For those looking to purchase a commuter- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    For those looking to purchase a commuter

    OK.....the good deals are all online. If you do purchase a bike in the bike shop....make him do a few things. You work hard for your money and you need to remind yourself of what you want and not what the bike shop kid thinks. Remember these few things. If he tells you the frame is too big, it's just right. If he tells you that you need better tires, ask him if they come free with the bike. If he says all adjustments are free, make him include truing. If he says the more expensive bike is better because it has a better shock, remind him that this is for commuting. If he is unsure about the quality of the hubs, swap with the ones on his bike and let him have those. If he says 600 bucks is not enough for a decent commuter, say the word "Motobecane". If he says to buy a light kit, ask why is there a price on your safety?

  2. #2
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    A little jaded, are we?

  3. #3
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    Am I the only one that thought this?

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    Seriously though, I didn't realize my local shop's one goal in life was to make my life miserable. Thanks for the heads up.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  4. #4
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    Not that you're bitter or anything.

  5. #5
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    I can't say that I'm actually a fan of any of my LBSs, but the staff are also just about the last people I'd ever hate on. They might be scummy salespeople, but the stakes are so low compared to all the really scummy salespeople that are out there.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by newfangled View Post
    I can't say that I'm actually a fan of any of my LBSs, but the staff are also just about the last people I'd ever hate on. They might be scummy salespeople, but the stakes are so low compared to all the really scummy salespeople that are out there.
    I wouldn't call most bike shop salespeople scummy. Most of them have just never had ANY training whatsoever. The sales training at the shop where I currently work was pretty craptastic. It consisted of one or two roleplaying bike sales to other employees. I got some REAL training when I worked for a couple corporate outdoor stores (Eastern Mtn Sports and Galyans). The first bike shop job I had gave me homework for about the first month - I had to read a book about customer service and talk to the manager about what I was reading. That wasn't the greatest "training" but it was better than what I got at my current shop.

    I would call scummy salespeople the ones that use pressure techniques to push a sale onto you. I won't say that bike shops never do this kind of thing, but I've never encountered it. I've encountered it at furniture stores, for sure. Car dealerships have a reputation for this kind of sales tactic, but I've actually never experienced it there.

    I have run into plenty of occasions where I can say the bike shop employees never got ANY customer service training at all. One shop in particular left a really bad taste in my mouth because they pretty much ignored me, and made a concerted effort to withhold information when I asked about local trails at a nearby park.

  7. #7
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    ^ yeah, I wouldn't call my LBSs scummy either. But everything digitalayon is talking about is stuff where I'd just be "meh, at least they're not realtors."

