It’s a common scenario: something on your bike is broken. Maybe it’s just worn out after it served you well for a long time. Or maybe you overcooked it into a corner and went down, sending your bike bouncing through the woods and destroying the part long before its time. Maybe it’s time to retire your old steed altogether and replace it with something shiny and new.

Whatever the reason, you need to buy new mountain bike stuff. You have a few options: you could buy used from Craigslist or a local forum; you could buy from an online store; or you could buy from your local bike shop (LBS) down the street. Here are 5 reasons you should spend your hard earned money at the LBS for your next purchase.

Help the Local Economy

Let’s face it – money is tight for most folks right now. The economy is down and has been for a while. By spending your money at a local bike shop instead of online you’re helping your local economy stay afloat. Think about it – if you buy a part online the entire purchase price leaves your local economy. If you buy it at a local shop, some of it stays. Not all, but some. What does stay has the potential to move around the local area even more. Some goes to local taxes that then get re-spent in your area. Some goes to the bike shop employees, who can then spend it again locally, and the cycle continues. Your money gets spent over and over again, in your town, instead of somewhere hundreds of miles away.

Local shops are one of the building blocks of your local cycling community. It’s not just about the money. (Chain Reaction; Martinez, GA) Photo: Todd Erskine

Try Before You Buy

Some items simply make no sense to buy online. Bikes, helmets, gloves, shoes, and clothing all quickly come to mind as things you want to try before dropping cash on them. But there’s more than that – there are all kinds of accessories that are nice to get your hands on before you actually buy. Grips, saddles, seat bags, hydration packs, and even tools- they’re all made differently, and it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re getting just by looking at a photo online. Nothing beats holding something in your hand to see how well it’s made and how it functions. And of course if you’re buying a bike you can actually test ride it at the LBS. Not online.

Not sure what size bike you need? At the LBS you can actually ride them to find out. (Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse; Augusta, GA)

Service and Support

Not everyone has the ability or time to work on their bike. Buying a bike or bike part at a local shop has a ton of advantages for the mechanically challenged. Most shops offer at least a year of free tune-ups and adjustments, and some even offerlifetime tune ups onbikes purchased there. Parts bought at the shop are generally installed for less than parts purchased elsewhere. The LBS will also handle any warranty issues you might have if something breaks or doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. If you buy online, that’s all up to you.

If the shop doesn’t have the part you need in stock, be sure to ask about it – they can get pretty much anything in just a few days, and you wont have to pay the shipping. The LBS will also make sure you actually buy the right part. With all the different standards and component configurations you can easily order something that will not fit your bike or riding style. For example: SRAM’s XX crankset can be bought with three different chainring combos,four different bottom brackets, and two different crank arm lengths. That’s 28 different configurations. And don’t even get me started on headsets!

Bike shops have every bike-specific tool you’ll ever need – and the people that know how to use them. (Chain Reaction; Martinez, GA) Photo: Todd Erskine

The Human Connection

When you buy locally (bikes or otherwise) you build relationships. You get to know the LBS employees and they get to know you. You’ll even consider each other as friends. There are all kinds of perks about that. Because they know how you ride and whatyou like they can recommend gear that will work well for you. The online store can only give you a list of their most popular items. The goodpeople at the LBSwill also help you out in a pinch, especially if you are a regular customer. If you’ve gota big race or rideon Saturday and on Thursdayyour rear derailleur gets ripped off, the LBS will do everythingthey can to get you rolling again. It’s not uncommon to hear of shops pulling parts off brand new bikes if they can’t get the part a customer needs in time. One of our LBS owners even let a customer borrow his own personal bike while the customer’s frame was being replaced under warranty! You’ll never get that kind of service from an online shop.

When the LBS employees get to know you they can recommend the bikes and gear that will work perfectly for you. (Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse; Augusta, GA)

They Support YOUR Riding Scene!

Without a doubt the best reason to spend your money locally is because the LBS gives back to your riding scene. When was the last time an online shop hosted a charity ride or a race in your town? Do they put on any regular rides during the week? What about your local advocacy group, has any online store donated money to them? Have you ever done trail work alongside an online store employee?

The LBS owners and employees are part of your riding scene, just like you. They’re riders, just like you. When you spend your cash at the LBS instead of online you’re helping your own riding scene. The online stores want your money, but they can’t help you or your trails the way your LBS can. Spend accordingly.

Local bike shops support your riding scene because it’s also their riding scene.

Sound off!

Now it’s your turn: which LBS do you love and why? Tell us about it in the comments section below. And don’t forget to post a review for your favorite local shop here on Singletracks!

I’d like to thank both Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse and Chain Reaction Bicycles for the pictures and for everything they do for the riding scene in the CSRA.

