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  1. #1
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    What is a local bike shop?

    I know that sounds deliberately provocative. It used to be that every town had a local bicycle shop. A fairly small, usually single proprietor operation, where one guy wrenched, sold and repaired Schwinns, usually Ralieghs or Rosses and an occasional exotic.

    But now, my closest bike repair operations are multi sport outlets like Sun, Ski and Sky and REI. Do they even count? There is a high end shop over by Gwinnett place mall that sells $80 jerseys and 2 lb bicycle frames, and another shop in Swanee that has never been open when I have driven by.

    Now, I know that I do live in the far Atlanta suburbs and there are some excellent full service bike shops inside the Perimeter. But does that make them my local bike shop? Especially if it takes over an hour to get there?

    Fortunately, I am reasonably handy with wrench myself. I can true a wheel, repack bearings, replace components and adjust deraillers and brakes.

    I ride a 20 year old Japanese Lotus, a Wally World MTB, and a Dahon folder. Of course, I really can't ride either the el cheapo MTB and the Dahon much more than 20 miles at a crack. The fit and quirks of each bike just doesn't allow it, but they do have specific utilities that they fill for me.

    The Lotus is fairly comfortable, for a 20 year old steel frame and a hodge podge of upgraded components. But where do I really go for parts? What is most convenient? What takes the least amount of time and money?

    I really don't have a local bike shop.

    In some ways, I know that it is my own fault.

  2. #2
    Senior Member shaharidan's Avatar
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    well it may depend. The REI store near me has a very good bicycle deptartment. that may be unusual, i don't know. as far as parts go since it seems like you know what your doing maybe the net is the place for you.
    i do understand what your saying though, theres nothing like going into that small bike shop ( or any activity your passionate about ), and hanging around and talking to folks bout the new toys or whatever .
    No matter how fast I'm going, I'm in no hurry.
    there are no bicycles in the valley, the only bicycle you find in the valley is the bicycle you ride down there.
    Ride in the front, this space is available to anyone that wishes to take it-jjmolyet

  3. #3
    road siklista dexmax's Avatar
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    in my area, there are 3 local shops... just as you described an LBS should be...

    But instead, there are two to three guys.. One goes gen. repair.. Another does the sales. the other one is the owner, which also takes care of critical repairs(BBs, Headsets/Forks, etc.).

    Unfortunately, they don't sell high-end stuff...

  4. #4
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    I tend to consider a LBS to be one within 5 miles of home. I however prefer to shop at my FBS (Favourite Bike Shop) which used to be local but I have since moved about 30 miles away. I do go to the LBS for some small and quick stuff though but my major purchases and maintenance are at my FBS. I'm also really good friends with the owner of the FBS.
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
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  5. #5
    Friend of Jimmy K naisme's Avatar
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    I seem to have a lot of LBSs, and a couple FBSs, well two and they are both a ways a way, I like them any way. We have several "chain" bike stores all started locally, and tend to have positioned themselves to be the LBS and have staked out the territory pretty well, meaning the other guy is at least 5-10 miles away.
    There are options for getting bike stuff like Nashbar and Proformance, Colorado Cyclist, to name a few. They all have catalogues and do mail order.
    "I will remain the stranger who came from a faraway land." Lance Armstrong

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  6. #6
    Jubalayo Unogwaja! Bokkie's Avatar
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    An lbs is that place where you go to and feel comfortable with the people who run it/own it/wrench it. A place where they make you feel welcome and where you like to go to. It's not about the goods they sell or not sell, but to me, it's about the quality of what they offer and the way they offer it. My lbs is about 20 mins drive from home. There are 3 others within 5 min drive but I don't consider them as my lbs. You might get on well with your neighbours but that does not mean there is a welcome mat by their front door.

    The bigger shops have it all, but there are some things they do not have. A welcome mat would do nicely.
    If your bollocks ain't sore, yer ain't on yer boike!

  7. #7
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    and another shop in Swanee that has never been open when I have driven by.
    I've been to this one several times. I have bought a jersey and a chain cleaner there and I can say that they are quite friendly. I've gone in there several times and talked to both the owners and the wrench all of whom were nice. Additionally they were not just hanging around trying to sell me something. The other one "Atlanta Cycling" I went into yesterday and was getting the sales pitches left and right even though I told the guy in no uncertain terms that I AM UNEMPLOYED and that I couldn't afford the $2000 Cannondale that I was drooling over.

