At the community bike workshop yesterday we had two female students from Germany come in for help with their bikes.
They're staying in Wales for the summer and decided to cycle around the coast of Wales over a couple of weeks, like they'd done around the Scottish Highlands last year. It was a bit last minute so they bought two used bikes from a local dealer who removates & sells old bikes for a living. They were rubbish: one was a supermarket BSO mtb and the other was a reasonable old steel Claud Butler mtb, but which was in poor condition (about £70 each)
IMO the dealer should have a) told them they were not the right type of bike for the trip they have in mind, and b) made sure that the bikes were in good enough condition for the trip.
They'd been to one of a national chain of bike shops - Evans Cycles, to buy a pump, puncture outfit, bottle cage and pannier rack. They were sold them but the people at Evans said they didn't have time to fit them, and said the the cage bolts looked too rusty to undo (took me less than 20 seconds!)
The girls were told by a friend to come to our workshop for some help. There were loads of problems such as loose headset, very rusty brake cables, worn brake pads. We managed to sort most of their problems out and send them on their way (directing them to a good LBS for a few more essentials such as spare tubes and cables) but felt very bad about the treatment they'd received from two different bike companies. If they'd come to us in the first place they'd have had suitable tourers, with panniers and cages at no cost, and a 3 month guarantee.
It doesn't reflect well on the trade in general nor on the service to visitors to Wales.
I worry a bit about how they're going to get on - especially as they thought the coastal route around Wales is going to be quite flat , with most of the hills inland. They were optimistically aiming to get to the Gower Peninsula by yesterday evening, but I advised them to take the train for the first 40 miles. But I've a feeling that with their enthusiasm they'll do it, even with a few mishaps along the way. Let's hope the weather keeps up for them.