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China trade war hits Bradley bike shop

September 27, 2018

A Bradley bicycle shop is bracing to raise its prices because of an ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.

Bicycles and bicycle parts are among several of the $200 billion worth of items the U.S. began tariffing against China on Monday. The tariffs started at 10 percent on Monday and will rise to 25 percent on Jan. 1, 2019.

The U.S. now is charging a 10 percent tariff on regular bicycles and bicycle parts, as well as a 25 percent tariff on electronic bicycles from China.

Tern of the Wheel, located at 404 W. Broadway St., Bradley, already received a notice from Trek on Monday to raise the prices on the company’s bicycles. Trek is one of the leading makers of bicycles and cycling parts.

“I’ve been doing this for 32 years, and this may end up hurting my shop more than ever before,” Tern of the Wheel owner Steve Linneman said. “This is something that goes on all the time — tariffs and negotiations — but this is ridiculous.”

Linneman said a substantial amount of his shop’s inventory comes from China. That supply is common among bicycle shops throughout the United States.

In its 2015 industry summary, the National Bicycle Dealers Association reported more than 99 percent or 17.8 million bicycles were imported to the U.S. with most of them coming from China or Taiwan.

Statista estimated that 66 percent of the bicycles sold in the U.S. in 2016 were imported from China. Taiwan accounted for another 27.5 percent, according to the estimate.

With that in mind, Linneman sees no choice but to raise prices on bicycles and bicycle repairs.

“You have to raise prices. There’s no other way around it,” he said. “You’re losing the bang for your buck. But we are not isolated. It’s going to hurt everybody. Motorcycles and car shops are going to feel it, too.”

That price increase poses a challenge for a specialty bicycle shop such as Tern of the Wheel. The shop sells bicycles ranging from $350 to as high as $16,000. The shop also ventured into the e-bicycle market a few years ago due to customer interest.

“It’s never great to see prices go up, especially in a bike shop,” said Linneman’s son, Marty Linneman, who manages sales and repairs. “When people walk in here, they are used to seeing $150 bikes from a department store.

“We can get them in here and explain how these bikes are different, but this is going to make it harder. People are sticker-shocked to begin with. Now, it’s only going to get worse. I never thought there would be a direct tariff on bicycles like this.”

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