Local Bike Shop Experiences- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Local Bike Shop Experiences

    Let me start off by saying that I'm not trying to bash local shops in general, they're the reason mountain biking is so popular. I have both good and bad experiences. And I'm not the type to walk into a small lbs, point at the most expensive bike on the rack and ask for 30% discount. But my experiences with local shops have been so-so in general.

    I'm your typical informed consumer. When I walk into a shop, I know what I want to buy and roughly how much I want to pay for it. I never try to haggle, I simply ask how much stuff costs. I don't really think there's anything wrong with this; a good deal of people shopping for bikes really are on a budget, they aren't just being cheap. I test rode a bike a couple of months ago and really liked it. It was reasonably priced, a 25% discount for last year's model. I told the sales guy exactly that I really liked it and that I was within a paycheck of being able to afford it. He offered me low-interest financing and I told him that with only a student credit card I didn't want to get into a lot of debt. He pretty much told me if I wasn't looking to buy anything that day, I was wasting his time.

    Another bike shop was the type that never discounts -anything-. I was fork shopping and walked into a shop where half of their bikes were 4 years old and all within $50 of the msrp. I saw a Pike in their catalog, asked how much the fork would cost, of course it was $20 above msrp, I figured they were even charging me for their own shipping costs. Then the guy tries to sell me an 4-year old fork for a whopping 5% discount, and added that he was selling it right above cost.

    The main issue that I have had is with the shop that makes a big margin on a bike and doesn't give you anything more. A sales guy is looking at his price list and tells me they don't make much on their bikes. As he multiplies his list by 1.85 on the calculator. Now I know shipping and assembly costs something, but at least be honest and say it's a low-volume business. My problem with paying that much is when I have had problems less than a month after purchase and they bill the manufacturer for parts and charge me the full rate for labor. You figure you're paying for them to stand behind their bike somewhat.

    My favorite bike shop is a great place. They're willing to work with you on a price if you tell them you don't have much money. If you have a problem with a bike, they ask you whether you bought it from them, and if so you are rarely charged for labor. They discount bikes too. My girlfriend bought her first real bike from them for half off, and the sales guy said to ride it for a bit then come back in and they'd swap stem, seat etc for comfortable setup. They swapped out toe clips, talked to her about feel and position, and even put on 4 different seats for her to try for no charge. Needless to say, this business is the best bike business in town, with 4 shops that all do pretty well.

  2. #2
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    Terrible experiences with my first LBS. Being an MTB Nubzor I went and bought my first ironhorse hardtail from a LBS, having "lifetime tune ups and free labor" as a sales technique, I fell for it and bit. Maybe their their techniques bring in tons of bikes to tune up and they get lazy, but everytime I took my bike in, for wheel truing, adjustments, clicking, squeaky disc brakes (yes, I was totally not up to par with MTB yet), my bike came back in the same condition, or sometimes the symptoms got even worse. So I sat down at my comp for a few hours etc etc for some time, reading park tool, mtbr forums, and elite member's advice, I picked up tools along the way and couldnt be satisfied more not only with my knowledge on bikes, but also with my significantly better tune-up/build work.

    Totally bad feedback for LBS, great for forums, websites, internet, and specially made bike tools.
    All your bases are belong to us!

  3. #3
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    I'd love to add this one.

    Walked into the bike shop yesterday with my Dare frame and a deep cup headset. Asked him to install it for me and he came back and said that I have to return it wherever I bought it because it was not designed for my frame.

    He goes on to tell me that my frame was not designed to accept the headset because it was a downhill frame and not a freeride frame. I've been wrenching all my bikes for the past 25 years and used to work in a bike shop. All he had to say was that they did not have to tools to ream the headtube deeper than what was there.

    To add insult to injury, he goes to the counter and takes out another headset and said "this is the one that I need". Yea it would have fit right away, but remember I have busted 2 already and wanted a deep headset to make sure it was firmer and stronger this time.

    DUMBA--

  4. #4
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    I am not going to defend every shops price policies but they are a business for lively hoods not just someones recreational hobby. I went into my LBS , the other day to purchase a Hayes 8" rear brake adapter. The guy hand me the adapter and the price reads $35 - I think arn't these things like half this price on-line? Anyways I bought it, I needed it and that was their price. No way would I insult the LBS and challenge their price. If I didn't want it I could have walked.

  5. #5
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    I agree on the walking methodology. I've worked in many bike shops and if you don't like the price don't buy it. I go into bike shops and while it sucks getting reamed paying out the nose for a part, if you need it that day, you gotta pay. I can't think how many times a shop has saved people (breaking stuff right before their run/race). However i have yet to come across a shop that has failed to make mistakes (either in business practices , or in recommendations to customers). The last time i went into the shop i had to get my chain fixed since i was racing the next day (out of town) and I heard some of the funniest advice ever. Just going in shops and listening to the workers talk to customers is just astounding. While its not always bad advice, its too bad that the customer doesn't know more before they go into the shop. I was just in awe of the sales people. With that note i'd say however that just about every shop has at least one competent person that knows what they're doing. Finding that person is the key.

