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Old 02-14-05, 04:51 PM   #1
squeegy200
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When NOT to shop a local bike shop

I perform most of my own repairs and builds. (wheel building is one of my weaknesses and I usually rely on my local bike shop) I am dedicated to a local shop here in Eagle Rock (Budget Pro Bikes of Los Angeles) that gives good advice, good prices, and excellent service. But I also purchase stuff online when I find fantastic deals. I will pay more for parts and accessories and generate business for the LBS if its worth keeping them in business.

I recently moved my office and this is now considerably farther away from my favorite shop. I like visiting local bike shops during my lunch hour. So I did a search for a local bike shop closer to my new address and found several via the web. I then searched for opinions and found one that was four miles from my new location that recieved plenty of good reviews from local customers.

I went to visit the other day and just as described, they had a large range of high end equipment. But I was startled at the prices their items. Most were double the prices compared to my favorite shop and sometimes up to 3 times more expensive than online distributors.

I know local bike shops have to make a profit to stay in business. But this seemed a bit extreme.

Example: Shimano Ultegra 9 Speed crank $265.00
This can be purchased at Colorado Cyclist for $89.95. That's a 66% discount or savings of $175!

I think I'll make the drive back to my favorite shop.
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Old 02-14-05, 05:00 PM   #2
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I try so very hard to keep the money in my neighborhood, even to the point of paying more at times. My big problem is that the woman who owns my LBS is so off-putting and unfriendly that it makes it hard to want to keep going back to her. And it's not just me...I talked to a guy who bought his bike at a different shop across the park for more money and waited for them to have it shipped, even though she had his preferred size in stock for less money.
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Old 02-14-05, 05:43 PM   #3
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Bottom line is LBSs are going to have to suck it up and provide customers with reason to keep coming back! Mainly customer service! The bikeshop I go to treats me great, and knows that I do not drive, so if something has to be done to my bike, they'll make room for it while I wait....they went through hell and back to find someone who had springs in stock for me...they offer 1 year free labor/tune ups on any bike you buy from them. They've got a good thing going.
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Old 02-14-05, 05:48 PM   #4
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I'm certinaly not a bike wrench, but can do many repairs on my own. I have no hesitation buying on-line b/c I can often save at least 30% over buying locally. A couple times, when I needed a part, I bought them on-line and had my LBS do the work. The mechanics don't mind; they make the same amount regardless of where the parts are purchased.
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Old 02-14-05, 06:28 PM   #5
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I'm a bit worried about the prices in my LBS. I'm in the market for something else but the local prices seem to be through the roof compared to the local Kmart. I realise that in Kmart nobody there can help you and that any purchase made would be on my own shoulders. Seems to me that a lot of the local stores seem to be pricing themselves out of the market.
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Old 02-14-05, 06:39 PM   #6
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I go WAY out of my way to get to the good LBS's here, but, hey, that's a longer bike ride for me, right? Like Laika, I like to keep the dollars local, but if you're a d!ckhead, I will pass you by...
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Old 02-14-05, 06:52 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by HaagenDas
I'm a bit worried about the prices in my LBS. I'm in the market for something else but the local prices seem to be through the roof compared to the local Kmart. I realise that in Kmart nobody there can help you and that any purchase made would be on my own shoulders. Seems to me that a lot of the local stores seem to be pricing themselves out of the market.
Jesus, don't shop at fuc king Kmart! Dept. stores bikes and parts are like disposable razors; utter crap! You can find quality on-line at reasonable prices. Yuck to department stores
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Old 02-14-05, 07:01 PM   #8
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Yeah, I don't really want to shop there believe me. Thing is I want another bike. I don't need anything competitive. Might just wait for another garage sale.
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Old 02-14-05, 07:21 PM   #9
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"This(Ultegra crankset) can be purchased at Colorado Cyclist for $89.95."

That is truly amazing, as a dealer I cannot get it that cheap, unless of course I buy it from CC
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Old 02-15-05, 12:12 AM   #10
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I got my new bike last June 2004 at a Walmart for $60

very nice bike
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Old 02-15-05, 12:27 AM   #11
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I got my new bike last June 2004 at a Walmart for $60

very nice bike
i beg to differ, but good for you if it works for you.
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Old 02-15-05, 02:39 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev.Chuck
"This(Ultegra crankset) can be purchased at Colorado Cyclist for $89.95."

That is truly amazing, as a dealer I cannot get it that cheap, unless of course I buy it from CC
Another good point.

Yet another problem facing the LBS, happens with all sorts of stuff. Just like at retail, things happen at the other levels of selling/buying too. The guy with the biggest order has the most negotiating power. etc etc.
The sad thing is it makes the LBS appear as the bad guy sometimes. Even though they are often the one you have to go to for help with a mail order purchase.
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Old 02-15-05, 05:46 AM   #13
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i see people crying out to do LBS business. very loyal. i have just found an LBS that is good with prices, and service. their prices rival performance (no great bargain sometimes)
i just did a bike build. found a new d/a 53/39 crankset for $255 delivered on eBay and a slightly new (minimal miles) on a d/a 10sp rear derailleur for $70. i had them order me the rest of the parts in 10sp ultegra. they found it and charged less than CC wanted (if it was in stock)

some people are good businessmen, regardless of the type of business. others have little clue. some are lucky and get away with poor service.
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Old 02-15-05, 07:04 AM   #14
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It seems most LBS in this area can't be bothered with ordering small parts or replacement parts; which is where they should excel.

