Use your LBS?

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Thornyone
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Use your LBS?

Postby Thornyone » 25 Apr 2018, 9:03am

I have often read the advice that it is best to use one’s local bike shop, but my experience over the years leads me to be skeptical. I do purchase items in local shops but I certainly use the internet too, and avoid the LBS for servicing. The only servicing job I don’t feel competent to attempt is wheel trueing (but touch wood my SJS-built wheels have stayed true).

My experiences with local bike shops (all different and in two towns) have been:

1) A new bike purchased from a LBS. The rack was attached on the skew, to the outside of the braze-on on one side and the inside on another.

2) A new Cannondale MTB purchased. The saddle was obviously faulty, welded such that the top leaned heavily to one side.

3) Bike taken to LBS for replacement of front fork following write-off by car. The shop had the bike for several weeks before eventually (after considerable hassling) settling on an acceptable replacement.

4) An emergency repair mid-ride to a snapped front brake cable. This was the most incompetent shop I’ve encountered. The cable was not routed over the special curved ‘hanger’ which was an integal part of the stem, but simply routed straight from the cable stop, to meet the straddle cable at an angle about 45 degrees! Needless to say, it did not function at all.

Most of these issues are fairly minor, but not the sort of thing to inspire confidence. I never have had a bike serviced by a LBS, and never would.
Last edited by Thornyone on 25 Apr 2018, 3:47pm, edited 1 time in total.

Psamathe
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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby Psamathe » 25 Apr 2018, 10:48am

One of my LBS is a complete rip-of, poor service, poor workmanship. Others are excellent. Some are national chains with significant online shopping. I wonder if the idea of an LBS now includes a grey area as chains are still growing their bricks & mortar as well as their online offerings.

Ian

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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby Bonefishblues » 25 Apr 2018, 11:10am

Tried to, twice, including a purchase of c£550, and one of c£40. In neither case could they, to use the vernacular, be *rsed. My business went elsewhere, including a round trip of c140 miles for the bigger one (to Rutland Cycles, who were excellent, BTW).

I tried, really I did, but I don't like the persistence being taken out of me, and was not inclined to give a 3rd chance. The local Halfords I have found much better - including loaning tools, which was exceptional, I thought.
Last edited by Bonefishblues on 25 Apr 2018, 12:21pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mjr
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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby mjr » 25 Apr 2018, 11:54am

Psamathe wrote:One of my LBS is a complete rip-of, poor service, poor workmanship. Others are excellent. Some are national chains with significant online shopping. I wonder if the idea of an LBS now includes a grey area as chains are still growing their bricks & mortar as well as their online offerings.

I don't think that's the grey area. A national chain is not a local bike shop. The grey area is the regional chains.

My experiences:

National chain store: bike returned with rear gears so misadjusted that some were unobtainable and most were out of alignment. I don't remember what it went there for, but it was nothing to do with the rear gears! This was many years ago, but as I've become more involved with the local cycling campaign, I've heard reports up to and including handing bikes back with brakes disconnected without warning. Bike parking rubbish (Sheffield stands installed too close to the wall to get the bike in far enough to lock both wheels). I only go there now if I think they'll have a part in stock and I want it out of hours - they open until 8, which only one LBS does in summer on some days.

Local shop 1 (independent): Used to be my nearest. Fine for parts, but pretty much only race/sportive things in stock. Helpful and willing to order stuff in. Low markup. Repairs rather unpredictable (and heard similar from campaign members). Not used much since they reassembled a headset without grease - if I'm taking a bike to a shop, I don't want to be checking their work to that level. They're also well away from the other shops, so I don't pass often. Bike parking rubbish (old building).

Local shop 2 (independent): Brilliant. Helpful and willing to order stuff in, but much practical utility and touring equipment stocked. Low markup. Occasional sales of NOS discovered in their large workshop. Rarely used them for repairs, but I've seen all sorts they've done (including steel frame welding) and not heard much bad apart from some rather odd opening hours. No bike parking (old building) but it's fine to push the bike in with you.

Local shop 3 (regional chain): Good since they got the latest manager in. Was good work before then but customer service was inconsistent, like they'd do the repair and then forget to call you. I've used them for various parts and building some wheels. No complaints other than it's a small town-centre shop with limited stock and the regional chain system seems to mean they struggle to get some parts - oh and sometimes my work's been bumped by rush jobs for local race clubs but I'm usually OK with that. Occasional summer evening opening. No bike parking (old building) but it's fine to push the bike in with you.

