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  1. #1
    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    Are commuters really that esoteric?

    I'm temporarily in a new town (St. Simons, GA) and the place is crawling with bikes. There are MUPs everywhere, something we don't have in my hometown, any bike lanes or racks or even an LBS.
    What is amazing to me is I haven't seen the first rack on a single bike. Plenty of folks carrying plastic bags on the handlebars with their groceries and such, but no one has a properly outfitted commuter. And the only lights I've seen are blinkies on a few roadies' bikes. There are two bike shops here, neither even sells racks, they only cater to the cheep beach cruiser market. Are commuters really that esoteric of a market? I buy most of my equipment on line because I have no other outlet. What's the commuter market of those of y'all who live in smaller towns, or areas that aren't a biking Mecca?

  2. #2
    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    Let me rephrase that: are outfitted commuters that esoteric?

  3. #3
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    I dunno! I've only lived in college towns and big cities all my life... where commuters have never been completely rare. But in most other places where I've visited, I've never seen any properly outfitted commuters at all. In beach towns, it's mostly only immigrant workers that I've seen riding bikes to work, usually department store bikes.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I am one of THE commuters in my small town...and unfortunately that is only part time at the moment. There is one other guy that I would consider a commuter and he rides a Schwinn Deluxe 7. I do have a couple of LBS's that I deal with. One in town the other in a larger town 25 miles away. Neither stocks much in the line of commuter specific stuff. I usually have them order in what I want or buy on line. The LBS in town is a combination lawnmower and bike shop. The other LBS is much larger and sells a lot of different stuff, high end MTB and Road, with some cruisers. Both shops are happy to order what ever I need and I usually get a discount off of list price. Some things it is easier to just go ahead and order online.

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  5. #5
    Do I use too many commas?
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    I have a road bike with rack and panniers. I pass a woman going the opposite direction with a MTB with rack and trunk. Everyone else uses a backpack.

  6. #6
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    A city of 500,000 plus here, but most of the shops here seem to focus almost exclusively on the "sport" of cycling. Fortunately, there's a city of 2 million not that far down the road where I can shop for more specialised equipment (racks, panniers etc). I think it comes down to two factors here, firstly, commuting just isn't a big market. Very few of the people who ride here will even consider riding to work. Secondly, there just doesn't seem to be that much money to make out of the average commuter.

    In most cases it seems your average 'sport' cyclist will spend a lot more money on things than your average commuter -- I know that many of the cyclists around here basically buy equipment for the look of it -- and for those people the expensive price tag is a good attribute in itself. If that's where there's money to be made, that's what they'll sell.
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  7. #7
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    I'm temporarily in a new town (St. Simons, GA) and the place is crawling with bikes. There are MUPs everywhere, something we don't have in my hometown, any bike lanes or racks or even an LBS.
    What is amazing to me is I haven't seen the first rack on a single bike. Plenty of folks carrying plastic bags on the handlebars with their groceries and such, but no one has a properly outfitted commuter. And the only lights I've seen are blinkies on a few roadies' bikes. There are two bike shops here, neither even sells racks, they only cater to the cheep beach cruiser market. Are commuters really that esoteric of a market? I buy most of my equipment on line because I have no other outlet. What's the commuter market of those of y'all who live in smaller towns, or areas that aren't a biking Mecca?
    Wait until the last drop of oil is burned.

    Cycling will be the best way to get around, and all the grocery-bag-cyclists will be overshadowed by motorists-turned-cyclists sporting every form of "look-at-me" paraphernalia.
    No worries

  8. #8
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan View Post
    Wait until the last drop of oil is burned.

    Cycling will be the best way to get around, and all the grocery-bag-cyclists will be overshadowed by motorists-turned-cyclists sporting every form of "look-at-me" paraphernalia.
    I disagree.

    When the last drop of oil is burned, grocery-bag-cyclists will come out of the woodwork.

    No worries

  9. #9
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan View Post
    I disagree.

    When the last drop of oil is burned, grocery-bag-cyclists will come out of the woodwork.

    No, when the last drop of oil is burned, grocery bags will be a scarce commodity.

    (Geez, LBM, get a grip...)

