Here’s What They Should Be Talking About at Interbike

09.27.2005 | 8:35 pm

Interbike—the biggest annual bike business trade show in the U.S.—is in full swing right now. I suspect that while there, the bike manufacturers will proudly display their latest 14-pound road bikes, and their latest 36-inch-travel mountain bikes. I wouldn’t be surprised if both Shimano and Campagnolo announce (coincidentally, natch) that they have innovated a new 11 cog cassette. And I would be astounded if these same two companies did not announce that this year’s cranksets are (at a minimum) 30% stiffer than last year’s models.

If I were in Las Vegas attending Interbike, I would make a special point of walking up to the bike manufacturers, giving them a firm handshake, and saying, "Well done, bike manufacturer."

And then, once I had them comfortable and feeling good about themselves, I would grab them by both shoulders and shake them soundly while I shouted, "But your stupid-light, crazy-expensive bike innovations don’t mean a thing if you haven’t mastered the very simple task of actually shipping that bike to your customers." I would be very careful to become red-faced while I said this, and I would foam at the mouth a little, too.


I Am a Patient Man

About a month ago, I got really excited about buying a track bike. I looked at what I could afford, and decided on a Bianchi Pista. I then went to my local bike shop and pulled the trigger. They said I would have the bike in a week. That was August 29.  A couple days later, the bike shop guy called and said that Bianchi didn’t have the bike in the warehouse they thought they had it; it would be a couple weeks before I got the bike, instead of one.

And then nobody called ever again.

So after three (not the promised two) weeks elapsed, I called the bike shop again. He apologized, and said that Bianchi didn’t have its act together, that it turns out they didn’t have any 2005 Pistas anywhere. They’d be getting me a 2006 model instead, and it should be here at the end of the week.

And then another two weeks elapsed.

Yesterday, I called the bike shop again, and he said that this time he has a tracking number, and that the bike would arrive and be built sometime today. I have elected to not hold my breath.


But Not That Patient

Meanwhile, Bianchi is two days shy of taking an entire month to ship a bike. Let me rephrase this so as to make my astonishment and frustration clear: Bianchi, a company whose sole business is to sell bikes, has taken a month to sell me a bike. During that month, the great weather of September—during which I had planned to ride my bike—has come and gone. I’ll get it in October (if I get it at all), which is not exactly a prime outdoor velodrome riding season here in the NorthWest.

So there goes the Cyclingnews series, "Track Racing for Absolute Beginners" I was going to write. Too bad for Bianchi.

I’m pretty sure it’s not just Bianchi that’s doing this, either. If you don’t want what’s in stock at the bike shop—and if you’re looking for anything special, that’s going to be the case—you’re going to have to wait for it. And wait for it. I don’t know any other industry that keeps its most important clients dangling like this.

OK, I’m nearly done venting now. I mean it, though: Bike manufacturers, stop spending quite so much time telling us about the wonderful bikes you make, and consider thinking about how you can actually deliver them on a reasonable timeline.


[Update: 20 minutes after posting this, I got a call from the bike shop. My bike is ready to go. I should point out that I have no gripe whatsoever with the bike shop that sold me this bike -- they've been very good to work with.]


Today’s Weight: 163


PS: If you’ve had a good or bad experience with ordering a bike, post a comment. I’m riled up enough right now that I’m thinking of emailing a link to this post to a number of different manufacturers. They should know who’s doing well, and who’s not.


PPS: Why I am I so grouchy today?


  1. Comment by ?Dirt-Angel©? | 09.27.2005 | 9:09 pm

    Hey there, I was browsing for unusual titles in "Updated Spaces" and saw your space, so I decided to take a peek. Very cool indeed!(¯`v´¯)¤ .`•.¸.•´ ¸.•´¸.•´¨) ¸.•*¨) (`’·.Sxybeepsgt..¸.·’´)(`’·..says.Hello!…..¸.·’´)¸.·*)*¸.·´¨)*´¨)¸.·*¨)(¸.·(¸.·´ .·´¸¸.·´*´¨)

  2. Comment by Zed | 09.27.2005 | 9:09 pm

    Not a full bike, but I’ve been waiting on a new SRAM cassette for two weeks now. I was told it would be here this time last week, but UPS officially left the package about 300 miles away. I just called and found out it arrived today. Too bad I’m stuck working in a different city until after they close. Hope the grouchiness subsides, and best of luck with the bike.

