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Local Bike Shops -Disappointing Performance

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Local Bike Shops -Disappointing Performance

Old 01-07-17, 11:27 AM
  #26  
MRT2
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Originally Posted by FordTrax View Post
I am a fairly new entry back into the bike world having started biking again end of last summer. I was really making gains when the cold weather set in - so for x-mas my wife got me a Road Machine. I picked up a nice older Trek 1000 to put on it and figured I would try ZWift. So last week I visit 4 local bike stores one afternoon figuring I would pick up the ANT+ Speed and Cadence Sensor for the rear chainstay so I can give Zwift a try. Not one of the four had a ANT+ Speed and Cadence Sensor in stock - several told me they could get one in two weeks. Two weeks? I can have it in two days (or less) if I want to pay overnight shipping - what kind of a business model are these shops running - don't stock it and expect you to wait two weeks for them to get it? I don't think that is going to fly today.

So yesterday I called a large bike shop about 15 miles out of town and asked if they had one. They said they did - my wife was going to be nearby the shop today so I asked them to hold it for her. My wife is not a bike person so she had no idea what I wanted. When she gets home she asked why it was so expensive - I said $60 is reasonable. She shows me the receipt they charged her $120. When I looked at the box it was a full ANT+ Computer system with a Trek Internal Mount Sensor which is worthless for the old Trek 1000. When I look at the box further. The box is marked $99. I call them and explain that they sold me an entire computer system and they charged me $20 more than what was on the box. Plus it is an internal sensor which would not work in my old Trek frame. He explained he could not do anything over the phone. I told him I guess I would have to make a special trip after work on Monday to return it.

So no ZWift this weekend thanks to the failure of any of 5 local bike stores to come through on a basic
ANT+ Speed & Candence sensor worth less than $60 for the rear chainstay.

What is especially ironic about all this is the local bike club is always pushing the membership to buy from the local bike shops; and I was trying to do just that. But 4 of the 5 did not have a simple ANT+ Speed and Cadence Sensor for the chainstays. Were talking a $50-60 item - if it were $500 I could see not wanting to tie up inventory $. I am a CPA/MBA so I understand $s. But not stocking a basic $50-60 Speed & Cadence Sensor which I expect some folks would be purchasing from time to time - especially in the winter with the indoor cycling websites. I don't know if store 5 actually has it or not - but I find it bad business practice to charge someone $120 for an item when the box is clearly marked $20 less. What kind of business does that - do they know their inventory? did they think we would not notice?

Looking back I guess I should have ordered the Speed and Cadence Sensor from one of the popular on-line bike shops - it would have been here to my house easily by today - probably for less money. Certainly with much less frustration. And I would be up on Zwift tonight. Instead no trying Zwift for a few more days and I have to run 25 miles out of my way on Monday evening to return the bike computer that I was charge $120 for when the box is marked $99.

I guess I will just order it on-line tonight and have it by Wednesday next week. Not taking any more chances with the bike shop #5 actually having the right item.

But my take away is that I don't see any real value in the local bike shops if they don't stock basic items - offering a two week order time. The on-line shops have a much larger selection of components/tires/accessories than any one local bike shop, you can get it much quicker than 2 weeks, it comes right to your home, and you can probably save a significant amount of money. Maybe I will feel differently tomorrow - but I kind of doubt it - this $60 sensor experience really has left a bad taste in my mouth for our local shops.

Have any of you had a similar experience with the local bike shops?
Actually, my experience with local shops has been mostly positive. There are shops that hire great mechanics, who have done emergency repairs for me and saved my day when the alternative would be to call for help, or walk home 25 miles. And one of those same shops has come up with creative and fairly inexpensive solutions to bike problems that stumped me and my limited bike mechanic capabilities and resources. It is hard to judge the value of such services, but I do try to support shops like these when I can. And even shops I don't frequent as often mostly strike me as good people trying to run neighborhood bike shops that regular folks may not completely appreciate. Many local shops support local cycling culture and events, often sponsoring events, sending mechanics to charity rides, offering classes on bike maintenance and repair, etc...

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Old 01-07-17, 11:31 AM
  #27  
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If we go back and look at the market 40 years ago you can clearly see how it has drastically changed. The Local Bike Shop at one point was where you went end of conversation lol. Box stores really didnt exist in this market and in all fairness electronics was not an option for everyone. Now I think you really need to take a look at the "L" part of it, some places cover the market well including computers, ancillary parts, etc. That stuff btw is the high end market of the "cyclist" which truly does rely on the Local bike shop.

