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  1. #1
    Member DavidInGA's Avatar
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    Question on buying a bike at the local bike shop

    We're coming closer to buying a bike at the local bike shop. We're looking real strong at a Specialized Crossroads Sport. We have some question on adding accessories at that shop versus buying them from Amazon, etc.

    1. What is standard business practice for discounts on accessories after buying the bikes at a shop? All the shops in Athens offer a 10% discount on accessories with no discount on the bike.

    2. Is paying MSRP or full retail typically what one has to pay for these off the shelf bikes like Raleigh and Specialized?

    3. Are we better off buying just the bikes, then getting accessories somewhere else, such as online? Currently, the LBS we're talking to is offering no discount on accessories, even though he will have to pay tax on them if he doesn't get them out of his shop soon.

    4. Here is a list of accessories we're interested in:

    a. fenders, plastic, black and silver or chromed, all weather, best grade
    b. rack, real nice one
    c. lights, good ones
    d. computer, good one
    e. slime in the inner tubes
    f. flat tire kit
    g. helmets

    5 The LBS already installed a good number of accessories we were interested in on the bike I was planning to buy for my wife (Her fitting was complete.) and he's saying he "can't put them back in the box." I'm not sure if I like that or not. Are we obligated to buy that bike if he's put those things on even if we hadn't gotten through the final fitting of my bike? I had made purchase contingent upon having two bikes that fit us during the original visit.

  2. #2
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    I think I'm confused about exactly what you have committed yourself to purchase already at the LBS in question. Have you left some things ambiguous and been taken advantage of? Maybe. But maybe not.

    There is a time to resign oneself
    to old age and infirmity. You first.
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  3. #3
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    First of all I would forget the Slime. It does work sometimes but not in every case. I had a mate that had slime in his tubes and he did not have a flat for a year. When I took the tyre off-it was coated with the hardened latex and not evenly. It cost him a new tyre as I was not able to fit a new tube. Others may advise for it but that is my experience.

    The LBS is not offering you much in the way of an incentive to buy from them. No discount on the bike and no discount on the accessories. If he is not fitting the "Extras" FOC of fitting charge I would walkaway from that shop now but if that is not possible then buy the bikes and get the accessories on line.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  4. #4
    Semper Fi qcpmsame's Avatar
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    David,
    If it were me I would be finding another LBS. If they are so in the black that they cannot offer a discount to a bicycle buyer and your potential service and accessories purchases then he is one up on all the other shops. I am sure some shops are doing that well but he would have to show me why he doesn't offer a discount. I am for supporting a shop with my purchases not only of the bike but accessories as well however, I would think a 10% accessories discount was not excessive. My LBS discounted the bike price on a national and local best selling model and gives me a 15% discount on parts, free adjustments and service discounts to be worked out. I repay this with loyalty. I can understand that he may not offer a bike discount but he isn't building any customer good will with his methods. Maybe some of the members that either own, have owned or work in a shop can better inform you about this, Best of Luck.

    Bill
    Philippians 4:13

  5. #5
    Senior Member jdon's Avatar
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    On a two bike purchase, you should at least get a 10% discount on the bikes and 20-30% on all accessories. Bottle cages and a water bottle as well as a bike fitting should be included. I suppose in GA, you won't get the seasonal slow periods so maybe the LBS owners aren't as hungry as they are in winter in Ontario.
    Ionnsaich aig casan latha an-d, bi be airson latha an-diugh, bi an dchas airson latha a-maireach.

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    Quote:
    "Are we obligated to buy that bike if he's put those things on even if we hadn't gotten through the final fitting of my bike? I had made purchase contingent upon having two bikes that fit us during the original visit.

    Is the shop unable to fit you to a bike, or are you just having "mid-deal" second thoughts about how the shop should be run?

