Yogi Berra, all star baseball player, coach and philosopher, uttered these prophetic words “the future ain’t what it used to be.” Bicycle business philosopher Rick Vosper recently asked, “What happens to all those optimistic orders that were placed at the peak of the demand wave and are now finally going to ship in 2022 and beyond?”

We all know the bicycle business supply chain got totally out of kilter. What some of you don’t know is this started in 2019 because of imposition of Section 301 punitive tariffs on Chinese imports, and got far worse when Covid-19 hit during the first quarter of 2020, causing order reductions and cancellations, followed shortly thereafter by surging consumer demand that started the bullwhip effect through the channel of trade, consisting of aggressive forecasts and orders for as much as suppliers could make and ship.

Consumer demand continued to grow in intensity as the pandemic led to stay-at-home orders. Consumers shifted their buying from services to goods, and isolating at home with additional money from the government sparked an unprecedented online spending spree. This fed the bullwhip effect like putting gas on a fire.

Retailers ordered more, wholesalers and brands forecast and ordered more, and OEMs ordered more. Order lead times grew longer and longer as Covid-driven delays disrupted every aspect of the bicycle supply chain, while ocean freight and trucking became high-cost nightmares.

OEMs and most major component brands made it clear early on that they were not going to increase their manufacturing footprints by making substantial long-term investments in new plant expansion when demand was likely to cool before new capacity could come online.

The Just-In-Time (JIT) playbook was tossed, and the channel of trade adopted the Just-In-Case (JIC) inventory management system that drove retailers and brands to order as much as they could get when they could get it, and pay the ever-increasing product costs, as well as higher costs for logistics.

It is fair to say hoarding has occurred at both ends of the supply chain, with some OEMs hoarding component inventory, and some retailers hoarding accessory and bicycle inventory as the JIC inventory management system spread, and lead times grew to the point that top-tier component brands were telling customers that their high demand products had lead times pushing out into 2023. Like I said … out of kilter.

The bullwhip effect is supply chains buying too much during time of scarcity, ending up with excess inventory that later becomes a problem. From what we have seen, the bicycle business inventory to sales ratios didn’t look bloated by historical standards through 2021, but grew exceptionally fast during the first two quarters of 2022 as consumer demand ebbed.

As inventory grew during the first quarter of this year, it also went further out of balance, in some cases because of component shortages and delays, so that as we have reported, bike shops and brands had too much of what consumers didn’t want, and not enough of what they did want, with plenty of juvenile and BMX bikes as one example, and medium and middle-size women’s triathlon and road bikes in short supply, as another.

Brands, bike shops for certain, probably mass-merchants, as well as full-line sporting goods retailers, had been building inventory because of the uncertainty surrounding the supply chain. Suddenly there was a decline in the demand from consumers. This in turn was attributed to inflation, overlooking the shift by consumers back to spending on services, in combination with rising prices for goods.

So, now the bike shop channel of trade, and probably the other channels of trade as well, have more inventory than they have ever had. They have paid more for the inventory than they ever have, but the demand they were told would come, that they were expecting to make up for the increased cost of the inventory, suddenly evaporated.

To answer Rick Vosper’s question it is, for the most part, floating inventory, although it may help balance some of the overstock. Consumers who were willing to pay just about any price to get their hands on a bicycle last year are now walking out because of sticker shock at the prices that bike shops now have to charge because of the increased landed cost of goods.

Too much inventory has traditionally led to selling at a discount, as we have seen with Target’s huge clearance sale last month. Or it has meant putting in fewer orders, as we have seen Samsung do in freezing procurement.

We are also watching bicycle brands, including direct to consumer (DTC) brands, some that have been around for decades, and others that are start-ups new to the business, follow these same traditional reactions and actions relative to too much inventory.

That was then, this is now. We caution that the traditional ways of dealing with too much inventory in the American bicycle business simply will not be sufficient to solve the size and scope of the supply problem that has been created, and certainly not this year.