    (oh and to the guy with the first post, they coudln't do lay-a-way? )

  6. #6
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    I've gotten nothing but excellent service and fair (or better than fair) prices on stuff at the two LBS's I deal with. There is another shop in town that won't give me the time of day, but I think it's because I deal with the other shops..... Hey, it's a small town.

  7. #7
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    I had a long post written up, but decided to shorten it. It's a lot different on the otherside of the counter, be appreciative that if you need something today you can get it, and reward the shops that are fair and honest.

  8. #8
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    I've had a lot of luck with my local bike ship (Roadrunner bicycles of Tucson, AZ), but there's bound to be exceptions. With the economy tanking, it's gonna be hard to find and pay good bike mechanics, and the big chain stores only make it harder sice they can leverage volume and selection to lower prices. Still, it's worth the trouble to find a good local bike shop. If for no other reason then to avoid the Wal-Mart effect of low quality crap filtering into the chain once all the little guys are run outta town.

    Besides, sometimes the little guys'll carry stuff the chains won't. I've been really happy with my Motobecane as an entry level montain bike, and all performance has is Schwinn and some Giants.

  9. #9
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    Granted there are terrible shops, but the one i do buisness with is great. Of course I paid a high price at first, but once i got to know them, they give me great service and prices. I am a loyal customer, that buys everything from tubes to frames from them. They reward me with great prices, often below what i could buy online. They cater mostly to XC and the rich ceo type road bikers. however, they are awesome guys and riders. While they often dont stock much of what i need, they can get it in a few days. if i need to use a tool or need to change a headset, they are glad to do it free of charge. The owner has let me in after hours to get some housing so i could ride teh next morning. I recently bought a frame, and he let me take it home, build it up and ride it for a week to make sure it fit me before i bought it. try doing that with an online retailer. of course soem shops just plain suck, but my experience has been that if you make the effort to be a good customer, most shops will return teh favor and work hard to keep you as a customer. If you walk in and demand they give you the 07 products at 50 percent off msrp, of course they will blow you off.

    i guess the moral is: if the shop sucks, walk out. if they are reasoable, work with them and they will work with you.

  10. #10
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    I too have a favorite shop that is good to me. I needed to pull and regrease a bb, the owner let me use a workstand and tools instead of charging. They've also discounted bikes for me in the past. I do like using them most of the time, except sometimes I get treated like I'm not part of the "clique". Whatever. I do most of my own wrenching now, just bought a workstand in fact. And mostly, they are cool people who are just trying to make a living.

    I agree with the others, if the shop sucks, walk.

    Cheers

    KavuRider
    Quote Originally Posted by azdog View Post
    I think he was born around the time of the Chernobyl fallout which would explain a lot.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtb_biker
    I a
    With that note i'd say however that just about every shop has at least one competent person that knows what they're doing. Finding that person is the key.

    ( )
    so true.......i think it is best to find one shop and work from there .....but what is better is to do your own wrenching and buy stuff that you know will break or use......

    extra:
    derailer hangers
    extra tubes
    tires
    cables
    brake pads
    stans if you need it.......stuff like that
    the trick is ENJOYING YOUR LIFE EACH DAY, don't waste them away wishing for better days

  12. #12
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    yeah, i've got some shops like that and then some that are really good. this one shop was bought out by another company and the one that was bought out never gives discounts, but the shop that bought it is really nice and they hook me up nicely. sold me two bikes that were 650 a peice for 530, yeah i know cheap hardrock, and they've been hooking my dad up with great deals on all of the stuff he buys there..but the one bought out is really really anal about giving you anything close to a good deal. i decided it was time to get some new shoes and i went to this one that never gives you any money off because other wise i had to drive in traffic for about 45mins to the good shops and i said screw it. so i walk into the shop and i find what i want and after talking to the guy and not getting him to hook me up with any better deal on some sidi's i decided i'd go with some specialized shoes for like 150 or something. i buy them and i love them, but my dad has a problem with his foot from a motorcycle accident a few years back and suddenly his mtn. shoes were hurting his foot soo much that he couldn't stand up and climb, but he could in his road shoes. this is the part that pisses me off

    so my dad liked my shoes alot and he couldn't ride with his old ones so he goes to the same shop and i'm with him and he grabs the right size and brings them to the counter and they guy was like "oh, hey, its been awhile since we've ridden together man. how are things?" then he points to me and says "i use to ride with you when you were younger... you were pretty fast... still riding much" and i'm just like "yeah, you sold me shoes two days ago..." and he was just like "oh, cool. i thought i knew you when you were here last time" then he rings up my dad's shoes and what i paid $150 for the guy says "just give me 100bucks and we are cool" ahhh i was soo bummed. he was telling my dad how they are about to close and move into our town cause they have a bad location and they can never afford to give anyone discounts, but yet the guy hooks my dad when the see each other once a year! oh well