  7. #7
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    There has been a push for the past 15 years in the bike industry to have the shops run as sales companies, much like GAP or an insurance sales organization, and less like a community center. They want to get away from the mom and pop image to increase profitability. Part of this move is to motivate the sales people with rewards for add on sales to bring the "margin" numbers up, meaning to load the customer with accessories.
    If they can sell 3 to 5 extra items with the bike the margin numbers increase by a significant amount and that looks good to the bank. Trek and Specialized have spearheaded this effort and results in aggressive dealers.
    Just say no or have them give you a reason to say yes.

  8. #8
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    Here's a rookie's take on this, who went through this process last summer.
    If you buy from a LBS list price on a bike. Only will get discounts at the end of the summer or a leftover and than maybe 10%.
    He has to put it together, adjustments for the first year and warranty issues.
    Buy all your accessories on line. I have found all my upgrades on line with some researching.
    From Amozon to E bay. You will save from 20% to 50% and even more with out paying tax or shipping.
    Much larger selection.
    Then you can support the LBS by taking the parts for him to install.

  9. #9
    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    I would urge you to "shop" not only for the bike, but for the bike shop as well.

    First find a shop that will:
    a) Offer you a decent discount
    b) Give you a free or very reduced-price fitting,
    c) Give you free tuneups for a year or for life and
    d) Discount everything for life...
    ...then get them to order the bike you want.

    I was lucky. I didn't know any of this when I started cycling and went bike shopping. But as it turned out, the LBS I went to which had the bike I wanted offered all of the items I listed above, and I've been friends with them - and given them all of my business - ever since. And the advice they've given me over the past 1.5 years has always proven to be sound.
    Regards,
    Duncan

  10. #10
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    We ordered a new Trek at LBS. Got 5% off list price and 10% of the purchase price in free stuff of our choosing (got a new hitch mount bike rack, bike computer, and a few other items). Fitting was included in the price. Other LBSs all offered the same 5% off but only this one offered 10% free stuff.

  11. #11
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    Getting 10 to 15% off accessories on day of sale is standard practice, maybe 20% on a 2 bike purchase would be a bonus.
    Expecting unmarked discounts on the bike is not reasonable. especially considering wanting a free fitting.

    It sounds like the LBS jumped the gun with commencing instalations on her bike before finalizing payment intent, accessories wanted and final price. I can't imagine that they would proceed without a signed sales receipt/work order. I'm pretty sure I paid first and then waited for my fender instalation. If they only took the bike out of the box and changed the stem to tweak his fit, then it might be reasonable to still back out of the purchase. If they installed speedo, fenders, or bottle holders etc. then there is no chance they will let you walk. Is that what you referred to ?
    Last edited by GamblerGORD53; 01-08-13 at 08:16 PM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    OK: I'll be the exception...

    You seem to be new to bikes and to cycling. So especially in your case, I would consider the service and support of the LBS as a higher priority than price and discounts.

    Yes, you can almost always buy "stuff" online cheaper than you can get it from an LBS -- even if he is giving you a discount.

    But what you can't get online is the knowledgeable, personal service from somebody who knows your bikes and their history and who also knows you and your riding habits and preferences.

    If it is a quality shop, they should be able to guide you in the right direction and ultimately save you money buy guiding you to the right parts and the right price for you. But, not all shops are willing or able to do that. Some LBS's are simply small versions of WallyWorld.

    Only you can judge if you can depend on this LBS and whether he is looking out for your best interests or if he just wants to take your money. If he is looking to sell you the stuff that best fits your needs and your wallet, then I say you will be better off giving him your business and your loyalty without getting fussy over a discount.
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

  13. #13
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    I'm confused. Are you trying to get good value for your money? Or, are you trying to match some nebulous "standard" that may, or may not match your situation? The latter is more of a Keep Up With The Jones' than being a good steward of your resources.

    Find a bike you like. Find people you like and respect to sell it to you and to service it later. Pay the money you agree on. Then enjoy your bike. If you allow whether or not you got a "good deal" to tarnish the purchase you run a large risk of tarnishing your riding experience. Buying a bike is not a financial decision in the macro. It is a life style decision.

    Confidence!

  14. #14
    Member DavidInGA's Avatar
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    My wife and I talked to the dealer and got things clarified. There was a mis-communication in the confusion of customers coming and going the day I was there visiting about putting the accessories on, but that was straightened out.

