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

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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ancker
Posts: 147
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:29 pm

by ancker

dj97223 wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:39 pm
Guy walks into his LBS, after having spent several years buying his gear online rather than helping the LBS thrive, and is surprised to find the shop can only hire low-wage,inexperienced mechanics. :noidea: :roll:
Certainly the internet and places like Amazon, PBK, Wiggle, etc have hurt the LBS industry. But if a LBS is making up for lost sales on marked up tubes and tires by hiring inexperienced mechanics and allowing them to send a poorly assembled bike home, regardless of whether it's $500 or $15,000, it is 100% on the LBS, not the consumer's choice of retailer.

Surely (and please correct me if I'm wrong) labor makes up a substantial part of the LBS bottom line. $25 for a flat change (can do 10 an hour), $75-100 for a tune up (1-hour max), $150+ for assembly (maybe 2-3 hours), $60 to box a bike for shipment (30 minutes?) etc. Of course all take man-hours, but at the assumed $15/hr, or even at the high end $25/hr, the LBS is still making a ton on service and not passing it down to the mechanics. And from what I can tell, LBS mechanics' time is in high demand. The last couple times I called my LBS up for something I just didn't want to deal with, they gave me a 4-5 day turn-around estimate. I ended up buying the tool and doing it myself. Now I have the tool and will never call them again.

I think the idea that LBS mechanics _should_ be poor and you should bribe them for favors or priority for beer is something that LBS owners take advantage of. Charge a little less margin on those tires, gels, tubes (though I'm 100% tubeless now), and other consumable things I need on a regular basis, and pay/retain good mechanics that don't have a queue two weeks deep and I'd start having them do more of my work.

---
Probably unpopular, though maybe not to the WW crowd, opinion: Wrenching on a bike is easy. Outside of things that are potentially catastrophic if done wrong, doing most things on a bike, even high-end electronic groupset internal-cable bikes, is doable with a set of allen wrenches, end wrenches, and youtube. Even the super scary things like pressing bearings, cutting steerer tubes, and bleeding hydro brakes are easy if you're careful. The idea that an LBS is charging someone $75+ to run new cables is ridiculous. Most I've seen charge for materials separately. It's not surprising that once you do it yourself, people are reluctant to have the LBS do it again, and start to wonder what else they can do themselves to save money. Once they realize it's _nearly everything_ AND the internet has parts for 30% less, it's easy to see why LBSs are in trouble.

I'm not arguing it _should_ be this way. The big manufacturers and distributors are undercutting their own LBS partners every chance they get and that sucks. I wish they didn't have to compete with their own suppliers on the internet. But things are as things are.

by Weenie


Lugan
Posts: 171
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:02 pm

by Lugan

And I thought I was alone in being picky about shoddy LBS maintenance work, and over the years becoming self-sufficient instead. Glad (and at the same time sad) I am not alone.

The latest was when I gave a new-to-me shop a chance to sell me a $9,000+ MTB build. I could have purchased the bike for less online, but reasoned that my own wrenching expertise stopped short of MTB suspension, and I thought buying that bike from them would result in future great service. But when I excitedly arrived at the shop to pick up the bike, I saw that they'd swapped one part without telling me, got the wrong spec on one other, and didn't return my call when the chain broke after about 50 meters of pedalling as I was starting to dial in the suspension in my driveway. The guys who run that shop, like most others, are just dudes. And dudes might be enthusiastic riders, but that doesn't make them good at business. That's the main pattern I have noted over decades of giving LBSes a chance.

As one phrase says, "There is no additional education to be gained from a second kick of a mule". I'm probably well past my 10th kick by giving shops chances over and over again. No more. I'm now down to exactly one person in one shop whom I still trust, and he's intimated that he is looking to leave the business because "there's no future in retail". And so for me, the cycle will soon complete and I will be on my own, which is perhaps just as well.
Last edited by Lugan on Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bikeboy1tr
Posts: 421
Joined: Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:19 am
Location: Southern Ontario Canada

by bikeboy1tr

2lo8 wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:52 am
bikeboy1tr wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:07 pm
none wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:09 pm
To learn how to fix your bike yourself is an invaluable skill.
But a good relationship with top mechanic in your LBS can benefit you even more.
Spare parts inventory, specific tools even getting your bike the priority treatment can all be yours if you have a good relationship with your LBS, especially when you want to get back on your bike ASAP.
I've seen customers with spare bike stored at the LBS and just swap their regular bike out when the other is in need of service.
Life does get better if you buy yourself a spare bike to store at the LBS for emergency occasions.

