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View Poll Results: Do you agree LBS adds no value to Buying experience
LBS Very Helpful 42 51.22%
LBS Somewhat Helpful 20 24.39%
LBS was neutral 7 8.54%
LBS was only interested in Sales 17 20.73%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 82. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-14-06, 03:21 PM   #1
viki
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LBS experience over hyped

I have been looking for a bike last 2 weeks and have visited my 3 LBS multiple times and have received nothing but a sales pitch for over priced bikes, which after researching in forums found having utterrly useless.

Now I am questioniing this whole pitch of going to LBS as they would help me buy right bikes. All the sites recommending this are manitained and operated by LBS owners associations or COmpanies who trade through them.

Is their anybody out there who can relate to my experience .. i would really like hear your experience also any ideas how differentiate between sales pitch and good advice.

Viki

Last edited by viki; 05-14-06 at 09:28 PM.
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Old 05-14-06, 04:05 PM   #2
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There are 2 shops in my area. One about 5 miles away, the other 35 miles away. Both are great to work with.

After hearing of your experience, here's props to Sam and Tim!

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Old 05-14-06, 04:40 PM   #3
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Just as 'regulars' at restaurants get treated better by waitresses, and people with good knowledge of cars are less likely to be ripped off by a mechanic, you'll get the best treatment at shops where they know your face and understand that you know something about bikes. I always bring a few questions with me to let them know I'm a knowledgeable customer who is likely to continue to do business there. I've found that going in and saying you're interested in spending up to $300 on a great bike will get you pointed to one of the 5 models that they have in that price range in which they have your size in stock. The tactic I used last time was to take the names of a few specific models I was interested in with me and asked about them as soon as they asked to help me. I then got steered to a different maker and was skeptical. I thought the company must be offering special incentives to unload this particular model this month. I went home and painstakingly researched for a while and found that the model they recommended actually suited my purposes better than the ones I had mentioned. I made sure to mention that I had purchased my previous bike from them 9 years ago and my wife had just gotten a new bike from them this last year. You need to find a shop you can trust just as you need to find a car mechanic you can trust if you don't want to continually be ripped off on car repairs. Failing that, do the research yourself and use the LBS to take test rides on the models you want to try out.
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Old 05-14-06, 05:31 PM   #4
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I can't judge their sales because I knew what I wanted from researching on the net. They didn't have what I wanted (Trek 7700fx) and I found a better bike deal online (Airborne). Usually I go in to browse without help, or go for a specific item, or to get help from a service guy. My LBS has been great in these areas.

maybe if I was needing help buying, things might be different feeling for me.
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Old 05-14-06, 06:01 PM   #5
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I just ordered a frame from Colorado Cyclist this afternoon simply because the local shops didn't want to sell me what I wanted. All they wanted to do was sell me what they had on their sales floor.

These folks all know me by name, but were not the least bit interested in ordering me the frame I wanted. Bike shops are their own worst enemies.
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Old 05-14-06, 07:02 PM   #6
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There are good shops and bad shops. Furthermore, what is good for one person might be bad for another.

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Old 05-14-06, 07:54 PM   #7
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My favorite bike shop is Sunrise Cyclery in Minneapolis. Hardly any standing room in there but one helluva repair guy. Good used bikes too. No sales pitch ever.
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Old 05-14-06, 09:35 PM   #8
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So its all about "Caveat Emptor" .. Buyer beware story.. Do your own research and be prepared that LBS are trying to get mots money out of you. even though what you need is $100 Mangoose.. they are likely to sell you $1000 dollar Road racer.

So why is that there no body alrming all the newbies of this unusally high hype about LBS goodness.

Very frustrated
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Old 05-15-06, 07:12 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by viki
So its all about "Caveat Emptor" .. Buyer beware story.. Do your own research and be prepared that LBS are trying to get mots money out of you. even though what you need is $100 Mangoose.. they are likely to sell you $1000 dollar Road racer.

So why is that there no body alrming all the newbies of this unusally high hype about LBS goodness.

Very frustrated
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Your experience isn't the experience of most other posters here. My LBS doesn't do the hard sell; he told me you don't get repeat business by selling people bikes they won't ride.

What bike do you tell the LBS you want to buy and what bike does he try to sell you? When posting complaints/rants/accusations on a forum, it's helpful to supply as much information as possible, lest the dreaded t-word be leveled against you.
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Old 05-15-06, 07:25 AM   #10
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My experience with mechanics at bike shops is mixed - some seem to know what they are doing and some don't.

But I've never gotten a big sales pitch. I guess it could happen. I always researched bikes ahead of time and just asked questions. There was some hype in some of the answers, but not a lot.