But even there we now have the internet which is really coming on in regards to online purchasing. Im sure many of these common conceived items as the OP above was looking for can and realistically should be purchased online just for the convenience and cost if anything......Im certain that Local Bike Shops in certain areas have been impacted by the internet.

I understand the disappointment of the OP...I would consider it a lesson learned in an ever changing market. And I wouldnt give up on the lbs either. Who knows, one day they may actually get you out of a true jam....When you really need them the most....
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Old 01-07-17, 12:02 PM
  #28  
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I've got a few hobbies beyond biking. Homebrewing, loud things that propel lead, fishing, used to be into offroad trucks and motorcycles and paintball, and I can say that in my experience, every local hobby type shop is the same. Out of ten, there may be one or two that know their crap and are worth supporting, another four or so who are competent and can generally help out on the not too out of the way issues, and the remainder are people who are still in business simply because they are the only place around and don't have to provide any sort of real customer service (and it doesn't hurt their clientele tends to be the internet-adverse folks).

Simply the reality of stores that serve a small portion of the population at large.
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Old 01-09-17, 10:33 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by Brennan View Post
You and I have very different ideas of what constitutes "basic items." That item is something I would not expect to just pick up at the nearest bike shop, but I bet they could have sold you a replacement chain. That's what I would consider a "basic item." So whenever I need something very specific and specialized, I shop online. When I need something basic and routine, I go to a local shop. There is value and convenience in both.


+1 more. Need a chain, or a cable, a tube, or a patch kit? I'd call those basic. Something that's the equivalent of a turntable needle (i.e., old technology with limited present-day market), good luck!


The incident with your wife as the delivery person was unfortunate. Hard to say if it was malice, ignorance, or just poor communication without having been there.
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Old 01-09-17, 11:07 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by FordTrax View Post
...I visit 4 local bike stores one afternoon figuring I would pick up the ANT+ Speed and Cadence Sensor for the rear chainstay so I can give Zwift a try. Not one of the four had a ANT+ Speed and Cadence Sensor in stock - several told me they could get one in two weeks.
Breaking it down a bit...

There are several Ant+ Speed and Cadence sensors available through Trek (Bontrager). Depending on the information you gave the shop, it could have been a simple miscommunication -- you not telling them what they needed to inform you of what was available; them misinterpreting what you were asking for. The situation was not helped by sending someone completely ignorant of both the bike and accessory to pick the item up.

If she thought it was expensive, why didn't she just call or text you about it? If you knew what it should cost or what the shop quoted you, why not pass this info on to her? It would have been easy enough to figure out which sensor you were looking for online and post that to both her and the shop so as to avoid such confusion.

Charging you $20 over asking price? Inexcusable. Unless it involved some kind of sale situation.

Several shops telling you it would be two weeks to get one for you? To me, it's not indicative of physical shops, more that Trek was out of stock at their distribution centers with an expected fulfillment date a few weeks out. Not that it was sitting in stock and it would take two weeks for any of these shops to order and have it shipped to them.
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Old 01-09-17, 11:49 AM
  #31  
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Although in theory I'm in favor or supporting the local shop, I've had similar issues in the past as the OP. A basic computer or a headlight they'll have; but beyond that, I may as well order it myself than to have them do it. Case in point: Last month I ordered a wheel from Velocity. I could have ordered it directly from Velocity, gotten it in 3 days, and paid $220. But no, I wanted to give the shop some business; so it took 3 weeks to get it in, and the damage was $290.
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Old 01-09-17, 11:55 AM
  #32  
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Some things shops are good for, others not so much. Bar tape, tubes, chains, (consumables in general), clothing (I like to try on before I buy), pumps, helmets, etc they are great for. Pretty much anything a beginner would want or need. Specialty items I get online.

Until Amazon is going to send out a drone to deliver a new tube to me while I'm on the trail feeling like an idiot because I brought a schrader valve instead of a presta so now I'm walking out (talk about a walk of shame!), the LBS is going to be relevant. And heck, a lot of times you can make some really good friends there as well! i've met many a riding buddy by hanging out in a shop.

I do most of my own work, but sometimes don't have everything I need or want to get a 2nd opinion before I embark upon a messy task. My local shop will help me out right there and then.
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Old 01-09-17, 12:27 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I guess I'm spoiled by having access to a fantastic LBS. Anything they don't have in stock they can generally have in 2-3 days, so long as the distributors have it. I visit once a week, even if I'm not looking to buy anything... though I usually am.

+1. I use a couple of great LBS. Which one I use depends on which bike I am having serviced. My custom Engin only goes to the LBS owned by the man who built it. That's not because I don't trust another shop to work on it. It's because I often get free work. I take my LHT to a different shop that's close to my house and office. I can ride to work in the morning, ride the bike up there and drop it off during lunch and pick it up after work. When I use them for packing when is ship the thing for tours they are nice enough to carry the box around the block to FedEx/Kinko's for me.


