Bike shop owner discussing online sales....

sptimmy43

Well-Known Member
#2
I find this topic very interesting. It is my opinion that the truly good shops will survive. We are in a totally different age when it comes to a lot of things. The truth is that someone with good mechanical aptitude can watch a few YouTube videos and figure out how to tune a derailleur, bleed brakes, service their suspension, install new cables or hoses, even service hubs and bearings, and true or build wheels. With some tools and determination a lot can be done in the home workshop. That in no way replaces the years and years of knowledge gained by experience of a good bike shop wrench but it does teach you whole hell of a lot about your bike.

There are a lot of people who do not care to wrench on their own bikes. There are times when the average home mechanic gets in over his head. Those people will keep good shops in business. The good shops who care about making good customer relationships will gladly work on internet bikes. They will succeed and be able to charge what there service and knowledge is worth.

The crappy shops won't last. While they hopefully aren't too common, there are shops out there counting on the premium they can charge for bikes to stay alive. They don't care about providing good service or really making customers happy. I know this all too well. I've been mountain biking for about a year now. My first bike was a very entry level hardtail. In July I visited a "real" bike shop to purchase my first full suspension bike after doing months of research. Sadly I had not discovered this site yet so I had no way of knowing if the shop I chose was decent. Anyway, I though I knew what I wanted but they convinced me I was wrong. They had me take a bike for a spin in the parking lot which was a worthless experience. Then they sold me a different model bike altogether that they didn't have in stock but assured me the sizing and fit was the same as the one I rode in the parking lot. What did I know? I was a noob (still am). I took their word for it. They couldn't have been more wrong. I never got comfortable on the bike I bought as it was the wrong size for me and even the wrong type of bike for how I ride. I tried different stems and adjusting the saddle, etc. It still didn't fit well and I still didn't like the bike. Don't get me wrong, it's a great bike; it's just not right the bike for me.

Fast forward 7 months and I just bought a YT. They provided good service throughout the purchase including fit advice. I love the bike and my other bike is now up for sale. That is going to cost me dearly. I'll probably take a $1,000 bath on that bike (hopefully not more). To say I am not happy about that is an understatement. I will not shed a tear when the shop I dealt with goes out of business. Looking back at the whole thing there were many red flags. I just didn't know what I was doing and put too much trust in what they had to say because they claimed to be real cyclists. It was a hard lesson learned.

I now know there are great shops out there like Halters and Hilltop Bicycles, just to name a couple. If I had bought from wither of them in the first place I would have been well taken care of for sure, but I had a bad taste in my mouth and just had to try something different. I am pretty sure that if I get in a bind and need help I can roll my YT into either of those shops and they will help me out. I would fully expect to pay a bit more than a customer who bought a bike there and I would very happily do so.

I don't think the bike shop is going away. I just think their business may be shifting a bit. The ones that adapt and change with the times will be fine.

I know I am probably in the minority here so please don't hurt me. :p
 

soundz

The Hat
Team MTBNJ Halter's
#3
Begging for business is a losing proposition. Find other ways to invite customers to come spend money even if means selling coffee. Make them want to come into your shop and don’t guilt them into it. Don’t turn yourself into a charity. I find the article generalizes consumers into one stereotypical bucket.
 

The Kalmyk

Well-Known Member
#4
I find this topic very interesting. It is my opinion that the truly good shops will survive. We are in a totally different age when it comes to a lot of things. The truth is that someone with good mechanical aptitude can watch a few YouTube videos and figure out how to tune a derailleur, bleed brakes, service their suspension, install new cables or hoses, even service hubs and bearings, and true or build wheels. With some tools and determination a lot can be done in the home workshop. That in no way replaces the years and years of knowledge gained by experience of a good bike shop wrench but it does teach you whole hell of a lot about your bike.

There are a lot of people who do not care to wrench on their own bikes. There are times when the average home mechanic gets in over his head. Those people will keep good shops in business. The good shops who care about making good customer relationships will gladly work on internet bikes. They will succeed and be able to charge what there service and knowledge is worth.

