The bike is back as people pedal through the pandemic

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The bike is back as people pedal through the pandemic

People ride bikes in Dalseong County, Daegu, on July. 26. [YONHAP]

People ride bikes in Dalseong County, Daegu, on July. 26. [YONHAP]

The bicycle is making a comeback as the Covid-19 pandemic leaves other modes of transportation, including the subway and the bus, as relatively risky options. A boom has resulted, halting at least temporarily the long decline of the two-century-old technology.
 
“Although people wear masks in the subway, there are too many people in the cars especially during rush hour,” a recent bike purchaser said. “I’ve been riding a bike to work since a month ago. It makes me feel really good, as it is safe from the coronavirus, as well as a good way of exercising every morning and evening.”
 
According to a report by the Hana Institute of Finance, sales of bikes in the first quarter jumped 45 percent on year.
 
Bikes have also been a good alternative to people who still want to exercise while adhering to social distancing guidelines.  
 
A 42-year-old woman recently purchased a bike for her elementary school-aged child. She said she is worried about the effects of staying home for so many months due to the pandemic.
 
“While staying only at home and not exercising, my child has gained a lot of weight,” Kim said. “With emergency relief grant money, I bought a bike for my child. My family is having a bike picnic every weekend.”  
 
Samchuly Bicycle, one of the largest bike manufacturers in Korea, announced Wednesday 77 billion won ($64.8 million) in first-half revenue, a 35 percent increase on year. The company posted 10.6 billion won in operating profits in the first half, a 507 percent increase on year and a four-year high.
 
 
A customer looks at a bike at Emart in Seoul. [EMART]

A customer looks at a bike at Emart in Seoul. [EMART]

“Sales of bikes have been soaring,” a spokesperson for Samchuly Bicycle said.  
 
The use of bikes for food delivery is also driving demand, as more people are ordering in due to the pandemic.
 
Demand has been so strong that bikes have been in short supply since March. Even old stock has been moving fast. The shortages were exacerbated by the shutting of factories in China.
 
The rise of electric bikes and scooters has not helped.
 
Shares of Kosdaq-listed Samchuly Bicycle lost 85 percent of their value from a recent peak in 2016 to early 2020. They have since more than doubled in value as the pandemic led to a mini renaissance in bicycling.  
 
Since mid-August, Emart has been selling Samchuly Bicycle’s bikes in its 50 branches across the country.  
 
“Bikes, out of public eye for the past four years, are gaining popularity,” said a spokesman for Emart.
 
BY KWAK JAE-MIN, CHEA SARAH   [chea.sarah@joongang.co.kr]  

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