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Folks are pedaling bikes more during the Covid-19 shutdown, but the Bike Coop, a long-time CNM neighbor, is peddling very few bikes according to Coop owner Greg Overman.
The Coop, at 120 Yale Boulevard, is selling few bikes these days, because there are hardly any bikes to be had, Overman related in a recent interview at his store.
Instead bikers are digging old bikes out of their attics and basements to be fixed, which means Overman, 67, and his staff are extremely busy.
“We’re three weeks behind,” said Overton, as he looked over his shop crammed with hundreds of used bikes.
Past riders are embracing biking anew because they don’t like being cooped up inside with the Covid restrictions in place, and they are reluctant to take mass transit, according to Overman.
“Biking has built in social distancing,” noted Overton, adding that biking is generally a good thing anyway. “It keeps you younger, and healthier, and it is the best shrink you’ll ever see.”
Overton said he usually rides a minimum of four miles each day, by just going to and from work, on his custom-built Dave Salinas frame bike.
Salinas is a local frame builder who used to work at the Bike Coop, Overman said.
Greg Overman in his office at the Bike Coop.
Overman bought the Bike Coop in 1998, after working at the store for six years at its original location on Central where it had started out as the Bike Cooperative in 1977.
Overman said that moving the Bike Coop to its present location on Yale Boulevard in 2012 brought in “a lot more student customers, both from CNM and UNM, but that when school is out the student business declines noticeably,” which has been true during the Covid shutdowns.
Bike sales are sensitive to national economic trends, according to Overman.
Basic new bikes are hard to get because of the Covid lockdown and the tariff wars with China, Overman said.
Supply lines have been disrupted so that the basic 300-to-500 dollar bike is non-existent, said Overman, adding that high-end bikes “over a thousand dollars” are still obtainable.
The Bike Coop usually does a brisk business in consignment bikes, but those sold out early in the Covid challenge, said Overman.
The bike Coop is swamped with bike to repair because of a Covid Crunch.
Overman compared the shortage of bikes to sell to “a coffee shop not having any coffee to sell.”
That still leaves repairs, but repairs are not particularly lucrative, especially when they involve changing out a tube for a flat tire, according to Overman.
“That’a just 25 dollars per wheel,” noted Overman.
Overman said that non-availability of parts can be a problem with repairs as well.
“Rubber is in short supply,” he said.
All in all, Overman said he would rather be selling bikes than fixing them, but he still enjoys what he does.
Overman said he is making no predictions as to how long the period of intense repairs and low sales will last because there are too many variables. But he thinks the Covid experience may portend well for biking over the long haul, with bikers rediscovering the sport’s benefits.
“Sometimes people lose their driver’s license with a DUI, so they take up biking,” said Overman. “And sometimes they keep biking after they get their license back, because they notice the health benefits and the money they save.”