Why I'll never buy from a local bike shop again

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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gurk700
Posts: 221
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:40 pm

by gurk700

I'll start out by saying that I know... I KNOW the good ones exist. So this is more of a personal experience and a preference than a public service announcement.

I'm on my 6th road bike in 4 years. Yep, I'm a gear addict. I have built my previous 5 bikes from scratch instead of buying a whole bike. I could mix and match parts, save money, learn about setting up bikes etc and it has been fun.

I come from motorcycle racing where I do all my maintenance, crash repair, mods myself so naturally, I love working on my bicycles and prefer I'm the one tightening my bolts to spec, setting it up to what suits me etc. Sure I f* up things from time to time but the whole point is to learn as I go and it's more acceptable to me than a "paid professional" f*ing it up.

But being in a tiny apartment now and being busier at work, I just gave up on building from scratch and bought my new BMC Roadmachine 01 as a whole bike from a local shop instead of in parts.

Bike rides like a dream now but it took a while to get there, no thanks to my local shop.

I WILL say that they have done everything to "make it right" so kudos. I don't think they had any bad intentions. But there were some big red flags along the way.

- I have been eyeing this bike for months. I really wanted it. The size and color combo was nowhere to be found in the US. I even watched ebay for months and found none that was exactly what I wanted. On the day of purchase, I was over excited, wasn't careful and didn't investigate it thoroughly. When I came home, I was shocked to find out the rear derailleur was a Sram eTap short cage instead of wifli and a cheaper sram 11-28 cassette ($70) instead of the XG 1190 11-32 ($250) that was advertised. While it was stupid of me to not even check, it blows my mind that the bike shop swapped for cheaper or wrong parts and thought it was acceptable. It just didn't even occur to me that this would be a possibility. They were very apologetic and fixed this by ordering me the correct parts and swapping them out.

- I was pretty upset to find a Shimano Di2 charger in the package they gave me along with the bike instead of an etap charger. They swapped this also.

- There is a metal piece for the stem that clamps the brake hoses onto the stem to keep them tidy. Then there's a plastic cover that closes over the whole bottom part of the stem to make it look clean and tidy. They forgot to clamp the hoses so eventually the hoses were pushing against the plastic cover which in turn cracked the plastic cover a little. This was not a huge deal but still an annoyance. They did fix this issue as well.

- The bike was missing all the rubber grommets. They gave me the one for seat post bolt. It's an obviously used one (fingernail marks all over it) and I don't care but it's also not okay IMO. But I won't be going back to swap that one out.

- The rear rotor was rubbing. Not significantly but significant enough to annoy me. The typical squeeze brakes with loose caliper bolts, then tighten while squeezing technique wasn't working. I spent an hour perfecting the alignment so it doesn't rub at all. My guess is they lost patience. But this is where I also discovered they stripped the caliper bolts and swapped them out with same size different looking bolts which were too long. They "fixed" this by putting 3 thick spacers in between which looks ugly as hell. This was where I fixed the issues by getting a better fitting bolts and doing my own caliper adjustment since at this point I spent a good chunk of money on gas and time to go back to the shop..


So again, I don't know if this is typical with that local shop or any other shops. These are 1st world problems and I'm usually an easy going person and don't mind a few mistakes but when you're spending almost $8k on a bike so that you don't have to spend time to make it perfect, it gets a bit annoying.

As a somewhat mechanically capable person with all the necessary tools, I'm gonna be building or fixing my own stuff from now on. I just feel bad for people who don't have time or interest in working on their bikes and just enjoy riding them. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that except you're in the mercy of bike shops who may or may have capable mechanics who love their job and proud of their work.

Sorry for the rant!

by Weenie


dcorn
Posts: 282
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:21 pm
Location: NoVA

by dcorn

I feel you. Nearly every time I've had work done by a shop, I've had to go back and fix something that wasn't done right. Your stuff really sucks because they actually screwed things up and tried to half-ass fix them, on a brand new bike, no less!

-Bought a CX bike brand new with Sram 1x. It shifted like crap so I took it back to their sister store. The RD hanger was bent and they quickly straightened it, but why would you give someone a brand new bike that doesn't shift well?