  8. #8
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    My local guys are bike enthusiasts who I ride with. So they know how and where I ride and have given me good advice over the years as far as my mountain bikes. And Chip sells some decent Giant commuters and is pretty practical about that whole thing. However, it is much more economical for me to convert my old steel MTB into a commuter than buy something that had to be built. I have ordered some stuff from my local guy, as he is a small business owner that has treated me well and that I want to support. But for a lot of stuff for my commuter needs, buying used from craigslist or getting cheap stuff online that will work is the only way to go.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by digitalayon View Post
    OK.....the good deals are all online. If you do purchase a bike in the bike shop....make him do a few things. You work hard for your money and you need to remind yourself of what you want and not what the bike shop kid thinks.
    And bike shop employees don't work hard for their money?
    Remember these few things. If he tells you the frame is too big, it's just right.
    how would you know? some shops take fitting VERY seriously and do better than others.
    If he tells you that you need better tires, ask him if they come free with the bike.
    Oftentimes, the tires that come on a bike are not the best for a particular type of riding. Especially if someone will be doing "off-label" riding, different from the intended use of the bike. Since this is mtbr, I'm going to use the example of a mid-priced mtb used as a commuter. It's going to come with knobbies that will be slow and suckful on the pavement. expecting the shop to throw in the tires for free is ridiculous.
    If he says all adjustments are free, make him include truing.
    The salesperson has as much control over that as he does over payroll. The mechanics are going to have the best idea of what's included in a "free adjustments" policy because they're the one performing those adjustments. If you insist on an exception to the store policy, do the salesperson a favor and go straight to a manager or the owner.
    If he says the more expensive bike is better because it has a better shock, remind him that this is for commuting.
    He wouldn't be wrong. What are you doing looking at bikes with shocks that you intend on using primarily as a commute bike?
    If he is unsure about the quality of the hubs, swap with the ones on his bike and let him have those.
    You can't expect a salesperson to know every technical detail of every little part. Do you expect him to disassemble and reassemble the hubs on all of the bikes in the shop so he knows all about them? That's not his job. If you want to know details about stuff like that, ask an experienced mechanic.
    If he says 600 bucks is not enough for a decent commuter, say the word "Motobecane".
    "decent" is all opinion. sure, you can put a serviceable bike on the road for less than $100. that doesn't mean it will be pleasant or reliable. Maybe it will or maybe it won't.
    If he says to buy a light kit, ask why is there a price on your safety?
    until lights are mandated to be included on bikes like reflectors, this is a ridiculous argument. Do you think helmets should be free, too? What about brightly-colored clothing? Why stop there? Let's include anything that would make your ride easier, cleaner, or more enjoyable. Fenders, racks, panniers, baskets, bottle cages, tools, should all be included with the price of every bike, right?

    A bad salesperson is one who does all the talking, and does little but tell you what you need.

    A good salesperson will ask you as many questions as you ask him. He will tell you honestly about things you don't need, things that are nice, and things that are important. He will tell you WHY he thinks what he does.

  10. #10
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    some one got there undies in a bunch.. I would say that you need to find a new shop were they understand your needs or have a shop employee that commutes and uses the gear he is recommending. Ask to see there bike set up. Good luck man.
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  11. #11
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    I get what the OP was saying with a lot of shops. I feel very blessed with my local guy, as he is pretty special. Most places I go seem to have plenty of "I know better than you what you need or want" attitude. Not all, but quite a few.

  12. #12
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    Honestly I've never gone into a shop without knowing exactly what I wanted in the first place. Having to ask a salesman which hubs were better, for example... a foreign concept Me walking into the shop to look at bikes (if I've been planning a purchase) is the end result of hours of research. If I see exactly what I know I want, or something I know is a great deal, I might jump on it. I would never ask someone else to help me with that decision. I generally go in with "I want exactly this, can you order it?" because there's no way you have it on the floor. If you walk in there clueless, they're gonna try to sell you something. That's what people who sell stuff do.
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  13. #13
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    To the OP:

    After you buy all that cheap gear online and cannot install it, or kludge an install, and screw things up, don't bring that bike to a LBS to fix your mistakes.

    Some of my worst days wrenching involve calling people and telling them I cannot fix their bike and the work they did made it unsafe to ride.

    Though, the lack of replies from the OP makes me think this might be a troll.

    Spend $500 online for a bike built by machines that will ride like crap, or pay $700 for a bike that is built by a professional and will ride well for much longer.

    Bikes bought from the internet are often assembled like crap: no torquing of bolts, un-tensioned spokes, improperly installed components. You might save a couple hundred dollars buying online, but you'll spend twice that fixing all the things that go wrong with riding an untuned bicycle.

    Some things that go wrong:

    1) loose headset = ovalized head tube = new frame;
    2) loose bottom bracket = striped threads or, worse, the crank falls off while riding;
    3) loose hubs = pitted bearing races or ovalized hubs;
    4) low tensioned spokes = wheels going out of true quickly, or total failure of wheel (taco, or crisp).

    At the shop that employees me, we tear down and rebuild all bikes making sure all torque specs. are met and wheels are tensioned adequately. The $500 bike gets the same treatment as the $10000 bike.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogbie View Post
    To the OP:

    After you buy all that cheap gear online and cannot install it, or kludge an install, and screw things up, don't bring that bike to a LBS to fix your mistakes.