The crappy shops won't last. While they hopefully aren't too common, there are shops out there counting on the premium they can charge for bikes to stay alive. They don't care about providing good service or really making customers happy. I know this all too well. I've been mountain biking for about a year now. My first bike was a very entry level hardtail. In July I visited a "real" bike shop to purchase my first full suspension bike after doing months of research. Sadly I had not discovered this site yet so I had no way of knowing if the shop I chose was decent. Anyway, I though I knew what I wanted but they convinced me I was wrong. They had me take a bike for a spin in the parking lot which was a worthless experience. Then they sold me a different model bike altogether that they didn't have in stock but assured me the sizing and fit was the same as the one I rode in the parking lot. What did I know? I was a noob (still am). I took their word for it. They couldn't have been more wrong. I never got comfortable on the bike I bought as it was the wrong size for me and even the wrong type of bike for how I ride. I tried different stems and adjusting the saddle, etc. It still didn't fit well and I still didn't like the bike. Don't get me wrong, it's a great bike; it's just not right the bike for me.

Fast forward 7 months and I just bought a YT. They provided good service throughout the purchase including fit advice. I love the bike and my other bike is now up for sale. That is going to cost me dearly. I'll probably take a $1,000 bath on that bike (hopefully not more). To say I am not happy about that is an understatement. I will not shed a tear when the shop I dealt with goes out of business. Looking back at the whole thing there were many red flags. I just didn't know what I was doing and put too much trust in what they had to say because they claimed to be real cyclists. It was a hard lesson learned.

I now know there are great shops out there like Halters and Hilltop Bicycles, just to name a couple. If I had bought from wither of them in the first place I would have been well taken care of for sure, but I had a bad taste in my mouth and just had to try something different. I am pretty sure that if I get in a bind and need help I can roll my YT into either of those shops and they will help me out. I would fully expect to pay a bit more than a customer who bought a bike there and I would very happily do so.

I don't think the bike shop is going away. I just think their business may be shifting a bit. The ones that adapt and change with the times will be fine.

I know I am probably in the minority here so please don't hurt me. :p


I hear you. Sometimes you can have an ireversabe debt to cash flow ratio. No good wrench is saving you then.
 

sptimmy43

Well-Known Member
#5
I hear you. Sometimes you can have an ireversabe debt to cash flow ratio. No good wrench is saving you then.
Not sure if I fully get what you are saying but my comments are all under the assumption that customers are making good decisions that fit their lives and living within their means. This is an expensive sport no matter how you get your equipment. You can't buy consumer direct just to make it affordable but not leave anything left to keep things going or you're right...you will be done.
 

olegbabich

Well-Known Member
#6
I agree with a lot of comments in the link.

A lot of high end shops give me a bad vibe, like they are better than me. Even if I get a good deal I do not feel good about it.

I also like to work on my own stuff and I'm pretty good, so when a Shop Wrench tells me that Fox Fork is very complicated and even he has to outsource the suspension work. Well I go to Youtube and Ebay and get it done for 1/2 $$$.

This past summer I adjusted valves on my Suzuki 650. Somehow (my fault) rear cam skipped 2 links on timing chain a valves got bend. After 4 weeks messing with it I decided to seek professional help. There is a mega motorcycle dealer near by, but every time I go there, nobody smiles or bothers to greet me. (they can tell I'm not buying). I asked on a local forum for good Suzuki mechanic. Ended up taking my bike 1.5 hrs away in North Jersey. It was a very positive experience. They even lied that they had trouble adjusting the valves and had to call Suzuki pro help line, to try make me feel better about my mistake.

I realize it is tough out there and when I need help or some small part quick, I visit my local "dive" bike store. (even they are overpriced).
 