    I've actually ridden with a grocery bag, but that was only a couple of times.
    No worries

  10. #10
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L View Post
    If that's where there's money to be made, that's what they'll sell.
    There, that's it.
    No worries

  11. #11
    Senior Member BikeManDan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    Let me rephrase that: are outfitted commuters that esoteric?
    My findings are that people do not realize the possibilities of bike accessories and/or they are not motivated enough to try to make their bike more functional

  12. #12
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Esoteric? In the dictionary sense? Not around here, the information, materials, and people who do it are available. Your being half way between Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL may have landed you in a commuting desert. Bear with it, nothing lasts forever.
    This space open

  13. #13
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwoloz View Post
    My findings are that people do not realize the possibilities of bike accessories and/or they are not motivated enough to try to make their bike more functional
    +1.
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  14. #14
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwoloz View Post
    My findings are that people do not realize the possibilities of bike accessories and/or they are not motivated enough to try to make their bike more functional
    Why would people in a bike shop or department store realize the possibility of bike accessories useful for commuting? Bikes equipped with such functional accessories are almost never on display or portrayed in the sales catalogs. Have you ever heard of a bike salesperson EVER recommending such equipment to a customer of a new bicycle?

  15. #15
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    Hell you can hardly find such equipment in many LBSs.

  16. #16
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DataJunkie View Post
    Hell you can hardly find such equipment in many LBSs.
    Agreed. LBS is what I meant when I wrote bike shop.

    The popular mail order stores are no better. Try and find a basket or a 700c tire wider than 23mm on their web sites, let alone a bike equipped for commuting. Maybe they are buried somewhere amongst the endless pages of racing equipment, "technical clothing," computers/HRM and "hydration systems."

  17. #17
    Señior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Catch-22. Nobody even knows that "proper" equipment exists, so they don't ask for it. Nobody asks for it, so stores don't stock it.

    There's one shop here that is about half bikes, half kayaking and a few other sports. The owner was car-free until he was nearly 30. He does stock a little commuting stuff, but not a lot.

    The other stores around here are almost exclusively racing shops.
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  18. #18
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    How many bike commuters are cheap? They insist on using their bikes forever, refusing to buy new models every year. Some make their own commuter parts, baskets, lights or trailers.
    This makes it very hard for a store to survive on selling commuter parts.

    Roadies buy new stuff ll the time. Mtn bikers break everything all the time. You sell to your market. Stores that don't go out of business.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    Agreed. LBS is what I meant when I wrote bike shop.

    The popular mail order stores are no better. Try and find a basket or a 700c tire wider than 23mm on their web sites, let alone a bike equipped for commuting. Maybe they are buried somewhere amongst the endless pages of racing equipment, "technical clothing," computers/HRM and "hydration systems."
    Nope...only website that even comes close to carrying that type of stuff is bikepartsusa.com The shipping charges will kill you on the larger stuff. I have one LBS that does stock some of that stuff. But if you want something higher end like a Jandd Rack I have to have it ordered or order it online.

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  20. #20
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    Why would people in a bike shop or department store realize the possibility of bike accessories useful for commuting? Bikes equipped with such functional accessories are almost never on display or portrayed in the sales catalogs. Have you ever heard of a bike salesperson EVER recommending such equipment to a customer of a new bicycle?
    That statement and this thread surprise me a little.

    Maybe I should get around to a few more bike shops, but I have yet to go into one that I felt was intentionally underrepresenting commuting accessories.

    Our shop carries racks, bags, lights, fenders, baskets, horns, bells, wide and winter tires, visibility clothing and flags...and we sell out of them several times in a year. Baskets have been an especially popular item this year, though perhaps that is not considered a "hardcore" commuting item. We always make suggestions for needed equipment, have several bikes on the floor with accessories installed, and we commute ourselves (just a short 6 miles for me) so we always encourage it.

    Those of you disgruntled with the apparent lack of focus of your LBS on commuting...is that due to them not having the specific items you are looking for in stock, or do they actively dissuade people from riding bikes for utility over racing/recreation? I've seen a few specialty online shops that appear to have the opposite bias: 100% focus on commuters, and have seen a few online shops that obviously focus on racing, but very few neighborhood shops are willing to miss out on a sale opportunity if it's there. If a town has several shops in competition I can see each one finding a niche to focus on. The only shop I can think of in this region that might give that impression is focused on Downhill and BMX bikes...and is only 400 sq ft. They have very little room for display, but I'd wager they could order me anything I needed.

