Why you should use your local bike store
Bike shops are becoming hugely popular in recent years that they’re even starting to crop up on the main high streets now. Each bike shop is always having to compete with the online retailers, such as Wiggle and Chain Reaction cycles (although these are merging) but there are still plenty of others.
Instantly you will find that the online prices are significantly cheaper than that of a local bike store and with next day delivery being almost always possible, it’s easy to see why so many people use them.
But there are things from your local store you just don’t get from the big retailers, like Evans Cycles for example.
Although my local bike shop is actually not local to me but it’s on the way to work. It’s a franchised Giant store in Liverpool (Giant Liverpool). I really enjoy going there. Recently I’ve went in just to get some inner tubes from the store and I’ve been in there for 45 minutes just having a chat. We were speaking about the new range of bikes that we both knew i wasn’t going to buy but still happy to spend time speaking about them and we also spoke about recent bike rides and trips abroad we’re going on.
Local bike stores can’t really compete with the online retailer prices, it’s just not possible from an economical point of view. Local bike stores have to pay staff wages, rent for the building/land and thy also only have space for limited stock. However, the big chain stores and online retails can no way near compete with the service local bike stores offer. I find that in the big retail stores just want to make a sale and in my experience the product knowledge I’ve received is poor and you feel that taking money from you is their goal rather than you leaving satisfied with your product.
You get treated better at your local bike store. You’re their centre of attention and they’ll do their best to always help you out even if that means coming down in their prices slightly just so you can get the absolute best for your money.
With new kit, bikes and components always coming out the staff at your local store will spend time explaining the new features. You can trust them a lot more, they’ll will always focus on your needs and will suit you best. Let’s say you have a budget of £2000 for a new bike. Some shops would just find any bike at that price. A local bike store would rather sell you a bike that fits better and more suited to your riding style which costs £1500 so you go away with something you will be more satisfied.
Also, it’s great building up a relationship up with your local store. This goes along way and they’ll go above and beyond for you. If you need some work doing providing its not too big of a job, 10-15 minutes for example they will probably do it there and then for you providing they are not overly busy.
Best of all, they will most likely have a loyalty card/membership card which entitles you to discount on parts and also labour. Usually they give these if you cycle with a local cycling community. It’s good that they support the cycling community so i think its fair that your support your local community by using these stores.
Try Before You Buy
There are some items that you just shouldn’t buy online. These are most things to be honest; Bikes, Helmets, Clothing (unless you know sizing, obviously) and Saddles. These things you can be spending a huge amount of money on and sizing is key to be getting the best out of them. Why would you spend thousands on a bike when you don’t know if it’s going to fit? All brands have different sizing and it doesn’t need be out by much for it it be unpleasant. At your local store you can go on and try on the clothing, the helmets and they will also be able to put a bike you’re interested in on a turbo for you so you can get a feel for it. Some you can also book a demo bike for a weekend and also a saddle for a week.
It’s always best to get a feel for the products you are buying before completing the purchase.
Bike shops have to deal with ‘showrooming’. Customers touch, squeeze, prod and feel and take up the staff time by asking for advice — and then proceed to go and buy the same product online but cheaper. With showrooming and online competition its nice to see that some bike shops are still doing remarkably well.
There seems to be a new breed of bike stores coming around now. They have a sort of ’boutique’ feel to them, they don’t have hundreds of bikes around the place all over the walls like they used to, there seems to be less in the store but will have a bike in each size so you can work out sizing. I also like how some have their workshop on show in the store, it’s just a nice touch to see the mechanics working on the bikes. It’s common now for shops to have a cafe in as well, i think Rapha started this off! With this it creates the social aspect to it. You can have this as a meeting points for rides where you either have a pre ride or post ride coffee (and cake). It creates a nice atmosphere too and slows it down a bit. Bike shops aren’t a place were you just pop in and out. Go there, take your time, have a chat with the staff and grab a coffee you before you leave, it’s almost like you make an event out of it.
I’m not going to sit here and say i buy everything from my local bike store, because i don’t. If i can fit the part i’m buying myself, lets say replacing my chain then i will buy these online and fit them myself. If it’s something i can’t fit like swapping my bottom bracket then i’d take it to the bike shop and buy the part from them, it tends to be quicker and its a little disrespectful turning up with something you’ve bought elsewhere and asking them to fit it.