Bike shop blues: It's too hard to buy a bike

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007
By Yokota Fritz

I found this in my "drafts" folder. The links are a few months old but I think the lessons for the Local Bike Shop are still valid. Is it still too difficult for the uninitiated to buy a bike? Or have things chnaged much since last year? Has Shimano's "Coasting" initiative done much to make things easier?

Trek makes it too hard to buy a bike. "Bicycle shops are notorious for being unfriendly places to the uninitiated. I am not one of those neophytes, but I once was. I recall going into shops where the "sales associates" were notably annoyed that they had been interrupted by a customer- especially one who doesn't know all that the omniscient staff members already do. It's about the same feeling you get going into a music store like Guitar Center."

Trek Makes it Hard to Buy a Bike Part 2. "The first thing you must know when you go to purchase a high-perf bike is that the people in the bike shop will treat you with about much interest as a call from a telemarketer at dinner time."


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Bike shop people often have social skills issues; they work better with bikes (or cardboard) than they do with people. On the other hand, the better salesfolks are less likely to be bike geeks... so they'll know less about the bikes even though they might sell more of 'em.
Bike companies would do well to address some "how to talk to newbies" issues and "how not to totally alienate people without really trying," except that even thinking about what that session would be like hurts to think about. I prefer working with the guy who knows a lot ... but then, it's harder to insult me - I'm notoriously dense...
As far as "how to talk to newbies" Shimano sent bike shop people to the cosmetics counter to buy makeup and stuff. I don't know if that helps or not -- one of those seminars on speaking and thinking positively might work better. The owner of my LBS gets noticeably grumpy and defensive sometimes.
I've got to agree. I am loyal to "my LBSes" (yeah, I play the field a little) but am not always thrilled with the way they treat me. Sometimes all is great, but sometimes I get the "don't make me explain this to you" treatment. Or I run afoul of some sort of cycling orthodoxy and am accordingly chastised.

It disquiets me in part because I know LBSes (some anyway) are or could be imperiled by the Internet and the big-box stores. So why aren't they trying just that much harder to keep my business? (All this goes for independent bookstores too.) We need and want to support our local economies, but we also want that to be a pleasant experience.
Part 2 strikes too close to home. Every single time I've been waiting on a bike I've purchased to come in (twice) or am waiting for them to finish a repair (four times) I've called several times and have been told that the bike isn't in, or the repairs haven't been completed. I'll finally get fed up after hanging up from the last call and will drive right over to the shop where , without fail, they'll bring the bike out and tell me "Oh, yeah, this one has been ready for a week."
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