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Newby Question to start the morning...(20 posts)

Newby Question to start the morning...Gun Shy
Jul 2, 2001 7:25 AM
I am new to riding on asphalt and realized I don't know the slightest
thing about tires that do not have a large amount of tread. So I
bring to you two questions, one financial and one functional.

Oh, background I picked up a used CR-MO road bike with an older comp.
group, in pretty decent shape except I don't trust the tires.

1. So I walked into the LBS yesterday and discovered that road tires
are mostly expensive. What is the deal here? I've noticed cheaper
tires being sold by Nashbar and a couple of other online shops, but
is this a clear case of getting what you pay for. I really don't
feel like getting road rash because I save a couple of bucks, but I
really can't see any difference the in the more expensive wheels.

2. Currently I'm running 700x25C. If I wanted to go down a width to
23, would that mean changing tubes or rims. I replaced the tubes
before I started riding and they are sized medium, for 700x23-25.
Also, is there any big argument for going with a folding bead or

Thanks in advance.
No need to......muncher
Jul 2, 2001 7:40 AM
1 Spend loadsa bucks - Check out, for e.g. Michelin Bi-Axial Pros - should get them under $10 ish. Don't get into racing tyres, just get a nice training one

2 Change rims - yours will be fine

3 Change tubes (probably - you can get one that cover 20-23, then 25-whatever, but on my open pros with 23s I can use either - it's a little easier with the narrower ones to get to tyre on as there is less to squash in the space, but no big deal)

4 Get folders, unless you want to fold your tyres real small...
re: Newby Question to start the morning...Akirasho
Jul 2, 2001 7:46 AM
... as far as costs... it's what the market will bear... yes, there are some advantages to higher priced tires (road feel, durability, handling different road conditions... chic factor) and not all lower priced tires are POS. We pay $$$ cuz makers know that we'll pay it... but that's capitalizm in general.

I can't speak for all tires (cuz I haven't ridden on every one out there) but I try to stick with mid to high priced myself (mostly Conti, with an occasional Michelin or Specialized)... better handling and feel. They last a relatively long time... and are generally trouble free.

... as for downsizing... I suspect that your rims can handle either 25 or 23... no need for a new tube. Folding beads are usually found on more expensive tires... generally easier to mount... easier to carry a spare casing for those who tour or trek in areas where a replacement casing might be needed... lighter.

Be the bike.
Link for tyres (worldwide)....muncher
Jul 2, 2001 7:51 AM
Folding tires...Velocipedio
Jul 2, 2001 8:04 AM
I normally buy one folding bead tire for every four wire bead tires [of the same design]. My rationale is that I'll usually only have to take one spare with me on a long ride, and if I'm just replacing a tire in the garage, it makes no difference to me whether it's foldable.

True, kevlar is lighter, but the difference is minimal for my purposes.
My LBS was charging 60% more for tires than mail-order...John R.
Jul 2, 2001 8:07 AM
$25/each thru Performance, $40/each at LBS. After some haggling and in light of the fact that I was spending almost $100 at the store, the owner went down to $28 bucks so I bought them.

Prior to this experience I had purchased a pair of bar ends for $30 at the same store which I later saw on closeout through Performance for around $10.

Lessons? LBS's mark way up and/or lack purchasing power to offer low prices. Plus, always negotiate.

John R.
One thing nobody's mentioned, though...cory
Jul 2, 2001 9:58 AM
Sometimes (not always) you can save by shopping online or by mail, and I imagine most of us do it at least occasionally. It's worth building a good relationship with a bike shop, though, especially if you can't do all your own work. They can really help you out when something major breaks, they can find parts you'll never get from Nashbar and they're there Saturday morning when you need something right now.
Most of them aren't crooks, either. But they might buy 20 derailleurs in a big order, where Nashbar or REI orders thousands at a time. Plus the guy's got to pay the rent and feed his family.
most respectfully disgreeHaiku d'état
Jul 2, 2001 11:48 AM
yes, we're flogging a dead horse. but i can't sit idly by...

feeding the LBS owner's family is his responsibility, not mine. if he can't make it worth my while to shop there (competitive prices, specials, discounts, sales, honesty, good work, did i mention COMPETITIVE PRICES?), then so be it. i'm not going to shop there for the sake of putting money in his pockets by way of buying overpriced merchandise, often at a 20%+ markup. and, if fixing my bike today means joe blow waits another day for his bike to get back on the road, even if he brought in in three days back, then that's not fair, either. i still find the "feed the LBS" and "build a relationship" thing invalid. it's a service industry **to me** (including work and expertise, for which i AM willing to pay, but not highway robbery), and i don't build a relationship with my plumber or electrician (not a fair comparision, but the only one i could come up with). more like a car dealership--they have the cars and service them after the sale, but i'm not about to buy a set of floor mats from them at $65 each when i can get the SAME ones down the street for $23.50 each. would you do it, hoping to build rapport with the car dealership so you get faster service on saturday morning when your car barfs on you?

