by Ray Heisey   May 30, 2012  

Your local bike shop is a small business so this post could be titled "Support Your Local Small Business". Here's why.
I buy a bicycle tire for fifty dollars from Earl's Bicycle and Tattoo Emporium. Earl take's that fifty dollars and buys pizza and beer from Mike's Pizzeria. Mike take the fifty bucks and has his laundry done at Joe's Suds n Duds. Joe's wife Mary takes her poodle to me to be groomed for, that's right, fifty bucks. I got my fifty bucks back in return for my service. The money never left town.

Not everything for cycling is available on line. Let's say you want to buy a new bicycle helmet. You have three options. Buy it at the big box store ,online, or at the bike shop. The helmet design and price will vary between these three options but only the bike shop is going to fit you for your new helmet. Service after the sale is only available at the bike shop. To this day when they see me wearing my helmet they want to adjust it for me. Service after the sale is worth every penny. I recently purchased a new bike. The rear tire literally came apart at the bead with less than fifty miles on it. Not only did my local bike shop hand me a brand new tire, they contacted the manufacturers rep. and got me a new set of tires FREE. I'm not sure how an internet store would have handled this. The bike I bought was available for twenty five dollars less online. I would have had to assemble it and deal with any problems myself. The bike shop not only assembled the bike but included free maintenance for as long as they are in business. No worries though, the local bike shop will assemble the bike you bought online for you, for a fee, and if you bought the big box store bike they'll repair it for you. Sometimes the repairs needed on the big box store bike cost more then the bike itself. That's called a throw away bike. In contrast,the manufacturer of the bike I bought from the local bike shop has a life time guarantee on the frame. They will fit you for your new bike and make sure it's as comfortable to ride as possible. All the shops around here hold "How To" clinics and sponsor local charity rides for cancer and MS, to name a few. They also employee your friends and neighbors.

Not everything for cycling is available at the local bike shop. On my site you will see a button on the right side that says Road ID. Road ID is a bracelet I wear that has vital information about me in the event I need assistance. Mine has my name, year of birth, blood type and two contact phone numbers. Wearing the Road ID bracelet also allows me to leave my wallet at home, one less thing to carry or loose. Road ID contributes ten percent of every sale to various charities including one of my favorite, The Wounded Warriors Project. If you go through my site to purchase a Road ID product they will pay me ten percent. One hundred percent of any money I receive from Road ID will be donated to The Wounded Warrior Project. It's the least I could do for them. Thanks for reading this and as always I look forward to your comments.

14 user comments

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The only things I buy online are clothing, when ive bought that brand before so know my size. Anything else I get from the bike shop. Big Grin I think the service side is more important than the positive multiplier economics you refer to, as it is unlikely that for me, as a student, the money will come back to me, but I take your point about the local economy. Wink

samjackson54's picture

posted by samjackson54 [60 posts]
30th May 2012 - 9:10


In principle I support what your saying however I think the economics looks pretty simplistic. For example, I got to LBS and buy some tyres, Bob the mechanic gets paid (in theory) from some of the profit the shop makes on the tyres, Bob goes home and spends my proportion of his pay on amazon and the money disappears to an offshore tax exempt fund so the cycle is broken.

In all honesty I buy most of my stuff online and do all my own maintenance but tend to get clothing and other odds an ends from the local shop - even if that local shop happens to be part of a national chain which is probably owned by an international company with accounts god knows where.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1094 posts]
30th May 2012 - 10:12


I support your view that local bike shops are much the better option for the majority of your bike related purchases. However I would add one thing - the standard of your local bike shop will vary from one shop to another and also the service provided may sometimes vary depending on the individual serving you. My advice would be to ask around and most importantly if you have a poor experience dont let that put you off just find another shop.


posted by albanb [19 posts]
30th May 2012 - 11:15

1 Like

Thanks for the great comments!