Also, a while back QBP built a distribution center in my home state of PA, so they can most of anything I need (that they don't have already) in only a few days.
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Old 01-09-17, 01:10 PM
  #34  
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I don't really "get" preferring the LBS for generic consumable items. Sure I'll buy a tube or chain oil if I'm already there and it's not too overpriced, but to me it's much more convenient, cheaper to order those things online. More choices, more details online as well.

For me the bike store is more valuable for less generic items and parts. Maybe there's something I'm unclear about that the mechanic or owner might know, or other value-added services.
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Old 01-09-17, 01:49 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Although in theory I'm in favor or supporting the local shop, I've had similar issues in the past as the OP. A basic computer or a headlight they'll have; but beyond that, I may as well order it myself than to have them do it. Case in point: Last month I ordered a wheel from Velocity. I could have ordered it directly from Velocity, gotten it in 3 days, and paid $220. But no, I wanted to give the shop some business; so it took 3 weeks to get it in, and the damage was $290.
WOW!! $70 more, not only for nothing extra....but for LESS (MUCH longer delivery time, plus a trip to the store to order, and another to pick it up).

Stop feeding the dinosaur!

LBS is about the only business I can think of where people will willingly pay significantly more for the same products and inferior service. Gotta keep that 1970's retail business-model alive, I guess!
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Old 01-09-17, 02:13 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Stucky View Post
WOW!! $70 more, not only for nothing extra....but for LESS (MUCH longer delivery time, plus a trip to the store to order, and another to pick it up).

Stop feeding the dinosaur!

LBS is about the only business I can think of where people will willingly pay significantly more for the same products and inferior service. Gotta keep that 1970's retail business-model alive, I guess!
I kind of have to agree - while I am also "guilty" of supporting my LBS, when the markups are as high as they are and it takes weeks to get something, you kind of have to realize that maybe they deserve to go the way of the dinosaur? My LBS will typically charge $50 for something that goes for $40 ($40 MSRP) literally everywhere else. A couple bucks is one thing, but like 25% is really reaching.

I get it, local bike shops are dying and need to charge substantial markup to pay the bills, but I can't help but wonder why they don't try to be at least a little more accommodating as a result. If you expect me to pay a whopping like 25% more than what I can get an item for pretty much anywhere else just because, then you should at least be able to offer shipping times on par with anywhere else. I don't care what the excuse is between suppliers/distribution/logistics/warehouses, modernize and make it happen.
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Old 01-09-17, 02:19 PM
  #37  
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Agree with Stucky!

I can't find black cork tape at most shops around here and we have plenty. IF I do find it, they want $30 or Cinelli cork tape. I can get it online for $6. I throw it in after ordering tires which takes my total to $100 for free shipping.

Not to mention the tires are $36 vs the $75 at the local shop.

I ordered Ultegra hubs (front and rear) a while back for $130 shipped online. Local shop wanted $120 for the rear only. Built up a set of wheels. Asked the local shops for the spokes, didn't have them but could get them in 2 weeks. Went on line and had them in 4 days.

Camelback Podium bottles? Shop $18, online $8. I also order them to top off my total for free shipping. Same with chamois cream.

I don't understand why people feel they need to support the local shops by paying twice the price, and waiting twice as long for parts ordered.
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Old 01-09-17, 02:42 PM
  #38  
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The things over the past year or so that I've purchased for my bike, are very lacking in selection at bike shops -- these items have included: Garmin 520 and sensors, stem, road handlebars, seatpost, tires, tubes, saddle, bottle cages. Of these items, tires and tubes can be found -- though for some reason, around here the LBSs only seem to stock Conti -- hard to find Michelin. There aren't any display racks for handlebars, stems or seatposts. At least for handlebars (getting a feel for the curves/drops/reach) and seatpost (taking a look at the clamping mechs) -- there would have been value in a hands on appraisal. Saddles -- there's usually 3-4 models to choose from at an LBS, though most LBSs seem to be tied to a single major brand, maybe 2 (eg Spesh + Fizik).