    Some of my worst days wrenching involve calling people and telling them I cannot fix their bike and the work they did made it unsafe to ride.

    Though, the lack of replies from the OP makes me think this might be a troll.

    Spend $500 online for a bike built by machines that will ride like crap, or pay $700 for a bike that is built by a professional and will ride well for much longer.

    Bikes bought from the internet are often assembled like crap: no torquing of bolts, un-tensioned spokes, improperly installed components. You might save a couple hundred dollars buying online, but you'll spend twice that fixing all the things that go wrong with riding an untuned bicycle.

    Some things that go wrong:

    1) loose headset = ovalized head tube = new frame;
    2) loose bottom bracket = striped threads or, worse, the crank falls off while riding;
    3) loose hubs = pitted bearing races or ovalized hubs;
    4) low tensioned spokes = wheels going out of true quickly, or total failure of wheel (taco, or crisp).

    At the shop that employees me, we tear down and rebuild all bikes making sure all torque specs. are met and wheels are tensioned adequately. The $500 bike gets the same treatment as the $10000 bike.
    But, but, but....Motobecane! It's cheaper! Bike shops are just trying to screw you everyone over, didn't you know that? That's why all bike shop owners are filthy rich.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Straz85 View Post
    But, but, but....Motobecane! It's cheaper! Bike shops are just trying to screw you everyone over, didn't you know that? That's why all bike shop owners are filthy rich.
    Yep, and bicycle mechanics make $60/hr.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogbie View Post
    To the OP:

    After you buy all that cheap gear online and cannot install it, or kludge an install, and screw things up, don't bring that bike to a LBS to fix your mistakes.

    Some of my worst days wrenching involve calling people and telling them I cannot fix their bike and the work they did made it unsafe to ride.

    Though, the lack of replies from the OP makes me think this might be a troll.

    Spend $500 online for a bike built by machines that will ride like crap, or pay $700 for a bike that is built by a professional and will ride well for much longer.

    Bikes bought from the internet are often assembled like crap: no torquing of bolts, un-tensioned spokes, improperly installed components. You might save a couple hundred dollars buying online, but you'll spend twice that fixing all the things that go wrong with riding an untuned bicycle.

    Some things that go wrong:

    1) loose headset = ovalized head tube = new frame;
    2) loose bottom bracket = striped threads or, worse, the crank falls off while riding;
    3) loose hubs = pitted bearing races or ovalized hubs;
    4) low tensioned spokes = wheels going out of true quickly, or total failure of wheel (taco, or crisp).

    At the shop that employees me, we tear down and rebuild all bikes making sure all torque specs. are met and wheels are tensioned adequately. The $500 bike gets the same treatment as the $10000 bike.
    I thought that was part of the deal when buying a bike online, you have to go through it and make sure everything's torqued and tensioned and aligned.

  17. #17
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    My BEST LBS is not very good at most things. (It's a point of contention among local cyclists. we have a tiny town packed with bike shops. 4 of them are horrible and one is just okay, sometimes.) But in spite of the fact that I get Meh service from them. and have even had to fight with them on a warranty issue. I keep in mind that no one there is making a lot of money. except for the owner who seems to make money from other sources.

    So I beer them. whenever they've had to deal with an issue for me. they get paid. then they get beer.

    because I'm a know it all mechanic who only has them service something when I don't want to buy the tools. so I know I give them a lot more pressure and ask ten times the questions than other customers.

    OP seems to be from the school of "I'm a special cupcake and I deserve special treatment always! I WILL RACE THIS MAGNA AT THE FREERIDE RACES. IT IS SUCH A GOOD BIKE. YOU'RE ALL OUT TO GET ME."

    I typed those last two sentences in Capslock. but MTBR will edit that down. so just imagine it.

