Well, this issue started with the COVID-19 lockdown/quarantine/stay-at-home orders. Hi-Torque is not a company that’s usually set up for everyone working remotely, but as I’m sure it did for most of you, that all changed back in March.
Our company quickly mobilized systems to let most, if not all, of us work from home. Our publisher, made sure we could follow the stay-at-home orders and could still concentrate 100 percent on getting our magazines done with the level of quality information we’re known for.
Some of us still go into the office for certain things. I still go in to trade out bikes from the warehouse, as I live in an apartment and can’t keep all the bikes here. I also go in to assemble some of the bikes and photograph them in the studio. I’ve been doing some Facebook Live broadcasts from there, talking a little about each of the bikes before taking them out to ride them and work up a full review.
I’m used to working from home and/or remotely most of the time, so it hasn’t been a huge adjustment for me. Others are very used to the structure at the office. Some of our staff is at-risk, so I’m very happy they’ve chosen to work from home, and grateful for our company encouraging this and making it possible.
It has changed my days a little bit, as I have a daughter in grade school who is now also working from home. It’s made some of my schedule a little different, but to be honest, it’s nice to change things up a little. I’m still out riding bikes a fair amount for reviews, that part remains the same, and I have no problem with that. The difference in not doing any non-essential travel, social distancing and even the new protocols at the supermarket are almost more of an adventure than a burden.
One thing that has not changed is getting together with other riders. No, we’re not shaking hands or hugging when we meet, and that’s taken some getting used to. I ran across a guy in the street with a Stealth e-bike, a motorcycle that he has licensed and rides in the street, and I had to fight my first urge to shake his hand as we introduced ourselves.
BIKE SALES ARE BOOMING
The upside to much of this is that the bike shops I’ve talked to all around the U.S. say that their service departments are booked solid, and that they’re selling inventory of bikes and parts like they can’t remember when. People are using bikes for transportation, often to avoid public transportation and for recreation. A chance to get out of the house for an hour or so on a bike is a powerful experience. It’s a good thing that this is getting more people on bikes.
This may be just the beginning. As bike companies had already started moving production out of China because of the tariffs, now there’s another push to move out of the area and not keep all your production eggs in one basket. The next year or two will be telling as to what will happen with bike production. It’s doubtful that much of any of the production will come back to the U.S., but it will shift to Taiwan, Vietnam and other countries in Asia.
I’m hoping that by the time you read this, things will be better and everyone will be encouraged to go back to normal—the new normal that is, whatever that happens to be. COVID-19 will go down in history as the event that changed how we do things in the most radical way since our parents or grandparents went through World War II.
TALK TO ME
I’d love to hear some great reader stories about how you decided to buy an e-bike, what you love about them or about some amazing custom build. E-mail me stories and pictures at [email protected] if you have them, or send them in snail mail or via passenger pigeon.
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