I had the pleasure of having lunch today with a group that included Fred Clements, the head of the National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA). On the walk over to the restaurant here in San Juan Capistrano, I was picking his brain for feedback on what he’s been hearing from his constituents about the price of gas and it’s effect on their businesses. He said that it’s been mostly positive with strong interest in hybrids and cruisers. Then he added that he’d heard a curious thing from one of the biggest bicycle parts distributors in the US: sales of 27″ tires are through the roof this year. That can only mean one thing, in my opinion: people are pulling their old 10-speed bikes from the 70′s and 80′s down from the rafters of their garages or out of their basements and trying to get them back into riding shape – 27″ being the dominant wheel size for those bikes.
It’s been a while since I worked in a shop, but I believe that the 27″ inch size is just a bit larger in diameter than the 700c that is the current road bike standard. I’m sure the quality of 27″ tires is much better now, but it seems like all the 27″ tires I remember replacing at the shop ages ago had sidewalls made of cheap gum rubber that had totally dry rotted.
Any bike retailers out there reading this seeing many older bikes that haven’t seen action for awhile coming in for rejuvenation treatments to become commuters?