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  1. #1
    domestique squeakywheel's Avatar
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    good bike store litmus test

    I've figured out how to tell if a bike store is interested in service as part of their business or just wanting to sell new bikes. If they sell 27 inch tires, they are with you for the long haul. Otherwise, their bottom line figures exclusively on the number of new bikes rolling out the door.

    We have a new bike store in town. They have a glitzy showroom. Not much in the way of tools, parts, or panniers. Just a big room full of shiny new bikes. Oh, and no 27 inch tires.

  2. #2
    META Severian's Avatar
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    Typically a new bike shop needs to build a business based on selling new bikes at first and then later those same people who bought new bikes at that shop come back to have those bikes (and others) serviced.

    So the new sales drives the service.

    After a while the service drives new sales. The people who brought in the bikes to be serviced do more servicing and while their bikes are being checked-in they wander around and buy stuff.

    It could be your shop in question is so new that they haven't built up the stock. Or maybe they know that building up too much stock early on will cut into the space they have for stuff that sells faster. Like, in your example, new bikes.

    Things may change.

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    Senior Member Snow_canuck's Avatar
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    All I can say is: You open a store (any store) with every $ you have and work 14+ hours * 7 days, then tell me what it's like.

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    META Severian's Avatar
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    I can't imagine. But I'm working in a new store right now as a new mechanic and I can tell you it's like nothing I've ever done.

  5. #5
    ****** squegeeboo's Avatar
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    My litmus test is how quickly they come out from behind the counter to see if you need a hand with anything (assuming they arn't busy). The ones that come right out are the ones worth revisiting.
    In the words of Einstein
    "And now I think I'll take a bath"

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    My LBS opened a new "service center" a couple of weeks ago. I went in and bought 2 feet of brake cable housing from them this past weekend, and the guy gave me the little end caps that go with the cable, too. I wouldn't have thought to ask for those. I'll be going back to them for a long long time.

    I know it probably frustrates small business owners to hear this, but little things really do make all the difference.

  7. #7
    Neat - w/ ice on the side dalmore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by same time
    My LBS opened a new "service center" a couple of weeks ago. I went in and bought 2 feet of brake cable housing from them this past weekend, and the guy gave me the little end caps that go with the cable, too. I wouldn't have thought to ask for those. I'll be going back to them for a long long time.

    I know it probably frustrates small business owners to hear this, but little things really do make all the difference.

    Likewise - I have gone to a shop to have something done to a bike and asked them to put caps on the cables that I did not cap. They didn't do it. So I went to another bike shop next time ...
    Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more. Bark less.

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  8. #8
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    I brought my 17 y/o, sticker covered, beater commuter MTB to a local branch of a national chain bike shop for a new chain and a derailleur adjustment. The mechanic immediately started trying to sell me new components. (Not good)

    I brought the same beater bike to an LBS with a good reputation around town. I wanted my wheels trued. I flipped off the mechanic after he looked at my bike and asked another wrench "Do they even make these stupid things anymore?" while pointing to an outdated (and no longer produced) item on my ride.

    I brought my outdated, dirty, stickered, scratched, heavy, mismatched pieces parts, beater commuter MTB to another LBS. The chief wrench looked at the rainbow-haired troll doll I have duct taped to my stem and said "Cool troll. Is he good luck?" They've been my shop ever since. Synth has never pressured me to buy a new part. If it's fixable, he'll fix it for me without questioning if I want a new one. He knows that if I wanted a new one, I'd have asked him for it.

    Willingness to work on old bikes and parts is the make-it-or-break-it point for me.
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  9. #9
    Recumbent Evangelist
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeakywheel
    I've figured out how to tell if a bike store is interested in service as part of their business or just wanting to sell new bikes. If they sell 27 inch tires, they are with you for the long haul. Otherwise, their bottom line figures exclusively on the number of new bikes rolling out the door.

    We have a new bike store in town. They have a glitzy showroom. Not much in the way of tools, parts, or panniers. Just a big room full of shiny new bikes. Oh, and no 27 inch tires.
    Lace-up tires are a good sign, too.
    www.rebel-cycles.com

    The official Canadian dealer of TW-Bents recumbent bicycles!

  10. #10
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    Yea service is such a big part of it.
    Now days you have craigslist, ebay, and interent.

    People will buy things from an LBS becuase that can't get service from craigslst, ebay and the internet..

    The sad thing is service don't pay the bills.
    My Youtube Cycling Videos Here

  11. #11
    Senior Member rykoala's Avatar
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    Litmus test? I'm generally happy if the staff passes the *Turing* test.

  12. #12
    GATC
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
    Willingness to work on old bikes and parts is the make-it-or-break-it point for me.
    Same here.