But I wonder what you are asking when you go into the shop. Bikes are expensive. Are you asking about the difference between the less expensive and more expensive models? Or are you asking about the difference between whatever bike you are now riding and the models in the shop? I imagine that if you are asking about differences between bikes, you will get more of a sales pitch as the bike shop people tell you that their newer bikes are better than the bike you have. That doesn't really mean they are lying - but I think it would be normal for them to try to convince you that there are differences.

You mentioned a $100 bike. Most people here would tell you not to buy a $100 bike. I can only say that as I ride, I see people on newer Walmart and other department store bikes who have problems. The problems start when the people decide to ride a lot - 15 - 20 miles a day. I just passed a guy yesterday who had a fairly new bike with a problem with his crank. He said that it needed to be tightened, but when I looked at it, it seemed like something was stripped inside. I don't think the bike could take the amount of riding he was doing.

So from my perspective, if you are going to ride 25 miles a week in the summer months, maybe you should buy a $100 bike. It might be fine for you. I put a lot more miles on my bike and that wouldn't work for me.

Last edited by rideabike; 05-15-06 at 07:40 AM.
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Old 06-06-06, 10:16 AM   #11
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My understanding (I'm not in the industry so this is anecdotal) is that the LBS doesn't make a lot on the bike. They make it on the other stuff (helmet/gloves/etc.) and the service.

Combine that with what you hear more and more often, "I test rode these five bikes at three different stores -- then bought it on line because I could save twenty bucks." "I get my gloves from xxx.com."

I can tell you I have been to some great bike shops. Some real top end places and some out of the way holes in the wall. The Rocky Point Bike shop on Long Island deserves a shout out as a great small local shop. I drove from Brooklyn back to that shop to get my (then) girlfriend a bike.

Near my new hood in Brooklyn, I'm having trouble. There is a great high end shop but my budget doesnt' fit their demographic. And there are some shops for my kids' bikes... but nothing in between.
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Old 06-06-06, 10:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viki
I have been looking for a bike last 2 weeks and have visited my 3 LBS multiple times and have received nothing but a sales pitch for over priced bikes, which after researching in forums found having utterrly useless.

Now I am questioniing this whole pitch of going to LBS as they would help me buy right bikes. All the sites recommending this are manitained and operated by LBS owners associations or COmpanies who trade through them.

Is their anybody out there who can relate to my experience .. i would really like hear your experience also any ideas how differentiate between sales pitch and good advice.

Viki
1. do your research before you go to the bike shop. 2. the (untold) truth is, at the entry level, there really isn't much difference. Chocolate is chocolate; vanilla is vanilla.

It isn't until you are riding hundreds of miles per week that you can really tell the difference between one bike and another.

At the entry level, pick a style (road/mountain/hybrid) and pick a few goodies (suspension if you care, etc.) and just buy a bike. Most important thing, get a bike that fits.
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Old 06-06-06, 10:37 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Olebiker
I just ordered a frame from Colorado Cyclist this afternoon simply because the local shops didn't want to sell me what I wanted. All they wanted to do was sell me what they had on their sales floor.

These folks all know me by name, but were not the least bit interested in ordering me the frame I wanted. Bike shops are their own worst enemies.
Dick,
I know surely you are from Tallahassee now. What you didn't want a S works or an overpriced/old Litespeed at a deal?
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Old 06-06-06, 10:58 AM   #14
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Dick,
I know surely you are from Tallahassee now. What you didn't want a S works or an overpriced/old Litespeed at a deal?
I went to GBS looking to buy a Litespeed Firenze frame. All they wanted to do was get me on a $2900 Litespeed Tuscany. I would love to have bought it, but I just didn't have that kind of money to spend.

Larry, at Sunshine, talked down to me so badly about wanting to buy just a frame and not being willing to buy a bike without discussing it with my wife that I probably won't shop there anymore unless Ed or RitaAnn is there.
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Old 06-06-06, 11:59 AM   #15
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My LBS seems to be morphing into a service shop with incidentals for sale or available by special order. I even hear them talking on the phone to call ins. "I don't have that tire in stock, but am expecting some in next Tuesday. Can I hold one for you?" He then tells someone to order it. Th inventory of helmets, jerseys and high-end upgrade parts has been stagnant for months. They have plenty of gloces, socks, tubes, repair kits, etc., though.

Since the small LBS is forced to mark things up to the point that even shipping charges don't matter when ordering on line, they are turning into a service center with sales incidental. My LBS even doubled the size of the maintenance bay by reducing the sales floor.

As long as they are there when I need them and can get me what I want or need, even at a steep price, I'm generally OK. However, exploitative pricing, I remember for a good long time.
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Old 06-06-06, 01:12 PM   #16
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I think this is a thread for my input: I'm tired of sifting through clothes, gloves and power bars so that I can have a mechanic tell me they don't have X or Y in stock. Does anybody else here skip all the inventory and talk straight to the mechanic? Everytime I talk to salespeople I end up asking too many questions and they refer me to mechanics. This is also why I don't have any terrible LBS stories or get crazy pitches; I avoid the sales aspect of bike shops. I use them as a resource for bike components, tools and to get mechanics' opinions on certain parts. and yeah almost all the time they never carry chainrings, hubs, spokes, or ACTUAL bike parts and always have to order it in.

