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  1. #1
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    Sometimes I just leave a bicycle shop shaking my head.

    For christmas I purchased my husband a set of Ortlieb frontroller classics to go with his set of backroller classics we got on that great REI sale a few weeks. He tours on a Trek Dual Sport 8.3 with disc brakes. We decided to go look for a front rack for his bike as we want to leave this week for Florida to do a few rides around the Tampa area and maybe ride the keys. We went into the "biggest" bike store in the Kansas City Area. I went in the door first, and the 20 something at the counter asked if I was looking for something. I said "Yes, do you carry front racks?". He looks at me and says "For a Bike?". I'm thinking, well I am in a bike store, but I just say "Yes". About that time my husband walks in the door (he had been messing with his phone outside). Then the guy says "Yes, they are the same as the back rack." I look at him and say "NO, they are not." He takes us to look at back racks and then after it not being what we want he tries to look them up on the computer.

    We left that big store laughing and shaking our heads. Is touring that much of a limited sport that a bike store wouldn't know about it? We came home and my husband called Old Man Mountain, we should be receiving our rack in the mail at the end of the week. He was a nice guy.

    Anyone else have problems with bike stores and touring?
    Last edited by Nanaterry; 01-02-13 at 01:00 PM. Reason: spelling

  2. #2
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    I've never seen a front rack at a LBS but all of them I frequent know what they are.

  3. #3
    Senior Member lanahk's Avatar
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    Yes, touring is that much of a limited sport, and, no, I don't have a problem with a bike store not carrying much in the way of touring gear. It's a niche, and I don't think most of them would want to carry inventory for the relatively few people that want a front rack. My LBS is good about ordering stuff, though. They've had enough experience with tourers to at least understand what they need.

    At least you can laugh about your experience. When I was looking for a new touring bike, I had one LBS tell me I could tour on any of their road bikes, even though they all had skinny tires, high gears and didn't have braze-ons for front fenders or racks. Another shop in St. Louis wanted to sell me a carbon fiber Trek Madone to tour on.

    Have a great time in Florida. It's a good time to ditch the Midwest weather.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanaterry View Post
    Anyone else have problems with bike stores and touring?
    The LBS can only afford to stock what sells quickly. Their main buyers are parents looking for kids bikes, mtb enthusiasts and road bike enthusiasts. Most shops won't have much of anything outside this narrow range. Some shops will have a recumbent, a folder, and perhaps a triathlon bike. All shops have to order stuff if you venture only slightly off the beaten bike parts path.

    Touring in particular is a niche market within recreational bicycling. You have to shop online, and frankly you'll find better deals on the internet than at the LBS.

  5. #5
    Senior Member jmccain's Avatar
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    It's OK with me if a shop doesn't have every part. It's not OK to give erroneous advise (or even to lie). Many shops have lost my business by doing it

  6. #6
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    I hope no one thinks I was upset about them not carrying it. I was just suprised that he had no idea what it was and if they had them in stock.

    We also thank it is a good time to ditch this weather. We can't wait to leave. Hope that rack comes soon.

  7. #7
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Sounds like a kid fairly new to the business and unfamiliar with, or afraid to use the phrase, "I don't know. Let me check."

    Touring is a small enough part of the bike market that I don't really expect anything from the LBS specific to that market.

  8. #8
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    Unfortunately, I might have bought my folding bike from the same kid.

    Big mistake. I was told a lot of things that were not correct and did not learn that until much later. Store was 270 miles away which made the situation much worse.

  9. #9
    Senior Member koolerb's Avatar
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    I understood your post 100%. It all depends on who you end up talking to at the store. If you get the owner, you get someone that knows what you're talking about and is enthusiastic about helping. If you get anyone else, it's the luck of the draw.

    The last one that got me going was my middle daughters bike purchase for her birthday. We we're at our third store, and she found one she liked. She was test riding it in the parking lot while the sales person and I were watching. I noticed any time she pedaled forward the bike made a clicking sound, almost like a freewheel. I asked the guys what the sound was, he replied "what sound?" After some work I got him to acknowledge there was a sound. Then he said, "They all make that sound." I protested, and told him I've ridden a lot of bikes, and never heard any that make clicking noises while pedaling. He stood his ground, and told me "well all newer bikes do." When I got the bike home I isolated the sound and found the source pretty quickly. There was a little plastic clicker installed under the chaining guard that was making the noise,,, kids bike feature I guess.

