The word over bike industry news source BikeBiz.com is that suppliers are rapidly running out of bikes. First it was skinny-tyred road bikes, because of non-delivery of high-end Shimano parts but MTBs are now running out too, partly because of the over-heating Chinese economy.
Deore is on a 250 day, ahem, cycle. Steel, carbon fibre, aluminium, plastics, rubber, they're all in short supply.
Shimano first flagged its likely delivery hiatus in December. Hiro Hirata, vice president of sales in Shimano's bicycle components division in Japan wrote to bike builders, apologising for delays in delivering Ultegra, Deore, Dura Ace and other top-end components. Thanks to a hot summer and a dry autumn in Europe, demand had gone through the roof, especially for road kit. Demand for Ultegra rose fivefold, said Hirata.
As if missing parts weren't bad enough, bike manufacturers (and car makers and every other industry, really) started to get charged more for raw materials from the end of January. By February surging demand in China for metal of all types and the weakness of the dollar led to fast price rises for steel, aluminium, titanium and other metals. Mark Lynskey, CEO of the American Bicycle Group in Chattanooga, Tenn., said bike prices will have to rise by 20 percent.
Too conservative said other commentators. The word from the Taipei trade show, held earlier this month, was that price hikes for key bike bits could shoot up by 30 percent. That is if manufacturers can get parts at all.
Raw materials shortages are now so bad in Taiwan that BikeBiz.com reports that Alex Rims was robbed at gunpoint for 21 tons of alloy.
American industry consultant Jay Townley told BikeBiz.com that only thos companies that raise prices will survive.
"This situation will be like a 100 pound weight exerting growing pressure on the chest of the bicycle industry, and the companies that can do it will increase prices, and those that can't, will probably be crushed," said Townley.
To date, no UK suppliers have raised prices but they're working out their pricelists right now and hikes have got to be expected. So, what's the situation going to be like in your corner LBS? Precious few bikes come July is one possibility.
Even the biggest suppliers have had to resort to arm-twisting to get key components ordered pre-Christmas for February delivery to be actually delivered end of May.
And it's not just high-end stuff on the waiting list, suppliers are complaining of July-August delivery slots for lower-end RapidFire components. www.bikebiz.co.uk