BICYCLE shops have seen a huge increase in demand since the Covid crisis began – but the surge has left them struggling to get fresh stock.

The boom has left some retailers unwilling to promise customers that youngsters can get a bike for Christmas.

Independent shops have seen a similar surge to that reported by the chain Halfords, which increased its profit forecast after people chose “staycations” and bicycling over foreign holidays.

Martin Ross, bicycle mechanic at Forge Cycleworks in Ringwood, said: “We had a massive surge in a huge range of bikes. I’ve been working in the bike industry since I left school. I’m 47 and I’ve never seen anything like it. It went absolutely bonkers.

“We couldn’t build brand new bikes fast enough. We could sell anything in the shop as soon as we put it out.”

But he said the whole world had run into a supply problem, with factories struggling to keep up with the demand for bikes and spares.

“It’s quite stressful. It was brilliant because we were thinking ‘We’ve made our money for the year’ but we’ve been turning people away.”

The shop has bikes on order and they are arriving in small batches. Customers can place orders or match their needs to a bike already ordered.

It has also seen a surge in demand for repairs to bicycles, but a shortage of parts has lengthened waiting times.

“You have to do a lot of repair work to do the same money as selling bikes,” he added.

Andy Storey, who owns Prendas Ciclismo, a Poole-based retailer of cycle clothing, saw turnover up 16 per cent in the third quarter of the financial year compared with 2019, with web visits up 15 per cent and new customers up eight per cent.

“As a life-long cyclist, it was truly wonderful to see so many people enjoy re-discover the joys of riding a bike during the lockdown, and our sales certainly improved during the first eight weeks of lockdown after a significant downturn after the TV address from the PM,” he said.

“Our customer base tends to be the more experienced cyclists, so I suspect the upsurge was simply people had more time to ride their bikes with little else to do.”

Halfords, the national seller of bicycles and car parts, had feared a £10million half-year loss, but later predicted a £35-40m profit and then revised its predicted profit to £55m.