This is indeed a tricky problem, and one that cannot be solved for a while until the right source of supply is found.
Although the shifter can't be replaced immediately, we still stayed in the store to chat. During the conversation, I learned from the shop owner that such phenomena of shortages and price increases are now very common, and it is difficult to get high-end frames and groupsets in stock. The fact that the new Da can be used on the first bike is also due to the fact that it is this top-level package that is optional for the whole bike. Although the delivery time is long, it is relatively more cost-effective than buying a single.
The bike shop owner also mentioned that because of the good business, he is about to move to a bigger store and start running Trek bikes. Although there are also low-end products, Trek's "main battlefield" is still the field of high-end cars. In order to take advantage of the physical store's spot advantage, "No Riding No Friends", who have not moved yet, placed an order for a number of new bikes for display and inventory. As expected by the owner, the delivery time was more than 200 days. He said: "After the outbreak of the epidemic, the production capacity has been greatly impacted, which is generally the case for high-end bikes, especially imported bikes. Therefore, the business scope of auto shops is very wide. As long as the quality is satisfactory and the price is reasonable, they will also do some domestic brands."
Stock, price hikes, this is never good news for consumers. Sealing and controlling, and strict management, also have a big impact on the stores operated by the entity. Well-run bike shops can still expand, though. This makes one wonder, who is the "culprit" responsible for the shortage? How long will this situation continue? The long-term lockdown has made more people want to exercise. Can domestic brands take advantage of the situation to develop?
Bike shop: Insufficient supply of groupsets is the main reason
The first contact was with a factory dedicated to Complete bikes, and I learned that the cost of purchasing Shimano groupset has not risen but fallen. The reason for this is that the exchange rate of the Japanese has fallen recently. However, there is still a problem that cannot be avoided, that is, consumers, have to wait several months to receive the groupset after placing an order.
Unlike complete bike domestic factories that can quickly resume work and produce a sufficient number of frames, the production capacity and output of kits have been greatly impacted by the epidemic. Therefore, such a situation has been created: domestic factories that have stockpiled a large number of groupsets before the epidemic can ship quickly, while those who do not have enough groupsets in reserve can only start a long wait, hoping that the groupset will be available. Arrived earlier.
At the same time, in addition to the limited production capacity of the frame, the insufficient supply of groupsets is also one of the main reasons for the shortage of imported mid-to-high-end bikes and the long delivery time. The owner of Giant's Bike Store in Lin'an said: "After COVID-19, the delivery of the complete bike generally takes half a year or even a year. The output of the complete bike is greatly affected by the groupsets because the groupsets are shipped in batches. If you have it, it will be hard to find a set if you don’t have it.” He then added: “As long as the imported parts are out of stock, even some domestic parts have similar problems.”
In Madrid, Spain, the owner of Salchi Cycling, a bike shop that mainly deals in Giant and Trek bicycles. He said: "In the early days of the outbreak, the sales of the bike shops were not ideal because customers were reluctant to wait too long. The problem of out-of-stock is a headache. However, sales have recovered this year, and even surpassed the level of the same period in previous years. Although the problem has not been solved, people seem to have accepted this situation." Regarding the issue of purchasing kits individually, he said: "The price of groupset has increased significantly compared to previous years. The price has increased by about 30%, but it is not as good as buying the whole bike.”
However, the long-term lockdown has made sports enthusiasts at home and abroad not drop but increase. For protection reasons, many users have come into contact with and like cycling since commuting. A cycling friend who lives in Tiantongyuan said that before COVID-19, he rarely exercised, and he often took the subway and bus to commute. But now the unit requires not to take public transportation to and from get off work, but the distance of nearly 10 kilometers makes shared bicycles embarrassing, so he bought a 3,000RMB bicycle. Now he feels very good about commuting and exercising every day, and he is planning to upgrade his bike. Supply has decreased, but demand has continued to increase, which further exacerbates the current situation of shortages.
It can be seen that the advantage of domestic brands lies in the production capacity of the frame, but the output of the domestic and foreign complete factories is still subject to the adequacy of groupset supply - groupsets are the main culprit for the insufficient supply of complete bikes.
Domestic Brand: Show the advantage are gradually emerging
So, has the "spring" of domestic products come?
In the bicycle industry, products of different brands are substitutes for each other. Not only consumers with purchasing needs, but also bike shop owners need to consider whether to buy domestic bikes with shorter delivery times or wait for imported bikes with longer delivery times. According to the People's Daily Overseas Network, China's total bicycle output will exceed 120 million in 2021, making it the world's largest bicycle producer and consumer. Among them, in the first three quarters of 2021, the export volume of "competitive bicycles" increased by 122.7% year-on-year. Whether it is an OEM or an independent brand, since a large number of domestic products can be accepted by the European and American margroupsets, there should be no big difference in the quality of domestic bikes and some "foreign brands". For the past two or three years, I have been training and racing with domestic bikes. From a personal point of view, I don't think there is a big difference between domestic brands and imported bikes. Lower price and shorter delivery time. In this case, why not buy a domestic bike?
From the point of view of the bike shop, in order to cope with the current situation, the introduction of domestic brands has become a must. Take Sanya's "No Riding Friends" as an example. In the past two months, the bike shop has introduced two brands CAMP and SUNPEED. Both these two emerging domestic brands focus on cost-effectiveness, and entry-level models of several thousand yuan are very popular.
