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Old 04-10-10, 10:44 AM   #1
comfort
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Bike shop runaround-faulty business model??

I'm trying to buy a bike. Trying REALLY hard to buy a bike. Very few of the bikes I'm interested in are stocked by the local bike shops and are "special orders", and thus (they tell me) are nonreturnable, so I'd have to go completely on faith that I would actually like the bike I get.

Specifically, the local shops that carry Raleigh, Kona, Torker, Felt and Giant will not order a bike they don't stock unless I pay for it in advance, and it's nonreturnable.

Therefore, I won't be buying a Raleigh, Kona, Torker, Felt or Giant bike.

The Marin dealer will order the bike I'm interested in, and if I don't like it, charge me the shipping fee ($45), which seems reasonably fair.

The Jamis dealer will order the bike with no obligation, which is great.

The specific bikes I'm interested in seeing/riding are the Raleigh Detour Deluxe and Raleigh Calispel i8, Kona Dew FS, Torker t-530, Felt Cafe 8, Giant Suede, Jamis commuter 3 (2009) and Marin Bridgeway IT.

I understand a small bike shop can't carry every single model a manufacturer makes, and that they don't want to be stuck with a bike they can't sell, but it seems there should be some sort of agreement between the manufacturer and its dealers to be able to offer non-stocked bikes to interested buyers.

Would appreciate any alternatives to the above bikes that may be more widely available. I'm particularly interested in internal gear hub bikes for around-town (Charlotte, NC)neighborhood riding, coffee shop runs, grocery getter, park rides, etc., probably no further than 5 mile rides, mostly fair weather, mostly street, some greenway trails, etc.
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Old 04-10-10, 12:24 PM   #2
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Look for a bigger dealer, even if you have to travel a little.
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Old 04-10-10, 12:59 PM   #3
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Try looking at the Classic and Vintage forum for some ideas as to what is available used. There are two threads there "Your catch of the day..."and "Are you looking for one of these?..." Maybe what you really need is an old English three speed. There is a thread devoted to them on the Utility Bike forum. There is no reason to spend a lot on a bike when there are so many bikes that have many thousands of miles left in them and are that are available for a song. Well maybe there are reasons to buy a new bike, but in my opinion, some of the best bikes were built thirty or more years ago.
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Old 04-10-10, 01:46 PM   #4
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Look for a bigger dealer, even if you have to travel a little.
Best idea! I do like the Jamis' dealer's attitude, and they make some great bikes, but you also don't want to leave them with a handfull of bikes the wouldn't have otherwise ordered. There's just too much to be said for fit, feel, and charm to not try several.

Assuming that travel is reasonable. If you're stuck in the middle of Montana, well, you're stuck.
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Old 04-10-10, 04:51 PM   #5
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I've been pondering a new bike for a while, and I have started thinking that there's just too much information out there. Choosing a bike was easier when the selection was smaller. In general, bikes don't suck, and I had gotten along for years by riding what was available. So...

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The Jamis dealer will order the bike with no obligation, which is great.
Go for it. They realize that you aren't the only person that would buy that particular bike, and someone else will want it if you don't.
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Old 04-11-10, 03:02 PM   #6
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Don't just shop for the bike, shop the shops too. Better service will usually trump a better product that is sold and support poorly. Example: Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep.
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Old 04-11-10, 03:23 PM   #7
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If you're worried about how the bike will fit, most bikes from a particular manufacturer's line will have similar, if not identical, geometries. The geometries will usually even be consistent from year to year. If your bike shop has, say, a Kona Dew Plus, and you like that fit, you can be pretty sure that you'll like the fit of most of the other bikes in the Dew line.
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Old 04-11-10, 03:26 PM   #8
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When I lived north of Charlotte I did a little business with The Right Gear in Kannapolis. I never shopped them for a bike but did use them for a couple of repairs that I didn't feel competent to do and bought some accessories from them. Seemed to carry a nice mix of bikes and seemed customer friendly to me.

Here is a thread from the Southeast forum that pertains to Charlotte area shops. It's geared toward road bikes but maybe you'll find it useful.

I also did some business with Friendly bikes in Greensboro. Again wasn't buying a bike just some accessories.

I know that Raleigh has quite a few good bike shops.

You might try posting a similar thread in the Southeast forum and give the members an idea of where you would consider going to shop.

Good Luck with your search.
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Old 04-11-10, 04:18 PM   #9
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From the manufacturer's viewpoint, if they didn't have any dealers except those that stocked every single model of their bikes in every frame size, they wouldn't have many dealers. So if a manufacturer has a dealer that sells on special-order only, that may be a poor way to sell that bike in that place, but the alternative is NOT selling that bike in that place.

I ordered my Raleigh Sojourn from my local shop. They don't stock it, but they stock some of the low-end Raleigh hybrid bikes, so they are a Raleigh dealer. REI stocks the Sojourn, but didn't have it in my size.

Anyway, if you look at every bike out there, there's no end to them, and it does help narrow the field to look at what is really available locally rather than what you read about on the internet.
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Old 04-11-10, 09:00 PM   #10
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Actually auto dealerships are run much the same way if I recall. If you want a model in a color or with options they do not stock then they will order it, normally though only with a firm order and deposit.

I have not bought a new car in a long time but it used to be routine for American cars to have very long options lists and many cars were built to customer specified lists of options. That is still true for long haul trucks.
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Old 04-12-10, 05:12 AM   #11
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Don't just shop for the bike, shop the shops too. Better service will usually trump a better product that is sold and support poorly. Example: Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep.
Let me add that once you find a worthy shop, support them by spending your cycling dollars there. . .even if they're a little more expensive than the on-line houses. Send your friends there and tell them why. Once you establish a relationship, they'll fall over themselves to serve you. All this happy horse-**** said, always be looking for the shop's continuing good service. . .things change. [If you're in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, drop a private message and I'll point you to a great shop. (no affiliation)]

By the way Diesel', are 'Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep' good or bad examples of sales vs. support?
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