Like the new Black Sheep Trail in Pulpit Rock Park, mountain bike sales can be a bumpy ride. Coming out of banner sales during the pandemic years, bike shops are finding their footing as they head into a new season.
The wet weather has already dampened the start for spring sales, but local businesses anticipate an increase in upcoming weeks, with the arrival of sunshine, tourists and more mountain bike trails.
Since November 2022, the mountain bike community has been working hard to get more trails in city limits. The new downhill Black Sheep Trail that traces Pulpit Rock in Austin Bluffs Open Space has been a success for riders so far. And according to Colorado Springs Mountain Bike Association, more projects are underway.
“There’s been a massive increase in the public’s desire to get involved with master planning, so we’re doing that right now with Blodgett Open Space, and then we’ll do that a little bit later with the new open space, which was just purchased, called Fishers Canyon,” says Keith Thompson, volunteer executive director of COSMBA.
There’s been a massive increase in the public’s desire to get involved with master planning.
— Keith Thompson
“Being able to organize a group that was able to build this really gives this hope that Black Sheep is just the start,” Thompson says. “What’s going to come out of this is a lot more of the trails that allow us to ride at the level that not only we want to ride but that pushes those skills to the next level. So that’s the excitement for the majority of the homegrown mountain bike community,” he says.
“There’s a lot of buzz going on in the mountain bike community in terms of the trails that are being built,” says Nic Ponsor owner of Criterium Bicycles on Corporate Drive. “Especially I’d say since 2020, when everyone was outdoors doing whatever they could to keep their sanity, I think we all noticed how crowded a lot of the our favorite trails got.”
But that excitement doesn’t necessarily translate into bike sales. In fact, the weather so far this year seems to have had more of an effect.
“This spring in particular has been a little hard to gauge because the weather has not been super cooperative yet. It’s either cold or rainy or snowing, or something in between,” says Ponsor.
Todd Hood, owner of Bicycle Experience on South Tejon Street, agrees the weather is a real factor in sales.
“I don’t feel like any really any trails affect bike buying,” he says. “I feel like it’s weather and economy based, really.”
During the COVID pandemic, local outdoor recreation sales were high. With gyms closing and the need for social distancing, many people turned to road
cycling and mountain biking.
“During COVID, we saw a huge uptick in sales,” says manager Abraham Schubarth of the Colorado Springs Bike Shop on West Colorado Avenue. “It’s going to be interesting to see if that trend continues, if those new bike buyers are going to continue to ride,” he says.
“We hit a wall last year coming out of COVID, and sales were down, and we’re following it up with another bad economy sales start,” Hood says. “I think buying is down from the more in-depth hobbyist, and we’re still seeing people coming in buying the affordable bikes, so it seems like an industry trend, like expensive bikes are definitely slower to sell this year.”
As the season unfolds, however, business owners are hopeful that sales increase alongside the population. More people inevitably means more riders.
“In this city, we get a disproportionately high percentage of the populace that are cyclists or mountain bikers, road cyclists, whatnot, because it’s a nice place to live,” Posnor says, “and people are starting to flock to any place where it’s a nice place for recreational opportunities.”
It’s good practice to work with bike experts to find the right equipment, since safety is always an issue. And local bike shops are ready to help any level or type of rider, and work to carry inventory that local riders need. “Bike park season is coming up,,” Hood says, “so this is always when we start getting a lot busier. Shoppers who are gravity-focused come and see us for helmets and apparel.”
Local shops, too, offer continued support and maintenance for riders. “Consumers, I think, are savvy and realize the value in the back-end support that the shop supplies,” Posnor says. “I actually find that there’s a lot of people who crave the experience. I think they want people who they can ask questions of and figure things out with.”
“A lot of people, say with a mountain bike, want to be able to feel it and touch it,” Schubarth says. “Especially first-time buyers want to try something out before they even get into it.”