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Net or local bike shop?(13 posts)

Net or local bike shop?Broke Spoke
Oct 1, 2001 6:45 PM
Is local bike shop "support" worth $350.00 more than what I can buy the bike for off the net? $1900.00 vs $2250.00 tax and all. I know the correct frame size, but the local shops play is "but will they swap out the stem if you need a different size" and "we can give you a pro fit". I bought my first bike ,a hybrid, from this shop and the extent of the "fit" was, you need a little knee bend at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Yeh, allright, I was new to all this then. With the wealth of info. on the web on fit, I think I can do a reasonable job of it. I would like to buy local, I do believe in supporting local business, but 350.00 ,I don't know. I offered $2100.00, they replied - 2250.00 plus a set of 147.00 Look pedals, I've got new SPDs. Thoughts anyone? The money is tight. Hope to hear from some experienced web buyers. Thanks.
Don't forget to add the local TAX!nestorl
Oct 1, 2001 7:15 PM
I am a big supporter of the LBS...I give them my mechanic business, and also get tires, rim tape, HB tape, and once in a while some socks :-). The reality is that I worked at a LBS and KNOW what they pay for the bikes!!! and the markup is so ridiculous that I refuse to be a part of it... Think that the people that are selling you the bike for $300 less are STILL making tons of money from their 'cost'. The truth is the LBS are not designed, marketed, or maintained by local experienced riders...most of their money comes from newbies and rich inexperienced people that do not know any better and need the help of the LBS for their first bikes.

I admit that some LBS are better than others, but I hate how they don't even realize how they trick people into buying worthless stuff and paying to dollars for cheap gear...
take for example: Last week I was with at a local bike shop with a friend that wanted an entry level bike. She was shown several models but I will talk about a particular production bike (which I will not mention). Their shimano sora/tiagra model cost $600 their shimano 105/tiagra $1400... Difference: frame was the same, stem..same; seat post...same; wheels...same; saddle...same. What was the difference??? the 105 parts!!! WHAT? $800 for the 105 parts upgrade?? How F*^%^^$ stupid do they think I was... I told him..What about this.. I get the Sora/tiagra.. Buy a FULL 105 group for $500, sell the sora/tiagra parts on ebay for 200... and end up with your $1400 for $900. Not really my $900 bike will have 100% 105 parts while your $1400 have tons of Tiagra on it!!! The worst part is that he had no idea what they were doing until I told him about it...then he realized what was happening and could not believe it.. he said "yeah man you right... that's messed up"

That is why sometimes I hate LBSs!
re: Net or local bike shop?Mazz
Oct 2, 2001 3:59 AM
I, personally, would go with the LBS. Why? Just as you said, the service. I don't know about your LBS, but all the ones in my area (VT), if you were to buy a bike at the shop you would get 10% any bike stuff for the life of your bike and free minor adjustments. The way I spend, I can make up the difference in about two years or so. Another thing, they will be more likely to upgrade your stuff for a better price.

One more point, if you get your bike online and let's say you get a crack in the frame or something like that about a week after you get the bike. I can only imagine how much of a pain it would be to send the bike back to the online retailer, etc. Ahh, nightmare.

Okay, in support of buying on the net. I don't think you have to worry about fit too much. If you can't fit by yourself or if you don't have a friend who can do it for you, you can always pay a LBS to do the fit. Around here it's something like 20 bucks. Not bad. Sounds like your LBS isn't up to par for fitting. If you've test rode the EXACT bike you are getting off the net, than maybe the 350 savings would be worth it. Not to mention the taxs savings.

Anyway, I would suggest going to your LBS's and ask what kind of deal you get if you bought your bike there, or how much fitting would cost you.

Hope this helps. Good luck
I never buy bikes from LBSpmf1
Oct 2, 2001 4:38 AM
I do use them for repairs I can't do or don't want to do. I do buy stuff from a certian shop on a regular basis. But their bikes and components are just so over-priced. If you know what you want, and you know the correct size, then do mail order. I've bought the last three bikes I've owned that way (one from Colorado Cyclist -- a cross bike I eventually sold; one from labicicletta --- a LS frame I had my LBS shop build up; one from a bike shop in Italy that I later had my LBS build up).

The Look pedals they offer are only a good deal if you would have bought them anyway. Sounds like that's not the case. If money is tight and you know what you want, why spend $350 more than you have to (tax and shipping costs are probably a wash)?

