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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can anyone explain it to me?

Why is it "bad" for shop owners to make a living by selling products for more than they pay for them? Isn't that how commerce works? I source products from a company or distributor, sell it to a customer, and if there's a problem, I'm the person the customer deals with. I deal with the sourcing, the stocking, and the warranty issues. I should do this for free?

Repairs at bike shops... So often I read that bike mechanics are idiots. That shops rip people off by charging for small repairs. Forum posters command people to learn to work on their own bikes so that they can put bike shops out of business. Seriously.... WTF?

I pride myself on having extremely satisfied customers. People leave here feeling like they got more than they paid for (which they usually do), and they don't need to come back because of botched repairs. I charge fair prices for both products and labour.

Yet, I'm lumped in with the "all bike shops suck!" cries. I feel like my livelihood/passion is being assaulted and insulted. Maybe I need to HTFU. I worked crap jobs (Auto mechanic for 10+, web designer for 5+, bike mechanic for 10, etc.) for years to get to the point where I could open my own shop and be my own boss, and any attack on that makes me really angry. (If anyone also posts at RBR, they probably know which post/topic I'm talking about)

So let's here YOUR opinions about bike shops. Problems, bad shops, good shops, reasons that bike shops should continue to exist, etc.
 

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Well part of it has to do with the availability of information. Years ago online shops just didn't exist. Many times they know they can order the same bike at pretty close to what you are paying for it wholesale. Then when you put a retail markup on it, it looks like you are way over priced when you are not. With Bikes Direct out there, you will not win on price alone anymore.

Fact of life is that not all bike mechanics are really qualified. My first hope these days is when I take something into a shop, is that they don't break anything else that wasn't broken when it went in. If they don't that is a step in the right direction even if they don't fix what I took it in there for in the first place. I can think of a couple of times where after they got the bike I knew I was in trouble. I actually ended up paying for the repair, then taking the same bike in the same shape to another shop to pay for the repair again. That time it got fixed, but I got burned.

Now in many small areas if you run into a bike shop like this and its the only game in town, all bike shops do indeed stink. Getting mad because you get lumped in with them is not going to solve one single thing. In fact it will probably hurt you in the long run. Good news does indeed travel by mouth, just not as fast. Do quality repairs and stand behind them, charge a fair price, provide the service people need to get the right bike, make sure everyone leaves the store with a bike adjusted to their body and you will be there a long time. Getting mad only keeps you from enjoying what you worked years to accomplish.
 

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Rollin Solo like Han...
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As an LBS mechanic of almost 10 years now, I hear you. It would seem to me that people are very quick to hate what they don't understand and/or can't afford. I even have kids trying to s**t talk me cause they think they can do my job. Kids will be kids, but the grown folks that act like them are the super sad ones. Having a walmart mongoose, a couple tools and 6-8 months riding experience doesnt make one a mechanic. Even some of the people that bought nicer bikes used on craigslist or something that think they know it all, yet nothing on their bike works. In the end, when they fail, they end up coming back to a "d**che" like me casue my years of industry experience have given me the knowledge to fix their minor problem with great ease. Then at the end of the day after I clock out and go home, I'm in my own personal shop working on my own stuff. I may not know everything, but I know a lot, and I learn more with every day that passes.
 

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Late last fall was the first time in 50yr. that I was in a bike shop.Was 14 the last time.
Was a culture shock & a trip down memory lane!! Prices then & now, a quality bike now
costs as much as a new car back then!! The types of bike's have changed greatly.
What I saw was lack of "trade in" bikes, not that they were plentiful then. After the
manager found out I was mainly visiting memory lane was courtious & let me wander
around. Tried to buy a bike mag or book on bikes, didn't have any. Any one who is in
business for himself has a right to make a living at the least. Some have good luck,some don't. It is human nature to doubt the next person, even when they are right!!
 

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My guess is that it has to do with shop owners being short-sighted, and not realizing that if they pay someone who really knows their stuff just a few bucks more an hour, they'll reap big dividends. I've worked in a shop, and I've been in enough to know that without the right staff, you'll get a poor reputation.

Bicycles are not the least bit complex. For 90% of the work they require, very little skill is necessary. A repair guy with good customer service skills will trump all others every time.
 

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Two skinny J's
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Can anyone explain it to me?

(If anyone also posts at RBR, they probably know which post/topic I'm talking about)
Sorry I'm a little lost

Professional Bull Riders?
Pabst Blue Ribbon?
Professional Bike Riders?
Pure Bred Riders

I need to go read it but don't know where to look ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sorry I'm a little lost

Professional Bull Riders?
Pabst Blue Ribbon?
Professional Bike Riders?
Pure Bred Riders

I need to go read it but don't know where to look ;)
Ha ha. :p

RoadBikeReview

The topic that brought about my current ruminations on bike shop ownership has to do with a guy having bought an $8000 Cervelo, having a crack appear in his fork, and then being pissed because the shop charged him $50 labour for replacing the warranty fork.

