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Good luck finding an indoor exercise bike

Team GB paratriathlete Claire Cashmore on a stationary bike during a training session following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.
REUTERS/Paul Childs

If you’ve tried buying an exercise bike in recent months, you may have ridden into some trouble.

When Covid-19 shuttered gyms across the world, those wanting to stay active had little choice but to bring the gym home to them. Even as restrictions eased and gyms slowly reopened, many one-time subscribers in places such as the US, UK, and Canada haven’t rushed back. Instead they’ve opted to buy their own fitness equipment, from dumbbells to high-end gear, at times creating shortages of items such as stationary bikes.

In August, sales of indoor exercise bikes in the US rose to nearly triple their level last year at the large retailers tracked by research firm NPD Group. Dirk Sorenson, the firm’s sports industry analyst, pointed out that “investments in home training and fitness have been extraordinary” since they began to pick up in March.

Peloton, which sells members a $2,000 exercise bike for the streamed workouts they subscribe to, recently reported that sales of its “connected fitness” products—primarily its bikes and treadmills—surged 199% in the three months through June 30 compared to the same time last year. Its sales of subscriptions jumped too, as more new customers signed up.

The spike in demand has left many hopeful customers empty-handed at times. Peloton said it had $230 million in backlogged deliveries, and sales in the first two months of the following quarter were already above expectations.

Shoppers looking to buy an exercise bike from Walmart in Canada or department store John Lewis in the UK will also find many of the options currently sold out.

While the rush on home fitness equipment may not be great for consumers, the companies selling the products are thriving, and investors have noticed. Icon Health & Fitness, the equipment maker that owns brands such as NordicTrack and ProForm, recently raised $200 million from investors at a valuation of more than $7 billion.

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