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Thread: LBS Experience

  1. #1
    Senior Member dennisa's Avatar
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    LBS Experience

    On my quest to educate myself and get fitted to find out what size bike I need etc... I went to a LBS. It's the first time I've entered a real bike shop in many years (on the order of 15+ yrs last time I was there it was for my skateboarding years). Anyway I had to meet up with some friends tonight and figure well theres a proper bike shop on the way I'll stop in. Sorry if this is long I just want to see if all shops are like this.

    So I go up to the counter was greeted kindly. Tell the guy how I've been riding a walmart mtb special for a while and that I've never been fit for a bike and I have no idea what size I need. I also mentioned I've never actually taken the mtb off road and I'm interested in a road bike. So he's being honest with me tells me he's running late and should of left work already but he'll give me a quick tour of the place and see what might be suitable for me.

    First off he tells me I don't care if you buy a bike from me or not I can turn over the inventory without your sale. But I'd like to educate you. I feel at this point like he's saying hey I've got the upper hand my price is what it is and oh to make you feel good about giving me your money I'll spend some time with you.

    Starts of by telling me that if I spend about 2hrs with them on a set-up they use for fitting that it'll cost $200 to do a though fitting. Explains that everyone at the BS has been trained to fit cyclists. If I were to buy a bike $1000-1499 I'd get some of that back. If the bike cost $1500-3000 the fitting would be free. He also mentions that we've fit so many bikes that when we get you one something and we say it fits it fits.

    So we get onto my budget. I say at the moment I don't have much but $600-800 might suit me. I also mentioned that I'm not prepared to buy today. At this point I feel he's already trying to sell me something. He asks you're about 5'6", pretty impressed he nailed my height. He says you'll need a 50-52cm. So he shows me 2 Raleigh's and says that one goes for $525, the other $600ish. I asked him about components as I couldn't tell what shimano setup was on them . I mentioned that I would like to find something with at least a Sora set-up yet he tells me that he doesn't have anything with that setup. I tell him I'm a little hesitant to go with anything less than Sora because of my experience with my current mtb. So he goes on a slight tangent showing me a Trek and says this one is $829, I ask "is this a 1.2" and he says, "I don't know" looks back at the tag and says. "why yes it is". I'm thinking why is it I know this and I've never bought a bike before. Then shows me another bike about a simliar price although he says the Trek has better rims than this one but this one has a better components. Then he shows me a Felt Z series with shimano 105's and give me a price $1200 or so. He seems to be trying to up-sell me something already. I ask, "well would it be a good idea to look for a better frame to start with and upgrade components in the future" I mention that I've seen a lot of people like the caad9, I mention how the cadd9-6 has slightly different components than the caad9-5 but the same frame to get my point across. he says. " I don't know what that is we don't sell them" .he didn't like that idea. what he says after this basically comes across as I think you should buy a bike with a ok frame and ok components and then you'll really know what you want and then instead of this 18lb bike you'll want something better liek this carbon fiber 16lber. So rather then upgrade components just buy a new bike.

    At this point I'm running behind schedule and I need to head off. He tells me that he's the owner of the shop and to come back anytime to take something for a ride.

    Anyway is this typical of most LBS I kinda didn't feel comfortable with the thought of buying a bike at this place I visited.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Nermal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dennisa View Post

    First off he tells me I don't care if you buy a bike from me or not I can turn over the inventory without your sale. But I'd like to educate you. I feel at this point like he's saying hey I've got the upper hand my price is what it is and oh to make you feel good about giving me your money I'll spend some time with you.
    Well, body language, tone of voice could have you take this one in several ways. You could call it arrogance; you could say that he was happy to share his knowledge even if you bought somewhere, which would be nice, if that's how he intended the comment. Remember, he was running late, and it sounds as though it were after closing time.

    If you're not comfortable with that shop, by all means, go elsewhere. Just from what you've written, it sounds like a keeper, but again, I wasn't there.
    Some people are like a Slinky ... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

  3. #3
    Senior Member dennisa's Avatar
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    I was there are 6:30pm store closes at 8pm.

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    Senior Member Tapeworm21's Avatar
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    Don't go into a shop and right off the bat ask "What size do you think I am?" Know what that says to the sales guy? I want my size so I can buy a used bike.

    That said, get a Caad9.
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  5. #5
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    The main problem with buying a bike is finding the right LBS.

    I have a fantastic shop that I use and it is perfect for me. They know me- what I want and will always offer advice. That may not be the case for everyone though.
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    Senior Member Kimmitt's Avatar
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    That didn't sound bad to me at all -- he listened to what you wanted, offered you some services, and tried to sell you the nice stuff while offering the less nice stuff.

