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Why bother with the LBS???

Old 03-20-08, 12:22 PM
  #1  
JustBrowsing
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Why bother with the LBS???

*WARNING: Minor Rant Ahead*

Thanks to a recent accident I had, I found myself with a slightly bent front axle. After taking the wheel apart and checking everything out, that seems to be the worst of it. I went to the LBS to ask about getting a new axle. I know exactly what part I need and what it should cost (standard Shimano front 9x1x110 QR for about 10 bucks), and figured I should try to support my LBS instead of ordering it online (not to mention shipping will be just as much as the part itself). After asking the guy at the LBS about this, he proceeded to go to the skewer section of the store to try to sell me new skewers. I said "No, those are skewers. I need an axle." He then went on to tell me that axles can't be replaced and that I'd need a hub, or maybe a whole wheel depending on how bad it was. The whole thing ended up with him holding up a wheel and me explaining to him how hubs have axles and bearings and cups and cones, and how these all work together. At the end of it all, he was still insisting that axles can't be replaced.

After going to a few shops in the area, it seems that this is the level of service that can be expected from most bike shops these days. Either that, or the shops have people that actually know something about bikes, but they can't be bothered to actually talk to the people in the store. I used to live in Berkeley several years ago, so I know that it's possible for shop employees to both be friendly AND helpful. Why does that seem so hard to find elsewhere?

So, should I even bother trying to get help from local bike shops anymore? How many of you have completely given up with trying to support your LBS and just taken to ordering everything online and doing it yourself? At the rate I'm going at, I'll have nearly a full shop's worth of tools/equipment around my apartment in no time...
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Old 03-20-08, 12:48 PM
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I like having local bike shops close by and I periodically visit them with subtle needs (a nut or bolt) and to discuss topics. My favorite LBS now knows me well enough to ask me "what project are you working on now?" I think you need to engage them rather than hand them an incomplete description and expect an intuitive and brilliant answer.

And I also go the the LBS for big ticket items (bike racks for the vehicles, etc) and custom fitting for helmets and saddles and such.
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Old 03-20-08, 12:55 PM
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dont talk to the young salesperson, collar a mechanic and explain to them what you need.
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Old 03-20-08, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by FlatFender View Post
dont talk to the young salesperson, collar a mechanic and explain to them what you need.
Unfortunately this was the only guy there when I went in this time. I've gone into the same shop other times and had people slightly more knowledgeable than this, but that's more the exception to the rule. One of the guys I've spoken with there before asked me if I wanted a job.
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Old 03-20-08, 01:14 PM
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I live in the antithesis of a good cycling area, and I have gone into three different shops, and the worst that has happened to me is when I asked for a third hand tool, and the kid thought I was asking about a 4th hand tool... he understood as soon as I corrected him. Otherwise, I have had high quality service, even if the parts I want aren't always in stock.

So, I guess on the LBS front, I am very fortunate.
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Old 03-20-08, 01:41 PM
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There's only one shop in my area that isn't completely staffed by professional, knowledgable people. Perhaps I'm lucky!
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Old 03-20-08, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Zinn-X View Post
There's only one shop in my area that isn't completely staffed by professional, knowledgeable people. Perhaps I'm lucky!
You are lucky.........We have 5 (?) lbs around here......Twice I have gone to 2 different shops for axle assemblies and both times the kids will turn me loose in the parts bins to find what I need. Once the kid said 5$ (axle, cones, spacers; lock-nuts); I paid......the other time (different shop); the same thing; but the kid said 18$...I said that it was too much and he said "OK...3$" I paid.......and smiled.........
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Old 03-20-08, 02:21 PM
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I live in Bloomington, home of the Little 500, with 3 shops to choose from only one allows me to buy parts like that, perhaps its because they know me as a mechanic. Plus being a business they should just sell you what you want, an axle, and not ask questions. It looks like you may not have a good bike shop selection :/
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Old 03-20-08, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by JustBrowsing View Post
*WARNING: Minor Rant Ahead*

