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Local bike shops, lbs
#1
use them or lose them.
As a newbie, I am surprised at the simple questions being asked on these pages that can be solved by a quick visit to your lbs, and the seeming desire on the part of many to buy parts on-line without knowing what you need or the tools to carry out the replacement, and without having to resort to the "trade" as though you are expecting to be ripped off.
I am all in favour of learning about your bike and it's basic maintenance, I have almost always done my own, but then I have years of experience and lots of tools, but even I need to resort to the lbs occasionally, so I make a point of buying my bits and pieces there, and not on-line, and surprisingly, it doesn't usually cost much if anymore, and I get them right away, no need to wait in for delivery.
Although the shop is there to make money, they can't do it without satisfied customers, so getting a rep as being helpful and cost effective is one of their aims, so give them a chance, or when you really need them they won't be there.
A few sample prices from my lbs:
brake blocks, mtb peg type from £3/pair.
basic bb cup set inc. bearings, £6 mtb £8 bmx. sealed unit from £15,
they also stock threadless units.
brake levers from £10/pair.
tubes £4 or £6 self seal, mtb tyres from £8 ea.
true wheel ( you can't do this on line) £10 to £15
bb strip and replace all parts from £30 basic, £40 sealed unit.
So, once again, use them or lose them!!
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#2
In your post there are many points I do have to agree with you on. Many LBS's have closed here in the US because of internet sites. Although on the other hand many of them have a website on the internet as well Wink . I would love to be able to go to a local bike shop in a heart beat, but the closest one is like 30mins away and sells mostly the recumbent stuff. There is another that is 45mins away and probably does carry things I can get and yes I do use his. As for vintage stuff I have to rely on ordering online which is mainly what I am in to and he does not have (i always call him). This one example I needed a way to remove a Cottered Crank and no one has the tools to do it. Personally I can not use the hammer method as I really do not want to mess up the crank. So I searched on the internet and even asked Park Tools if they still made their version of the cotter pin press.

They do not even have them in stock. However I did find one guy who has many and his is usa made and manufactured. Little steep on price but will pay for itself. For the 5 bikes I have to restore and any future ones it is easier then running to the LBS five different times to just remove something I know how to. Sometimes you have to make an appointment to even get any answers. Now my future aim is to start up a bike shop, and probably soon as there have been quite a few people that asked me to fix a flat that they do not want to bother with, get an annoying noise to go away, even a complete overhaul of this one guy's son's 20" BMX.

Most of us here do tell the asker in question to try to go to a LBS, not wally world, k-fart, etc. This website and everyone on it has inspired me to open up a LBS. Everything I have learned is from right here. Do not think I am offensive or defensive, as I am only sharing my personally thoughts and experience. If it wasn't for this website I really do not think I would be where I am today. I am still learning as each day goes by Smile . I do really agree that the LBS is an endangered species. Also I am going to say that there has been a 40% increase in Bicycle Commuting in the State of New York. As for other areas I can't tell ya. So with that increase there are always going to be Bikes that need fixed.

Bill
Good maintenance to your Bike, can make it like the wheels are, true and smooth!
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#3
I have to agree with Bill and I live in a large metropolitan area (Kansas City).

I recently went to a swap meet hosted by my favorite lbs. Everything that was for sale were from bike shops that went out of business in the last six months. They said there were 5 or 6 shops that went out of business. I didn't even think there were that many around. Just my personal opinion, but I think most people are shocked when they go into a bike shop and see the lofty prices for new bikes.

As far as prices go, I have always been able buy parts and accessories cheaper from Amazon than from my lbs, but I go with the lbs on things I really need to match up for proper fit or size. I definitely buy my tools from Amazon just for the low prices though. I'm just a hobby mechanic so there isn't anything that requires a rush for my purposes.

And then KC's Craigslist has a large community selling new and used parts, accessories, and bikes at reasonable prices. But you don't often see the GOOD DEALS on CL because they are snatched up quickly, and then the ad disappears. If the ad is 5 days old then it likely (keyword is likely) is not good deal or you wouldn't see it posted. Wink

Steve
Junkyard Tools rescued from the junkyard!
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#4
I live in South California and I have three bike shops in walking distance and few more 10 minutes away.