-Broke my OG Sram Red FD, so I bought the upgraded Yaw FD and had the shop install it because I heard the install can be finnicky. Got it back and the chain was rubbing the FD like crazy in half the gears. Again, how do you give a bike back in that condition? This time I didn't bother taking it back. I pulled the FD off, found a youtube vid of how to install it, and gave it a go. Took maybe 20 minutes and it was perfect with no rubbing. Now why did I pay a guy $40 or whatever and he couldn't even do the same thing I did to get it right?

-Had a set of CX wheels built, the spokes came super loose after a couple races/rides. Took them back to get tightened up (which took weeks for some reason) and the wheels almost fell apart on my first ride. Took it to another shop where the wheel guy is a super specialist (should have gone here in the first place, but I was getting a deal at the other shop), he says the spokes are completely the wrong type. He had to order all new spokes and completely rebuild the wheels.

-Just recently paid a ton of money to build up a new warranty frame. The brakes weren't centered and pushing the wheel to the side under braking. I tried to center them but couldn't because the cable housing is too long. Not something I can really fix myself, so I have to take it back in. Luckily the bike works fine on the trainer for now.

I've started doing a lot of work myself that I don't need to buy expensive, specialist tools for.

AJS914
Posts: 3134
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:52 pm

by AJS914

There is no excuse but ... the retail bicycle business has always been a low profit and thus attracks low wage and under trained employees who are cycling enthusiasts. Shop owners are often enthusiasts that fall into the business. It's always been this way. Today, high end bikes are getting more and more technical with advanced materials and require a high attention to detail. You need the careful and methodical mind of an engineer to install some parts or build some framesets and you typically aren't going to get that for $15/hour.

none
Posts: 115
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:29 pm

by none

Those are common problems with LBS mechanics, those who do not perform test rides after the work has been completed, or don't double check their work to ensure bike perform at the level of their cost.
Imagine someone getting paid minimum wage, <$15/hr, working 8 hours a day, 12-20 bike a day... it's difficult to have consistant quality when you don't have someone else checking their work on each bike that's been worked on.

This goes to show how important it is to have a good relationship with your (specific) bike mechanic when you plot down significant amount of money for your ride. Like any relationship, communication is key, let them know your frustrations, give them a chance to make it right and actually speak with the person that worked on your bike about your concerns. Honestly, if they don't know you from the other 12 bike owners that they've worked on, work quality is just going to be the same as the 10 y-o hybrid that they worked on earlier in the day.

Having a good relationship with your LBS has its rewards, knowing your (personal) mechanic who works there is even better.

cdncyclist
Posts: 78
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:10 am

by cdncyclist

Maybe I am just fortunate but this has not been my experience - I find my LBS invaluable.

I would agree that communication and relationships are key. This is what has worked for me in. my experience:
- go there a lot and spend your money there. Maybe I am foolish, but I will buy stuff from my LBS that I could get a little cheaper online. I see it as an investment that pays dividends.
- get to know the mechanics, find out the good ones, and talk with them. At a big busy shop I was at before I was able to book service with a specific mechanic
- bring them beer. And snacks. But mostly beer

ChiZ01
Posts: 190
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 6:20 pm

by ChiZ01

i am surprised people actually pay retail for bikes, those new $8k bikes will be $4k in a few month on eBay, it would be even cheaper if you just buy the frameset, wheelset, and groupset separately

morrisond
Posts: 899
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 8:34 pm

by morrisond

Or learn how to do everything yourself. Bikes and bike parts were engineered to be worked on my people making $15 per hour. It doesn't take a Rocket Scientist.

There is a Video on Youtube for everything - most "Pros" don't even watch the videos or follow instructions. There is nothing that hard to do on a bike.

gurk700
Posts: 221
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:40 pm

by gurk700

ChiZ01 wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:31 pm
i am surprised people actually pay retail for bikes, those new $8k bikes will be $4k in a few month on eBay, it would be even cheaper if you just buy the frameset, wheelset, and groupset separately
You're totally right!

Having said that, I do value my time a lot. I can earn money, fortunate enough to be in a business where I can do an extra freelance project here and there. Instead of missing a few rides and quality time with my girlfriend, I chose to pay extra this time.

Little did I know I wasn't actually buying that time back. It only created more work for me. But now I know. Costly lesson.

Otherwise I completely agree with you. Built several 9-10k bikes over the years for half that money with better components.

Others on this thread make great points too. It's hard to be angry at a bike shop mechanic who's probably totally over it for the little money they make.

gurk700
Posts: 221
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:40 pm

by gurk700

morrisond wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:37 pm
Or learn how to do everything yourself. Bikes and bike parts were engineered to be worked on my people making $15 per hour. It doesn't take a Rocket Scientist.