Yeah, I know its good to support a LBS and I try. I'll pay a few bucks more for some tape, lube, etc. But for bigger purchases I just can't justify paying 15%-20% more.
net, but beware of after-sale support & warranty issues.Spiritual Haiku
Oct 2, 2001 6:12 AM
i've bought (new) two at different shops and one via net. i was lucky to have bought from, in dealing with gary hobbs, as he's a no-nonsense, honest kinda guy. had a small problem a week into the bike, he reimbursed me for shop repair, zero problems since, and i have around 3k miles on it since april.

the only other thing to consider is the shipping expense, which will likely run $30-$60. still less than tax!

good luck.
Net for clothing and tires, LBS for everything else.Elefantino
Oct 2, 2001 7:18 AM
I have a great relationship with my LBS. (As a member of the local club, I get discounts on everything.) I buy all my tubes, lubes and other wear-item stuff (except tires; I go to Performance) from the LBS. I also bought my bike there, and there have been many times when I've brought it in post-ride for a little fix of this or that and they've done it for no charge.
re: Net or local bike shop?jacu
Oct 2, 2001 7:25 AM
this a a subject that irritates me. as a local shop mechanic (all through college and grad school), i was a firm supporter of the lbs. but, then, i had a vested interest. now, as just a full retail price paying consumer, i can barely stomach going into most bike shops.

a few examples.

i wanted to have the crank bolts on my road bike torque checked, as it hadn't been done in a while. i don't have a torque wrench so i took it to the local shop (a mere 5 minute ride from my house). i asked the teenage mechanic to check the torque. he looked at me quizzically and said 'okay.' he proceeded to grab a 14 mm socket wrench and tighten the crank bolts. i said, no, i just wanted you to use a torque wrench on them to make sure they are 27 ft/lbs or so. he again looked at me quizzically and said, ' i don't think we have a torque wrench. i'm not sure what it is. do you want to look around to see if you see one?' so i did; and no they didn't have a torque wrench. so i left, dumbfounded that a shop mechanic wouldn't know what a torque wrench was and the shop didn't have one. so much for paying a premium for service.

next example.

i needed a new tire, immediately. i had suffered a serious tread cut on a ride and didn't want to wait a week to order a new tire. so i went to the same shop and asked the clerk about tires. i told him i wanted a kevlar belted road tire and wasn't all that particular about brand as long as it was a quality tire. we go to the tire section (about a three feet wide section of slat wall near the work area). he hands me a specialized flat resistant tire with the protective liner, weighs about 350 grams i think. i say no, i want something a little lighter i dont have a big problem with flats. the only other tires the shop had in stock: a conti ultra and a michelin axial super comp. i took the super comp and paid nearly $50 with tax. a tire i probably could have ordered for $25.

and one last issue. it irritates me when a shop offers to order a common item they don't have in stock. like i couldn't order it faster and cheaper myself. same shop, i needed a tube for my mountain bike. i wanted presta valve slime light tubes. a pretty common staple you would think. but no, the shop had none and offered to order me a few, advising it would only take about 1.5 to 2 weeks because they would place their order with the supplier on the next monday (and i was in the shop on a wed.). i politely declined, went home, called excel and had the tubes via us postal on sat.

sorry for venting. i've had a bad experience with shops lately. my advice: go with the mail order bike. save some money and the mail order outfit will likely provide better advice and service anyway.

Service vs. Price/SelectionChris Zeller
Oct 2, 2001 7:45 AM
What it really comes down to is, "do you need/want the service they are providing?" This really comes down to the specifics of you and your LBS. Some people on this forum know more about fit than any shop employee. Some LBS do a terrible job of fit. Some LBS do a terriffic job of fit and are willing to swap anything on the bike, offer free tune-ups/maintence for life (University Cycles in Boulder). If these services are worth it, then go with it. If you don't know enough about fit, it's a no-brainer.

My experience has been that some LBS do a good job with fit, but rarely are enthusiastic about swapping parts despite what they say. Wheat Ridge Cyclery spent almost an hour with me doing a pro job of fitting me. But they usually grumble and say that they can't swap this or that or that strange charges apply. In any case, I'm an advocate of building your own bike anyway (even if LBS assembles it) as long as you know what you are doing. It's the only way to get exactly what you want.

I loved Airborne's service and configurator. Their site is an excellent way to get exactly what you want with only a little knowledge of bikes. Researching each component is easy since they provide manufacturer web-links for each part you pick. Even if you are sold on your particular bike, give their site a try it might help you pick the right parts and compile a checklist of what you need. Their build service was very good and they delivered on time. They fit me exactly too with measurements over the phone.
Service vs. Price/Selectionbikedodger
Oct 2, 2001 9:11 AM
I agree that University Bikes is a great bike shop. While I didn't end up buying from them (I bought from High Wheeler which went out of business a year later), I did test ride three different bikes in one day and they let me ride them as far as I wanted to see if I liked each bike. I have had my bikes owrked on by them and found them very professional, although not cheap. I sometimes go to Boulder just to walk around the store and browse.

