Real Value: Why Real Salespeople Matter

04.18.2016 | 2:29 pm

If you ride bikes and you’re on Facebook, you’ve almost certainly seen this sponsored post (or one very much like it):

Speedx fb

The SpeedX Leopard is the most-funded bike campaign on Kickstarter, surpassing its goal of $50,000 within two hours of launching. With three days left in the campaign, this very affordable, nice-looking, carbon fiber road bike with a built in GPS and cadence sensor is a rounding error away from two million dollars in pledges.

It’s a huge success story…and it’s also a symptom of a big problem (and not just in the bike industry): circumventing the trusted, knowledgeable salesperson, in order to get a lower price. 

It’s not worth it. 

The Dangers of Bargain Hunting

I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about the pros and cons of the SpeedX Leopard here (although in the most recent episode of The Paceline  [Download or find on iTunes], we get into that a little bit).

The fact is, for certain people, the Leopard may in fact be a really good option. 

But there are a lot of people for whom this bike isn’t right, too. 

Which leads to the $1400 – $2500 question: which are you? 

A lot of people don’t know the answer to that question…and when knowledgeable people are left out of the purchase in the name of low price, buyers aren’t going to find out until too late whether they’ve made a bad call. 

Without a knowledgeable salesperson they trust, a lot of people won’t realize this cool-looking, high-tech bike they’re excited about is actually non-adjustable in some important ways, does not fit, handles poorly, is very heavy for a road bike, and has seriously suspect wheels.

They’re not going to find out, ’til too late, that for them this record-breaking Kickstarter-funded bike is not such a great deal after all.

Of Bikes and Enterprises

I’ve been reading a study published by Altify talking about the relationship between sellers and buyers, based on a survey it conducted with a combination of 1200+ people. The results are meant to be used at an enterprise level, but the truth is they actually provide some important insights for anyone, at any level — including people who are buying or selling bikes, online or in stores.

One thing that really caught my eye: buyers don’t think salespeople matter all that much. Fewer than half think salespeople are “very important” or “critical.”


I can understand why, I suppose. We’ve gotten used to being self-service in a lot of our purchase decisions. And the of the world is fine…up until you start making complex buying decisions. Like in a sophisticated software solution to be deployed across your enterprise.

Or for buying a bike.

Knowledge and Trust Matter

Once you get past the point of comfort with your own expertise, you need a trusted, knowledgeable person to guide you through complicated purchases. 

Both of those words — trusted and knowledgeable — are critical, no matter whether you’re talking about big business or buying from a bike shops. The Altify study emphasizes:

If there is one message that you take away from this study it should be that you have to take care of your customers.

An incredible 80% of customers say that previous history is the top factor in determining where they go to buy.

That, of course, is only true if that “previous history” is a good experience — where a salesperson doesn’t just relay information that could just as easily be found with a quick web search, but instead understands the customer well enough to not just make a goode-enough transaction, but to help the customer make a better purchase than they would have on their own.

This doesn’t happen as often as salespeople might think, unfortunately; about half think they almost always add value, while buyers are more likely to say “rarely” or “sometimes.” 


Yes, I know: this study is focused on business sales, not bikes. But the critical point stands, regardless: people need help to make difficult purchases, but “help” needs to be more than just conveying information. 

It Goes Both Ways

Whether talking about bike shops or large enterprises, it’s pretty obvious that the seller needs the buyer. But I think it’s equally clear that buyers need good, real-world salespeople for complicated purchases.

We need people we can trust, people who know not just the facts, but what matters to us. People who are going to bring us back to the shop for service and for group rides…and for the next time we want a bike. People who know enough to say, “Sure, a built-in GPS and carbon wheels for a $2500 bike sounds good, but what if that GPS fails? And do you want to trust no-name rims to not delaminate at 40mph?”

So there’s a call to action on both sides of the fence for my readers. 

First, for my friends at bike shops: Center everything you do around your customers; earn repeat business from your customers by being trustworthy, knowledgeable, and rewarding your best salespeople for great work. Find out from your customers whether your salespeople are providing value. As the Altify study shows, this may not be  obvious to the salespeople themselves.

Second, for my friends who are bike shop customers: Reward shops with great salespeople with your repeat business. Recommend them to friends. And understand that a bike is not a simple online purchase, because you certainly can’t have it properly fit, serviced or upgraded online.