I guess my only story is I went to a store dedicated to Triathletes and I said "I replaced my fork and it seems like I get so much more pedal scrape." He looked my bike over and replied "Oh, just don't pedal through corners." DUH! Well I looked my bike over the next day and saw that I forgot the crown race on my headset. How can somebody who looks, sells bikes, and owns the shop not notice something that really was glaringly obvious?
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Old 06-06-06, 03:51 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viki
So its all about "Caveat Emptor" .. Buyer beware story.. Do your own research and be prepared that LBS are trying to get mots money out of you. even though what you need is $100 Mangoose.. they are likely to sell you $1000 dollar Road racer.

So why is that there no body alrming all the newbies of this unusally high hype about LBS goodness.

Very frustrated
Viki
As many people have said there are good shops and bad shops. Sure it can be frustrating to figure out which ones are which. Your best bet is to talk with other cyclists in your area. If someone has a 'snob shop', word gets around. If someone has bad service, word gets around. But the main reason that we tell you to go to a local bike shop is because after the sale, you have someone to go back to if something is wrong. That's the reason that I always council people to go to an LBS. If you buy on-line or at a big box store, who do you go to if something needs adjusted? You can't very well send a bike back to an on-line store for a cable adjustment and most big box Wally World stores have some know-nothing kid doing assembly and they couldn't adjust a bike if they were stuck on railroad tracks and their lives depended on it.

Now, on prices, trying to sell you a $1000 road bike is a bit much but don't go into a shop and ask to see the $100 WallyWorld special, either. Even big bike shops can't carry bikes at that level. Those bikes are 'lost leaders', sold cheap so that you will come in a WallyWorld and buy detergent while you buy the bike. Those bikes don't have much longevity either. Most bikes bought at WallyWorld are ridden for less than 5 miles (total) and then hung in a garage. Most can't be ridden for hundreds or thousands of miles per year anyway...they just don't have the quality to get the job done. Educate yourself about the models and prices and then go to a shop. Ask questions here first also. Expect to spend around $300 for anything of good quality. A $300 LBS bike will last 10 times what a WallyWorld bike will and will be far more pleasant to ride.

And, finally, if the salesman doesn't treat you right, ask to speak to the manager. Tell him that you are going elsewhere. If the shop doesn't meet the customer's needs they won't be in business for long.
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Old 06-06-06, 04:21 PM   #18
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I used to go to High Gear Cyclery in Sterling NJ. We bought three bikes from them. My first one, I came wandering in looking like a Fred (hey, my name is Fred - so it is okay!) and wanted to buy a nice hardtail - they actually pointed me to a cheaper version - but I told them I needed all the help I could get! Besides, I wanted to buy a solid bike that would possibly outlast me.

We talked for about 20 to 30 minutes if I recall, they were asking lots of questions about how I ride, what I wanted to do - and my budget. I thought they were all good questions - and I love the bike they recommended which was actually a show special. (F900 with upgrades). Decent price as well.

We also bought a tandem from them, they measured us for it and got the right one, the first time. Wouldn't sell us the one on the shop floor because they said it wouldn't fit right.

They have a lifetime tuneup if I recall - just bring it in and they will do a basic tuneup for free - forever.

Because I really destroyed my shoulder many years ago, I need to be more upright than normal. They changed out stems repeatedly till I got the right one. No charge.

When I busted the chain on the tandem, they explained what I did to break it (stood up and hammered - too much traction on the back!) and explained I would be better off being nicer to the chain than to upgrade the chain - sprockets cost more. The owner is a tandem rider so he had lots of good pointers for us.

Great group of people - almost all the workers were riders as well and could tell me some of the best places to ride. What I really appreciated was that many of the employees were very good riders - races and everything. I am really just someone who enjoys improving everyday - but never expect to be wonderful. They were still very nice to me - and understood that my needs were different than theirs.

It has been a couple of years since I was there and I see they have a new store - I hope all is going well with them.
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Old 06-06-06, 06:06 PM   #19
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They don't help me much NOW, because I've been riding for 30 years and I know more than most of the kids in the shops, who tend to be racing oriented and think I'm a fussy old geezer with a triple crank. When people ask me for bike-buying advice, though (I'm a newspaper reporter who writes about bikes sometimes, so I get a lot of questions), I send them to one or the other of three local shops. One will help them find exactly the bike they really need, one will help them get started in racing if that's what they want, and the other is run by a good guy who'll do his best to get them on the road cheap.
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Old 06-06-06, 10:02 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olebiker
I went to GBS looking to buy a Litespeed Firenze frame. All they wanted to do was get me on a $2900 Litespeed Tuscany. I would love to have bought it, but I just didn't have that kind of money to spend.

