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It's OK to go to a bike shop. They won't rob you and/or kill you.

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It's OK to go to a bike shop. They won't rob you and/or kill you.

Old 04-03-10, 04:53 PM
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It's OK to go to a bike shop. They won't rob you and/or kill you.

There is a prevailing wind of folks on the SSFG scene that do not consider going to the bike shop an option when buying parts or solving problems.

The first option seems to invariably be: Buy Online be it, an online store, eBay, or Craigslist.

This is a good option...if you know what you want and more importantly, what you DON'T want. But, there is a significant part of the SSFG population that don't know what they want or don't want.

There is also some belief that bike shops exist to rip you off. Not true. Here's how many bike shops come to exist:

A guy likes...no LOVES bikes. He rides all he can. Reads all he can about bikes. He can't see himself doing anything but somehow working with bikes for the rest of his life. Some of these guys become pro bike riders for a few years (can't do that forever), some become engineers and work for bike manufacturers (not many jobs in that area), and some open a bike shop.

This is awesome. They get to help people with bikes. They get to sell some cool bikes. They sponsor a local racing club. AND they get to employ other bike lovers.

There are only a few benefits of ordering online. Actually, there is only one benefit to ordering online:
- Lower Price...sometimes.

There are several benefits to going to your local bike shop:

- Expert opinion. These guys don't know *everything*, but they do know more than the average bear about bikes. Probably more than you. Expert opinions is why most people come to bike forums, when you think about it. How many "What do you think?" threads are there?. The thing is, some at BF are qualified to answer and some are not. What are the pros/cons between SPD, LOOK Delta, LOOK KEO, SPD-SL, TIME, Eggbeater, & Speedplay pedals? What are some decent shoes?

- Expert fitting. They will help you get set up properly. Not sure if you need to order a 100mm or 110mm stem? You can try them both for size at a bike shop. Not sure if you need 0, 10, or 17 degree rise? Ever wonder how a Fizik Arione saddle feels? Feeling cramped when riding your bike? Not sure if you need 40cm or 44cm bars? How deep is a DEEP drop? Not sure if you need 165, 170, or 175 crank arms? Not sure how they feel?

- Try before you buy. You cannot do this online. Not sure if you need a European 46 or 47 shoe?

- Over the counter service. You saddle rail broke? Exchange it over the counter. Pedal broke? Hub crapped out on you? Exchange them over the counter.

- Service. Don't know how to install a chain, install a BB, replace a headset, repack bearings, true your wheel, build a wheel? Don't have tools? Don't want to buy a set of tools for ONE job?

Yes, you might pay a bit more for stuff at a local bike shop. But, the markup really isn't that much. Plus, you get the benefit of all of the above. Then there are the more long-term benefits of supporting local small businesses that employ local people. Ever know a cool guy that works in a bike shop? How do you think his boss can afford to pay him?
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Old 04-03-10, 05:03 PM
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If you go into a bike shop and don't know how to do something, everybody will laugh at you once you leave.
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Old 04-03-10, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Mos6502
If you go into a bike shop and don't know how to do something, everybody will laugh at you once you leave.
Your bike shop sucks

A good mechanic isn't going to laugh at you for not knowing how to do somthing, they will laugh at you when you bring in your bike completly FUBARd cause you didn't bring it in when you relized you didn't know how to do it, but continued anyways.

all about finding the right shop, I live 3 blocks away from what I consider the best bicycle shop (service wise) in all of portland I stop by almost every day, sometime just to stop in and say hello.
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Old 04-03-10, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Mos6502
If you go into a bike shop and don't know how to do something, everybody will laugh at you once you leave.
Not true at all. Come into the shop where I work and we'll laugh right in front of you.

(I'm kidding, of course.)
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Old 04-03-10, 05:23 PM
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I forgot to add this:

Many bike shops carry SSFG stuff in stock. But, those that don't can order from their distributors 90% of the stuff that we can order online. Here's the best part: I can order something before or on Monday morning and it will arrive at my bike shop that Thursday or Friday.

Once you establish a relationship with your shop, most will let you order over the phone without leaving any deposit. If I need a new chain, I'll call or email the shop and it will be here next Thursday.

