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Why I like a LBS better than online (long)(16 posts)

Why I like a LBS better than online (long)mwood
May 8, 2002 9:30 PM
I finally broke down and retired my old Cannondale today, picking up the Colnago Asso my LBS built for me. The whole experience reminded me why I've always liked working with a good bike shop...
It started Saturday, when we rode through Danville, CA on the return leg of a morning ride. There is a bike shop in town, Pegasus Cyclery, which has just been opened by a few of the guys who chose to leave another, established (jaded?)bike shop. Riding by, we decided to check it out. Walking in, you could tell you were in a good place...Colnago, Jericho, Merckx, Look frames, lots of cool cyclo cross and road builds going on, a few cyclists hanging out in front in the courtyard area with their coffee from the Peets next door, early TDF highlights on the TV...the whole place just felt comfortable. A bonus is that it is near (6-7 miles) my house, my last "LBS" was a 40 minute drive away!
As I've been considering buying a new bike for the last couple of months, I started asking one of the owners some questions. Straightforward answers and the offer to test ride anything I would like were the responses. After riding a Merckx Elite, Bianchi EV4(?), Cannondale CAAD5 Saeco and Colnago Asso for a couple of miles each, I narrowed it down to the Merckx and Colnago. The next day I rode back and decided on the Colnago. Chris (one of the owners) went through all of the particulars of the build, taking time to explain all the options and their pros and cons. I ended up with a low 18 pound, Campy Centaur triple-equipped, sweet riding, aluminum framed, bike for about $150 more than I could have found it on the net, with a promise that it would be done by Thursday.
Tonight, at 6:00PM I get a call from Chris, "your bike is ready, we're working a little late tonight, come on down and pick it up if you want". I get there at 7:00 and then spend the next hour finishing the fit, making the final adjustments, BS'ing about this and that and, of course, buying a couple of more small items. I appreciated the fact that these guys are working hard to make the business fly, including the long hours, and trying to go the extra mile to build quality relationships with their customers.
Online might be great for those who are capable of building their own bikes, or for the occasional "blow out" pricing on tires or other non-durable items, but for a big ticket item like a complete new bike, I have absolutely no problem spending an extra 5-10% at my LBS. Besides the ability to test ride, or try a test fit, and have a place to take it if anything is screwy, I like the social aspects some shops seem to foster, providing a great place for like minded folk to hang out.
re: Why I like a LBS better than online (long)I Love Shimano
May 8, 2002 10:23 PM
I agree with you. Although things are a bit different here (buying online costs more than buying from the LBS), I still buy stuff (not available in my LBS) from other LBSs and then bring it to my LBS and have them install it. I trust the mechanics, ask them questions about bike maintenance, and feel very 'at home' in my LBS. Not to mention, my LBS has the most competitive prices in the country. If I had the chance to buy online, I would only buy if I needed one or 2 components (I can also have them installed by my LBS)...not a whole bike. Getting a whole bike from the LBS is worth the investment (especially if you do not know how to assemble bikes)because you also gain 'family' of sorts.
man, you guys got it good...dustin73
May 9, 2002 12:34 AM
i was in the market for new cranks, BB, ring, and guard for my SS mtn bike...

RF Turbines, RF Sig XS BB, Spot ring and guard...

LBS: $450 installed (conservative)

Webcyclery: $350
(plus a crank puller, grips, and tire levers)

true, this will be my first experience with an ISIS BB, but why should i pay like 30% more at the LBS? a week ago i shelled out $150 to have a King installed. bought a Pneumo there, some Specialized Team Mtn shoes, a PI jacket, lots of little things (like, once a week visits). the worst part is that the shop i had been going to before had awful customer service. i went in to that shop wanting to get a price on some wheels (Open Pros laced to Surly 1x1s for a SS cross)...walked out of there not even knowing how much the Surly hubs were gonna cost. argh...the bad thing about Austin...too many shops. no...too many big shops.
Great Story!garhead
May 9, 2002 1:41 AM
mwood. Great story & I hope that the new shop has a long life.
SS mountain bikessteve1244
May 9, 2002 7:54 AM
A friend of mine has turned me on to SSing and I'm seriously thinking about getting a rigid On-One set up, mostly to keep cycling fresh for me and to have a fun, beater bike that will provide a cycling workout different than what I get on my road bike.

How do you like SSing? Has it complemented your road riding? BTW, Webcyclery is great.
SS mountain bikesdustin73
May 9, 2002 10:06 AM
sweet dude, i've got an On-One, fully rigid...the 853 version. i love this thing. it's cheap, Brant's cool, and it's a quality ride. well, and i absolutely love the handling of it.

SS-ing is the most fun i've had on a bike. nothing to worry about, no shifting, no annoying chain slap. you either ride, or walk up the tough climbs. and if you walk, you feel guilty. or at least i do. it's nice and quiet, which i love when i'm in the backwoods. so peaceful.

well, the one thing i've noticed is that i push myself a lot harder, and shift less. rides that were switching from middle to big ring, now stay in the big ring. not really sure if it's helped my road riding this, but i think my upper-body is getting stronger. if i had some spare cash, i'd like to build up and On-One Il Pompino SS to use as a road/CX bike.

definately get one built's a blast.
SS mountain bikessteve1244
May 9, 2002 10:35 AM
Thanks for the input.