    Can anyone be more specific about how these shops are making you feel neglected? What stuff aren't they carrying? Have any of them discouraged you verbally or made fun of your fully-equipped rig? I'd honestly like to know so that our shop can be more accommodating.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post
    That statement and this thread surprise me a little.

    Maybe I should get around to a few more bike shops, but I have yet to go into one that I felt was intentionally underrepresenting commuting accessories.

    Our shop carries racks, bags, lights, fenders, baskets, horns, bells, wide and winter tires, visibility clothing and flags...and we sell out of them several times in a year. Baskets have been an especially popular item this year, though perhaps that is not considered a "hardcore" commuting item. We always make suggestions for needed equipment, have several bikes on the floor with accessories installed, and we commute ourselves (just a short 6 miles for me) so we always encourage it.

    Those of you disgruntled with the apparent lack of focus of your LBS on commuting...is that due to them not having the specific items you are looking for in stock, or do they actively dissuade people from riding bikes for utility over racing/recreation? I've seen a few specialty online shops that appear to have the opposite bias: 100% focus on commuters, and have seen a few online shops that obviously focus on racing, but very few neighborhood shops are willing to miss out on a sale opportunity if it's there. If a town has several shops in competition I can see each one finding a niche to focus on. The only shop I can think of in this region that might give that impression is focused on Downhill and BMX bikes...and is only 400 sq ft. They have very little room for display, but I'd wager they could order me anything I needed.

    Can anyone be more specific about how these shops are making you feel neglected? What stuff aren't they carrying? Have any of them discouraged you verbally or made fun of your fully-equipped rig? I'd honestly like to know so that our shop can be more accommodating.
    My higher end LBS carries little to nothing for the commuter...the last time I was in there they had one medium sized Wald basket, no frame mount racks, and no fenders available and only 2 bikes that would make suitable commuters. FWIW I was ordering a set of the yellow Freddy Fenders for a current project. My other LBS has the baskets and fenders, but they are aimed at the very low end utility crowd. Even Xmart doesn't carry commuter items any more. I suspect the pickings may be better in larger cities.

    In response to your question on neglect...I have to order tires, clothes, lights, racks, bags, wheels, rims, spokes, hubs, etc to build up bikes for commuting/utility use. I don't need or want 12 spoke carbon wheels, $2000 CF frame sets, jersey's plastered with advertising, uberlightweight clip in pedals... I needed 2 tires in the 26x1-3/8" size for a rebuild I was doing for a friend. The LBS had two...one gumwall, one black wall. I needed 700x40c for my city bike they had none in stock. I realize they can't stock everything, and that they have to stock the things that sell in this area. I will give them credit in that they will order what I ask for with no guff, unlike another shop that I no longer frequent. But it would be nice once in a while to walk in and purchase some things off the shelf. Their light selection is pretty slim too. I wanted a Planet Bike Super Flash...they had never seen one. I ordered mine and after seeing it they ordered a couple more for stock. They stock no generators or lights for generator systems. Unfortunately this area is very carcentric and there are very few of us that are dedicated commuters, I am not at the moment due to job constraints, however I commuted almost 20 years before being forced back into the automotive mode of transportation. I am making my plans to get back to the cycling way of life.


    Aaron
    Last edited by wahoonc; 09-02-07 at 09:25 AM.
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  22. #22
    Pedal pusher... alicestrong's Avatar
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    I was under the impression that the buzz in the bike biz is commuting is the next big ten year trend...

    No?
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  23. #23
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    My higher end LBS carries little to nothing for the commuter...the last time I was in there they had one medium sized Wald basket, no frame mount racks, and no fenders available and only 2 bikes that would make suitable commuters. FWIW I was ordering a set of the yellow Freddy Fenders for a current project. My other LBS has the baskets and fenders, but they are aimed at the very low end utility crowd. Even Xmart doesn't carry commuter items any more. I suspect the pickings may be better in larger cities.