    Granted neither one of these compares to the bike shop back home in Cinci. but I would have to vote for Mama's Board and Bike in Suwanee as a better bet than Atlanta Cycling although the latter seems to have had a much prettier bike collection.

  8. #8
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    I didn't mean to sound like I was knocking "Mama's Board and Bike". The shop looks interesting. But I usually hit the Swanee Wally World after 8:00 p.m., and they just aren't open then.

    Atlanta Cycling is fun, but it's kind of like going to a Porsche dealer.

  9. #9
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    By the way MisterJ, can you recomend any good places to ride out here? I'm going to be in this area (5 minutes from the Suwanee Wallyworld) for the next 3-4 months at least and am not terribly familiar with it.

  10. #10
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    Some of this is going to sound like heresy, but here are my recommendations for rides. Sugarloaf Parkway has bike lanes on both sides enough space that is allows for a reasonably safe ride. Traffic will be really moving though and you have to be prepared for the "bow waves", the good thing is that it is about 10 miles long and the bike lanes are clearer of gutter trash than many routes. I don't have a problem riding some of the four and five lane stuff on the weekend, with the exception of route 20 or Buford highway.

    For nice easy spinning, you can't beat the Silver Comet Trail, with 38 miles of mixed used rail/trail. The problem is that it is just about an hour away and the Cobb county end can be pretty busy. But if you are looking for a fast flat up to 80 mile workout, it's tough to beat. Its also a great place to take the real newbies. Almost anyone can spin 15 to 20 miles there first time out.

    Back to Gwinnett county, I like taking 124 to Braselton and then 11 south and wander around in the back roads in the country on the way back, or any number of back roads east of Hamilton Mill and 324. Old Peachtree all the way to Dacula isn't really bad either.

    For ATB folks, there is some nice easy singletrack at Tribble Mill Park and Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, and more MTB stuff at Yellow Creek.

    The Atlanta Path organization has a mixed use trail that goes from Stone Mountain to Georgia Tech. But it really suffers from slow walkers and an inordinate number of stop signs. Stone Mountain can be fun to ride around, but stay out of the cruisers on the weekends.

    The Georgia Department of Transportation publishes a state map with some recommended bike routes. But I think that somebody just drew lines on a map. Collins Hill Road is a recommended north south route, but it's combination of fairly narrow two lane and steep short hills just blows my legs to rubber.

    Being from Cinci, you have seen some hills, but we have more than our share, and some pretty rude drivers. The heat and humidity can be problemmatic, but evening or morning work can help a lot

  11. #11
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    Sorry we were not open ... kinda stumbled on this thread ... we are like the shop you described at the beginning ... owners do most of the work. So we have to rest sometime!!

    Anyway ... we are no longer in Suwanee or Snellville and have consolidated our shop in Historic Buford on Main St ... cool old 10,000 square foot building. Our hours are on the site ... as well as a shopping cart which almost accurately displays our inventory. So unlike the old shops ... we are moving into the world of 1's and 0's (digital)

    Anyway stop by some time ... we close earlier now ... but are much better.

    chuck

  12. #12
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    Times change.

    Any shop that shows up on this monitor, has what I'm looking for, and has the best price -- is the new local bike shop now.

  13. #13
    synapses firing bluecd's Avatar
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    here is my local bike shop. about 10 minutes away from my home, owned and run by two great guys. they sell cannondale, merlin, and independent fab. nice personal service.


  14. #14
    "Il Pontificatore" The Pontificato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldcrank
    Times change.

    Any shop that shows up on this monitor, has what I'm looking for, and has the best price -- is the new local bike shop now.
    I'd second that, and I am old enough to remember the single-proprietor bike shops. I grew up in a town of 50,000 (Newark, OH) that at one time back in the mid 70's had no less than FOUR bike shops one of which was the good 'ol Schwinn dealer.

