Already in the report on the news during the last Laidback Bike Report, I mentioned that many bicycle manufacturers are now overwhelmed by a large number of orders and that their delivery times are very long. After doing an in-depth survey, I have comprehensive information for you here.
It seems that well-known premium brands that allow you to configure their products, like ICE trikes, HP Velotechnik, and AZUB, have so many orders now, that their waiting time is around 10 to 12 weeks. Smaller brands, or companies that manufacture bikes in one configuration, or in a limited number of predefined configurations, are better off. Similarly, bicycle manufacturers have not fallen sharply in terms of delivery times due to the coronavirus crisis.
Don’t blame your dealer, nor the producer. Be patient. Order soon!
Of course, everything is caused by the pandemic. Most of the Asian factories of frames and components stopped production for many weeks at the beginning of the year. Subsequently, there was a huge demand in the entire cycling industry, because people could not play sports indoors and therefore wanted to go outside. Thanks for that! But these two facts, combined together, have caused many bicycle component manufacturers and, of course, bicycle manufacturers to have difficulty meeting demand today. And the situation is unlikely to improve. Purchase departments are constantly hearing that deliveries of most components are delayed and that expected deliveries are reaching ever more distant dates. Many bicycle manufacturers are already ordering components with a view to 2022 or beyond, and to be on the safe side, they are making larger orders to have enough parts to cover any possible increase in demand. Also, Heiko Truppel from HP Velotechnik confirms it by saying: “Actually, I doubt that the capacities aren’t there to catch up the higher demand, but manufacturers and dealers order much more than they would need – because they are afraid to come away empty-handed. If the boom will not continue next year, some smaller entrepreneurship may have full stores and stock, but may rush into a threatening liquidity situation.”
And this is a spiral that makes the whole situation worse. Especially for companies operating in the recumbent industry, which is very small compared to the rest of the cycling business.
All that means that you need to be patient when ordering your bikes, and not blame dealers or manufacturers. They have little to do with it. Most really try to adjust their capacity and bring enough bikes to the market for everyone, but this is not always possible. If you want to order a new recumbent bike for the next season, I recommend that you place your order soon so that you can really set off from the beginning of the season.
I have contacted several manufacturers and some have bad news, some a bit more positive. Thijs Schutte from Catrike says: “Demand has been extremely high and yes, we have significant lead times like everyone else in the industry.” but he also mentions that producing in the USA has its obvious benefits, what means that they don’t depend on bulk frame shipments from Taiwan what allows them to keep producing while supply chain problems are limiting other manufacturers. They have also added staff to their line, ramped up production, and are making trikes every day as well as shipping them to dealers every day.
Here is a statement from Patrick Selwood, the Head of Brand and Customer Experience at ICE Trikes: “ICE Trikes is going into Winter 2020 stronger than ever. 2020 has been the best sales year for ICE trikes since we started in 1998. 2020 has brought us challenges, just like it has everyone in the world, but we have seen our team rise to those challenges and make us incredibly proud.
ICE has taken on a number of new staff members through 2020 in our workshop teams and our expansion is set to continue into 2021 and beyond with a lot more exciting news on the horizon.
As with the rest of the bicycle and the recumbent industry we have had our lead times for new orders grow longer than they usually are due to the huge volume of orders incoming far outstripping our production capability. Currently, we are looking at around 10-12 weeks for new orders so, unfortunately, we will be shipping new orders in 2021. We do have good supplies of frames, motor systems, and all the other parts set to come in through the rest of this year and into next year so please get your orders in as soon as possible to secure your slot in the build queue.
Our orders of parts from key suppliers such as Shimano, Schwalbe, and our frame building partners are placed many months in advance and, although the lead times are growing, our fantastic purchasing team is working constantly to ensure any inevitable delays to shipments do not cause undue delays to customer’s trikes.”
After the harvest, we cannot just enjoy the fruits at thanksgiving but have to save and invest the harvest into a seed.
Also, Heiko Truppel from HP Velotechnik claims that they have a longer delivery time for all their models than they would wish. He says: “With our custom building concept, we are very sensitive to the supply of components. What we regret particularly is that the easy-going of the bike business also characterizes the supply chain management. Different from let’s say the automotive industry, planning standards are missing. You can feel the difference when a bike component supplier is also active as a supplier in the automotive sector. But not always in a positive way: If the big automotive partner insists on his order under committed standards, the orders of the bike branch may just be delayed without further information. The actual situation is that instead of a planning horizon of 9 months, we now have to put orders to ensure the production in 1 1/2 years.