But it's not just spending money at the LBS, it's also about building a relationship, getting to know your LBS staff, their names; able to carry a conversation with them outside of bikes, get them some nice coffee or doughnuts.
Sure they are just little things, but it makes the staff feel that they need to remember you and take care of your needs.
Same applies to just about any retail business or services.

Just remember, this is the type of problem that LBS mechanics deal with:
Customer dropped off bike complained rear brake is rubbing and would like chain installed
Image
If I was a mech in a bike shop I would be happy if customers brought me coffee.
That picture is priceless though, cant believe ppl could actually get that so wrong.
It's not that awful. It's not like there was a chain and the customer wasn't complaining about problems related to the wheel being in the wrong way. I've put the front wheel on the wrong way before simply because it was cramped and I didn't have the room to turn the wheel around, and that bike still isn't ridable whether or not the wheel is on the right way. They could have just taken off the wheels to fit it in a car then quickly put them back on.
To put a disc wheel in backwards is kind of a big deal because this person had to work at it to get the wheel in the frame that way and in doing so has the RD hanging in the way of the disc which may be bending either the hanger or the disc or both. I can see putting the front wheel in backwards, not a biggie but the rear. If I had lack of room in my vehicle I would just remove both wheels to pack it in.
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=154188
2018 Colnago V2R Rim Brake
2014 Norco Threshold Disc Brake
2012 Time RXRS Ulteam Rim Brake
2008 Time VXR Rim Brake
2006 Ridley Crosswind Rim Brake

mvcap
Posts: 112
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:50 pm

by mvcap


gurk700 wrote:... 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.
How bout a pic? Sounds like a good looking bike!

AJS914
Posts: 3592
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:52 pm

by AJS914

ancker wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:01 am
Surely (and please correct me if I'm wrong) labor makes up a substantial part of the LBS bottom line. $25 for a flat change (can do 10 an hour), $75-100 for a tune up (1-hour max), $150+ for assembly (maybe 2-3 hours), $60 to box a bike for shipment (30 minutes?) etc. Of course all take man-hours, but at the assumed $15/hr, or even at the high end $25/hr, the LBS is still making a ton on service and not passing it down to the mechanics.
You are not counting the costs of rent, utilities, insurance, workers comp, or the cost of keeping $500K in inventory onhand.

ancker
Posts: 147
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:29 pm

by ancker

AJS914 wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:54 am
ancker wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:01 am
Surely (and please correct me if I'm wrong) labor makes up a substantial part of the LBS bottom line. $25 for a flat change (can do 10 an hour), $75-100 for a tune up (1-hour max), $150+ for assembly (maybe 2-3 hours), $60 to box a bike for shipment (30 minutes?) etc. Of course all take man-hours, but at the assumed $15/hr, or even at the high end $25/hr, the LBS is still making a ton on service and not passing it down to the mechanics.
You are not counting the costs of rent, utilities, insurance, workers comp, or the cost of keeping $500K in inventory onhand.
I'm absolutely aware that there are costs to run a business. That's perfectly fine. But I still feel like the mechanics are getting shafted by the owners.

And really, do you need $500k in inventory? How often does that turn over? If often, see above comment about shafting mechanics. If not very often, maybe try not stocking 200 bikes that no one is buying....

kode54
Posts: 1645
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 9:39 pm

by kode54

i'm sure part of that would be liability insurance. If your bike got stolen at you LBS, you'd want it replaced with all the bits you put on it.