When the LBS disses me on the small stuff I purchase my next complete Bicycle elsewhere.
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Old 02-15-05, 07:26 AM   #15
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Even though there are a number of LBS's near me, I've found that most of them stink when it comes to selection of parts, gear, and accessories. Online shopping is much easier, letting me stock up on all the stuff I want in one go--and for less money. I support businesses that offer me the best combo of service, selection, price, and ease of shopping. I don't care where they're located.
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Old 02-15-05, 07:45 AM   #16
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I really miss the LBS we had around here. I probably bought three bike from him & many accessories. I would even get in there & help (hinder) with some of the wrenching.

It closed down, & the only other one in the area refused to give more than 90 days adjustments on a $1500 bike, even though I explained I thought that was fair on the other $3-500 bikes in his store. Now the LBS I use is about 4 hours away, but I get treated great.
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Old 02-15-05, 08:27 AM   #17
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K-Mart bikes? I equate them with:
1. one-size-fits-all frames, great if you're 5'6"
2. heavy frames
3. almost exclusively mountain bikes
4. "Shimano" stamped-steel derailleur models you've never heard of
5. steel chainrings
6. poorly-tensioned wheels, galvanized steel spokes
7. cheesy plastic levers, zip-tie cable routing
8. mushy brakes
9. heavy steel seatposts, with those pinch-on saddle clamps
10. modern 7-speed cassettes

They have nice-looking paint jobs, though...
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Old 02-15-05, 08:34 AM   #18
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Haagen Das . I do not know about Kmart in Australia but here the bikes are not assembled well and are not as good as what you can get at a bike shop .Granted a bike will cost more at a shop initially but there are benefits if you buy from a shop.I s the sporting goods chain REI in Australia? I use rei for a lot of bicycle work here in the states.
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Old 02-15-05, 10:10 AM   #19
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If you frequent an LBS, especially a smaller one, and establish a rapport with the people there, it will end up saving you in the long run. I'm now friends with a couple guys at my LBS; I get free adjustments all the time, 10% discount for no apparent reason, etc.

Case in point: I needed a new seat post clamp. They didn't have one my size, but one of the guys gave me his own spare clamp in exchange for a vanilla latte.

They're so small that they have a pretty low inventory, so I do order online occasionally or shop at other local shops if I need something right away, but overall they are my first choice.
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Old 02-15-05, 10:35 AM   #20
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Business is tough for many LBS today with more and more internet savvy customers, it takes a lot for many of them to stay in business and it does require a lot of know-how, creativity and dedication to start and maintain a successful venture in this industry. Having said that, I have came across LBS with attitude, inexperienced staff and outrageous prices, but this is not unique to small bike retailers, many hardware stores for example fit the same description.

My experience of buying over the internet vs LBS varies and can be illustrated by the following examples:

- Apparel: it's hard to beat the prices of Nashbar, Performance and the like however last spring, I returned two jerseys because of size problem and was glad to pay nearly twice as much for a great gore-tex at an lbs that fit perfectly + the lbs let me try a dozen models/sizes and would have rather not sold me anything unless I was completly happy. This is a great place where I have been before and will return.

- Parts: tough as it may sound, I often found that things like cable,housing and small hardware were often same or even cheaper at some LBS. Components though tend not to be, but then again you will find many LBS who will install a cassette at no charge and the part's price is very comparable.

- Bikes: yes, I did buy a couple of years ago a new mountain bike over the internet and I think it was an excellent deal that I am still seeing unmatched at any lbs but again if I had to put a $ value on the time I spent researching and checking size etc, + time required for assembly and adjustments which was fine for me but an lbs would have done, this only will lead me to an LBS first before I decide to make a similar purchase on the net in the future. Bike has been perfect for the casual trail rider I am, any hardeous use IMO would have definitely justified an LBS purchase.

When it comes to purchasing a road bike, I think LBS can easily differenciate themselves once customers understand the cost of riding a bike that does not fit correctly, how much are we ready to pay for this ? $100, $200, more ? Now, let's look at the differences between LBS and internet prices, hmm...

Other thing I have noticed is the number of liability disclaimers internet retailers place on their listings, something LBS pay a hefty insurance premium for, while this "may not seem to matter" for a lot of us, liability insurance must be factored in the pricing of not only bikes but maintenance and repairs.

While competition is healthy, I think it is important to understand what we are getting in exchange of every dollar we spend and unfortunately a small retailer may not always have the opportunity to make us feel this on a single experience but rather overtime, which I think is what many of us tend not to understand.