    When we moved to town I took my wife's 1980s schwinn that had just been through 5 yrs of complete neglect to a shop to get it tuned up/resurrected for commuting, they told me to buy a new one instead (I can't imagine a new bike for $300 or whatever they were guessing a renovation would cost would have been remotely comparable), and that they were having a big sale in December. This was August, and they're telling me to wait 4 months to come in and get a new bike while this one is unrideable????

    I wouldn't hold it against a brand new shop if their parts bins are not chock full of NOS obsolete stuff however.

  13. #13
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeakywheel
    I've figured out how to tell if a bike store is interested in service as part of their business or just wanting to sell new bikes. If they sell 27 inch tires, they are with you for the long haul. Otherwise, their bottom line figures exclusively on the number of new bikes rolling out the door.
    By that standard, WalMart is with you for the long haul.

  14. #14
    domestique squeakywheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rykoala
    Litmus test? I'm generally happy if the staff passes the *Turing* test.
    "The Turing Test is a proposal for a test of a machine's capability to demonstrate thought. "


  15. #15
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    I ride a bike with 27" wheels, so I know what you're talking about! There are tons of them out there still... I've seen people walk into a bike shop with a spotless bike that has a flat tire and the store try to sell them a new bike because "They don't make parts for that one anymore"

    My favorite bike shop is my favorite because I went in one day with my poor, beat up commuter bike and they threw it on the stand, gave it the once over, trued up the back wheel a bit for me, replaced a missing bolt for my rear rack, and sent me on my way. Total cost? $0.00

    I do most of my own work, but when I need parts or service I try to go in there. Can't always make it because the store is quite a ways from my house, but I try.
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

  16. #16
    Goathead Magnet aley's Avatar
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    My choice of bike shops is determined by whether the staff knows what they're talking about, or at least care enough to find out.

    I went into a store recently looking for a new rear derailleur. I walked in about 15 minutes before closing time, and the manager rushed over to lock the door behind me. That set the tone immediately - "We're about to close, so don't take too long." The sales clerk told me that Shimano doesn't make a long-cage 105 derailleur. After his manager corrected him, I asked him how long it would take to come in if I ordered it. "I dunno, maybe a week." Wrong answer, and wrong shop for me.

    I went up the street to another shop. I walked in less than two minutes before closing time; the clerk pulled a long-cage 105 out of the case, answered my questions about it, and rung it up five minutes after closing. He never mentioned that they were supposed to be closed - I was a customer, I was there, and that seemed good enough for him. That's the shop I'm going to go back to again and again. The part was $10 more at the second shop, and I'm more than happy to pay the difference to get good service.

    The funny thing is, the first shop has 27" tires, and the second doesn't.

  17. #17
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    my original LBS seemed OK at first but they were servicing a bike they had sold (their sticker was on the frame)... but the minute I sold that bike and started taking in old bikes I got at Goodwill they changed and started telling me things weren't available and "what you're looking for doesn't exist" (which I found out was untrue, I bought the part from Harris cyclery and had my NEW shop install it for me.) the new place is very cool about repairing the old steel bike I have and were very good with a couple of old bikes I liberated from someone's trash pile. the guys are friendly and helpful. for you tempe folks this is Bicycle wheelers on Rural!
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

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  18. #18
    Senior Member
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    called up a bike shop the other day....

    "hey, im looking for some cantilever brakes, yoiu guys got any in stock i could pick up?"


    guy on phone: "uhhh what kind of brakes? Not sure.. let me get one of the mechanics on the line.."

    Mechanic picks up the phone: "Hi, what kind of brakes did you say you were looking for?"
    me: "Cantilever brakes"...
    mechanic: "uhh you mean like cyclocross brakes?"
    me: "ummm.. I mean Cantilever brakes.. you know.. Cantis?, uhhhh" trying to think of anything else they are known as.
    mechanic: what kind of bike are they for?
    me: (wondering why this matters), "a road bike.. but you know for wider tires"..
    mechanic: "ah road bike brakes, we got a couple pairs of those in.."
    me: "cantilever right?"
    mechanic: "oh yeah yeah".

    So this place if pretty far away, but im happy to finally find a bike shop that actually has some in stock right then (like 7th place I had called/been to that day that had _none_ in stock).. Bike all the way down there, go up to the shop..

    me: "hi I had called in about the brakes, you said you had some for me?"
    mechanic: "here you go!" pulls out a box of caliper brakes...
    me: "uhh actually I was looking for cantilever brakes... like I said on the phone... these are caliper"..
    mechanic, turns to the other mechanic and they both have a nice laugh at what I said.. "ahh you must be looking for fork mounted cyclocross brakes!! haha, we dont have any of those in!"