    Woah. they didn't?

  18. #18
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    If he wants to make a sale, these are my demands. The bike shops guys know there is no real value in adjusting brakes and derailleurs. That is why they offer it for free. Its worthless and they know it but it makes the customer think it is an important service. But if it involves them having to pay more attention to something, they will not offer that. Offering real value like truing and hub service is should be offered. I make them offer it or I do not buy the bike. New bikes should come with free helmets.
    Last edited by digitalayon; 05-08-2014 at 08:03 PM. Reason: n/a

  19. #19
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    The irony here is there is virtually no reward to the salesperson for selling you a bike or not.

    he's paid minimum wage if he is paid anything at all. Customers coming in being hard on him, telling him they can get better elsewhere. All he's thinking is how he wishes you would.

    It's rare an experienced mechanic is helping you. they often just hide in the back. and the owner pays/ indentures people so he doesn't have to deal with you.

    not saying it's right. That's just usually how it is.

  20. #20
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    Re: For those looking to purchase a commuter

    Quote Originally Posted by digitalayon View Post
    I do not care what he thinks....if he wants to sell a bike.....he puts a importance on what I want.
    The employee is just doing what he is paid to do. It is not his fault if he is well trained or not. Don't be a dick to customer service employees.

    Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk

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    Sorry for the rant there guys.... I went to the bike shop to pick up a bike for my son that I bought and found the shop closed with a sign saying "gone mounting biking....will be back tomorrow" But shop hours listed online and on the front door said hours were 10AM - 6PM and here it was 2:00 PM. I go back the next day and he said they decided to close early because that was the only day to go riding because of the rain coming. I had a chat later on with the owner about that and he had no clue these kids did this. My opinion is if it is your job, it's your job and riding should be the last priority. The owner agreed. As far as my son is.... He is a teenager and is GROWING. I wanted him to have a larger bike so he can grow into it but still ride it right now. The kid grew 4 inches in the last 7 months. The bike sales person failed to see the value in a larger bike for him. So I simply failed to buy from that shop. I went online and bought a Marin
    BOLINAS RIDGE 29ER Hydro online closeout for 2013 for 668.00 and free shipping. It did not take much to assemble it.

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  23. #23
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    So, did you do all the work that you expect a bike shop to do on that internet bike you bought? Because the place you bought it from certainly did not.

    Did you torque all the bolts to specification: 5Nm for headset/stem bolts, 40-50Nm for crank bolts, 12Nm for caliper/rotor bolts, 5-7Nm for seatpost, 7-12Nm for saddle, 40Nm for cassette lockring? Check and adjust hubs bearings? Pull and grease BB and HS? Tension spokes evenly? Make sure the tires are seated evenly? Adjust shifting, setting limit screws on F and R derailleurs? Set-up and adjust suspension settings?

    In all, the above is about $200 worth of labor for a shop. A thorough bike build takes 2-3 hours, sometimes more.

    Those are all things any bike shop worth anything will go through on a new bike. In addition, good shops will offer free basic service for a year on new bikes. Above average shops offer that and a full 1-year tune up.

    Did you demand a free helment and free service from the online retailer?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rogbie View Post
    So, did you do all the work that you expect a bike shop to do on that internet bike you bought? Because the place you bought it from certainly did not.

    Did you torque all the bolts to specification: 5Nm for headset/stem bolts, 40-50Nm for crank bolts, 12Nm for caliper/rotor bolts, 5-7Nm for seatpost, 7-12Nm for saddle, 40Nm for cassette lockring? Check and adjust hubs bearings? Pull and grease BB and HS? Tension spokes evenly? Make sure the tires are seated evenly? Adjust shifting, setting limit screws on F and R derailleurs? Set-up and adjust suspension settings?

    In all, the above is about $200 worth of labor for a shop. A thorough bike build takes 2-3 hours, sometimes more.