  3. Comment by Unknown | 09.27.2005 | 9:35 pm

    I usually just lurk, but thought I would make you feel better… I few years ago I was riding on a bike shop team and we were sponsored by Fuji to ride their bikes. I ordered my bike October 1st. It did not arrive until February 8th, over 3 months later!Just think of all the months I could have been advertising their bikes that they just wasted. You’d think since we were supposed to be racing on these bikes, we would have gotten our bikes sooner, but that was definitely not the case. I basically went to the bike shop every week for months and complained, begged, wheedled etc. etc. to no avail.A month doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

  4. Comment by Lee | 09.27.2005 | 10:13 pm

    I had a very similar experience with a bike shop (Bicycles West – Lynnwood). I found them through the Trek website when researching the kind of bike I wanted. Their website attracted me to the company … it had tons of information and was very helpful in my decision on exactly which Trek bike I would purchase. Unfortunately, it ended there.I went in to select a bike and order it … one week was the answer. I called them back a week later and they admitted that it had never been ordered … one week. I called back the next week and it was ordered this time … but had not yet arrived. Oh and then it needed to be assembled which would take another week. Please note that never had they called me … I had to call them each time. I waited two weeks for a return call … and then went and bought a bike someplace else.The other store didn’t have the bike in stock either … but one of their other shops did and had it for me the next day … they took a little time to assemble it (told me that I could come in any time after an hour after they opened) but it was completely ready to go at that point. Mind you, I came in to their store a half hour before closing on Friday … so someone picked it up on their way home from work to have it in the store the next morning. This was Bicycle Centre in Everett.The difference between the two stores was that the first store definitely had the "we would bike all the time, but we need money for food" feeling. They obviously had the in-depth knowledge of bikes that comes from loving bikes and biking … but they also had the elitist attitude alongside it. The second shop had the "we love bikes, but we realize this is a business" feel … customer service being job #1 (to steal a phrase).So … my suggestion would be to look for a new store. A real shopkeeper will tell you that it’ll be a month before he can get something in and suggest alternatives, call you back and work with you … an elitist snob doing just enough work to keep food on the table doesn’t care.

  5. Comment by Unknown | 09.27.2005 | 10:36 pm

    remember that schwinn homegrown i got direct from schwinn? sposed to get it in december, got it in march. on the other hand, ricky just got a new lemond road bike from racer, almost immediately, a week or so. from racer!

  6. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 09.27.2005 | 10:51 pm

    usually the bike shops put in the orders on time, and then the manufacturer takes forever, while the LBS takes heat. These LBSs are constantly getting beat up, when it’s the bike makers that should be taking punches.

  7. Comment by Unknown | 09.27.2005 | 11:16 pm

    I had the unfortunate experience of breaking a Fisher frame once. A terrible combination of bike shop ineptitude and Fisher ineptitude cost me eight, count them, eight weeks of primo summer riding. Fisher produced the frame in about three weeks–the delay story being that they had to paint my frame as they had no more Paragons ready to ship that year. Once completed, an naive salesboy at the shop inadvertantly called to tell me my frame was in and that I should come get it. Same naive salesboy called me later that day to tell me that he had forgotten to remove the frame from the shipping box before he put it in the cardboard crusher…and that double butted aluminum makes a really bad sound in a cardboard crusher. That was week five. Fisher then had to paint and produce another lovely Paragon frame…starting the whole stupid process over again…how’s that for a ‘your company frame replacement/customer service policy sucks’ story? Sadly, that was the last Fisher product I ever bought.I broke the replacement Titus frame the next year…I had a replacement frame in my garage in three days–total downtime–one week. They also shipped me a derailleur hanger in St. George overnight when I broke mine at Gooseberry…such good service.I feel for you, Fatty. Any takers on the Gooseberry offer on Vet’s day? I would leave here on Friday afternoon and be in St. George until Monday afternoon….

  8. Comment by Eric | 09.27.2005 | 11:24 pm

    can’t help but post a comment with a few thoughts…1) perhaps this post had another layer to it that i am not giving you credit for, but i can’t believe you took the bike manufacturers to task without acknowledging your employer’s history with the same issue! i am looking forward to another post in which you address this viewpoint from the manufacturers’ perspective and apply insight gleaned from working where you work.2) i have a had a similar experience waiting for my new track bike. i will confess that much of the delay was my fault, since i have been building it up piece by piece and it has taken me a long time to decide on each component, but at this point the only thing keeping me from enjoying my new bike is the rear wheel that i ordered three weeks ago. very frustrating!3) we should get together for a track workout at marymoor sometime. hopefully there will be some decent weather left by the time i finish building up my bike.