    After we asked, the dealer was willing to provide a 10% discount, so with that cleared up and him now having bike frames in my size, I tried out bicycle sizes for myself. Dealer had a medium and large frame built up for me when I got there, so was able to try both. The medium frame fit just a bit better, so went with that. WE then had both bikes accessorized similarly and was out the door with both bikes with the following:

    SKS fenders for both bikes ($33.00 a set)
    Specialized Speedzone SPT wireless computers for both bikes ($36.00 each)
    ECO alloy racks ($36.00 each)
    Store brand water bottle racks ($8.00 each)
    Slimed tire tubes (2 each 8 oz. bottles $14.38)
    handle bar adapter for water bottle rack ($9.00) (Note: Specialized location for water bottle on frame not workable for short legged woman.)
    Kryptonite Keyed Bike cable lock ($20.00) (to get home with, will buy truck receiver rack and another lock later down the road)
    Specialized brand helmets ($36.00 each)

    Got out of the store with the above accessories, Specialized men and women's Crossroad Sport bikes and 6% tax for right at $1400.00. Seemed reasonable to me.

    For those asking about experiences: I owned an English 3 speed for many years growing up. Still had it when I left home and i remember the experience well. My wife mountain biked in her thirties, so she also had clear ideas on what she wanted. In discussions with each other, we mixed ideas and came up with an idea of what we wanted bike and accessory wise before we went out shopping for bikes. I knew I wanted fenders and a rear rack for toting some stuff. She knew she wanted a computer for what they provide. I knew I wanted lights for after work rides in the winter cold and dark. We both wanted water bottles for the Georgia heat.

    What I was not familiar with was dealing with local bike shops and what were reasonable expectations. MY general preference is to shop/buy online. I also have the mechanical experience, aptitude and tools to maintain my own bike, but I prefer not to, because I keep myself fairly busy.

    Right now, I'm probably going to buy anything else accessory wise offline and install it myself to save money, as I do not have an unlimited budget.

    As far as a lifestyle, we're buying bikes to help us lose weight and maintain a healthier physique to support other lifestyles we already have, so cycling is not going to be an all consuming lifestyle for us. Just another one to accent the ones we already have.
    Last edited by DavidInGA; 01-09-13 at 06:22 AM.

  15. #15
    Semper Fi qcpmsame's Avatar
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    David,
    This sounds more reasonable to me. I am glad you got the bikes you and your wife wanted and liked for a fair price. You were wise to go back and get things understood better (much better than my reply, flying off the handle about something I wasn't up to speed on, properly,) between your self and the dealer. I hope they work out as a good LBS for you both, it will be well worth cultivating the relationship over time.

    As an aside but related, learn how to do the basic maintenance items like cleaning, lubing and adjusting brakes and derailleurs your self, as well as attaching simple accessories, it will make your riding safer and more rewarding, it has always for me.

    Bill
    Last edited by qcpmsame; 01-09-13 at 07:46 AM.
    Philippians 4:13

  16. #16
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    Those prices also look good to me as well. You might find the accessories a few dollars cheaper online but its not worth the potential problems such starting out. For example, the first time I set up and installed a cycling computer, it took me a couple hours. Fenders are in a similar situation. You're better having the LBS do everything for you while your learn and ride.

    One thing you might consider, at least for one bike if you and your wife ride together, are some basic tools - mini pump or CO2, spare tube, levers, patches, a multi-tool, and a little bag to carry them in. Those bikes with tires don't get flats that often but it's nice to be prepared just in case.

    Enjoy the bikes.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  17. #17
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    I hope you and your wife are pleased with your purchase and that you get many miles and smiles out of them. I think it's important to remember that a good LBS is one that understands it's in their best interest to treat every interaction as if it's part of a long term relationship. It sounds that with your recent clarification of the misunderstanding you are headed in the right direction.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  18. #18
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53 View Post
    Getting 10 to 15% off accessories on day of sale is standard practice, maybe 20% on a 2 bike purchase would be a bonus....
    Wasn't sure if you were responding to my post or not, but to clarify, we got 10% of the purchase price of the bike in free stuff, not 10% off stuff. For a $5000 bike, that amounted to $500 worth of store credit to be spent over 3 months.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac View Post
    OK: I'll be the exception...

