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  1. #1
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    Internet Bike shops versus the LBS

    I would hate to be a local bike shop trying to compete with the internet. I'm a "keep it local guy" but the selection that the net offers versus a shop stocking the latest & greatest...

    What is your pick for fat bike shops on the net ?





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    Last edited by Bikin' Bric; 03-12-2017 at 11:32 AM.

  2. #2
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    Two of my fat bikes were online, but direct from the manufacturer, one was from a LBS. In all cases it went well and I got a good deal. I prefer to buy local, so that I can try the bike first, but sometimes that's not possible

    I have ordered bikes from Jenson and bluesky. Both purchases went well, the bikes were packed well and in great shape when they arrived

  3. #3
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    Where are you from? Your English is barely legible. Don't give up on local guys. See if they are willing to get in what you want. Most net guys have to just drop ship anyway so not much difference in time.

  4. #4
    turtles make me hot
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    I've found that shops either know fat bikes or they don't. The shop I frequent is very knowledgeable. I also built wheels for a shop that sold almost entirely fat bikes. I learned a ton about them there so I can buy anything from the internet.
    I balance my internet purchases and lbs purchases. Sometimes, the shop can get stuff for the same price or close enough.
    I like turtles

  5. #5
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    My crappy proof reading ;)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cody01 View Post
    Where are you from? Your English is barely legible. Don't give up on local guys. See if they are willing to get in what you want. Most net guys have to just drop ship anyway so not much difference in time.
    Hello Cody,

    My Tapatalk account uses my given name. I'm Plasmaguy from my home PC. Sorry for my lack of proof reading. Let's blame it on a late breakfast too. I was using Tapatalk and honestly didn't see my title mash-up. Why the OP can edit the content less the title is a puzzle to me. An admin will have to clean my errors up.

    My apologies for not seeing this first-hand. I'll do better in the future.

    Thanks,

    Tom

  6. #6
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    Outdoor gear has quite a cottage industry that is driving a good bit of the innovation in the industry. A lot of that stuff is ONLY available directly from the manufacturer. Eventually, when those products take off, they're picked up by a distributor that shops can order from. SOMETIMES, a shop that does good business in a particular cottage mfr's segment will develop a direct relationship with that cottage mfr before their product hits distributors, but it's pretty inefficient for shops to do that TOO often because it creates additional work when it comes to reordering, account terms, and whatnot.

    So what's the customer to do about that? Go direct to the manufacturer. Reasonable shops get that, and will tell a customer if it's better to go direct for a particular item. I WORK at shops occasionally and do that because there's some stuff I just can't get otherwise.

    On my mtb right now, the rims and chainring were manufacturer-direct because I couldn't get those items from a shop. On my commuter bike, my shifters came direct from the manufacturer. Then there's the stuff that came from mail order houses because of availability or pricing or whatever reasons. Then there's the stuff that came from a shop.

    There's no particular place I look for stuff, and there aren't too many places I avoid (Bikesdirect would be one in that category). It all depends specifically on what I'm after.

  7. #7
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    [QUOTE=plasmaguy;13080678]Hello Cody,

    My Tapatalk account uses my given name. I'm Plasmaguy from my home PC. Sorry for my lack of proof reading. Let's blame it on a late breakfast too. I was using Tapatalk and honestly didn't see my title mash

    No problem. I know how the mobile devices can do that.

  8. #8
    turtles make me hot
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    I just returned from the LBS. Picked up a pair of Paul's skewers in 190 and 135 to make my old 907 frame into a beach bike.
    I like turtles

  9. #9
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    I go LBS all the way(almost, bought a set of studded tires on Craigslist)Not only are the prices close to the same, but the guys are awesome and have tutored me on derailleur alignment, brakes, shocks, etc. they also are great to just go in and talk to.

  10. #10
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    I also buy most of my stuff at my LBS. They are small but what they stock is well-selected. They can order must stuff that they don't stock. You can test ride their bikes on the local trails. I am no mechanic and do only simple maintenance and repair tasks, so it is good to have somebody around for the messier stuff, like installing new brakes. If I break something when riding around my local trails, I can just stop by and they'll fix it immediately. As a regular customer I get discounts, after which their prices are not that far off from Internet prices.