    Back to your point; I was in the premium bike shop in our town where the average adult bike is probably in the ball park of $3000. I paid full list price for my daughters bike because they don't haggle. Would it be too much to hire sales people that can at least fake knowing a little bit about bikes?

    When I'm trying to support my local bike shops over buying on-line it's frustrating when they don't seem to be putting out the effort to provide good service. Luckily I've got six other local bike shops within 20 minutes of my house, a few I like allot, and a few I don't like much.

  10. #10
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanaterry View Post

    Anyone else have problems with bike stores and touring?
    You'll learn more on this site using the "search engine" and reading the related threads and by asking the rare question that hasn't already been answered, than you can possibly come to know in any one, two, or three bike shops that I have ever been in. Touring is that small of a market and I can almost guarantee you that few if any of those younger employees have ever toured.
    Last edited by robow; 01-01-13 at 03:01 PM.

  11. #11
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    I went to an LBS that refused to give me a price for 36 spoke wheels, because no one would ever need more than 32.

  12. #12
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScruffyChimp View Post
    I went to an LBS that refused to give me a price for 36 spoke wheels, because no one would ever need more than 32.
    I was told by a dealer that I would have to order a custom titanium frame because "nobody makes touring bikes anymore." It was a Trek dealer who had a Surly decal on the door as well. He said the frame would have to be titanium because "when touring you are likely to scratch the bike. We couldn't have that!" I wasn't shaking my head when I left, it was obvious what he was trying to do.
    I would like to support an LBS, but they almost never have what I am looking for, whether related to touring or commuting. They only deal in pretend racing.

    Marc
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  13. #13
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    Touring is a very small part of the bike market, so it's not surprising that a young guy at a bike store might not know much about it, or, about front racks specifically. Anybody reading this forum loves bikes and knows why we all want to support the LBS. And we should do so, just to keep this sport healthy and growing. I try to buy most of my stuff from a couple of bike shops (actually, one bike shop and a guy who primarily does just repairs), but I know their limits. Keep supporting bike shops (and even their younger employees) -- it keeps everything better and stronger. But, for a lot of touring stuff it probably is better to try to find someone knowledgeable on line. Wayne at TheTouringStore.com is a great person to talk to about racks and panniers, etc. -- since this post started talking about front racks.
    Seven Elium Race, Gunnar Roadie, Gunnar Sport, Surly LHT, Gary Fisher Genesis, Miyata 610.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    My lbs generally does a good job for folks. He did grumble a bit the other day about business being hurt by online buying. Having patiently delt with me for years, he does know what tourists need. But stocks hardly any of it. Sure can't blame him for that. I did buy my bent there. Have no idea why he had it in stock. Was exactly what I needed, even tho I didn't know it at the time. Haven't seen one since.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    Luckily, being a newb to this sport, my LBS has a few folks that actually tour on staff. They carry bupkis in stock, but are more than willing to answer questions and order stuff in. They'd probably get sick of seeing me, but I spend money every time I'm there.

    Had a different local-ish shop tell me that a compact road bike was a perfect! touring frame, and would I like it in silver or red?

    I politely left, and won't darken their door again. It still amazes me (not really) that people have forgotten, or never learned, that good customer service pays much better dividends than a quicky sale of sub-optimal stuff.
    Chris

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  16. #16
    Senior Member saddlesores's Avatar
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    it's okay if the local shop doesn't have exotic touring gear like front racks.

    it's not okay that the pimply-faced high school dropout "salesman" doesn't have a clue
    about cycling. doesn't matter that he doesn't cycle, he could at least page through
    a few manufacturers catalogs. (huh? bike rack goes on the back uh the car.)

    as for touring, of course you can tour on skinny-tired carbon fibre rigotoni! you just weren't
    specific enough. he thought you meant "tour de france" touring.

