How is the global trials bike market at the moment?

Covid-19 has really disrupted the global trials bike market. The demand has been bigger than the production capacity, and raw materials, transportation and in the end consumer products have increased in price and decreased in availability. We spoke to some of the leading brands in trials, to see how the current situation affects them.

First up, we spoke to Dave at Inspired Bicycles, the leading street trials brand. He gave us very valuable information.

How is the current situation regarding production, lead times, prices and availability?

In a word: challenging! Almost as soon as countries started going into lockdown in 2020, our dealers had a spike in demand, as did the whole of the cycling industry. This sudden increase in demand led to a lot of the bigger cycling brands placing big orders for stock with their factories and suppliers, meaning that almost overnight lead times for some products that would have been 30-40 days pre-pandemic suddenly become over 400 days. We generally plan 6-12 months in advance so we already had some bikes and parts scheduled, but lockdowns in Asia and shortages of materials meant that those dates were pushed back almost immediately.

We heard how long lead times were becoming so started planning even further ahead, but throughout 2020 and then 2021 the story has generally been production dates getting pushed back, and orders becoming more delayed. There are also some small spec changes to some of our bikes simply down to not being able to get parts from some of our partners in time to meet shipping schedules, but we’ve ensured that any spec changes will be to equivalent quality parts from other brands.

Even once goods are produced, getting them shipped has been difficult as there have been global shipping container shortages, delays at ports due to increased volume of containers and decreased port workforces due to coronavirus restrictions, the impacts of Brexit on customs checks and so on. This has meant that shipping times have increased, as have the costs – in some cases, getting a container shipped has been 500% more expensive.

Alongside shipping costs going up, the cost of materials and production have risen significantly, as have component prices from other brands that appear on our bikes. We’ve absorbed some of the overall cost increase, as have our dealers, but it isn’t sustainable to absorb them all so we have seen increases for the retail prices for some of our bikes and parts.  

The changes in arrival dates for our shipments has meant that our 2022 launches are staggered a little compared to previous years. We’ve just launched our 2022 Flow, Flow XP and Flow Plus  line of bikes, and hope to launch our 2022 Fourplay and Hex bikes later in November too. The 2022 Arcade will be following on early in spring next year, all being well.

As far as parts go, due to the limited quantities we have available most will be allocated to our complete bikes to help our dealers match demand. We’re keeping certain model-specific spares available to dealers to keep riders rolling, but other more general parts may be out of stock for a little while yet.

Do you have new bikes and products in the pipeline, and when do you expect to have them in stock?

We do have a couple of new parts arriving – the Inspired Pro Composite pedals that will be coming on our Pro spec and Flow XP bikes will be arriving with dealers later this year, with the Pro crankset hopefully following on in 2022.

As far as the future goes, we have some projects in the works that have been pushed back by the disruption we’ve experienced, but we’re excited to see how they turn out. In the meantime we’ve been continuing to refine our existing product range – they might not be the biggest, most obvious changes, but incremental updates help keep things fresh and performing at the highest level possible.

We’d just like to thank all of our dealers and customers for their patience throughout the past 18 months. It’s been a difficult time for everyone, and we appreciate them bearing with us. We don’t think we’re totally clear of the kinds of disruption we’ve been experiencing this year, but we’re hopeful that we’re beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Next up, we talked to one of the leading brands in competition trials, Clean Trials, and their manager Abel Mustieles.

How is the current situation regarding production, lead times, prices and availability?

For us, the last 18 months have been the longest period ever without bikes in stock. Even during the lockdown, we started to place orders to our factories. I think we have a good production plan, but even with that, it’s hard to control times and prices right now. I’m a control maniac, every single day I check all production schedules in case I miss something. A mistake now can cost us much. We worked a lot with new products and to prepare the HQ for the huge productions that are coming soon.

We will start to receive bikes now, starting from the S1, in a few days a huge carbon production and finally, the alloy production, which has been the slowest. Also due to the face that we just changed our factory before the lockdown.

Do you have new bikes and products in the pipeline, and when do you expect to have them in stock?

Yes, we have new products in the pipeline, we spent a lot of time on engineering during the last months. Some small and some big, but all details will be released later.

Editor in chief. I'm a pro trials rider and six times Norwegian champion. I've been riding for almost 20 years! I founded Bashguardian because I love this sport and I like writing. Simple as that!

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