  11. #11
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    This topic comes out in every bike single bike forum I have read.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by paxfobiscum View Post
    This topic comes out in every bike single bike forum I have read.
    That's great to hear. This the only bike forum I frequent

  13. #13
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    I spent my childhood in bike shops. I used to love hanging out with the neatly lined-up bikes and latest kit from Europe and Japan. Now I honestly never buy anything in an LBS. This is more due to my local situation than anything else. There are several LBSs in my area and they all either never have what I want, have full retail pricing always (often double what things cost online) or have surly, unhelpful "service" and terrible mechanics. Sometimes, all three problems occur in one store. There are apparently some great shops in Chicago proper but they're out of my way.

    I know there are good bikes shops out there, I've been in several myself. It's a tough business, though, and shop owners can't pay for quality help or offer many discounts these days. As margins continue to fall for bike shops, good ones are getting a bit rare in my experience. We're a single income family with two kids and I can't afford LBS prices so I end up buying everything online. I know how to fix/build everything on road and cross bikes and I'm learning MTBs. I have an independent mechanic friend who helps with stuff I don't know how to do.

    It's worth noting that direct sales already dominate in Europe. Direct-only companies like Canyon, YT, Commencal, Propain etc all sell really nice bikes for great prices. US consumers seem more hesitant to buy bikes online. This is coming here soon, though.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by hiro11 View Post
    I spent my childhood in bike shops. I used to love hanging out with the neatly lined-up bikes and latest kit from Europe and Japan. Now I honestly never buy anything in an LBS. This is more due to my local situation than anything else. There are several LBSs in my area and they all either never have what I want, have full retail pricing always (often double what things cost online) or have surly, unhelpful "service" and terrible mechanics. Sometimes, all three problems occur in one store. There are apparently some great shops in Chicago proper but they're out of my way.

    I know there are good bikes shops out there, I've been in several myself. It's a tough business, though, and shop owners can't pay for quality help or offer many discounts these days. As margins continue to fall for bike shops, good ones are getting a bit rare in my experience. We're a single income family with two kids and I can't afford LBS prices so I end up buying everything online. I know how to fix/build everything on road and cross bikes and I'm learning MTBs. I have an independent mechanic friend who helps with stuff I don't know how to do.

    It's worth noting that direct sales already dominate in Europe. Direct-only companies like Canyon, YT, Commencal, Propain etc all sell really nice bikes for great prices. US consumers seem more hesitant to buy bikes online. This is coming here soon, though.
    Hiro,

    I'm in full agreement with you.

    Thank you for your post.

    Tom

  15. #15
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    I used to shop exclusively at my LBS and love them to death. I bring them beer in the hot months and Christmas cookies during the season. I bought a sweet FS mountain bike from them years ago and literally thousands in parts/tires/gear over the years.

    Then they changed management and the directive came down of no more discounts, which weren't much, but they made me feel like I was someone special. When I searched for a fatbike, my budget was limited and I knew what I wanted. I found one I liked, a Kona WO, but they wouldn't budge on the price. I went back 3 times and tried others, but none felt quite right to me and all lacked something.

    I didn't tell them but bought a fatbike online. It had everything I wanted and has been the best bike I've ridden, even 1.5 years later. I think word got out because shortly after buying it I felt like they were more distant to me. Now when I go in I'm treated like a stranger despite still giving them the business, they don't even say hello anymore unless I initiate it. Lately I've bought online because I don't have to drive out of my way 45 minutes, the prices are considerably better, and I don't feel like an outcast. I have a complete bike shop in the basement and do all my own work so I'm not worried about tune ups or warranty work.