To begin with, there is too much inventory, particularly in the bike shop channel, to be sold down in a matter of months at discounted prices. There will be sales and discounting, but they will dent the overstock, not reduce it to manageable levels, according to our analysis, until next year.

This is a blunt statement, and we would like to be proven wrong, but we project an estimated six to seven finished goods units in the bike shop channel inventory for every obe being currently sold, with more in transit. Over the next two months this could increase to an estimated eight to nine finished goods units in inventory for every one being sold at retail.

Brands and their OEMs understand that U.S. finished goods inventory is linked to the supply chain, but they are going to be slow in reducing or freezing procurement because our analysis also indicates they do not want to lose their position with either the OEMs or the component suppliers.

And then there is Europe. Model year changes are already in the supply chain as evidenced by preparations for Eurobike, and the fact that top-tier component lead times, at least to U.S. brands, are still out to late 2022 and early 2023.

Keep in mind that continental Europe still has a more robust bicycle market than the U.S., with e-bikes at anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of individual country market share, well above the four percent e-bike share in the U.S. in 2021.

We are projecting the necessary order reductions from the brands will not begin until sometime in the fourth quarter of this year. The signal will be a reduction, and perhaps a dramatic reduction, in component lead times.

Meanwhile the sporadic order flow from Asia will continue into the fall as China struggles with its Zero Tolerance Policy, and the container lines shift backlogs and delays from China back to the U.S. at a time when the west coast dock workers labor agreement gets down to the brass tacks, including the possibility of labor slowdowns.

The recent opening of China’s ports means a wave of finished goods, including bicycles, to west coast ports, and already full to over-flowing brand warehouses this summer.

Inflation, consumer purchasing and spending. We are in a twilight zone that the U.S. economy has never seen before. Consumers are continuing to demand certain goods, even as they pivot back to spending on service, and inflation drives up the price of gas at the pump. So called “revenge” travel has increased airline bookings, and families are hitting the road despite the cost of gas, and import volume at U.S. ports remains high.

Table 1 is the New York Fed’s index of global supply chain pressure, and it gives a good sense of the bigger picture. It pulls together data on freight costs, backlogs and shipping delays, and strips out demand to determine how much inflation pressure is coming from supply constraints. I know this is a lot to take in, and you will have to trust me on this.

What Table 1 shows is that things are better than late last year, but we are far from any kind of normal stability in either the U.S. market or the supply chain. This is the story up and down the bicycle business supply chain: better but still bad.


It will be next year before discounting and terms will bring brand inventories down to reasonable and balanced levels, closer to four or fewer units (current models) in inventory for every unit sold at retail.    

However, to make this scenario possible, the bike shop channel is going to have to cooperate and launch and support promotions through the rest of 2022 and into 2023.

As an example, on June 13, 2022, BRAIN ran the following press release in its online edition, “The Bike Cooperative, SmartEtailing and NBDA unite to offer Retailers Summer Direct Mail Promotion.” The press release started with this statement, “Three major industry organizations have announced a collaborative campaign focused on supporting retailer summer marketing promotions and community outreach. The partnership is a first of its kind, and at the core shows the dedication of these organizations to support and strengthen the Independent Bicycle Retailer. The Summer Direct Mail Promotion will launch late June and not only offers retailers special savings on direct to home mailers, but free correlating web homepage graphics for all SmartEtailing retailers.”

This is the kind of promotion and cooperation the bike shop channel of trade needs to manage its way out of the challenge presented by the evolving supply chain situation created, in part, by the bullwhip effect and resulting JIC inventory management, and turn it into an opportunity.

I mentioned earlier that shoppers are now walking out of bike shops because of sticker shock at the prices that bike shops now have to charge because of the increased landed cost of goods. This began several months after bike shop foot traffic started to slow down during the later half of the fourth quarter of 2021.

We watched the slowdown and cooling of consumer demand for bicycles during the last quarter of 2021 and first half of 2022 carefully, and gathered as much data as we could, along with anecdotal reports from the field.

