According to one trade source, this is going to be a funny year. There could be a shortage of bikes, or a glut. EU10 countries, immune to anti-dumping regs, are currently stuffed to the gills with low-end bikes, ready to be rolled out when the European Union is enlarged. But, as the Word document here demonstrates, as the year progresses Shimano components will become as rare as hen's teeth

MY2005: A year for the brave has obtained Shimano’s latest ‘expected delivery time’ sheet, sent out yesterday from Shinya Tanaka, manager of order processing in the Bicycle Components Division, Shimano, Japan.

"The schedules stated are subject to change due to unavoidable causes," said Tanaka.

"Therefore the data here can be used only as general reference and your order delivery schedule should be confirmed on the contract note."

The full Word document can be downloaded here:…/040325-QRD.doc

Ultegra is on ‘hold’. XTR for MY05 bikes won’t be shipped until August/September. Deore is to be shipped October/November. You can wait until December for Dura-Ace. There are hold-ups on lower-end kit as well.

Add on to those shipping dates a month in delivery at least, possibly even more, depending on whether ships are delayed because of a severe shortage of containers, thanks to the rapidly expanding Chinese economy.

The time lags are 60+ days longer than usual; for some gruppos much worse still.

"That’s two months out of our business year, perhaps even three or four," said one bike trade exec.

When wondering how big an order of bikes to place, this exec was told by a Pacific Rim exec: "Order lots. If you haven’t got any bikes, you are not a bike company, you’re a company with a big empty warehouse."

But what about all the low-end bikes overflowing in warehouses in EU10 countries? Will the famine turn out to be nothing of the sort?

"You need balls of steel to predict how this year will turn out," said one exec.

"It’s a year for the brave."

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