    They once told me they don't make a lot of money on new bikes but rather on the ancillaries like tires, brakes, and other parts, all of which I have bought numeorus times. Apparently that wasn't good enough and I have offended them. I am all for supporting my LBS but in the end it's my money and I don't make enough to pay extra for what I want. It has to stretch as far as I can make it go. Couple that with the estranged relationship I feel I've experienced and I've decided to buy where it benefits me. There is a closer LBS but I am just a customer to them since we have no rapport. I doubt they would ever be much more than that given their businesslike nature.

    C'est la vie.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Nothing to see here, move along folks.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dilligaff View Post
    I used to shop exclusively at my LBS and love them to death. I bring them beer in the hot months and Christmas cookies during the season. I bought a sweet FS mountain bike from them years ago and literally thousands in parts/tires/gear over the years.

    Then they changed management and the directive came down of no more discounts, which weren't much, but they made me feel like I was someone special. When I searched for a fatbike, my budget was limited and I knew what I wanted. I found one I liked, a Kona WO, but they wouldn't budge on the price. I went back 3 times and tried others, but none felt quite right to me and all lacked something.

    I didn't tell them but bought a fatbike online. It had everything I wanted and has been the best bike I've ridden, even 1.5 years later. I think word got out because shortly after buying it I felt like they were more distant to me. Now when I go in I'm treated like a stranger despite still giving them the business, they don't even say hello anymore unless I initiate it. Lately I've bought online because I don't have to drive out of my way 45 minutes, the prices are considerably better, and I don't feel like an outcast. I have a complete bike shop in the basement and do all my own work so I'm not worried about tune ups or warranty work.

    They once told me they don't make a lot of money on new bikes but rather on the ancillaries like tires, brakes, and other parts, all of which I have bought numeorus times. Apparently that wasn't good enough and I have offended them. I am all for supporting my LBS but in the end it's my money and I don't make enough to pay extra for what I want. It has to stretch as far as I can make it go. Couple that with the estranged relationship I feel I've experienced and I've decided to buy where it benefits me. There is a closer LBS but I am just a customer to them since we have no rapport. I doubt they would ever be much more than that given their businesslike nature.

    C'est la vie.
    Dilligaff,

    Sadly, what you have just shared with us is becoming the norm with all types of small shops. How difficult is it to greet someone with a "hello" when you walk in their store?

    The shop I used to frequent would give small discounts and as you purchased from them you would earn points that could be used for future purchases, etc. The point system is now gone thanks to "new management"

    Guess where I go now for the majority of my purchases? Online...

    Ride safe!

    T

  17. #17
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    That can be a hard lesson learned. Our LBS was acquired by a new owner 2 years ago by a guy I like and I was going to buy a specific bike but he was set on a price that didn't jive with everywhere else. I purchased online and he later was trying to give me a much better deal than I originally even wanted but it no longer mattered because I already had spent my money. He still has the bike to this day and that was over a year ago.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cody01 View Post
    That can be a hard lesson learned. Our LBS was acquired by a new owner 2 years ago by a guy I like and I was going to buy a specific bike but he was set on a price that didn't jive with everywhere else. I purchased online and he later was trying to give me a much better deal than I originally even wanted but it no longer mattered because I already had spent my money. He still has the bike to this day and that was over a year ago.
    Cody,

    I wonder if any LBS owners are reading this post?

    I've been in sales for 30 + years and have always kept this saying in the forefront of my mind... 10% of something is far better than 100% of zero .



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  19. #19
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    Over many years I have tried to patronize my LBSs, but they almost never have what I need. In the event that I would need them to order something, the time and money gets way beyond what I would spend buying online unless I happened to be there on Thursday (the 1 day each week that they place their orders).

    One shop gave me a bad attitude for trying to find a derailleur hanger (they pretty much invited me to shop online).
    One shop I refer to as "The $20 Shop" because absolutely everything I've ever bought there was $20 more than anywhere else.
    One shop advertises shock rebuilds, but they didn't properly pressurize the IFP (is that what it's called?) because they didn't have the right adapter. They also mis-quoted a fork rebuild - Oops! That was our cost for the service kit. It's really $25 more.

    Green chainring bolts? Never heard of 'em.

    Red spoke nipples?