# Comments

  • trek7k

    Great article Dustin. For the other side of the debate, Corey will be posting an article on the advantages to buying bike stuff online soon.

    Another advantage you didn’t directly mention is the whole instant gratification thing. You can run out to your LBS as soon as you get off work and have a shiny new bike part in your hands within minutes. And as you mentioned, sometimes it’s a necessity more than anything else – you need a new derailleur ASAP to minimize bike downtime. I’ve rushed out to the LBS literally hours before a ride to get parts.

    Speaking of Chain Reaction bikes in Augusta, it’s the place where I bought my first mountain bike in 1992: a used Bridgestone MB-5. Back in those days there was no Craigslist and this bike was basically there on consignment. I think I paid $150 or $200 for it and rode that thing for years. The shop probably didn’t make much (any?) money off it but if they didn’t help people sell used bikes I might not have ever gotten into the sport. Crazy.

    Unlike element22 and some of the other guys here, I’m not super mechanically inclined so I always have the LBS install new parts for me. For most things I could probably do it myself but I feel reassured knowing a professional did the work and that they’ll stand by it if something goes wrong or needs to be adjusted.

  • fat_billy

    LBS is here in now and mail order is a day or two. Problem with mail order is the UPS made doesn’t install ’em or make sure you got the right part. Performance is a big mail order outfit as well as many retail outlets in my area. My favorite LBS will match their prices or get close enough not to mail order because they know you can order from Performance and get free shipping to your local store. Keep your LBS in buisness because they can help you ride in an emergency. Mail order has become so prevelent so many stores aren’t stocking as much as before. So it’s up to the cyclist but remember the lbs is the only one on Saturday afternoon that can save your day ride on Sunday if you kill a derailuer. Later,

  • Fitch

    Nice artcile! Albeit my LBS is a bit weak on customer service, but the instant gratification, availability, warranties, and dedication to the local riding scene is all quintessential to why I try to shop there when possible.

  • JokerFSU

    Lee’s Cyclery Fort Collins, CO. Super knowledgeable and very helpful when tune-ups are needed with special tools. One other thing about LBS’s is that they stock the real stuff, no knock off items that skimp on tire thread counts or crappy rubber for tubes, etc. Definitely support your local store.


  • Inertia

    I couldn’t agree more on all accounts. As a local business owner I can tell you that at least 40% of what you spend locally is invested back into the community. I really feel that the employees make a great bike shop. We have many LBS here in Phoenix. My favorite ( I would go to battle, if you could battle with your mtb,for the owner Joe Berman) is Sunday Cycles. The service, the freindships, and support I get are far beyond any expectations I could have. I’m sure there are different needs for different people, but these qualities are hard to find. It’s more like a family of riders than a local business. Now that is a great feeling!

  • BikerPanda

    Chain Reaction and Andy Jordans are amazing. Havent dealt with anyone else. Customer service for both are superb.

    The guy who sold me my bike saw me at an event and came up and said ‘the bike looks good on you.’ LOL. Not even an hour later, another employee from the same store gave me his last spare tube (i had popped two :doh:) so I could make it back. Superb may be an understatement………..

  • topjimmy

    I bought my blast bike from Free Flite in Marietta and enjoy going to the one there or in Canton to shoot the breeze. They helped when after just two months of riding my fork seals were cracking. I just took it by there and showed them. The mechanic came back while I was in the store and said the manufactuer was sending replacement seals. They made that warranty work super easy. On the other hand some LBS can be way too expensive for other parts. Like why pay $60 for pedals when you can get them online for $30 with free shipping? I will support them as long as they are close to comparable in price. Within say $15.

  • maddslacker

    My three fave shops here in South Denver are Treads, Alpha Cycles and Giant Cycling world.

    In Moab, Uranium Cycles is THE place for trail 411, rentals, service and shuttles. Chilipepper has everything you could need for merch and parts, and the atmosphere there is cool.

  • bikecowboy

    I nearly always buy local. Recently ordered a jersey online and the fit was different from my other jerseys and it turned out to be too little. Had to send it back for an exchange. Extra money, extra time. Favorite LBS in my area…Sycamore Cycles, Pisgah Forest, NC.

  • 98special

    The guys at Kokopelli are the BEST.Can’t imagine buyin anywhere else.

  • mtbgreg1

    I do tend to buy some things online to get a good deal, but I still end up supporting the LBS with those last minute purchases, and maintenance. I’m with trek7k on the peace of mind from having the shop do the big maintenance. I try my hand at many of the little tasks, but when it comes to more serious maintenance and bike setup, I default to my shop.

    Also, I second the benefits of becoming friends with the workers. It makes your bike shop experience that much more enjoyable, and going out on group rides is always a blast!

