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Old 07-29-08, 03:06 PM   #1
TexasKid
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Need advice: buy "on-line" vs. local bike shop

Howdy folks. I've been lurking for a while and just registered. Been riding bikes my whole life... ride a moutain bike for fun right now - but I want to become a road bike guy and start riding several times a week and go on long rides (Hotter'n Hell Hundred on 8/23!). I've never bought a new rode bike, but want to... want to get a good fair price, want quality, and don't want to get taken advantage of. Guess what? I also want to save as much money as possible. I'm trying to educate myself about all this but it's like a whole new world. If anyone wants to give me any ideas, thoughts, pros/cons, advice, direction on buying on-line (like from bikesdirect.com or a similar site), I'd appreciate it. I want a good bike and it doesn't necessarily have to have a prestigious name on the side. If I've missed similar threads on this site I apologize... I'm still exploring the site. Cost - I can probably come up with $500 and another $100 on some must-have accessories. Thanks y'all... I really like this forum.
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Old 07-29-08, 05:32 PM   #2
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I like the fact I can roll my into the lbs and say" Why the hell is it doing this?" I aint found that button on my pc
Even if with shipping plus order part would save 10% I prefer to buy local (gives me some one to gripe at if I need to) supporting good local busnesses is all ways worth while in my book. And worth paying a premium . I once went to my local hardware store to look for a small shop vac . He had one for around 36 walmart had one for 24 I explained the price difference and that would rather buy it from him .
Asked "can you do any better? He showed me his price (same as walmart was selling it for ) best he could do was cost plus 10% I bought it from him
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Old 07-30-08, 12:41 PM   #3
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If you're competent with an Allen wrench, own a few bike-specific tools, and don't mind doing all the maintenance yourself, by all means buy online. In the past year or so I've bought two new bikes online or via phone order. I don't regret it for an instant. Doing the assembly myself was a great way to get familiar with them. There were some minor hitches with one bike because of a parts list snafu, but nothing that couldn't be settled via a phone call and a quick UPS shipment of the right parts.

But if you don't know which end of an Allen wrench to pound on, or you don't have the time to tinker, you should probably find an LBS that can help fit you to a bike and keep your new bike in shape.

If you fall in between these two extremes, it's your call. What's your time worth?
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Old 07-31-08, 08:18 AM   #4
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I'm leaning towards buying from Bikes Direct. I've read about a few negative experiences on the internet regarding them, but for the most part, there is positive feedback. The problem I have with local bike shops, and I'm going to make some people mad at me for this (Sorry!), is that although service is probably great, I don't like feeling that I am probably getting taken advantage of on my initial bike purchase.

I've got lots of tools and sort of grew up working on cars, bikes, turning wrenches, hammering nails, yada yada yada. However, I realize there are a couple of tools I may need to get if I want to maintain my own bike, which I probably will. Matter of fact, there is not a good bike shop around here anywhere - maybe I'll go into business and work on all those bikes people buy on-line!
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Old 07-31-08, 09:37 PM   #5
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....Cost - I can probably come up with $500 and another $100 on some must-have accessories. Thanks y'all... I really like this forum.
Too bad. The Immortals are really looking nice. You can have a full carbon delivered to your door for $1295. (Oops, just notice you may be in Texas. I think you'll have to pay tax. )
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Old 08-07-08, 09:20 PM   #6
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I live in NY and there are all levels of shops. None can compete with the online deals. Like someone else stated, if you don't do your own wrenching use a shop. Otherwise they are cut from the equation. That doesn't say you can't still use them for service and odds and ends. They just can't compete on groups, wheels, etc. After finding PBK or something like that how can shop owners justify charging twice as much for tires. It's tuff to have a shop in any line of goods. Price of doing business is getting higher everyday.
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Old 08-21-08, 05:42 AM   #7
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I am a long time Mt Biker and recently have tried road biking to ride in a Century Team in Training event. So I needed a road bike and didn't have alot of cash. I wanted to spend about 1K. I shopped local shops but bought on line because I was able to save about $700 over a similiarly equipped bike at the LBS. Great right? Well I have no complaints of the bike it is awesome. How ever I paid 150 for a total fitting at the LBS, then after 2 shake down rides I needed derailer adjustments, another $50 then I dumped the bike by not getting my cleat out in time to stop another $40 to fix. Point is that most shops give you a year or more of free tune ups and the fitting is deducted from the price etc. It might be best to develop a relation ship with the LBS when buying a bike unless you can do all the work you will probably need your self. Just one man's opinion.
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Old 08-21-08, 02:36 PM   #8
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To me - and I speak both as a consumer and as a business owner - if I need a service, I buy it locally. If I need a product, I buy it based on price.

