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  1. #26
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    Some LBSs suck, others are great. It's more a matter of the people there than the shop itself. While I can work on my own bikes and do some of the work, there are things I'm not going to learn unless I go to the LBS and say something is an issue for me and they take care of it.

    I use 3 LBSs and I'm happy with all of them. Do they all know the answers? No. Some are more expensive than others, and depending on what the part is and if they need to order it, I'll sometimes order it online (e.g. knee guards, bolt-on clamps for grips). But things I need to have a feel for how they feel (e.g. a handlebar, or even a specific frame), I'll order it from the shop.

    It also depends on how I'm doing the build: if it's a budget build, I'm building it with the least expensive parts I can find. If the LBS is smart, they'll help you out and get what you need.

    Two of the LBSs I go to support local events all the time, and one of the others is relatively new, but all three provide different services for me.

    I do agree the LBS model is flawed and that said, there are some that are changing.. but I agree that community involvement is going to be key for them staying alive.
    MTB4Her.com: mountain bike site for women, by women

  2. #27
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    I decided to delete this post
    Last edited by Irideon; 12-02-2012 at 04:25 PM.

  3. #28
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    It might be worth remembering that most (all?) of the bike specific e-tailers (so,not Amazon) ARE an LBS to someone, even those who generate most of their business in online sales (i.e. Jenson and Chain Reaction both have retail stores).

    There definitely is a need for the LBS but, obviously, they have to respond to the e-tailers by focusing on what services they can provide that you simply can't get online - and which will make it worth it to the consumer to spend a few extra dollars. They also have to be willing to give up what they can't compete against and not lose sleep over it. Of course, the corollary is that we consumers must have the correct expectations regarding an LBS as well.

    Obviously, this situation is not unique to the bike industry and if I were an LBS owner I'd be looking to other, similar, industries to see what is working best.

  4. #29
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    My other hobby/interest I indulge in when I can are RC Helicopters and planes. I became friends with the local owner of California Hobbies-it was a cool little shop where I could go and would be sure to find people to chop it up with about the hobby or just anything really. Also as a kid I lived going to the hobby shop on Lincoln Ave. and later to D&J Hobbies. Trips to farther away shops was always a great like San Antonio Hobbies. Sad thing is California Hobbies had to close their doors last month due to not being able to compete against online retailers. There isn't really many hobby shops left to go to. One comes to mind in the area and the owner isn't nearly as nice but it's a nice shop. I was hoping one day to take my son to the hobby shop and let him stare at the models and all the cool stuff on the shelves or hanging on the ceilings. Not so sure this is gonna happen.
    I try to always support local businesses because of this. I frequent a bike store near me and will spend the extra money even though I know I can get it a lot cheaper online. Online businesses do have better customer service and even offer free shopping and sometimes fast service as a perk. I just can't handle the attitude or lack of friendliness at this LBS. I still support them though only because I don't want to see bike shops disappearing also. But I have decided to learn as much as I can to work on bikes so I don't have to rely in them as much. The prices they charge for wrenching time is crazy! And it's just good to know how to work on your bikes-yes?! Internet is killing our small local businesses. It's a double edged sword-you can save a lot of money but walk in stores are less and less. Hopefully ill be able to still take my son to bike shop one day and not something like Performance.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nelson34 View Post
    Internet is killing our small local businesses.
    Or other way around.

    I have ordered the kids bikes I wanted, one from a small UK shop, DHLed to me, one from a small Oregon shop. All they did was just put up a nice simple website for me to find and order from. It is not expensive at all, with all the tools now available. And they got business from California.

    Many small businesses thrive on Ebay, Craigslist, etc.. You can advertise and distribute on the cheap.

    Bike shops just did not adapt yet. For example people complain that their wholesale is more than what we could order from large e-tailers, and takes longer. Then what is prohibiting them to order from the same place?