The shop in question was definitely in the wrong on that one, as they told him the fork was ok and to just ride it and see if it got any worse. However... Cervelo is one of those companies that doesn't reimburse shops for warranty labour. It even says in the owner's manual that labour is not included in warranty repairs.

Yet.... It was an $8000 bike. It's logical to assume that the shop made at least $2500 on that purchase. Ergo, why piss off a customer over $50? And how do we convince customers to buy from a shop rather than online if we aren't offering them a benefit?

But.... Any other industry (that I'm aware of) pays the seller for warranty work. And some bike companies are really good about it, too (Raleigh).

Anyway, this topic about one bike shop turned into "You're an idiot if you don't work on your bike yourself!" and "All bike shops suck!" So I was just wondering what "we" do wrong and what "we" do right. Consider it educational research.
 

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Rollin Solo like Han...
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RBR is not a very friendly place in general. I posted my 84 raleigh in the retro thread only to be told it was to "mundane" to warrant a response. Then most recently posted a question in regards to some lighter wheels I wanted to build, in the weight weenie forum, only to be told i'm stupid and I don't need lighter wheels. I pretty much gave up on that forum after that. There be haters there!
 

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Who put that curb there?
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I love my LBS. I use Wheat Ridge Cyclery (ridewrc.com). I found them in 2003. They are not close to me and are not that convenient to get to for me but they treat me right. I've bought my last two bikes there and will buy my next one there too. I do the majority of my own maintenance but for things that I can't handle they are always on top of it. They are owned and run by the Kiefel family who have a lot of biking history behind them and they just know how to do it right.

I remember the LBS in my neighborhood when I was very young. They sold Schwinn. I would go down there to look at the new bikes all the time and gaze longingly at the shop when ever we drove by it. The LBS has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I will always support one.

There's my shameless shout-out for the LBS.
 

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If the bike company doesn't pay for warranty labor, why should I pay??? It's not like the dealer doesn't know that when they start carrying the bike. For $50 on an $8000 bike, I'd be really mad as well. IF I owned the bike shop and it was that big of a deal to me, I wouldn't carry the bike. You have to stand behind what you sell and consider that time part of the cost of doing business.
 

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Two skinny J's
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Sorry need to take my conacts out and put my old man glasses on :eek:

In that case, if I spend 8 grand I would have to agree, right or wrong, 50 bux...I'd be pissed too. In my mind once I'm past paying for entry level stuff, be it bikes or Snap-On tools or a new BMW, I expect, no I would demand more or you won't see anymore business from me and I'll make sure I'll do what I can to keep business from coming your way. I like you, stepped on a Snap-on truck for years paying the guy a 400% markup and knowing it. I knew I was paying for better quality and convince. I knew when I broke something Snap-on, I was never questioned about a replacement and when I called in a jam for a special tool he almost always had it and was happy to deliver even if it wasn't the day he was coming by the shop.

I think it's wrong for a manufacture to warranty something and not at least pro-rate, if you will, labor rates.

I worked power generation in Alaska for a few years and the manufacture would not pay Alaska labor rates but paid Seattle rates if I recall correctly.

Oh and after this weekend, I'm an "idiot" if I do work on my bike :D It can be cheaper to pay the shop for some things. I have no interest on working on mine other than routine stuff partly because I have a good friend that likes to do it and I won't argue with him.
 

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Warranty or not, $50 to replace a fork seems a bit steep.

Can I play the Devil's Advocate role here? Perhaps the guy with the $8k bike is a total jerk. Did he pay $8k for the bike, or did he buy an $8k bike, and work the dealer over until the dealer gave in and sold it to him at a discount? Has this guy been a thorn in the side of the dealer since day one? I can't imagine that a dealer would make a good customer pay for labor on something like that. What's it cost to swap a fork, in labor? Even at $15/hr, how much could he have lost. So I'm blaming the whiny bike owner on this one.

When I worked as a photographer, my rate was generally at least $150/hr, with a 4 hour minimum, plus film. And I never wavered from that rate. If someone couldn't afford $600 for their event, I'd suggest that I show up a little later, or leave a little earlier, but I never cut my hourly wage. Sure, I'd show up early or stay late to keep my customer happy, but once you start discounting, people will try to nickel and dime you. The one time that I offered to give someone a break, it was to video a musical recital at a private school. The instructor gave me some sad story about no budget, so I worked cheap for her. Afterward, she asked how much a VHS copy would be, so I quoted her a very fair rate, which she asked for in writing. Then she ordered 60 copies, which I'm sure she sold to the families at a tidy profit. Grrr. She made more than me. I bet she got herself a Cervelo with that money...
 

