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Thread: IBD vs IBS

  1. #1
    the half breed devil
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    IBD vs IBS

    please read this article and let's have a CIVIL discussion regarding this issue:

    Opinion: It’s the end of the road for the IBD: Say hello to the IBS | Bicycle Retailer and Industry News

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    Whew! Here I was prepared for Irritable Bowel Disease versus Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


    Your topic is better.
    One gear is all you need.

  3. #3
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    Dude has a point. Many of the most successful shops are experimenting with new services they can offer to increase profits and better distinguish themselves from online options.

    That said, it's hard for someone that doesn't know about bikes to buy something that fits sight unseen. especially when you're talking about something with a precise fit like road bikes. sure, you can do a pre-sale fitting, but how does that Canyon fit compared to the Specialized? How does the endurance geometry fit compared to race geometry? For mtb's, how does that 29er handle compared to the 27.5" version, or the 27.5+? How much travel does the customer think they want vs. what they actually like riding? Nothing compares to riding the bikes, and any ride is better than none. Even if you are an experienced rider and you know what size you need, all the components you like, and how much travel you want, there's still a bit of risk to buying a bike online without putting hands on it.

    The optimal situation is probably something in the middle somewhere. Maybe a rental/demo fleet so customers can ride the bikes and then apply that charge towards the purchase price of a bike, and the shop has to deal with less space for large inventory and can dedicate more floor space to services and quick consumables. Maybe also a few example framesets for custom builds if the shop has enough customers that might do something like that. Obviously a small inner-city shop won't do something like that.

    I know one shop that's pursued a model like described in the article. It's one location out of a small chain that has 3 locations. It's right downtown and primarily serves commuters. It doesn't stock a large inventory of bikes. Maybe only a couple commute type bikes, but it stocks mostly service parts and consumables, with a small clothing section. Mostly emergency need items like rain jackets, warm stuff, and things that wear out like gloves. Only a few helmets. They do rentals and they offer indoor bike parking services for commuters.

  4. #4
    the half breed devil
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    "I know one shop that's pursued a model like described in the article. It's one location out of a small chain that has 3 locations. It's right downtown and primarily serves commuters. It doesn't stock a large inventory of bikes. Maybe only a couple commute type bikes, but it stocks mostly service parts and consumables, with a small clothing section. Mostly emergency need items like rain jackets, warm stuff, and things that wear out like gloves. Only a few helmets. They do rentals and they offer indoor bike parking services for commuters."

    how are they doing?

    my LBS is moving in the same direction although he expanded to two shops too quickly, closed one and is now stuck with a bunch of older, unsold inventory. it will be interesting to see how this pans out--my hope is he'll lean towards the IBS side of things. i'd hate to lose an LBS which is practically right around the corner from me.

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    That's the route a great mechanic took when they left a LBS to open their own place which is now the only shop myself and a lot of other go to. Two mechanics, little to no bike stock, no clothes... Just great service, a good stock of consumables, and strong community-gathering-place vibe.

    They have beer on tap, and occasionally kicking a free tube or cable my way. I'll often buy a bunch of stuff I don't even need (hydration stuff, lube) just to offset my beer consumption.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckha62 View Post
    Whew! Here I was prepared for Irritable Bowel Disease versus Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


    Your topic is better.
    eh... those sound like about the same discussion to me. Rants about how great LBSs are certainly irritate my bowel

  7. #7
    the half breed devil
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joules View Post
    eh... those sound like about the same discussion to me. Rants about how great LBSs are certainly irritate my bowel
    please do me a favor and read the link then comment on what your thoughts are on the subject of Independent Bike Dealer vs Independent Bike Service.

    thank you.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by shekky View Post
    "I know one shop that's pursued a model like described in the article. It's one location out of a small chain that has 3 locations. It's right downtown and primarily serves commuters. It doesn't stock a large inventory of bikes. Maybe only a couple commute type bikes, but it stocks mostly service parts and consumables, with a small clothing section. Mostly emergency need items like rain jackets, warm stuff, and things that wear out like gloves. Only a few helmets. They do rentals and they offer indoor bike parking services for commuters."