I was servicing two bikes and found after a few trips for tools the best thing to do is bring the bike or the parts you are working on in to get the right tools as there are many variations. I needed two different cassette removers. The mechanics were friendly and even showed me how to do the job. Find a LBS supportive of DIY and go to him.

However there are so many tools and different parts needed that frequently one must shop online. Its great that we have this resource available to us. I am sure some old timers out there still remember the yellow pages method of the years gone by. :-)
Never Give Up!!!
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#5
(04-24-2010, 10:40 PM)GeorgeET Wrote:  . . . I am sure some old timers out there still remember the yellow pages method of the years gone by. :-)

Gone by? he-he I am an "old timer" Smile that uses AND advertises in the Yellow Pages, Yellow Books, etc., etc. I try and use any resource available. Pricing (and Return on Investment) is the most important factor as to what resource I utilize. I think that is the reason LBS' are going extinct though. I don't think anyone can stem the tide of buying online because no single person (customer) would logically think they can keep an LBS from going under. Only a well managed LBS can keep themselves from going under by focusing on the reasons why their customers keep coming back.

But your point about tools is a good one. There are many tools that are very specific to brands or models and cannot be used on others.

Thanks,
Steve
Junkyard Tools rescued from the junkyard!
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#6
Ye for sure yellow pages live and they are online too. Good place to advertise is also in local free papers, they too need support

LBS big sales are bicycles and equipment like helmets clothing etc, usually best fitted in person.
Tools and parts are not a big item and no one can carry all the different types. But try them first to be sure you get the right stuff.

Sadly in this economy many stores big and small are closing.
Never Give Up!!!
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#7
Just a follow-up to the initial post by trevgbb. From my perspective in Kansas City as mentioned above, several LBS' have gone out of business in the area. However, that doesn't mean that my favorite LBS will do the same. I like them and utilize their resources because they provide intangibles that I cannot get from buying online. As long as they continue giving me the service I need then I don't see them having a problem staying in business even when I and others are buying online. In fact, they seemed extremely busy lately.

After losing several LBS' in the area, pent up demand will cause my favorite LBS' revenue to increase substantially, and therefore, stay in business. It's an evolutionary thing, survival of the fittest. And focus on what your customers want. Smile

Steve
Junkyard Tools rescued from the junkyard!
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#8
My local bike shop is about a 10 minute drive away from me in Ireland! The shop runs the club and team I cycle for and I have to agree with trevgbb to a point. I try to strike a balance with both the internet and the lbs. Generally I'll buy tools wheels, shoes etc off the net where there is a major price difference in stuff. But when it comes to clothing, servicing equipment, safety gear and more importantly buying a bike I will support my bike shop for these! My reasons for this is the man who runs the local bike shop couldn't be a better person to deal with, he's not out to rip anyone off, he'll always throw in bits for free, he's very helpful and everyone who walks into his shop when its busy and cant be served straight away will get a cup of coffee while they wait!! His bike shop is doing very well business wise and I think this is key to why a lot bike shops are closing down. Any place where customers are treated well, not ripped off and and get a great service is a place which should be supported!
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#9
I have had good and bad experiences, When I bought my bike about 10 years ago the bike shop I tried was excellent, really helpful, went out of their way to help me out but then I guess I was making quite a large purchase by actually buying a whole bike off them, I got it in a sale, it was the last years model and got an absolute bargain, very happy.

When I got my bike out this year after the winter layoff the back wheel started causing trouble, it kept breaking spokes and a few shops I tried (all big players, big posh bike showrooms, all wearing matching T-shirts with names on, you know the kind I mean) all said it needed a whole new wheel, the rim was damaged beyond repair, well I tried a decent local bike shop, he isn't paying for big overheads and does it for the love of it, he has a big back yard and it's full of old bikes that he recycles and uses for parts. he fixed it for me, replaced the spokes, trued it up and charged me £10 all in, when I asked what is up with the wheel he told me nothing, nothing at all, it could do with a few new spokes but nothing major and definitely nothing at all wrong with the rim.