  • mandex22

    Great article. Cycles & Things is where it’s at here in Cumberland, MD. a bit old fashioned but it seems most of the best mechanics are. Bill is definately the best mechanic in the area and this is confirmed by mechanics of other bike shops. They really encouraged me with my entry into the sport and men did they make my trance X2 feel right after I got it. I truely applaud the gentle giants called the LBS

  • Stamps

    Nice article to make someone feel good about spending a few extra $ locally. Hard to support completely since some things are way cheaper online ie tires… but overall if the shop recipricates to you and the local bike scene then its worth the $ IMO.

    My favorite shop BTW…. Re:cycles, Greensboro, NC

  • maineskiaddict

    Nice article. I agree with supporting the local economy and making that “human connection” so I try to do business with them as much as possible. Some accessories (gloves, degreaser, and lube to name a few) can be found much cheaper online. Bath Cycle (or Bikeman as they are known) in Bath, Maine is a great place! Super friendly staff, knowledgeable, and really interested in getting you on the right bike FOR YOU. Their mechanics have done wonders on my ride and they put a lot of time into the local trail system. I will continue to support them as much as my budget allows.

  • r0b0t1c

    Great write up. 95% of my gear comes straight from my LBS Trail Head in Huntsville, AL. The guys there are always happy to answer dumb questions and not make you feel dumb with a answer. Plus they have always been great to crack open the parts books with me and help make decisions on parts I should upgrade/replace and if they don’t have it there in the store they order right then and there for you. That’s why my truck has their stickers on it.

  • crossroads

    All true….the LBS is the only way to go. I bought my bike, the wife’s and all three kid’s bikes from my LBS and couldn’t be happier. The guys there always take good care of us. Usually when I walk in they ask “What did you break this time?” and the stories of the weekend rides begin. Will be taking my son’s bike in on Monday for some adjustments, like father like son.

  • muttonmark

    I am one that would prefer to keep my money local, as opposed to online, whether it be the local hardware, grocery store, etc. The issue is that I live in a small town (41K) with 3 small local bike shops with limited inventories and have tried all 3 out. All three have horrible customer service. I paid $28 to have one wheel trued! When I first went in, he told me $12 for “most” models. I have Mavic Crossride Disc with Bladed Spokes and just needed a slight tweek done one day after work before a ride the next morning…needless to say it didn’t even get done until the following afternoon. I now true my own.

    The three shops basically carry Trek, Specialized, Scott and KHS bikes. Therefore unless I want Bontrager, Specialized, Scott or FSA components, I have to order them anyhow. Well, I custom built my bike with a Jamis Frame, Race Face Crank set, Cane Creek Headset, Easton Cockpit, etc, and I wasn’t interested in Bontrager/Specialized parts, but the one shop tried selling me a Shimano Alivo Crank set, and believed that it was better than my Race Face Evolve (perhaps he was ticked that I was there, but obviously didn’t buy anything from his shop). Plus, one shop told me that they could face my new frame, and come to find out they sent it to someone who just so happened to have facing tool cuz they didn’t want to spend the money on expensive tooling that they didn’t feel would have much demand. Well, this guy didn’t face it correctly, and stipped the threading. Granted, they offered to pay to have it done correctly, but I had to take it an hour and a half away to get it done.

    I did buy my Cables and housing from one LBS, and it took them two weeks to get it completed, when they told me it would be done the following day, and charged me $76 just for install. (Can you tell that I don’t really care for any of the three LBS’s) So, unfortunately, for some of us that may not live in much of a bike mecca or have quality bike shops at our disposal, online or travel may be the best way to purchase what we want/need, and I pretty much will do all of my own maintenance and builds. I suppose if you needed to go and get fitted, or buy a straight OEM setup, I can see how a LBS is a huge benefit. ‘Cuz believe me, I wish that the LBS I have were competent, because then I may believe some of the advice/opinions and would be more inclined to give them my money.

  • vanevanson

    My bike shop is Camden Bicycle Center. A small family owned business. Very knowledgeable and very respectful. They feel like family and I enjoy going there just to hang out and visit. Camden Bicycle Center is located in St. Mrys, Ga 31558

  • silverchevy10

    I really like Outspoken in Augusta, GA. They have a great staff and great weekly rides. They are willing to help with problems without bringing the bike in for service. Chain Reaction is great too and carry some great products too. Andy Jordan’s on the other hand has lost all of my business for life.

  • Allenbrownie

    The bike you buy for your kids has a huge impact on his safety, comfort and fun. You should keep all these things in your mind while buying a bike for your kid. Buying a bike from a local bike shop ensures that the it will fit comfortably according to your kid’s size. Test rides and follow up fitting fine tuning is also available from a locally available bike shop. It is always the best option to choose the best balance bike for your kid locally.

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