Local shop 4 (new independent): Seems good to me (good range of parts, from sporting to utility, with a fair selection on display - seems to have knowledgeable bike enthusiasts working there) but reports from others are mixed. I've not used it much because it's also well away from the other shops. Old building and bike parking a bit iffy - either public racks nearby or lift up maybe 4 steps and lock to chunky metal railings.

Local shops 5 (regional chain) and 6 (2 shops I think): both seem fine for parts and helpful but I've never used them for repairs. The new bikes in both are apparently on the border of BSOs and I've been told about the pre-delivery safety checks in the regional not being done properly. Shop 6 seems to have rather high mark-up (inner tubes starting at £7 - fitting extra - anyone?) but a very large range of tools in stock. Bike parking at both sucks (thin metal fences to lock to, that's all - old buildings not yet had to comply with 2000ish planning policies), so I rarely stop there unless I've checked their websites to see if they're likely to have the part.

Local shop 7 (regional chain): New store this year. Seems good to me, but very high-end with some surprising gaps in the stock (I can't remember what I was looking for but it seemed like a basic consumable and they didn't have any - maybe quick links?). Also well away from the other shops so I rarely pass it. Bike parking is wheelbenders, contrary to planning permission :roll:

So on the whole, a local bike shop seems a much better bet than the sole surviving national chain. There used to be another national chain store, but it closed a few years ago.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Psamathe
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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby Psamathe » 25 Apr 2018, 12:08pm

mjr wrote:
Psamathe wrote:One of my LBS is a complete rip-of, poor service, poor workmanship. Others are excellent. Some are national chains with significant online shopping. I wonder if the idea of an LBS now includes a grey area as chains are still growing their bricks & mortar as well as their online offerings.

I don't think that's the grey area. A national chain is not a local bike shop. The grey area is the regional chains.

My experiences:

National chain store: bike returned with rear gears so misadjusted that some were unobtainable and most were out of alignment. I don't remember what it went there for, but it was nothing to do with the rear gears!.....


I visit a local bike shop, it stocks a good range of quality products, offers good advice, is open normal shop hours. Discussing with others I've had comments about their service people "that's <x>, used to work at <y>, been repairing bikes for years, good guy knows his stuff". Are they a LBS? That the shop has other shops elsewhere in the country does that stop them being an LBS? That they and a web site does that stop them being a LBS? That they sell stuff on their web site does that stop them being an LBS?

I've had better experiences from a national chain that an independent bike shop. Why is the national chain not an LBS because it sells what I want at a price I like and with local knowledgable staff.

Maybe we need a useful definition of what a LBS is (I'd always thought of it as a meaning a "Local Bike Shop" - and one I use is Local and is a Bike Shop and happens to have other shops elsewhere in the country and happens to have a web site ...).

I've had bad experiences from independent single store bike shops as well as national chains. I've had good experiences from (other) independent single store bike shops as well as national chains.

Ian

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mjr
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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby mjr » 25 Apr 2018, 2:11pm

Psamathe wrote:I visit a local bike shop, it stocks a good range of quality products, offers good advice, is open normal shop hours. Discussing with others I've had comments about their service people "that's <x>, used to work at <y>, been repairing bikes for years, good guy knows his stuff". Are they a LBS? That the shop has other shops elsewhere in the country does that stop them being an LBS? That they and a web site does that stop them being a LBS? That they sell stuff on their web site does that stop them being an LBS?

I've had better experiences from a national chain that an independent bike shop. Why is the national chain not an LBS because it sells what I want at a price I like and with local knowledgable staff.

It's not because of that, but because the staff can be gone for reasons completely unconnected with the local store or local economy, because the management are normally unaccountable to the local community, because the systems and suppliers used have basically no relation to what the local workers or market want or need, because any profits are extracted from the local economy and go to faraway anonymous investors instead of recycling locally, because their national strategy involves anti-social behaviour making calls for cyclists to wear number plates, and so on.

Some of the LBSes I mentioned, have websites and some sell through them - some have multiple shops - but all of them are locally owned-and-operated. They are part of the cycling community - often members or supporters of one or more of the local groups. It's national management and national or anonymous ownership that are the main things stopping the chains from being local bike shops, with all the consequences that seem to follow from it. Use them when they offer some advantage such as long opening times, but otherwise local bike shops are usually far better.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Cyril Haearn
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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby Cyril Haearn » 25 Apr 2018, 8:52pm

Trueing wheels is quite easy and satisfying, I have even built a wheel. Don't like adjusting bearings but one has to do it less now
It is best to do as much adjustment and repair as possible oneself, for several reasons
Did have a LBS near home but it closed, there is a bookshop there now :wink:
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Thornyone
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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby Thornyone » 26 Apr 2018, 8:18am