In short: remember: Good salespeople aren’t just a value-add; may be what stands between you and a disastrous decision.


  1. Comment by Stephen S | 04.19.2016 | 9:17 am

    Really important piece here, Fatty. I took a look at the Leopard and decided against it, but I could see how some might think it’s the best thing ever…until he tried riding it and wondered why he didn’t like it.

    Thanks! – FC

  2. Comment by D. | 04.19.2016 | 9:24 am

    You’re wrong. But it’s your blog, not mine.

    After riding for 25+ years, a salesperson adds nothing but additional cost for me. And I live in the Colorado Front Range. I throw my favorite shop a bone from time-to-time, but just cause he’s an awful nice guy. He makes the decision on how to run his business; I make the decision how to spend my cycling dollars. For almost a decade, that has not been big purchases at local shops.

    And over the years, you, Fatty, have show zero brand loyalty to people that have been very generous to you, as you quickly ride the next thing or stuff from some company that gives you this, or offers you that, for a “giveaway”. That’s your loyalty, your cred on this rant is flimsy.

    You have some good points here, and I want to respond to a couple of them.

    I’d say it’s not correct to say you don’t need a salesperson. Rather, you need a salesperson who can match your experience. With 25+ years of cycling experience under your belt, a kid working a part-time job isn’t going to be able to help you. With where you live (i.e., a cycling mecca), there should be shops with people who can match your needs. I’d say that your sticking with a shop that isn’t really doing business in a way that helps you is not in your interest. My saying that we should give repeat business to salespeople is predicated on saying that they need to be knowledgeable enough to add value, not that you should stay with a shop no matter what.

    As far as my credibility and brand loyalty go, I have a couple thoughts. First, I am incredibly loyal to Racer’s Cycle Service; Racer Gibson has been (and is) a knowledgeable, trusted salesperson to me for fifteen years. As he has changed brands he sells, I have too. The two most recent bikes I have purchased (as oppose to being lent or given because of this blog) are both Felts, the brand Racer sells and recommends. When he was a Gary Fisher dealer, I bought Gary Fishers. And no matter what brand of bike I buy (or am given), it’s Racer I go to for service and upgrade recommendations. When I talk about the value of a knowledgeable salesperson, I think I have excellent credibility.

    As far as switching between brands for giveaways, I of course don’t talk about why I am switching, because sometimes it would come across as unkind. But I will say that I prefer to stay with brands when I can…but company priorities change or sometimes they feel they’ve gotten the value they want from giveaways with me and it’s time to do something else. And that’s perfectly fine.

    Thanks for your great comment and for taking the time to write! – FC

  3. Comment by Bob S. | 04.19.2016 | 9:26 am

    How many people working at bike shops are legit sales people? The experience at many shops is pretty awful. The knowledge is often there, but the customer service skills are lacking or nonexistent. You end up with too many bike shop employees who love bikes and (at best) tolerate people. Cycling is a strange culture overall and most bike shops crank that culture to 11.

    I’m convinced that the future for most shops is going mobile, dropping the store, and living with the fact that they’ll need to cater services right to the customer’s most convenient (or needed) location. They’ll source parts from wherever it’s cheapest – even encourage their customers to do the same if the customer is comfortable with the caveats that come with that approach. These mobile shops won’t sell bikes. The manufacturers will sell bikes direct and the mobile shop will do fits, assembly, and on-going maintenance. The manufacturers will have to figure out how to handle returns once most shops are no longer physical locations willing to be stuck with inventory they can’t afford to carry anyway.

    I don’t think this view of the future of the independent bike dealer is bleak. It’s going to change in ways that people demand it to change. The big question will be for the manufacturers – how do they deal with a dwindling customer base? For now, the brands seem content to milk the shrinking customer base as much as they can until consolidation happens to a point where there are maybe two major brands left standing. Now that is bleak.

