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Old 06-04-06, 08:51 AM   #1
DougG
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LBS Frustrations

I've always supported the LDSes in my area and would not buy a bike other than from a LBS, but it's been a bit frustrating looking for a road bike to complement my comfort bike. I am one that enjoys researching products, and based on looking at web sites and getting some good advice from this forum (Bike for "casual" road riding), I decided that a Specialized Sequoia, Raleigh Cadent 1.0, or maybe Trek Pilot 1.0 would be my best bet. However, I was pretty annoyed when I went to two dealers who carry these brands.

First off, I'm talking to a sales guy who looks about 25, or 35 years my junior, and he obviously makes assumptions about me right off the bat. When I tell him what I'm interested in looking at, he tells me "that's not what you want" and steers me toward a hybrid. I happen to know what I want, and it's not a hybrid (too much overlap with my current bike), but I can see that the real reason is that they don't have either bike that I'd like to look at in stock, but are definitely overstocked in hybrids.
At the other shop, as soon as I made it clear that I was just looking and evaluating, and wasn't going to be buying for a while, they lost interest in answering my questions. In fact, that was the most unfriendly bicycle (or motorcycle) dealer that I've ever visited -- must be a story there.

In fairness to most LBSes, the shops are pretty small and they carry three or four brands, each of which has a lot of models, not to mention the sizes of each. To carry one of everything they'd probably have to stock a couple thousand bikes! The one shop said that they could probably get one if I wanted it, but I'd really hate to commit to buying something before riding it. And of course there's no deals on special-ordered bikes.

I do have a number of other shops to look at (northern Detroit metro area), so maybe I'll have better luck. It's just that looking on the Internet you get the idea that there are all these great bikes out there, but then actually trying to find a place to try or buy one can be a lot more difficult.

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Old 06-04-06, 09:05 AM   #2
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If we could make a wish list of what we believe a bike shop shoud be and actually give it to the manufacturers, it would be a start. My guess is that manufacturers need the retailers and its either going big or to the local shops or both.

My other guess is that if we made a list of the things we want, it would lean towards services versus product. If we think outside of the box for a moment, its all kinds of things we want as a service, not just what's currently available at the shop. For instance, we want to try out different bikes, a trial basis if you will. The list can go on and on. The bike shop should really be a bike center with each type of service and product at a price. There has to be just a handful of excellent bike fitting systems out there. It should be made available to the hybrid user as well as the triathlete.
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Old 06-04-06, 09:23 AM   #3
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I've found quite a range of LBS's out there. I have three Trek dealers within range, and i've visited two and purchased from one. They've both been pretty darn good in terms of taking their time to show me bikes, ask good questions, and help me sort things out. Also good on service -- no complaints at all.

Nowadays I live just a few blocks from a fabulous LBS -- Adams Avenue Bicycles, who are amazing. When you bring in a bike, unless you're not so inclined, expect to shoot the bull with the wrenches for a while. They all remember my name (!) and even though most of them are half my age, they are NOT condescending whatsoever. They refuse to laugh at my bonehead repair attempts (even when I "give them permission!") and it's like I'm part of the family there. It's a small shop, carrying Bianchi and Specialized as far as I can tell. If/when I buy new, I'm going to be torn on the loyalty issue alone between these guys and the Trek "superstore".

On the other hand, there are a few Performance LBS's in my area -- and they all leave a LOT to be desired, service-wise and salesmanship-wise. They like to replicate the experience of the OP, and I won't shop there anymore. I've been on the receiving end of poor, "rolling eyes" service, and heard with my own ears the way some of the customers have been treated. They won't get my money, that's for sure.

Just discovered a Giant dealer not too far away, and uh oh -- another GREAT salesperson. Maybe it was a slow day, but I doubt it. He's been there for seventeen years or so (and still looks about 16 -- wish I'd been riding my adult life!). Took all the time in the world with me, gave me reasons to like Giant, etc.

Maybe we're luck in San Diego. There are quite a few LBS's that are quite wonderful, and in my experience, only a small percentage who aren't.