Ray Heisey's picture

posted by Ray Heisey [7 posts]
30th May 2012 - 12:44

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Maybe US shops are much better than in the UK but I've yet to find one that prompts my loyalty. On the other hand Wiggle have been great at delivering and when I bought a bike that I didn't get on with I sent it back under their no quibble guarantee after two weeks use for a full refund. I doubt any LBS would do that. As a result Wiggle get my loyalty and continued custom.

ps The economics quoted are misleading - assuming the tyre wasn't made in the good ole US of A then the bulk of your 50 dollars had left the country you even handed it over. And as the sites I buy from are UK based and employ UK workers paying UK taxes how am I being disloyal.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
30th May 2012 - 13:03


I buy from a geniune spread of retailers. My last purchase was from wiggle, but that's as much about the opening hours of shops conflicting with my working hours as much as anything else. I have about 5 local bike shops which I use, some more than others. One is very local, geared towards the casual end of the market, but has a good stock of muc-off, so cleaning products come from there. One is more expensive, but the advice and experience is second to none. I think my next bike might come from there.

I struggled to find a bricks and mortar retailer that stocked Speedplay pedals, so they came from Wiggle.

Good luck with your shop, can you ship Road ID internationally? I'm in the UK.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3705 posts]
30th May 2012 - 14:00

1 Like

What's with the caps lock? It feels like you're issuing an order. I don't follow orders.

I buy from my LBS when I can, but I don't get paid much and have a young family whos needs come first. I actively support the idea of trading locally, locally grown food, LETS schemes and the goals of the Transition movement so where I buy bike parts is not top of my list of ethical decisions. Where do you buy your food from? Who makes your clothes and your iPhones?

I take lots of such decisions in my daily life. I support organisations like RoadPeace, War On Want and Amnesty International and am a pacifist (except when I'm really angry) so would argue against military intervention in the first place. Don't support starting a war and then you won't have wounded soldiers to care for.

The owner of my LBS puts loads of hours into helping club members with their race schedules, clothing, lending bikes & parts... he puts back lots more than most. I buy there when I can and always recommend them to anyone buying a bike (except for kids when no-one comes close to Islabikes).

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2370 posts]
30th May 2012 - 14:17

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I buy now and again from the LBS, problem being the two shops in my village at MTB focussed and don't stock alot of road parts or bikes.

The other problem, One only stocks Cannondale and the other Cube and will not take in anything else. With me not interested in either of those brands, Then I'm forced to go online because the next nearest bike shop is over 45 miles away.

So its all fine and well in theory, popping along to your local shop, but not in the real world.

I do go there for generic things like grease, tube's and the like, but for parts I get a better deal by shopping around online.

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9355 posts]
30th May 2012 - 15:33

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I do a lot of work for charity but I don't like to talk about it.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1094 posts]
30th May 2012 - 15:37

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No offence but when I first read the post I thought it was spam bot generated.

The reality is, as I have mentioned here and on other forums, I will buy from a lbs IF the service is good. I will happily pay that bit more IF the service is good.

I have finally found a shop which is part a chain but not exactly local but close enough (its my dad's lbs though) and they have had plenty of business over the past few weeks. They also price match (willingly) so win/win. Obviously a smaller shop couldn't offer that and I respect that. In fact I would use this store anyway now due to how the staff have been.

I have tried other lbs and had a terrible service and poor/unfriendly attitudes.

So support your lbs can work but it takes two to tango.

posted by Super Domestique [1686 posts]
30th May 2012 - 15:54

1 Like

joemmo, can we persuade you to talk about it?

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2370 posts]
30th May 2012 - 16:43

1 Like

I used to go to proper LBS all the time, not a chain one or anything, until they botched a repair job.

To cut a long story short, they left the nuts off the chainring bolts, so it wasn't the kind of thing you expect them not to do. I ended up having to buy a whole new chainset.

Not cheap.

So now I got to the next nearest bike shop, Cycle Surgery.

Its so much better in terms of quality. They stock more parts, more bikes, more clothes, and in general, are a whole lot friendlier.

So yeah.


Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
30th May 2012 - 16:46

1 Like


Clearly an advert.

Sick Sick Sick Sick Sick Sick Sick Sick Sick Sick

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
30th May 2012 - 17:07

1 Like

Ok, I wasn't sure if I should name or not during this thread but my nod of approval was also to a branch of cycle surgery.

posted by Super Domestique [1686 posts]
30th May 2012 - 17:32

1 Like