    I guess I'm not sure what you were looking for. That seemed like a fairly standard good sales pitch at a store that caters to roadies. Road bikes are expensive, and the folks involved tend to know this.
    I see unexamined people. All the time. I don't think they know they're unexamined.

  7. #7
    Senior Member dennisa's Avatar
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    the feedback that I'm reading in this thread is what I'm looking for. I'm trying to gain a better prospective of what I should be looking for in a LBS.

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    Men are from Mars... Don't over-analyse his words. We keep things pretty simple on Mars.

    It is his job to show you the differences of equipment relative to price point.

    It doesn't sound like a bad shop at all. Just because the shop is open until 8, doesn't mean he doesn't have other commitments in his everyday life.

    My advice, determine you budget, then upsale yourself to a better bike(the Sears Good, Better, Best thing). You will be happier with your purchase longer.

  9. #9
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimmitt View Post
    That didn't sound bad to me at all -- he listened to what you wanted, offered you some services, and tried to sell you the nice stuff while offering the less nice stuff.

    I guess I'm not sure what you were looking for. That seemed like a fairly standard good sales pitch at a store that caters to roadies. Road bikes are expensive, and the folks involved tend to know this.
    I agree with kimmitt that exchange seemed quite engaged, considerate of your parameters, and had both good services and varied selection. he even fairly broached the subject of price ceiling limiting frame quality.

    That bike shop would be a place to keep on the short list.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 07-25-09 at 09:48 AM.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dennisa View Post
    At this point I'm running behind schedule and I need to head off. He tells me that he's the owner of the shop and to come back anytime to take something for a ride.

    Anyway is this typical of most LBS I kinda didn't feel comfortable with the thought of buying a bike at this place I visited.
    You had time limitations and he indicated he had time limitations. What did you hope to accomplish that didn't happen?

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    Sounds to me like you went in expecting the worst, got good service for that visit; but then tried hard to read too much into his help.

    Relax a little more, the guy sounded like he was being straight forward with good info.

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    I agree it doesn't sound like a bad exchange. Remember the guy can't read your mind and has to try to determine from your budget and questions what you're really after. Not always easy...

    Plus if you're probably not going to order a bike he'd probably like to sell you something in stock and only has so many options.

    That being said, trying to up-sell you??? If he was the shop owner I sure hope so

    -spence

  13. #13
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    I don't blame you for being left with a bad taste in your mouth. I would have run out the door! Why?

    He's making you feel obligated for a proper fitting. Implied you'd be making - or saving - money if you were fitted and bought more bicycle than you wanted/afforded/needed. It sounds to me like he was trying to make you feel guilty ("I should have left work...") if you didn't hand him a big roll of $100's. And bought what he said (lied) to you, using the line about the $200 to fit you. I'd be fit to be tied.

    I swear - a lot of these gold-diggers are climbing out from under the USED CARS! tents and making a b-line for naive cyclists. I've worked in retail sales, but by my own rules. If telling people the truth and truly being an adviser for a potential sale was not what was wanted - then I walked. As a result, I made more sales from return customers than from new. Many of whom became friends. The other venues have long since gone out of business.

    Your intuitive instinct was right on the spot. Get your fitting for free. Get a friend with a bicycle a bit smaller than you. Get a tape-measure. Have at! Use search - or Google - to learn how to measure your body and length. This will tell you what will be best. Then go to another bike-shop armed with the data. This won't cost you a dime.

    Guys like Machiavelli there give all of us who work in cyclist's interests a big, juicy, black-eye. Don't patronize 'em - send 'em back to their tent with the turned-back odometers on previously submerged Subaru cars.

    Ya know? Some people have a built-in moral-compass that tells them to help people and make well-informed decisions. Some people are money-grubbing sociopaths. Don't judge us all by the spectacular idiocy of sociopathic sales-reps. There really are good folk out there who will help you out. Seek them out. You won't feel guilty and write posts on the internet about how conflicted you felt from such an encounter - you'll be too busy riding a wonderful bicycle you were assisted, not brow-beaten, into purchasing with your own hard-owned cash.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  14. #14
    billyymc
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nermal View Post
    If you're not comfortable with that shop, by all means, go elsewhere.
    +1

    Keep looking. You'll find a better shop.

  15. #15
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    Dennisa, a professional fitting is just that - a PROFESSIONAL fitting. The fitters get trained to know about geometry, different body types, demands on the body according to type of riding intent, etc.

    The fit bike is what you would be put on, measurements taken, your walking gait, how you pedal, symmetry of your pedaling style etc is all considered and calculated for what frame size is best for you. I know it seems expensive and time consuming but considering it's free if you buy a bike, it's worth it.