I don't have to worry about scams or mistakes. If the wrong item is shipped, I don't have to deal with it. The shop deals with it.
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Old 04-03-10, 05:29 PM
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I'm with carleton. I can order something and usually have it in my hands in two days...three days max and we never take a deposit for any orders. We also take care of strangers just about as well as we take care of our regulars.
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Old 04-03-10, 05:38 PM
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I totally agree with you when it comes to buying a new FG bike.... but shopping for FG parts or taking it in for repairs? No way, there's nothing THAT complicated about a fixed-gear. That's the point!

(My exasperation is at the FG owner that doesn't understand his bike, not at the bike shops.)
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Old 04-03-10, 05:40 PM
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A lot of people don't have the means or know how to true wheels. Should they not go to the shop for that just because they ride fixed?

(oh okay...phew!)

Last edited by Scrodzilla; 04-03-10 at 05:44 PM. Reason: I nearly just died.
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Old 04-03-10, 05:46 PM
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If they'd bought their bikes at a bike shop and gotten their free break-in tune up, they'd have nicer wheels....

I'll conceed the wheel truing point, however. And running that single piece of brake cable/housing, as well (especially in places that made brakeless illegal).
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Old 04-03-10, 05:48 PM
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Sounds like you live by an awesome bike shop. Some people don't. Like me. Not being critical or anything however, I think the bike shops depend on the general consensus of biking in general in the population surrounding. Obviously if there are alot of people into biking with decent opinions on what their local bike shop could hold, or if they were buying good **** in general the bike shop would be a great place to go as oppossed to going and leaving frustrated for them once again not having what you were after. Where I live it is an over populated, industrial, cultural wasteland. Ask someone what a bike lane even is. So I am glad some of you can speak about your local bike shops that way but you cannot for me.

Although one of the two bike shops nearest me doesn't have the best stuff I have grown a connection with the mechanics there so I can relate in that sense.
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Old 04-03-10, 05:49 PM
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Really good shops as Carleton describes are quite rare and the exception to the rule. Even in large metro areas, most shops are big marts that know very little about bicycles and don't have competent service departments. Prices on many components are up to twice as much as online, they often don't carry a good selection and won't special order what you need. The owners and managers of these businesses don't love bicycling, and could care less about helping a customer with advice or assistance, unless it leads to an immediate sale of an in-stock item. Many shops won't even talk to you about problems with your bike without writing up a work ticket, and charging a minimum fee to just look at it. There is exactly one bicycle shop out of dozens that I patronize, and where I bought my last complete bike (Pista Concept), but even then I don't waste my time buying expensive items from them like high end tubular tires, which they could not even obtain from their suppliers anyway. This doesn't mean that I'm advocating buying everything online, just that there are reasons why so many people with limited budgets feel compelled to follow this route rather than go to their LBS.
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Old 04-03-10, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by TejanoTrackie
Really good shops as Carleton describes are quite rare and the exception to the rule. Even in large metro areas, most shops are big marts that know very little about bicycles and don't have competent service departments. Prices on many components are up to twice as much as online, they often don't carry a good selection and won't special order what you need. The owners and managers of these businesses don't love bicycling, and could care less about helping a customer with advice or assistance, unless it leads to an immediate sale of an in-stock item. Many shops won't even talk to you about problems with your bike without writing up a work ticket, and charging a minimum fee to just look at it. There is exactly one bicycle shop out of dozens that I patronize, and where I bought my last complete bike (Pista Concept), but even then I don't waste my time buying expensive items from them like high end tubular tires, which they could not even obtain from their suppliers anyway. This doesn't mean that I'm advocating buying everything online, just that there are reasons why so many people with limited budgets feel compelled to follow this route rather than go to their LBS.
Man, that sucks...big time.

I live in Atlanta, which is a pretty big city, and I can't name a bike shop like that which you describe. And I've been to at least 12 or 15 of them. Even Performance and REI here in ATL are nice and helpful and just about everyone that I've come in contact with does some sort of cycling. And I wouldn't consider Atlanta a "Cycling City" like NY or SF.
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Old 04-03-10, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Raiden
I totally agree with you when it comes to buying a new FG bike.... but shopping for FG parts or taking it in for repairs? No way, there's nothing THAT complicated about a fixed-gear. That's the point!

