Canadian Bicycle Retailers See Boost Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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The Reckless Bike Stores in the Vancouver area have seen an uptick in demand amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak as more people are looking at using bicycles as their chosen mode of transportation.

Paul Dragan, the self-described “Big Wheel” at Reckless, said the trend is taking place for two reasons – people are afraid of catching the coronavirus so they are avoiding public transit and others look at it as a cost-saving device in these challenging economic times.

“We’re busy in Vancouver with repairs and lower-end bike sales,” he said. “Repairs are obvious in the sense that ‘I don’t want to ride the bus’ or ‘this is the only exercise I’m going to get for a while. I better get my bike working’.

“We’re as busy as we would normally be because of that. We’re selling used bikes and entry-level bikes. So anything under about $800. We’re selling an inexpensive transportation option. Then we’re selling entry level bikes, new ones, between $500 and $800. That seems to be the shopper.”


Also, window shoppers who were intending to come into the shop this Spring to look for a bike this year may have a new sense of urgency not knowing what the supply of bikes will look like in the coming weeks.

“You may want to think about getting one because we could be shut down any day as well,” said Dragan.

“We think we tick about three boxes here. Number one is safer transportation. Number two is some physical exercise. And number three is some mental relief - some mental health. I need to get out of my condo and I’m not calling my buddies but I can at least go for a bike ride on my own and if I need to stay away from more popular places I have a bike to take me there.”

The company’s suppliers are open right now in shipping. Two of them are based in Montreal and one is based in Vancouver.

“They’re all working behind the scenes to see if they can make a bike shop designated as an essential service. Something like a car repair place. So car dealers may not be open but car repair guys seem to be moving in that direction,” he said.

“Whatever tourist business we had is now gone. We would rent a pair of bikes or four bikes to people visiting well that’s all dried up.”

The first store opened in 1986 as Reckless Rider Cyclery in Kitsilano and the company, which was renamed to Reckless Bike Stores, today has four locations.

Dragan created the house brand RekTek to manufacture in-house bicycles in 1987. The name of the retailer changed to Reckless Bike Stores in 1993.


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A post shared by 𝙍𝙚𝙘𝙠𝙡𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝘽𝙞𝙠𝙚 𝙎𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙚𝙨 (@reckless_bike_stores) on

Dragan opened a seasonal store on the North Shore in 1998 and expanded to Yaletown in 2000 and into Victoria in 2002 with two stores. But the company closed its Victoria operations in 2010.

A Reckless Electric store opened in downtown Vancouver in 2014 and last fall Reckless Shipyards opened in Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver.

Dragan said the demographic of the average customer is in the plus 40-year-old age bracket.

“We’re telling people you better fix your bike today, you better come back and get it today because we don’t know if we’ll be here tomorrow to get it to you. We don’t allow people in our store. We have a number of hand pumps that we’ve put on the sidewalk so people can come up and use them themselves. I would say half our traffic is people dusting off a bike out of wherever and it needs air. We’ve always offered free or no charge air and it’s something we promoted heavily for years, and years and years.

“Now we’re doing that on the sidewalk. We’re leaving a can of oil and a rag there so people can self-serve on their own at no charge. We just want to help you go through this a little better.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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