    What a great comment. I really think your first question, “How many people working at bike shops are legit sales people?” is critical. I’ve seen the closed-off culture you mention, and it’s exactly that problem bike stores need to overcome if they’re going to avoid being shut out by self-serve online competitors. That’s why I chose the headline I did for this piece. – FC

  4. Comment by Gregg Blanchard | 04.19.2016 | 10:06 am

    I can certainly see your position and the points made are good ones, but the underlying topic that wasn’t addressed is what to do if you only have $1,400. The industry only uses the word aluminum in hushed tones, but if that’s all you can afford and carbon priced at aluminum levels is a bad choice, I’d love to hear thoughts on what you’d buy if you only had $1,400 as many of us do. Because for some the choice isn’t between bike shops and buying direct, it’s between buying a bike and choosing another, more affordable, sport.

    That’s a great question. I’ll start by saying $1400 is plenty of money for a really good bike. I think it might be fun for me to write a post about “What bike I’d buy if I had $1000″ (and I think I will, because I always need post ideas) but bear in mind that’s what *I* would buy, which may or may not be the right thing for you. I really do believe this: a great salesperson at a great shop is going to be able to help you get the right bike at the price point you can afford. – FC

  5. Comment by Thad | 04.19.2016 | 10:48 am

    The Leopard.
    1.2 kg for a frame isn’t light. A decent aluminum frame would be the same, and just because it’s carbon, doesn’t mean it rides better. 1500 dollars retail will get you 105 components, and some service at a bike shop from a reputable brand. If it’s last year’s model, you can expect 20-30 percent off that.

    They aren’t posting any aerodynamic numbers, so it’s a crap shoot as to whether or not that frame has benefit. The carbon wheels are a nice touch, but it doesn’t look like those carry a warranty.
    There is a big problem with proprietary parts from large manufacturers. If they don’t work, you are screwed. The savings quickly evaporate when that bike needs work done. Light, Cheap, Strong, pick two.

    Value is getting a good product at a good price. I think Fatty’s point was that there are no silver bullets, not necessarily that everyone should make ALL their purchases from the local bike shop.

  6. Comment by Keirin | 04.19.2016 | 10:53 am

    I work at a shop and I am pretty sure I am the knowledgeable, trustable sales guy you’re talking about. I think your suggestion about finding whether I’ve really been helpful (instead of just assuming I have been) is a good one though.

  7. Comment by AKChick | 04.19.2016 | 11:04 am

    I completely agree with you and disagree with D’s comment above.

    We are fortunate to have several LBS in our area. We are not a huge city by any means. There is one shop that stands out head and shoulders above the rest – Paramount Cycles – their customer service is top notch and they don’t treat you like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (we have one shop like that – I only shop when I have to or a relative who isn’t familiar with my preferred LBS gets me a gift certificate there). The interesting thing is that they are a sister shop to two other shops in town – neither of which I care for very much. One of the shops is downright awful.

    I LOVE my LBS. Everyone, from the salespeople to the mechanics to the manager are super nice and very knowledgeable. There are a couple of really experienced ladies on staff (one has written a book about local trails around the city). They take their time, make you feel awesome, and don’t look down their nose at you because you don’t look like a professional cyclist.

    When I wanted a super fancy carbon fiber road bike with electronic shifting, and I had certain brand that I wanted, my LBS happens to be the only authorized dealer in state. The bike I wanted was limited in production. The only way I could get the bike I wanted was if he ordered 10 of them, which we both knew wouldn’t sell in this tiny market. My only option was looking like I’d have to find a dealership several thousand miles away that would order the bike and in my frame size and see if they’d ship to my LBS so I could get it fit and the seat post cut. Did I mention we’ve bought all our bikes except my spin bike and my fat tire bike at this shop? Since the manager had a great relationship with his distributor, he was able to get a limited number (3 bikes) and the bike company (Giant – my bike is from their LIV line) sent up a rep to show their mechanic how to properly cut the integrated seat post. They spent time with me making sure that we got the right height on the seat post and then took time to explain to me if I switched out seats, how to adjust the height with spacers. When I need something or my bike needs a tune-up, where to I go? I go to Paramount. The others just can’t compare. They also have a cool program where you spend a certain amount on certain items and you get money back towards the purchase clothing and other items (not a bike though). :)

    So I would say that salespeople are very important. I would never buy a bike on a Kickstarter unless there was a prototype that I could see, touch and examine, and take for a test ride. I couldn’t find my exact bike due to limited production but I was able to ride a similar bike so I could get a good feel for it.