    how are they doing?

    my LBS is moving in the same direction although he expanded to two shops too quickly, closed one and is now stuck with a bunch of older, unsold inventory. it will be interesting to see how this pans out--my hope is he'll lean towards the IBS side of things. i'd hate to lose an LBS which is practically right around the corner from me.
    So the other two locations of this chain are definitely more of the traditional model, but on the large side of things. They do a pretty big business on home fitness equipment, too. So I have no idea if the downtown location that serves commuters is sustainable on its own, or if the two other locations support the smaller one.

    Quote Originally Posted by dir-T View Post
    That's the route a great mechanic took when they left a LBS to open their own place which is now the only shop myself and a lot of other go to. Two mechanics, little to no bike stock, no clothes... Just great service, a good stock of consumables, and strong community-gathering-place vibe.

    They have beer on tap, and occasionally kicking a free tube or cable my way. I'll often buy a bunch of stuff I don't even need (hydration stuff, lube) just to offset my beer consumption.
    A friend of mine became a Velofix franchisee recently. I think that takes the IBS model even farther. He seems to be doing reasonably well even in his first year of operation. He even did race service for a smaller pro team during a local event recently.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckha62 View Post
    Whew! Here I was prepared for Irritable Bowel Disease versus Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


    Your topic is better.
    Speaking of that, I'm not sure I've ever seen a bike shop with a public restroom

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    Make sense to me, no sense in fighting back what's already here. One of my LBSs is already going the all-service route; they're small and don't want to be forced to buy inventory lots from manufacturers anymore. The LBS I frequent the most doesn't give me a hard time when I bring in my bike with stuff I've bought online (or at least they do a good job of hiding it), but I do buy stuff from them (e.g. two bikes).

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    Quote Originally Posted by coke View Post
    Speaking of that, I'm not sure I've ever seen a bike shop with a public restroom
    All you gotta do it ask. All the shops I've been to have public restrooms.

  12. #12
    the half breed devil
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    Quote Originally Posted by slimphatty View Post
    All you gotta do it ask. All the shops I've been to have public restrooms.
    bike shop restrooms can be interesting places...

  13. #13
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    There's a mobile bike repair "shop" open near me now.

    Motorcycle shops have had to adopt this mentality, makes sense for bicycle shops.

  14. #14
    Formerly of Kent
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    A guy I know from collegiate racing back in the day has opened his own IBS.

    Neff Cycle Service in Madison, Wisconsin.

    Has a mobile repair shop he takes to all of the races and sometimes works out of during the week. He also has a small space he rents, with no retail space AFAIK. Mechanical work only.

    Standard maintenance and repairs, plus he builds wheels, complete bikes, and has accounts with a good number of brands now. Rocky Mountain, BMC, and a couple others. I presume he keeps his inventory to a relative minimum; spokes, hubs, rims, tires, and then orders frames and components to suit people's desires.

    Seems to be doing quite well. He's sponsoring a racing team now. Pretty cool stuff.
    Death from Below.

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    The bicycle brands are definitely moving in the direct-sales direction, Intense being a recent example, and it makes sense for bike shops to accommodate this change.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

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    I mostly agree with this point, but with a little variance. In my community the leading bike shop has three locations and does not view the other shops as their competition, they view Jenson, Competitive Cyclist, etc. . . as their competition. The have a wide variety of items always in stock, they are regularly discounting stock significantly, they have exceptional service, and they don't blink an eye if you buy your parts online and bring them in for repair. Hell, I even once had a mechanic say "it's going to cost you X to buy these parts from us so if you want to buy them online and bring them in I'll throw them on for you." They recognize that no one wants to hear the old "we can order it for you."

    Needless to say this shop is booming while one of their local competitors is still antagonistic towards online buyers, never discounts anything, and intentionally gives second rate service to people who did not buy their bike there. They are not booming.