One reliable source of data is the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA). We have used NSGA data as a part of the NBDA U.S. Bicycle Market Overview Reports for over two decades because of consistent methodology and panel data.

The following Table 2 is taken from the NBDA U.S. Bicycle Market Overview Report (USBMO) 2021 that will be published and made available for sale in early July.

42.8 million Americans 7 years of age and older rode bicycles[1] 6 or more days during the year 2021. For those following the annual NBDA USBMO report this is a slight decrease of 200,000 or -0.47 percent in the number of bicycle riding participants as reported in 2021 compared to 2020, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2

What this also indicates is a slight decline in consumer demand in 2021 over 2020. 

42.8 million Americans 7 years of age or older rode bicycles that they purchased new or used, received as gifts, shared with others, found in a garage or attic, or rented through a bicycle ride-share during the second year of the pandemic.

In analyzing this slight decline and the intent for future purchase data from the NBDA Bicycle Buying 2021 Consumer Research Study, we concluded that consumer demand for bicycles would continue to ebb going forward into 2022, even as some other consumer goods would remain in demand through the year, driving the shipping volume from source countries like China, and keep the pressure on U.S. ports of entry and inland shipping to distribution centers, as shown in Table 1.

“I guess I better start doing promotions again!” In talking to bike shops, HPS partners have heard owners saying, “I guess I better start doing promotions again!” Yes, this is something bike shops did regularly pre-pandemic, but got out of the habit during the surge in demand in 2020 and 2021.

Dusting off the playbook on bike shop promotional events and activities now, and contacting suppliers and brands about promotions that the local shop can tie into is important, as is talking to the local Chambers of Commerce and Merchants Associations about local promotions (and do not forget to join).

In addition to promotions, contact other bike shops and sales reps about buying excess inventory from you, and find out which bike shops are willing to join in promotions and both buy and sell inventory going forward until the market and supply chain conditions become more stable and predictable.

Today there is a great deal of uncertainty about consumer demand and product delivery and availability. I have mentioned the NBDA several times because the association is a good and growing resource and safe harbor. The NBDA P2 Groups are well worth the investment to join a peer group to financially mentor a bike shop, and to provide research reports and timely webinars and podcasts on topics of immediate interest.

What the bicycle business is experiencing is unprecedented. It has never happened before, so there is no experience to help prepare for the future. The supply side is in the same boat, as are consultants and analysts. The past is of little or no help. We need to reach out and gather the available data, keep our eyes open, pay close attention, and be prepared to make adjustments in our businesses as market conditions and demand require.

Like Yogi said: “The future ain’t what it used to be!”

Questions? Comments? Contact Jay Townley: jay@humanpoweredsolutions.com



Editor’s note: with all the recent discussion about e-bike battery safety within the trade, another very important constituency that needs to be aware of potential issues is e-bike owners. Mike Fritz, chief technology officer with Human Powered Solutions, has created this “open letter” for retailers and others to use as a guideline for educating their customers about best practices related to e-bike battery and charging safety.


Congratulations on joining the Micromobility Revolution! You are about to discover the benefits of enhanced personal mobility while improving your physical fitness and rediscovering the joys of cycling.

E-bikes are simple yet sophisticated marvels of engineering. They are lightweight and powerful. Most importantly, they take advantage of a very important development in energy storage through chemical engineering, the lithium-ion battery.

Lithium-ion batteries enable the storage of sufficient energy and the delivery of sufficient power to make e-bikes practical and useful for any number of personal transportation missions. 

However, lithium-ion batteries, like any energy-dense storage medium, carry some risk associated with the uncontrolled release of the energy they carry. We are all aware of fires associated with products that utilize lithium-ion batteries for their energy storage needs. E-bikes are no exception.

While significant work is being done by scientists and engineers working in laboratories all over the world to eliminate the causes of these fires, certain actions on the part of users of products using these batteries can significantly diminish the likelihood of a fire, and mitigate the effects of such a fire in the unlikely event they experience a battery failure.

This document is intended to be a guide for consumers regarding the safe use, charging, maintenance, and storage of the lithium-ion batteries that power their e-bikes.