Thanks to a recent accident I had, I found myself with a slightly bent front axle. After taking the wheel apart and checking everything out, that seems to be the worst of it. I went to the LBS to ask about getting a new axle. I know exactly what part I need and what it should cost (standard Shimano front 9x1x110 QR for about 10 bucks), and figured I should try to support my LBS instead of ordering it online (not to mention shipping will be just as much as the part itself). After asking the guy at the LBS about this, he proceeded to go to the skewer section of the store to try to sell me new skewers. I said "No, those are skewers. I need an axle." He then went on to tell me that axles can't be replaced and that I'd need a hub, or maybe a whole wheel depending on how bad it was. The whole thing ended up with him holding up a wheel and me explaining to him how hubs have axles and bearings and cups and cones, and how these all work together. At the end of it all, he was still insisting that axles can't be replaced.

After going to a few shops in the area, it seems that this is the level of service that can be expected from most bike shops these days. Either that, or the shops have people that actually know something about bikes, but they can't be bothered to actually talk to the people in the store. I used to live in Berkeley several years ago, so I know that it's possible for shop employees to both be friendly AND helpful. Why does that seem so hard to find elsewhere?

So, should I even bother trying to get help from local bike shops anymore? How many of you have completely given up with trying to support your LBS and just taken to ordering everything online and doing it yourself? At the rate I'm going at, I'll have nearly a full shop's worth of tools/equipment around my apartment in no time...
For some stuff I go on-line but for little stuff...like axles, cones, bearings, etc... and for big stuff...bikes...I stick with my local shops. If the part is obscure or old, I go to local shops, too. I just did a Dex search for bicycle dealers and found 68 in the Denver area. I've been to nearly all of them and, with a few exceptions (mostly the higher end shops), they are all pretty good. But you have to make a connection with a shop for some stuff. Go look at the "Master Mechanic" thread. What makes a Master Mechanic is someone who understands what you are asking them, even when the customer hasn't a clue as to what they are asking for. If the customer does know, a true Master Mechanic, won't treat them like an idiot.

If you don't get the service you want, keep asking until you get the right person or keep looking for the right shop
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Old 03-20-08, 03:09 PM
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A couple weeks ago I needed a new chain. I go to the closest bike shop, ask for a SRAM PC951 chain. I get bewildered look from kid at the counter. Girl in the back explains to him what it is. He looks in a cabinet, says they have no SRAM chains only KMC. I say OK, I need a 9 speed chain. Kid comes back, they only have 8 speed chains. Go to shop number 2 tell the old guy at the counter I'd like a SRAM PC951 chain, he grumbles "that's awfully damned specific" goes in the back tells me they only have the 991 and I shouldn't get the cheap chain it's unreliable I need the $50 991. Go to shop number 3, tell them what I want, they sell it to me for a good price. I'll go back to number 3, I'll never go back to 1 or 2.
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Old 03-20-08, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by ad6mj View Post
A couple weeks ago I needed a new chain. I go to the closest bike shop, ask for a SRAM PC951 chain. I get bewildered look from kid at the counter. Girl in the back explains to him what it is. He looks in a cabinet, says they have no SRAM chains only KMC. I say OK, I need a 9 speed chain. Kid comes back, they only have 8 speed chains. Go to shop number 2 tell the old guy at the counter I'd like a SRAM PC951 chain, he grumbles "that's awfully damned specific" goes in the back tells me they only have the 991 and I shouldn't get the cheap chain it's unreliable I need the $50 991. Go to shop number 3, tell them what I want, they sell it to me for a good price. I'll go back to number 3, I'll never go back to 1 or 2.
I can see not going back to shop #2, the guy was trying to upsell in a shady fashion.
Shop #1 however just did not have what you needed, when you needed it. And the kid did not know what you wanted, but someone else did. If you go to a grocery store and they are out of stock on an item you want and you ask the guy fronting merch. about it and he has to ask a manager about it and the manager says they can get the item for you in a couple of days. Do you never shop there again? You must have no where to buy stuff.
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Old 03-20-08, 04:58 PM
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I do 95% of all work on my bicycles and I buy everything I can from an LBS. Most of the employees are knowledgeable and helpful. It pays off in the long run.

