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  1. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    West MI
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    4,259

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    My take on it is people trying to get the most bang for their buck, ESPECIALLY in the current economy (I'm guilty of buying most of my bike clothes and running clothes/shoes online, because the stores that I do like to shop at are an hour away and most online retailers have free or cheap shipping and far lower prices).

    Also...you don't know what you don't know. Were I not married to a self-professed bike geek I most likely wouldn't have ever bought a good bike (and would totally be missing out). Or I would have just looked for something cheap online. I'd have no clue about component quality or fit.
    Kirsten
    run/bike log
    zoomylicious


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  2. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Jacksonville area of NC
    Posts
    821
    The only thing I wish our new LBS would get is a wider selection of clothing, but they are new. They've been around for 6 months. On the other hand they do have a layaway plan as they do understand people can't just afford to buy a more expensive bike. They also have a facebook page and their own website. They've also tried to get more involved in the community by offering different classes and having movie nights as well as different lvl rides. For bike clothing we actually drive 2 hours to Raleigh to go to Performance. Now they do have a nice on line presence. I just don't like buying clothing without trying it on first.

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,632
    Quote Originally Posted by zoom-zoom View Post
    My take on it is people trying to get the most bang for their buck, ESPECIALLY in the current economy (I'm guilty of buying most of my bike clothes and running clothes/shoes online, because the stores that I do like to shop at are an hour away and most online retailers have free or cheap shipping and far lower prices).

    Also...you don't know what you don't know. Were I not married to a self-professed bike geek I most likely wouldn't have ever bought a good bike (and would totally be missing out). Or I would have just looked for something cheap online. I'd have no clue about component quality or fit.
    This too. DBF suggested I buy a Giant because a) he had one and loved it, and b) because they're good bang-for-buck. Except that he missed the part where they downgraded all the components between the time he bought his and now. (This was 2009, right after the economy tanked.) Oh, and that fit thing. I didn't know any better, and he only found out after the fact. Live and learn.

    Clothing is another biggie. I've never bought much clothing from bike shops, because they don't carry what I like. I realize that men's shorts and jerseys are a far safer bet than women's for the shop; men make up the majority of the consumer base. Speaking of which, I think it's still much harder to go into a bike shop as a woman. It's almost always all men and there's a non-zero chance they treat you like an idiot. I certainly found it intimidating until I learned to speak bike, thanks to TE.

    The other thing is that people don't want to put LBS bike-level money into something that they may use for one summer and then have sitting in the garage for the next five.
    Last edited by Owlie; 02-02-2012 at 08:19 PM.
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  4. #19
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897
    Quote Originally Posted by Owlie View Post
    The other thing is that people don't want to put LBS bike-level money into something that they may use for one summer and then have sitting in the garage for the next five.
    Or if they only plan to ride around the neighborhood for 30-40 minutes once or twice a week.

    Several of my co-workers have asked me for advice on buying a bike. Usually, they don't want to spend more than a couple of hundred dollars. I always tell them to check out an LBS anyway, and I direct them to a good one near where they live. Then I tell them at the very least to go to REI, because they have real bike mechanics. I also tell them that a bike that causes pain due to poor fit or never shifts right is a waste of money even if it was cheap.

    Also, I have to say that threads like this remind me of how lucky I am. I just do not have the problems at my LBS that many people have.

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Beautiful NW or Left Coast
    Posts
    5,619
    Hey people buy things without knowing what they are getting into every day. People walk into walmart and buy bike shaped things every day. And for some of them, that $150 purchase is just what they needed. They ride once or twice, then leave it in the dust because they're bored with it or whatever.
    Far worst to spend $1000 on that whim purchase. We know they're out there. One of my LBS's occasionally sells a custom bike that is OLD (like 25 years old) that was never ridden. They actually make custom bikes some times for people who are never going to ride the thing. Then the widow brings the bike in 25 years later wondering what it's worth.
    The original buyer got an idea that he wanted a custom bike... And then he just forgot about it. It happens.