  6. #31
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    One thing that I think would help the LBS is if they could put their inventory on-line in some form. For me, it is often not worth my time making a trip to the shop only to find they don't carry a certain item or they do but it is out of stock. Sure you can call and hopefully get someone who knows what you are asking about but it seems most of the time you are wasting your time calling. Of if more shops would answer e-mail inquiries where you can cut and paste a part description in to ask about stock on the part. But if I could put in a part number or description and have a distance sorted list of shops with that part in stock, I would gladly pay a bit more to be able to run down and pick it up today.

    With so many shops, their web page is pretty much a list of brands they carry and a map to their location with some minimal contact information. If you want to compete with the on-line places with the fancy web catalogs, at least do something like that.

  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nelson34 View Post
    Sad thing is California Hobbies had to close their doors last month due to not being able to compete against online retailers..
    In a past life I owned a small business and always feel bad when one goes under. That said, I wonder why he did not take part of his business online? It is incredibly easy and distributers will work with you to do it. Has anyone here gone through that with their business?

  8. #33
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    CRC is my LBS.


    We see a familiar formula here, lots of bike shops and businesses that just will not make an effort to change. That's exactly how CRC and Jenson got to where they are. Find new ways, there are a few good examples in the posts above.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    Youtube is awesome for some very detailed explanations for every possible maintenance procedure you may need. This very site is better for everything else you mentioned than any LBS.
    Will youtube fix your flat after you **** it up?

    I've done it for customers more times than I remember.

    I think youtube is a great tool. We learned something that even the manufacturer didn't know: boot change - YouTube

    But youtube is a tool. How you, I or anyone else use it is something else...

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    I would rather save money and donate myself.
    You donate time and it is appreciated.
    I don't rattle.

  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by sanjuro View Post
    Will youtube fix your flat after you **** it up?
    It may teach me how not to *** it up.

    In any case, I was just replying to an assertion that internet is of no help. It is.

    Quote Originally Posted by sanjuro View Post
    I've done it for customers more times than I remember.
    But youtube is a tool. How you, I or anyone else use it is something else...
    Yes, it is a tool. Unlike a mechanic in the shop it actually teaches you, not just takes your money and asks to come back in three days. Obviously, using it is not for everyone. Fixing bikes is pretty simple; but MTBR gearheads are not a representative sample.

  12. #37
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    Are all online bike shops bad?
    The author of the article. Go rep him.
    I looked at the title, and I was like, this is familiar...
    It's pronounced "so pro and cool."
    It was an impulse decision.

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    It may teach me how not to *** it up.

    In any case, I was just replying to an assertion that internet is of no help. It is.



    Yes, it is a tool. Unlike a mechanic in the shop it actually teaches you, not just takes your money and asks to come back in three days. Obviously, using it is not for everyone. Fixing bikes is pretty simple; but MTBR gearheads are not a representative sample.
    I too am capable of all the repairs and maintenance on my bikes but I don't have all the equipment to preform every task required to repair or maintain my bikes. I don't pull or install headsets or PF BBs or face BBs or disk brake tabs on a regular enough basis to justify purchasing the tools these jobs require. So that there are videos on youtube and yesI have referred to youtube myself, is irrelevant. For these tasks, a competent bike shop is more practical choice for me and since I have developed a good relationship with the shops I do frequent, I almost always have my bike or frame back in 24 hours at the most, not three days.
    This may be a total waste of time but I can't help but think that you might amount to something someday.

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by reydin View Post
    I too am capable of all the repairs and maintenance on my bikes but I don't have all the equipment to preform every task required to repair or maintain my bikes. I don't pull or install headsets or PF BBs or face BBs or disk brake tabs on a regular enough basis to justify purchasing the tools these jobs require. So that there are videos on youtube and yesI have referred to youtube myself, is irrelevant. For these tasks, a competent bike shop is more practical choice for me and since I have developed a good relationship with the shops I do frequent, I almost always have my bike or frame back in 24 hours at the most, not three days.
    OK, that's you, almost no one else can get a bike back in 24hrs. If the shop did that for everyone, they would have to work 24hrs/day.