But really, the time to have the bike worked on, say 3-5 days is the part I hate the most. Besides the fact that you may end up with a few scratches here and there depending on how much room they have to hold customer bikes and how they are stored. Yes, most have n+1 so may not be an issue for most here, but for those that don't...its trying to schedule when to take to the LBS and having to wait for it to be serviced and when to ride.
- Factor 02 Disc + DA9170 + Enve 4.5AR CK CL hubs
- Moots Vamoots Disc RSL Titanium + DA9170 + Enve 3.4AR CK CL hubs
- Parlee Altum + DA9150 + Enve SES 4.5 Ene carbon hubs
- Argonaut Spacebike 2.0 + DA9170 + Enve SES 5.6 DT Swiss 240 CL hubs

ancker
Posts: 147
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:29 pm

by ancker

kode54 wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:58 pm
i'm sure part of that would be liability insurance. If your bike got stolen at you LBS, you'd want it replaced with all the bits you put on it.

But really, the time to have the bike worked on, say 3-5 days is the part I hate the most. Besides the fact that you may end up with a few scratches here and there depending on how much room they have to hold customer bikes and how they are stored. Yes, most have n+1 so may not be an issue for most here, but for those that don't...its trying to schedule when to take to the LBS and having to wait for it to be serviced and when to ride.
AJS914 listed inventory and insurance separately. I asbolutely expect them to have good insurance, which I would expect is an umbrella policy since you can't know if a $50 or $20,000 bike is going to walk in the door for service.

And I agree. The turn-around of almost every LBS I've worked with is terrible. I realize fixing flats, changing tires, replacing broken cables, etc is going to be the bread and butter of an LBS, but my high-end work would be less rare if I could drop it off in the morning and pick it up the next day.

We should also recognize that if we're active in this forum, we're not typical bike owners. Weight Weenies are a special bunch even more nitpicky and more demanding than your typical roadie/mtb/gravel/fatbike enthusiast that owns 5 bikes. If we're spending $250 on a stem to drop 20g, we're going to have a different opinion on LBS quality and outcomes. We're the 1% that the LBS isn't terribly bothered to try and impress.

User avatar
nycebo
Posts: 141
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:04 pm
Location: New York, NY

by nycebo

This is not unique to the bike industry. It happens everywhere. The key is to adapt. If I owned a bike shop, I'd carry the bikes that demand full retail (Specialized and Trek are reasonable that way), hire good mechs, go fair price on tubes and inflators, and then build a business that keeps riders in the shop such as coffee, espresso, hot cocoa, smoothies, pastries, anything. Heck, bike washing. Bike storage. Maybe get a liquor license even! Maybe partner up with Starbucks or indy coffee. The shops around here that have adapted to Amazon seem to do well; those that play the price game quickly go out of business.

For some reason, we have the mistaken belief that things last forever. Alas, they don't. Everything opens, closes, etc. It's life. At least with the internet, small makes in the rest of the world can sell here.

kode54
Posts: 1645
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 9:39 pm

by kode54

Bike wash would be ideal. They make those bike wash stations which are great. Would love to ride in awful weather in the Fall when leaves get all over the bike...and during the winter when road salt is all over the place. I'd be there if they had espresso and a wait service to get the bike washed.
nycebo wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:40 pm
This is not unique to the bike industry. It happens everywhere. The key is to adapt. If I owned a bike shop, I'd carry the bikes that demand full retail (Specialized and Trek are reasonable that way), hire good mechs, go fair price on tubes and inflators, and then build a business that keeps riders in the shop such as coffee, espresso, hot cocoa, smoothies, pastries, anything. Heck, bike washing. Bike storage. Maybe get a liquor license even! Maybe partner up with Starbucks or indy coffee. The shops around here that have adapted to Amazon seem to do well; those that play the price game quickly go out of business.

For some reason, we have the mistaken belief that things last forever. Alas, they don't. Everything opens, closes, etc. It's life. At least with the internet, small makes in the rest of the world can sell here.
- Factor 02 Disc + DA9170 + Enve 4.5AR CK CL hubs
- Moots Vamoots Disc RSL Titanium + DA9170 + Enve 3.4AR CK CL hubs
- Parlee Altum + DA9150 + Enve SES 4.5 Ene carbon hubs
- Argonaut Spacebike 2.0 + DA9170 + Enve SES 5.6 DT Swiss 240 CL hubs