personally, i have NEVER found a cycling accessory or other related item at a shop marked lower than an online or mail-order shop. and...i've never found an LBS willing to match non-LBS prices. right back to those fancy bottle cages i haven't yet bought. $24 at the LBS, $16-$18 online. no thought necessary.
make that "disAgree". need more coffee. NMHaiku d'état
Jul 2, 2001 11:49 AM
I have to weigh in...TJeanloz
Jul 2, 2001 12:08 PM
This is a really interesting argument for me given my background as an out-of-work economist and former bike shop manager.

The first premise is that consumers don't owe the bike shop anything. This is 100% true and irrefutable. Bike shops aren't interested in your charity, it's a business. Thankfully, most people in the business are there because they like it, not because it pays well.

I'll tell you all that the motivation as a salesperson at the bikeshop was to make sure my customers got whatever product they needed, and were really happy with the purchase. There are a lot of things that you can screw up, but the ones that really, really, bother me are the customers who weren't happy with the purchase that I had recommended. That was much harder to deal with than the knowledge that I was making, at my peak, $9/hour. My point? We're here to help customers, not to make a pile of money.

If we're here to help customers, why do some people get treated really badly? There are a couple of answers. I don't really know many people on this forum personally, and I'd love to spend a couple of hours with some of you discussing the merits of single pivot brakes vs. dual pivot brakes. But if you want to talk on a Saturday morning in June, I've got 100 other customers who also need my attention. You can't make all of the people happy all of the time, but the goal is to make as many people as possible happy.

Bike racers like to think that they're the life blood of the LBS. You're not. We like having you guys around because you have similar interests to ours and are fun people to know. But you don't keep us in business. The life blood of most shops? Mothers with husbands who don't know how to change their kid's tires. It costs usually ~$10 to fix a flat tire, all but about $1.50 of that is profit. And you know what? The mothers are really happy that we helped them out, sometimes they drop by cookies or other baked goods. Bike racers? They tell us we're theives because they can buy the tubes at Nashbar for $2 and install it themselves. Who would you rather deal with? The profit margin on tubes is 100%-300%, compared to 60% or so for 'real parts'. Which would the business person rather sell?

We aren't a charity case, we don't make a lot of money on 'real' riders, but we try to give everybody a fair and competitive deal.
interesting. i'd suspected...Haiku d'état
Jul 2, 2001 12:57 PM
a good portion (but didn't suspect the majority of) LBS business was the wrap my handlebars, change my tube, true my wheel, replace my brake pads, fix my huffy or sears free spirit or roadmaster's creaking handlebars or clicking chain, sell me a new hybrid-type consumer, but didn't want to make that assumption aloud.

I don't race and don't have any plans to race road in the future, though local MTB races and local duathlons might catch my interest later this year/next year...meaning i'm not of that mentality. but...i've known a few who are, and yes, they think they're doing the LBS a favor by hanging around. odd.

this reminds me of the old funny situation i've always wondered after--that the haughty clerks and obnoxious customer service people in upper-crust shopping centers and exclusive/high-dollar stores around town (clothiers, etc.) often have holier-than-thou attitudes when dealing with my wife or me. we're not showy folks, don't presume to dress in our holiday best when out shopping on weekends, and can frequently be found in shorts/t-shirt/sandles and mussed hair. but...fact of the matter is that WE'RE shopping there and spending our money, and being nearly acosted by employees of the shop that WORK there, yet think they're better than us. ironic, isn't it, that these $9/hour glorified cashiers and stock people presume to look down upon those keeping their employer in business. not that it's related, but it's related.
I have to weigh in...pmf
Jul 3, 2001 9:30 AM
I always figured you guys make all your money on $300 mountain bikes, not on $3000 racing bikes. It seems that way at the shop I go to. They really move the cheap mtn bikes on the floor while the Sevens, Serrotas, etc don't seem to go anywhere. They're nice guys and I occassionally buy little things from them in return for some mechanical advice/help. I don't feel a need to make them family though. Most of the high dollar stuff I get is mail order.

Your shop sounds like a real good one. Wish you were opening a branch here in DC.