  13. #13
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    Alot of it depends on the manager of the shop.... everyone else follows suit. A good manager will be professional, expert mechanic, friendly, up-to-date on all products, more than helpful on service and giving advice, and most importantly a rider. All of my shops meet that criterion.... most importantly the riding stuff . Try getting professional advice from an online shop.... they will try to push products you don't want...just to kill their massive invintory.
    Bikeless Rider

  14. #14
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    i don't bother with bike shops, there is really nothing that they have to offer me. i am never in such dire need of anything that i couldn't wait for shipping on something. i'll just use one of my other bikes

    hey, i'd like to support them (and think people should)...but in the end, who will support me? survival of the fittest....

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by wyrm
    A good manager will be professional, expert mechanic, friendly, up-to-date on all products, more than helpful on service and giving advice, and most importantly a rider.
    I am lucky to a have a couple of these in town and one really stands out (but I am on the wrong side of the Atlantic for most of you guys).

    Also - a bit surprisingly - when I've gone around shops with questions about shocks and forks, two shops have told me that I should really go and ask < the name of the boss in the "best" shop>. Looks like those guys know their limits and that this one guy is seriously good at some things.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by wyrm
    Try getting professional advice from an online shop.... they will try to push products you don't want...just to kill their massive invintory.
    Are you kidding? Online shops move inventory by pricing agressively, not by offering bad advice to the small percentage of customers who call looking for it. Local shops will of course try to push whatever they have in stock, but since their inventories are much smaller, it's likely to be something you don't want. If you have to wait around for them to order in your size, color, etc., might as well buy online.

  17. #17
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    This is what you get from family-run bike shops...

    I used to go to a small local lbs to get major repairs and parts. The guy who runs it is (or appears to be) a nice guy, but a couple of years ago I looked at some XC bikes in his shop. He knew which ones I'd looked at, and I might possibly buy one of them. In fact, I managed to get the bike for $20 less at another shop in town. The guy found out that I'd made a purchase from somewhere else instead of his place, and from then on he has not been nice. Every one of my friends gets discount there because they are fairly regular customers, but not me. Also, about 5 months ago I ordered a hanger for my brothers frame. He had a problem ordering for about 2 weeks, which is resonable, but then he kept convincing me "it will be here on monday", "it will be here soon" etc. 5 months down the line he still has no hanger. Okay, its not his fault, but he is giving false info. What really got me annoyed was when I bought $60 of parts from him a week ago. He knows I'm still waiting for the hanger, and yet I don't get any discount, or small freebies. I ask for 2m of cable housing and he gets the ready-cut stuff with crims on the ends, which ends up costing about 5 times more. I suppose I should have said I don't want it.
    I've stopped going there, I go to a much better one in town and am getting to know the guys well, in fact I've been offered a job there for summer

  18. #18
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    I only wish the bike shops in my area had things in stock when I need them that day. It's faster and cheaper for me to order parts online sadly. So many times I've called to get parts when something breaks the day before a ride, and they always have to order everything. I can see not having a huge inventory, but things like powerlinks and pedal wrenches should be things I would think any shop should carry all the time.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarekith
    I only wish the bike shops in my area had things in stock when I need them that day. It's faster and cheaper for me to order parts online sadly. So many times I've called to get parts when something breaks the day before a ride, and they always have to order everything. I can see not having a huge inventory, but things like powerlinks and pedal wrenches should be things I would think any shop should carry all the time.
    I have experienced this in the past, with chains...I would call in advance (before pay) to see if they have the chain I wanted in stock, he says no, call back thursday they should be in then... I call back the following thursday (like 9 more days) and they still dont have the chain.... This shop gives me discounts because I am a reg, but I cant wait around for weeks... So I got the same chain at the other shop for the same price as my discount would have been.....

    It also depepends who you talk to, I have called a shop and asked to talk to a mech, and he knew nothing about the master cylinder of a hayes brake, in fact, he didnt even know what a push rod was.... Thanks guys?

    Only 20% of the time I get the service I want, and thats when I buy things like tubes/ tire levers/ powerlink....(my powerlinks all get stuck)

    Just the other day I was in there to get my cones loosened to check out my hub, and I bought a BB tool at that time, and one of the guys there almost didnt let me buy it becuase I didnt have a crank puller.... They didnt have those in stock, I said If I cant pull it off with my hands, which I probly wont be able to do anyway, I will buy one later on... I had to argue with him to buy the BB tool. My BB was wore out from old cranks being loose constantly, so I figured I might be able to pull off the cranks with my hands....

