Choosing a bike shop is a big decision in a cyclists riding career. Essentially the shop you choose becomes part of the infrastructure of your training. Acting as your home base, the right bike shop will be your go-to for both the equipment and the social side of your cycling.
While the criteria used in choosing a shop may have varying value, you should choose your bike shop because it satisfies your needs in all of the following areas: bikes, accessories, repair, customer service and advice.
What type of bikes and brands do they carry? Generally, stores cater towards a specific type of riding crowd– roadies, tri-geeks, mountain bikers, or cruisers. Shops tend to only carry certain brands, so if you’re set on a brand of bike you’ll need to narrow your list down to those stores. It’s also my experience shops have a majority of their inventory invested in one type of bike more than any other and specialize in that area.
What after-market purchases will you need for your bike? This is a tricky one as the trade off to finding a small and intimate bike shop may be in its inability to carry a large inventory or variety of accessories. At the same time, you may find that a narrower inventory has stimulated the smaller shop to do more research in order to provide the best value to its customers.
Whether a shop carries a wide or narrow array of accessories, it’s still important to make sure that a shop carries those accessories that you prefer.
No matter what bicycle you purchase, it’s guaranteed that you will need repairs and upgrades at some point–the service bay is the backbone of any good bike shop and should be staffed by experts who do reliable and timely repairs. From changing a tire, to overhauling your drivetrain, you want to work with a service department you trust. Additionally, the explanation of your repairs should be clear and allow space for you to ask questions–not overwhelm you with tech jargon. A good service bay feels like a clubhouse, where a good multitasking mechanic can talk story while at the same time finishing repairs.
This area is where a bike shop tells you how much they value your patronage in their store. Great service can make your experience in a store smooth and seamless. I.e. Service might include offering classes, ordering a part that they don’t normally keep in stock, placing a part on hold for you, taking the time to explain a piece of cycling gear, etc. Great service means being able to anticipate your cycling needs and provide you with the appropriate help. Service is so important that in a recent survey by Timetrade, 63% of cyclists said, “if an item is the same price at four different retailers, they decide where to shop based on the overall customer experience they have.”
The bike shop that you choose should be able to help you navigate your cycling journey by offering advice that stretches beyond gear in their store. The staff doesn’t have to be accomplished Tour de France riders to provide good advice, but they should have a fair amount of experience riding and be willing to share knowledge. Your bike shop should be one of your top resources providing info on local clubs, rides in the area, training tips, and any cycling news.
Price is not included in the criteria on purpose. The next time that you stop by your store on a ride and they hook you up with a replacement tube or adjust your gears for free rescuing your ride from disaster, you’ll be glad that you bought your gear there instead of buying it online.
Go ahead and tell us about “Your Bike Shop”, and why you love it on RACEPLACE social accounts!