  8. Comment by dug | 04.19.2016 | 11:12 am

    Being a fan of the big 4 sports . . . okay, revising that to big 3, hockey just doesn’t qualify. Being a fan in the big 3 sports in the free agent era these days means it’s hard to be a fan of a team because player continuity is so rare. That Kobe Bryant (however you feel about him as a player or a person) spent his entire 20 year career with the Lakers is unprecedented. There are instances where this happens, of course, but it’s getting rarer and rarer. Players follow the money, and fans tend to follow the players.

    That’s how I feel about bike shops–I don’t follow the shop, I follow the mechanic/friend/owner. Most brands make good bikes, most shops carry at least one good brand. I care a lot more about the person I’m dealing with than than almost anything else about the shop. I’m actually seeking a relationship.

    I have a friend who runs a large network of climbing gyms that I and my family have spent some time at. He recently asked me what I thought they could do to make people more likely to join. And my response was the same advice I would give any bike shop–make people feel like they are “in the club” regardless of experience or gear or money or whatever. The very worst thing you can do is behave like John Cusack and Jack Black in High Fidelity–that there is an inner circle of “real cyclists” that the rest of us will never be a part of.

    Everybody wants to go somewhere where everybody knows your name.

  9. Comment by Arizona Guy | 04.19.2016 | 1:08 pm

    I gave some very successful advice to a woman I work with on buying a bike. I told here bikes are pretty much the same at any price point $500, 1500, 15,000… so get one in a color you like so you are happy to get out on in.

    She has been riding regularly for over a year now and often thanks me for telling her it was OK to ‘get the pretty one’.

    No commission payment, but knowing a helped make a happy rider is payment enough.

  10. Comment by Skaught | 04.19.2016 | 1:32 pm

    In my day job I am one of those “big business” salespeople you’re talking about, and taking care of my customers really is Job One if you want your accounts to keep taking your calls. It’s pretty cool to see you relating my bread and butter to bike shops.

  11. Comment by gregc | 04.19.2016 | 2:02 pm

    Great article and the comments are thought provoking. I totally agree with your assertion that everyone has a different set of needs and value proposition for sales advice and service. There is no one size fits all for customers or even bike shops. I’ve been with the same shop for 10 years because of the people- as dug says, “everybody knows my name” when I walk in. (my wife says that cause I spend too much money and time there, I disagree). I’m on my 5th bike now and will absolutely go there when its time for another. I absolutely do my own research when making a major purchase, the sales persons advice is a very important aspect of my buying decision. Turns out that everyone that comments on a blog (obviously except me of course) may not be an expert or perhaps has ulterior motives aside from an impartial product review. I trust and respect my bike shop advisors- Ben, Mike and Shane. Buying a bike or wheels sight unseen or ridden from a startup is really scary, unless you have lots of money to throw around and are willing to roll the dice on your personal safety. I also agree with Arizona Guy that as long as you stick with a major brand, whatever price point you pick the products are generally the same- but again an experienced recommendation is valued to match your needs to the product. Good value isn’t all about the best price, but it’s the thing that keeps me coming back.

  12. Comment by rich | 04.19.2016 | 2:10 pm

    Love this post….
    Unfortunately, most bike shops are staffed by cyclists and not salespeople. I agree that the shop owners would do well to invest in them and get some training for their staff. Also unfortunately, most bike shops are small businesses and unless you’re dealing with the owner, most of their staff turns over pretty regularly so the investment cost is high.

    I love my LBS and support them. Do I “need” them? Probably not as much as someone who doesn’t have the experience that I have, but I support them so they can continue to thrive and provide the information and experience to keep this sport growing and service our community. (plus they’re great people)

    A buddy of mine was looking for a bike and I pushed him towards the LBS. He instead bought something online and has had trouble with it since it arrived. First he assembled it wrong…then took it to the LBS for repair….he was “shocked” when they charged him to fix it. Then he crashed and bent a wheel and tried to blame them for it….he’s been such a pain, that I now regret sending him their way….

    People expect the Amazon model to work for brick and mortar stores…you see it in bike shops, clothing stores, even investment counseling and banking now….there are some instances where you really do get what you pay for…

  13. Comment by Jim | 04.19.2016 | 3:26 pm

    I want to support my LBS but they make it

    Might be time for a “Tough Love for the LBS” post, because your perspective is far from unique. – FC

  14. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 04.19.2016 | 3:48 pm

    I support my LBS, just because “keeping it local” is best for everyone concerned; me, them, the community. I’d never buy a bike or expensive components online, but I do get tires, clothes and consumables there (price, obviously).