Please know that the chances of your e-bike battery failing in a catastrophic manner are miniscule, but the potential ramifications of such a failure are so significant that these relatively simple precautions are more than justified.


  • Only use the charger that was supplied with your e-bike. NEVER attempt to charge the battery pack with a different charger or power supply.
  • Do not open or otherwise tamper with your battery pack. There are no user serviceable parts inside the battery pack. Opening the pack will void the warranty and could cause a serious problem leading to a fire.
  • Charging the battery pack on the e-bike is preferred. However, if you charge the battery pack off the bike, place the pack on a non-flammable surface, like a concrete floor, away from flammable materials, before starting to charge it.
  • Charge the battery in an area with a working smoke detector.
  • If the battery pack overheats, or if you notice an odor, smoke, or odd noises coming from the battery pack, and if it is safe to do so, move the pack away from flammable materials, preferably outdoors, and call 911.
  • Monitor the battery and charger during the charging process. When the charger indicates that the battery is fully charged, unplug the charger from the wall outlet and disconnect it from the battery pack.
  • Do not leave the charger ON and connected to the battery pack indefinitely.
  • For extended periods of non-use, store your battery pack in a clean, dry environment away from flammable materials.
  • Store the battery pack at temperatures between 40℉ to 100℉ (4.5℃ to 38℃).
  • Battery packs are best stored at 50% capacity. Recharge the pack for 60 minutes every other month to prevent deep discharge.
  • If the battery is dropped or damaged, or immersed in water, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CHARGE IT. Store it in a safe place, preferably outdoors, until it can be taken to a shop to be inspected.
  • E-bike shops participating in the Call2Recycle recycling program are trained to identify damage that renders a battery pack potentially dangerous, and how to dispose of a battery in a dangerous condition.
  • When your battery pack reaches the end of its useful life and can no longer hold a sufficient charge, return it to your dealer for recycling.
  • Replace an end-of-life battery pack with a replacement pack provided by the original supplier of your e-bike.

Disclaimer:  You assume all responsibility and risk for the use of the safety resources available on or through these guidelines. Human Powered Solutions, LLC (HPS) does not assume any liability for the materials, information and opinions provided on, or available through these guidelines. No advice or information given by HPS shall create any warranty. Reliance on such advice, information or the content of these guidelines is solely at your own risk, including without limitation any safety guidelines, resources or precautions related to the development or installation of battery storage and charging stations, battery storage and battery charging protocols, or emergency procedures, or any other information related to safety that may be available on or through these guidelines. HPS disclaims any liability for injury, death or damages resulting from the use thereof.

Contact Mike Fritz: mikefritz@humanpoweredsolutions.com


This series of articles has covered issues of managing your business data, understanding how much data your business has, how passwords are created and protected, and how and where you back up your data. These articles have been leading to this: protecting your data from threats, natural, internal and external.

All the procedures and tips I have written about can help you protect your business data. However, there is no guarantee these procedures and tips will prevent a determined attack or natural disaster. The intent is should your business become victim of an attack or data breech, you will be able to recover as quickly as possible.

Previous articles mentioned, in passing, different kinds of data threats, internal and external. This time we’ll discuss a couple of different kinds of threats in more detail.


Hacking is gaining unauthorized access to data in a system or computer. Hacking is not always done for malicious purposes, but more and more references to hacking and hackers designate them as cybercriminals and what they do as illegal. They can be motivated by financial gain, protest, revenge, spying, or even just for the “fun” of the challenge.

Hackers may be individuals, part of a larger organized group, or possibly sponsored by a government. An earlier article concerning password protection said you should change all passwords when an employee leaves to protect your systems. The article on passwords suggested that even if an employee left on good terms, that doesn’t mean they will stay that way or that in the future the person may want to try and make some money off of a vulnerability.

Hackers may be looking for specific information, names, addresses and social security numbers of employees, names and credit card numbers of customers, bank account numbers and more. Hackers may be looking for information about your business that would provide a competitive advantage to another business. Hackers may simply make subtle changes within your systems or on your web site to prove they were there.

