Accessories: eBay or LBS?
I'll be picking up a Tricross Sport in the next couple of days, and have started to realise how much the accessories are going to cost me:
Mudguards: $70 (not certain I'll get them)
Rear pannier rack: $30-80
Front pannier rack (maybe)
Rear panniers: $100-250
Bottle cage: $10
(Bike is $1800)
It strikes me that I can save some money buying some of this stuff on eBay. I had a bad experience with some rear panniers that fell apart, but what about pedals etc? Presumably I can research brands online before buying so I know they're not terrible. But then, it will only take one dud purchase (or even a component that doesn't fit) to make the whole thing a waste of time.
I'm predicating all this on LBS's making a lot of profit out of accessories. Though this one gives 10% of all accessories bought at the same time as a bike..
As an example, I saw these pedals for $35 rather than the $125 I was looking at spending at the LBS (probably not the same brand):
All advice welcome!
Spoked to Death
ebay and scrounging/borrowing are your friends!
The LBS is great for some stuff, not so much for other things.
Here is what I'd recommend:
Pedals: $125 - Ebay, craigslist, or wherever. Find a sale or something.
Shoes: $150 Your LBS - you want to make sure you get a good fit by trying them on.
Mudguards: $70 (not certain I'll get them) They are helpful, but don't spend $70. SKS chromoplastics should cost about $50.
Rear pannier rack: $30-80 Topeak and Blackburn both make nice rear racks for fairly cheap. Some people like to pimp out on Tubus or other racks, but they are very expensive, and not always worth it for everyone. Try to find a good one in the $30-$50 range. LBS or Craigslist.
Front pannier rack (maybe) See how you do loading up the rears first. If you are a light packer, you may not need fronts.
Rear panniers: $100-250 This is an area where nice ones make sense, and being able to try them out and play with them makes sense. Some people like a million pockets, others like one big pocket. LBS would be good.
Toolbag: $10-25 Borrow one from someone else, or buy one from Performancebike.com. They often have sales and sell bags for just a few bucks. Work the same as a fancy one.
Handlebarbag: $50-100 A good one you can try out makes sense. If your LBS has a big selection, go with that.
Bottle cage: $10 Don't pay 10 bucks for a bottle cage. Borrow one from a friend's bike, or buy one when you buy the toolbag from performance for $3.
Don't be afraid to scrounge, or buy used stuff. Some things, like shoes and panniers, you really want to work "for you". Other things, like bottle cages, tool bags, and to a certain degree, racks, you have a lot of flexibility on.
There's some really nice panniers for sale at www.crazyguyonabike.com. Check the classifieds section there. You might also post a "wanted" notice there. Lots of bike tourists check in and out of that site.
BTW, I agree with purchasing some of this stuff on eBay. Bike gear is no different from camping or other sporting goods gear -- lots of folks buy nice stuff, use it a time or two, and never use it again.
If you live in a big city, you might also post a "wanted" notice on Craigslist...there is a lot of this kind of thing lying around in closests and people just don't want to hassle with sell it. If you advertise yourself as a buyer, no telling what you might end up with...try your local cycling club as well.
You know, consider getting a lot of this stuff from Nashbar or some other well known online store. Also always use a coupon when ordering. I know Nashbar isn't well liked by some people but it does have some good stuff at very good prices.
I've used the Nashbar mtb pedals ($30), Nashbar brand shoes ($25 but they stopped selling this model many years ago, but this is just for an example), fenders (can't remember the brand but they were about $20) with great luck. Sometimes you can get stuff from Nashbar as cheap or cheaper than ebay and also combine shipping -and you know that they have reasonable return policies.
Before I go to ebay, I always checkout the cheapest prices on the item I want -it's surprizing how often people will pay more even when something is used. You might want to take a look at www.bestbikebuys.com or www.qbike.com -both are bike component price comparison sites (but be warned, they only cover certain online stores, not all of them). I feel sure you could save some money from the prices you quoted.
Originally Posted by stevage
Long Distance Cyclist
I go with places like Nashbar, Sierra Trading Post, and MEC for my stuff. All three are less expensive than my LBS.
I like my LBS but I don't buy much from them, odds-and-ends-wise. Other than the bike I mean. I go there for service, at least when I've 'adjusted' something so thoroughly that I can't back up whatever I did and get it working again. For geegaws I mostly google for the lowest price. Although if I do discover some geegaw there I will buy it from them, out of a sense of obligation.
I buy more than half my parts/accessories locally. I've been using one particular LBS for over 12years. They give me great service and a 20% discount on parts/accessories. Often it is just as cheap to buy from them as it is online. I'd rather give them the business, be able to see what I am buying and be able to return it if there is a problem or if I change my mind. Even if it costs a bit more having a good LBS around is worth a small extra cost. A couple of times when I had warranty problems they put their weight behind my claim and got me great results fast. In one case they gave me a brand new wheel set off a floor model while they worked things out with the manufacturer.
Having said that I do buy some things online - usually specialty parts my LBS doesn't understand or doesn't carry - like for my recumbents.