  9. Comment by Unknown | 09.27.2005 | 11:25 pm

    It took two weeks to get in a Park spoke wrench. I went to the LBS, paid $2 extra because I like the LBS, spin with the owner and want to support them, yet the wholesaler couldn’t see his way to getting the damn thing into the regular weekly shipment, even given three days lead time before it went on the truck (Weds afternoons for Fri AM delivery). Would it have killed somebody to get off their fat ass, walk over to the shelves where boxes of tools are, and throw a pack of spoke wrenches into the box for the LBS? Meanwhile, I’m buying some clothes (in a clothing line for big hairy Phat Phuckers normally unavailable at LBS) at Performance, and I walk by the tool rack, with 63 spoke wrenches in the size I want. Similar experience with ordering a set of spokes and new wheel through the LBS. Again, not the LBS’s fault, just poor order fulfillment on the other end. Cripes, if Amazon can get a $3 book to me by Thursday AM if I buy it right now (Tues. evening) you’d think that Mondo Bike Part Wholesalers could get off their butts and ship my LBS $250 worth of wheel in the regular weekly shipment, given a week’s lead time. Only two reasons they can’t: they don’t have to do better; and they don’t care to do better.

  10. Comment by James | 09.28.2005 | 12:03 am

    @eric- The comparison between software delivery and bike delivery, while tempting, is fundamentally flawed. Presumably, a software project attempts things that have not been done before. That implies a certain level of schedule risk. Building a track bike is a problem that has been solved several times over, and that’s not the problem here. Sounds like Bianchi has a logistics issue rather than a manufacturing issue. A fairer comparison might be MS distributors not knowing where all their shrinkwrapped boxes of Office 200x are, which I’ll bet seldom happens.Elden, you are grouchy today! I understand your frustration but, well…suck it up just a little. This is a luxury item, even though it’s not so luxurious by comparison to other track machines. Bianchi and the LBS screwed up, and you lost a month of track riding, and that’s a bummer. But "I don’t know any other industry that keeps its most important clients dangling like this?" How about any of the building trades? IIRC, when we ordered a new car a few years ago, that was at least two weeks overdue. This is poor expectations management on the part of Bianchi, and the LBS didn’t communicate well enough, and I hope they offered you compensation for that. Just try to keep it in perspective, OK?

  11. Comment by Unknown | 09.28.2005 | 12:05 am

    2 years ago I was in the market for a high-priced mountain bike (think $5k or so). One local bike shop told me 3 times they were already putting a demo Yeti together and I could test ride it. 3 times it wasn’t put together when I got there. Another local shop said the same thing 3 times about a Santa Cruz Blur. They never had the Blur there when they said they would. I realized I was working harder to spend $5k in their shop than they were to try to sell one to me. Something wrong with that picture, huh? Finally I bought from someone with a big web presence and drove an hour to pick it up. To this day I can’t understand what was wrong with the local shops. If there isn’t enough profit in a $5k bike to make it worth their while to do what they say they will, what are they hoping to sell instead? Ten $500 bikes? Five $1,000 bikes? Had a very similar experience in buying a bike for my wife at yet another local shop. She just shook her head in amazement when she saw how the average bike shop here in the SF Bay Area treats customers.

  12. Comment by Glen | 09.28.2005 | 12:07 am

    YUP – happens with US manufacturers as well. We lost half our orders for one brand last year coz they couldn’t supply ??? I have a theory (backed by professional knowledge and personal experience of course). On the whole people in the bike industry are in the industry coz they love it – they’re riders and technology heads, there’s a passion. Unfortunately that doesn’t translate into business efficiancy – hence problems with supply and logistics etc. That’s why bike companies who have lost thier soul (no name mentioned but it would be sooooo easy!) suddenly take over the world, swallowing up all those little, innovative, exciting firms that are the lifeblood of the industry’s growth. I think I need a lie down now, i’m a bit worked up……

  13. Comment by TIMOTHY | 09.28.2005 | 1:19 am

    A friend of mine works in the bike department of a sporting goods store. He was ordered a road bike for his wife – a name-brand, high-end road bike but with standard components. They kept putting him off – first a couple weeks, then another month…he discovered that if he ordered a custom bike it would arrive in 2 weeks. He ordered her the exact same bike, but with a custom paint job (add $200) just so he could get it in a reasonable amount of time. Figure that one out!

