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  1. #1
    Senior Member TheRef's Avatar
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    Dealing with REI for bike purchase and After sales.

    Wondering what king of experiences you guys have had dealing with REI both at time of purchase or using their service department for bikes.
    For comparison I have nothing but good things to say about 2 of the Performance Bikes stores near me where they call me by name. I also use the services of 2 LBS for my other bikes and I've had mixed experiences but overall mostly positive.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    I don't know that I'd let their mechanics work on my bike, but that's probably a bit of snobbishness and pretension on my part.

    REI will give you a full refund for any reason for up to a year. It's hard to beat that. I got a great deal from them on a CX bike someone else had returned... They don't sell many high end road bikes, focus more on hybrids and mountain bikes, and, really, they're not a bike store. But if they had one I wanted and the price was right I wouldn't hesitate.

    Also I got my Vector pedals from REI because the 20 % off coupon amounted to a $300 discount, I was able to use my dividend for further savings, and I can still return them if anything goes wrong.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  3. #3
    MAK
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    I don't know that I'd let their mechanics work on my bike, but that's probably a bit of snobbishness and pretension on my part.

    REI will give you a full refund for any reason for up to a year. It's hard to beat that. I got a great deal from them on a CX bike someone else had returned... They don't sell many high end road bikes, focus more on hybrids and mountain bikes, and, really, they're not a bike store. But if they had one I wanted and the price was right I wouldn't hesitate.

    Also I got my Vector pedals from REI because the 20 % off coupon amounted to a $300 discount, I was able to use my dividend for further savings, and I can still return them if anything goes wrong.

    Just an FYI...A member of the local bike club who is a VERY experienced rider and self taught mechanic applied for a job at REI to work in the Bike shop area and was told that he would be hired subject to passing a professional bike repair course given in (I believe) Denver which they paid for.

    I presume that this is company policy and not an individual store policy. I would trust REI knowing that their mechanics are professionally trained and experienced.

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    The guys at REI haven't worked on my bike, but I have spoken with them extensively about different parts and they definitely know what they're doing. That said, one of the guys at my local REI used to race, and knows his way around a bike because of his personal experience, not because of an REI training program. I can't vouch for your local REI, but if you talk to them a little bit you may be comfortable with them.

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    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    My general thoughts on dealing with REI is that they are one of the best, if not THE best, if you have to return anything.
    However, I would never bring any of my bikes there to have any work done. I'm too much of a primadonna for that.
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    Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

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    Senior Member interungulate's Avatar
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    I bought my hybrid at REI a few years back, they worked on it a couple of times and did a few quick fixes on my road bike, as well. I don't know that I trust them that much with my road bike, but I basically don't trust anyone with it. They did a good job on my hybrid (Cannondale Quick), I was completely satisfied. The process of actually purchasing the bike was great - I'm not sure about their selection of road bikes, but they went through basically every hybrid in the store with me and explained the pros and cons of each one.
    REI's return policy is also very chill, and the fact that you get 10% back the next year is pretty cool. I'm fortunate enough to have several awesome LBSs near me, but if I didn't, I'd go to REI.
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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAK View Post
    ...A member of the local bike club who is a VERY experienced rider and self taught mechanic applied for a job at REI to work in the Bike shop area and ...
    Quote Originally Posted by Ajkollme View Post
    ... one of the guys at my local REI used to race, and knows his way around a bike because of his personal experience ...
    Not related to bikes, but following in this trend: a good friend of mine hiked the Pacific Crest Trail last year and works part time at REI in the hiking gear section. Took the job for the employee discount. They have plenty of knowledgeable and competent people.
    Don't believe everything you think.

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    I have a friend who was a wrench at REI for a while. He was a very competent mechanic. Last year I shipped my touring bike to the Missoula REI and had then assemble it for the start of a tour. Everything was tuned up and working fine when I got there. They even offered to let me use a repair stand to install my racks. I know a guy who works at a local Performance shop. While he was working at a different LBS he did some work on my bike and screwed up a few things. His biggest offense was replacing my worn 14t cog on my cassette. Instead of replacing it with a new 14t cog he put on a 13t cog, which the cassette already had. Took me a few weeks to figure it out. During that time, I thought my legs were getting weak. Turns out I was just missing my oft used 14t cog, which is why it had worn out. He also repacked a hub incorrectly and installed a new brake cable but forgot it cut the end, leaving it dangling near the hub. Wonder if mistakes like that are the reason he is no longer with that shop.

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    L-I-V-I-N dtrain's Avatar
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    I live very close to an REI and a Performance - far closer than any pure LBS. The Performance experience really depends on the mech., often they are fine. REI is solid with less variability (IME).
    "The older you do get, the more rules they're gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin', man, L-I-V-I-N." - Wooderson

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    The local REI is the only place I'll take new frames that require any frame prep (at least as long as one specific mechanic is there). Not only does the guy know how to use the facing/reaming/tapping tools, he's almost always offered to do it on the spot because (I think he said once) it's more interesting than adjusting derailleurs.