    I do wish the turnover in staff wasn’t so high, so that I could get to know them better. The owner is great, but is a businessman and his shop caters mostly to the first-time and casual riders.

  15. Comment by Ricky | 04.19.2016 | 5:20 pm

    Great topic!

    Consumers make terrible choices. We just do. I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the Consumer Handbook we all get when we earn our first coins it’s clearly explained that we will make bad purchase decisions (if I ever actually read the handbook I would know for sure…) At some point, we learn how to trust. Then we get shafted. Then we make our own poor decisions again. Then we find the right people and trust again. Repeat about 10M times.

    The great salespeople know their space, know their products and services, are willing to take the time to understand their prospects’ problems and needs, know how to differentiate, and are creative in partnering with their prospects’ to deliver value. These are the trusted ones. You can spot them quickly. Use them. You can find them at your LBS. You can also find them in enterprises listed on the web. Just be willing to talk to them without hitting them up for a discount before telling them what you’re looking for.

  16. Comment by bloodpuddle | 04.19.2016 | 5:46 pm

    Some good points, Fatty. And nice congruence with the recent Paceline discussion on Intense Cycles’ decision to make the new Spider 275 available only in stores for the first 6 months or so, before supporting online sales. This is not just about consumers’ decisions, but also the way manufacturers go to market and the way bike stores can step up and provide the service that can’t be had online.

  17. Comment by Lisa | 04.19.2016 | 8:55 pm

    I really liked your post Elden! I really appreciate a knowledgeable salesperson…but unfortunately they are few and far between.

    In years past, as a single mom/woman, I have gone into a Home Depot hoping to find information on a home improvement project or a gardening question — only to find a dazed and confused salesperson staring at me blankly, when asked a simple question. Big retail bike shops are even worse: usually nobody even approaches me.

    I have ended up going home and turning to Google to answer my questions and then to amazon to make a purchase.

    On the flip side, at my job I see how a great salesperson can make big profits for their companies. I am a nurse and work closely with the anesthesia department. On a monthly basis my doctors are brought lunch and educated on the newest drugs and equipment by drug and medical reps. These sales reps are knowledgable about all aspects of products they sale. They are asked hard questions and are scrutinized by MD’s that have a lot of education and experience. The great reps can answer their questions and are not intimidated by the docs. In return the doctors respect the opinions of the rep and purchases are made.

  18. Comment by Corrine | 04.19.2016 | 10:10 pm

    I love my local bike shop. For those of us who love to ride bikes but don’t have the time or inclination to stay up on the newest innovations, it really helps to have somebody who loves to geek out on that stuff and that you trust. I just tell my bike guy what I want to do and he tells me what I should buy and he is almost always right. It makes my life so much easier! I don’t want to have to decide what kind of tires, what kind of wheels, what kind of gearing. Too many choices. So having a bike guy you trust really makes life so much better! Here’s to Fred who has helped me spend lots of money on lots of great bikes that I ride all the time and absolutely love! May he never retire!

  19. Comment by Tom in Albany | 04.20.2016 | 6:00 am

    People already complain about how much stuff costs. Training and maintaining a sales staff is expensive and adds cost. It is cost that people don’t appreciate enough to pay for in many cases. The result is, the owner/manager has to be that knowledgeable sales person who is, in some cases, willing to make less money to satisfy a customer.

    For me, a bike shop needs to be a good service shop and conveniently located – preferably along my commute or not to far off of it. I’ve struggled to find a shop that met my needs. I’m a very experienced cyclist that does NOT stay up to date on the newest and latest. But I’m also a busy guy that can’t hang out at the shop and learn in that way. I also don’t buy a lot of stuff.

    I’ve been considering a new mountain bike. My current ride is a 2001 Trek Fuel 98. Great bike but, it’s tired and technology has gone well beyond it. Fatty, your comments about trusting Racer to help you pick a new ride each time you want one hit home. I don’t know what I’m wanting to buy or what you get at different price points. I may recently have found a shop that I feel like I’ll be able to trust. Hopefully, it works out that way and the sales person will be able to help me out. I’m going to give that a try!