    Black spokes?

    One guy mis-charged me on some grips and lights for my daughter's bike. I shoulda caught it, but I wasn't really paying attention (so I had to pay $3 for not paying attention).

    My favorite mechanic moved to NC. He was able to fix a bad Bluto fork from an online purchase. My online purchase experiences have been 90% positive, with most everything being resolved.

    So I have little faith in many of my LBSs, but there's a new one that I'm working with now. He's a little green, but he knows the new stuff. Of course, all my stuff is old.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  20. #20
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    If all that is paid attention to is sale price, you're probably not going to beat the internet most of the time.

    On the other hand, I'm happy to pay a little more at an LBS who offers knowledgable advice and good quality service. Imo, these are the two key things that shops need to be good at in order to compete with internet 24/7 low pricing, and that internet shops will never really be able to provide. A good shop, with knowledgable staff that are friendly and not giving off the "holier than thou bike shop attitude" are the ones that will likely continue to remain viable.

    Location will also continue to be an ever more important part of the equation. It's sad to say, but bike shops in places that offer little in the way of good riding/bike friendly access are going to struggle more than those located in destination areas. Likewise, bike shops that are active in building community and actively supporting the development of more biking opportunities are working in the interest of everyone, including themselves.

    Sure, sometimes bike shop prices are exorbitant, and I think it's wise for shop owners to work with locals and frequent customers to reward their loyalty. But as consumers, we all need to recognize that every time we choose to save $10 on a stem by buying it online, we are taking support away from not just a local business, but in many cases we are also choosing not to support our local biking community, local bike advocacy, trail building support, etc - all things which a good LBS is a champion of. The choice is yours....
    I dream of a day when my children will live in a world without the shackles of cause and effect.” - S. Colbert

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by hiro11 View Post
    It's worth noting that direct sales already dominate in Europe. Direct-only companies like Canyon, YT, Commencal, Propain etc all sell really nice bikes for great prices. US consumers seem more hesitant to buy bikes online. This is coming here soon, though.
    This is a really interesting point, Hiro.

    Combine the above with the fact that Shimano and SRAM components are much cheaper in the European market*, and you have to wonder how an LBS would generate revenue there.

    Assuming there are successful bike shops in Europe, there must be some lessons learned that forward-thinking US-based shops could apply to their business to stay relevant as the direct model increases in the US. Are Euro bike shops service-only? Does much higher commuter % keep them afloat with consumables?

    Cheers,
    Paul


    * Did Shimano get its regional pricing scheme from Pfizer, or vice-versa?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPaul View Post
    This is a really interesting point, Hiro.

    Combine the above with the fact that Shimano and SRAM components are much cheaper in the European market*, and you have to wonder how an LBS would generate revenue there.

    Assuming there are successful bike shops in Europe, there must be some lessons learned that forward-thinking US-based shops could apply to their business to stay relevant as the direct model increases in the US. Are Euro bike shops service-only? Does much higher commuter % keep them afloat with consumables?

    Cheers,
    Paul


    * Did Shimano get its regional pricing scheme from Pfizer, or vice-versa?
    JPaul,

    How much cheaper are these components ?

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    Last edited by plasmaguy; 03-14-2017 at 11:45 AM.

  23. #23
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    I have two shops in my backyard that I will not set foot in and one that I like and buy things from. Funny thing is, the 2 shops that I can't stand call the shop I like "The evil empire" because the owner has 4 stores. News flash, he has 4 stores because the people that work there are great and go out of their way to help you. I bought my bike used and rode it over there once. One of the employees checked it out and asked where I got it. I told him I picked it up used. He complimented the bike and said if I ever need any help working on it, or any service they'd be happy to help. I have bought four bikes for my kids there. I've never questioned them on price because they "get it" regarding customer service. Additionally, I have a small shop about an hour away from home where we ski and bike. I brought a friend down to try mountain biking and told him to call some of the resorts to secure a loaner bike. He never did until we got there. After no success with the resorts, he called the shop and the owner referred him to two other shops that might be able to help. They couldn't. So, he called him back asking if he knew any other place or had a bike he could buy. The owner started laughing and said, "man, you really want to ride, don't you! Tell you what, let me run home and pick up one of my older bikes, you can use that". He tuned it up and let my friend use it. I can't say enough about how generous he was/is. We spend a lot of time there and he will be the guy that is going to do all the work on my bike and who I'll go to for parts. I have NO problem spending my money there and am happy to support someone who does business the way he does. Plain and simple, some people get it, others don't.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by plasmaguy View Post
    JPaul,

    How much cheaper are these components ?

    Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

    Shimano or Pfizer?

    All,

    Apologies if this counts as a threadjack, but hiro's insight above combined with my observations of EU-based internet retailers kind of imply to me that something must be different for LBSs over there!

    Plasmaguy,

    In my experience, cost savings had been easily in the range of 15-40% difference when pricing between US vs. UK or German sources.

    Can find many examples of US-based folks finding the same in the following forum:
    Where are the Best Deals? - Mtbr.com

    For example:
    Best Deal on Eagle X01?

    Using the above, as a starting point, I can find the Eagle cassette* (XG-1299) for:
    $320 from Europe
    $420 from US

    XT brakes had traditionally been a big delta, but it seems like US pricing has fallen on those. Still, I can find them for $155/pair in Germany vs. $89-99 per side in US.

    Note that comparison shopping in this way has become difficult as Shimano and SRAM have been pretty aggressive in shutting down the grey market for parts into the US, here is the most recent discussion I could find on that:
    Chain Reaction No Longer Selling SRAM/RockShox Outside of EU

    So, hard to see what EU/UK folks are paying for SRAM components currently if they don't even appear on the site for a US-based search.

    Hope that helps,
    Paul


    * I do not condone spending either amount for a cassette -> different issue!

  25. #25
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    Not saying I don't buy bike parts online occasionally (though I generally check with my LBS first to see if I can get it through them, and then only order online if it isn't a company/product they stock or have access to), but I've never bought a bike online, and I can't imagine I ever will.

    Last time I checked, no online bike companies are supporting our local trail building, local bike advocacy, working with land managers, sponsoring local events, nor are they out there grooming our fat bikes trails at night when it's 10º below in the middle of winter, like our local LBS does. If I don't support my local LBS, who is going to do those things? Nashbar?

    I know I'm fortunate to live in a place that has a pretty awesome LBS, and that not all shops are like that, by any means. But if all you're focused on is saving a few bucks, you're missing the bigger picture, imo. Then again, some bike shops are missing the bigger picture as well...
    I dream of a day when my children will live in a world without the shackles of cause and effect.” - S. Colbert

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPaul View Post
    Shimano or Pfizer?

    All,

    Apologies if this counts as a threadjack, but hiro's insight above combined with my observations of EU-based internet retailers kind of imply to me that something must be different for LBSs over there!

    Plasmaguy,

    In my experience, cost savings had been easily in the range of 15-40% difference when pricing between US vs. UK or German sources.

    Can find many examples of US-based folks finding the same in the following forum:
    Where are the Best Deals? - Mtbr.com

    For example:
    Best Deal on Eagle X01?

    Using the above, as a starting point, I can find the Eagle cassette* (XG-1299) for:
    $320 from Europe
    $420 from US

    XT brakes had traditionally been a big delta, but it seems like US pricing has fallen on those. Still, I can find them for $155/pair in Germany vs. $89-99 per side in US.

    Note that comparison shopping in this way has become difficult as Shimano and SRAM have been pretty aggressive in shutting down the grey market for parts into the US, here is the most recent discussion I could find on that:
    Chain Reaction No Longer Selling SRAM/RockShox Outside of EU

    So, hard to see what EU/UK folks are paying for SRAM components currently if they don't even appear on the site for a US-based search.

    Hope that helps,
    Paul


    * I do not condone spending either amount for a cassette -> different issue!
    Paul,

    I looked at Chain Reactions page for Holland. Yikes, there is a sizeable savings on SRAM

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