Larry, at Sunshine, talked down to me so badly about wanting to buy just a frame and not being willing to buy a bike without discussing it with my wife that I probably won't shop there anymore unless Ed or RitaAnn is there.
I know what you mean. I've had some luck with Todd and/or Roger over at Higher Ground, but it's hit or miss. I always go in looking for a tube, and end up test riding a Merlin or something.

I actually had Larry ask me why I wanted a new bike, my old one was just fine for my level of riding (in a very condescending tone). So I don't go where my money isn't wanted.

GBS is trying to move those two Litespeeds. They've been there forever, so I'm not surprised he tried to sell you one. But hopefully, Colorado Cyclist will take good care of you.
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Old 06-08-06, 05:17 AM   #21
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My LBS is nothing short of great. They patiently answer all of my crazy questions, and their attitude is "the customer is always right." If there's something I want that's not in stock, they'll order it immediately for me. Friendly, hard-working, and much more knowledgable than the blue-vested shelf-stockers at Wal-Mart. The shop is right on the Great Allegheny Passage in Pennsylvania, and a mechanic has even ridden out on the trail to help with a repair!

I've bought one new and 2 used bicycles within the last seven years, along with lots of accessories.
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Old 06-26-06, 04:29 AM   #22
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I went to a "high speed" bike shop in Burlington, MA. As I was over 50 and not wearing skintight clothing, I was completely ignored the whole time I was there. It was like I was invisible.

There is a place call Frederico's in South Boston MA that is the opposite. No new bikes for sale, just lots of used ones and repairs. Once Mr. Frederico sees you he shuts off the compressor so he can hear you.
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Old 06-26-06, 12:50 PM   #23
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I've had widely varying experience with LBS's. In the town where I go to college, there's two. I haven't been to Salem Cycle much, bu I've had great experiences with Pure Bicycle, they've been very understanding of my limited knowledge and beginner-ness, and have been across the board quick with repairs (same-day for some stuff -- 'come back in about an hour' kind of thing).

By contrast, when I'm at home, I've had terrible experiences with the localest LBS (Harris). I get the sense when I go in looking for something (a light, a map, a repair) that they don't see me as much more than a pest that's keeping them from their regular and 'real cyclist' customers. As Garandman suggested, perhaps it was because I was not wearing spandex. (but I am well under fifty).

The other not-as-local-LBS, Wheelworks, has been a mix of Pure Bicycle and Harris, but I've only been in their for repairs and to purchase my old bike, and that was some 7 years ago, so I can't speak for that experience.

In any case none of them seem like the sort to push a sale on me (I look as broke as I am, perhaps). The experience can vary so much -- if you're in an area where you have a wide range of options, visit and see who you 'click' with. And to be honest and straightforward with any shop about what you need.
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Old 06-26-06, 07:26 PM   #24
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Before I bought my first "real" bike I visited all the local shops. I shopped for accessories, asked questions about their bikes and other products, listened in on conversations between the employees and other customers and had some repairs done on my crappy department store bike. I decided that the closest shop to me was the way to go. They are a bit more expensive than other shops and on occasion I have gotten a cheesy sales pitch and BS advice (I learned which employees to avoid), but overall they have good customer service and a good mechanic. My biggest complaint is the prices for repairs and sometimes they get sloppy on repairs (one reason I'm learning to do basic repairs myself). For example, on 2 occasions when I took the rear wheel of my bike to get a broken spoke fixed I had to take the wheel back to get it properly dished and on another occasion when they rebuilt the wheel they did not replace all the original spokes which kept breaking. It seemed to me they were too cheap to fix the wheel the right way and waited until the 7th broken spoke incident to send the wheel to Specialized (32 DT spokes later, no problems).
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Old 06-26-06, 08:26 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hambone
My understanding (I'm not in the industry so this is anecdotal) is that the LBS doesn't make a lot on the bike. They make it on the other stuff (helmet/gloves/etc.) and the service.
Shops (usually) make their highest margins with accessories, and with new sales employees. Why? Because the guy that's been selling bikes for 17 years will know so many people, he's giving deals to every guy, their brother, friend, pastor, whatever. The new guy will more than likely be selling the bike at full retail pop. There is actually a lot of room to work with in sales, especially as the price gets higher. Buying a bike for 259? they probably bought it for 130-180. Buying a bike for 6500? they probably bought it for like 4300, give or take. And service? you don't make money on service. After paying wages, the cost of parts, the time to do the repair etc, you're not really walking away with much. What you are getting is decent service, and the shop is getting another notch on the ol' reputation buckle.
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