Are you comfortable buying a bike online?

Mountain bike trails & Mountain bike reviews Protected: Forums Mountain Bike Forum Are you comfortable buying a bike online?

Viewing 21 reply threads
  • Author
    • #210275

      Setting aside the “moral hazard” of not supporting your local bike shop, how comfortable are you with ordering a new mountain bike online?

      A lot of industry folks are claiming consumers and becoming more comfortable with buying bikes online, but clearly there are still disadvantages of not being able to check fit or performance. Who is ok with buying a bike sight unseen and who is still old school and needs to touch and feel a bike before pulling the trigger?

    • #210287

      I’d do it. Especially now when more companies are offering “try it for 30 days” style programs. Some, like Fezzari, even cover the return shipping, should you not like the bike.

      There are differences in suspension platforms and geometry to be sure, but I know the ballpark I want to be in when it comes to those things. The real advantage to buying online is getting better components for the same money. And with components, once you know what you like, you’re good to go. A Pike is a Pike is a Pike, doesn’t matter what bike it’s on.


    • #210294

      Unless I had previously ridden that specific bike in question before, there’s no way I could drop a few thousands of dollars on the Internet for a product that can’t look at/try out first. On previous in-store purchases I’ve spent at least an hour with the guy from my LBS test riding different models, being fitted, discussing options- all of which doesn’t happen when buying online. I have seen some crazy deals online- 50% off in some cases, but I believe getting a bike that fits your size, and is best suited to whatever/wherever you ride is very important. This exceeds any of the benefits of buying online.

      I’m also somewhat skeptical of what exactly I’m getting into online. Unless there’s a very clear return policy with no fees or penalties, you could be one computer glitch away from getting a bike that is entirely too small/too big and being screwed.

    • #210309

      In some cases the used and direct to consumer market are very close. Diamond Back is in the game now and will even send the bike you bought to a shop to be assembled for free. This where I like the direct buying structure. Now the shop has the chance to make smart up sell to new riders and make new customers.

    • #210320

      I’ve never done it, but mentally  getting there.   I’m currently looking to upgrade my bike and have been doing online research to a point of exhaustion.   This includes visiting my LBS and testing their bikes too.

      But the more I check online, the more I see satisfied people with their Commencals, YTs, etc.   I even discovered a few Canadian start up companies which I never even heard of before.

      That being said, you do take a bit of a gamble not being able to touch it, feel it, and ride it.

      So to sum it up, yea I’d buy a bike online if the stars align and the deal is hard to pass up.

    • #210349

      Without blinking an eye.  Thanks to the multitude of reviews on everything from bikes to rotor bolts, I always have a pretty good idea of what I’m getting before I ever set hands on it.

      As an example, I’ve been tickled pink with my DNM dropper post because I knew before I ever bought it that the primary complaint(post not fully locking) was easily solved with a ballpoint pen spring, thanks to the reviews across the web.  I added a spring before ever riding it and I’m three seasons in for less than a 1/3 of one of the brand name offerings with no negatives to speak of.

    • #210375

      My last bike was purchased online. I had never ridden the bike and never heard of the brand. Did a lot of research and I was comfortable with the risk to save 50% on an already value bike.

      The risk meant I could get a full suspension 29er with great specs over a hard tail with similar specs or a single pivot full suspension with lame specs.

      It’s been a great ride for almost two years now. I even broke the rear triangle on a ride and they covered it on warranty.

    • #210391

      Where i live the closest decent bike shop is about 2.5 hours away so in the past couple years I’ve bought 2 used and 2 new bikes online.

      With the used bikes it’s a bit of a risk not knowing if the person is trustworthy, if there posting inaccurate picks, plus it’s hard to gague the condition from a picture. Lucky those 2 bikes were pretty good.

      The 2 new bikes have been really good.  I got great deals on both and because they were previous year models there were good reviews online.

      But if I we’re buying a current year bike and paying full price I think a test ride would be in order.

    • #210392

      A cheap bike sure, for a nicer bike I would have to be able to demo it first whether I bought online or from a shop.

    • #210408

      I’m comfortable with online bicycle buying.  I have also found that you have to order a bike even when buying at a bike shop.