How do you protect against hacks? The password protection and protocol article was a good first start. Next, download a reliable malware detection product that can both detect and neutralize malicious software. Make sure your software is up-to-date, download and install any software updates, making sure those updates are from a trusted and safe source. You and your employees should avoid unsafe/unknown web sites and should never download unverified attachments or click links from unfamiliar e-mails.

While it may be embarrassing, any hack should be reported. You may think your being hacked is a singular event when it could be part of a larger attack. Reporting the hack will alert authorities to the threat. You should also alert your customers and suppliers so they can be looking for anomalies in transactions.

Regardless, any time you suspect a hack has occurred you should immediately change all your passwords.


Ransomware is malware that prevents or limits users from using their systems by locking or encrypting all data. Often the infecting malware will delete itself after locking up the data, and a ransom is demanded to restore and release the data.

Ransomware attacks are almost universally about extorting money from the victim. Recall in the article about backing up your business data where a comparison was made between your data and your physical inventory. If your business suffered a theft of a number of bicycles that may have an impact on your sales, but you probably have insurance that would mitigate the financial impact of the stolen inventory. The loss of data would have the same impact on your business, perhaps even more so, but likely there would be no insurance to ease the financial impact or cover the ransom payment.

Protection against ransomware attacks utilizes the same tactics as protecting against hacking. Unfortunately, cleaning up after a ransomware attack is much more complicated than a hack. Your data is either locked or encrypted. The quickest way back is to pay the ransom demanded.

On the other hand, depending on how long ago the ransomware attack was, and how often you are doing backups, you may be able to recreate your data set from a previous backup assuming that backup was not affected by the ransomware. (Remember the 1-2-3 rule. If you aren’t sure go back to the article on backups.)

As with a hack, a ransomware attack should be reported to the authorities. In fact, that may become a moot point as many ransomware attacks become known because a specific company probably has become paralyzed because their data is locked up.  

Should you pay the ransom? Most law enforcement agencies say no. A recent survey by CSO of businesses across different industries shows that 66 percent of the respondents say they would never pay a ransom. In a separate survey it was found that 65 percent of companies that suffered a ransomware attack paid the ransom.

Ransomware is a big business. In 2019 ransom payments were estimated to be $7 billion in paid ransoms and time/business lost. This represents a 15X increase over what was determined in 2017. Big ransoms and the large companies involved make the news, and those payments are sometimes in the millions of dollars. Today, the majority of large ransomware demands are in cryptocurrencies making tracing the money and who gets it more difficult.

On the other hand, most ransomware demands are against smaller companies in the range of $2,000 to $2,500 ransom.  The payment of a ransom is often determined by a cost-benefit analysis of the amount of the ransom versus the lost time and business, making these smaller amounts more palatable, and mostly explains the 65 percent payment number above. Still here is the part of the equation that usually gets overlooked. Once a cybercriminal finds out you’ll pay, they probably will be back.


Leakware is an offshoot of ransomware. This starts with a ransomware attack, with the attacker threatening to make public personal information from the data unless a ransom is paid. The exposure of confidential data often makes the targeted company nervous about possible liabilities and makes them susceptible to paying the ransom.

The protections and protocols mentioned above concerning hacking and ransomware apply to leakware as well.

The above threats come mostly from external sources. There are other dangers to your business data as well from internal and natural sources. I’ll address those in the next article in this series.

Regardless, the best defense for any of these threats is to not become a victim. The procedures and protocols that have been discussed in this series will help to preclude a successful attack. Your systems administrator should be taking proactive steps to protect your systems and data. Make sure you have that discussion with them. 

Questions? Comments? Contact Steve Bina: steve@humanpoweredsolutions.com


The above title is taken from a BRAIN article “Saris Cycling Group, a victim of the ‘Covid whiplash,’ restructures for sale” that appeared online June 29. According to this article, “…the company is the victim of the ‘Covid whiplash,’ which left it with excess inventory, especially of trainers, when the market dried up this spring.”