  14. Comment by Big Guy on a Bicycle | 09.28.2005 | 2:40 am

    I broke my Kestrel frame and the Kestrel guys told me it would take six weeks (!) to get it back to me.That was when I ordered the Seven. They initially told me 4 weeks minimum (this is a custom frame, after all), but when Jon C. at my local bike shop told them it was all downtime for me and that I had a charity century coming up, they had it to me in two-and-a-half weeks instead. I love those guys. I even named my bike after them. No, wait, that’s not right….I….nevermind.Meanwhile, it took Kestrel nine (!!!) weeks to get my now-superfluous frame repaired and back to me. Anyone want to buy a used carbon frame and fork?

  15. Comment by Unknown | 09.28.2005 | 5:12 am

    Trek took 3…yes I said 3…months to ship my 05 Trek Fuel EX 9. Missed several races waiting for it. Then about a month after getting it, the chainstay snapped. Missed another few races while it got warrantied. That bike is on eBay now. I am now happliy riding a new 06 Fisher ( Trek seemed to get thier act together) X-Cal. I didn’t get it from Racer, but I bought it after reading his Leadville report and seeing all those sub 9’s on 29ers.FC, next year at Leadville ( I am planning on trying it for the first time) if you come across me, feel free to interview me for your story. In this year’s Brianhead Epic 100 I found myself sobbing inexplicably, at mile 80. THAT would have made excellent interview material.

  16. Comment by Unknown | 09.28.2005 | 9:16 am

    It’s an epidemic or pandemic or endemic or something… on Friday, August 7, my doctor ordered an electric wheelchair and ramps for the house and car. I got the wheelchair n two working days and I can’t use it because I am STILL waiting for the @#$^^% ramps. WHen I call, they will check and call me back "tomorrow," which seems to mean something different in their language. It couldn’t mean the day following the present day because that never happens… nor does ANYTHING happen except more of the same when I call again… And I finally got my old 4WD Mitsubishi back on Saturday… 7 weeks to the day that they told me it would be done in a week. And not only that, the repair was nearly $1,000 more than the estimate, which is maybe $2,000 more than the blue book value of the vehicle itself. So I couldn’t have hauled the wheelchair even if I DID have the ramps (SIGH!)I suspect you’re crabby because you are coming down from the sugar high and/or because now that you had at least an overnight life-threatening experience, it is a DOUBLE THROW DOWN PISSOFF to have people wasting your precious days and hours.Sometimes I’m crabby because I just jolly well feel like it, but the little boys jolly me out of it. My grandboy asked me, "Grammie, are you too sad for a hug?" and who could stay crabby in the face of that?I hope your fatness diminishes faster than your days and that looks pretty promising at this point!Hugs,MuMo

  17. Comment by Unknown | 09.28.2005 | 11:27 am

    I purchased a bike from "" and was very satisfied with their service, the bike arrived promptly and needed very little tweaking. I really enjoy your Blog

  18. Comment by Phil | 09.28.2005 | 1:00 pm

    Count your blessings. Inventory, in the case of most bike shops in Germany, is strictly a notion. Need work done on your bike? Many shops won’t work on bikes they’ve not sold. I’m not talking beater bikes — my wife and I ride Litespeeds, a Pinarello and a Coppi — with high end components.

  19. Comment by Phil | 09.28.2005 | 1:19 pm

    Count your blessings. Inventory, in the case of most bike shops in Germany, is strictly a notion. Most shops you don’t stroll into and buy something from the shelf. Moreover, I’ve ordered items and months later called to follow up, only to be told they’ll call me when the item arrives. No wonder Internet shopping is gaining ground.Need work done on your bike in Germany? Many shops won’t work on bikes they’ve not sold, and don’t expect to just swing by for a quick repair. I’m not talking beater bikes — my wife and I ride Litespeeds, a Pinarello and a Coppi — with high end components. But the work that does get done is thorough and while not as cheap as in the US, you can be typically certain it was done right by someone who knows what he’s doing.

  20. Comment by Phil | 09.28.2005 | 1:21 pm

    Forgot to mention that it took Red Line 6 months to replace a broken Conquest frame. This was in the US (Portland), and I felt fortunate to have other bikes to ride.