In some cases I have saved over 50% by buying bike stuff on-line, even factoring in shipping. There simply is no competition, nor should there be. Selling goods and selling services are totally different business models, and bike shops or other retailers trying to do both as behind the times.
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Old 08-21-08, 07:28 PM   #9
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Moving this to General
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Old 08-21-08, 07:39 PM   #10
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Bought online: some lights, handlebar grips, used bike, barely-used wheels, etc.

Bought at the shop: Bikes, saddles, pedals, shoes, workstand (at cost since it was my birthday ), helmets, some clothing, etc.

Received at the shop: Stems, warranty items (saddle bag, crankset, etc), STI short-reach shims, shock pump, 'cross brake lever, swapped bikes for a better size, etc.

I go with my shop as often as possible. They know that I don't buy everything there, but they also know that I come to them for big-ticket items and buying & wrenching advice. More of them know my name than I know theirs, too.
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Old 08-21-08, 11:24 PM   #11
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If u find yourself asking for step-by-step instructions with pictures, buy LBS.

If u only ask question here as a last resort, buy online.
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Old 08-29-08, 11:05 AM   #12
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There's nothing like getting your hands on the actual product, being able to test ride a bike, or if you're building a bike from parts, look at a frame and take measurements of it to see If the components, accessories, etc. will actually fit and perhaps get advice on what will work best. It's hard to that online and if you don't support your local shops that's the only choice you'll wind up with. That said, sometimes I do buy online to get some parts I can't find locally, and if you don't live anywhere near a decent LBS, or are pulling lots of OT online may be your only option.
BTW I am not an LBS owner or employee.
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Old 08-29-08, 12:18 PM   #13
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I'll put my vote in for the LBS as well. Just the ability to talk to a real person and show them in real life what is happening with the bike is worth a lot of money to me. Yes, I'm very mechanically inclined but there are still situations where I need a second opinion on something. That can be hard to do with an online shop.

Yes, I will buy some things online, but I'm going to be sure to give the LBS its fair share of business as well. Just think about it - if everyone starts buying online then how will that LBS stay in business for the time that you really do need someone local to work your bike?

Don't get me wrong - saving some money is great. To me there is a time and place for it. But it's not when I'm getting a new bike.
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Old 08-29-08, 12:25 PM   #14
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Split the difference and give performancebike.com a shot. You can shop online and save the shipping by having your orders sent to the store for pick-up, (only needed if they don't have what you want in stock).

There are local storefronts in Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano. I bought my Fuji Touring from the Dallas store and was exceptionally pleased with the service I got.
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Old 08-29-08, 01:07 PM   #15
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I hate hate hate local bike shops, at least all of them in my general area. If they aren't just outright snobs, then they don't have the selection I am looking for.

Went into one bike shop that I never visited before last weekend. Needed a new seatpost after I overtightened my carbon fiber pile of crap seatpost. Wanted to go cheap and aluminum since I'm not all that concerned over the weight. The only seatpost they had in stock? A carbon fiber seatpost for $153. After I balked and was headed out the door, they magically pulled one from behind the counter that only cost $40. Trouble was it was still carbon fiber.

Could they have ordered it for me? Sure I guess, but then I would have to wait just as long as if I ordered it myself.

The rest of my local LBS's, the service is just terrible. They act like you are intruding on their little club. Ask any basic questions and you get a lot of rolled eyes. The legendary bike fit that so many users brag about amounts to one of the non-caring employees looking at me and say, "you look like a 56cm.......here ya go. Will that be cash or charge?"

So, I guess if you found a bike shop that had top notch service, and carried the brands and models of bikes that you like, go for it. For me, it's like finding a friggin' needle in a haystack.
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Old 08-29-08, 01:12 PM   #16
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Post up in your regional forum and see if any local members can recommend a good LBS near you.
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Old 08-29-08, 01:35 PM   #17
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I would only buy from an LBS. I own a good stand, I have good tools, I know how to use them, and I do use them.

My experience is that the advice you get from a good shop will save you money. They tell me about things I don't know about and direct me away from things I think I need but don't or help me find things that I do need. With the discount, I pay the same or less than I would online.

I try to treat them well, and they treat me well. Everyone comes out ahead.
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