This last part is, to me, the most interesting. I started actively marketing and selling data and statistics to the American bicycle business in 1990, because it was one of the few things my non-compete with the Schwinn Bicycle Company, from which I had just resigned after 24 years and four months, allowed me to do and still stay in the bicycle business. I quickly found the American bicycle business is research averse.

From 1990 to the present, new younger owners and managers have expressed more interest in research and data, but overall the American bicycle business has still maintained its arms-length relationship with good quality consumer studies and findings, and relied more on the opinion of dealers, sales reps and “gut-feel.”

The bicycle business is not alone in this, and quite frankly, “gut-feel” has been more right than wrong, but also limiting for many companies and brands over the years. Good quality consumer research studies and reports, like those conducted and published by the Bicycle Market Research Institute, National Sporting Goods Association, National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) and Sports Market Surveys, have also been consistently correct and strategically predictive of the future, but the bicycle business was still reluctant to make the investment when they had good old “gut-feel” to fall back on, and were happy with all the money they saved.

As I said in another article this month, that was then, this is now. Good old “gut-feel” never got the vibe from the unprecedented shifts, changes and disruptions of the Covid-induced consumer market of the 2020-2021 period, and was of no help in moderating or mollifying the bullwhip effect we have talked about since the fourth quarter of 2020.

Simply stated, the bicycle business, like just about every other business in the U.S., tossed Just-In-Time (JIT) inventory management because they really didn’t have much choice at the time, and adopted Just-In-Case (JIC) inventory management that condoned hoarding and ordering as much as you could get as often as you could get it. This in turn encouraged and fostered the bullwhip effect.

Consumer demand was running red hot in 2020, and the one thing I argued about at the time, and still think should have been included in the industry conversation, was a careful study of the history of the data, the historical facts, which clearly showed 2020 was not another bike boom, and as such warranted the high-quality consumer research Sports Market Surveys subsequently conducted for the NBDA in 2021.

The conventional wisdom in 2020 and 2021 was that the unprecedented surge in bicycle sales was going to continue, or at least the bicycle business could assure its continuation through advocacy and lobbying, without regard for either what the NBDA consumer research indicated or the American consumer.

This leads to “Consumer spending growth slows in May, as higher prices weigh on the economy,” an article that appeared in The Washington Post June 30.

The huge unknown in the uncertainty of the last 30 months, over and above the pandemic, the supply chain disruptions, the war in the Ukraine and inflation, has been the American consumer!

The June 29 BRAIN article about Saris Cycling Group says, “…the market dried up this spring.” Consumer demand “dried up” and the company procured inventory like consumer demand was going to continue. The disconnect was between what the company thought or was told consumer demand was going to be, and what it actually was.

The June 30 Washington Post article reports: “Americans are still spending, but at a slower pace than a few months ago, a sign that the biggest part of the U.S. economy is beginning to moderate.”

The article goes on to state, “This year, the U.S. economy unexpectedly shrank in the first three months. On Wednesday, the BEA said the contraction was even deeper than expected. It revised down its gross domestic product reading by 0.1 percent to a 1.6 percent annualized rate after factoring in slower-than-expected growth in consumer spending in the first quarter.” In other words demand “dried up.”

The signs are there, and all the American bicycle business had to do was recognize them and discuss them. One last point from the June 30 article, “Consumer sentiment fell to its lowest level ever in June, according to a closely watched survey by the University of Michigan, with nearly half of Americans saying inflation has eroded their living standards.”

The reality, the suddenness and severity of the Saris Cycling Group financial situation, inventory vs. sales and the resulting sale of the company in the next 60 days is, unfortunately we believe, just the beginning.

Rather than go forward into the fog of total uncertainty, we advise bike shops, brands and suppliers to work with the NBDA and sponsor, purchase and use the consumer research that the dealer association has and will be conducting with Sports Market Surveys. There is no future in continuing to be research averse.

Contact Jay Townley: jay@jayhumanpoweredsolutions.com