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  1. #1
    Senior Member MitchL's Avatar
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    I love a good LBS story

    While reading BF I really like when LBS employees / owners chime in. I think its great to get their perspective, and being new to the sport with lots of fresh enthusiasm... I just plain think real life LBS stories are great. So I'm hopping this can turn into a place to post your favorite stories from working at an LBS.

    They can be about good customers, bad customers, sponsored teams. great owners, bad owners, that sweet deal you scored because you work at an LBS.... anything at all you feel like sharing.

    If you don't like someone's story or disagree with their perspective in this thread... please just let it go. Let's just make this a cool place to browse and share stories.

    Thanks.
    "I have no idea what I'm doing... but I know I'm doing it really really well."

  2. #2
    Senior Member zachdees's Avatar
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    I always make the owner work on my bike instead of the moron employees
    Bike mechanic at Crystal city Cyclery 1 yr

  3. #3
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    Any of us working at an LBS get better deals than we can probably say publicly for all things bike.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by zachdees View Post
    I always make the owner work on my bike instead of the moron employees
    how can you ask for that without sounding rude? i'd like to have the most experienced mechanic work on my bike...even if that means i have to wait an extra 2 weeks (because i get my bike work done in winter when i'm not riding). i go to the shop and someone comes to help me...then i tell him i'm looking for "so and so" - that seems somewhat of an affront. if you mess with the bike shop employees too much...they won't care to do as good of a job.

  5. #5
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    I have an awesome LBS, they don't do mechanical work only sell parts but at a fair price. My LBS is called Ebay.

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I imagine the Nullarbor Plain, is rather short on bike shops.





    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nullarbor_Plain
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-21-10 at 09:21 AM. Reason: look up reference for footnote

  7. #7
    vol
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    Quote Originally Posted by zachdees View Post
    I always make the owner work on my bike instead of the moron employees
    In my case, when I went to the LBS and asked for the employee who sold me the bike, he was very unwelcoming simply because I had not bought the lock that he had been trying to sell to me when I bought the bike. He kept me waiting and waiting, until the owner saw I had been kept waiting for too long, and came to my help, and it was a great help, as he knew why and how to reverse the brake cables (whereas that employee did not know a thing about this), and did everything to my satisfaction. So I can see your reason to get the owner. They care about their own business and customers.
    Last edited by vol; 09-21-10 at 10:38 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    The trouble with most of those stories is that we only get to hear one side.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    I have a great LBS story. I have been dealing with Jack's Bike and Fitness in Dearborn, MI for about a year. They are always super helpful and knowledgeable. Their bike prices are usually a bit under MSRP, sometimes a lot. My husband and I went in the shop yesterday to discuss the pros and cons of different carbon road bikes. The sales person offered to loan me her Specialized Amira to try for a few days to get the feel of a carbon frame. I was astounded, to say the least. I was not comfortable borrowing someone else's CF bike, but I proceeded to pick her brain on the brands they sold (Trek, Specialized and Giant). Tried a couple. Did a new fitting (they did one in the spring for my first road bike). Before we left the store, I had ordered a new bike, as well as purchased shoes and clipless pedals. Meanwhile, my hubby has always been interested in trikes (they also have a trike/commercial side known as Industrial Bikes). They had a new Catrike Villager in the showroom that he sat on, pedaled around the store while I did my business. After I had finished with my purchase, he asked about the trike. I could tell he really wanted it. We didn't make it home, instead we turned around, went back, had them size the trike for him for a test ride. The trike came home with us last night. I guess the point to this story is that when an LBS treats you in a friendly and fair manner, they will get your business. I cannot tell how many free quick repairs and little items they have given us to keep us on the road. I guess that's why they have been in the bike business since the 30's!!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Paul01's Avatar
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    In the 90s, we lived in a town without an LBS and, finally one day, an LBS opened. A few weeks later I needed 700c presta valve tube, so, in I went. The owner told me that these European only not available in the United States but they would give me a special price, $350, for a set of crappy Schrader valve wheels. Needless to say, I walked out and never returned.

  11. #11
    vol
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    The trouble with most of those stories is that we only get to hear one side.
    How often can you hear about a story from both sides on an Internet forum (indeed, in any setting)?

  12. #12
    Senior Member longbeachgary's Avatar
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    We used to have a great shop here in the LBC - Jax bicycles. They sold Merckx, Masi, Cannondale, Specialized, Colnago, Trek, Centurion, Nishiki and more. Over the years they narrowed down their selection and now they sell Trek. They are no longer an authorized dealer for any of the other brands. All of the aftermarket parts are Bontranger. Place is sad and pathetic although they have a really good mechanic (Anders).

  13. #13
    vol
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    Forgot to mention, that same employee... When I just bought the new bike, I asked him if they carry bike tools for sale, he said: "Why? You want to be a mechanic? You have one year free adjustment here!" At another bike shop I visited previously, they immediately told me, sure, 10 bucks. I should have bought the bike in that shop (certainly my next new bike).

