Demand for bikes has soared during the pandemic. More people are pedaling to stay fit after long lockdowns or to avoid crowded trains and buses. More bike lanes have been added to cities like Barcelona, Berlin, Lisbon and Paris.
And it has been a boon to northern Portugal, home to a heavy concentration of manufacturers with ties to bicycles. About 60 companies in the region assemble bikes or make their parts and accessories.
The country of 10 million people — a little more than 2 percent of the European Union’s population — produces nearly a quarter of the bloc’s bicycles. (The United States is a secondary market for Portuguese bikes and components, accounting for about $1.2 million in exports in 2019.)
The industry has turned into one of the nation’s fastest-growing employers.
As demand has escalated, the bicycle makers have run into the same supply-chain issues that have hurt other industries, holding up production because parts from Asia are missing. That has spurred additional investment in the region, including what is believed to be Europe’s first factory to make carbon-fiber bike frames.
“One lesson from the pandemic is that you need to be nearer to your production,” said Emre Ozgunes, the general manager of Carbon Team, the factory’s owner. “Because if everything shuts down, you can probably still drive to Portugal to pick up frames, but not to China.”