  21. Comment by Unknown | 09.28.2005 | 1:33 pm

    That’s not bad, I ordered a 2004 toyota prius in October 2003, they said they thought about a month, well I did not get it till about september 30th 2004, at least I got a 2005 model then. But they never called all along the whole process, I had to keep calling every month and asking and they said they had no idea when one may come in. I realized that they were made in Japan and had to be shipped, but the salesman told me that Japan shipped the models they wanted and when they got to ths US they were divided up at that time. No ordering of my model, just hoped it would come over at some point, seems crazy. I wasn’t mad though, just kept adding miles to my 2001 prius that i was trading in.

  22. Comment by Susie | 09.28.2005 | 2:36 pm

    Nothing to add about LBS problems getting the inventory they need. I have had good luck with my LBS.The crabbiness on your part is, as one poster has alredy mentioned, coming down from the sugar high that you experienced this weekend. You have a sugar hang over. Just as bad as a "regular" hangover, sometimes worse. It will last longer.

  23. Comment by Stephen | 09.28.2005 | 2:47 pm

    How about a positive comment to add a little sunshine to your day! I’ve ordered 2 custom frames and had wonderful experiences. Waterford delivered a custom frame in just over 4 weeks and it took Serotta about 6 weeks. For a frame custom built to my specifications, I was impressed with both of these companies.

  24. Comment by Kenny | 09.28.2005 | 3:05 pm

    wwhhaaa, wwhhaaa, wwhhaaa,just shut up and ride.

  25. Comment by Unknown | 09.28.2005 | 7:41 pm

    this is off topic, but reading your column since it was featured in the TDF blog inspired me to get into racing. i just finished the 24 hrs of idyllwild (CA) last weekend. granted, i did it with a huge team, but i’m working my ass off so next season i can do it with a 2 or 3 man team. you have been inspirational. keep it up-

  26. Comment by Unknown | 09.28.2005 | 8:09 pm

    I ordered my 2004 Marin Argenta (I love this bike with all my heart) from REI’s overstock site on a Sunday night. It shipped to the store by Wednesday and I rode it home on Thursday. YMMV, but REI is pretty nice to me.

  27. Comment by Unknown | 09.28.2005 | 9:30 pm

    Man, I would be going absolutely looney if I had to wait that long for a new bike to be shipped/built after I made up my mind on exactly what I wanted and at what price…!!I feel thankful to have good luck with my LBSs! Art’s usually gets out-of-stock and special order parts within 3-5 days. And Cambria Bike here in town custom built my Intense 5.5 to my parts spec in under a week. That included building wheels w/King hubs, etc. Luckily the frame was hanging on the wall when I went in… otherwise, at that time, word was that the wait for another was like a month because of the popularity (at that time). Ok, so maybe that wasn’t such a good example, hmm…Cheer up and go for a ride!! :)

  28. Comment by sam | 09.29.2005 | 8:52 pm

    Nothing like the anticipation waiting for the UPS or FedEX man to show up at the door with your new bike. I think the wait just makes you love your new ride even more when it shows up.

  29. Comment by James | 09.30.2005 | 3:58 pm

    I had a pretty good experience buying my last bike. It took Specialized about 3 days to get my bike to me. I was pretty excited to see my new FS MTB on Friday afternoon when I was hanging out in the LBS. Now, on the other hand. I had to wait something like a month for some Mavic rims. I had get rid of the wheelset that came with my MTB and I decided to build up some tubeless rims on some disk hubs. It took Mavic at least a month to ship the rims. Prime riding weather (mid-summer) and I couldn’t ride my month-old mountain bike. That burned me up.

  30. Comment by DeathB4Dismount | 04.30.2011 | 5:03 pm

    Digging through your archives while recovering from my first long outdoor ride of the season. A ride that I did on the same bike I’ve been riding for the past 6 years, while my riding partner was his new bike… which was ordered piece by piece a full month after I ordered my new bike.
    I was patient in my quest to get my dream machine, doing many months of research, and even more patient in funding it… without much disposable income, and my sights set high on what I wanted, it took two years to set aside the needed cash! Suffice to say that I was VERY excited when I was finally able to pull the trigger, which was the beginning of March… with it now being the end of May, and an estimated delivery of early June!!!
    Now I did order a high-end bike that because of it’s price tag generally does not sit on the floors of local bike shops, but I would have imagined that the actual bike manufacturer would have them made and ready to ship if they are advertising them for sale.

    I’m sure I will exclaim that it was well worth the wait after I finally get to take the first ride on my Cannondale Super Six Hi-Mod Red, but until that day arrives I’ll continue to curse the day I decided to buy it.


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