5 reasons why you should shop at your local bike shop

There's more to the buying decision than just finding the lowest price

Opinion
Moots CX Factory Tour

While online retailers sometimes offer better prices, there’s a number of good reasons why you still should shop local.

Every few weeks an argument breaks out in the Roadbikereview forums over whether a user should buy XYZ at the local bike shop or online. If you’re looking at things from a purely monetary perspective, it’s usually a no brainer. Online retailers almost always offer lower prices. Sometimes they even sell them for less than bike shops can purchase them at wholesale. But if you look past the dollar signs, there are dozens of reasons why should you still patronize your local shop. Here are our top five reasons why.

1. See and Feel

When you’re spending big bucks on a new bike or component, you want to be able to see and feel the product. If your local shop is a dealer, there’s a good chance they have your dream upgrade on the floor. Better yet, they may offer an in-house demo program. Some brands offer demo tours but the event dates are limited and your desired model may not be available. If you demo at your local shop, they may charge a fee, but you’ll usually be credited that sum if you end up purchasing the product.

Road Fit

You can perform a basic fit at home but working with an experienced professional can produce better results.

2. Knowledge

Reviews are a great way to do basic research, but your bike shop has access to knowledge most websites and magazines don’t. Because shops do dozens of bike repairs each day, they know first hand what components fail and which brands stand behind their product.

Another piece that’s often overlooked is parts compatibility. There are so many new (and old) standards, that it’s easy to accidentally order the wrong part. We’ve all done it. If you’re inexperienced, relying on a shop is your best bet.

Even more importantly, a bike shop will make sure that your bike is set-up properly. You can learn all about fit and cleat position online, but a 2-minute YouTube video is no substitute for an experienced professional.

Broken Carbon Frame

When things inevitably break, it’s nice to have a bike shop in your corner.

3. Service Plans

Any bike shop worth it’s loam offers some sort of tune-up policy. For example, the folks at Calgary Cycle offer original owners a lifetime tune-up service that covers brake and drivetrain adjustments, a basic wheel true, and hub/bearing adjustments. Not every shop service plan is that generous, but most shops offer at least a free once a year safety inspection or tune-up.

4. Warranty

Parts break. Sometimes it’s your fault, sometimes it’s not. Whether you buy components online or in the store, you’re entitled to a replacement if you’re the original owner and your claim is reasonable. However, it can be a hassle to make a warranty claim outside of the local bike shop system. When you buy through a shop, they take care of all that drama.

A good bike shop will also go above and beyond for their customers. It’s not unusual to hear that a store has extra components stashed away to help out loyal customers while their parts are out for repair.

5. There when you need them

While the allure of bargain basement online prices is real, when you need something right away, your local bike shop is there. Whether it’s a spoke or a random tool, they can get you back on the road faster than UPS.

Did you buy your last bike at a bike shop? Why or why not?

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

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  • Alan says:

    Although I frequently purchase add-ons and accessories online, I would NEVER consider buying a bike that way. Over the past 20 years, I have purchased ALL 4 of my bikes from my LBS (John’s Cyclery, Saint Albans, WV). Owner Rich’s (and his staff’s) guidance, knowledge, and expertise have been invaluable.

  • Oscar L says:

    I buy pretty much everything on line now. The difference in price is impossible to ignore, my local shops not only charge a lot more but they are often higher then the suggested retail price, plus they usually do not have the selection that I need.
    I have not been in a bike shop in years.

  • G says:

    The local shops near me don’t have stock parts, it’s always “we order on Monday, so we can have it next Thursday”, or I can order it myself and have it in two days for half the price. A shop has it’s place for those who can’t/don’t want to work on their stuff or don’t know what they need/want.
    I get frustrated at the inflated costs, tubes for $12.99!
    I think some LBS models are not adapting very well or quickly, it seems that the ones close are pissy when a customer brings in a bike bought online that they had no chance to compete with rather than try to provide good service and get paid for it.

  • Dan says:

    I bought 4 bikes last year. One at a local auction (a pristine vintage Benotto hanging on my wall) and the other three I got at my (not so local) LBS. I travel past 4 other dealers to go to this one – Trailwerks in Annapolis, MD. I have yet to pay MSRP for any of them. They’ve kept my older bikes on the road/trails longer than any bike should be out there. Free test drives. Free minor parts they have laying around. Free harassment for me doing stupid things. Often I take a bike in for a tune (free) and pull a beer out of the frig to drink while I wait. As long as I live in this area (DC) this will be my LBS.

  • CecilW says:

    As much as I would love to patronize my small town LBS’s, for my last two bike purchases none of them had anything close to the bike that I wanted in my size. The closest bike shop with the bike I wanted was 500 miles away, so I mail-ordered the bike, and assembled it myself. For me this was by far the best option. I got exactly the bike I wanted in the size I needed, I saved a ton of money, and putting it together and adjusting it myself was great fun. Plus I learned a LOT about how to adjust and maintain it. I realize this approach would not be appropriate for most people.

  • Steve says:

    1). See and feel – Agreed. Online I can buy and return stuff, but it’s not worth the effort for me. So definitely being able to see/try stuff in the stores is important. Now if the local store doesn’t carry the item I want, and I have to buy it to get them to order it, then that’s a moot point.
    2). Knowledge – Unfortunately that is not a given. Few shops can compete with the information on the internet/forums.
    3). Service Plans – Many more serious riders, like myself, prefer to do our own work, as we know it’s done right. So no.
    4). Warranty. Again, No. If I save just 10% off purchases online, then provided I have no more than 1 in 10 items fail (in a way in which a warranty could be claimed), I am ”self insured”. My actual warranty claim rate is more like 1%, and so far every legitimate warranty claim I’ve made for an internet bike purchase has been honored.
    5). There when you need them. Well, sort of. I’ve been saved a few times with parts from a local bike shop, but equally have found most parts I’m after aren’t carried and it’s quicker to just do 2 day shipping from an online place.

    As much as I’d like to support the local shops, for my budget I can get Dura-ace online for the cost of 105 in the shop.

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