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Old 09-05-13, 11:04 AM   #1
Yosemite Sam
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Acquiring and Servicing Non-LBS Bikes?

I'm in the market for a new city/hybrid/commuter bike. In my reading up on the subject I keep seeing recommendations for somewhat non-mainstream brands, or at least brands that don't appear in my LBS. I'm thinking Public, Detroit, Swobo, and Miir, though I'm also having trouble finding a local source for more traditional marques such as Diamondback and Raleigh. This is despite living in a college town with a half dozen bike shops.

I realize you can order these online, in many cases "90% assembled", but what do you do about service, if your LBS doesn't carry the brand? I mean, I'm sure they'll work on the bike, but what about warranty service, that type of thing? What if you order it and it doesn't fit, or you just don't like it?

For the record, I'm looking at a Trek Soho in an LBS, but am still poking around to see if anything suits me better. I really want an internally geared hub, 5-8 speed. I'd prefer a more upright riding position than the stock Soho provides, but I can fix that with a bar stem riser. I'm not convinced I need a belt drive, though I've owned a belt drive motorcycle for 25 years and with no issues. I found the Diamondback Insight STI-8 which is very similar to the Soho, but chain drive, and about 1/2 the price, but the "LBS" that carries that brand is a national chain, and doesn't carry that model. The lesser-priced D-backs they do have in stock feel cheap, at least compared to the Trek. I like a couple of the Public offerings, but have no way to get my hands on one to try it. Ditto with the Detroit, though I really want more gears.

Any other suggestions would be welcome, as well. I've been out of biking for 10 years, am now doing a 4 mile commute, am a fair weather rider, and am not sure I'm ready to commit $1200 to the cause just yet, but I do need a new bike. The 16" frame on my 15 year old GT is too small for my 5' 10" body.

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Old 09-05-13, 11:42 AM   #2
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All I can talk about is My Bike choices . I dont know Yours..

Brands are often just a name on the paint. Box store bikes are all about low price , YGWYPF.
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Old 09-05-13, 12:32 PM   #3
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OK, but what about the first part of the post (mail-order bikes and their service)?

-- Sam
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Old 09-05-13, 01:04 PM   #4
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Any other suggestions would be welcome, as well. I've been out of biking for 10 years, am now doing a 4 mile commute, am a fair weather rider, and am not sure I'm ready to commit $1200 to the cause just yet, but I do need a new bike. The 16" frame on my 15 year old GT is too small for my 5' 10" body.
Sam, I was in the same spot a month or so ago. I had been commuting on a full-suspension department store mountain bike with knobby tires that was too small for me. The bike was heavy and slow. I needed a different bike but didn't want to drop $600+ for a bike store bike when I was only a month into commuting and didn't know if it would stick.

From the advice at this forum, I bought a '90s rigid (no suspension) mountain bike and put street tires on it. I live near a major metro area (Denver) and there are dozens of bikes like this on my local craigslist every day priced right around $100.

If you spend a week or two reading craigslist ads, you will probably find a few guys who always have several bikes for sale and advertise them as "tuned" or similar: "fresh set up and ready to ride" or something. I'm sure these guys are flipping bikes for profit but that's okay with me. I'd rather buy from someone who has checked out the bike than someone who has something in their garage that hasn't moved in ten years.

The thread linked below was a big help to me. Perhaps it will be to you as well. Good luck!

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...mountain-bikes!
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Old 09-05-13, 01:57 PM   #5
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I've never purchased a bike online before, but I'd imagine any warranty or return/exchange process could become frustrating in short order- plus I think you have to pony up all freight charges yourself.

Just because a shop carries a brand and doesn't stock a particular model does not necessarily mean they can not order it for you.
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Old 09-05-13, 02:10 PM   #6
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You can get your BD bike serviced at the LBS just like any Used Bike that comes in the door .