    Now that I can do most of my basic reparis and maintance I see what a waste of time and money it is to take my bike to the shop. The last time I took my bike in for a basic tune, brake adjustment and derailleur adjustment, that had it for 4 days. I can now do that stuff by myself in an afternoon. Big jobs, yes, I need the shop.
    I'm sick of all the Irish stereotypes, as soon as I finish this beer I"m punching someone

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by reydin View Post
    I too am capable of all the repairs and maintenance on my bikes but I don't have all the equipment to preform every task required to repair or maintain my bikes. I don't pull or install headsets or PF BBs or face BBs or disk brake tabs on a regular enough basis to justify purchasing the tools these jobs require. So that there are videos on youtube and yesI have referred to youtube myself, is irrelevant. For these tasks, a competent bike shop is more practical choice for me and since I have developed a good relationship with the shops I do frequent, I almost always have my bike or frame back in 24 hours at the most, not three days.
    Yeah, I don't face or ream or have any precision metal cutting tools. Everything else I do myself. When I do drop my bike off, it's usually more than 24 hours. That included an emergency brake bleed, when I didn't have my Hayes kit, and to cut the steerer base of my old Rockhopper, so I can fit the more common headsets on.

    The one time I did get it back in 24 hours, I needed my rear brake tabs of my mmmbop faced.

  16. #41
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    reydin must be a "regular."

    Oh yeah, about LBSs. I may never go to one again. I find cheaper and more fun to just buy the tools and work on my bike myself. If I don't know what to do, I can just ask in the Tool time page.
    It's pronounced "so pro and cool."
    It was an impulse decision.

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by IAmHolland View Post
    Yeah, I don't face or ream or have any precision metal cutting tools. Everything else I do myself. When I do drop my bike off, it's usually more than 24 hours. That included an emergency brake bleed, when I didn't have my Hayes kit, and to cut the steerer base of my old Rockhopper, so I can fit the more common headsets on.

    The one time I did get it back in 24 hours, I needed my rear brake tabs of my mmmbop faced.
    Yep, been down that road and it sucks, I guess I'm fortunate to live in a area where I have a lot of shops to chose from. The shops that keep my business offer quick turnaround on appointments and as I said previously have invested in their inventory.
    This may be a total waste of time but I can't help but think that you might amount to something someday.

  18. #43
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    You guys wait 24 hours? I get while you wait!
    I don't rattle.

  19. #44
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    Since this thread has generated so much thoughtfulness, I want to briefly expand on my one major point (sorry if you read my epic ramble above). I'll try to keep it brief and simple.

    The LBS as an institution should not go away; most LBSs should go away. People should want to own a great shop. People should want to work at a great shop. People should want to buy at a great shop. But a bike shop is a complex, wholistic business. New bikes (mtb, road, cx, commuter, BMX, kid, high-end, middle, low-end), new parts, clothing, accessories, service. You essentially have to have some representation of all/most of this stuff. Fine. There is a market for all this stuff.

    But then the big bike companies come in. Maybe even not-so-big companies. They want their product on the floor. Not a cherry-picked popular model, but the whole line-up. They don't want their new trail bike right next to the other guys' new trail bikes. So you can have a great, big, MTB-oriented shop, doing everything right. But they can only carry 1 or 2 major brands, can only carry 3-5 minor brands. This creates what I will call a false market in that area for another bike shop, duplicating all the rest of the first shop's attributes (from social endeavors to stock and overhead), except they carry a different set of brands.

    I call it a false market because, while there is a true market for the other brands--there are over a dozen very popular bike manufacturers, and riders often love their brands of choice--there is not necessarily a true market for more parts, more accessories, more service, more clothing. So a limited market for everything except complete bikes and frames is split between too many shops. And the result is no single shop being as busy, as big, as profitable, and as generous (staff excellence and compensation, sales, advocacy, events) as they should be.