(My exasperation is at the FG owner that doesn't understand his bike, not at the bike shops.)
Hey, man, there are some folks that don't know how to change the oil in their car either. Or cut their own hair, or make their own steak dinner. To each his own.

Just because you (and I) are good at bike maintenance, that doesn't mean the next guy or girl is.
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Old 04-03-10, 06:02 PM
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I dont know about you guys. I recently went to my LBS and was looking to possible get some FG gear for a current conversion I am working on and the mechanic there openly admitted ot me I would get a better deal getting on the internet/ebay and getting stuff myself. Also the general consensus on here seems to be to get shorter cranks when riding fixed gear. I mean at all the posts i've seen/read people seem to think shorter cranks are the better option. After bringing that up to my even nearer LBS he literally got into an argument with me telling me I would lose all my speed if I did that. I actually don't even think he knows the difference between FG bikes you could use commuting or riding in urban areas and track bikes.
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Old 04-03-10, 06:31 PM
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I took my worn out bottom bracket to my LBS. They stood there looking at it for about thirty seconds, then handed it back and said "Try ebay."

I took a 36 spoke hole hub in and told them I wanted spokes and a rim to build a wheel. They counted my spoke holes on one side. "...15...16...17! That would make this a 34 spoke hub," they said. (Seventeen. It's a prime number. But this actually made sense to them.)

I went in, asking for a cog for a three-speed hub. "What brand hub?" they asked. "It doesn't make any difference," I replied. "Look," they told me, "if you can't tell us what brand the hub is, we can't give you the right cog. Come back when you know what brand the hub is."




Then there's this guy on the internet saying the only benefit to not going to my LBS is maybe sometimes I might get a lower price.

tcs

PS - This isn't some mom&pop former Western Auto hole-in-the-wall. This was at the huge shop that famously sold Lance Armstrong's mom his first bike.
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Old 04-03-10, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Mos6502
If you go into a bike shop and don't know how to do something, everybody will laugh at you once you leave.
Originally Posted by Scrodzilla
Not true at all. Come into the shop where I work and we'll laugh right in front of you.

(I'm kidding, of course.)
I think this is a big reason a lot of SS/FG kids don't go to shops for service/repairs/learning. Personally, learning from the guys at the shop is the main reason I go there, so that I can be more self sufficient. Also, I just like to hang out, here the latest news, find out about rides, meet other cyclists and all that. Seems like a good place to meet decent people.
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Old 04-03-10, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs
I went in, asking for a cog for a three-speed hub. "What brand hub?" they asked. "It doesn't make any difference," I replied. "Look," they told me, "if you can't tell us what brand the hub is, we can't give you the right cog. Come back when you know what brand the hub is."
If this is anything like ordering auto parts, it's because they can't even look up the part number until they have a manufacturer to enter into their computer. If they order from a paper catalog it's because they're lazy. If they actually stock cogs for IGHs and coaster brakes, it's because they're clueless.
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Old 04-03-10, 06:57 PM
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I took my new Kilo OS into my LBS in Brooklyn (B's Bikes, on Driggs) just yesterday to get the wheels trued. They were slightly off after the shipping and I didn't trust myself to do it. A skill I have to learn, but anyway, they did a good job and charged me $15, which I was happy to pay. I bought a new lock and pedals, too. It's nice to be able to see things in person before you buy, and they're nice guys over there.
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Old 04-03-10, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs
PS - This isn't some mom&pop former Western Auto hole-in-the-wall. This was at the huge shop that famously sold Lance Armstrong's mom his first bike.
Toy's R Us?
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Old 04-03-10, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Scrodzilla
I'm with carleton. I can order something and usually have it in my hands in two days...three days max and we never take a deposit for any orders. We also take care of strangers just about as well as we take care of our regulars.
Bike shops in Japan don't do that. You have to pay to order it. I went to the Cannondale concept store here when I was looking for a pair of clipless shoes. They didn't have my size and said they'd order them in, but if they don't fit, Tuff luck!

