• Double O Bikes stickhandles booming demand during supply chain challenges

    Double O Bikes stickhandles booming demand during supply chain challenges

    Double O Bikes stickhandles booming demand during supply chain challenges

    Demand for bicycles has been accelerating in recent years and for Double O Bikes & Sports in Osoyoos it’s been both a blessing and a challenge.

    Already, the town’s growth and the popularity of e-bikes was contributing to this demand. Then the Covid pandemic led many people to cancel vacations and use their spendable income for local outdoor sports, says Brandon Mcleod, store manager.

    “We’ve been very lucky to grow through the pandemic, and not everybody has had the same success we have,” says Mcleod. “We’re grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to grow and stick around and still be beneficial to the community.”

    The community benefit he points to in part reflects Double O’s status as a “social enterprise” owned by the Southern Okanagan Association for Integrated Community Living (SOAICL), which helps local residents with special needs.

    “It’s a for-profit business owned by a not-for-profit organization,” explains Mcleod. “At the end of the season after all the overhead and everything are paid out, all the remaining proceeds go towards the SOAICL and its efforts to help people with special needs… The more profitable the bike shop becomes, the more people we can assist through SOAICL.”

    But the Covid pandemic has also led to challenges beyond the need to maintain health protocols in the store. It’s also disrupted international supply chains, especially with products from overseas delayed as container ships get backed up in ports.

    “There’s been a high demand for bikes and low availability, so that kind of scarcity has increased people’s desire to buy now rather than sit and wait,” Mcleod explains.

    Fortunately, Double O has recently been able to acquire two lines of e-bikes including Burnaby-based Envo Electric Bikes, with some models selling for less than $2,500 – a price that’s competitive with some of the popular direct-to-consumer brands, he said.

    Mcleod says e-bikes are the biggest seller now because they’re ideally suited to seniors and nearly half the Osoyoos population is over age 65. They enable people to take on hills and headwinds and travel greater distances.

    “They are the great equalizer, so if the husband or wife is an avid rider and the spouse isn’t, you get them an e-bike and now they can both enjoy riding together,” he said.

    The popularity of cycling has also meant the shop on the Osoyoos Main Street is running out of space, with products literally stacked from floor to ceiling. It’s hard to imagine that the store was in a little room off the back alley when it first opened in the same building back in 1999.

    Double O has also operated a small satellite shop in Oliver off and on over the years and Mcleod said there are plans to reopen there again in 2022.

    Mcleod, almost 33, has been store manager since 2012 when he moved from Prince George to join his father in Osoyoos and take the position. Before that, he’d been sidelined as a bike tech for two years following a mountain biking accident when he hit a tree and broke both arms, also shattering his left wrist and fingers.

    “I had to go through rehab for quite some time and I ended up picking up other retail jobs,” he recalls, noting that his job at Evolve Bike in Prince George was gone by the time he was ready to work as a bike tech again.

    It was in Prince George where Mcleod fell in love with mountain biking at about 15. Born in Prince George, he’d lived across the country, from Ontario to Nova Scotia, switching from school to school.

    “When I moved from Nova Scotia back to British Columbia, I didn’t have any friends around, so I was hanging out more and more with my cousin and he was a really avid mountain biker,” he recalls.

    That was before mountain bikes gained modern features like fancy suspensions.

    “He was up there doing crazy stunts like riding across the handrails on a bridge,” he said. “He got me into mountain biking.”

    Mcleod had been learning to build racecars, but instead he became a mountain bike technician at age 16.

    He still mountain bikes, often up Strawberry Creek where efforts are underway to reestablish some of the trails that were developed in the 1990s. Now, with a wife and young son and another child on the way, he also does more cruising with his family.

    Osoyoos, he said, is ideal for biking.

    “I enjoy the weather here. Being surrounded by mountains on all sides as a mountain biker is the best,” he said. “There’s no downside in my opinion to being here.”

    Other types of biking in the South Okanagan – such as road riding and cruising – are also popular.

    “We have a huge road riding community,” he said. “You can’t drive between Oliver and Osoyoos on Black Sage Road in the summertime without seeing a train of road cycles up there.”

    Cycle tourism is also becoming popular, he said, and many tourists who rent bikes at Double O will cruise to different local wineries.

    “The town is starting to recognize cycle tourism and adding designated bike pathways,” he said, pointing to the multi-use trails along the Canal Walkway and between Pioneer Walkway and the bottom of Lakeshore Drive.

    There remain gaps where cyclists are forced onto the busy Highway 97, which deters many bicycle renters, especially ones with children.

    Some gaps are short ones breaking up the Osoyoos to Oliver route between 87th Street and 89th Street and between 89th Street and 91st Street.

    The bigger gap is at Vaseux Lake, where cyclists are prevented from using the old Kettle Valley Railway right-of-way to connect from Osoyoos and Oliver to the main KVR trail from Okanagan Falls to Penticton and beyond.

    Double O Bikes is especially popular with tourists in the summer, with bike rentals and products like inner tubes, puncture-proof tires, and sealant to deal with the scourge of puncture vine. In the off-season, the customer base switches more to local residents and the snowbirds who winter here.

    They sell all types of bicycles and accessories.

    “We’re a full-service shop, so we do tune-ups, all kinds of repairs, and we build bikes,” Mcleod said. “We’re indiscriminate as long as we have the tools and the parts to do it, we’ll fix it for you.”

    Double O Bikes & Sports

    8905 Main Street

    Osoyoos, BC V0H 1V7

    (250) 495-3312

    Email: doubleobikes@telus.net

    Web: doubleobikes.com

    Story and photos by Richard McGuire

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