Eventually we all get to the point where we can’t stand the gears skipping, the brakes squeaking, or the wobbling rim a moment more. Unless you’re quick with a wrench, you’ll be knocking on a few bike shop doors. You’ll be quick to discover that just like there are good movies and bad movies, there are also good bike shops and bad bike shops.
Forming a relationship with the right bike shop is crucial to getting a speedy fix during bike season and tips on great local places to ride. Here are some tips to finding the right bike shop:
How busy are they?
How busy a bike shop is good be a good thing or a bad thing. Most of the time I consider it a good thing. It means they have a great location (which may mean it’s easier for me to get to), they have lots of customers and some are bound to be repeat customers. It could be a bad thing, if you need a quick fix or some quick advice and you have to wait a bit. Forming a relationship with a bike shop helps get you in line quicker though, even when they are busy. So when you find a shop you like, try to visit and support them as much as possible.
Are they dismissive about your problem or questions?
I moved recently and had to find a more local shop for repairs and parts, since driving an hour an half wasn’t really working anymore. At the new shop I tried, I asked if they could switch out my handlebar stem for a longer one. I didn’t like how upright I was with this shorter stem. It took close to twenty minutes of “well, a longer stem will make you more stretched out. Most people want to be more upright. Are you sure you want that?”
Umm, yes, I did want to be more upright and I couldn’t have said it more times than I did. If your bike shop won’t take your problems seriously than they can’t possibly help you find the right products.
Do they only talk about how much they’re going to charge you?
At this same bike shop, when I finally convinced them that I did want a longer stem and that I did want to be more extended, he then proceeded to tell me how he’ll have to charge labor me for each one he switched out. Then he told me he didn’t really have any in stock that he could use, but he did have this used one he could sell me for $25.
While, I completely agree that bike shops need to make money and they need to charge for their labor, they shouldn’t make it their main focus. I would have been happy to pay whatever to get the right stem and fit-no problem.
Which person do they look at?
This is a girl’s only rant here, but I’ve visited many bike shops that when I asked them a bike specific question they looked right at my boyfriend and proceeded to give him the answer. It’s one of those hard to switch-between-two-people-standing there talking things, but still when a girl asks a question- look her right in the eye and tell her the answer.
So what do you guys think about finding the right bike shop? Any advice you can offer? Have you ever run into similar problems? Do share!