    They treat me like I know nothing, when really they should be more knowledgeable... Here on the froum you get advice from people that have actually used the product, LBS guys just go by like price and what it looks like....... for things like shimano derailluers vs. Sram... yadda yadda long enough post....
    Jake
    Yeti 303 WC 25th

    Quote Originally Posted by Dwight Moody
    Didn't you read the sticker on that shock? It said not to do whatever you did.

  20. #20
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    I've got some pretty funny stories from working in a shop. One that comes to mind is when a couple in their early 40's came in to buy a bike for the wife. I happened to be free at the moment, and came over to help them. After asking some questions about what type of bike she was interested in, what kind of riding she wanted to do, what price range she was looking at, etc, I started to show her some bikes. She was asking a lot of questions, just trying to be an informed buyer, and I answered them in a straightforward and honest manner. She then picked a bike that she wanted to test ride, but since we didn't have it in the shop in her size, I had to go to our storage barn out back to get it for her. During this time, the shop owner had become free, and she began to talk to him as I was heading out to get her the bike. When I got back, the owner was talking to someone else, and the couple were talking to eachother, right in front of the door. I don't think they had noticed that I was back.
    Him: "See, that kid (I'm 15) gave you all the same answers as Glenn (my boss). He knows what he's talking about"
    Her: "Lucky guess"
    Him: "Lucky guess!?!? On about 20 questions? There's no way that was just a bunch of guesses!"
    Her: "He's a f****** kid. There's no way in hell he knows what he talking about"

    At this point I made a noise to indicate that I was back, and they turned around, looking more than a little sheepish. The husband tried to be friendly, but his wife proceded to be a total b****, snapping at me and complaining that we didn't have a different bike in her size in stock as if it was my fault (we sold it while she was in the shop, and I OBVIOUSLY do all the ordering ). She bought the bike I first showed her and left, and her husband gave her an earful on the way out to their car. And do you know what the best part is? After seeing that she had such a derogatory stance towards young people, I found out that she's an elementary school teacher.

  21. #21
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    Well here's a positive one.... I just called a shop that I have only looked at before, and it turns out they are the only bike/MX store in the area with 7.5wt fork oil, and its Golden Spectro Synthetic... f*ck yes..... Im calling these guys more often
    Jake
    Yeti 303 WC 25th

    Quote Originally Posted by Dwight Moody
    Didn't you read the sticker on that shock? It said not to do whatever you did.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by j_a_k_e_69@hotmail.com
    Well here's a positive one.... I just called a shop that I have only looked at before, and it turns out they are the only bike/MX store in the area with 7.5wt fork oil, and its Golden Spectro Synthetic... f*ck yes..... Im calling these guys more often
    Really? You couldn't find a shop with 7.5wt oil? That's the freakin' standard for Zoke forks!

  23. #23
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    Haha

    Great story!

    Cheers

    KavuRider
    Quote Originally Posted by azdog View Post
    I think he was born around the time of the Chernobyl fallout which would explain a lot.

  24. #24
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    Another funny one was the woman who was too short to put her bike on the roof of her huge SUV, so she had to get me to do it. WTF was she thinking when she bought that rack? Or the SUV for that matter?

  25. #25
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    Well as a bike shop employee (part time) for over 12 years, I have mixed feelings in regards to the bike industry as a whole. My shop is great in the fact that I can open a catalog and order for cost, as can most other shop employees. But there are other shops that are just plain thieves.

    I get aggrevated when customers come in and expect a discount of some sort, for no reason. If you are at a super market, do you think that you should get tomatoes for $0.20 less per pound? Then why ask for a discount?

    I get them all the time "If it was $20 cheaper I would buy it now"... This same person will go to dinner later that night and drop $100 for him and his wife and proceed to take a dump the next day - without a second thought.

    The other is the ol' "Do I get a 2 bike discount?". Why? Go to Home Depot and buy 2 lawnmowers. Should they be cheaper if you buy 2. NO!! The other can be sold for the selling price to another customer later on.....

    In the above post $35 for a brake adaptor is about $15 overpriced. We have another shop in the area that does that. if things are sold in pairs, they break them up and charge the pair price for a single. A buddy stopped into this store to get a DVD. All on the shelf were marked $19.99 except one - the one he wanted. Gets to the register and it rings up $29.99. Classic.

    Most shops increase the margins depending on the bike. Many times the price of an inexpensive bike (lets say a base model Hardrock) is barely more than cost+shipping+mechanic build time+salesman commission. In other cases high end models sell for a lot more than these costs and have wiggle room.

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