When I get another bike, I will go the build it up myself route just to see how it goes.

always support your LBS first........turtlemoye
Oct 2, 2001 10:57 AM
You should always try to support you LBS. as a former shop employee I know that some shops pay more for some components
than you can order yourself from the net and then they still have to mark them up. As far as the fit from your first bike which I belive was a hybrid, most people (including myself) assume (sometimes incorrectly) that hybrid riders don't ride as much as serious riders and therefore fit isn't as important. I worked for one of the best and busiest shops in the country. Often our excellent mechanics were so busy that the wait for repairs was 4-7 days. However those people with strong relationships could get immediatley service (like I needed recently). Unfortunately there are alot of shops that aren't ran as well. I myself do use the net to make purchases for the occasional part or closeout special but always go to my local shop for major purchases.

Local shops also support cycling in your area such as setting up races, rides, trail work, maintenance, etc.....If you stop supporting your local shop they could go out of business........where will you turn for a head cup press or a campy tool kit then. I suggest you continue to haggle with your local shop and see if they will throw in something else other than the pedals.

My takeTJeanloz
Oct 2, 2001 12:03 PM
As a former small-time LBS manager, I have a lot to say about mail/net order and its relationship to the LBS. My feeling is generally, that if you are competant enough to consider asking the question, you're probably competant enough to not really "need" to use your LBS.

An earlier poster who had worked at a LBS said that he knew the markup on bikes and that it was "ridiculous". I'm no longer in the industry, so I'm not really obligated to keep my mouth shut any more. My shop was in Boulder, CO, and we needed to be pretty competatively priced on everything, or we'd be called on it. Our price structure was (roughly) as follows: Pro level frames (anything that comes as a frame only or frame/fork): $300 above wholesale price. Most complete bikes were marked up 40%. Most cheap complete bikes were marked up more- but were not marginally more profitable because they take the same amount of floor space, and are usually harder to assemble.

Parts as follows: 50% markup on Dura-Ace and Record (note that these have the lowest markup of ANYTHING except bikes in the shop). 60% markup on Ultegra/Chorus/Daytona. 75% markup on 105. 100% markup on Veloce/Tiagra and below.

So at this point you're like: "these guys are totally ripping me off. I buy a frame and they put $300 in their pockets just like that!"

Let's go over costs.
1. Cost of goods- we've already established about what those are.
2. Payroll, you want decent staff, or even enough staff, it'll cost you. A shop our size had a payroll exposure of around $75 an hour in the summer time. And we were chronically understaffed. Add the employer contribution to social security and other payroll taxes, and your people are costing about $125/hour.
3. Rent. Maintaining a storefront isn't cheap. Our rent was about $12 a foot, and that was considered VERY cheap. A new shop moved in across town and had to pay $20 a foot. Add for utilities.
4. Insurance. The thought of being sued terrifies every bike shop owner I knows. They're really worried that one day their 15 year old trainee mechanic will let a bike out the door without reattaching the brake with tragic consequences. Our solution was to have every bike checked by two senior mechanics before they left. But insurance is still a serious cost.

This is a pretty candid idea of the costs and benefits of running a bike shop. But my real point is two fold: 1. Bike shops don't make money off bike enthusiasts. Those of you who know how to get stuff for cheap are going to- there's no money to be made in Dura-Ace parts when Excel sells them for cheaper than Quality (a main wholesaler). 2. We don't care about #1. We want to have enthusiasts around, regardless of the fact that they're not a money-making proposition. You guys are our friends first and customers second. We aren't in this game to screw you, I promise.

And next time you think the bike shop is making serious bills on you, take a look at the car your bike shop owner drives. Drive by his house. How do you think his (her) income compares to your own?

I'm not saying that you should 'support your LBS'; I'm a free market economist type, and I think you need to do whatever is most cost effective for you. But you do need to think of all the things that your shop does for you, and compare that to what Excel does for you. Maybe Excel wins your business- that's fine. It's a competitive world, and we were always willing to play.
welcome perspective. thanks--nice to see! nmSpiritual Haiku
Oct 2, 2001 12:24 PM
Thanks for the input everyone,Espec. TJeanloz!Broke Spoke
Oct 2, 2001 1:49 PM