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Discussion Starter #1
It was suggested that maybe a thread for questions about not only bikes, parts, and service, but also what it's like to own, run, or work in a shop would be a good addition to the board. So, here it is. Ask away!
 

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'57 Schwinn Wasp
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How do you decide what bikes to carry? I know getting a decent margin but still having great service and parts from the distributor is important. But thinking there a number of great distributors, what is the decision based on--audience size or the kind of riding you are passionate about?
 

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Total noob (& forum admin)
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That's would be such a tough decision, choosing which brands to carry. I know that with parts and accessories, you can get just about everything under the sun from places like QBP, but I'm guessing it's not that simple with complete bikes.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
How do you decide what bikes to carry? I know getting a decent margin but still having great service and parts from the distributor is important. But thinking there a number of great distributors, what is the decision based on--audience size or the kind of riding you are passionate about?
I'm sure there are shops that compare margin, marketshare, regional demographics, and predicted top-selling models. Me, I just look for the following:

1. Best colour-schemes. Pretend all you want, but colours and graphics sell more bikes than the latest gee-whiz gadget or perceived race ability.

2. Best value for the money. Which bike has the best frame, components, geometry for my customers.

3. Range. What company has the best range of bikes? Do they only have road bikes or do they also have mountain bikes? Do they have $400 bikes as well as $14,000 bikes?

4. What's my current credit situation with each company?
Sad to say, but lots of shops (including mine) have to switch back and forth with different brands due to outstanding balances.

Last year, Raleigh was my main road brand. The previous year, it was Scott. This year, it's Scott again. One of the factors is, I owe Raleigh money. However, I also think Scott has better bikes this year, as far as value for the dollar. Raleigh only goes so high-end with their mountain bikes, while Scott goes up to the $10,000 range. The Scott Speedster is a MUCH better-looking bike this year than the Revenio. Last year, the Revenio was more attractive, and I sold a lot of them. Lastly, in a small town like mine, I want to mix it up a bit - I can't have all of my customers on the same bike.

Scott doesn't do steel though, so I have Jamis, Redline, Torker, and Cyfac for that. Jamis also wins on the hybrids such as the Coda; although the Scott Sportster series is pretty strong for performance hybrids.

Ultimately, though, I look at the catalogs and pick the bikes that I like. Then I make a list of those bikes and compare the overall value to the customer. That usually decides which bikes I'll carry. If it's a toss-up between two brands on a certain bike, I'll choose the brand that I'm carrying the most of.
 

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Yesterday tired old man, Today retired old man
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Do I realy save when buying a leftover bike evean if you have to order it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Do I realy save when buying a leftover bike evean if you have to order it.
Usually, yes. Some brands discount last year's stuff more than others. If it's a bike I've had on the floor since the beginning of the season it's going to cost a little more than a bike that I order in after the season. Obviously, I paid more for the bike that has sat on the floor for months, so I can't go as low on it.

Don't count on much this year, though... most of my suppliers are already out of many models for the year.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Which is going to be hotter this year, road or MTB?
Not a clue. Road has always been hotter here than MTB. I'm seeing more interest in mountain bikes here this year, though. Still not even half of the interest in road bikes, but better than previous years.
 

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Any tips for us on what to look for when selecting a shop for repairs??
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Any tips for us on what to look for when selecting a shop for repairs??

1. Look for at least one old guy in the shop.

2. Don't be a d-bag.

3. If you see "Barnett's" or "UBI" certificates on the wall, run.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
In my experience, the majority of mechanics I've worked with who went to school were completely clueless if it wasn't a straight diagnose and replace. Most lacked any kind of fabrication skills, understanding of older bikes and parts, or actual mechanical ability. If it wasn't newer, they had no interest.

It was similar in the automotive world. ASE certified technicians were almost exclusively GM techs. Give them anything else, and they were lost.

I've always found that mechanics who taught themselves generally can work on anything, possess the ability to fabricate as needed, have a much higher mechanical aptitude in general, and also tend to not think they're better than they really are.
 

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I don't know how it works in the LBS business, but in mine, if someone is a great hardware tech, but doesn't have an A+ cert, they can't get their resume to the interview round, even though the cert itself is pretty useless.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I don't know how it works in the LBS business, but in mine, if someone is a great hardware tech, but doesn't have an A+ cert, they can't get their resume to the interview round, even though the cert itself is pretty useless.
Luckily, it hasn't come to that in the bike world.

By the way, I'm one of those hardware techs who didn't have an A+. I did a major server/desktop deployment contract that lasted 6 months and involved traveling to a new location in the U.S. and Canada every week. We'd scrap 500+ pounds of ancient servers, SCSI arrays, etc and replace it with one IBM server in a Liebert enclosure (everything went central, using Citrix for applications). Pay was awesome, got to see a lot of cool places. That project kept me in work for a year or so afterwards. Then work dried up because I wasn't certified; even though it was obvious I could do the job. I refused to take the A+ on principle. (I'm a stubborn [email protected] like that...)

If you're counting, I was an auto mechanic for 11 years, an I.T. geek for 7 years (including a 2 year stint doing web design for the state website), and a bike mechanic/shop owner for 14 years - some of those years concurrent with other jobs. Amusingly enough, my majors in college were English and History. I've met a LOT of bike shop owners with an English degree...
 

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Total noob (& forum admin)
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It's sad that trade schools still graduate people with no troubleshooting skills. What's worse is that someone would even take the courses if they weren't passionate about all things cycling. It's not like having some sort of bike mechanic cert is going to open the doors to a high paying career.

Oh, I switched from an English major to art (photography). It's a degree that has served me very well in my current management position at a software company. [snicker]
 

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Two skinny J's
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If you're counting, I was an auto mechanic for 11 years, an I.T. geek for 7 years (including a 2 year stint doing web design for the state website), and a bike mechanic/shop owner for 14 years - some of those years concurrent with other jobs. Amusingly enough, my majors in college were English and History. I've met a LOT of bike shop owners with an English degree...
I have done the same. 11 years of Aerospace Ground Equipment (Gas turbines-72kw generators with bleed air for start, Hyd test stands, compressors, heat, AC for Aircraft such as AWACS- although I spent my carrer at fighter wings with either F-4's and mostly F-15's, and weapons loaders) followed by a stint with Cat-NC Machinery in Anchorage as well as the now defunct Waukesha Alaska corp doing prime and standby power. Followed by a few years of heavy equipment for construction companies here in Va. to my current position as a lineman that I have done for 14 years and absolutely love.

I'm now learning the finer art of bicycle maint. so I can retire and do it for a living one day :cool:

Sorry, hijqack over. Please feel free to continue with the real topic of discussion.
 

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Yesterday tired old man, Today retired old man
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4,311 Posts
What ever happened about that frame that broke on that young lady on the bike shop post, did you get her a new one.
 
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