I'm probably going to go w/180 mm cranks on the SS. Do you use longer cranks on your SS rig and, if so, have you noticed that it messes up your roadbike spin?
SS mountain bikesdustin73
May 9, 2002 7:37 PM
yeah, i've got 180s also. i haven't noticed any spinning changes. however, now that school's almost over, i'll be spending more time on the road bike. that's probably when i'll notice any querks. i doubt there will be, though. i'm assuming my road cranks are 170s, but not totally sure. they're stock 105s on a Specialized Allez Sport double. one guy i know rides with 200s on one SS, 190s on another SS, and 185s on his 3rd SS. that's crazy. i'd be hitting so many rocks with those cranks...not sure how he does it.
May 9, 2002 1:43 AM
My LBS sell Trek, specialized and thats it. Good mechanic but no choices. Have to ride a least 1 hour by car to get to a bike store that sells a variety of top level bikes. Then these guys are high,buy,buy. But what do you want for northeast CT not the mecca of cycling.
exactly ...tarwheel
May 9, 2002 3:52 AM
I tried very hard to buy my last bike from my LBS, but just couldn't get fit right on the Treks, LeMonds, Specialized and Bianchis they all carry. I needed something with a shorter top tube, and preferred steel. I ended up buying on-line out of necessity. It was either that, or special order a frame through the LBS -- sight unseen -- for $500 more than I could buy from a mail-order shop. If the bike I ordered through the LBS didn't fit, it would have been my loss, but I could return the mail-order bike within a certain period of time if it didn't work out. Fortunately it did.

I get most of my mechanical work done at the LBS, but I suspect that they resent my decision not to buy a new bike from them. But, if you're spending that kind of money, you've got to get what will work out best for you. They're not the ones who will be riding the bike 150 miles a week. I agree with the original poster, however, that it's best to buy through a LBS -- if you're lucky enough to have a good one that carries some nice lines of products.
I couldn't agree more.........Dave Hickey
May 9, 2002 4:00 AM
I envy the people that live in the cycling meccas of Colorado and California. Dallas/FortWorth has a population of 4 million people and we have one LBS that I would consider "world class". All the others sell the usual Trek, Specialized, C-dale, etc...........
You are agrandemamou
May 9, 2002 3:38 AM
lucky man. The two LBS here in town are horrible. After moving here I started working on my own bikes. I may not be a mechanical whiz but I can't screw it up any worse than they can. When I bought my last bike I had to drive 4 hrs to try a Colnago, 2hrs for a Bianchi and 3 hrs for the Merckx.

Luckily, I have a friend who opened up a bike shop. He does mostly Tri stuff but will get me whatever I want. As a bonus I can trust him to work on my bike when I don't feel like fooling around with it.

My feelings are that poor operators don't deserve any business whether they are local or not. I have lived in several cities in different states and have found good bike shops are very rare. I am extremely jealous.
On the other hand....woodes
May 9, 2002 4:07 AM
For whatever reason, the LBS' where I live (Princeton, NJ) don't come even close to your experience. I recently had an older frame built up by the local LBS regarded as the shop that serves the high end market, just outside of Princeton. The bike was dropped off on a Tuesday, and promised by that Friday. They missed that day, no big deal. But subsequent calls each day after that yielded "haven't gotten to it yet, call tomorrow" this went on for another week and a half. Absolutely no apologies. I was patient knowing that their "pro" mechanic would personally work on the bike. The day of the pick-up, the owner called me and said that the old headset was shot, and the only replacement with the appropriate stack height was a Chris King. Fine, it will probably last longer than the frame. They charged me $150 for the threaded model, and had to use different color combos to come up with a complete headset! (you can get that part anywhere else for $99) When I picked up the bike, I noted that the rear brake was mushy. The mechanic told me that that was the best he could do since the cables are routed inside the top tube and couldn't see inside the tube. The brakes were so bad, I got home and took everything apart. The mechanic left old housing inside the top tube!! I went to that shop to save time from building it up myself, and to save me the hassle of buying all the necessary tools. Sorry to rant, but I wish my LBS' were more responsive. Even though this high-end LBS is only 4 miles from my house, I will gladly go out of my way to avoid going there again. This has been a continuing thread on this forum, some people support the LBS, others have had negative experiences. I wish I was in the former camp.
It's an individual thing.........Len J
May 9, 2002 5:10 AM
it varies LBS to LBS.

As in most things there are good LBS, Great LBS & not so good LBS. My experience is that they run the entire range from awful to great. When I find a great one, I will pay extra for things just to ensure that he stays in the business. That one time you really need him to come through for you & he does is worth everything else.

I have moved around quite a bit, and when I get to a new town, I try all the local LBS and find out what they are good at & what they are not. Talk to alot of local cyclist & believe half of what I hear, it gives me an indication. Most places I have lived, I have been able to find a great Mechanic, and someone I could count on when I needed a part in a hurry. Unfortunatly, they are not always the same person.

Sorry to hear about that...biknben
May 9, 2002 5:35 AM
I'm pretty sure I know the shop you're referring to. Some shops grow beyond their expertise. Then you get idiot mechanics working on high end builds and no one checking their work. Old housing in top tube??? Multi-colored King headset??? Can't blame you for being pissed. I'd send them a letter explaining your experience. Don't just let it go.
May 9, 2002 6:34 AM
Take it from someone who got hosed by an internet shop, the LBS is the only the way to go. The problem is finding the right one. In my city of over 4 million people, there is only one place to go...the owner is also the bike builder and bike repairman. His showroom therefore looks like the repair area. But he rides almost everyday, owns two Davidsons and a Colnago CT-1, and know his stuff big time. I wouldn't go anyplace else.