The concern I have with LBSs though, is the potential headache bicyclists in general will face if more and more LBSs go out of business. Not from the standpoint of getting merchandise, but in getting repairs. Reduced supply could potentially lead to much higher labor rates -- derailleur adjustments of $20 instead of $10; chaine installation costs doubling, new cabling for $60 instead of $30. Bike assembly (from that BD bike you got online) going from $75 up to $125 etc.. While on BF I'll likely see some responses of how everyone should learn to do these things ourselves, that's not realistic for the general populace. Interestingly, I noticed a tiny storefront open recently here in NYC that ONLY does bike repair -- mind you there's a large populace of bike messenger/delivery guys around here.
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Old 01-09-17, 04:27 PM
  #39  
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I'm a huge fan of buying local and when it makes sense I'll buy from my local LBS.

All of them near me are focused on recreation though. They don't stock any bikes, parts or accessories good for daily transportation nor do they understand transportation which rules them out there. If they have what I need for recreational stuff at a reasonable price I'll buy but its usually less expensive and faster to just order whatever I need.

LBS sales have been declining for 16 straight years with no end in sight. Increasingly people find that riding a bicycle on our roads is too terrifying (and many think that you have to wear ridiculous looking clothes and helmets (because it's so dangerous) and don't want to be associated with that) so they don't want to invest in a good bike.

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Old 01-09-17, 07:47 PM
  #40  
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In our area we have 4 lbs's (50 mile radius). One has been here for at least 45 years. Its a cyclist heaven for sure. they do sell other bikes but really that is what they serve now. I would think they would have what the op was looking for or at least understand the item. They are very good with that market. I think its fair to say in our area "cycling" has come along way and they have grown with it. The other bikes they sell are probably 15% of their total business.

The others, much more of a mom and pop actually do well in ancillary, parts, repairs and individual sales. These stores do not stock a lot of "line" bikes but can and do order them for customers. Their business is repairs and bike restoration/sales. One store specializes in restoring damaged, traded box store bikes. He strips them down, repaints the frame and rebuilds it with better components, puts his decals on it, then sells them for a little more than the box store would charge for their bikes. Their beautiful bikes, he even takes orders if you were looking for a specific style/brand.

For sure its a difficult market. But I think there will always be room for lbs's. I give them credit for continuing to survive in this difficult market
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Old 01-10-17, 06:59 AM
  #41  
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On-Line Review Is Your Weapon...

When you go (in person) to return the merchandise, make certain that you note how they handle their error, without excessive prompting or complaining from you. Make careful note of everything related to the transaction and then write your experience in a Yelp review of the shop. That way, if they handle it well, you can note this. If they handle it unapologetically, then you can explain this to their future customers.


Your lesson learned, of course, is that you must take control of a sensitive purchase like this one. Making the timing and cost/benefit decision between on-line versus local purchase will be a part of the equation. In this particular case, it's on you, not the vendor and not on your wife, obviously.
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Old 01-10-17, 09:43 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I don't really "get" preferring the LBS for generic consumable items. Sure I'll buy a tube or chain oil if I'm already there and it's not too overpriced, but to me it's much more convenient, cheaper to order those things online. More choices, more details online as well.

For me the bike store is more valuable for less generic items and parts. Maybe there's something I'm unclear about that the mechanic or owner might know, or other value-added services.
A chain is a chain and a tube is a tube. If I need these things, it's usually bc one broke or I would rather get one that day instead of waiting 2 days for it to arrive at the house. Bonus if I have my bike with me at the time, cause mine lets me just throw it up in the repair stand and take care of business there and then.
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Old 01-10-17, 10:31 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by bmthom.gis View Post
A chain is a chain and a tube is a tube. If I need these things, it's usually bc one broke or I would rather get one that day instead of waiting 2 days for it to arrive at the house. Bonus if I have my bike with me at the time, cause mine lets me just throw it up in the repair stand and take care of business there and then.
The other way of looking at tubes and chains though, is that they're consumables, and if one bikes fairly often then the rider knows he'll need these things eventually. So better all round to already have an extra chain and tubes at home. OTOH, if your chain breaks or you forgot to bring a spare tube or patch kit, and can't for whatever reason be repaired on the road, then an LBS may be closer to where you are than your home.
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Old 01-10-17, 11:31 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
The other way of looking at tubes and chains though, is that they're consumables, and if one bikes fairly often then the rider knows he'll need these things eventually. So better all round to already have an extra chain and tubes at home. OTOH, if your chain breaks or you forgot to bring a spare tube or patch kit, and can't for whatever reason be repaired on the road, then an LBS may be closer to where you are than your home.
I don't keep extra chains. Too many different sizes to have extras of each. And it gives me an excuse to go hang out at the shop for a bit.
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Old 01-10-17, 07:52 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Caymandiver1 View Post
why can't a LBS order an item from say Amazon mark it up 10% and sell it to their customer?
free shipping and two day delivery. a little money is better than no money fast nickel slow dime thinking
I have always wondered the same thing ! Maybe they're worried about how to handle a return/refund and or warranty?

