How did the bike industry get into such deep trouble?

A deep dive into what went wrong in the supply chain during the pandemic

In this four part podcast series, I wanted to explore the events that took place that led the bike industry to the troubling point it’s at now. I spoke to over a dozen industry professionals from all parts of the supply chain. From well-run bike shops, forecasting analysts, distributors, the biggest bike brands in the world, and manufacturers. 

It’s well known that the bicycle industry went through an unprecedented boom during the pandemic from 2020 – 2022. Jump ahead to 2024 and much of the bike industry is in trouble. New demand has come to an abrupt halt. New entrants into the bicycle market have not stayed as the industry had hoped.

We’re seeing massive inventory overruns at bike shops. Big bike brands are taking on extra warehousing space. Businesses such as Niner, Orange, Wiggle/CRC, have gone into bankruptcy. Otherwise, profitable big brands have taken on debt to keep afloat. There are brands out there who are doing well, but they’re the exception rather than the norm. In general, I don’t think many would disagree that the situation in major cycling markets, aside from China, is pretty dire.

Episode 1: The Feast

The episode is the first of four. We’re going to bring you on a journey through the COVID feast, the storm clouds, the famine, and the lessons learned in hindsight.

In this episode, The Feast, we speak to a bike shop owner, a demand forecasting analyst for a distributor, company CEOs, and a manufacturer to hear about what they experienced during the initial stages of the pandemic in early 2020. 

EP1 transcript can be found here.

Correction: Niner Bikes filed for bankruptcy in November 2017, and not due to the pandemic. In 2018, the firm was acquired by United Wheels HK Ltd.

You can listen to this episode on Apple, Spotify, Google and most other major podcast platforms.

Episode 2: The Storm Clouds

In episode one we heard about the unexpected windfall that the cycling industry saw at the start of the pandemic and how it reacted. 

That of course didn’t last forever, and in Episode 2 we hear about the early signs that this new demand was coming to an abrupt halt, the type of behaviour that was taking place, and causes of that behaviour that led to the catastrophe that the industry would later see.

EP2 transcript can be found here.

Episode 3: The Famine

In this episode we zoom into the timeframe when demand came to an abrupt halt and what the bike industry was left with.

In reference to the postmortem of Wiggle/CRC and the interview with Jake Dudek done in this episode, you can read his post on LinkedIn here.

EP3 transcript can be found here.

Episode 4: The Aftermath

In EP3, we heard about what much of the bike industry experienced during that dramatic slowdown of bike sales, and what resulted. In this episode, EP4, we’ll hear about some of the learnings and takeaways from the past three years, and put forward some tough questions for the bike industry to ask itself.

EP4 transcript can be found here.

Episode Q&A: Buyer ethics, Brexit, advocacy and more…

In our final episode of this limited series, we turn the floor over to our members and answer some excellent questions. 

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