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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!