    The solution is to have a few big, awesome LBSs selling whatever bikes they and their customers want without restriction.

    If the big bike manufacturers won't get on board with that, then the solution is for them to sell direct and let the LBS become a concept store or a walk-in, low-end sales and service center.

    And I probably won't buy another major-brand bike, since it's clear that they are the problem, which bums me out, because I have been riding this one big brand I like all my life ('92, '96, '99, '11, '11).

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snfoilhat View Post
    The LBS is a flawed business model
    No, it's not. At least, not all of them. (Edit: you seem to agree, a certain number if shops is required.)

    Why will bike shops always exist? For the same reasons any other retail and service-based shop will exist.

    1. Many people aren't comfortable buying something like a bike over the internet
    2. People won't do their own maintenance.

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    You guys wait 24 hours? I get while you wait!
    Me too. I do not even have to drive anywhere. All quickly done right in my garage.

  22. #47
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    For a fairly small town, I have just a few LBS to choose from. Although I ride a certain brand bike, I do not service my bike with the local dealer. Why? Because of customer service. I purchased the bike because I liked it, but the LBS i take my bike to has shown great customer care and service. They're turn around time is still pretty long, but I know they are busy and they are limited on bike techs (2).

    They are smaller and slower than some LBS, but they have shown the greatest competence and care. I typically go to my LBS for complete tunes and smaller items such as lube and cleaners.

    As for price, I still do most of my bike shopping online. Why? Because of prices. Supporting an LBS is great, but paying almost twice the amount of anything that you can get online is crazy. Call me stingy, but I am still on a budget and try to shop smart when ever I can.

  23. #48
    Axe
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snfoilhat View Post
    The solution is to have a few big, awesome LBSs selling whatever bikes they and their customers want without restriction.
    That would be somebody like REI, Sports Basement... That would make sense. REI here is not bad.

    Locally we have a Giant's shop, Specialized (boo!) shop, Marin/Santa Cruz shop.. BMX shop, Trek shop... none of them is big and efficient enough.

    But good luck getting this past Specialized and Trek and Giant.

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    You guys wait 24 hours? I get while you wait!
    24 hours if lucky. But, I'm not going to invest in facing tools, it costs too much for small usage.

    Most of the time, I don't need to face any new frame, and I never have to leave the house to build it up. It's been 1 out of about 5 frames for me that needed it. The last frame I picked up from Santa Cruz was fully prepped to build. If I wasn't lazy, I could have built it in a day, with the longest being sealing up the tires with Stan's cream and all the shake and bake and wait to make sure it actually did seal.

    I think the last chunk of work I needed was earlier this year, to cut the threaded steerer base of my '90 Rockhopper from Japanese to ISO or ISO to Japanese (one of those) so I can put the crown race on and not spend stupid money for a now obscure headset standard.

  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    That would be somebody like REI, Sports Basement... That would make sense. REI here is not bad.

    Locally we have a Giant's shop, Specialized (boo!) shop, Marin/Santa Cruz shop.. BMX shop, Trek shop... none of them is big and efficient enough.

    But good luck getting this past Specialized and Trek and Giant.
    None of them have the stuff I want too. I want to check out a Knolly, have to go to the North bay for that. I want to check out a Firebird, Tread has that, but it means travelling and not being able to have back to back demos. I want to check out a Canfield The One, nope, can't find that anywhere.

    Then, when I decide, I'll most likely just want a frame...and pretty sure that's a special order.

    Ideal would be near some big warehouse, like Jenson (if they even have walk-ins and test rides).

    The LBS model is flawed, but is fine for the general masses. The MTBR geeks, not so much.

    Edit: Less popular components will always be a challenge, and that's where the warehouses come into play. But, I can usually get it faster and cheaper than ordering through the LBS. Sometimes, sans warranty but I'm not sure I'm in the position to even care about that now. I presume everything has no warranty.

    I also don't think a mega bike shop is too feasible due to the startup costs. Someone is going to rail against the monster, and it's service, etc.

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