In addition, as mentioned above, the imported parts are also seriously out of stock. Therefore, in terms of high-end wheels, the above bike shops have started to sell Shizuo Wheelsets in order to cope with the shortage of wheels such as Shimano, BORA, and ZIPP. However, according to the survey, the domestic brands chosen by each car shop are different. As several shopkeepers have said, the distinction between domestic brands is not that big, so it mainly depends on the shop owner’s own judgment.
Brand awareness is a big mountain in front of domestic brands. Compared with imported brands, consumers lack awareness and trust in domestic products. At present, the sales of mid-to-high-end models are relatively good. By sponsoring the national team, Huaxing Intercontinental Team, and amateur team, it has already gained a certain brand influence, and it is PRADUS Bicycle. However, a cycling friend in Beijing encountered some unpleasant things after buying a new bike.
This rider is a triathlon enthusiast and purchased a TT bike through an online agent. After getting the new bike, he immediately started training. But the dealer was not familiar with the assembly of the whole bike, which caused him to suffer a crash due to a broken rest handle during training, resulting in multiple fractures and ligament ruptures. Although after many consultations, the seller agreed to return the goods for a refund, the physical injuries have indeed stayed. This reflects a phenomenon, that is, the barriers to entry of agents are low, and merchants are mixed.
To a certain extent, the professional level of agents restricts the establishment of high-end images of domestic brands. From the consumer's point of view, the complete bike purchased through the Internet may not have been properly and correctly assembled, and some online sellers also lack after-sales service support. Compared with the big European and American brands with offline stores, it is more difficult for domestic brands to gain the trust of consumers.
The emergence of a large number of micro-business and XianYu sellers has also caused a lot of trouble. Because many domestic brands lack reasonable price control, merchants will start one or more rounds of price wars on their own, thereby lowering the price. Although manufacturers can still ship, as usual, the profit margins of merchants have been greatly compressed. This will force many merchants to terminate their cooperation with the original brand and look for new alternatives. And domestic brands that lack brand recognition are more difficult to be recognized by riders after losing the support of offline stores. In addition, although most people want to spend a little money to do big things, the price of a product is, in a sense, the definition of a brand's own value. Brands that focus on low prices and big discounts are often difficult to associate with high-end.
However, for domestic brands, the current opportunities far outweigh the crisis. In terms of sales, domestic brands have been recognized by domestic and foreign riders. For riders with a budget in the price range of several thousand to 20,000 RMB, domestic brands have obvious advantages. But for riders who ride "Luxury", their sensitivity to price is relatively low, and they will give priority to the design, weight, color, and brand awareness of the bicycle. Therefore, with the hot sale of 10,000-dollar bicycles, domestic brands have already occupied a place in the mid-end.
Since domestic brands already have strength, they also have the desire to enter the mid-to-high-end market. What about the kit at the center of the vortex? Is there a chance for a domestic groupset?
Empire Pro is the SENSAH groupset I used for a long time with the Spanish team. From a personal point of view, I think the shifting accuracy of this groupset is very good; at the same time, its shift lever is made of carbon fiber material, and its weight and appearance are OK; the new front derailleur has also been upgraded to address the problems of the old model. The in-position rate is higher, and the function of half gear is also added; the domestic one-piece 12-speed flywheel included in the large set can perfectly fit the 11-speed freewheel base, eliminating the need to replace the freewheel base; in terms of price, SENSAH is relative There are certain advantages to Shimano 105 groupset, which is currently the cheapest 12-speed groupset. The low price and good user experience have also made SENSAH favored by some professional teams and foreign riders. So why is this group set not installed on the brand's bike?
For this question, the answer I got was surprisingly consistent: most riders lacked recognition and style. Disc brakes are the most popular nowadays. Most of the manufacturers who lack disc brake groupsets still choose the combination of rim brake version 105 groupset and ONIRII oil disc and rarely use SENSAH groupset. At the same time, groupset with traditional shifting designs is prone to encounter patent barriers. After all, Shimano, Speedlink, Campagnolo, and other manufacturers have accumulated technology for many years. To get rid of the current predicament, domestic kits need to find another way. And for this, the Belgian company CLASSIFIED has its own answer.
CLASSIFIED is also a manufacturer of transmission components. Different from other brands, they successfully removed the front derailleur from the bike through the self-designed hub and still can achieve the same "large and small dial switching" as the dual-disk shifting system. This is because there is a shifting mechanism inside their hubs, which can realize gear ratio changes; the thru-axle quick-release lever integrates a signal-receiving device and receives commands through a transmitter connected to the manual shift. Although they haven't been able to make a complete set of transmission systems, their pioneering design has largely avoided possible technical barriers, and companies have also gained greater pricing power - a set of equipment also costs more than 10,000RMB. In the field of transmissions with clear barriers, innovation may be the best way out, and domestic transmissions still take time.
This period of time is an opportunity for domestic brands, and it also gives domestic bicycle apart parts a lot of living space. In addition, under COVID-19, people’s attention to health continues to rise, and China’s sports bicycle market will continue to expand.
But those who are living in history can not see the extension of history. Just as no one can predict the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2019, the prediction of the future is always a good expectation, and promoting bicycles to the wider public requires the joint efforts of many parties.