More and more LBS feature their own web site with information on their products and services, I think this gives them a real edge as stats show that >90% of us start shopping on the internet prior to purchasing durables.

So to conclude it is up to us to make informed decisions while buying and also understand how we want to see our favorite sports' needs fulfilled in the future.

Oh and BTW: Walmart, KMart, Target etc. are not to be compared with lbs and even reputable internet retailers. I wan’t elaborate as enough as been said on this and other forums about the (inferior) quality of the bike products they sell.

Last edited by Cycliste; 02-15-05 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 02-15-05, 11:30 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildjim
It seems most LBS in this area can't be bothered with ordering small parts or replacement parts; which is where they should excel.

When the LBS disses me on the small stuff I purchase my next complete Bicycle elsewhere.
This is one of my pet peeves. Just this past weekend I tried to locate a replacement axle for an older bike(Sansin 7-speed rear, 137 mm x M10 x 1mm, very standard). A few local shops had nothing and, since I was spending the afternoon in NYC, I dropped by a couple high-end shops that carry a lot of gear.

Shop #1: A bad omen: while waiting around I listen to a salesman talk a lot of crap about the dangers of used equipment to a customer having a fitting done. Eventually get the attention of a mechanic, all who are sitting around eating sandwiches and gossiping. Mention what I want; get expressions ranging from pained to incomprehension. Guy with dreadlocks and pained expresson makes a cursory dig through a bin full of parts and orders low man on totem poll to go down into the basement to have a look (aside: why do so many bike mechanics in NYC have dreadlocks?).

After some time, guy emerges from basement holding a cheap looking solid axle with cones, washers etc. (zinc plated, wouldn't look out of place stamped 'Wald', for all you old-timers) and informs me that this will be $12.95. I point out that I need the hollow axle version; lots of moaning, eye-rolling, etc. ensues (I guess when I said 7-speed I could have been talking about a bike without QR, but really?). At this point, I'm already considering what web-based vendor to use... Guy says he will go look for the hollow type, but I'm already heading for the door....

Joe
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Old 02-15-05, 11:35 AM   #22
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There is an appropriate mix of quality, service and value, including the value of convenience, involved in every purchase. Fluctuations in these factors determine where I make a particualr purchase.

I know that my LBS stocks a lousy assortment of cycling apparel. I rarely make a purchase in this category at my LBS.

Service on the other hand is excellent. I take all my mechanical work there.

I have purchased all of my bikes there, but frankly, I need to know what I want, because the owner will attempt to sell what's there rather than order.

I do internet research for things like my trainer and calculate shipping and tax consequences. Before I order, I stop in that the LBS and get a recommendation. If they are in the ball park, I ask them to order. If not, I use the Internet.

So far, my LBS hasn't shown any resentment at my use of clothing or equipement acquired elsewhere. When or if they do, I'll probably respond rudely, as I believe it to be none of their business.

Quality, service, value and convenience is a two way street. Good customers know this and so do good business people.
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Old 02-15-05, 11:48 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cycliste
if I had to put a $ value on the time I spent researching and checking size etc, + time required for assembly and adjustments which was fine for me but an lbs would have done, this only will lead me to an LBS first before I decide to make a similar purchase on the net in the future. Bike has been perfect for the casual trail rider I am, any hardeous use IMO would have definitely justified an LBS purchase.
When it comes to purchasing a road bike, I think LBS can easily differenciate themselves once customers understand the cost of riding a bike that does not fit correctly, how much are we ready to pay for this ? $100, $200, more ?
Agreed.

I purchased two bikes over the net and had to do some major repairs or fitting adjustments to get them working. My used Univega needed a new derailuer, freewheel, chain, saddle and tires just for starters. Often times you really cannot tell how much work a used bike requires until it's in your hands. Furthermore, the bike had to get dialed in which took time learning how to do this correctly.

My second purchase was a new Jamis Aurora over the net. The bike did not come assembled so I had to take it to the LBS for a tuneup. The savings overall were minimal. But guess what? The bike is one size too big so now I'm debating on wheather to sell the bike at a loss or make some further adjustments.

Overall, I have learned a lot from buying online and will NEVER do this again unless I test ride the bike. From now on, all my bikes will be purchased from an LBS.
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Old 02-15-05, 11:52 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegy200
Example: Shimano Ultegra 9 Speed crank $265.00
This can be purchased at Colorado Cyclist for $89.95. That's a 66% discount or savings of $175!

I think I'll make the drive back to my favorite shop.
OK........so how much can Oscar at Pro Bikes get these for you?
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Old 02-15-05, 12:10 PM   #25
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I LOVE my LBS. First, I got an amazing bike. They went thru a professional fitting with me and didn't charge me for it. They took time to go thru the bike with me. They showed me how to change a flat. God, I hope I remember that when that day comes. I can't say enough about them. I get lifetime free tune-ups on the bike, and a yearly tune-up for free. Overall I love this store. They treated me with respect for being a newbie to the road and this was so most important to me.
I think it all boils down to customer service!!!!
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