    What I am writing here isn't to negate all the good feedback that is going back and forth on this excellent thread. But I want you to know that bike shops aren't failing as bad as many other businesses are. I am sure SOME are; but in some towns and cities they are flourishing. I have seen a lot more bikes in my town in the last 5 years. And some new bike shops that have lasted more than one year! progress!
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  6. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    507
    I love how this thread is going.

    Another issue I have notice, especially in NZ is the openeing and closing of bike shops. There's one particular bike importer who likes to open bike shops here and there, and in 8-12 months time closes them down. Please! How is the average person supposed to create a relationship of trust with a store when they flit off once "plundering" the sales in the area?

    And the people who often open stores- well quite a few are former professional or elite level athletes. That doesn't mean they make a good bike shop owner. Basically they are satisfying their ego by being able to surround themselves with people and bikes (that's OK) but only so they can keep on riding the latest and greatest model, participate in the cycling industry and not so much for being a guiding hand for newbies. Their shop rides are for their buddies or to create a "club" around them. And worse if they have no business sense or no person skills. One store I know the owner was too nice, extended too mcuh credit to customers and didn't know how to handle the books. He ended up getting ripped off by the "manager" he employed, his wife took over the books and found out how bad a suitation they were in. Bike shop which was rather good now down the drain. So off DH and I go to find a new store we can build a level of trust in.

    And often our cycle clubs are just as bad. When I was running membership of one club and answered people's enquiry emails I tried to be nice, but clear- our club wasn't for beginners. There was no way a new person could join our rides on any old bike, we didn't cater for them. And that's because no one was willing (except DH and I) to forgo their riding goals/training program to help people. You drop off the back- well I have to get home to go for a run, you have a puncture, well that ruins my heart rate zone! Almost everyone was so focussed one themselves it wasn't funny. That's why I loved a Veterans cycle club. Older people are not so goal focussed. Having to go slow to help someone complete a ride isn't the end of everything. The ride was more about being with friends.

    We don't make things easy for people to join the cycling community (and I know its the same in running clubs etc), becuase we are often so focussed on ourselves and our goals, and cannot take time out to lend a hand on a a regular basis.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Denver
    Posts
    1,944
    I started comparison shopping online because I'm a tough fit on most "standard" brands and most shops around here only carry one or two of the smaller companies. If I was shopping for cars, I'd do the same thing.

    But my experience when I went to look is similar to going to most car dealerships - I just get the feeling of "make her buy something HERE" and "upsell upsell upsell" - when maybe what you're selling isn't actually the best choice for me. I know you make money by selling me things, but if you steer me towards a better fitting bike elsewhere, I'll come back to your store for saddle, pedals, helmet, etc.

    I bought both of my current bikes used (craigslist) because I wasn't pressured, no one tried to push me towards something I knew was wrong, and no one tried to force me onto a WSD. I walked out of the Trek Factory Store when a salesguy told me that the women's version of the bike I was trying would fit better...because I'd looked at their bikes before I went in and I knew that the geometry (the reach, in particular) was IDENTICAL for the WSD and gender-neutral bike.

    And at the LBS that all of the guys seem to love no one ever looked at me twice, much less offered any help, until I came to them for mechanical work on a bike I'd already bought but that they happened to sell. I could've bought one there, but I guess I didn't look the part when I went to shop. (At least they're pretty awesome now, but they're lucky they got that second chance).

    "I never met a donut I didn't like" - Dave Wiens

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    356
    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi Stoker View Post
    Another thing I am also a bit shocked at is that some stores have a policy of clearing floor stock first. I meet a girl on a too large Pinarello mid-level model. She had the seat lower, tiny stem and still she was rocking side to side.

    She was told this was the smallest frame. Given no option. I ended up convincing her by getting on her bike (and I was taller than her) and showing why it was too big and then making her get on my smaller bike. Total laziness of the bike shop!
    Back in 1994 I went to buy my second MTB. The sales dude was suggesting a model equipped with Shimano STX. I noticed a more expensive bike and asked what the difference was. "That one has Deore LX." How is it different, and why would I want it? "It's Deore LX which is more expensive!"

    In '95 or '96 I was back at that shop buying some minor item. I asked about getting lower gearing for my bike. "Nope. Can't do that. Your 24x28 gearing is already the lowest possible gearing."