There is a Video on Youtube for everything - most "Pros" don't even watch the videos or follow instructions. There is nothing that hard to do on a bike.
I don't think you read the complete post. But that's ok :wink:

TobinHatesYou
Posts: 3321
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

ChiZ01 wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:31 pm
i am surprised people actually pay retail for bikes, those new $8k bikes will be $4k in a few month on eBay, it would be even cheaper if you just buy the frameset, wheelset, and groupset separately

Have you ever actually priced this out with the exact same parts? This is almost never true.

The OP’s experience is on one end of the spectrum. It seems that a mechanic either acted maliciously, incompetently or both.

RussellS
Posts: 855
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:31 am

by RussellS

none wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:50 pm
work quality is just going to be the same as the 10 y-o hybrid that they worked on earlier in the day.
I don't see the problem here. Maybe I am foolish, but I expect everything to be correct. Perfect. Do you honestly expect the mechanic to do a good job on the expensive bikes and do a piss poor job on the cheap bikes? So a car mechanic will fix the Mercedes and Porsche cars correctly, but do a crap job on the Chevette and Pinto cars? I'm aware fixing Chevette and Pinto cars correctly is impossible, but the attempt should be made. You're basically condoning and encouraging discrimination. Maybe beautiful people should have their food cooked correctly at restaurants and the ugly people should be served rotten food?

Mr.Gib
Posts: 3509
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2005 4:12 pm
Location: eh?

by Mr.Gib

TobinHatesYou wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:52 pm
ChiZ01 wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:31 pm
i am surprised people actually pay retail for bikes, those new $8k bikes will be $4k in a few month on eBay, it would be even cheaper if you just buy the frameset, wheelset, and groupset separately

Have you ever actually priced this out with the exact same parts? This is almost never true.

The OP’s experience is on one end of the spectrum. It seems that a mechanic either acted maliciously, incompetently or both.
Let's hope there are no malicious mechanics - that would be very bad. Some incompetence for sure but also the idea that maybe the customer won't care or notice and if it still works (sort of) then that's OK. This is a character and organizational culture flaw that is absolutely the fault of ownership/management. Oversimplifying the motivational process here but research cleary shows telling your mechanics that if they take shortcuts, or do sloppy work they do not belong in your shop, and combine that with proper training and positive reinforcement, it is possible to produce consistent quality work even at low wages. Sadly as much as mechanics are lacking in tecnical skills, owership is often likewise lacking in proper management technique.
wheelsONfire wrote: When we ride disc brakes the whole deal of braking is just like a leaving a fart. It happens and then it's over. Nothing planned and nothing to get nervous for.

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ms6073
Posts: 2716
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2004 8:24 pm
Location: Houston, Texas

by ms6073

gurk700 wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:57 pm
The typical squeeze brakes with loose caliper bolts, then tighten while squeezing technique wasn't working. I spent an hour perfecting the alignment so it doesn't rub at all. My guess is they lost patience.
Been there! That is actually an indication that the flat mount is not flush and really needs to be faced. Problem is the tool (Park Tool or similar) required to properly face the mounts costs ~$450 US, and very few shops are going to own the required tool, therefore they simply try to 'eye-ball' it with varying results.
Michael - The Anaerobic Threshold is neither...

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cerro
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Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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by cerro

Sad thread as I'm a bike mechanic in a local bike shop servicing a lot of bikes, mostly high end. And am always happy to help people get the best out of their bikes or new bikes we sell. But I'm not perfect and I think no one else is either. Learnt before I started to work as a mechanic that a good relationship with the lbs is making life easier with the odd things you need special tools for.
/jonas l
http://cerrol.wordpress.com (my cyclingblog)

morrisond
Posts: 899
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 8:34 pm

by morrisond

TobinHatesYou wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:52 pm
ChiZ01 wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:31 pm
i am surprised people actually pay retail for bikes, those new $8k bikes will be $4k in a few month on eBay, it would be even cheaper if you just buy the frameset, wheelset, and groupset separately

Have you ever actually priced this out with the exact same parts? This is almost never true.

The OP’s experience is on one end of the spectrum. It seems that a mechanic either acted maliciously, incompetently or both.
It might be true on BMC's - they charge an incredible amount of money for a full bike over the frameset price. Almost List price plus list price.

by Weenie


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