What are your options when you can’t find the component you’re looking for?
With the disruption of the supply chain caused by Covid-19 and more and more people wanting to cycle for exercise and transportation, bicycles and many types of parts and accessories are currently scarce, including, for example, some types of Shimano disc brake pads.
Matt Page from off.road.cc told us he has been setting up stock alerts for Shimano L04C, L03A and K03S pads for months and is still waiting, which got us thinking about your options if you have trouble getting a particular part.
Shimano’s official UK distributor is Madison whose website is www.freewheel.co.uk. L04C disc brake pads – sintered metal, alloy with cooling fins – are out of stock there. The same goes for L03A, K03S, KO4S, J03A and a bunch of other Shimano pads.
When will Britain’s bicycle shortage end?
We did a quick check on KO4S pads, for example, and found them out of stock from Chain Reaction Cycles, Wiggle, All Terrain Cycles, Merlin, Leisure Lakes, The Bike Factory, Bikester, SJS Cyclesâ¦ you can’t get them. find nowhere, but they are certainly thin on the ground.
Madison told us, âGlobal demand has increased dramatically after the pandemic. Shimano has increased production capacity on all lines, but market demand is still very high today. We expect availability on some lines to be limited over the next 6-9 months. General availability is currently an industry wide issue, affecting almost all categories with extended delivery times and in some cases limited production capacity.
Another distributor who did not want to be named told us: âA sudden influx of new riders, as well as riders who have adopted new technology in recent months, has drained parts of the aftermarket, and l The bicycle industry as a whole is struggling to meet demand.
Ben Hillsdon of Shimano said: âThe situation is the result of several factors, including a huge increase in demand for cycling components, coupled with conditions related to the pandemic.
âIn the past 12 months our production has exceeded that of previous periods and this year we are on track for a 50% increase in production over our capacity in 2019. On top of that we have also announced that a new $ 179 million facility that will open in Singapore at the end of 2022.
âFuture demand remains difficult to predict. It depends on the Covid-19 situation, but also on government initiatives, on how it affects the production of raw materials up the chain and whether this very positive cycling trend will continue in the long term. Overall, we believe in the future growth of the bicycle market and we are preparing our factories for it. “
Still, while we don’t want to trigger panic buying, Matt’s difficulty getting the brake pads he wants could be the shape of things to come in some industries. It’s fine when it comes to luxury items – you’ll survive just fine without the anodized tubeless valves you crave – but you can’t do without things like brake pads. What can you do if the part you want is out of stock?
Unfortunately, we can’t come up with a magic bullet, so a lot of it is going to be common sense. First, you can often replace a part from another group. If you can’t get the Shimano disc brake rotor you’re looking for, for example, you can use one from another series – road bike or mountain bike – as long as you make sure you have the right size and fit. correct type of fixing (Centerlock or 6 bolts).
If you’re using a Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 11-speed groupset, you can replace it with a Shimano 105 11-speed cassette or chain (or other 105 component), for example. Check compatibility if you’re not sure – you’ll usually find the information you need on the relevant brand’s website – but you don’t necessarily need all of your components to come from the same group.
Shimano’s specifications and technical documents can be helpful here. Its compatibility charts can be very useful.
You can also change brands, of course. Shimano’s official line is: âTo ensure the system continues to perform to its original standard, only genuine Shimano parts should be used when replacing worn ones. “
Some of Shimano’s parts are the best, and we know some of you want everything to match, but most people realize that you don’t need to use Shimano disc brake pads. with Shimano calipers, for example, no more than what you need to buy a Specialized tube when the one on your new Allez Elite finally dies.
While many Shimano disc brake pads are currently scarce, there are plenty of other brands to fill the void.
âI have used UK manufacturers EBC and the stock is good, although I wouldn’t say the performance is as good as with Shimano pads,â says Matt.
Again, check for compatibility ahead of time as not everything that looks the same will necessarily work. EBC, for example, lists the brakes each pad is compatible with. SwissStop offers a menu where you simply select the type of riding you are doing, the brand you are looking for compatibility with and the compound you are looking for. Easy.
Shimano and SRAM 11-speed chains are also compatible, for example. Manufacturers will always tell you to match your components for optimum performance, but they would say that, right?
Speaking of the speaker – as we were a minute ago – you can be flexible here as well. You might have always gone for resin stamps in the past, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with them forever.
Obviously, you can use other materials elsewhere as well. If you can’t get an FSA K-Force Compact Carbon handlebar in the width you’re looking for, you can go for an aluminum option, even if it’s just a temporary measure.
Sourcing components from Europe has become more complicated because of Brexit, but it’s often possible if you get stuck … remember you will likely be stung for import duties. Oh, and a few European brands and distributors will no longer ship to UK since Brexit, so you have to go through the official UK channel.
Beware of fakes if you use new sources. Shimano recently alerted us that this website is not legitimate, for example, and we recently reported other scam sites.
The Trek GB website has a page dedicated to helping you avoid bogus websites.
It’s not just bogus websites that can catch you. There is an industry operating mainly in China selling counterfeit cycling components, clothing and even complete bikes, and they are often difficult to spot.
Bicycle suppliers cannot meet current demand – they can sell pretty much anything they can get at full retail price without any problems – so the chances of a bike or component being offered legitimately at a discount. significant are thin. In other words, if a website is promising good business right now, double check that everything is as it seems before you part with your money. Find and call a phone number, and / or call the relevant UK distributor to verify credentials.
One final tip – and probably the best advice here – is to go to your local bike shop and see what they suggest. Even if you usually do your own maintenance, the staff at the bike shop may have ideas, or even a hidden room, that will work for you.