  17. #17
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    I have a really good LBS, Freeze Thaw Cycles in State College, and I'm pretty sure they have front racks in stock. Although they might have to take one off of one of the fully equipped LHT's they have hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the store depending on what you want

  18. #18
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    There are at least 30 bike shops within a 50 mile radius of my home. I frequent 5 of them pretty regularly. They all carry front and rear racks, a couple brands of panniers, and I can test ride a LHT, 520, Salsa, Co-Motion and Cannondales (when they were still producing a touring bike). However, I might have to go down the street to make it all happen. Three top notch shops are within 5 minutes walking distance in Corvallis.

    If for some reason, I can't find what I'm looking for there is always Eugene with over 20 bike shops. Some of these tend to be a little more specialized, so you go to the ones that fit your need.

    it's not okay that the pimply-faced high school dropout "salesman" doesn't have a clue
    about cycling. doesn't matter that he doesn't cycle, he could at least page through
    a few manufacturers catalogs.
    Most of the younger employees at our local shops are college students, and know bikes. They also know enough to get you to the right person in the shop, if they can't answer your questions. A few of the best wrenches in these shops are not "pimply-faced high school dropouts", but good looking, smart, and knowledgeable young women Some of us are just more fortunate than others.

    Back to your point; I was in the premium bike shop in our town where the average adult bike is probably in the ball park of $3000. I paid full list price for my daughters bike because they don't haggle. Would it be too much to hire sales people that can at least fake knowing a little bit about bikes?
    I really don't want to deal with people who fake it. I'd rather have someone tell me, "they do not know."

  19. #19
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    There's a flip side to everything. There's less and less of a demand in my area for dedicated touring bikes and more and more people that want to do light ocassional touring on what they already have. Its hard to keep up with everything and some high end items are just kept in stock for comparison purposes to demonstrate that other items may be a better choice for light touring. And just as its unlikely to find a shop where everyone is intimately familiar with how to tear down a front fork - same is true for touring components. New personnel in particular will be most likely to feel that saying 'I don't know' is a sign of incompetence. Best approach is to accept that you're looking for a specialty item and ask the store manager if he has a specialist in that area.

    Often the actual installation can make as much of a difference as the actual item and adaptors or specialized hardware is a better alternative than what comes stock. (I prefer hex head for everything myself) So good advice from a variety of angles is important. (sigh) And to complicate your life - Thule has launched a 'Pack and Pedal' line of bicycle luggage using propriotary Freeloader racks that are ...... the same front and back. I really like this stuff and have a hard time keeping up!

  20. #20
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    In the kid's defense there are bike racks that go on the bike to hold stuff. There are bike racks that go on the car to hold the bikes, and there are bike racks that go in front of businesses or schools to hold bikes.

    Still, I know what you mean. I've also met young workers in bike shops that have no knowledge of bike touring and related gear.

    We're a small market......but we're worthy!

  21. #21
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    People most all have all that kit , before they Get here , .. so A front rack does not sell, but one a summer,
    and that to someone who realized their load is too tail heavy.

    Bike shops pay labor like restaurants, but without the tips.. so turnover is to be expected.

    enthusiasm for bikes wont buy cars and houses and support families. well maybe for the shop owner.
    to do that its a zero sum , that keeps the wage for the wrench serfs down.

    plus shopping over the internet, means inventory sits unsold in shops,
    so the shop does not keep the stuff in stock. why eat your unsold inventory ?


    Anyone else have problems with bike stores and touring?
    yea the season I would be touring, myself is the same one I have the paid hours at work,
    helping other touring folks in the Northern Hemisphere..

    And living indoors cost so much I never could afford
    to go to the southern Hemisphere in the northern Winter..