Al
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Old 03-20-08, 05:25 PM
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Look for a shop that sponsors local races for your style of riding. I just moved to a small town with a small LBS, that will order whatever you need at a fair price. However the shop is not used to the need of competitive cyclists (limited hours of operations, unexpected closures with no explanation, limited set of tools for modern components and little to no tools for frame prep (the few ones I don't own)). During cross season, the shop closed for 2 weeks(without notice or sign on the window) after I had ordered parts for a race in 2 1/2 weeks. I didn't enjoy sweating bullets, wondering when the shop would reopen so l could get my parts to race with. So now I use a different shop that sponsors races and is more in tune to my needs as a racer.
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Old 03-20-08, 05:27 PM
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Twice I have taken friends in the market for a bike into my LBS and introduced them to the owner. Both bought new rides from him within a few days of the intro. This kind of thing goes a long way in getting you the kind of treatment you want. Friends can buy anywhere. Take them to your guy and it'll be a win-win-win. bk
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Old 03-20-08, 07:32 PM
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I work at a bike shop. My boss who's been working in this domain for decades says it's impossible to know everything. I gotta amen to that.

You just can't know everything. Sometimes people that come in know a very great deal about cycling. And nowadays people who come in the shop have read a lot about very specific subjects.

But our motto here is if we don't know something we say so, kiddies saying anything for a sale are not acceptable.
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Old 03-20-08, 07:34 PM
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Even the best bike shop may have an inept employee ......for a while.
The LBS I use, "passed" on the second attempt. It got a 2nd attempt because the 1st shop didn't get a 3rd.
We now get along great. I've learned to "communicate" better and they've learned to "listen" better.
I don't spend a lot of money there, but on a slow Winter day, I know my business is appreciated.
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Old 03-20-08, 08:42 PM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by Rev.Chuck View Post
I can see not going back to shop #2, the guy was trying to upsell in a shady fashion.
Shop #1 however just did not have what you needed, when you needed it. And the kid did not know what you wanted, but someone else did. If you go to a grocery store and they are out of stock on an item you want and you ask the guy fronting merch. about it and he has to ask a manager about it and the manager says they can get the item for you in a couple of days. Do you never shop there again? You must have no where to buy stuff.
Shop number 2 did not say they could get the chain I wanted (SRAM)in a couple in of couple days, they didn't even offer to get the chain I was willing to settle for (KMC) in a couple of days. They just told me they only had 8 speed chains. Doesn't it seem odd a bike shop has no 9 speed chains?
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Old 03-20-08, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Zinn-X View Post
There's only one shop in my area that isn't completely staffed by professional, knowledgable people. Perhaps I'm lucky!
I lived in Santa Cruz for 20 years in the 60's and 70's and the bike store were always quite competent. Same for me here in Boulder.

Justbrowsing,
I know there are some decent bike stores in DC area. Try the Performance Bike in Fairfax, VA. Keep going to shops until you find one you like and you will be satisfied. I do all my own Mechanic work but I often need parts and if the shop doesn't have it they can get it in a week from a catalog. Performance here in Boulder is just such a store (one of many).
This is a site of Mechanics so we tend to look for perfection. Keep trying...Good luck.

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Old 03-20-08, 10:21 PM
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I'd bring in the hub, dismantle it, and show them the axle you need.
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Old 03-20-08, 11:57 PM
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The only good reason to visit the LBS is because you have money to burn. You can get whatever you want by reading online. I have some money to burn, not much, but a little. So, I go to the bike shop, spend some money and later end up figuring out how to do it myself. Ahh life's regrets.
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Old 03-21-08, 12:29 AM
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Originally Posted by ad6mj View Post
\Doesn't it seem odd a bike shop has no 9 speed chains?
They simply could have run out of 9speed chains. Inventory management is not magic. Some weeks you sell no chains, others you sell out of them. You can't stock hundreds of chains in anticipation that you might have that week where you sell 100 chains.