    While there is definitely a value add to the local bike shop that you don't quite get buying online, that value diminishes greatly the more expertise the customer has. I bought my last bike from CC as a frame up custom build for about $1000 less than a stock, lesser equipped model at the LBS. Personally I hate paying a mint for a new bike to have to pay more to switch out a few parts I don't like.

    More inline with the article's sentiment is a mobile bike mechanic who covers a pretty wide swath of western CO. By day he's a suspension tech for MRP and by night he wrenches for his side business, and will pick up your bike and bring it back a few days later. He has a relationship with a few distributors and manufacturers so he can get parts if needed and even sell you a bike if you want. When my preferred local shop has a long service queue in the high season, he works on my bike. It's nice to have options.

  17. #17
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    When I had my shop from 1991 to 1996, we dealt almost exclusively in service and consumables. We were competing with mail-order catalog sales, as online sales really weren't a thing yet. I kept a few assorted parts in stock for those who needed something quick in an emergency, but usually I would encourage people to order their parts mail-order and then I would just charge for installation.

    Being in a resort area, we also did a bunch of rentals. I carried nearly a full line of Schwinn, GT, and Pro-Flex bikes, but I rented them all. If someone wanted to buy a bike, I'd order them a new one or sell for a discounted price a bike that had been rented a few times. The model was pretty successful.

  18. #18
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    One local shop here would help you order parts online for delivery to their shop, and would install, adjust or what not for a fee. They had it figured out.

    They began doing that some 4 or 5 years ago, understanding that the internets were here to stay.
    Stick around if you're housebroken...

  19. #19
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    I test ride bikes at festivals and manufacturer events. Don't need a dealer for that.

    What I most need is someone I can rely on to talk through whatever it is I'm thinking of doing to my bike, who has experience with the various parts available to do what I am thinking of doing and can make informed recommendations, and then professionally install whatever I decide to buy.

    It is worth it to me to have a professional install things. It is also worth it to me for a professional to properly pick out the parts - all the different sizes etc that you have to choose from to get a correct fit requires more work and frustration than I want to deal with.

    I work with a shop that (seems like) sells lots of bikes, but I can for sure say, their service group is always busy. They have made a lot of profit off me, and it was all a good buy, as far as I am concerned.

    Every time I've ever tried to go it alone, I've ended up regretting it (other than easy stuff like basic maintenance). They do everything else, and my bike always works perfectly. Win!

    I don't golf or go to restaurants for dinner or wear expensive cloths (just ask anyone that knows me) or get expensive haircuts. But when it comes to my bike, I don't think twice about spending for professional service.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ladmo View Post
    I test ride bikes at festivals and manufacturer events. Don't need a dealer for that.
    That may be a fine model for someone who's already knowledgeable about bikes, but it's not something that those brand new to riding are going to have a clue about. It's also not something that folks with a sub-$1,000 budget are going to find all that useful. Bikes in that price range never make it to demo events, anyway. Not even with dressed up components.

    That's the one thing that the service-only model ignores. Yes, there are some beginners and folks with lower budgets who go to a web retailer like bikesdirect. But there are still plenty of people who need to walk into a showroom and see/touch bikes on the floor to make a decision. Maybe they don't know anything about bicycles. Maybe they do and their decision-making process requires that tactile interaction. Maybe their work schedule precludes attending a demo event, or their budget means they can't pay hundreds to attend a major bike fest with concentrated demos. Either way, abandoning the bicycle sales floor altogether, IMO, is not the solution, either.