    You told the guy that your price range for a starter bike is between 600-800. It seems to me that he started there but worked up, taking in consideration your need for better components, and trying to please you.

    When you spoke of the Caad9, he probably didn't want to comment on a bike he has no thorough knowledge of....which is understandable because he probably didn't want to feed you a lie or give you false information.

    Considering that he was on the way out of the door (maybe he had an emergency at home?) in my opinion he went out of his way to give you the info that he could in the time he could spare.

    I wouldn't take it so hard.

    I've been in an LBS that laughed at the saddle I wanted on my bike because it was a heavy leather saddle on a lightweight frame. Not only did he laugh about it, he announced it out loud to the other workers to call attention to it, and then shook his head.

  16. #16
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    I'm a little mixed on this one. While the owner seemed ok in that he took the time to walk the customer through the store and provide some basic information, from the description here, the owner did seem like he had an attitude. I wouldn't buy from an owner who says that he doesn't need my business, etc. I would buy from someone who at least appears to appreciate me and my business.

    But with that said, when I was starting out on this hobby I went to a highly reputable local triathlon shop. I am lucky enough to have 10+ LBS within 1 mile of my house and about 50 LBS within 10 minutes driving distance. The problem is that most of these shops carry lower end bikes that are barely a step up from department store bikes (like Schwinn but they don't carry Cannondale, Trek, etc...and of course don't carry Cervelo, Pinarello, etc.).

    The highly reputable triathlon shop near my house didn't want to talk to me. They asked what I am looking for and I basically said that I don't really know but I was thinking of getting a road bike but I'm not sure about the price points and what I should get. I was hoping someone would give me some information that I now know like "Well, for $500 you get a dept store bike that has suspect parts and probably won't last you. For $1000 you can actually get a decent Cannondale that has entry level parts but the bike is still much better than any dept store bike. For $2000 you're getting into Carbon fiber which is lighter and absorbs vibration better. And it goes up from there...with better frames and higher components. If you're starting out, I'd probably recommend a $1000 aluminum frame bike with entry level parts if your budget allows that. If you want something better, an entry level Carbon bike will be good. Or if you really want to go all out, a mid-high level carbon bike is basically like buying a Ferrari."

    But nobody said that. Instead the guy basically said "well, all of our bikes are high end so you can take a look around and get whatever you can afford" and then he walked away to do more important stuff (even though there was no one else in the shop). They mostly carried Kuota, Scott, and Felt bikes. I walked out about 5 minutes later still confused and clueless.

    The problem is that I went to 3 more LBS in my area (all reputable places) and they were all pretty much like this. Eventually I did all of the research myself online and within a week I knew more than the guys in the shop about their own bikes.

    Your LBS is a valuable resource and I try to support them as much as possible but they're becoming more and more like the bike department at your big sporting goods store.

    RVD.

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    It's hard to say as I wasn't there, other than the $200 fitting I could see this either way - the guy may have been a total ass, or he may have not been that bad depending on his attitude, tone, pushiness, etc. To answer your question, you *certainly* don't *need* a $200 fitting. You're certainly correct that it's absolutely important to buy a bike that's the right size, but even if you pay for the fitting (which I recommend, as I prefer not to risk having the guy try to tell me my size is the same size as whatever they have in stock) it should be like $35 for a basic fitting that tells you what size bike you need and is credited back to your purchase if you buy a bike there, no matter what the bike costs.

    Back in the day, it used to be that the frames were the same and the components just went up as you payed more. Nowadays it's kinda the opposite - you don't get much by upgrading your components (unless they're really crappy) but as you get more expensive the frames get better and better, especially in carbon fiber bikes. It's also REALLY expensive (at least without technical expertise and the ability to do it yourself) to upgrade components later - I asked about upgrading my Sora shifters to Tiagra. The bike shop said it was $250 retail for the shifters, so even if they gave me a good deal it would still be $250 including installation. And that was just the shifters, not the cables, derailler, chainring, etc. Also, Sora and Tiagra are 9 speed, while 105 and up is 10 speed, so if you want to upgrade from one group to another you have to replace everything all at once.

    I definitely agree with you - I wouldn't buy anything less than Sora on a road bike. Sora is pretty solid except that the shifters annoyingly only let you shift from the hoods. Tiagra has the double levers on the brakes so you can shift from the drops, and it's a pretty solid set. 105 is ten speed and billed as "entry level racing" - most people cannot tell the difference between 105 and anything above it.