But anyway, our shop will custom order anything we can get from our distributors
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Old 03-21-08, 01:09 AM
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Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
I'd bring in the hub, dismantle it, and show them the axle you need.
Actually, that's what you should do. However, the OP had the right dimensions of the axle he needed so that should have been an easy sale for the LBS. Normally it's better to just do buy a whole new wheel (assuming it's lower end) than replace a broken axle. $40 for axle + install or $50 for a brand new wheel. Sounds like the OP can do it himself though, so obviously this isn't always true.
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Old 03-21-08, 01:22 AM
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I go to mine because the wrench is world class; literately. He was reconended to me be a former member of Motorola and Postal who told me he's the best wrench he's ever seen.

His prices are low, service top notch (he has opened on a Sunday for me and has come in at 5:00am on a weekday so my bike could be ready before 8:00am, and he is actually able to fix things as opposed to just R&R.

Why wouldn't I go to the LBS?
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Old 03-21-08, 05:29 AM
  #24  
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Thanks for everyone's input. Honestly, I would like to support some of the shops within a few miles of me, but after recent experiences with several of them, I just find it hard to do (Bought a bike last year from one that wasn't set up properly. After taking it back in and leaving it with them for a few days, it was adjusted, but shifting was still out of whack and the wheels, though better, still weren't trued. And this was a different shop from the one mentioned in my first post.) I'm currently carless (and bikeless for now), so travelling 30+ miles to the Performance Bike in Fairfax isn't really an option (Although I do occasionally Metro to the Performance in Rockville, and quite frankly haven't been too impressed with the service there either. They have a nice selection, though.) The best shop that I've found that's anywhere near me is Wheel Nuts in Alexandria (~15 miles away). It's a small shop, but the guy who runs it knows his stuff and is willing to work with you to get you set up right. Next time I'm in the market for a new bike I'm definitely making the trip down there to get it. I just didn't think it was worthwhile to trek down there for an axle...Anyways, I ended up ordering the axle online along with a few tools that I don't really need, but that will definitely come in handy from time to time. And I'll keep going into some of the shops around here, but it just seems more and more frustrating to actually get any real service. They mainly seem to want to throw people on expensive mountain or road bikes that aren't set up very well and send them on their way. Oh well...
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Old 03-21-08, 05:33 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by JustBrowsing View Post
*WARNING: Minor Rant Ahead*

Thanks to a recent accident I had, I found myself with a slightly bent front axle. After taking the wheel apart and checking everything out, that seems to be the worst of it. I went to the LBS to ask about getting a new axle. I know exactly what part I need and what it should cost (standard Shimano front 9x1x110 QR for about 10 bucks), and figured I should try to support my LBS instead of ordering it online (not to mention shipping will be just as much as the part itself). After asking the guy at the LBS about this, he proceeded to go to the skewer section of the store to try to sell me new skewers. I said "No, those are skewers. I need an axle." He then went on to tell me that axles can't be replaced and that I'd need a hub, or maybe a whole wheel depending on how bad it was. The whole thing ended up with him holding up a wheel and me explaining to him how hubs have axles and bearings and cups and cones, and how these all work together. At the end of it all, he was still insisting that axles can't be replaced.

After going to a few shops in the area, it seems that this is the level of service that can be expected from most bike shops these days. Either that, or the shops have people that actually know something about bikes, but they can't be bothered to actually talk to the people in the store. I used to live in Berkeley several years ago, so I know that it's possible for shop employees to both be friendly AND helpful. Why does that seem so hard to find elsewhere?

So, should I even bother trying to get help from local bike shops anymore? How many of you have completely given up with trying to support your LBS and just taken to ordering everything online and doing it yourself? At the rate I'm going at, I'll have nearly a full shop's worth of tools/equipment around my apartment in no time...
berkeley spolied you (I grew up there) the rest of the world hasn't quite caught up to buzzerkeley yet, unfortunately.

I found a GOOD local LBS (yes it's in the SF bay area) and I stick with them, giving them most of my bicycle related purchases so hopefully they'll still be there in a few years if I need some advice, or a new part.
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