    There's certainly going to be a place for a service-only shop, and you're the kind of customer that kind of shop is going to be courting, for sure. But are there enough folks like you for the IBS model to be widely successful? Probably not yet. The model will probably be successful in fits and starts, with a wide regional variation for awhile. But that IBS model is really going to need to push for a higher level of professionalism in bike mechanics, I think. If service is what your shop specializes in, you'd better be the best at it. No more hiring high schoolers to wrench. And you probably ought to consider paying highly skilled/trained mechanics a living wage and offering respectable benefits so they don't leave when they're at their best. I know plenty of people who used a bike shop as a stepping stone to move into industry, landing a job eventually with a component manufacturer. Mostly for the pay/benefits. I even know a couple who owned a shop before moving into industry. Shops will have to do a better job of retaining skilled mechanics, and a major pathway towards that will be better pay/benefits for mechanics.

    The bicycle showroom is also likely to persist. I wouldn't be surprised if they persist in reduced numbers, and they consolidate and grow in square footage, especially in larger markets. It would also make sense if such shops also added online sales. Shops like that already exist, but I could see the model becoming more common, also, along with the growth of service-only shops.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    If service is what your shop specializes in, you'd better be the best at it. No more hiring high schoolers to wrench.
    4 months ago, I tried a new shop people in the local mountain bike community talk highly of because it is 5 minutes from my house instead of the half an hour+ for the shop I like.

    I asked them to do a major service. I have no doubt the guy that owns the shop is a master mechanic, but that isn't who worked on my bike or even who coordinated ordering the parts they didn't have in stock. It was a high school aged guy.

    Unsatisfying experience, to say the least. I will never set foot in that shop again for any reason.

    The shop I like has adult aged mechanics, all of them. Every one of them does first rate work - that's been my experience.

    I am willing to drive across town and pay whatever they charge for good service, but it is true there are a lot of people that either like doing their own work or they are more sensitive to rising costs than I am, so I would expect revenue to fall off rapidly as prices increase (to pay higher wages).

    My impression is that a person needs to love everything bicycle to work in a bike shop because doing it for the financial rewards is going to be a tough road to travel.

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    thanks for posting the link. What impressed me the most is that the article is in BRAIN, which seems to take either a reactionary or denial approach to internet sales. The end must be very near.

    a fundamental problem for industry is that at least in States people do not ride bikes anymore. what I mean is new riders, especially youth suggests a dismal future for bike industry. that trend alone will speed the demise of high overhead ibd.


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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ladmo View Post
    My impression is that a person needs to love everything bicycle to work in a bike shop because doing it for the financial rewards is going to be a tough road to travel.
    I'm just talking about enough income to make a reasonable living, not "financial rewards". How much that is will have to depend on cost of living of the local area.

    IME, health insurance (or the lack thereof) is a pretty big reason why a lot of adults who have worked in shops for a long time wind up leaving them. Either because they have their own health issues that cost a lot (and so they benefit from a good plan) or because they have kids and want their kids on a decent plan. With a typical bike shop job, they just can't afford as much, and the majority of shops don't offer anything, anyway.

    Costs might go up, but it's not necessarily the only way to give bike shop mechanics a living wage. With increased professionalism, you open yourself up to offering a wider range of services in-house. Things like in-house suspension and dropper post service, wheel building, etc. Maybe it would become worthwhile to have folks specializing in some of those areas, and maybe some others like electronic drivetrains, ebikes, and so on. Maybe it becomes worthwhile to get creative to add other new services like maybe having an in-house framebuilder or something else.

    Not to mention, the more skilled/experienced the mechanic, the more efficient they are. Increased efficiency is one of the ways you could move more bikes. Every shop could improve the efficiency of the service depts to move more bikes through.

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    The bike service model can work. Check out Wrench Bike shop in Seattle.

    While I'm not sure about how the business is actually faring, I stopped by an awesome shop (Wrench Bicycle repair) in Seattle last time I was there, which had only two mechanics, and no bikes for sale. All they did was repair bikes and sell some clothing/accessories. Want to buy a new bike? They could point you in the right direction (even order one for you online)

    Want to test ride bikes? They will lend you some commuters they have...that's it. Where they excelled was in providing awesome service, and only service. I checked their Yelp page, they're still going, with great reviews. Their business model is exactly what this article is proposing and they seem to be doing fine. That being said, they are in a very bike-friendly city and seem to service mostly commuters, which isnt a bad thing.