  20. Comment by Brian in VA | 04.20.2016 | 6:58 am

    As a sales professional for over 40 years (sales, management, training) I can state that the best sales pros in the business focus on their customers first, last, and always. They serve a valuable role for many shoppers and those people are rewarded with an excellent shopping experience and have a person who is their advocate, should they have a problem after the sale. As a result, they have a loyal following of clients.

    Some shoppers, like the one person above, see no value in professional sales people and that is their right. They don’t want to pay extra for knowledge they feel they already possess or have a need for an advocate.

    If everyone liked vanilla ice cream it would be a bland world, in my opinion.

    Great post, Fatty!

  21. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 04.20.2016 | 8:25 am

    I moved recently, but prior to that, had two LBS choices that made the most sense. The closer one is part of a 5-shop “chain.” I purchased two bikes there and received quality, often prompt service. Not a single complaint.

    Then, a newer one-man shop opened up a bit farther away (20 minutes instead of 10). Through a series of circumstances, I got connected to him and purchased two bikes from him as well. And I got prompt quality service from him as well.

    For smaller parts and supplies, I’d typically go to the closer shop, a large sporting goods store, or an outdoors store. But for the bigger items (including the 2 newer bikes), I’d go to the one-man shop.

    Was it because he was a better salesperson? No, not directly. But he was part of the local riding community in a way that the bigger shop wasn’t. Getting to know him as a friend, coupled with the availability to get quick questions answered, made all the difference in the world.

    I’m in sales and certainly agree with the several posts above that the magic isn’t really in the selling itself, it’s in the knowing that comes with the relationship.

  22. Comment by Christina | 04.20.2016 | 8:28 am

    I love my LBS! If any of you are ever in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Rock On Wheels is an excellent shop.

  23. Comment by Micha | 04.20.2016 | 8:29 am

    Not long ago I crashed. Bad. Ultimately that crash saved my life. But that’s another story. When I crashed, I destroyed my first and now only (perhaps last) carbon frame. I owned the bike for a week. Then, it was gone (but I was still paying for it). My LBS felt so much compassion for my story that they sold me another frame at cost and built up the new bike using the remains of my old/new ride for free. Will the internet do that? For me its all about the relationship.

  24. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 04.20.2016 | 8:47 am

    Fatty, you MUST sign Micha up for a guest post! He/she clearly already has cliffhangers mastered!

  25. Comment by bikemike | 04.20.2016 | 9:22 am

    Micha, yours is a story all too common, unfortunately. Fortunately, though, most reputable bike shops deal with companies that offer crash replacement prices on their frames. I’ve been in the business for almost 30 years and it’s why i deal with the companies i deal with. They allow us to help you in more ways than most people even suspect.
    Cheap carbon is cheap carbon, we see it in the industry everyday, frames and most especially wheels, if someone wants to risk their own safety fine. See it all the time with people buying knockoff internet garbage.”Chinarello” anyone? The problem comes when you start showing up on group rides with your new deal of the century ride and risk the safety of others. Do not bring that into your LBS to have them work on it. You wanted the deal, you got it, fix it yourself and take all of the risks you set yourself up for.
    Hope you are fully recovered, Micha and back on the road/dirt.

  26. Comment by owen | 04.20.2016 | 9:25 am

    I will only buy used/like new bikes that mostly have been already upgraded with what I am looking for and far less than what my LBS could do. I know what I want and what to look for already. I do go to my shop for service when I can’t handle the job or have the correct tools. I value them but need to do what is best for me also.

  27. Comment by Micha | 04.20.2016 | 11:08 am

    Thanks for the comments about my crash. I’m doing well. And still ride.

  28. Comment by the Putti | 04.20.2016 | 11:34 am

    I just spent an hour with my LBS talking about hubs, I learned more than I could have reading the board posts on any biking website.

  29. Comment by Bill H-D | 04.20.2016 | 1:08 pm

    Not surprised that I agree with Elden. My advice – which I wrote down a while back after getting asked for it a few times – is here:

    The TL;DR: the most expensive bike is one you don’t ride. $1400 is no bargain if you aren’t crazy in love riding that thing.