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    Senior Member Shuffleman's Avatar
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    I purchased my wife's mtb from REI. It was not the best buying experience and we had to wait 3 hours for the mechanic to go over the already built bike. In the end, it was a good deal. My wife rode it twice and hated mtb so it sits in the garage. I wonder if they will still take it back. 7 months old and in perfect shape. I would gladly trade it for a cruiser for her.

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    I have to say for sales they seem a lot less slimy than the bike dealerships around here. And it seems like they don't have any BSO's or dentist bikes either, just good solid equipment.
    Genesis 49:17 | Where does a mansplainer get his water? From a well, actually...

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    L-I-V-I-N dtrain's Avatar
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    Yup, under 12 months and they'll take back about anything.

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    I have never bought a bike at REI but I did take their hands on maintenance course. The mechanic who led the instructions certainly knew what he was doing and I even learned a few tips and tricks (the whole point of me attending). I would have no issue with him working on my bike if ever needed - although like my cars I prefer to do my own work if I have the tools (and I have a lot of tools!). I'm not sure if this happens with all the people attending the class at other locations but the mechanic told us if we ever got stuck to give him a call for help and if the shop wasn't busy we could bring our bikes in and use the stands for adjustments and he would assist/guide. That's great service in my book. Of course I have my own workstand so I didn't need that but it's nice having a guy to go to for advice. My two local bike shops are good as well - the mechanics will always stop what they are doing and help/give advice if you have an issue. One has even given me cassette spacers and derailleur bolts at no charge.

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    I've found that the majority of people who work at outdoor oriented stores, whether it be REI, bike shops, climbing shops, etc, do it for the employee discount because they, themselves are hikers, bikers, climbers, etc. (This coming from a very outdoor oriented town.)

    I mean, if you're 22 and want a YETI mountain bike, that's about the only way you're going to be able to afford one anyway.

    With that said, I don't trust anybody to do the work on my bikes so there's that. It's not that they wouldn't do a good job, it's more that I know what I like in terms of adjustment. I like my barrel adjusters to be in the middle of their range when I adjust the cable, I like the brakes to have very little slack, etc. If someone else worked on my bike I'd just have to go over it again anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shuffleman View Post
    I purchased my wife's mtb from REI. It was not the best buying experience and we had to wait 3 hours for the mechanic to go over the already built bike. In the end, it was a good deal. My wife rode it twice and hated mtb so it sits in the garage. I wonder if they will still take it back. 7 months old and in perfect shape. I would gladly trade it for a cruiser for her.
    Take it back. they will refund what you paid

  17. #17
    Is reporting your post Dan333SP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    REI will give you a full refund for any reason for up to a year. It's hard to beat that.
    Agreed, but don't post about it here because people will tear you apart for "gaming the system" and being a d!ck. That still doesn't make sense to me... if someone buys something and returns it per the company's written policy, why would other people be so critical of that choice?

    Oh well.

    I've never dealt with bike gear from REI, but I just had a pair of hiking boots gifted to me that were a size too large. I took them in to the local store and they weren't in stock, but they took the item as a return, ordered the correct size, and I had them at my door less than 2 days later. Pretty happy with that experience. Everyone that works there seems incredibly friendly as well.

  18. #18
    Senior Member rmfnla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAK View Post
    Just an FYI...A member of the local bike club who is a VERY experienced rider and self taught mechanic applied for a job at REI to work in the Bike shop area and was told that he would be hired subject to passing a professional bike repair course given in (I believe) Denver which they paid for.

    I presume that this is company policy and not an individual store policy. I would trust REI knowing that their mechanics are professionally trained and experienced.
    That's comforting to hear.

    I recently applied to the local Perfomance outlet to wrench on weekends (I have a real job during the week )

    All they cared about was how fast I could build up a new bike, and their head mechanic (who has been there for years) told me to mount flat bars with no rearward tilt so they wouldn't break if the rider hit a big bump. I also watched him pound on a CF frame with a mallet to remove a sticky fork.

    I never let anyone work on my bikes but it's good to know who to recommend and who not to...
    Today, I believe my jurisdiction ends here...

  19. #19
    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRef View Post
    Wondering what king of experiences you guys have had dealing with REI both at time of purchase or using their service department for bikes.
    For comparison I have nothing but good things to say about 2 of the Performance Bikes stores near me where they call me by name. I also use the services of 2 LBS for my other bikes and I've had mixed experiences but overall mostly positive.
    Frankly, the two bike purchases I've done from REI kinda sucked. The salesperson knew nothing about the bike. I had to show them how to set it up for a pre purchase test ride. That included showing them how to measure for saddle height and teaching the "tech" how SRAM shifting works to which he said, "well that sucks, I don't like it." I assume that was the first time he had shifted a SRAM road bike before?