    Fast forward to a few years ago...

    On eBay I bought a NewOldStock cassette with a 34 tooth low cog and a lightly used Deore LX crank with a 22 tooth chainring. The manufacturing date code on these parts was from ... 1994/95. (Things aren't quite that simple - I would have had to upgrade the STX derailleur on the bike too.) Net result - I rode less because my bike wasn't optimal - and the LBS lost out on a significant parts sale.
    Laura

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,394
    I would not buy a bike on line, but everything else, yes.

    None of the bike stores around here seem to be doing badly; the one I bought my bikes at is making a nice profit (they do cater to people who can afford boutique label bikes, but also sell Giants and a lot of kid's bikes). The other LBS near me expanded last year, has much more clothing, and now sells home fitness equipment. They also have expanded their x country ski selection, which they have always had.
    You know, last year, DH and I went to Harris Cyclery, of legendary fame. We were just beginning our search for custom or semi custom relaxed geometry road bikes that we could put couplers on. I was stunned by the horrible condition of the shop, and even worse, the way the person who helped us was bragging about their new fit system. He didn't know what he was talking about. When I said I was not interested in bar end shifters, it was like a case of reverse discrimination. We ran... maybe they have a lot of parts, but, they do most of that business on line. And maybe it's a good thing, because the shop itself was not nice.
    One of the reasons I will buy full price clothing from TE or Terry is because of the focus on meeting women's needs and the community that has grown around both businesses. I've had personal service from both. Still, I look for the sales in both places. DH, on the other hand, never, ever buys bike clothing full price. He doesn't have to; everyone makes and sells men's size medium and puts the items on sale. Half of the clothing companies don't even make their products in women's extra small (PI, for example), so I can't afford to be choosy.
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  10. #25
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,501
    I wouldn't buy a bike online because of fit and service ... and I try not to buy parts online because that's where the LBS makes their profit. (I have my limits ... as when I got my saddle for something like half of MSRP... bad me ) As I understand it, complete bike sales are a LBS's "loss leader" to bring customers in for the parts, service and accessories.

    Clothing is another thing. I really prefer to buy local, but I don't live anywhere near a shop that has a decent selection of women's gear, and returning something bought online (TE! TE! TE!) is SO much easier - often if I special order something through a LBS it's entirely nonreturnable.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  11. #26
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,249
    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi stoker
    And the people who often open stores- well quite a few are former professional or elite level athletes. That doesn't mean they make a good bike shop owner. Basically they are satisfying their ego by being able to surround themselves with people and bikes (that's OK) but only so they can keep on riding the latest and greatest model, participate in the cycling industry and not so much for being a guiding hand for newbies. Their shop rides are for their buddies or to create a "club" around them. And worse if they have no business sense or no person skills.
    THIS. In St. Louis where there are TONS of bike shops, but I find a lot of them are clubbish like Kiwi says above. Now, I would never think of buying a bike on the internet-- the profit margins on bikes aren't that much anyway, and a lot of times there are good deals to be had at an LBS. I shop ebay for bike clothes-- the selection for women are always pink and flowers, or kind of low end (weirdly-- which I suppose is fine). There's cooler stuff online. I am fortunate to be able to shop around for the best bike shop for my needs. There are a few that are awesome for beginners and I have brought friends to some of those because I know how nice they are, and I know they will spend a lot of time giving these novice riders a friendly introduction into bicycles. They are smart businessmen. They are trying to create a repeat customer. I've been to other shops where they are dismissive if it looks like you aren't shopping for something high end/custom.

