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FordTrax 01-06-17 07:12 PM

Local Bike Shops -Disappointing Performance
 
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?

wgscott 01-06-17 07:16 PM

Just get the Wahoo SC for $60 at the Apple store or Amazon.

I had a similar experience trying to buy a chain catcher locally before I went on a trip. They ordered it for me, and it was delayed by a few weeks, so I got one (cheaper) on Amazon, stuck it on my bike, and went on the trip. When I got home a few days later, they were all bent out of shape that I didn't want it, now that it had finally arrived. I was trying to "shop local first."

From what I can see, bike shops mostly have a selection of a few Trek or Specialized or Giant branded accessories, and that is it.

exmechanic89 01-06-17 07:22 PM

I'd be pretty irritated about that whole incident with your wife, that's ridiculous on several levels. Can't believe that shop did that.

Steamer 01-06-17 07:26 PM

I haven't gotten anything from a LBS in a very long time.

ClydeTim 01-06-17 07:44 PM

This kind of thing has happened to me so many times. I build my own bikes and wheels and do all of my own maintenance now. I order online and save 50% on most items. Free shipping, bigger selection, I'm not missing anything at the bike shops.

Only thing I do buy at a bike shop (Performance) is shoes because I want to make sure they fit!

TimothyH 01-06-17 08:06 PM

That the LBS does not have stock and purchasing things online is the new reality.

The whole economy is moving that way. Soon many retail stores will only have display merchandise and everything will have to be ordered. The whole economy is moving that way.


-Tim-

DrIsotope 01-06-17 08:27 PM

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. :P

wschruba 01-06-17 09:25 PM

You had a crummy experience, there's no way around that. I doubt I would visit that shop again, either.

That said, there may be room for insight into why certain things happened:

-The sensor is far from a universal thing. In the last decade, they've gone from analog wireless, to digital wireless, to ANT+, to Bluetooth, to Bluetooth low power. Stuff like that (but certainly not limited to computers) is why many shops are gun-shy about stocking accessories...that might not even work next year. ANT+ is a fairly common protocol, shared by many modern computers/some phones, so it is something that I would think a shop would stock if they also stock the computers that use it. Every shop I've ever been to has that 'one thing' that they ordered [1, 2, 5, 10] years ago, that they can't give away.

-In places where it gets cold during the winter (so, the vast majority of cyclists stop riding/go on to other sports), I would hazard to say all shops slow down on their ordering, and many will stretch out placing the order until they have to. Distributors have a free shipping/shipping credit level that you have to pass first, except unlike places that sell to consumers, it is in the multiple hundreds. In the dead of winter, it wasn't uncommon for one of the shops I worked at to go 3 weeks (or more) before placing an order. Of course, this depends heavily on incoming repairs/special orders, and how well repair inventory is managed. A shop should always give the option to 'get it now' so to speak, which may incur a shipping charge, but it will likely be far lower than what you would pay for overnight shipping (most large distributors, and some small ones, do regular next-day shipping in a 1 state radius).

I totally agree that the shop was slimy about the pricing thing, but I would at least give them the benefit of the doubt, until you talk to someone directly about it.

cold turtle 01-06-17 10:01 PM


Originally Posted by DrIsotope (Post 19296886)
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. :P

This

Ilbiker 01-06-17 10:40 PM

Lol. Just went thru the same thing looking for the Garmin speed and cadence set. Called the local to me shop (30 min away). They tried to look it up on their computer but had some trouble doing so to see if they could even order it. Took my name and number and said they'd call me back. That was two days ago. Definitely glad it didn't buy my bike from those folks. Sure, we're only talking $60, but businesses can't afford to do this. I can get it from Amazon prime with free delivery in a couple of days. I was able to find it at another shop (45 min away), but I will be in their neighborhood for other business anyways. Guess who will get my $$?

Stucky 01-06-17 11:03 PM

The retail B&M LBS is a dinosaur business model. It is over-due for extinction. I haven't been in an LBS in 25 years. LBS's are stuck in the 80's, in this day of the WWW. (And they weren't even very good in the 80's either- thank goodness for mail-order back then!)

I don't think I can think of any other retail business which has labored on for so long, dying a slow death, refusing to modernize so that it can compete.

smarkinson 01-07-17 12:14 AM

One of the advantages of online shopping is you don't have to deal with snooty condescending bike shop employees.

I buy all my accessories online now. It's cheaper, there's a wider range and I don't have to wait 2 weeks for something to be ordered in. If you know what you are after then online is almost always the best solution.

I think LBS shops survive on servicing bikes and people who aren't aware of (they might be new to cycling) or don't like to use online shops.

The only use for my LBS for me is to buy a complete bike as many of the major makers (giant, cannondale etc) forbid selling their bikes online thus forcing customers into the stores.

howellhandmade 01-07-17 12:14 AM

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.

Lazyass 01-07-17 04:29 AM

About a year and a half ago I went to a LBS and paid around $50 for five feet of cable housing, two brake cables and two water bottles (since then I bought a 50 foot roll of housing online for $12). The only reason I didn't walk out when the guy gave me the total is because I'm not a rude person, but I told myself never again. Haven't stepped foot in a shop since. They don't even have anything cool to look at nowadays anyway. I used to spend lots of time in shops just browsing and hanging out. I don't have an interest in looking at Bontrager tires/stems/bars/everything and Pearl Izumi clothing. That's half the shop right there.

Bike clubs will push a shop on you because the members usually get a little bit of a discount and they'll have the shop logo on their usually horrendous looking club jerseys.