But as above warrantee is all return shipping , some people have said

They want the whole bike , not just the Part. so that people don't work them for non original Parts.
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Old 09-05-13, 04:06 PM   #7
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Maybe I'm a snob, but I'd suggest you do a web search on "bicycle shaped objects."

For a little bit more, any decent LBS can set you up with a bike. The LBS bike should be assembled correctly, you should be able to get it serviced, the parts should be good for many years.

You'll have to do the last 10% of assembly and tuning (remember the 90/10 rule?) or pay a shop or mechanic to set it up for you, which runs the effective price up. A good bike brand via mail order should be serviceable, but some shops will service bikes they sold before anything else; so if you dust the bike off next April and it needs service, you might get it back by June.
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Old 09-05-13, 05:13 PM   #8
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OK, but what about the first part of the post (mail-order bikes and their service)?
Do you know what size you need? Would you buy a pair of "average size" shoes mail-order?
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Old 09-05-13, 05:26 PM   #9
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Oh, I've been reading about BSOs, VSBs ("very slow bicycles"), and similar. I get it. No, even the $600 D-back isn't of the same build quality as the $1200 Trek, much less the $200 Schwinns and Raleighs. Of course, then you get the brands that have multiple "levels" of products, with $200 X-mart bikes and $600 "dealer only" bikes, but you've got to find a dealer that sells the higher-end ones. And I would prefer to buy from an LBS, hence the original question. Unless I find myself looking at several hundred more for the same bike that I could get online.

BTW, I'm not sure I'd put the companies I mentioned in the OP into the BSO category, but then, I'm definitely not a brand snob. "Quality" snob, maybe...

I did find an LBS that deals in Breezer, which might be worth looking into. I'm looking at the Uptown Infinity and Uptown 8. Both of these are available at Performance, as well.

I've looked at this every which way, from upgrading my current, to building my own, to buying prebuilt, and it's really a wash; I'm going to end up spending about the same amount of scratch because I want decent components.

-- Sam
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Old 09-05-13, 05:29 PM   #10
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Do you know what size you need? Would you buy a pair of "average size" shoes mail-order?
a) 19.5 to 20.5".
b) No, but I have bought shoes mailorder, when I specified the size. And guess what? They fit!

I do prefer going to my local shoe store, though, much as I prefer going to my LBS. But if my local shoe store doesn't carry what I'm looking for I'm not averse to looking elsewhere.

-- Sam

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Old 09-05-13, 05:33 PM   #11
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Maybe I'm a snob, but I'd suggest you do a web search on "bicycle shaped objects."
I've owned two Swobos and a BD ti cross. A friend bought a Public for his GF. I can vouch that they are not BSO's.
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Old 09-06-13, 02:45 AM   #12
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That Diamondback has no info on rack and fender eyelets or on chain tensioning system.
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Old 09-06-13, 03:56 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite Sam View Post
I realize you can order these online, in many cases "90% assembled", but what do you do about service, if your LBS doesn't carry the brand? I mean, I'm sure they'll work on the bike, but what about warranty service, that type of thing? What if you order it and it doesn't fit, or you just don't like it?
Many of the bicycles Rowan and I own have been purchased as frame and parts ... Rowan builds them and services them.

But a bicycle shop should service just about any bicycle. Not sure about the warranty, you might need to ask the dealer and your shop to find out.

As for fit ... measure your current bicycle.

This thread has some advice for measuring your bicycle, including a link to Park Tool's measurement techniques
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...f-Measurements

Park Tool's Measurements:
http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...-position-road


Now that you've got your measurements, what do you like and dislike about your current bicycle? What measurement feels too small?
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Old 09-06-13, 09:45 AM   #14
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Thanks very much for the info and links. It is appreciated.