    Those are all things any bike shop worth anything will go through on a new bike. In addition, good shops will offer free basic service for a year on new bikes. Above average shops offer that and a full 1-year tune up.

    Did you demand a free helment and free service from the online retailer?

    That may be your over priced and overvalued service. But not me. Most shops do not even do what you do. My GF Utopia was purchased at a shop. It was un-boxed and setup while I was there in 5 minutes. Was that worth 200 bucks? Don't try to justify your "value" to me.

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    You're riding unsafe bicycles. Best to get rid of them and never ride again.

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    It's a free country, buy online or pay more and buy from a shop. I've found the local shops employ teenage kids who don't know a lot about assembly.

    I personally buy online, but I don't care what other people do.

    If a shop goes to a lot of trouble to assemble a bike and true/tension the wheels, they should advertise that fact. I suspect most don't do much more than ensure the brakes work and it shifts (sort of).

    I just bought a bike from Jensens and it was tuned a lot better than the last bike I bought from a shop. YMMV.

  28. #28
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    Well, maybe shops could employ older more experienced mechanics if the people getting their bikes worked on understood the real cost of a professional's time. I've turned wrenches, off-and-on, for ten years. Not once did I make more than $10/hr. It's pretty hard to make a living on that kind of scratch. Every mechanic at the shop works more than one job, except the salaried employees (there are two). BTW, there isn't a single teenager turning wrenches in the shop that employs me. Everyone of the mechanics is a HS grad., some with 4-year degrees and everyone else is working on their bachelor's degree. Just because we have dirty clothes and may "look a part" doesn't mean we are not professionals.

    What do you do when your car needs service? Take it to a shop and pay $60/hr labor rate. That trickles down to about $20/hr for the mechanics. Also, the insurance companies determine how long a job takes. The "big book" says an oil change takes an hour, when it really only takes ten minutes. But you still pay for the full hour. Imagine how much you'd complain if bike shops followed a similar standard.

    Your personal experience is not universal. Please, don't cast it as such. There are hard working professionals who deserve a living wage for their work at many bike shops across the country. It's not our fault you haven't found us yet.

    I'd love to make working on bikes my profession. But it doesn't pay what a professional job should pay. It's ironic the profession that does pay my living gets the same sort of complaints from consumers. I do something they can't do, or won't do, they tell me how to do my job, complain about the price, and think because they're paying customers that me and my staff are their whipping boys. There for their whims and sub-humans worthy of derision, ridicule, contempt, and acute criticism.

    Have a little compassion for the people that work in the service industry. We deal with a lot of **** from a small minority of people that sours all the positive interactions with great customers.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogbie View Post
    Well, maybe shops could employ older more experienced mechanics if the people getting their bikes worked on understood the real cost of a professional's time. I've turned wrenches, off-and-on, for ten years. Not once did I make more than $10/hr. It's pretty hard to make a living on that kind of scratch. Every mechanic at the shop works more than one job, except the salaried employees (there are two). BTW, there isn't a single teenager turning wrenches in the shop that employs me. Everyone of the mechanics is a HS grad., some with 4-year degrees and everyone else is working on their bachelor's degree. Just because we have dirty clothes and may "look a part" doesn't mean we are not professionals.

    What do you do when your car needs service? Take it to a shop and pay $60/hr labor rate. That trickles down to about $20/hr for the mechanics. Also, the insurance companies determine how long a job takes. The "big book" says an oil change takes an hour, when it really only takes ten minutes. But you still pay for the full hour. Imagine how much you'd complain if bike shops followed a similar standard.

    Your personal experience is not universal. Please, don't cast it as such. There are hard working professionals who deserve a living wage for their work at many bike shops across the country. It's not our fault you haven't found us yet.

    I'd love to make working on bikes my profession. But it doesn't pay what a professional job should pay. It's ironic the profession that does pay my living gets the same sort of complaints from consumers. I do something they can't do, or won't do, they tell me how to do my job, complain about the price, and think because they're paying customers that me and my staff are their whipping boys. There for their whims and sub-humans worthy of derision, ridicule, contempt, and acute criticism.