I do like Performance Bike shops. They have a lot of stuff for a decent price. But now I don't live near one.

bulldog1935 01-07-17 04:41 AM

My LBS is solid gold. It's a family-run business, and they go out of their way to do anything you need, order anything you need, research any question, handle warranty issues, and their service department is beyond amazing.
Can't tell you how many times they've given me curb service and gratis work on small things.
I give them all the business I possibly can, and don't leave without buying something, even if it's just a spare derailleur cable for $5.

I agree not all bike shops are created equal, so plugging a couple if you happen to be in my area.
http://www.actionbikes.bike/
Brittons

and how can you beat a bike shop with a Moser hour-record bike hanging above the service counter?
https://s3-media1.fl.yelpcdn.com/bph...JxEskPhQ/o.jpg

Chuck Naill 01-07-17 07:12 AM

I want to have a relationship with the shop where I purchased my bike the same as with my Subaru dealership. I favor them first, but also don't feel I need to use either exclusively.


The only way I would have had a similar experience as the OP is if two shop employees had been involved and one did not know what the other had said to me which would have easily been corrected in my favor because of the honestly of the shop owners.

John_V 01-07-17 07:23 AM


Originally Posted by DrIsotope (Post 19296886)
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. :P

Same here, in fact there are several LBS in my area that fit this description. I have to wonder if the original issue that the OP had was frustration that the bike shop didn't have the sensor in stock and he didn't get to do his SWIFT session this weekend. However, the overcharging would definitely pi$$ me off. I wonder if he knew that Wahoo and Polar have SC sensors that are both Ant+ and Bluetooth and would have worked with SWIFT? Maybe he could have asked if they had any of them in stock and not just a Garmin SC sensor?

When I purchased my Colnago, in 2012, there were only two dealers that I could get them from. The one I settled on had to order my bike since they didn't have my size in stock. The distributor didn't have my bike with the group set I wanted (105) so the LBS asked if they had one with Ultegra and they did. The LBS sold me the bike for $100 over the price of the same bike with 105. Since I have purchased the bike, I have received free labor on most of the repairs I have taken it in for and get at least a 10-15% discount on other purchases. I had a squeak in my bike that was driving me crazy because I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. I took it to the shop and he practically tore the bike down and lubricated everything and didn't charge me a dime. I now do my own repair and maintenance (except wheels and headsets) and the manager/mechanic gives me advise on different ways to fix things. He's even taken time off of repairing a bike just to show me how it's done. Try getting that kind of service from an online store.

My Colnago has over 40,000 miles on it so this year, for Xmas, I decided to award myself with another Colnago - their new C-RS model. Unfortunately, they don't ship from Italy until the end of this month and only three of them exist in the US that were used for display at InterBike. My LBS manager called his rep and had one of them sent down to his shop just so he could show me what the bike looked like. Yep! I ordered a new C-RS from them. Will your online store do that for you?

Don't get me wrong, I do buy online from time to time, but only items that they have to order from the same place I do; like custom print jerseys and tires that are less expensive online than what they can sell them for including my discount.

DaveQ24 01-07-17 07:28 AM

I have the best of both worlds - a really great LBS with a good inventory and large by LBS standards and a Performance - each about 5 miles from my house and about 2 miles from each other.

That being said - because time is probably my most limited resource, I purchase most of the things I need online anymore from Performance, Jenson or through Amazon because it saves time and Performance and Prime give me free shipping ($50 minimum at Perf for free shipping)

Caymandiver1 01-07-17 07:58 AM

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

AlexCyclistRoch 01-07-17 08:48 AM


Originally Posted by smarkinson (Post 19297165)
One of the advantages of online shopping is you don't have to deal with snooty condescending bike shop employees.

....

Around here, the shops are nearly all staffed by clueless MTB and BMX kiddies.....

Marcus_Ti 01-07-17 08:51 AM


Originally Posted by Caymandiver1 (Post 19297405)
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

Supplier agreements, at a very easy guess.

Further they'll pay more than wholesale, and make less coin.

fietsbob 01-07-17 10:13 AM

10% markup is the add-on from Wholesale for those who work there, in the bike shop,
in spite of the Low Pay.

Brennan 01-07-17 10:56 AM


Originally Posted by FordTrax (Post 19296781)
Not one of the four had a ANT+ Speed and Cadence Sensor in stock

I don't see any real value in the local bike shops if they don't stock basic items

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.

Banzai 01-07-17 11:04 AM


Originally Posted by bulldog1935 (Post 19297245)
My LBS is solid gold. It's a family-run business, and they go out of their way to do anything you need, order anything you need, research any question, handle warranty issues, and their service department is beyond amazing.
Can't tell you how many times they've given me curb service and gratis work on small things.
I give them all the business I possibly can, and don't leave without buying something, even if it's just a spare derailleur cable for $5.

I agree not all bike shops are created equal, so plugging a couple if you happen to be in my area.
Home
Brittons

and how can you beat a bike shop with a Moser hour-record bike hanging above the service counter?
https://s3-media1.fl.yelpcdn.com/bph...JxEskPhQ/o.jpg

Howard at Action Bikes is great.

Overall though, I agree with the OP; most LBSs anymore seem to be underwhelming.

I live in the Twin Cities now, where most of the bike shops are supposed to be great. The two "best" have disappointed me so badly that I won't spend money there anymore.

MRT2 01-07-17 11:14 AM


Originally Posted by Brennan (Post 19297669)
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.

I agree. In this day and age of quick and easy internet shopping, no bike retailer can afford to be all things to all people.

That said, it sounds like OP's experience was not great.


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