  14. #14
    Senior Member Wylde06's Avatar
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    After tearing down and cleaning my bike, me and my buddy couldnt figure out why I couldn't shift into my easiest gear. Brought it into the LBS the next day, and 15 minutes, and 20 bucks later they straightened the Derailleur Hanger, installed a new shifter cable, and readjusted my rear derailleur. Everyone there is great and I love going there, even if they are 20 miles from home.

  15. #15
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    Rode 15 miles into New Orleans to go to a community bike project shop because I had some derailleur adjustments/issues I wanted to learn about fixing. Things got a bit worse on the way in - ghost shifting and unable to shift to inner front chainring (most likely due to new bike cable-stretch). The mechanic there took a look at it, said the mechs there mostly worked on OLD stuff, not STI as it was too new/high-tech, and advised I run around the corner to a fairly well-known LBS because that guy was a friend (he said). Ooookay. Rode another mile there, spoke with the fellow who told me, "Leave it. I'll be able to get it back to you in 5 days." I explained I had ridden it 15 miles in and needed it to return home. I also mentioned I could easily leave it and come back later inthe day. He basically laughed at me but when asked about who might be able to at least tweak it so I could make it home without damaging the derailleur/chain/chainrings, mentioned 2 other shops - 1 a mile away, the other 3 miles away but actually on my way home. He recommended the former.

    As I was leaving, a customer who was in this shop actually followed me outside and told me that the closer shop had the worst mechanics of the 3 shops but was the most expensive and relied heavily on overflow from "this" shop to stay in business.

    I chose the shop that was on the way home. When I rolled the bike into the shop & explained the situation, the mech's first response was "Well, of course it doesn't shift properly. Your handlebar bag interferes." Hmm. Right. This after having had no noticeable problems until 4 days ago. I mentioned that to him and suddenly he thought he might have to take a look at it. 15 minutes later, it's adjusted, works just fine and my wallet is $12 lighter. I still don't know what he fiddled with or how he made the adjustments, so I still can't do it myself, but the derailleurs now work fine.

    Btw, both shops supposedly are known for "bring it in, same day repair for minor adjustments!"

    These 2 LBS's have "stellar" reputations in the metro area. I'm not sure exactly what that's based on as their employees' communications skills are certainly lacking.

    And the community bike project shop advertises that they can help you fix any bike - though they won't do it for you. What a day.
    Last edited by drmweaver2; 09-21-10 at 07:03 PM.

  16. #16
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    Second story. My bike's a Bike's Direct Windsor Tourist. Ego isn't an issue for me - the bike was a good purchase, I think.

    Anyway, after I put it together, there were a couple minor assembly issues/adjustments that I wanted checked out by someone more knowledgeable than myself. So, I got it rideable and rode it around 25 miles in 1 gear to the various LBS's in the metro area to find who might be able to help inexpensively. 10 shops - 3 responses (some duplicated).

    Response 1 - (The snob response) We don't work on Internet bikes. Find someone else. (6 shops)
    Response 2 - (The Confusing to Me response) Sure. Go to the VERY back of the line, dude. You're bike's first after any we sell, after any brand we sell/support in the shop, and definitely after any bike belonging to a good looking girl we're trying to impress. (2 shops)
    Response 3 - Thanks for coming in. Your money's fine here. We work on anything. (2 shops and only 2 shops)

    What blew me away was how dismissive so many of the shops were as soon as they saw what the bike was. I was willing to pay for a "complete tuneup" if necessary and never even got a chance to say so to 4 shops before the tech turned away from me and walked off. One shop/mech immediately denigrated my purchase and tried to sell me "a real bike" - for 4 times what I spent on the Tourist. Another told me that I might be able to get it worked on by "the bike assembler at 'Wally World'" - his exact words!

  17. #17
    Oscillation overthruster Dr. Banzai's Avatar
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    I hate bike shops for the most part (see reason 1 and 2 above). That's why I swear I'll open one myself and do it right.

  18. #18
    Senior Member MitchL's Avatar
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    I'm glad people are responding to the thread... especially since it sat empty for the first few days. But this was supposed to be stories from people inside the LBS. Not negative experiences from customers.
    "I have no idea what I'm doing... but I know I'm doing it really really well."

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by MitchL View Post
    I'm glad people are responding to the thread... especially since it sat empty for the first few days. But this was supposed to be stories from people inside the LBS. Not negative experiences from customers.
    As you said, it sat empty for a couple days.... nothing begs for space to be filled/any_response so much as a vacuum.

  20. #20
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    This is not so much a story about a specific experience, but more of a general opinion of working in a bike shop. I was laid off back in June from my mechanical engineering job in DC. After a couple months of unemployment, a friend of mine who had worked in a LBS said they were looking for someone part-time. I have been here about a month and it's seriously one of the greatest jobs I've ever had. Everyone here is a total bike nut and cool as hell. If I didn't have a mortgage that required a full-time salary, I'd probably work here for the rest of my career.