WTF! I told them, I might as well buy online, at least it'll come direct to my home!

Bike shops here also don't let you test ride them, and many shops don't let you touch their precious bikes.

But some of the smaller more specialised shops are good, they are run by people who love bikes. Also in Japan you pay about double than the US. I got my Fuji Track Comp for half of the price as the stores in Japan from the US (and that is including shipping to Japan!!!).

Last edited by the_don; 04-03-10 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 04-03-10, 08:10 PM
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I think the Bike Kitchen is the solution to everyone's problems.
If it doesn't exist in your area, you can actually start one up.

The one in SF is actually one of the best places to go to to learn anything and everything there is about bikes.
Plus the volunteers there are super awesome. They really try to help you and teach you so you'll know how to do it yourself (something you can't always get from your LBS because they're still operating a business)

Oh, did I mention that all their parts are dirt cheap? (and half the time they're free)
Sure, they're beat-up, but they work and you can find plenty of better deals than you would compared to most CL posters, who jack their prices way up for a piece of junk they think looks nice.
I swear, if I compare prices here to those from some other city, where cycling weren't so popular, I'd find prices that were half the cost.

Anyway, the LBS are actually pretty darn helpful. Some of them aren't really, when all they're after is what you're willing to pay them, but I'm sure there would be at least one where the guys there are chill and helpful.
I know plenty around here, and they have def helped me a lot.
Bike Kitchen is still super awesome too.
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Old 04-03-10, 08:11 PM
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I only have three LBS's in my area. I haven't gotten a great feeling from any of them, so it just sucks. I hate walking into a shop with stuck-up employees who think they're better than you because you have questions about bikes or parts. Stuff like that forces me to lurk on forums to learn about bikes, which isn't always really a bad thing.

Bike shop jerks just make me mad, though.
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Old 04-03-10, 08:30 PM
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It helps to establish a relationship with at least one lbs, and to buy stuff from them occasionally, even if only small purchases. I tend to buy parts on the internet that no lbs would be likely to carry or even order, such as vintage pista or gently used parts. But stuff like tires, tubes, chains, lube, advice, etc. I go to my bike store. I also go there for jobs that require special tools that I'm unlikely to use/need regularly, such as headset cup installation or fork/dropout alignment.
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Old 04-03-10, 08:38 PM
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it shouldn't be surprising why people get hung up buying online.

imagine you're new to cycling.
you can't imagine needing or wanting to wear cycling clothing, use clipless pedals, or spend over $800 on a bicycle. cycling saddles look like they hurt.
and bike stores can be like car dealerships. you're making a purchase with a big deficit of knowledge, so you don't know whether you're getting screwed.
so, like anything else, you start online.
you open up google and, invariably, you come across bikesdirect.
not knowing anything about bikes, you see bikes for very little money - way less than the bike shop.
you see that they have 3 fixed gear bikes for the same price.
so then you search for a bike forum and find....bikeforums.net
and you start a thread - "Windsor Hour, Kilo TT, or Dawes SST? which should i buy?"

SO, you go into a bike shop and you say "i'm looking to get a bike"
this signals to the shop guy that you don't have any idea what you want.
so they may take the easy route and say "well how much do you want to spend?"
(we know here that the correct question is "what kind of riding do you want to do?)
you say "eh, 4 or 5 hundred?"
that never ends well.

i tell people to trust their bike shop, but don't talk price.
tell them *intended riding style* and *fitness goals*

aaaaanyway.
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Old 04-03-10, 08:49 PM
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there is also another element to think about, which is what bike shops contribute to a city's cycling scene.

I know that in Austin the LBSs come out to support any cycling initiative whether it be a new bike lane the city wants to put in or a charity ride.

I'm doing the hill country ride for AIDS century, and one of the local bike shops is giving us all free tune ups and letting us use their shops for some pre-ride meetings, etc.

LBS are crucial to having a good cycling scene.

I buy some things at the LBS and others not. Really depends. I don't buy many things new except for clothing and locks/tubes/tires.
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