Bicycle demand is falling in French-speaking Switzerland, but the market remains tight


french speaking switzerlandTension in the bicycle market for professionals and individuals

The shortage of cycle spare parts persists and worsens, not without consequences for customers.

A shortage of spare parts is making bike repairs difficult.

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“A customer came especially from Belgium to buy a specific model of high-quality bicycle that we had in stock,” says Adrien Sabatier, director of Ciclissimo, a chain of stores dedicated to the little queen. The anecdote perfectly illustrates the situation experienced by the bicycle market on an international scale: a shortage, in particular of spare parts, which affects sellers and workshops, despite demand returning to an almost normal level after two years of overheating.

“Today you can buy a bicycle, we have some in stock”, underlines Fabien Plotnikowa, co-director of Velomania stores. On the other hand, if you are looking for a particular model or assembly, it can be difficult, if not impossible. Information confirmed by Van Khai Nguyen, co-president of the bicycle business of 2roues Genève. “For some cargo bike models, it takes a year to wait,” he illustrates.

All stock has been ordered

So quit choosing an overly personalized frame. Exit also very long hesitations. Both Ciclissimo and Vélomania explain that they have already ordered 100% of their volume for 2022 this year, compared to 40-50% normally. Clearly, this means that once the stock is sold, there are no more possibilities to order a 2022 model, due to lack of restock.

In fact, this new agreement changes the way of consuming. “Before, customers were loyal to a brand, today they go where the stock corresponds to their desire”, explains Adrien Sabatier. Even more, according to professionals, because it is increasingly difficult to have visibility on delivery dates. “Sometimes just one part, like a sold out crankset, is enough for brands to not be able to finish the bikes and deliver them,” laments Fabien Plotnikova.

The scarcity of spare parts not only makes it difficult to assemble the little queens, but also to repair them. Lead times for obtaining derailleurs, chains and brakes have increased considerably, explains Van Khai Nguyen. “They went from a few days to a few weeks.” Not to mention that the cost of transporting these parts produced in China has increased significantly.

Bad mood of some customers

Consequence: the bad mood of some of its customers. “We need to be more educational to explain why you have to leave your bike in the shop longer or why parts cost more”, confirms the co-president. Just one positive point in the eyes of the manager, “it encourages us to use second-hand parts”. At Péclôt 13, a bicycle repair association, we say we are “little affected by this crisis, because we operate a lot with recovery parts”.

At a time when the sun encourages pedaling, professionals advise you to do it in advance, both for purchase and for repairs or overhauls. “It’s best to maintain your bike regularly,” explains Adrien Sabatier. This allows you to order the parts you need, rather than arriving at the shop after your chain, which is very old, has broken.

Large favored chains

The lack of visibility into available bikes and parts, as well as delivery times, poses more problems for small retailers than large ones. On the Migros side, it is admitted that “the situation remains tense, although we are quite well placed in the market in comparison”. The orange giant announces that it offers a complete assortment to its customers in its various branches. As for spare parts, both Ciclissimo and Velomania indicate that they can play in large inventories. “If a part is missing, we can look for it elsewhere,” says Fabien Plotnikova. In the end, the customer is served.” A facility that smaller brands do not know. “The situation leads us to have to build larger inventories, which causes us problems both in terms of space and cash flow”, regrets Van Khai Nguyen.

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