    Tried a Subsidized volunteer trip leader job, for AYH,
    That cost me the relationship with the GF, who added on abandonment issues
    with her Bi-polarisim.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-29-13 at 01:51 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member garysol1's Avatar
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    You can't expect all shops to know all there is to know about every aspect of cycling. You have the roadies, the BMX'ers, the BMX racers, the MTB crown, the fixed gear crowd, the recreational cyclist with there hybrids, the cross racers.....etc......etc..... Every style of cycling has different needs and parts. I dont know of any shop that knows everything about everything. Most shops should know what a front rack is but I would not be surprised if a lowrider rack made there eyes glass over.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    I hear you. I understand that touring is a small segment of the bicycling population, but it always seems a shame to me that there's so little attention paid to basic utility cycling. Clearly it's not what people want. It's not what sells, and so it gets little attention. When I bought my first new, complete bike five or so years back, it seemed to somewhat bemuse the sales person that I wanted both a rack and fenders installed on the bike before it even left the store. Even though I was picking items right out of their stock, they seemed a little unsure of why I thought I'd need them. At least now I see fully outfitted commuter bikes with racks and fenders on their sales floor, so things may be improving. And I was shopping there the other day when I overheard a woman talking to the salesman and saying that what she really wanted was to see some options on how to carry things on the bike. Made me smile, and also tempted me to go over and give some input.

    I understand that you stock what sells and what there's demand for, but if you also keep in stock items that a bike more useful, then it seems like that would plant the idea in people's heads that their bikes could be more than just toys, which would, in turn, bring them back around to the bike shop sooner than later.

    Instead, a lack of options and a lack of knowledge sends me to the internet for information and for purchases. I've been to a number of local bike shops, and if they have what I need, I buy it. But if I have to go hunting, I figure I might as well pay internet prices and get it shipped to my door. I understand the desire to keep a local shop alive and thriving, but if they don't carry the items I need, or have much in the way of useful advice, I guess they aren't "my" local bike shop anyway. I do have fairly good luck at REI, which, being a chain, may or may not fit into some people's definition of "local," and, given their lack of a cycling-only focus, might not even qualify as a bike shop. Nevertheless, when I have found touring/utility gear locally, it's been at REI. Staff knowledge can be hit or miss because they cover all aspects of outdoor life and might not be as well-versed in bike stuff, but they're always friendly and as helpful as possible.

    And as for Old Man Mountain, that's what I settled on after a fair amount of research on front rack options. I've been very happy with my front rack, and even though it gets little use in my bike's daily life as a commuter, I can't bring myself to remove it between tours because every now and then it comes in very handy.

  24. #24
    Senior Member enigmaT120's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
    There are at least 30 bike shops within a 50 mile radius of my home. I frequent 5 of them pretty regularly. They all carry front and rear racks, a couple brands of panniers, and I can test ride a LHT, 520, Salsa, Co-Motion and Cannondales (when they were still producing a touring bike). However, I might have to go down the street to make it all happen. Three top notch shops are within 5 minutes walking distance in Corvallis.
    I do enjoy that walk down first street (think that's the one). I had to go to Corvallis, as nobody in Salem carried Fargos.
    Ed Miller
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  25. #25
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    I think the general advise oft provided in all the bike forums is to find a good LBS and support them with purchases and references when it makes sense to do so.

    A LBS stocked with folks having little to no knowledge of the bike world you live in is not definable as a "good LBS". That leaves you with the option of going to a different one if such exists. If not, there remains the option of helping the weak LBS to become better. In more than one case where I had one LBS and it wasn't very good, I made a point of going in to shop for several items within the specific area of the bike culture I live in. As expected I got redirection and confused looks.

    In those cases I made it a point to gather 2-3 of the shop workers and explained my part of the bike culture and explain that as it stands now, they are not ready to support me as a customer. I then handed them a note card with the URL to BikeForums.com, bikesdirect.com, Peter Whites and Sheldon's. I then clearly and without being grumpy, I tell them I would be back in two weeks at this same time of the day and I would expect them to have a working knowledge of touring aspects such as front touring racks, panniers, long reach rear deraillers, 35mm wide tires, etc., and be ready to assist me as a customer by setting up an order for any of the items not in stock at that time. Surprisingly on my return visit I was met by two of the three workers and the manager and they met the standard I has set. After a good discussion about my riding and requirements, I did some business with them and when the parts came it, I made it a point to offer to show them the tricks on installing the front rack and how to correctly inflate the wider touring tires.

    Just offered here as one path through the LBS frustration many bikers face.

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