    My shop is the area juggernaut-- it has three locations and a special Tri/running store, but the people are friendly and accessible from the bottom all the way to the top. They are supportive of all kinds of bike related efforts in the community. They are sponsoring our groundbreaking (at least in this city) high school cycling team. I haven't had to buy a bike in years, so I've only been buying accessories and nicknacks from them for the last four years, but the minute I said I was doing a cross country ride for the American Lung Association they offered to fit and tune my bike up before the trip for free as a donation and then offered to sell raffle tickets for the quilt my mom is donating. To me, this is them building a solid customer relationship, even though they don't really need me. I will certainly be buying my next bike from them.
    Help me reach my $8,000 goal for the American Lung Association! Riding Seattle to D.C. for clean air! http://larissaridesforcleanair.org
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  12. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Boise Idaho
    Posts
    1,162
    A subject close to my heart and pocketbook. We closed our 100% LBS in 2010 and converted to a small showroom, minor walk in traffic and primary online sales model. With that said, We do not sell complete Bikes online, a complete bike purchase requires meeting, fitting, riding, adjusting, etc prior to the bike leaving our showroom. However because we are touring,commuting oriented in a town that isn't, we depend on our online sales to survive. We have found our buyers to pretty awesome and we do quite a bit of customer service and educating with our blog and over the phone. We aren't a wholesale store, we still need to pay our own bills and have no desire to be the cheapest, we only sell product we believe in. We just celebrated our one year anniversary and I love our new biz model, we finally have time to get on our own bikes and have fun.
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  13. #28
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    212
    Thank you all so much for your insight and knowledge. I'm so happy I posed the question. Very valuable to hear from you all. If you keep posting, I'm sure to keep listening.

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Minneapolis
    Posts
    35
    Pretty much the only thing I buy online is clothes. I'd prefer not to, but there are no plus sized bike clothes in any bike shop that I know of. Now, someone needs to start catering to me and my many plus sized female friends who bike, they could make good money.

    But in Minneapolis, there is a bike shop to fit however you bike or whoever you are. I went to one bike co-op yesterday and was helped by two women. Both were awesome and both gave great advice. One worked on the floor and the other in the shop. I really appreciate that particular shop because of the women there and it caters more to how I bike.

  15. #30
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southeast Nebraska
    Posts
    459
    I only had two bikes growing up that I remember. Both were awful, probably because my mom couldn't afford anything fancy. Or they were given to me by a neighbor that didn't ride. My brothers had bikes and they just passed them down as one got to big for it. Sizing? Helmets? Never even came up. My DH said he and his gang of friends spent all day riding around town swapping out bikes and doing tricks.

    With the days of getting anything you want online, people are doing that. It's easy, fast, and you don't have to deal with the hassles of sales people following you all over the store like vultures or completely ignoring you. You have the entire shopping mall of your dreams that never closes online at the touch of a key stroke. It's a buyer's dream and a brick store's nightmare.

    People also are very visual when it comes to bike. They aren't looking at components. I didn't even know they were that important depending on your bike needs. If you want a red mountain bike, you go online and find the coolest looking red bike you can find and buy it. I've found lots of cool bikes online, like the (homer drool) 6000 dollar 29er tandem mountain bike. Or the 12,000 carbon fiber racing one. Won't be buying either of them any time soon but they are out there if I did.

    I buy from my LBS because if something goes wrong, he can fix it or send it back. He will order anything I want if he doesn't have it in stock at a reasonable price. He'll go online to the manufacturer's website and find me several options to choose from. With my LBS, the online bike shopping mall is right at his fingertips and I don't have to guess if something will work.

    My LBS had found a way to work with the internet so he makes money and I get the help/guarantees that come with a brick store. It's a perfect match. More brick stores need to see the internet as a huge advantage to their sales to help the consumer instead of fighting it. If you can order it for me, we both win and the states don't have to whine about losing sales tax.

    I've found that bike parts are far easier to get from my store as most of the time he isn't stuck on having to order in bulk or having to wait for a large specific amount before purchasing. I get my product in 2-3 days, he puts it on, and I have a warranty that's easy to use if something goes wrong.

    Now my local quilt stores...that's a disaster. If I have to wait for her to purchase 500+ dollars in goods before I get my order, I'll buy it online especially if I need to get a project done ASAP. That gets frustrating when you want to buy locally but can't. Then the stores are upset that you went somewhere else and even worse (gasp) went out of state or online. It's not always about sales taxes, it's also about availability.

    Should you buy a bike online by yourself? Only if you feel like taking the risks of it not fitting right, knowing how to put it together, and if it's not what you wanted, the pains of shipping it back and working with the store to fix it via the phone or email.

    There are some things better bought in a brick store than online. Bikes are one of them.

 

 

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