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American Expatriate
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[email protected] My girlfriend goes through the same nonsense at her business (screenprinting and embroidery). As for the topic at hand...I loved my bike shop back when I lived in the USA. I lived in New Jersey and the shop was in Philadelphia...35 miles from my house. They were a chain operation, yet, they were always fair with me and took great care of my bike when I needed them to. I am a customer that knows what I do NOT know about bikes. I rely on my shop for most repair work and am not too proud to admit it. It is a shame that there are so many who feel the way that PlatyPius stated. That being said, I have been in shops where the misgivings expressed by many are very evident. The key is for each owner to treat HIS customers properly, One cannot control the actions of others. I have read most of PlatyPius' posts in RBR and he seems like a good guy and a consciencious business owner with whom I would gladly do business if he were my local shop. I also feel that with the anonymity of the internet, most of the naysayers are just blowhards, lacking the expertise they claim/

Brian J.
 

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Well Hack I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard, "Uncle Joe has a really nice camera. I really don't want to spend much." My reaction is usually, "Well if Uncle Joe has a nice camera AND he knows what to do with it, you don't need me." 99 times out of 100 Uncle Joe is clueless and they know it.

Still if you work with Cervelo, you should stand behind Cervelo. Leaving out whether or not a $50 bill is a fair price to change a fork. Out of warranty, the shop is free to charge what they want. We can pay it or not. That is free enterprise. It also in my opinion apply to a guy that bought the bike elsewhere. Buy the same Cervelo online, I'd charge. Buy it elsewhere in the area, I'd charge. Buy it else where out of the area in that a guy just moved to town and really hasn't got a local bike shop, I probably wouldn't charge. If they have a Cervelo, it probably isn't going to be the last bike they buy. It wouldn't be worth it to me to tick off a good customer over a 50. Buy it from me and no way I'd charge.
 

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Yep, but I would also expect the dealer to stand behind it too. IF I am going to pay for labor on a warranty repair, I'll just buy it online let the dealer miss out on the original profit. Such a deal with their dealers is a good reason to drop a brand. If you don't drop the brand, for those you sell you should expect to have some labor costs in service that Cervelo doesn't cover. Honestly a warranty claim on a well build product should be so rare that a dealer wouldn't hesitate to just make it right on the bikes they sell. I would consider it more along the lines of the free lifetime adjustments.

Hack do you have a list of companies that will not reimburse labor on a warranty?? Id be interested to know who they are.
 

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I have no such list. But you can't buy a Cervelo (or a Specialized, or many other brands) online either. Many companies will not allow their products to be sold online, as it diminishes the brands.

Warranties are an interesting beast. Consider the word "lifetime" - what's that mean? Certainly not what most people think it means.
 

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I've been lucky with my LBS. Great shop and guys who I consider friends. I will gladly give them business because I know they'll stand behind it. However, when I bought my Prevail a few weeks back, I realized I'm not up to an automatic 20% discount.

When I bought my Look 585 about 5 years ago, this was not a brand they carried. However, the owner told me to find my dream build from any of the online dealers that sold complete Looks. I found about the best deal I could, printed it, and he matched the price. He matched their no-tax price with his price after taxes and threw in a free pair of shoes.

The mechanics there are also top-notch, and would trust them with any repair.

All-in-all, my LBS is not only my LBS, it's a place I enjoy just going to hang-out with good folks.

Keep your head-up owners and mechs, there's lots of us out here that appreciate you guys!

Highroller Cyclery
 

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I recall getting a $300 quote from a Cannondale dealer in Australia to rebuild my Headshok. When the mechanic at the shop I worked out heard how much they wanted, he told me to bring in my fork and a new pair of Lin socks. Seemed like a good deal to me.
 

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spin... spin.. spin
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I LOVE MY LBS... good place to hang out and they help people a lot. i buy everything i can from them and rarely concern myself if it can be found cheaper elsewhere. the other day they trued a wheel for me and did not charge me. i asked the owner why and he told me that i was a good customer. they are the type of guys that will do that but if you expect it for free it's not going to happen.
sedona has a huge mtb rental market thus they make most of their money off that and repairs. i buy parts and gear from them but admit i have never purchased a bike from them. my newest road bike was purchased online and the guys understand because they do not sell any high end road brands. if they had any high end brand i would have purchased there. assuming they could get me a frame or bike with campy... not always easy to do now days.
i do also work on my bike, not so much to hurt the shop but i like knowing how the work was done and what needs to be done if it gives me problems again. i also like working on my bikes. recently a coworker asked me to tune their bike up... i declined and recommended the LBS. they know i have a stand and tools and thus got pissed at me. i explained that i was not a mechanic but a rider... i make money filing paper work and am cool with the deal. not my deal to take work away from the guys who need it. that being said i did repair a neighbor girls bike the other day, it was a low end thing that needed some adjustments. she said her dad told her to just ride it how it was... but safety first right?
back to the topic, if a shop charged me $50 dollars to warranty a fork i would pay it... but do think it is a little steep. honestly i probably would have just had them get the fork in and put it on myself.
the amount of money i spend at a shop has to do mainly with how chill the employees are.....
 
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