COVID-19 and the pandemic accelerated the changes in our world over the last 31 months. Getting back to “normal” is no longer possible. Going forward there are some things that COVID broke that can possibly be fixed, but others are either changed, or gone forever.
President Biden has declared the pandemic over for America, but as those of us in the bicycle business know, we are still caught up in a COVID economy and supply chain that begins in a China periodically strangled by an ongoing zero tolerance policy that locks down millions of workers, and disrupting thousands of factories and supply chains for weeks at a time.
In this new global economy, the bicycle business has quickly adapted to increasing costs and inflation, but now must cope with decreasing and shifting consumer demand and preferences and a glut of inventory.
Yogi Berra’s quote (whether he actually said it or not) is very relevant in that the bicycle business is giving off every indication right now that it really doesn’t know where it is going, other than headed for an apparent shakeout.
Starting with the supply chain that is still messed up, the business is doing nothing to sort out the misleading lead times that are currently being quoted and communicated to both retailers and consumers.
At this writing, we are at the end of September and about to begin the fourth and final quarter of 2022. The “official” lead times are still out into late 2023 and early 2024, with some new componentry pushed to early 2025. We submit that this, at best, is simply not correct, and is detrimental to fixing that which can be fixed in the supply chain.
Recent visitors from America to the recent Taichung Bike Week tell us that they have observed what appears to be “hoarding” of componentry on the part of Taiwanese OEMs.
We also have first-hand reports indicating that while “official” lead times are still out months, if you come to an OEM with a legitimate LC-backed firm order, they can shorten and improve delivery lead times substantially.
We know of a brand that needed several hundred of a component to service a recall, and the supplier was able to guarantee shipment from Asia in about two weeks.
The point is the bicycle business is doing nothing to communicate the truth about lead times to the trade or consumers. Doing so would assist most brands, suppliers and retailers in fact-based business planning, replenishment and merchandising.
Contact Jay Townley: firstname.lastname@example.org