Two very different experiences and one that did put me off the big franchise bike shops.

I put a new chain and sprocket on the bike recently, I'm a trained motor vehicle mechanic so thought I would try doing it myself, I bought the tools and parts I needed to take the sprocket off, looked up on the net and came across the videos of alex working his bike magic and that led me to this site, I've been here ever since, picking up knowledge as I go.

The parts I bought to fix the bike I got off the internet, I tried my LBS, got a price from him and tried online and found they were considerable cheaper, I still got the parts from a bike shop, it was just online and wasn't my local one, it was one further up the country, but then in my eyes if my local bike shop had provided me with the same deal in price and I did ask if he could I would have got it from him.

(04-24-2010, 08:18 AM)trevgbb Wrote:  true wheel ( you can't do this on line) £10 to £15
So, once again, use them or lose them!!

I would like to disagree with this comment, I have done exactly that, I bought the new spokes from my LBS, bought a spoke tool, I have never trued a wheel in my life but looked online, watched how it is done and I am pleased to say that my wheel, with about 8 new spokes in it is running true, better then ever and I did it all myself, self taught.

In my eyes I am doing the job myself, learning whilst doing so, saving myself labour rates and I am happy that I did it all myself and I know I did it properly.

One thing I did find when trying to buy the spokes is a lot of the big bike shops wouldn't sell me the spokes, they said "bring the wheel in, we will do it" they wanted the money in labour from doing it. The local cheap LBS sold me the spokes, offered me advice and said if it goes wrong bring it in and I'll sort it out.

Cheap friendly LBS, with a nice chirpy person behind the counter is great, unfortunately they are a dying breed and there seems to be a lot of big franchise bike shops taking over, with a chap behind the counter who doesn't want to offer advice and just wants to sell you the latest and greatest thing that you don't actually need.
Cannondale, handmade in USA............................................Refined in Surrey, England
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#10
I'm from the UK as well, and I find that good LBS are hard to find.

At university my local is a place called Summit Cycles, which is a fantastic shop as they can get almost anything, offer good advice and if you send your bike for a repair they use weapons-grade pixie dust to make it work again (sometimes you can bribe them to do quick jobs with a Chelsea bun or two). They are the only bike shop for a long way, and even then those shops are owned by the manager who has a small empire of three good shops in mid Wales. They stock mainly MTBs, but really good ones. This is a shop that refuses to sell rubbish bikes, so anything you leave with will be good. Prices aren't bad as they tend to sell everything at retail price rather than inflating it like other shops.

At home however it's a different story. There are two, one of which isn't very friendly, very overpriced and don't seem too good for stocking spares and stuff (which is what I'm after mostly). The other one sells mid-range bikes of all kinds, though they can import high-end ones. They are however part of a chain (though the connection is fairly loose), so are straitjacketed in terms of which brands they can get for you. However they are a very polite and friendly shop that I've visited when I need bits back home. They are however within a stone's throw of Halfords who are a big chain that sells bikes barely fit for purpose that seem cheap. Their mechanics are incompetent as well unless you go to a branch that's got a guy who knows what he's doing and just needed a job.

Horror stories from Halfords include:
(customer) "My disc brakes are squeaking, how can I stop it?" (assistant holds up a can of WD-40) "spray this on your discs mate, that'll silence them"

A mechanic who didn't tighten the top bolt of a threaded stem (because he didn't know what he was doing) and gave it to a customer, who then crashed barely 10m out of the door

My mate went into the shop and asked for a 9-speed chain, the assistant holds up a 9-speed cassette and asks "is that what you need?" What was even more galling was that my mate had recently lost his job at that branch (he's a good mechanic and all) and that was the clown hired to replace him.
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#11
I agree about halfords, I just buy sponges and car wash stuff from there, well and the odd paint touch up stick, they used to be good a few years back when they did a decent range of service tools, I even bought my Teng toolbox in a Halfords sale and got an absolute bargain, but now it seems they are more interested in selling tents, cheap bikes and stick on tat for boy racers to tart up their 1 litre cars so they look like something from the paris dakar.