    What the FACK!?!?! What kind of bike shop has no mechanic who has ever even heard the word cantilever or caliper before? Ive never even HEARD anyone refer to them as "cyclocross" and "Road bike" brakes.... I guess it makes sense if you think about the kinds of brakes those bikes typically have, but there are exceptions as well, but how the **** could noone at the bike store have ever heard of cantilever brakes? This was a big bike store that sould dozens of road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids etc.... Am I using some sort of outdated technical term or something?

    Then the mechanics laughed at ME, like I was some sort of idiot who didnt know his bike parts? wtf?!?!

  19. #19
    Senior Member rykoala's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lima_bean
    Mechanic picks up the phone: "Hi, what kind of brakes did you say you were looking for?"
    me: "Cantilever brakes"...
    mechanic: "uhh you mean like cyclocross brakes?"
    me: "ummm.. I mean Cantilever brakes.. you know.. Cantis?, uhhhh" trying to think of anything else they are known as.
    mechanic: what kind of bike are they for?
    me: (wondering why this matters), "a road bike.. but you know for wider tires"..
    mechanic: "ah road bike brakes, we got a couple pairs of those in.."
    me: "cantilever right?"
    mechanic: "oh yeah yeah".
    This was your cue to RUN, not walk, away from that shop. Any time a mechanic of any sort associates a technology with a specific use, they usually do not know what they are talking about.

  20. #20
    Banned. Elusor's Avatar
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    they give you free tune up on new bike purchase

    plus 20% instant bike discount

    $30 discount off a Kryptonite New Yorker lock

    and seem sincere and genuine in helping

  21. #21
    Senior Member bikeutah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squegeeboo
    My litmus test is how quickly they come out from behind the counter to see if you need a hand with anything (assuming they arn't busy). The ones that come right out are the ones worth revisiting.
    I would add to this willingness to answer all my ridiculous questions. I am just getting back into biking after several decades. The last bike I owed was on old BMXer when I was a kid. In shopping and trying to learn about all these new fangled bikes of the three LBS in my local area, only one was willing to help understand the different components and how the different models from different stores compared. That level of service and the fact that several avid riders I know helped sway my decision.

  22. #22
    Cat None SDRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeakywheel
    I've figured out how to tell if a bike store is interested in service as part of their business or just wanting to sell new bikes. If they sell 27 inch tires, they are with you for the long haul. Otherwise, their bottom line figures exclusively on the number of new bikes rolling out the door.

    We have a new bike store in town. They have a glitzy showroom. Not much in the way of tools, parts, or panniers. Just a big room full of shiny new bikes. Oh, and no 27 inch tires.
    That is utter garbage. My LBS is largely MTB oriented and I'm a die hard roadie and I still find the best service and friendly faces in that place even though they rarely carry the stuff I need when I service my bike. Hell, I've gotten loads of free service on bikes I haven't even purchased there and I get 10% off on everything I buy there.

    BTW-I have no idea if they carry 27 inch tires. I'll check the next time I'm in there though. Judging by their selection of road tires though I'm at least 90% certain that they don't. If I'm wrong, I'll let you know.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Nermal's Avatar
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    Same here, SDRider. My LBS is MTB, Cruiser, with some BMX tossed in. Friendly faces work, though. Also the technical knowledge, and a willingness to get the bike on the road as soon as possible.
    Some people are like a Slinky ... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeakywheel
    I've figured out how to tell if a bike store is interested in service as part of their business or just wanting to sell new bikes. If they sell 27 inch tires, they are with you for the long haul. Otherwise, their bottom line figures exclusively on the number of new bikes rolling out the door.

    We have a new bike store in town. They have a glitzy showroom. Not much in the way of tools, parts, or panniers. Just a big room full of shiny new bikes. Oh, and no 27 inch tires.
    You can go store to store crossing them off your list because they don't have some part that you want, but that wouldn't really be fair. You'll always find some part that a store doesn't have, so maybe you're destined to be a Wal Mart or an online shopper.

    As some have mentioned, running a small business in today's world is tough. You can't please everyone. But perhaps a better guage would be the shops willingness to try to help you out. Did you ask about 27" tires? I'd be they would be willing to order them for you, and then knowing that there's a demand, they might consider stocking them.
    Lemond Poprad: Cross/Road
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    "the feel of steel"

  25. #25
    I'm Carbon Curious 531phile's Avatar
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    Come on Folks, don't be shy,

    Let's do some name dropping here.

    I San Diego, I go to Hollands, Bike Tour San Diego for service. Pedal Pushing and Ye Olde Bicycle Shopee for misc used bicycles parts.

    I don't go to Pennyfarthing bicycle shop on C Street.

    Quote Originally Posted by avner View Post
    I loled. Twice. Then I cried. Then I rubbed one out and cried again, but thanks for sharing.

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