I love my LBS, Ive had wheels built and will buy something from them as long as it's not marked up 50% or more compared to online. I don't mind paying a bit more than the online price, but refuse to pay full retail.

I was looking at a new bike that just came out, they looked it up online right in front of me and the price posted was $1800 with "retail price" in bold letters. I asked what their price was, and they said $1800. I almost broke out laughing, but I just smiled and said thanks.
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Old 01-10-17, 08:37 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
The concern I have with LBSs though, is the potential headache bicyclists in general will face if more and more LBSs go out of business. Not from the standpoint of getting merchandise, but in getting repairs. Reduced supply could potentially lead to much higher labor rates -- derailleur adjustments of $20 instead of $10; chaine installation costs doubling, new cabling for $60 instead of $30. Bike assembly (from that BD bike you got online) going from $75 up to $125 etc.. While on BF I'll likely see some responses of how everyone should learn to do these things ourselves, that's not realistic for the general populace. Interestingly, I noticed a tiny storefront open recently here in NYC that ONLY does bike repair -- mind you there's a large populace of bike messenger/delivery guys around here.
Of course it is. In a country where every other three year old is using a tablet and cell phone, I'm sure grown adults can get on youtube and figure out how to adjust a derailleur.

Simply comes down to motivating them to do so. Make the prices high enough, and maybe they will. Or they'll simply do without. That's fine, too.
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Old 01-10-17, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Scooty Puff Jr View Post
I have always wondered the same thing ! Maybe they're worried about how to handle a return/refund and or warranty?

I love my LBS, Ive had wheels built and will buy something from them as long as it's not marked up 50% or more compared to online. I don't mind paying a bit more than the online price, but refuse to pay full retail.

I was looking at a new bike that just came out, they looked it up online right in front of me and the price posted was $1800 with "retail price" in bold letters. I asked what their price was, and they said $1800. I almost broke out laughing, but I just smiled and said thanks.
Trouble is, a retail store can't stay in business (much less make a profit) with a 10% mark-up.

They should simplyaccept the fact that they can't compete at selling parts and accessories, and concentrate on bikes and services. But That would be tough too, since a good deal of their gross income probably comes from the higher mark-up accessories; and if they charge enough for the service to make that alone profitable, the cost would likely be too high- especially considering that most normal people can easily perform most of those services themselves. Bicycles are simple basic machines.

LBS's are on borrowed time. Except for a few select markets, I see LBS's being a real rarity 10 years from now. It's always been a bad business (except for very select markets)- even before the internet. First came the bike boom, with department stores selling bikes; then box stores/Walmart (Decimating the LBS's kids/family sales), and then the internet- so now, a hard business has become virtually impossible. Add to the mix that the manufacturers and distributors have largely not changed their business models in decades to compete with all of the above, and I can see (Even though I've never been in the business) why it has become a dinosaur- much like office machine stores which refused to adapt to the changing technology/business environment. Adapt or perish. I haven't seen much if any adaptation with LBS's. Instead of improving and adapting, it seems that they've gotten even worse than they were 25 years ago.

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Old 01-11-17, 06:41 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by howellhandmade View Post
Seems like it's a location-dependent problem. The LBS five minutes from me has what you wanted, and there are three or four shops within 20 minutes' drive that easily justify their existence with their knowledge and expertise. There ARE good bike shops. The bad ones may not make it.


I definitely agree that it is location dependent. Interesting, however, my favorite LBS, that seemed to have what I needed and appreciated my view on older bikes...went out of business...but the ones focused on the sell/sell/sell model are doing well...Guess it is the difference in someone that is buying a bicycle and a real cyclist...
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Old 01-11-17, 06:41 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Of course it is. In a country where every other three year old is using a tablet and cell phone, I'm sure grown adults can get on youtube and figure out how to adjust a derailleur.

Simply comes down to motivating them to do so. Make the prices high enough, and maybe they will. Or they'll simply do without. That's fine, too.
There is more to bike repair than a simple derailleur adjustment. For this reason alone, bike shops will remain in business for some time to come.
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Old 01-11-17, 07:00 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Of course it is. In a country where every other three year old is using a tablet and cell phone, I'm sure grown adults can get on youtube and figure out how to adjust a derailleur.

Simply comes down to motivating them to do so. Make the prices high enough, and maybe they will. Or they'll simply do without. That's fine, too.
Everything is on Youtube.. though take cars for instance -- in the general populace how many folks are changing their own fan belts, doing their own oil changes and tire rotations, 50,000 mile tune-ups, etc..?
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