    On a side note: I know it sucks dealing with crappy service from the people that work at the bike shops, but it sucks just as much dealing with crappy customers. They are few and far between, but every once in a while you'll get a customer who's dictionary does not include the word 'civility'.

  21. #21
    "Per Ardua ad Surly" nelson249's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mihernan View Post
    On a side note: I know it sucks dealing with crappy service from the people that work at the bike shops, but it sucks just as much dealing with crappy customers. They are few and far between, but every once in a while you'll get a customer who's dictionary does not include the word 'civility'.
    Good point. Those kind of "customers" need to be shown the door.
    1997 Mongoose Hilltopper, 1988 Bianchi Specialissima, 2006 Surly Cross-Check, 2010 Norco City Glide, 1947 CCM Single-speed.

    "Take him to the forge and show him the instruments"
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  22. #22
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    Okay, I'll try not to make this to long.

    First experience with bicycles in my adult life was when I was working security and was told id have to do bike patrols. Hadn't ridden a bike without training wheels in my life. Couple days to get used to it and I was sold. I love to ride.
    Bought a Walmart Next. Rode it for a year with no major issues, until it fell apart and almost killed me.
    Tried to buy a real bike. Checked out half a dozen shops. Every time I mentioned my budget ($300) the sales people disappeared.
    Bought a DiamondBack Wildwood from Bass Pro Shop. Nice sales people. Mechanic seemed to know his stuff. No one gave me crap for not wanting to spend more.
    Worked great for a few months. Caught my pants leg in the front derailer. Bass pro was 40 miles away. Checked with three local shops. They all said they would fix it for less than $20. They all "fixed" it. Still threw the chain and shifted like crap. Two of the three shops I had to threaten to take to court (small claims plus reckless endangerment, ok it's a stretch but I was pissed) just to get my money back (hadn't left the parking lot).

    Asked a friend for a ride out to Bass Pro. He said sure, asked why, and spent 5 minutes showing me how to fix the problem three shops had failed to fix. Derailer was pulled out of line with the chain. Shops adjusted limit screws and cable tension, but didn't straighten the derailer.

    I'm still a fan of Bass Pro, and now REI, but I've never found a "Local Bike Shop" that I would want to spend my money at.

    I keep hearing about the venerable LBS. Just once I'd like to see this place of lore where kindly and knowledgeable cyclists happily toil.
    Quote Originally Posted by sprockets View Post
    I talk to myself regularly - crazy is the technical term I believe. The only time I shut up is when I'm riding. (that's the best time to listen to all those voices in your head :D )

  23. #23
    "Per Ardua ad Surly" nelson249's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by common man View Post
    how can you ask for that without sounding rude? i'd like to have the most experienced mechanic work on my bike...even if that means i have to wait an extra 2 weeks (because i get my bike work done in winter when i'm not riding). i go to the shop and someone comes to help me...then i tell him i'm looking for "so and so" - that seems somewhat of an affront. if you mess with the bike shop employees too much...they won't care to do as good of a job.
    I used to go to a one-man operation till he closed up shop
    1997 Mongoose Hilltopper, 1988 Bianchi Specialissima, 2006 Surly Cross-Check, 2010 Norco City Glide, 1947 CCM Single-speed.

    "Take him to the forge and show him the instruments"
    Bernardo Gui, Inquisitor The Name of the Rose

  24. #24
    "Per Ardua ad Surly" nelson249's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NightShift View Post
    Okay, I'll try not to make this to long.

    I keep hearing about the venerable LBS. Just once I'd like to see this place of lore where kindly and knowledgeable cyclists happily toil.
    They do exist but unfortunately there is a lot of trial and error to find a good one. The LBS where I bought my first good bike was utterly useless. Neither I nor my sister could ever seem to get anything fixed right. Her shifting system never worked right despite being her bike having friction downtube shifters and I could never keep my wheels trued properly.

    When I got back into cycling in the 90s I was fortunate to have a very good friend who opened a shop who still is (despite his shop being closed several years now) one of the best bike mechanics I have ever seen. He and I worked on my bikes together. Since he has closed and is really busy with his new job I have found another shop near my workplace run by a couple who have a good collection of sales and service staff who "get" customer service and I have never had an issue with their work. Minor repairs are often done while I wait and even fairly major ones are done on the same day. I have purchased two new bikes from them since 2006.
    1997 Mongoose Hilltopper, 1988 Bianchi Specialissima, 2006 Surly Cross-Check, 2010 Norco City Glide, 1947 CCM Single-speed.

    "Take him to the forge and show him the instruments"
    Bernardo Gui, Inquisitor The Name of the Rose

  25. #25
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MitchL View Post
    I'm glad people are responding to the thread... especially since it sat empty for the first few days. But this was supposed to be stories from people inside the LBS. Not negative experiences from customers.
    What's the point of participating in a whinefest? There are two sides to every story. Everybody who posts only presents the facts that make them look reasonable and the other party look outrageous. And that's assuming that they're even telling the truth.

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