      One of the big outdoor box stores has a new line of bicycles but the high end bikes are not in some stores and must be ordered so why not just order a bike yourself and get it delivered to the house

    • #210540

      Pretty comfy seeing as how I took delivery of a Canyon Spectral EX6 4 weeks ago.

      Not seeing in person was not a worry.  I was able to read enough reviews and seeing as how the GMBN guys always seem to have a Canyon I thought they would be pretty alright.

      The added bonus was that there is now a local service team In Melbourne Australia is what sold me.

      As for not supporting local bike shops well i went in to 3 ready to drop around AUD 4-5k 2 of them were more interested in talking to each other and seemed pretty annoyed when I was asking questions and the 3rd was a great shop but didnt have what I wanted so I went back later and bought about $1k worth of gear.

    • #210551

      Jeff, When I go out for group rides all I see is Trek and Specialized. How do other bike companies penetrate that force field when all the local shops are T & S? What choice do they have, except in the largest urban markets, to reach customers?

    • #210582

      This is a great topic. Of the four bikes I’ve owned or own presently, I used some combination of either a local bike shop, online or the hybrid model. My first bike was a Trek hardtail that I picked up from the local Trek store when I was living in PA. It was enough to wet the appetite and appease the budget at the time. As I improved in bike skills and grew my industry knowledge, I wanted something more boutique and built for my needs. I ended up working with another local bike shop (JB Mountain Bikes in PA) to help me get something more for my riding style and personality (2010 Pivot Mach5). I got the bulk of my bike from his shop (some other aspects online, but he built the bike for me). After grinding on that bike for 6 years, I decided it was time for another build and I did a full “internet bike” build (as my buddy Cody at the former Singletrack Factory South dubbed it). I built the bike myself after collecting all the pieces online. I did leverage SFS for some help with the headset install and the stubborn dropper post. Great shop I was happy to give some money too until they closed. My most recent purchase has been through an online/brick & mortar shop (if you’re in the SLC area) – Competitive Cyclist. I picked up an Ibis Ripley 29 and worked pretty much directly with one of their gear experts (Luke Dordai – highly recommend him, great guy and really helpful). He helped me swap a few components to dial this in for what I was looking for. I was going to drive up from Scottsdale for the Handmade bike show and pick the bike up in person, but he offered to ship it free.

      The downside of the online experience is what I’m currently dealing with. No fault of Luke’s or Competitive Cyclist, but UPS further proved their incompetence by messing up the shipping. It shipped last week from Utah, scheduled to be on my doorstep within 2-3 days. I tracked it to Phoenix, and from there it somehow ended up in Shreveport, Louisiana! It’s presently in-route back from Mesquite, Texas and I think I’ve stalked UPS customer service daily looking for a logical reason as to why it needed the extra road trip.

      Yes, some drawbacks to the online experience. There’s a couple decent shops in Phoenix/Scottsdale that have a decent vibe but also quite a few that aren’t very social or too quick to sell you something you don’t need. Perhaps that’s why I’ve gravitated to online more.

    • #210590

      4 out of our 6 bikes are online purchases.  I’m my own bike shop.  And I like getting a build close to the way I want without paying 2 – 3X the price for it.  Maybe that makes it easier for me to be OK with online.

      The 2 bikes that are local buys…one was actually  just a frame that a LBS had on clearance sitting on their wall for a few years.  Bought it just because it was cheap and nice and I moved all the components from a prior online bike frame to it.

      The other LBS bike was a demo that was in nice shape and also sitting around for awhile, so the price was reasonable.  I just can’t pay MSRP (or a whole 10% off!).

      I do use one very small LBS for wheel repairs / builds since I’m not a fan of doing that particular labor myself.   I’ve bought a few random bits from them, but never a bike.  Just…too…expensive.


      For new riders, an LBS is great.  Its also good for those riders who have poor mechanical skills or just don’t want to think or know what works for them.

    • #210596

      I’d do it, although my comfort level might depend on which bike I’m buying and my level of experience with it.

      Dropping a couple thousand (or more) on a hardtail 29er? It’s pretty tough to screw that up.

      But the latest super blinged-out FS rig that costs north of $5k? That I might like to have ridden before I pull the trigger. But if, say, I HAVE ridden that bike at a demo day like Outerbike, know that I like it and exactly what size I want, that would increase my comfort level with online purchasing.

