Every few weeks an argument breaks out in the Mtbr forums over whether a user should buy XYZ gadget or gizmo at the local bike shop or online. If you’re looking at things from a purely monetary perspective, it’s usually a no brainer. Online retailers almost always offer lower prices. Sometimes they even sell them for less than bike shops can purchase them at wholesale. But if you look past the dollar signs, there are dozens of reasons why should you still patronize your local shop. Here are five reasons why.
1. See and Feel
When you’re spending big bucks on a new bike or component, you want to be able to see and feel the product. If your local shop is a dealer, there’s a good chance they have your dream bike on the floor. Better yet, they may offer an in-house demo program. Some brands offer demo tours but the event dates are limited and your desired model may not be available. If you demo at your local shop, they may charge a fee, but you’ll be credited that sum if you end up purchasing a bike.
Reviews are a great way to do basic research, but your bike shop has access to knowledge most websites and magazines don’t. Because shops do dozens of bike repairs each day, they know first hand what components fail and which brands stand behind their product. They also have first-hand knowledge about how specific items fair on your local terrain.
Another piece that’s often overlooked is parts compatibility. There are so many new (and old) standards, that it’s easy to accidentally order the wrong part. We’ve all done it. If you’re inexperienced, relying on a shop is your best bet.
Even more importantly, a bike shop will make sure that your bike is set-up properly. You can learn all about suspension tuning and cleat position online, but a 2-minute YouTube video is no substitute for an experienced professional.
3. Service Plans
Any bike shop worth it’s loam offers some sort of tune-up policy. For example, the folks at Calgary Cycle offer original owners a lifetime tune-up service that covers brake and drivetrain adjustments, a basic wheel true, and hub/bearing adjustments. Not every shop service plan is that generous, but most shops offer at least a free once a year safety inspection or tune-up.
Parts break. Sometimes it’s your fault, sometimes it’s not. Whether you buy components online or in the store, you’re entitled to a replacement if you’re the original owner and your claim is reasonable. However, it can be a hassle to make a warranty claim outside of the local bike shop system. When you buy through a shop, they take care of all that drama.
A good bike shop will also go above and beyond for their customers. It’s not unusual to hear that a store has extra components stashed away to help out loyal customers while their parts are out for repair.
5. There when you need them
While the allure of bargain basement online prices is real, when you need something right away, your local bike shop is there. Whether it’s a spoke or a random tool, they can get you back on the trail faster than UPS.
Did you buy your last bike at a bike shop? Why or why not?