    You seem to be new to bikes and to cycling. So especially in your case, I would consider the service and support of the LBS as a higher priority than price and discounts.

    Yes, you can almost always buy "stuff" online cheaper than you can get it from an LBS -- even if he is giving you a discount.

    But what you can't get online is the knowledgeable, personal service from somebody who knows your bikes and their history and who also knows you and your riding habits and preferences.

    If it is a quality shop, they should be able to guide you in the right direction and ultimately save you money buy guiding you to the right parts and the right price for you. But, not all shops are willing or able to do that. Some LBS's are simply small versions of WallyWorld.

    Only you can judge if you can depend on this LBS and whether he is looking out for your best interests or if he just wants to take your money. If he is looking to sell you the stuff that best fits your needs and your wallet, then I say you will be better off giving him your business and your loyalty without getting fussy over a discount.
    +1 to all of the above.

    There's an old joke that the only way to make a small fortune in a bike shop is to start with a large fortune.

    And for those who will say an LBS should compete with Amazon/Performance/etc., who's going to install the fenders, racks, lights, etc. that FedEx brings? I think the price premium for the LBS is worth it for the service you expect from it.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
    +1 to all of the above.

    There's an old joke that the only way to make a small fortune in a bike shop is to start with a large fortune.
    I once ran a small business (not a bike shop), and after that experience, I would say, if you want a business that is worth $10 Million after 5 years, start with $20 Million....

  21. #21
    Member DavidInGA's Avatar
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    Since my wife and I both run a small business ourselves, we understand how it is with the small businessman. My objective was to buy the bike at full retail (to pay the shop for it's work and knowledge) and to pick up the accessories there to both reduce his pre-tax inventory and to have him make a profit selling the accessories, since those are likely where a lot of the profit is in, accessories and repairs.

    Since tax is 6% in that bike shop's area and his accessories were priced full retail, we needed him to give me the 10% discount to get the accessories in a range we could afford them and pay tax as well. That way, we could accessorize the bike with the things we wanted and buy at a brick and motor store.

    My small business is done on the internet, so I don't know much about brick and mortar store or bike shop operations or expectations. I posted this to get a feel for where the shops were at from a profit standpoint. My feeling is where we ended up is about right for a get a reasonable deal while allowing the shop owner to make a profit. At least, that's what my wife, who runs a brick and motor (actually log home style shack) business (a nursery/landscaping outfit) thought was reasonable, since she made the deal.

    Thank you all for posting, seeing both side of the issue gave the perspective I needed.

    Long term, I will use the shop to "tune" my bicycle and to tell me when it needs new parts/repairs and to sell those parts to me.

    If this bike serves me well, it will likely be the only bike I'll ever buy, but who knows. It's way too early in the game to tell.

  22. #22
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidInGA View Post
    What I was not familiar with was dealing with local bike shops and what were reasonable expectations. MY general preference is to shop/buy online. I also have the mechanical experience, aptitude and tools to maintain my own bike, but I prefer not to, because I keep myself fairly busy.

    Right now, I'm probably going to buy anything else accessory wise offline and install it myself to save money, as I do not have an unlimited budget.

    ... .
    I hear ya'

    I buy EVERYTHING online -- except: food, gas -- and bike stuff...

    Instead, because I have an exceptional LBS about a mile away (sometimes you get lucky!) who takes good care of me, I buy ALL of my bike stuff from him. Sometimes I even find it online, and then go down to him and ask him to order it for me. I find it works better for several reasons:

    1) He often has better ideas... In fact, I can humbly say that he has never yet been wrong... He know me and my riding habits and preferences so he knows what will work best for me.
    2) He knows my bikes (even the 20 year old one) -- so he knows what will work and fit and what won't
    3) He backs it up with warranty
    4) If I can't get it on, he will do it for me -- or tell me what it is that I need to do -- or sell me the tool that I need, etc...