One thing I've learned: the more informed I am, the more I already know what kind of riding I do, and want to do, the better the salesperson.
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Old 06-04-06, 01:27 PM   #4
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Maybe we're luck in San Diego. There are quite a few LBS's that are quite wonderful, and in my experience, only a small percentage who aren't.
It probably makes a difference owning a bike shop in a place like San Diego where you basically have no such thing as an "off season". Here in Michigan, I imagine that the shops don't get much traffic for that 4-5 month period called "winter".
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Old 06-04-06, 02:04 PM   #5
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And of course there's no deals on special-ordered bikes.
You might be surprised. There must be 7 or 8 Trek dealers within an hour's drive of my house. Most of them had that policy, but one of them was glad to special-order the size I needed at the sale price. As Mom would say, 'You should ask. The worst they can say is no.'

Good luck,
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Old 06-04-06, 02:24 PM   #6
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On the other hand, there are a few Performance LBS's in my area -- and they all leave a LOT to be desired, service-wise and salesmanship-wise.
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Old 06-04-06, 03:00 PM   #7
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Although the Performance shop in Sorrento Valley isn't too bad, I strongly prefer dealing with a small independent, such as my local Leucadia Cyclery. Fred, who is probably only a few years younger than I, sold my Bianchi to its first owner, a neighborhood friend. He knows me and my tastes in bikes (somewhat relaxed-geometry road machines) and would never try to tell me what I "need."
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Old 06-04-06, 05:54 PM   #8
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I think a good LBS is a highly personal thing. It's a relationship that has to be cultivated. While my head tells me this shouldn't be the way it is, my experience tells me that it is. I've been to shops that other riders rave about, but leave me cold when I'm there. The three shops that I like alot, I've developed a relationship with people in the shop. They know me by name and know that if I don't buy something today, I will in the future. They even know that I frequent the other shops, but don't seem to mind. With that said, I've had the experience of having to "educate" several of the younger employees at two of the shops. The first was a young man who assumed that I didn't know anything (not unlike your experience). I told him in a voice as kind as I could muster that I appreciated his wanting to share his knowledge with me, and that I would appreciate it even more if he would assume that I was an informed consumer, because I was sure to ask about things about which I was not sure. The second was another young man who ignored any of my questions. I found the owner of the store and told him that I really liked the store and most of the people, but he had one employee that I thought was hurting his business. He knew who I was talking about without my pointing him out. The owner said he would talk with him, and thanked me for my feedback. The young man in question has been nothing but attentive since then.

As I said, it's a personal thing, but built on the development of a relationship. And, as with most relationships, some take more work than others. Finally, if I invest in a relationship and it goes nowhere, it's time to move on.
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Old 06-04-06, 10:21 PM   #9
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For the most part, I've had pretty good luck with sales personnel at the LBSs in the Raleigh area. I can't say I would rate any of the LBS shops lower than a B+. Most are an A to A+. I did run into a sales person that was'nt interested in trying to sell a bike and another with an attitude, but I never get upset, I just cross them off my list and buy elsewhere. With over 20 shops within 25 miles of my house, shopping elsewhere is very easy. I've settled on a couple of shops, both of which are easy to work with.
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Old 06-05-06, 06:29 AM   #10
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Doug, I don't know if you're an eastsider or westsider. But on the east side Frazer Cycles, Macomb Bike and Fitness, Main Street Cycles, and Stoney Creek have all been cheerfully helpful on my "just looking" visits. Between them they carry the bikes you're considering.
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Old 06-07-06, 03:29 PM   #11
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Doug, I don't know if you're an eastsider or westsider. But on the east side Frazer Cycles, Macomb Bike and Fitness, Main Street Cycles, and Stoney Creek have all been cheerfully helpful on my "just looking" visits. Between them they carry the bikes you're considering.
Actually I'm a northsider (Rochester), but you're right that Stoney Creek sounded very nice and helpful on the phone. I'm planning a ride up the Macomb-Orchard Trail this weekend and will stop in for a visit.
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Old 06-07-06, 06:50 PM   #12
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yeah, I know what you mean. I drive 120 miles to get the bike I wanted and get fitted. There is only one shop in town that does fitting, maybe a second.

Damn hard to spend $1200 to order a bike and not be sure it will fit!
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Old 06-07-06, 06:56 PM   #13
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I drive 120 miles to get the bike I wanted and get fitted.
I've never understood why more cyclists aren't willing to drive a ways to either test or buy or fit the bike they want, given that a bike purchase is a big thing to most of us. I walked into a bike shop about 6 miles from my home a couple years ago, and when they heard "how far I had come," they were aghast! Six miles!!!

Hell, I drove up to the SF Bay area from Los Angeles just to ride a Rivendell before I bought one, because that was the only way to find out anything first hand. So I drove 350 miles? So what? It was well worth the time and effort.
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