Global Bike Shortage: How to Get Your Hands on a Bicycle in 2022

Scene of multiple stacked containers with a no bicyle signScene of multiple stacked containers with a no bicyle sign

Will 2022 be the Year Cyclists Can Easily Buy Bicycles & Parts Again?

If you’ve been trying to buy a bicycle or bicycle parts any time since 2020, you’ve probably noticed that prices are astronomical and wait-times are soul crushing. But have bicycles really gotten more expensive, and are you still getting value for your money?

Luckily, there are still ways to get your hands on a new or used bicycle or bike parts, you’ll just need to be savvy, search a little longer, and be a bit more patient.

Let’s break down what goes into the cost of manufacturing a bicycle, and why entry-level bicycles are so hard to find in 2022.

Why are Bicycles so Expensive in the First Place?

For many cyclists, cycling means buying a bicycle and that’s where the costs end. But, if you’re cycling for more than recreation or commuting, cycling is incredibly competitive.

You’re racing against time so to increase your speed, you’ll naturally want equipment that’s lighter, stronger, and crafted from the best materials money can buy. Along with this, cycling can be an injury-prone sport so you’ll want the best protective gear you can afford.

The saying, “If it’s too expensive, you’re not the target market,” couldn’t be more true when it comes to cycling. Yes, there are cyclists out there that have a genuine need for a £7,000 bicycle - but you’re probably not running into them on your Sunday social ride.

Bicycles require research and development, engineering, design, hand-labor, and high-end materials. When you consider how much work goes into building a bicycle, the price tag on high-end bikes makes sense. 

In fact, Matt Phillips of argues that bicycles should be even more expensive so that everyone - particularly mechanics and bike store staff - can be paid fairly for their expertise.

Why Entry-Level Bicycles are So Hard to Find in 2022

If you’re in the market for a cheaper bicycle or components for your existing bicycle, you might find yourself shocked at the prices and wait times you’re seeing - but the fault doesn’t necessarily lie with bicycle manufacturers.

Two major events in recent history have impacted the availability (and cost) of bicycles: Brexit and the pandemic.

In terms of the Brexit trade deal, for a bicycle to be considered “made in the UK”, 70% of its materials and parts need to come from within the UK. Bicycles and parts imported from the European Union and Asia (such as Shimano, which is one of the world’s most in-demand brands) are subject to an additional 14% duty tariff.

Along with import tariffs driving up the price of bicycles, when the pandemic struck and factories were forced to close down, it disrupted the global manufacturing and transport of bicycles. 

At the same time, bicycles became more in-demand as people avoided going into the gym and taking public transport.

To complicate matters even further, the blockage of the Suez Canal in 2021 caused the price of shipping containers to skyrocket 500% - and eventually, those costs were passed onto consumers.

Decreased supply combined with increased demand will cause shortages in any industry, and the bicycle industry is no exception. But now, two years after the pandemic lockdowns and Brexit, the industry is still struggling to meet the demand. 

According to experts, these are the key factors that influence the availability of bicycles and parts:

  • Global covid situation
  • Lockdowns
  • Availability of materials
  • Availability of components
  • Bicycle assembly rates
  • Availability and price of shipping containers
  • The global freight transport situation

Currently, experts predict that the global supply and demand for bicycles will begin to normalise in 2023 or 2024, so brace yourself for the long haul if you’re in the market for a bicycle or parts.

How to Buy a Bicycle in 2022 (Without Getting Scammed)

With such a sharp increase in demand for bicycles and parts, there are also unscrupulous people posing as legitimate sellers in order to take advantage of potential buyers. 

Here are some pointers to help you steer clear of scams when you’re shopping for a bicycle:

  • If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. Inventory is so low at the moment that there’s no reason for sellers to offer steep discounts on bicycles or parts. 
  • If possible, buy your bicycle from your local bike shop. Bicycle stores that are struggling to get inventory may not be reaping the rewards of the high demand. Bonus: The information and tips you can get from your local bike shop aren’t something you get when buying online.
  • If you’re buying a used bicycle, ask for the serial number and look it up on BikeRegister to make sure it isn’t stolen. Unfortunately, the demand for bicycles gives thieves a strong financial incentive to resell stolen bikes.
  • If you’re buying online, buy from a reputable online store. Steer clear if the website looks sketchy (mismatched fonts, no contact form, long loading time) or you can’t find reviews of the retailer.
  • Look for a bicycle during the off-season (autumn and winter). In spring and summer, demand skyrockets as more people want to get out and be active.
  • Be prepared for a wait. If you can’t find a used bicycle that meets your needs, be prepared to wait a few weeks (or months) for your new bicycle to be delivered to you. Patience is key!

Keep Your New Bike Safe with Specialist Bicycle Insurance

There’s nothing better than new bike day (even if it’s just new to you) - and nothing dulls the magic faster than getting your bicycle stolen. On average 113,000 bicycles are stolen each year in the UK, and thieves are becoming more brazen.

It’s no longer rare to find videos online of bicycle thieves carrying around portable angle grinders to steal bikes.

While your homeowners or renters insurance may provide coverage for your bicycle, the coverage is likely to be partial and may not insure you for many common scenarios unique to cycling. 

With a specialist bicycle insurance policy from Sundays, your bicycle will be covered for accidental damage, theft from & away from home, theft/damage in-transit while traveling domestically, along with optional coverage for racing & events and worldwide travel.

Get an online bicycle insurance quote in a few minutes.

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