    So, all in all, it has been a good relationship for both of us. He gets the business and I save money as well as end up with a better riding experience.

    Not all LBS's are like that: some only want your money and some only cater to the high-end racers and disparage "normal" people.

    But, if you think you have an LBS like the one I have, I highly recommend that you let him help you.

    Plus, it's not simply a matter of buying parts. There is also the matter of fixing the bikes when they break and keeping everything in tune so it works properly... Bikes are a lot more complicated now than when you were riding your English Racer. (Which BTW, I wish I had kept mine -- somewhere during my life it disappeared...)
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

  23. #23
    Oh! That British Bloke .. ThatBritBloke's Avatar
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    When I read these threads, I often wonder just what some people think the margin is on bikes and bike stuff. I assure you it's a lot less than is often implied here. This is America so I've no doubt there is a millionaire bike shop owner somewhere, but I've never met one ... and I've worked in bike shops in the US and UK.

    So, if you shop by which store offers the best discount but just a shrug when you go back with an issue, then the discount's worth nothing.

    The brands you mention have completely different marketing strategies so you cannot compare. They also have warranty support policies which are incomparable between the two brands, at least in practice. Only one of these would be considered a premium brand and margins on that quality of bicycle are less than one which is built down to a price.

    Ignore discount as a criterium. Most stores will offer it to some degree or another. Once the sale is finalised there won't be a big difference in the amount discounted between shops, but there may be a huge difference in the post-sale support you receive between one store and another which may or may not be worth the usd20 you might save. It's up to you.

    Shop where you feel most comfortable and where staff take an interest in you and look pleased to see you back. You won't regret it.
    Alan

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  24. #24
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatBritBloke View Post
    When I read these threads, I often wonder just what some people think the margin is on bikes and bike stuff. I assure you it's a lot less than is often implied here. This is America so I've no doubt there is a millionaire bike shop owner somewhere, but I've never met one ... and I've worked in bike shops in the US and UK.
    My LBS of choice is owned and operated by an attorney. I assumed he decided this was a good choice for a second career, allowing him to slowly deplete his accumulated fortune. Just kidding, Tim, if you're reading this.

    It reminds me of the old joke about three architects discussing the lottery and what they'd each do if they won. The first said he'd quit his job and travel the world, seeking out all the architectural wonders he'd never had the time or funds to visit. The second said, to hell with architecture, he'd quit his job and live on a beach in Hawaii for the rest of his life. The third said he'd keep practicing architecture until the money ran out.
    Craig in Indy

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    I have a quality LBS, but I feel I have cultivated this LBS for over 15 years. My theory is that I need this LBS to stay in business because I rely on them for advice and to service my bicycles. (Except for minor stuff, I don't do any of my own maintenance). I expect the service on my bike to be of the highest quality. I don't want some eighteen year old wrenching on my bike. When if comes to accessories or gear, if my LBS has what I need I buy it from them, knowing I can it get it cheaper on-line. If not, I go somewhere else, generally on-line. Again, I want my quality LBS to be successful. I have built up a good realtionship with the owner and also the manager of the service department. They know me by first name and are always responsive. If I think they have screwed up, I give them my opinion in a frank, but respectful manner. I think this is unusual, but the LBS always gives me a 10% discount on anything I buy. In addition, I bring them homemade cookies twice a year. When I bring my bike in for service, I plan it so when I don't need the bike for a few days, letting them put in the routine line for service. This really helps, since when I do have an emergency and need something done right away, they will service my bicycle immediately. I really don't think that the profit margins are very great an LBS, which is why I don't nickel-and-dime them. This approach seems to pay off. I am currently working with the manager to buy a high-end touring bike. Of course, no one carries high-end touring bikes on the floor (although this LBS used to stock Waterford touring bikes), and they are working with me to identify the right bike, even though it won't be brand that they carry, and other then assembling the bike, they won't make any money off it. Sorry for the rambling.

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