    Full disclosure: I know the owner of Wrench bike shop, he's a pretty cool cat but i didn't get paid to write this.

  25. #25
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    I think Onza started in the 80s, but I could be wrong. That Porcupine tire was a weird item, and I still have a brand new Onza 34t ring for 110 that is made from stainless.

    Never heard of this Wrench bike shop in SEA until now, hard to believe this or any other IBD will ever make it, call it IBS or whatever and it makes little to no difference. The big guys like Trek, Special Ed and so on don't care, they'll eat the credit limit of shop owners in seconds and smile while doing it, seen that for years. Don't even get me started on the customer base, they're even worse.

    So it make sense for something like Wrench to set up shop on Dexter, that's one of the primary routes between DT Seattle and Freakymont on the north side. Whether there is enough walk-in traffic to survive is debatable, my money isn't on them.

    CJSB said above something that rings too true, people aren't riding like they used to. That's the biggest problem, the base is clearly dwindling and no matter what business model they assume once the customer base is gone, it's all over. Can we say just like the print newspaper possibly?....
    Good friction shifting is getting hard to find nowadays....

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ladmo View Post
    I asked them to do a major service. I have no doubt the guy that owns the shop is a master mechanic, but that isn't who worked on my bike or even who coordinated ordering the parts they didn't have in stock. It was a high school aged guy.
    Honest question: was the work of poor quality? Did something get messed up with the parts order?

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    I'm good friends with a local guy who did this. Bring it in broken or apart, it leaves working. no questions, no judgement.

    He's *drowning* in business.

    Long story made short: He was the chief mechanic of a shop that carried Niner, Santa Cruz, and Pivot, and when the shop went under he took his wrenches and moved into the suite next door.

    He considered picking up a brand and was pretty serious about (IIRC) Scott or Breeze, but while working on setting it up, he got so busy doing service and selling little things like grips and chain lube and the occasional cassette and tire that he jut said 'Eff it" and just stuck to wrenching.

    He just posted on his FB shop page a happy guy standing next to his brand new SC Hightower with custom build, can still see the bike box in the corner of the shop where it was shipped to him.

    I've shown up to his Saturday group rides to find him there, with a half eaten burrito and 3 empty beer bottles on the bench, having come in at something stupid like 3am to button up a bike or 3 before he get the kit on to lead a ride, then he'll go back to work for the rest of the day.
    Donít modify the trail to match your skills, modify your skills to match the trails.

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    Great mechanics are worth their weight in gold, no matter if it's bikes, cars, hvac, electronics, appliances, etc. Some people have the talent/know-how but not the personality (e.g. customer service skills), others are opposite, and quite a few are somewhere in between.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-T View Post
    That's the route a great mechanic took when they left a LBS to open their own place which is now the only shop myself and a lot of other go to. Two mechanics, little to no bike stock, no clothes... Just great service, a good stock of consumables, and strong community-gathering-place vibe.

    They have beer on tap, and occasionally kicking a free tube or cable my way. I'll often buy a bunch of stuff I don't even need (hydration stuff, lube) just to offset my beer consumption.
    I'm hearing more and more bike shops having beer. This might be a dumb question but how does this work? Is it hush hush serve yourself type thing or if a shop is doing this do they need like a TABC license or something? Just curious!

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    If the beer-providing shops work like mine does, it's behind the counter as a by-invite only thing. I've been "made aware" of the fridge, and also the bottle of tequila on the ledge near it, by the owner, thus becoming part of the club allowed to partake. I suppose that if pressed, I could justify it by simply pointing out that the beer is potentially mine, because I left it in the fridge for myself later or communal for those allowed access.


    I too am curious how it works if there's a shop with a tap handle and glasses available to 'the public'.
    Donít modify the trail to match your skills, modify your skills to match the trails.

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