'Bicycles are the new toilet paper': bike sales
boom as coronavirus lockdown residents
crave exercise | Life and style | The Guardian
as of Wed Apr 22 2020 14:48:12 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)
'Bicycles are the new toilet paper': bike sales boom as coronavirus lockdown
residents crave exercise
Australia’s peak representative body for cyclists has called on governments
to transform roads into cycleways to ease traffic on bike paths
Justine Landis-Hanley Wed 22 Apr 2020 03.51 BST
Cycling is an ideal way to exercise – and practise social distancing – in the
time of coronavirus.
Australian bike retailers are struggling to keep up with the boom in sales
since coronavirus restrictions came into force last month.
“We’re the new toilet paper and everyone wants a piece,” Grant Kaplan,
manager of Giant Sydney, a bike store in Sydney’s CBD, tells Guardian
“We can’t keep up with sales. Literally the phone is ringing nonstop,” he
laughs, as another call came through in the background.
At first, casual employees, such as Giant Sydney’s Sean Marshall, were
worried the Covid-19 restrictions would see them out of work.
But within a week of the state lockdown, Kaplan was offering his casuals
extra shifts, saying if anything they were “short-staffed given the upturn in
The store has had to stop servicing bikes – typically a major source of
revenue – because its mechanics are overrun with putting together customers’
Marshall, who has worked in bike sales for the last four years, tells
Guardian Australia he would expect to see $10,000 in sales on a Saturday, but
for the past two weekends “have done $40,000 each Saturday, with similar
sorts of levels during the week as well”.
South Melbourne’s bikeNOW is seeing similar figures. Co-manager Nathan
Ziino says they sold between 40 and 45 bikes last weekend, many of which are
entry-level models costing $700 to $1,200.
No one wants to be stuck on a tram in winter during flu season,
especially with coronavirus
bikeNOW typically sells $4,000-$15,000 bikes to high-end clientele. But
Ziino says most of the shop’s recent customers have been families wanting to
stay active while social distancing.
“Families are sick of walking everywhere as their form of exercise. The
kids are home from school or being home-schooled. If you go to a football
oval and there are lots of people already there, you can’t go on [due to
social distancing measures],” he says.
“But on your bike you are exercising and practicing social distancing.”
For others, coronavirus restrictions have finally given them the time to
take up a new hobby.
At Giant Sydney, Marshall says many customers have told him they long
wanted to take up bike riding, but didn’t have the time or motivation before
“They talk as though they have been thinking about it, and now the ideal
scenario has come up: they have the time of their hands, gyms are shut, pools
are shut, so why not get a bike?”
Ziino predicts they will see a second rush of customers once social
distancing measures are eased, consisting of those who have to start
commuting to work again but don’t want to risk catching public transport.
“No one wants to be stuck on a tram in winter during flu season, especially
with coronavirus,” he says.
Public transport usage in Sydney fell by about 75% in March, Transport for
New South Wales reported, with the fewest number of people using the city’s
rail, bus and ferry network in almost a century.
Bicycle Network – Australia’s peak representative body for cyclists – has
called on governments to transform roads into cycleways to ease traffic on
bike paths, as has already happened in parts of Germany and California.
A two-hour count of shared paths in Melbourne found the number of riders
had increased up to 79% in some areas, Bicycle Network reported.
Meanwhile, experienced riders have bought out Australia’s supply of digital
“bike trainers” – devices that allow cyclists to hook up their bikes to their
computers and ride through virtual tracks from the comfort of home.
Ziino says bikeNOW sold out of bike trainers within two weeks of the
lockdown, speculating that many regular riders “can no longer put a bike in
their car, park near a trail and ride, because police will pull them over and
fine them if they are far from home”.
The coronavirus has made me so grateful for city parks. We should fight for
The trend in digital bike riding is not unique to Australia: the 104th
edition of the Tour of Flanders bicycle race through Belgium two weeks ago
was forced to go online, with 13 professional cyclists riding the 32km race
from home using these trainers and the virtual reality app, Zwift.
Marshall was one of the thousands of fans who logged on to YouTube to watch
the riders’ digital avatars racing through a virtual landscape, spliced with
webcam shots of their real-life counterparts peddling away in their living
The biggest problem facing retailers, Kaplan says, is that they will soon
run out of stock.
Many of the bikes Sydney’s Giant Bikes sell are made in Taiwan and China,
where factories have stopped production for some time due to the country’s
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword: overdemand and lack of supply,” he
This not-for-profit reproduction is for the purposes of private study, research, criticism, review,
education, parody or satire as permitted under provisions of Copyright Act C-42(fair dealing) in
Canada, and under Title 17 USC Section 107 of US Copyright Law(fair use).
Opinions expressed are personal unless specifically attributed to an organisation
Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race
- H.G. Wells
MD5 Fingerprint 27:B8:BA:91:70:E5:44:20:8F:29:EE:46:1E:52:F6:81
Est-ce c'est necessaire d'imprimer ce courriel? / Do you really need to print this email?