    • #210610

      I personally wouldn’t buy a complete bike online, only in a local shop.  I would really have a hard time purchasing a complete to begin with because of my pickiness for components I use.  Last few builds I’ve done were from the frame up and allowed me to build an amazing package with all upgraded components for a fraction of the cost.

      If I hadn’t had the knowledge then It would only be smart to shop local.

    • #210689

      Yes. Absolutely. However, it took me a couple years to learn to know what fits and what I want.  Plus, I love to build up bikes just for hobby sake.  If I did not want to do my own wrenching, buy tools, upgrade, spend time in the work room, then I would go to shop and get fitted and get free tune ups with purchase etc….I have bought 7 bikes online 2 bikes, 5 frames, probably a wash as far as total money spent, but spending it over years versus at one swipe of card are two different things.  I love consumer direct but consumer has to know their stuff.  Bikes are so sophisticated now, mechanics have lots to know now days.  If you are busy person, want good fit and tune ups and info, go to shop.  If you like tinkering and learning, buy online.

    • #210776

      I’ll probably buy my next bike online, but I’ll also save a buttload of money doing it. That is the ONLY saving grace ordering online has, where there are many negatives such as bike fit, after sale support, wait times, shipping damage, option levels etc. But I’d love to pay about what I did for my current bike, but get light wheels and a better fork right off the bat. In some (many) cases you get the whole bike cheaper than you can go buy the wheels, fork, driver train and  tires off it aftermarket.

    • #210788

      I buy everything I possibly can online.  Some examples are toothpaste, car stereos, bath soap, dog food, music, smartphones, clothes, and even bikes.  The stuff shows up on my doorstep a couple days after I pay via PayPal.  I have returned many items that were not exactly what I expected, but it’s no different than returning things to Walmart or a bike shop (except no wasted time driving across town).  If my LBS had a strong online presence at competitive pricing, I would buy all my bike related stuff from them.  My last bike purchase was a Borealis fatbike I found on Facebook.  The rear wheel dropouts had an issue that the seller didn’t disclose in the ad.  I emailed Borealis and they sent me a new frame with the upgraded thru-axle.  Kudos to Borealis for customer service!  I have no worries about online shopping.  Mistakes have always been fixed whether they were mine or the seller’s.  I’m sure some folks reading this forum have had online transactions go bad, but my experiences have been great.

    • #211005

      I ordered a bike from Performance Bike and had no issues. I have been looking at a site called that has some really good prices but can’t find much info on them and I’m suspicious if they are legit or not. Have to be careful these days.


    • #211094

      Worked great for me.  Purchased a Knolly Warden from a place called Bow Ridge Bikes.  As with any online purchase do your homework and get to know the seller.

    • #211115

      A friend bought a bike-in-box online, and I was pretty impressed. The online store claimed that they unpacked every bike and had a local mechanic check it before they re-packed it for final delivery. I believe it. Came with a free cheap multi-tool and pedal wrench too!

      Now on the other hand, I recently needed a commuter bike, and bought a cyclocross bike from an Australian physical bike shop chain which was down the road from me (we’ll call them “99 Problems”). I was happy with the price, which was a good discount from RRP as last year’s model.

      I picked the bike out online and went in, pointed at my phone and said “This one”. I basically sized myself in the end, as the guys in the shop didn’t seem to have much idea. So I walked out with my shiny new bike, and decided to go straight for an afternoon ride to get to know it. Then the problems started.

      • The headset was loose (both the carbon steerer plug and the main bolt).
      • The cranks came loose and essentially fell off about 7km into the ride. I pushed/coasted the whole way back home standing on the seatstays.
      • When I took it back to the shop the next day, the mechanic was “away” for the next 4 days, so I had to wait almost another working week to get the cranks tightened
      • Also, my fancy receipt from the shop had a checklist indicating that apparently these things had been checked. Suuuuure they had mate.
      • I was offered no discount on any accessories (supplied my own pedals out of the parts box, paid full price for a lock)
      • Finally, they’d given me the owner’s manual for a completely different brand of bike!

      I ordered my own crank and torque tools to cover all the issues so I could fix them myself next time – from an online store which has great service – and decided since the “LBS” had added absolutely no value, I may as well buy online next time!

Viewing 21 reply threads

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.