  30. Comment by fat bike racer | 04.20.2016 | 7:29 pm

    Wow, pretty cerebral, nice post. Hows that diet?

    Down to 167 today. Thanks for asking! I gotta get better about including my weight in the post. – FC

  31. Comment by Joe | 04.21.2016 | 2:11 pm

    In our community we have a slightly different wrinkle in this LBS conversation. We have 2 bike shops.

    The first is owned by the family of a famous cyclist. That is a good place to go to find out how much you do not know about cycling. It is stocked with whatever the famous cyclist is riding or promoting at the time. It doesn’t matter what they said (or sold) last year, the stuff on the floor now is the absolute best you can buy and you’d be an idiot for even considering anything else (including last years products). The staff is condescending and the repair shop is marginal.

    The other is owned and operated by a local guy. He’s an affordable OK mechanic. But his shop is merchandised by a bike company. Everything, bikes, components, computers, gloves etc. This guy has very little input into what goes into his store. He can request certain models based on sales history, but in reality the rep comes by and tells him what he’s going to be selling this season, which models, how many etc. As a result there is not much passion and product knowledge is pretty thin.

    As a result most people go out of town or order online for their bikes and components. Personally I have been lucky. I found a mechanic in a neighboring town that has maintained my bikes for going on 20 years. I am dreading the day I stop in and he says he’s going to retire. He is knowledgable, friendly and affordable. And yes, I am loyal to his business.

  32. Comment by Bob S. | 04.21.2016 | 3:56 pm

    People who say, “I buy all my bikes at my local dealer, but buy accessories, etc. online”, realize they’re not doing a lot for their local dealer, right? The money is not in the bikes. It’s in everything else for the dealer.

    That’s an excellent point. – FC

  33. Comment by spaceyace | 04.26.2016 | 1:20 pm

    When I started riding eight years ago, the best advice I got (from a relative) was “just buy a bike. When you’ve been riding for a couple years you’ll know enough to actually appreciate the higher-end bikes.” I got an $800 entry-level road bike from REI and it’s served me well. Eight years may have been too long, but here I am ready to drop a couple thousand on a new one, and completely dreading the process, because I hate going to my LBS.
    I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon and Nashbar, but I also stop by an LBS pretty often, because who has time for shipping when it’s a good day to ride today? Also, I sometimes have questions. My experience has been spotty in every LBS I’ve visited. Sometimes friendly and helpful, sometimes condescending and don’t-bother-me attitude. In some instances, I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m a)female and/or b)a true ‘fat cyclist.’
    Jim got it spot-on. I love supporting local businesses, and I *will* spend more for consistent good customer service. I would love a ‘Tough Love for the LBS’ post. Or even better yet, a ‘How to Find an LBS That Consistently Treats You Like a Human’ post.

  34. Comment by Mark H. | 04.26.2016 | 4:22 pm

    This is one of the best comment discusions I’ve seen on the Internet. Ever. Respectful, well-reasoned, and solidly written.

    As for my thoughts – I love my LBS. But, have started to look both non-local and online after getting laughable quotes for a new mountain bike. I don’t expect my shop to match the lowest quote I can find. However, I do want to feel like I’m not being ripped off. That my many years and dollars spent at the shop mean something. Loyalty goes both ways. I can’t spend a few thousand dollars more for the exact same high-end bike I can get elsewhere. Just can’t.

  35. Comment by Kristen | 05.3.2016 | 3:33 pm

    I agree with you with one caveat — kids bikes. Most bike shops (a) have a horrible selection of kids bikes and (b) know almost nothing about them. I get emails from parents all the time that have been sold a crappy bike from a salesperson that they trusted. Most of the really good kids bike brands–Woom for instance–aren’t even available in retail stores. While I’m all for supporting local bike shops, this is one area that 90%+ of LBS salespeople do a horrible job with…..

  36. Comment by Kristen | 05.3.2016 | 3:34 pm

    I agree with you with one caveat — kids bikes. Most bike shops (a) have a horrible selection of kids bikes and (b) know almost nothing about them. I get emails from parents all the time that have been sold a crappy bike from a salesperson that they trusted. Most of the really good kids bike brands–Woom for instance–aren’t even available in retail stores. While I’m all for supporting local bike shops, this is one area that 90%+ of LBS salespeople do a horrible job with…..


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