I love knowledgeable, friendly bike shops, the kind you can go in, ask advice and you don't feel like your asking for all the money out the till, the kind of shop where you ask about something and the chap in there knows what you are after before you have even finished describing it, 9 times out of 10 the chap not only knows who it is made by but can reel the part number off the top of his head.

Sadly this is dying out in the same way green grocers and butchers have died out in favour of big out of town superstores who offer everything under one roof, you ask for something in one of those and they look at you like are talking martian and have just parked your spaceship in the car park.
Cannondale, handmade in USA............................................Refined in Surrey, England
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#12
(05-04-2010, 03:03 PM)JonB Wrote:  . . .They are however within a stone's throw of Halfords who are a big chain that sells bikes barely fit for purpose that seem cheap. Their mechanics are incompetant as well unless you go to a branch that's got a guy who knows what he's doing and just needed a job. . .

He-he, hey I like that! Let's all throw rocks at 'em. Big Grin

Steve
Junkyard Tools rescued from the junkyard!
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#13
Genius!

...actually you'd probably get arrested for that over here Sad
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#14
I am blessed that my local bike shops are great. Also, the Yellow Bike Project is a truly awesome thing.
If you can't duck it, chuck it!
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#15
(05-27-2010, 05:21 AM)rambler85 Wrote:  I am blessed that my local bike shops are great. Also, the Yellow Bike Project is a truly awesome thing.

If one has access to one yea I agree they are awesome. The Bike Share program sounds pretty cool too.
Good maintenance to your Bike, can make it like the wheels are, true and smooth!
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#16
i have a ton of lbs' in my area, but from previous experiences, they mostly suck. especially now, with the way the economy is, they nickel and dime you until you're broke. a few have closed down, but luckily in long island ny, there's a huge community of bike riders. we've got some really awesome trails near me, and a lot of people visit them regularly. my main problem with these places is that they really do want to turn a small job into hundreds of dollars. the bike shop that i've always gone to is about 10 miles away, and i pass by 3 or 4 shops depending on the roads that i take to get there, but its well worth it. i recently started riding again, and had one shop quote me 135 to replace the rear cassette on my bike, with as the owner put it "the cheapest cassette we have", meanwhile, i got a better cassette for 20 bucks, and the park tool to get it off for 8 bucks. seriously? this is the primary reason why i even found this site, because i was looking up how to replace it. i wanted to see where the hundred dollars in labor was going! and i found that it really wasn't worth it to have them do it. for that price, i could do a whole lot more that i want to do to the bike by myself.

why would i want to go to the lbs, to pay twice as much for a part that's worse quality than the one i can buy online, and pay them 100 dollars to install it....and if i were to buy the worse part for twice as much there, and the tool required, i'd still be paying 2x the amount for the same tool i got on ebay. i can wait a few days and do it myself, i'm ok with that. this is why people avoid the lbs. i'd go there to straighten my rims, or with a problem that i just cannot solve, but for simple items, it seems pointless to support them if you can do it yourself. i'm the same way with my car....i do my own oil changes, brakes, and anything else that i'm confident in doing on my own. my timing belt? took it to my mechanic.
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#17
Its a shame that some mechanics are so dishonest. Whether on bikes or cars. The two lbs that I frequent have never tried to upcharge or upsell me.

Last week I got two flats in 24 hours on my front tire. One on the way home from work, and then again on the way in the next day. I walked in to Ozone Bikes and told them what happened. They showed me my rim tape was bad. They replaced that and the tube for nothing more than what it would have cost me to buy them.
There are still some honest guys out there that like helping the cycling community. That being said, I also came on this site to be able to take care of my bike myself. Self empowerment, its a good thing.
If you can't duck it, chuck it!
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