    In response to your question on neglect...I have to order tires, clothes, lights, racks, bags, wheels, rims, spokes, hubs, etc to build up bikes for commuting/utility use. I don't need or want 12 spoke carbon wheels, $2000 CF frame sets, jersey's plastered with advertising, uberlightweight clip in pedals... I needed 2 tires in the 26x1-3/8" size for a rebuild I was doing for a friend. The LBS had two...one gumwall, one black wall. I needed 700x40c for my city bike they had none in stock. I realize they can't stock everything, and that they have to stock the things that sell in this area. I will give them credit in that they will order what I ask for with no guff, unlike another shop that I no longer frequent. But it would be nice once in a while to walk in and purchase some things off the shelf. Their light selection is pretty slim too. I wanted a Planet Bike Super Flash...they had never seen one. I ordered mine and after seeing it they ordered a couple more for stock. They stock no generators or lights for generator systems. Unfortunately this area is very carcentric and there are very few of us that are dedicated commuters, I am not at the moment due to job constraints, however I commuted almost 20 years before being forced back into the automotive mode of transportation. I am making my plans to get back to the cycling way of life.


    Aaron
    Aaron, the problem for any shop is stocking items for any and every person that comes in. The parts you described range from the very low end (I have yet to see a 26X1-3/8" tire of any quality above the $10 mark...but yes, we have them) to the truly esoteric. If you look in any one of our distributer catalogs, there is typically three or four pages of blinky lights alone. The sheer odds of having the particular light you're looking for in stock is against you, ditto for some of the other items.

    As a shop we certainly do try to accommodate everyone (we're the only shop in town), and we also handle orders in a similar fashion. If a customer orders a specific item, we figure that they can't be the only person that wants this item, so we order a few more. Often times...they are the only person and we sit on merchandise we can't sell. The next person that comes in will require yet another specific item (even while similar and compatible items sit on the shelf), we'll order, the cycle continues...

    I have had customers come into our shop upset that we don't have:

    *Replacement hoods for vintage Campy brake levers
    *The latest hot BMX brand (usually kids that you know have no job)
    *A $4000+ (insert brand here) road bike, DH, or MTB in an (insert specific size, model and color here) for them to "demo" (short for "demolish"?)
    *One-inch-pitch chains
    *A tandem stoker stem to fit an antique bike that has a 7/8" seatpost and all branding stripped off the frame
    *A replacement freehub for aero wheels that the date of manufacture is unknown
    *Replaceable derailleur hangers for brands we don't sell
    *A rack to fit the largest Wald baskets onto a Mongoose full suspension bike
    *Not just the size, valve length and type of a given tube, but specific brand and model
    *(Insert fringe product here, bicycle-related or not)

    As you can see, it would be impossible to please everyone all of the time unless the shop specialized in a given niche, and even then, items go out of stock, get backordered, colors change, models change, specs change, etc. All of the above customers were disappointed that we didn't have the item in stock, if we did that we weren't offering it at our cost, on closeout, at a specific discount or even free since they purchased a bike. Many asked merely to comparison shop with no intent to buy, some even wanted to see a part to check on compatibility (often without bringing parts in to verify the fit) before purchasing elsewhere...and even boldly said as much. To accuse a shop of neglecting or marginalizing any given niche of cycling based upon what is on the shelf versus what you are specifically looking for may not be a fair judgement. Sure, the stock on the shelves may give a good idea of what a shop's niche or passion may be, but that is only part of the story.

    Please, don't get me wrong...I'm not complaining. I do love my job and am doing my best to meet needs/wants/desires at a local level. I just feel that by explaining how these things work, perhaps some understanding might be met between retailers and consumers.
    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
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  24. #24
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alicestrong View Post
    I was under the impression that the buzz in the bike biz is commuting is the next big ten year trend...

    No?
    My impression is that the "buzz," such as it is, exists at the conventioneer/media/Interbike level and is perhaps known to a few aficionados who follow such hype on the Internet. The buzz has not made its presence known on the showroom floor (except in a few unique enclaves) or in the sales brochures of the major players.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Jarery's Avatar
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    /shrug
    I live in the suburb of a semi-large city of a couple million. I have 3 bike shops within a 15 min drive of me. 2 of the 3 have a full range of racks, bags, lights and other great accessories for commuting. Or I can go for a 30 min drive and hit an MEC store that has pretty much everything.
    Jarery

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