Bicycle Part Shortages Predicted To Persist Through '21:
|A Maersk container ship. Image courtesy of Maersk.|
Multiple industry sources are predicting bicycle and bicycle parts shortages throughout 2021. This means that what you currently are seeing at bicycle shops isn't going to get better, and in fact, it may get worse. Multiple reasons are given, but one of the major problems is due to the bottlenecks in shipping.
Many of you may not realize this, but 90% or more of what you use for cycling comes to you via a ship. Usually this is a "container ship" like the one shown here. Containers are filled, (which can be an issue for smaller companies because partially filled containers don't get shipped), these are then loaded onto a container ship which doesn't leave dock until it is full, then it sails across the seas, (can take up to two months), and then it must get unloaded, the containers are inspected by customs, released, trucked to warehouses, and finally goods are shipped to regional warehouses, and then to distributors, and finally (!!) to bike shops or online vendors.
What has happened is that pandemic protocols are affecting labor and thus disrupting the system. Furthermore, as we know, demand has doubled or more. This has caused a lot of pressure on shipping lanes. Not just in bicycles, mind you, but with everything. The sudden increases are at such a high level that I have been told that over 100 container ships are sitting outside of Los Angeles harbor waiting their turn to get unloaded right at this very minute, and it has been that way for months. Added to that are docks in the Far East with stacks of containers waiting for a ship to return, and in some cases, factories have no containers at all!
What does this all mean for us? Well, for one thing, you should baby that drive train, milking it for all it is worth because cassettes and chains, not to mention chain rings, will be hard to get in 2021. Tires will be hard to get as well. Oh, and expect prices to climb a LOT higher as demand outstrips supplies.
I expect that as a COVID-19 vaccine gets distributed amongst the population, that many will feel the need to do events, and these events will increase demand on parts even further due to high wear and tear, or people just thinking they need to have brand new everything before an event. I'm telling you right now- that's a pipe dream next year.
And new bikes? Ha! I've heard from several dealers that they have had to pre-order 2021 inventory and if they really get it, (not guaranteed), that will be your choice. Many are pre-selling orders they have placed and I expect shop floors will be pretty sparse, if not empty, most of next year. Oh, and don't expect to get a deal either. High demand = full boat pricing. Got a used rig? Next year is the year to ditch it. Just don't expect to be able to get a replacement. Gravel Worlds Updates Website- Offers New Category:
Last weekend the Pirate Cycling League unveiled a new website update for their Gravel Worlds event. They also have announced a new, ultra-distance event category called "The Long Voyage", a self-supported, 300 mile distance which should be completed within 30 hours. (Sound familiar?)
Besides this, the site has added a history page telling the back story of the Gravel Worlds event. I've shared with you readers much of this backstory here in the past, so you may already know this. If you don't know the background on Gravel Worlds, you should check this out. It's important because, really- Gravel Worlds is one of the last of the first. Let me explain.....
Back in 2005 Trans Iowa started. and we hosted a few folks from the Lincoln area who were already riding gravel, but this whole idea of putting an event on gravel was new. They got inspired by Trans Iowa and further by the DK200 in 2006 and in 2008 they put on "The Good Life Gravel Adventure" and started their own history. Many other events came about in those early days that were 'big deals', the most notable being the Almanzo 100 in 2007. However; of all the 'biggies', not many are around yet today. Barry-Roubaix and Gravel Worlds are the biggest ones left from those earliest days of Gravel.
So, I love that Gravel Worlds has embraced this history now. They deserve to be successful and the event has evolved to be inclusive of all abilities possible and yet it still retains much of the flavor of the early gravel events. So, if you are one of those folks that thinks gravel events are all commercialized and have lost their grassroots feel, then Gravel Worlds is for you.
And don't listen to any of the current nonsense that claims that gravel riding/racing is "something new within the last several years". Or you could just interpret any messaging of that sort to mean, "We've never really looked into the history of modern gravel events, so we are just spouting off to make ourselves look like we know what we're talking about". Because......obviously- they have no clue if that's what they are saying. Whatever.... Go check out Gravel Worlds! It's The Real Deal. (And Gravel Worlds should use that tag-line)
"Have You Seen This...?":
N.Y. Roll texted me last weekend to ask if I had seen a brand of gravel bike called "Ventom" . I replied, "No". He sends a link. I checked it out later.
Hmm......Where have I seen that before?, I thought to myself. Because this whole frame and fork doesn't look all that unique or different to my eyes. And in fact, it isn't very unique at all.