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Fat Trout

Well-Known Member
#7
I've stopped feeling bad. I fix my own stuff, I'm an engineer, its what I do. I'm picky on my gear (fishing and biking) and have been burned too many times and have had shops that make me feel uncomfortable. More often than not when I go to local shops, other than the most basic stuff, they don't have what I'm looking for. I've had a number of occasions where I call first....yup we have it....get there and one guy thinks they have it and another says no we are out or more recently....yeah we stopped carrying that a few montsh ago. Of course, they can order it.....but so can I and I hate being on the spot like that.

I have one place (for fishing) where certain technical gear you need is bought from the local shops. But that is a rare case these days.

I still go to shops and buy things and don't mind admitting I can't repair something. Although I usually try to figure it out. To me the challenge of the sports I'm involved with INCLUDES rigging and fixing the gear and spending countless hours researching the crap out of things.
 
#10
I fix my own stuff because it's easier. It might take me the same amount of time to watch a video, order the one-off oddball tool (I have lots of those) and then mess it up a couple of times. But, it's flexible time as opposed to putting the rack on the car, bringing in the bike during store hours and not know how long it will take them. Absolutely nothing against shops in general.
 
#11
The “bike” “shop” needs reinvention. What if there were no shop? What if they picked up your broken bike and delivered it fixed to your door, doing the service wherever there’s low overhead? What if instead of a focus on bikes they focused on cycling: selling lessons, roof racks, tow hitches, vacations (see: REI). Here in Montclair, Diamond leads historic tours, Bikery has a team, and Pedal has a weekly MTB ride — great ways to engage people. There’s lots of unmet cycling needs, owners just need to be willing to experiment.
 
#12
I briefly toyed with the idea of buying my next bike online. But there’s no way I’m shelling out thousands without a demo. Oddly, that’s where a lot of shops also fall short imo. I went to one shop and they said, just buy one and then you have 30 days to exchange. OK, but now I’m limited to the 2 or 3 brands you sell. I don’t want to be stuck like that. This is a big deal for me, I want to have no lingering questions when I pedal off. I am an oddball size so I know that it is asking a lot of a shop to have demos in all sizes on hand. I get it, it is a giant cost for them.

Maybe the manufacturers need to step up and make them more freely available. The shop should be able to request a certain bike in a certain size and get it in for customers to try out. The bikes could rotate around from shop to shop as the need comes up. Even if it takes a while to get it to your shop. Maybe charge a nominal fee for delivery to that shop, I would gladly pay it. And since the shop doesn’t own it, wouldn’t put them out too much either.

IDK.
 

jdog

Shop: Halter's Cycles
Shop Keep
#14
I briefly toyed with the idea of buying my next bike online. But there’s no way I’m shelling out thousands without a demo. Oddly, that’s where a lot of shops also fall short imo. I went to one shop and they said, just buy one and then you have 30 days to exchange. OK, but now I’m limited to the 2 or 3 brands you sell. I don’t want to be stuck like that. This is a big deal for me, I want to have no lingering questions when I pedal off. I am an oddball size so I know that it is asking a lot of a shop to have demos in all sizes on hand. I get it, it is a giant cost for them.

Maybe the manufacturers need to step up and make them more freely available. The shop should be able to request a certain bike in a certain size and get it in for customers to try out. The bikes could rotate around from shop to shop as the need comes up. Even if it takes a while to get it to your shop. Maybe charge a nominal fee for delivery to that shop, I would gladly pay it. And since the shop doesn’t own it, wouldn’t put them out too much either.

IDK.
All the demos we have, we buy. The mfgers do not supply them as a typical practice. This year we will have more demos than ever and as you might figure, a day in the woods is a wildly different experience than a parking lot ride.
 
#15
All the demos we have, we buy. The mfgers do not supply them as a typical practice. This year we will have more demos than ever and as you might figure, a day in the woods is a wildly different experience than a parking lot ride.
I know you have to buy them. I don’t think you should have to though. I just looked at a local shops demo fleet. All medium and large sizes. Probably good for 80% of the people, the other 20% are on their own. As the prices go up, the importance of the demo grows. Just my 2 cents.