As for my current bike, there are a number of issues: I don't care for the swept-back "city" type bars. The frame is significantly too small for me (16"; I should be on a 19.5-20.5"). The effective top tube length is too short, and I feel cramped up when riding, though that is in part due to the bars. I've tried changing them, but the combination of shifters and brakes on this bike requires a long straight grip section (8-8.5") and I have not found a set that will work. Bought and returned two, in fact. I have the seat hiked up about as high as it will go, and a 4" bar riser extension. Also, it's a low-end GT, and subsequently has low-end components. I'm getting a little more serious about this, and want a better bike.

I want something with an IGH because my commute involves crossing city blocks with lots of stop signs and random traffic, so I want the ability to shift at a stop. Frankly, the Soho is a bit aggressive for my riding style, and I'd have to put a bar riser on it as well. I'm more of a budding "Slow Biker". What they're currently calling Hybrid bikes appeal to me more than what they call Commuters, despite the intended use. I started out looking at the Electra Townie, if that tells you anything. I'm not sure that would buy me much though, given that it's still on a 16" ("one size fits most") frame. Still considering the 8i, but would have to re-evaluate. I do like the crank-forward design. Looked at RANS, but they're a bit much, both in cost and styling, for my taste.

The Traditionalist part of me prefers chains and cantilever brakes, but the Technologist side finds the belt drive and discs on the Soho pretty cool. And at 53 I'm just old enough that maybe I should get the sportier bike and enjoy it while I still can. Save the hybrids, Townies, and recumbent trikes until I hit my 60s and 70s...

-- Sam

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Old 09-06-13, 09:56 AM   #15
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BTW, it occurs to me that if we have people calling $900 bikes "BSOs" perhaps we've reached the point of absurdity w/r/t snobbishness.

Just sayin'...

-- Sam

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Old 09-06-13, 08:07 PM   #16
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Can you rent some bicycles? Different types of bicycles. Try them out for an hour or so and see what you think of their different features?
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Old 09-07-13, 08:32 AM   #17
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Aaaahhhhh the thread has been spam bombed...oh the agony...
Here are my opinions regarding the bike and LBS's.
I'd not be spending much money on a fair weather commuter bike for a 4 mile trip. Just not needed. Any decent hybrid type, new or used will do nicely...hybrids will roll a bit better than an ATB, a bit lighter also.
I'd look around for a used one...probably the best price just be careful if the deal seems too good to be true it may be a stolen bike...
You can buy one at the local shop for a decent price as well.
Check around with online purchases before buying...check shipping costs, time to deliver, etc. as well as their warranty policy...just remember what they say may not be what they actually give...and check to see what the warranty really covers...most warranties, even from a LBS, generally covers parts that fail due to manufacture issues and will not cover a wheel that goes out of true, cable breaking, etc.

I prefer purchasing from a bike shop because the bike is built...assembled really, they come nearly fully built from the manufacturer...by someone that has been trained to assemble bikes and may be highly skilled...but in reality the average lower cost bikes are built by summer or part time help that has been trained in the "assembly" of bikes and basic adjustments...they are not "bike mechanics" though some or many of the bikes may be built by the shops mechanics.
Even high end bikes come nearly fully assembled but will get checked over and adjusted to a more meticulous level due to the price of the bike and the higher demands/expectations of the buyer.

Bike shops generally have "after 30 days tune up/re adjustment" policies, meaning after said time you can bring your bike back to the shop for a check over and adjustment, if needed, of the parts that will stretch, move, etc. during the initial "break in" time...generally cables are checked for stretch, spokes are checked...by hand, not a tension tool...for tension, wheels are checked for "true"...not on a stand unless trueing is needed...and a safety check is performed to protect the rider and cover the shops collective arses. You will not find this service when buying online or used but is not critical to buying a bike.
Bike shops will also deal with warranty issues, recalls, etc. more readily on bikes they sell...generally...I'm talking about a good bike shop not some of the crappy ones out there and there are many of them.