Think about going to grad school. You can delay reality a bit longer. It worked for me.
my reason for mail orderDaveG
Jul 2, 2001 6:54 PM
I often do shop mail order partly because of price but primarily because of selection. Most local shops simply carry very few roadie items in stock (if any at all). I'm limited to a small (or no) choice and if I need something special I have to wait AND pay more. I know its tough for a shop to carry a lot of inventory but I need to find what I want not buy out of pity. With mail order I can find just what I'm looking for and have it in a couple of days. While I worry about the demise of local shops I just cannot agree to subsidize them with purchases that are not exactly what I want.
Good point But..........Len J
Jul 3, 2001 10:47 AM
I sense a big city perspective in your answer.

Having grown up in Phila. (where if you didn't like the LBS closest to home you could find 10 more within 30 minutes) I had the same attitude that you have. i.e. that it is up to the LBS to take care of himself. Since I moved to the eastern shore of Maryland, I have discovered that there is only one good mechanic within an hour of home. What would I do if he went out of business?

I would be SOL & have to drive a long way to get any major mechanicals taken care of. So for me, I look at "What is my time worth?" vs. how "How much do I save shopping mail order?". Usually I will give the LBS a shot at anything that he stocks. I consider it an investment in saving me time.

My .02
like selling a life preserver to a drowning manHaiku d'état
Jul 3, 2001 11:38 AM
that subject line sounds more harsh than it's meant, but it does convey my thought about your situation--yep, "big city" if you consider a half-dozen shops 'round town. were i in your shoes, i might also give a good bit of business to the local shop, provided they have the only mechanical expertise within driving distance. bad idea not to stay on their good side. that is, however, a situation i would not relish. i think i'd have a few reliable bikes and be pretty self-sufficent!

my options are few, though more numerous than yours:

* take it to a decent, high-volume shop and have it sit there for four days, be repaired, then sit waiting for me until i call to confirm that it's done
* take it to another shop and let them do a bad job, mar the paint and overcharge
* take it to the one close to home and let their 17 year-old mechanics break tools on it, then overcharge
* do it myself

bad thing about the good shops 'round here is that "good" is a relative term (like "fast" and "cold"), and the good shops have that "were cooler and more outdoor-sey than you" atmostphere about 'em. can't stand it. i'm not frequenting their shop for ambience or hoping some of the earthy/mod/hip/unwashed thing will rub off on me, i'm just there for service. i've BTDT/had my unwashed/"i'm cooler than you" phase, and now i'm just an old guy (old/fast/cold/good) putting in some saddle time between the diaper changes, the office, and yardwork.
Understand.....Len J
Jul 3, 2001 1:35 PM
your position. I have found an older guy who runs a local LBS who is passionate about bikes & bikeriders. And on top of that he is the best mechanic I have ever come across. Great diagnosis, and great repair. I was very lucky with how few choices there are. The approach I am taking is that I give him my business & I pay him to teach me to be more self-sufficient. We both win. That being said, I don't know if I want to do all repairs. (However, I might have to).

I guess what I'm saying is that if you found a shop that wasn't "Cooler than You" (attitude wise) with a wrench and an owner that really loved cycling, wouldn't you want to invest in preserving that? I do and am.

To each their own.
agreed! good discussion. NMHaiku d'état
Jul 3, 2001 1:46 PM
Here's a tyres and tubes deal on the Miches....muncher
Jul 2, 2001 8:20 AM
other observationsHaiku d'état
Jul 2, 2001 9:06 AM
on that used road bike with the older group, consider changing-out the tubes and rim tape while you're putting on new tires. if you get the tires online, get the rest there, too, and save yourself a few bucks.

old road bikes can often also use a new set of cables & housing, and new bar tape/wrap. these can also be had online. and, consider a set of new brake pads.

another thing often not done on new-OLD road bikes is seatpost lubrication. remove the seatpost and lube it, then reinsert it. problems with stuck seatposts are most easily resolved before they're a problem at all!

$10 brake pads
$8 tubes
$8 rim tape
$25 tires
$8 bar wrap
$15 cables & housing (max)
$74 = bike like new
Good adviceGun Shy
Jul 2, 2001 9:25 AM
Yes, I agree. Actually the tubes were the first thing I replaced as
the thought of a blow out on the road is not appealing, and that is
when I noticed the rubber on the sidewalls somewhat bittle. I also
retaped the bars as one of the levers/hoods was a little loose when
I got the bike.

Thanks for advice (everyone) and I'll check out the other stuff as