The Viathon from Walmart is very similar, so is the Rondo Ruut, the Ibis Hakka MX, Santa Cruz's Stigmata, and a whole host of carbon fiber niche branded bikes. Geometry is nearly identical across all of these, suggesting that (a) there is a LOT of copy-catting going on and (b) perhaps many of these frames are being chosen by these brands from a catalog at a Far East factory.
Interestingly, the Ventum direct-to-consumer model bases its appeal in coming from the triathlon market and has testimonials from some former Pro road racers and a well known cycling media/DK200 racer. So, once again, just as with the former/current road race bike sales model, we are basing our opinions of 'worth' on racing? (Which is okay if you are are racing) I don't know that most gravel bicycle riders are racing, or that they should be racing. Maybe having fun is better than racing? Maybe....
Look, this is a great bike, (maybe) if you want to own a mean, nasty, flat out race machine, which, you know, is good at one thing. But this model strikes me as not a bike for the masses, not a very original design, and it is hard to see the value in their $2,000.00+ asking price for the frame/fork when, as an example, the aforementioned Viathon frame/fork is sub-$700.00 on sale now. Even at full-boat pricing the Viathon is about a grand less. And ithe Viathon was an 'okay' bike, again, if you wanted a racy rig. Now, the Ventum GS1 may very well be a better value, but it is very difficult to see it if so due to the vast similarities across so many other frames/forks like it.
In my opinion, these bikes like the Ventum are not displaying a big enough difference from other very similar looking frames/forks and with no face-to-face support after the sale, it would seem like a less than a good way to make it in the crowded market of gravel bikes. But then again, it is a seller's market now. This is also indicative of what the industry is doing to an excellent idea again- That is, the industry is homogenizing an aspect of cycling around racing.
This is another subject for another day, and I aim to get to it, but suffice it to say that for now, this entry into the gravel bike market is not what it should be all about for cyclists of all types who would benefit more from an all-around type road bike that I have been banging on about here for over a decade.
The "G-Ted Logo" Shirt Review:
|Despite the model, the shirt looks pretty good here!|
A couple weeks ago I announced on here that I had "G-Ted Logo" merch available via Redbubble on a page benefiting my daughter. I mentioned that each sale would have a portion of the money going to her. I receive no compensation whatsoever from this. So, this does not benefit me in the least, unless you get one of these and wear it and get someone new to read the blog. Okay? There is that.....
Anyway, I said I was getting a shirt, paid for with my own money, by the way, and that I would give y'all a bit of a review of it. Well, I've had it for over a week now and I must say, it is impressive. As impressive as a t-shirt can be, which is to say, nothing all that spectacular.
I mean, let's face it, a t-shirt either does its job or it does not. This one does, and it better! I bought the "Premium" t-shirt model and it came out to around $34.00 with shipping and whatever else they nail you for on Redbubble. So, yeah, a very expensive t-shirt. But it shows. It's got some flat-lock stitching, the fabric is smooth and supple, and it fits very well. I got an XL sized one and I would say the fit was on the slightly generous side. Which means it is very comfortable to wear.
The graphic is done in a very thick, almost rubbery feeling print and went through the wash and drier cycle with zero effects upon it. The graphic is pretty bold and BIG, but that's how I designed it. Oh, and as you all know, this is the graphic I have used over the years here quite a bit on the blog, so most of you probably recognize it, but there is a short story behind it, and it goes back to my job in the 80's.
I was a jewelry designer, and during certain times I also would be tasked to do art for the shop, advertisements, art for our shop logos, proposed logos for spin-off companies, and even logos for other businesses. Locals may remember the "North Bank Restaurant" or the Waterloo Greyhound Park, well I helped design those logos for those businesses. (Long gone, but maybe someone out there recalls those)
Anywho..... I was asked to come up with ideas for a spin-off company my boss at the time was going to launch and I did a ton of sketches, some which were basically goofing off, sort of exercises in getting ideas. So, during this I came up with a cube with a skull on it that had smoke coming out of the skull's orifices. That eventually morphed into the cube idea without the skull, and with the addition of the "G-Ted" logo, I was kind of going for that 'microphone ID box thingie deal that you see on reporter's microphones on T.V. Well, this was all sketched up and then I think Jeff Kerkove eventually saw it, digitized it, cleaned it up for me, and there ya go!
That's the tale in brief. Now you know! If you are so inclined to want your own t-shirt, hoodie, stickers, or a pin with this "G-Ted" logo, go to the Redbubble page for this merch HERE.
And that's a wrap! Have a safe, awesome weekend! Thanks for reading!