2020 was a fruitful year. But after the harvest, we cannot just enjoy the fruits at thanksgiving but have to save and invest the harvest into a seed. And not the seed for next year, which would be usually the case, but the seed for 2022.”
Another brand having a much longer delivery time than is usual is the Czech based AZUB. They normally have lead time around 4 to 5 weeks for all their custom-built cycles and about a week for stock trikes. They are around double that right now with no trikes in stock for immediate orders. “We have increased the assembly capacity by 30% and also improved the production of frames and we think things will slowly get better at the beginning of next season, but the situation in the supply chain of all good quality bike components is very turbulent and the delays are longer and again even longer so we can’t promise anything now,” says Aleš Zemánek, AZUB’s CEO. So they recommend ordering the bike soon.
I have also received a comment from WizWheelz, the producer of Terra Trike and Greenspeed, and a distributor of KMX in the USA. Marshall Randall, their Director of Sales & Marketing says: “As you have heard from many brands it has been a challenging year for keeping dealers supplied with inventory. But here at WizWheelz it has been nothing short of record-breaking. We continue to ship GreenSpeed out in record numbers and the same for TerraTrike. We are positioned to ship out a record number of trikes for the foreseeable future. Has it been challenging to negotiate the component shortages? Yes, but with the addition of some new positions at WizWheelz and filling of those positions with incredible individuals we are navigating this temporary new business model.”
One of the companies having no serious issues with the delivery time of their models is Trident. Tom Flohr sent me his explanation: “We have been crazy busy just like everyone else. Business is up around 50% over last year. We could actually do more business but we just can’t build any more than we are doing! We have done better than most manufacturers though. Most models have delivery times of 30 days or less.
We accomplished this by a few things. First, we were lucky to have WAY too much stock in the warehouse in January. We had over 400 trikes ready to ship. Secondly, since we manufacture in Asia we are right next to the supply chain of components so we did not see problems other manufacturers had obtaining components.”
Lightning is a known producer of fast two-wheelers and Tim Brummer reports they have acceptable production time by saying: “We had long lead times during the summer but have now caught up. Since we make our bikes in the USA it is easier to keep up. Phantom lead times are about one week, and four weeks for the P-38.”
Both Tim and Tom from Lightning and Trident mention that there have been issues to get some of the components during the year like tyres or cranks, but they could handle it well. And that they have made adjustments so they can keep up with expected demand.
Not so known in the US or Asia, but known in Germany is a TOXY. They not only produce two-wheelers, but also a trike called Trimobil which can be built like a social tandem or a cargo trike. Arved Klütz comments on the situation in few sentences: “Our lead time here at Toxy at the moment is now going down, say about 6 weeks for custom color powder coating for all our Toxy recumbent models. Only a few specific configuration options have larger forecasts, such as Pinion drive.
For our Trimobil it is about 5 months now, due to our 2019 decision, to have no continuous assembly over the whole year, but collect orders and then have a production campaign.”
A good report came from M5 Ligfietsen as well. The Dutch producer has a lead time around 2 to 3 weeks which is super short now.
Some positive replies came from velomobile producers as well. Velomobiel.nl reports 2 months for three-wheelrs now and 10 months for Quattrovelo. They expect that it will be longer for the Quest when they release its 3.0 evolution sometime next year. “Corona has not changed our delivery time much. It is a very small niche market. And interest in velomobiles has not increased enormously.” says Theo van Andel.
In order not to keep people waiting for too long for a completely finished product we decided to make an offer for a DIY kit
Formerly German, nowadays from Poland, the Cabbike introduced a different approach to increase the production and keep up with the demand. Karlina Majcher explains: “In order not to keep people waiting for too long for a completely finished product we decided to make an offer for a “DIY kit” to let those who like manufacture to make a velomobile on their own and to get the satisfaction of making a velomobile independently.” She also mentions that wintertime is good for waiting for a new velomobile so it is the right time to order it now as they have 2 to 3 months lead time.
The only longer waiting time among velomobile producers mentions Ymte from Intercitybike, producer of the DF velomobile. It is 5 months now, but they work hard to get it to the usual 2 to 3 months. He says: “This year we had a little less capacity, only 6 bikes a month but by the end of the year this will be doubled to 12 bikes a month.”
As you can see all the manufacturers try to have the lead time as short as possible, but the situation is uncertain. So my final recommendation would be: “Don’t blame your dealer, nor the producer. Be patient. Order soon!” And if you have any question, feel free to contact your dealer or the manufacturer directly.