Supporting a LBS has its benefits. I had a problem with the rear hub on my road bike on a busy Saturday AM just before I was leaving for a ride. The manager at my LBS took my wheel to the front of the service line and had my problem resolved in 5mins for free even though they had a load of customers to deal with. I was able to meet my friends and get that ride in.
I wouldn't hesitate to talk to the manager of your LBS about a larger discount if you are buying a bike and want a load of accessories. Just tell him/her that you want to buy locally if they can help you on the price. I've had good luck with that in the past.
This is an interesting question. I would much prefer to buy from my LBS than on-line because I value the services that he provides. I would even pay a premium to do so. But the difference in prices is often huge.
When I bought my Mondonico, I intended to buy all the pieces from my LBS who would then build it. When I compared the price of the Chorus gruppo on-line, the difference made me think someone was making a gross pricing error. When I confronted the LBS manager he just shrugged and said if I wanted to buy the gruppo on-line he would be happy to assemble it for $75. It was a no-brainer.
Does anyone have any insight into the economics of the bike business that allows the on-line merchants to sell at such reduced prices and keeps LBS's in business in spite of the disparities?
Thanks for the tips! I'm actually in Melbourne, Australia (should have mentioned), so no Craigslist here. Looking at Nashbar, they really don't seem to understand international shipping at all. When I entered a postcode it complained that it couldn't "verify" it. When I removed it, all was ok (but, uh, you're going to need that postcode...) Still, if I'm not mistaken, they're only charging $9.25 to ship a heavy $55 D-lock. That would be a big saving, as they're generally $150-200 AUD (139-187 USD) around here. I guess it will also depend how urgently I need each thing...
Training Wheel Graduate
I like getting used stuff and shop Craigslist a bit and when I can get to the big city, I head for second hand cycle shops. Depending on the item I also buy from my LBH and now get a discount from him on services, bikes, and some components. If you are a regular customer and have a relationship with them you might ask your LBH if you can get a discount. I get a decent discount from mine these days.
When buying I "try" (not always achieved) to follow an order:
1) Used (i.e. yard sales, friend sales, thrift, Craigslist, REI basement sales, speciality reused bike parts shops, used eBay etc): When buying, used is usually best as it prolongs the item's life and cuts down on landfills and the "supply and demand" cycle.
2) LBH: support your local economy
3) Others: small companies (including internet based) and other socially responsible businesses (Rivendell, Patagonia, etc...)
4) eBay and discount internet companies (Nashbar, JensenUSA, etc): for the hard to find
Of course there is also the DIY path but I don't have many creative bones in my body and I'm no good at making stuff. When I attempt to, I usually spend more and get less than I would have if I had just bought the thing in the first place.
"Ride Like an Orca!" ~tdp
"People who enjoy waving flags, don't deserve to have one" ~Banksy
Has opinion, will express
I live country, north of Melbourne, so most of my purchases are by mail. I have just finished building an MTB from scratch using exclusively eBay and on-line bike stores. I would strongly suggest you steer clear of US on-line stores, and particularly Nashbar and Performance. Their shipping is only via UPS International and it is EXPENSIVE! Disregard entirely the shipping price shown on the screen after your purchase; it is irrelevant, and you will get one email, a very long delay (try two or three weeks!!), then the horror figure... which you then politely (or unpolitely) decline. Some stores other than those two flatly refuse to export outside North America... which is a shame, because you'd think American business would be desperate for an injection of international money.
If you want truly great service at an excellent shipping price (like $0 for consiging a single total purchase of $570 Australian) and from a website that contains plenty of products like you're seeking, including reviews on many products, then www.chainreactioncycles.com is the place (in Ireland, no less). I use it also for price comparisons when bidding starts to get up on eBay... I look at the eBay price plus postage, and the ChainReactionCycles price plus postage and work it from there. I've had a big ($570-plus) purchase from CRC, and it worked flawlessly.
Another to try is Torpedo7 in New Zealand. Their product line is a bit scatty, but they do have some sensational bargains come up if you subscribe to their newsletter. Try www.torpedo7.com ... they charge a flat $9 for consignment. I bought a workstand and some other items, and despite being sent in two separate packages, the total cost to me was only $9.
The main advtanges with the LBS is instant gratification. Many of the local bikeshops now have on-line stores, including some through eBay. Type into google the brand name of a part or piece of equipment that you are seeking, and it will come up with a host of bike shops that you can then decide on price-wise.
Going back to the start, yes, there is always a chance you won't get what you expect out of eBay. And you do have to research your products carefully to ensure they will fit or are compatible (and it can be a minefield for things like cranksets and bottom brackets). And you have to know that if you bid and it looks like you are a winner, you can be outbid right at the last second by a sniper. eBay also has the Buy It Now option on many components and things like panniers. And many of those components for Buy It Now are brand new, but probably superseded.
And with one or two minor exceptions, I have been happy with all my eBay purchases.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for the links! Torpedo7 doesn't seem to have much of what I'm looking for, but the other one has a massive range.