    There is a full-service bike shop located a block away from my home. I could pedal there in less than three minutes yet I take my business to three shops an hour's drive away? Why? Customer service or rather, a lack of it at the local shop. I can take a certain amount of crapola in the interest of making a deal but the local guy here is a total ass. I mean, it's like he did everything to drive me away and I have a sales background. His line is "I'm the only game in town. Take it or leave it". I'll leave thankyouverymuch.

    Oh, well. "times change". I bought stuff from Bike Nashbar (then Bike Warehouse) 30 years ago...I'm still buying from them today.

  15. #15
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    Our LBS owner once made a house call to break a chain when my little brother accidentally caught his finger between the chain and the chainring while doing a little tinkering. My mother made the frantic call and he was at our doorstep within 5 minutes. That was 40 years ago in Yokohama.....
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  16. #16
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    I like the shop bluecd has a picture of. I want my shop to be in a converted garage, for the irony.
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  17. #17
    Car(e) Free! koine2002's Avatar
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    The one LBS in my area closed down a few months ago--it was like the type you described. My suburban area is not too friendly to Bicycle Shops or coffee shops--we still don't have a Starbucks! The nearest shop to me is 15 miles west in Oklahoma City--it's one of four in a franchise. There's really only one shop like the one you described in our area, it's a good 20 mile drive for me, but I like it there. They (owned and run by two guys--no employees) specialize in Single Speed conversions, frame/wheel building, and entry level to mid-range stuff, plus they are a dealer of the same brand as the one that closed up (KHS). I found another one, about 3 blocks from there a couple days ago. Strictly high end stuff though. Most of the other shops are all franchises (whether local franchise or national).

    To your questions: an LBS is a place you go where everybody knows your name and you can hang out and talk "shop" on a rainy day. If it means you drive an hour, you drive an hour.
    "There is hardly a man or woman who dares to be just what he or she is without doctoring up the impression." --A.W. Tozer

  18. #18
    Senior Member curt in denver's Avatar
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    Very fortunate here in Denver metro area, we have many fine non-chain LBS.
    "People who speak in metaphors should shampoo my crotch"
    -Jack Nicholson

  19. #19
    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    Since I am old enough to remember REI when it just had the one store on Capitol Hill here in Seattle I consider it an LBS.
    Matthew 6

  20. #20
    Senior Member squeegy200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bokkie
    An lbs is that place where you go to and feel comfortable with the people who run it/own it/wrench it. A place where they make you feel welcome and where you like to go to. It's not about the goods they sell or not sell, but to me, it's about the quality of what they offer and the way they offer it. My lbs is about 20 mins drive from home. There are 3 others within 5 min drive but I don't consider them as my lbs. You might get on well with your neighbours but that does not mean there is a welcome mat by their front door.

    The bigger shops have it all, but there are some things they do not have. A welcome mat would do nicely.

    You've described my situation exactly.
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  21. #21
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    My lbs is about .8 miles down the street, about 5 minutes on bike. They are pretty overpriced, but nice guys. They tend to be more road and comfort oriented so that is kinda a bummer. They carry Specialized, Trek, Guru, Haro, Electra, Gary Fisher. Its kinda a bummer they don't have any DH bikes, but the mechanics usually bring in their bikes to wrench on, so I get to ride those

    Then there is a shop about 15 miles away, which I prefer. More laid back, but not as good service, they have better prices, a huge selection of bikes, but mainly road bikes cause they are right on a riding path.

  22. #22
    B.C. to D.C.
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    I'm lucky to have two local bike shops near my commute destination:

    College Park bikes, and Proteus, both in College Park, MD. College Park bikes is okay--mostly snooty road stuff and a bit overpriced--deal mostly in Trek and that ilk.

    Proteus, however, is the shiznit. How can you not like a shop that has potlucks on Thursdays and a bike mechanic training program for youths? They have reasonable prices, deal with small companies, and run the gamut of mountain, road, bmx, and comfort (and the guys who owned it previously used to produce the Proteus brand bicycle). The folks are knowledgeable and nice as all hell--always willing to chat or lend a spanner or two--and unafraid to recommend a better option, even if it costs them a few bucks. Even though it's not so local, it feels a little bit like home to me every time I go there. Now that, my friends, is invaluable, and why I don't bother spending my money elsewhere.

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