Cyril Haearn wrote:Trueing wheels is quite easy and satisfying..
I don’t mind adjusting bearings (except pedals), but my foray into wheel trueing a number of years ago left me with a pretty good lateral trueness on a somewhat less-than-circular rim. If we lived closer, maybe I could take care of your bearings and you could keep me rolling smoothly. :lol:

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horizon
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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby horizon » 26 Apr 2018, 11:03am

Bicycles have a very strong and well supported culture of DIY repairs and maintenance. You could argue that it is the simplicity and home repairability of bikes that is an essential characteristic of what a bike is (which is where some of the aguments over electronics etc might spring from). Throw in YouTube videos, on-line parts availability, cheap tools and a forum like this and the LBS starts to disappear off the radar.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby PH » 26 Apr 2018, 11:42am

horizon wrote:Throw in YouTube videos, on-line parts availability, cheap tools and a forum like this and the LBS starts to disappear off the radar.

Maybe, but locally the traditional LBS are disappearing, but the newer businesses specialising in maintenance and repair appear to be thriving.
I rode with someone at the weekend who took their bike to a shop to have the brake blocks changed, I didn't comment, their bike, their money, their choice, but it isn't something I'd consider doing.

I can't remember the last time I was in a LBS, I haven't been particularly well served when I have. My decisions on who gets my hard earned are based on what rather than where. In some none cycling areas I can see the difference supporting a local business makes, but in the case of most retail the difference in what percentage of my spend stays local will be tiny.

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horizon
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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby horizon » 26 Apr 2018, 11:49am

PH wrote:I rode with someone at the weekend who took their bike to a shop to have the brake blocks changed


Well I suppose if the shop is OK and local, it's fine - not everyone can do repairs (I'm not the world's best mechanic :lol: ) but the bike culture around them hopefully means that a friend or relative might be able to help. Bike maintenance lessons at school might be a good idea.

I'm surprised though that there aren't more local blokes/gals round the corner who might operate out of a van or a cycle trailer or a shed in the back garden. Bike shops are expensive places to run.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby PH » 26 Apr 2018, 12:01pm

horizon wrote:I'm surprised though that there aren't more local blokes/gals round the corner who might operate out of a van or a cycle trailer or a shed in the back garden. Bike shops are expensive places to run.

The three local to me doing well are slightly out of town, one in a small industrial unit and two working from home, they'll come collect and return your bike from your work or home and possibly do any minor repairs there and then. Both also offer a new bike service, where you find the bike from one of the box shifters and they'll assemble and service before you ride it. Retail has changed, questions on whether that's good or bad don't alter that it's already happened and it won't be changing back. Local businesses that work with this rather than against it are IMO likely to be more successful.

Cyril Haearn
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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby Cyril Haearn » 26 Apr 2018, 6:11pm

Thornyone wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:Trueing wheels is quite easy and satisfying..
I don’t mind adjusting bearings (except pedals), but my foray into wheel trueing a number of years ago left me with a pretty good lateral trueness on a somewhat less-than-circular rim. If we lived closer, maybe I could take care of your bearings and you could keep me rolling smoothly. :lol:

True story %)
I dismantled the hub to grease the **bearings** (not necessary probably) and I mounted the torque arm for the back-pedal brake wrongly afterwards
Wondered why it didn't seem to be running right, went cycling several times, then there was a cracking noise on the way to the station, the hub shell broke, got the bus home
I bought an identical hub and used the old spokes, quite easy
The rim is one of the lovely chromed Scharnhorst type
For all I know it trued itself

I do get a bit weak at the thought of calculating spoke length to build a wheel from scratch :wink:
Thank the Lord for Brucey :)
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Psamathe
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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby Psamathe » 26 Apr 2018, 7:55pm

PH wrote:I rode with someone at the weekend who took their bike to a shop to have the brake blocks changed

When I need a new tyre or inner tube I take my wheel in to my (excellent) LBS - they fit it all for free so why not. i.e. buy the parts from them and they'll fit them. Not a big deal but as I'm going in anyway, as easy to take the wheel as not taking it (and they check rim tape).

Ian

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hondated
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Re: Use your LBS?

Postby hondated » 26 Apr 2018, 9:17pm

Bonefishblues wrote: The local Halfords I have found much better - including loaning tools, which was exceptional, I thought.

Halfords seem to get slated by many for efficiency but I have to say my local one is very good as all the staff have extremely helpful.
I also think that it is worth mentioning that they employ ex prison offenders and its great to know that they are giving these people another chance in life as many companies don't.