Bike shops will work on any bike whether you bought it there, online or used. Shops make a big portion of their money by repairing, upgrading, etc. bikes regardless where they came from.
They may even help out with a warranty repair/replacement regardless of where the bike came from but that is up to the individual shop so ask the manager or owner first...don't just expect them to because it is a bike.

I've worked in two shops for 20 years...ten in each. I started out as a part time sales person, learned how to assemble then build from the frame up including alignments, BB shell facing, steerer tube cutting, wheel building, spoke cutting, etc. I wound up as service manager before moving out of state. Many follow this path that enjoy working in the industry but there are some real clowns and careless people also.
A good shop will treat you with respect regardless of what you ride...ultimately a bike is a bike...help you with advice on repairs, etc. and make sure you are a happy customer...A happy customer is a return customer and also tells his/her friends bringing in more business.
I've worked on far more bikes that have been dragged out of a shed where they sat for 10 years than high end bikes...A good shop will go over your bike...in a general way...and advise on the condition and what they feel is needed to make it safe and rideable...a GOOD shop will tell you if the cost of the parts and labor are just not worth it...I've done that many times and will offer alternatives such as a new bike that will cost the same as the repairs, or as close as possible, perhaps a used bike that the shop has taken in as a trade. Sometimes the person will agree but sometimes they want the bike repaired anyway as it is as much for the memories of the bike in its' past, etc.

Shop around, talk to the LBS people and more important "listen" as they work with other customers...how do they talk to them...are they condescending? or talk in an honest, friendly manner? A good shop will treat all customers with respect and honesty...

Good luck and keep us informed.
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Old 09-07-13, 12:56 PM   #18
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Thanks for all your responses so far, as well as your willingness and desire to really help. It really is appreciated.

I agree that trying to justify a new, expensive bike for my piddly little commute is ludicrous. On the other hand, I'm hoping a better bike will encourage me to ride more. Plus, I haven't splurged on a new toy in a while...

Due to the specific requirements I've set up for myself, particularly the IGH, my choices are pretty limited. I've considered getting a cheap new bike, or a good used one, and upgrading it, but the prices come out so close as to be a wash, unless I can get an extremely cheap donor bike. I'm still searching CL daily, but not finding a lot.

For new bikes I've pretty much settled on two: The Trek Soho Deluxe or the Breezer Downtown 8. Both have Shimano Nexus 8-speed IGHs, chain guards, 700c wheels, fenders, and racks. The Soho has a belt drive, carbon fork and disc brakes, which pushes the price up considerably, but appeals to the techno-geek in me. OTOH, the Breezer has a steel frame, chain and cantilever brakes that appeal to my traditionalist side as well as my wallet. Both bikes are available from LBSs in town, so that aspect of my original post has been answered, at least.

I'm still going to cogitate on this for a few weeks before I make a final decision. I've got something coming up that's going to keep me off the bike for at least a month anyway, so I'll use that time to let logic and sanity reign, and see what I come up with. Today it's looking like the Breezer, but who knows? Maybe I'll find the perfect donor on CL in that time.

Again, thanks for all the help!

-- Sam
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Old 09-07-13, 01:04 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Can you rent some bicycles? Different types of bicycles. Try them out for an hour or so and see what you think of their different features?
Sorry, meant to address this in my last post. There's one place in town that rents, but they've got a limited selection. I have been able to test drive a number of bikes, including the Soho, and some that I've already discounted. What would help, and I haven't done, is to take the test ride on my commute route.

-- Sam
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Old 09-13-13, 12:18 PM   #20
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Just to wrap this up: I ended up buying the Trek Soho Deluxe. I learned yesterday that it had been discontinued for 2014, so I went down and put a hold on it. Picked it up today.

I did get a chance to ride a wide variety of other bikes, but nothing matched the package that the Soho presented. Some really nice bikes, though. Doing this taught me that I very well may way more than one bike some day, and now I know what to look for. I could have saved a huge amount of money by sticking with a derailleur system, but wanted the IGH for commuting.

-- Sam
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