    You said that up to this point you've just ridden a Walmart special mountain bike. You also mention the CAAD9. In road bikes, there's 2 general groups - race road bikes, and "endurance" road bikes. If your big ambition is to go fast and feel like you're going fast, or to race your serious road bike friends, a race bike is probably what you want. But a race bike puts you in more of that leaned over position - it takes a while to build up back muscles to support yourself, and it's way more important to get a good fit to be comfortable while riding. It's also harder to enjoy the scenery, look for oncoming traffic, or just chat with your friends. The bike is super responsive, but it takes a certain amount of concentration at all times just to keep in going straight. A CAAD 9 is in this group.

    On the other hand, you have the "endurance" road bikes. They're nearly as fast, but they're a lot more comfortable and easy going. As for speed, the difference in speed between a mountain bike with knobby tires and any decent road bike is like 30%-50%. The difference in speed between a race road bike and an endurance road bike is like 3%, and 2% of that could be eliminated if you adjusted the setup to resemble a race road bike. So not a big deal. But it's a lot easier to get an endurance road bike fitted right (there's something I've found about having the handlebars above the seat that makes getting a comfy fit soooooo much easier). It's way less work to go straight so you can totally just enjoy the scenery. And it's easier to talk to friends you're biking with or to look over your should or down a street you're coming up on because you're not all hunched over.

    Don't get me wrong, when I want to hit it hard and go fast my race road bike is great. But I actually bought a 2nd "endurance" style bike because sometimes I just like to peacefully cruise around and I could never comfortably do that on the race road bike (it's comfortable while going fast, but never quite comfortable going slow for some reason).

    You're the one to decide, but it sounds to me like a endurance road bike would be what you're looking for. I bought a Specialized Sequoia (the Allez is their lower end race version) -
    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...=39270&eid=117

    It's $880 full retail, so it's around your price range (I know my local bike shop has it on sale for $760). I rather like it, my only complaint is that it doesn't have more clearance for bigger tires (or fenders) - I don't think it would take above a 28c tire. But it does have fender and rack mounts. It has Sora components (with a Tiagra rear derailler). I also bought it because I needed something I would be comfortable leaving locked up, and this was the lowest I was willing to go for a road bike. I find not being able to shift from the drops a little annoying, but I'm considering buying a Tiagra right shifter off ebay for $50 then paying the bike shop another $50 to install it. A lot of people just ride on the hoods anyways, so you might not even care. I've found the Sequoia to be a real decent ride, though it's certainly not the absolute smoothness of my full carbon frame.

    Just to contradict myself, it appears that the Sequoia uses the same frame for the higher and lower end bikes. If not being able to shift from the drops doesn't bother you, I might suggest buying the lower end Sequoia, then if you really get into road biking saving up and buying a much more expensive bike that comes with a full carbon frame like an entry level Specialized Roubaix.

    I know the other manufacturers sell their own "endurance" road bikes, I'm just not as familiar with what they're called - anyone who knows please feel free to comment.

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    The guy said he was heading home but stuck around to help you. What time the store closes is irrelevant. You don't know the time the salesman started. He gave you a price for a fitting but told you that price would be diminished depending on how expensive the bike you purchased was. He's just quoting store policy and being honest up front. He showed you numerous bikes and tried to give you an idea of what he had available in your price range. I felt he did a pretty good job overall considering you told him you had no intention of buying anything at that time. But like others have said, if you are uncomfortable then by all means shop elsewhere.

  19. #19
    astrositupataphysicyclist UBUvelo's Avatar
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    i finally visited my two closest shops...they were sorta helpful. but seemed hurried. and quick to the point. and didn't want to upgrade a simple component but thought it best i just buy a whole new bike...the atmosphere smelled of snobbery. it was just un-natural and not as customer-friendly as i expected.

    i probably WILL shop elsewhere.
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  20. #20
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    When I picked up my new bike, one of the staff spent about 15-20 minutes with me getting the fit right. It wasn't one of those scientific fittings, measuring all my physical dimensions and turning them into bike settings. It was put the bike into a trainer, get on it, start fitting one step at a time. I'd pedal, he'd observe, I'd answer his questions about how it felt, he'd tweak, and so on. He even did the handlebars and stem, seeing as how I deliberately chose a bike with an adjustable stem.

    No charge, guaranteed for life - I can come back and do it again if need be, subject only to how busy they are. This was on a $600 bike. Perhaps if I were into racing, I'd want something more technical, but I'm not. I just want to tell them where it hurts and have them fix it.

    In all the shops I visited, I never felt rushed, I was always given a chance to try riding a bike in the lot. The more experienced staff would do a better job of listening to my concerns and making recommendations, but none of them tried to upsell me.

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