Bike shops swamped with demand for repairs during COVID-19

Local bike shops say demand for repairs has gone through the roof in the last month, as people seek out new ways of exercising and getting around during COVID-19.

Ziggy's in Kitchener has 'every old, dusty bike' from K-W in for servicing, says Jamie MacDonald

Jamie MacDonald works at Ziggy's Cycle in Kitchener and says demand for repairs and kids' bikes has been high since the pandemic hit. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

Local bike shops say demand for repairs has gone through the roof in the last month as people seek out new ways of exercising and getting around during COVID-19.

Jamie MacDonald is a salesperson at Ziggy's Cycle and Sport in Kitchener. He says their phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from people who haven't ridden their bikes in years and need help getting them road-ready. 

"I think every old, dusty bike from the back of the shed in Kitchener-Waterloo is now in our basement," said MacDonald, who said kids' bikes have also been selling well. "It's great — people are riding their bikes more."

Andy Cox at King Street Cycles in Uptown Waterloo works on a bike. (Submitted by Andy Cox)

Lori Lackenbauer, co-owner of King Street Cycles in Uptown Waterloo, says she's heard from many parents who want to join their kids in a ride around the block.

Others, she said, have turned to cycling as an alternate form of exercise, now that spin studios and gyms have been shuttered.

"A lot of people that maybe would have been doing other things, gym time or just busy at the office, they may now find themselves looking for alternative exercise and have the time to get out and ride bikes," said Lackenbauer.

James Fedosov (left) of Speed River Bicycle says many bikes coming out of the basement can be fixed up with a bit of grease on the chain and air in the tires. (Submitted by James Fedosov)

But repairs and sales will take longer as stores bring in new safety protocols and do more business over the phone and online.

James Fedosov, who works at Speed River Bicycle in Guelph, says business got so busy around the end of March, they posted a notice on their website warning customers about an expected two-week wait for service.

"We actively tried to reduce demand, because we just were working way too hard," he said.

Fedosov said most people can usually handle a basic tune-up on their own by putting some lube on their bike chain and putting a little air in their tires.  

MacDonald said mountain biking and other daredevil activities are off the table for now, to avoid putting any additional strain on local hospitals. Still, he said he's happy to see more people take up the sport and is cautiously optimistic about a summer full of cycling.

"All of us are looking forward to the weather being warm and we can get on our bikes ourselves."

Mechanic Fernando Vasconcelos changes a tire in the basement repair shop at Ziggy's Cycle. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)


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