kode54
Posts: 1645
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 9:39 pm

by kode54

But you would think that even if we're the 1%, places like Blacksmith in Canada or Above Category in NorCal services high-end customers (yes, I left out several high end places...but those are the ones I have done business with and can appreciate what they do)...I would be there if they were located nearby. A place like Fairwheel Bikes...at the high end. Sure, a walk-in customer expecting a $500 bike would be shocked.
ancker wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:34 pm
kode54 wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:58 pm
i'm sure part of that would be liability insurance. If your bike got stolen at you LBS, you'd want it replaced with all the bits you put on it.
But really, the time to have the bike worked on, say 3-5 days is the part I hate the most. Besides the fact that you may end up with a few scratches here and there depending on how much room they have to hold customer bikes and how they are stored. Yes, most have n+1 so may not be an issue for most here, but for those that don't...its trying to schedule when to take to the LBS and having to wait for it to be serviced and when to ride.
AJS914 listed inventory and insurance separately. I asbolutely expect them to have good insurance, which I would expect is an umbrella policy since you can't know if a $50 or $20,000 bike is going to walk in the door for service.

And I agree. The turn-around of almost every LBS I've worked with is terrible. I realize fixing flats, changing tires, replacing broken cables, etc is going to be the bread and butter of an LBS, but my high-end work would be less rare if I could drop it off in the morning and pick it up the next day.

We should also recognize that if we're active in this forum, we're not typical bike owners. Weight Weenies are a special bunch even more nitpicky and more demanding than your typical roadie/mtb/gravel/fatbike enthusiast that owns 5 bikes. If we're spending $250 on a stem to drop 20g, we're going to have a different opinion on LBS quality and outcomes. We're the 1% that the LBS isn't terribly bothered to try and impress.
- Factor 02 Disc + DA9170 + Enve 4.5AR CK CL hubs
- Moots Vamoots Disc RSL Titanium + DA9170 + Enve 3.4AR CK CL hubs
- Parlee Altum + DA9150 + Enve SES 4.5 Ene carbon hubs
- Argonaut Spacebike 2.0 + DA9170 + Enve SES 5.6 DT Swiss 240 CL hubs

TheRich
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:36 am

by TheRich

ancker wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:42 pm
And really, do you need $500k in inventory? How often does that turn over? If often, see above comment about shafting mechanics. If not very often, maybe try not stocking 200 bikes that no one is buying....
You gotta have it on hand if you want to sell it.

Huge inventories is what probably part of what brought down Performance. The market moves quickly, so you have to buy new stuff to sell, and then different new stuff comes out and you're stuck with the not-so-new stuff.

none
Posts: 151
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:29 pm

by none

Unfortunately, profit margin on multi-thousand dollar bikes simply do not allow LBS to stay in business.
Majority of the profit for LBS are not coming from bike sales at $1000 or above.
Majority of LBS profits come from services, tune-ups, changing flat tires, selling accessories (helmet, lights, bells, etc.)

AJS914
Posts: 3592
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:52 pm

by AJS914

I'm sure inventory adds up quickly. $500K is probably on the low side.

For those that think shops are ripping people off on flat tire changes, I can tell you that it will take more time than you think to deal with the customer. Maybe it takes 10 minutes to fix the flat but it could easily turn into 20-25 minutes as you have to talk the customer, write up their order, find out that they also need a new rim strip, or that their tire has a hole in it, call the customer back, etc, etc. Little jobs can be time sucks and need to be priced accordingly.

thePrince
Posts: 164
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 1:09 am

by thePrince

Hellgate wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:53 am
I always try my LBS first. My buddy Nelo is the best. Old school wise, new smart.

https://neloscycles.com/About-Us/downloadfile.jpeg
I've had about 5 experiences with Nelo similar to what the original poster explained. For example, after I got hit by a car while riding, I PAID the shop to give me a replacement estimate to provide to my insurance. When I got it, it was not only unreasonably low, but missing components. When I pushed, the answer was - we'll increase the quote if you use your money to buy a bike from us. That is not what I expect out of a LBS.

And on the service side, I'm 0-3 or 4.

Sorry for posting something negative about your buddy, but Nelo was a huge factor in learning how to wrench my own machines.

by Weenie


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