    Have a little compassion for the people that work in the service industry. We deal with a lot of **** from a small minority of people that sours all the positive interactions with great customers.


    You seem to have a lot of passion. I might actually take my bike to you if you were in my area. However if you like what you do but hate your pay, You must figure out how to change that. Opening up your own place would be a start. No one is accusing you of being a low life. You do a nice service and you sound like you enjoy it. But if I were you, I would be taking this passion you have for the bikes and the quality of service you are providing to the bikes and focus on how to get that same quality to the masses. Only way is to open up your own place. I may get a lot of people pissed for saying this but.....bike mechanics should make a lot more. However they do not because of the cost of the bike compared to a car is what separates everything. With that said, I think a good quality bicycle is grossly undervalued. I look at this from several directions. First....I believe ALL bicycles need to be registered. They use the streets the same as cars and 5 bucks a year will not kill anyone and will also help with thefts. More dedicated bike paths could also be made as a result of the funding. I would be all for that. As a mode of transportation, I would expect higher prices. It does not matter the cost to make it. Its that value of the product. It gets me from point "A" to point "B" in an 1/8th of the time when compared to walking. A car can to it a little quicker but not as much in heavily congested cities. The bike is actually faster in some areas. To me that is a massive advantage and makes spending 800 bucks every 5-8 years grossly undervalued as a mode of transportation. With that said, I would expect my bicycle to cost as much as 5 grand. That is the value it should hold. It is not just health and sports. To some, it is transportation.

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    The point is that bicycles are not rocket science, and there are a million YouTube videos to walk you through everything you need to do.

    Cars are now closer to rocket science, and if you don't have diagnostic equipment, you can't troubleshoot a lot of things on modern cars. Mechanics need a journeyman ticket (4 years) - bike mechanics don't. I'm sure someone will pipe-up about how they wrench their own '81 Monte Carlo. We salute you. The rest of us drive cars run by computers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by canuckjgc View Post
    The point is that bicycles are not rocket science, and there are a million YouTube videos to walk you through everything you need to do.

    Cars are now closer to rocket science, and if you don't have diagnostic equipment, you can't troubleshoot a lot of things on modern cars. Mechanics need a journeyman ticket (4 years) - bike mechanics don't. I'm sure someone will pipe-up about how they wrench their own '81 Monte Carlo. We salute you. The rest of us drive cars run by computers.
    Bikes are starting to be run by goddamn computers, too. Bike mechanics are having to learn to be electricians if they're working on many ebikes, bikes with electronic shifting, or bikes with electronic suspension controls. Some of this stuff being wireless. Now we're starting to see head units that integrate multiple of these functions. Good luck finding a bike mechanic that understands all of this stuff.

    At least most of this stuff is still priced out of the budgets of most riders. But wait as the tech trickles down.

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    I bet the guys at the shop love it when OP walks in. I remember many years ago, some guy brought an e-bike or something into Mountain Bike Heaven because he couldn't fix a flat on his rear wheel. Then he came back saying it wasn't riding or running properly after they fixed it. Next time he came back, they said you'll have to fix it yourself or take it somewhere else. This was when it was the only bike shop in Sedona, which is a good ways from any other town with a shop. Which raises the question, "Where do those freaks on Ellipti-Bikes go when they break down?"
    Tequila tonight, tomorrow we ride!

  33. #33
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by M-Train View Post
    "Where do those freaks on Ellipti-Bikes go when they break down?"
    I'd suggest into the basement, to be used for drying clothes.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    I'd suggest into the basement, to be used for drying clothes.
    Well said. After thinking about it, I bet most of them get used just a couple times and then are put out of our misery. I did enjoy seeing the dude in full cycling kit making those strange motions to perambulate that thing. Why do you need a chamois when there is no seat?
    Tequila tonight, tomorrow we ride!

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