    Then after the test ride when I told them I would take it they went through this BS 45 minute pre sales bike maintenance that essentially had them taking the bike into the back and letting it sit there for a while out of sight. When I got it back, they hadn't really adjusted anything. I did a quick look through of the bike and found a number of things that needed to be properly adjusted. I tried to get them to get the rear DR shifting correctly and it was just beyond them.

    In each instance, I took the bikes home and put them on my stand and went through everything and there was still quite a bit of work to be done. Before I took one of the bikes on tour, I took it to a known good mechanic and he found even more that needed to be fixed. He found that the reason it wasn't shifting well was they installed the rear DR incorrectly. He fixed that and replaced the frayed cable and it shifts fairly well now.

    I didn't bother taking either of them back for their free maintenance offer. I see REI like I see a big box store when it comes to bikes. You buy it and then take it to a real mechanic to have it gone through. I'm talking about the Dallas and Southlake stores specifically here.

    Why did I buy bikes there? The cost. They had a pair of Reynolds 520 steel touring bikes with steel forks, SRAM Apex groupsets, Shimano long reach brakes, mounts for front and rear racks, came with fenders, takes a 32mm tire and came with Schwalbe Marathon tires for $518 each. Those are completely built new bikes with a 1 year full return guarantee on it. I couldn't even source the parts used for that cost much less have a new, fully assembled bike. The bikes were originally $1299 each, but since they were 2014's and discontinued, they got put on clearance twice. First time was $770, I almost bought one then. Once they hit $518, I couldn't pass it up anymore.

    On the other hand, the folks at the local Performance stores are pretty good. They send tech crews to the local T-shirt rides and they will repair your bike for free at the rest stops. They have helped me out on a couple of rides this year. Got me to the finish of one. If they carried bike brands I liked or even decent steel bikes, I would definitely shop there more. They are just farther away from either REI or many other LBS's for me.
    Last edited by Jarrett2; 11-25-15 at 11:00 AM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan333SP View Post
    Agreed, but don't post about it here because people will tear you apart for "gaming the system" and being a d!ck. That still doesn't make sense to me... if someone buys something and returns it per the company's written policy, why would other people be so critical of that choice?

    Oh well.

    I've never dealt with bike gear from REI, but I just had a pair of hiking boots gifted to me that were a size too large. I took them in to the local store and they weren't in stock, but they took the item as a return, ordered the correct size, and I had them at my door less than 2 days later. Pretty happy with that experience. Everyone that works there seems incredibly friendly as well.
    That policy, and the example you gave with your boots, is why I bought my tent, backpack, and air mattress from REI. Never had to return any of them, and that's $1K worth of gear, but the return policy meant I could see how it all works in the field.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    REI will give you a full refund for any reason for up to a year. It's hard to beat that. I got a great deal from them on a CX bike someone else had returned... They don't sell many high end road bikes, focus more on hybrids and mountain bikes, and, really, they're not a bike store. But if they had one I wanted and the price was right I wouldn't hesitate.
    My nearest REI had a season-closeout CAAD10 for $1100, so I drove the hour out of my way home from work and got it, and it's now my main bike. As others have said, the guys in the bike dept there do know their stuff. I did take my bike in for the free tune-up that they offer, but felt that nothing really improved or disimproved as a result. I'm not sure if they could help me with any major repairs because a) I haven't had any issues I can't take care of myself and b) even if I did, I'd probably go through an LBS around here who I do know and trust.

    I've returned other items to them on their policy and their service has always been incredibly friendly. At a different REI I found they couldn't really answer all my questions about their range of Garmins, but that's a common thread I've found across a lot of bike shops, and I just end up going by the DC Rainmaker reviews on that stuff anyway.

  22. #22
    Senior Member wedgeSG's Avatar
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    Our local REI seems to have good folks on staff. Haven't had any service work done, but on specifically requested parts they have went out of their way to give an answer as to whether they have it in stock, if they can source it, how long that may take, and most importantly; if computer says they have it in the store, they will go and find it if it's not on the sales floor. i once had a female employee scaling ladders to access a pair 27" tires in overhead storage for me...that really surprised me. Most retailers will tell you "if it's not on the rack to visit our online site".

  23. #23
    Senior Member Shuffleman's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions. They took the bike back with zero issues.
    I purchased an Electra instead as I know my wife will ride that. They had to order the color that she wanted but that is fine. It was a great experience. I would never take any of my bikes there for repairs because I love my lbs and because it is a pain to get there.
    I will continue to shop there but not for bikes as I don't like their brands other than Ghost for a mtb and Scott for road bikes. I am also a Campy fan so I have no interest anyway. They have a great selection of other stuff that we use though. Anyway, if you like their bikes I would recommend it to purchase them there.

  24. #24
    Senior Member bigdo13's Avatar
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    Never bought a bike from them, but have purchased plenty of other stuff..... always was treated well, always let me return the stuff I didn't want or that didn't work out for me and always treated me very well on the customer service side of things...

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