Evans cycles - the MacDonalds of bicycles?

by CanAmSteve   August 30, 2013  

My wife and I just purchased new bikes on the end-of-season sales. I got mine from an LBS (PedalOn) and she got hers from Evans, and had it delivered to a branch near her work. My experience - I went in, looked at the bikes on offer with an eye to one model. They didn't have one built up in my size, but offered to do so for me in a few days and called me when I was ready. I dropped back and they fitted me to the bike, attached appropriate pedals and sent me off on a test ride. I bought the bike, a happy customer.

My wife orders hers online. Evans emails her from the branch to say the bike is ready but she can't go that day - she goes the following day. She arrives but the bike *isn't* ready. She had ordered some clipless pedals as well, which were not attached. The seatpost was way too high for her, she said getting them to lower it was as if she had asked them for the moon. That was it - no fit, no test, no "let's see if the bolts are tight". See ya. When she brought it home I noted all the protective tape was still on - I suppose that's up to the customer to remove. At least the pedals were tight - the last bike she bought from Evans the pedals almost fell off on the way home (and let's remember they tighten as you ride...)

Our nearest Evans shop is also pretty hopeless. I went in to buy a couple of tubes once and walked out in disgust - three people working and none could figure out how the till worked! I have bought one bike from them, and it was fine, but I ordered it in a box and set it up myself. I note that "way back then" (a few years ago) a new bike came with a bike tool, a pedal spanner and a classy "book" with all the info. Now? Nuthin'. Oh - that was another thing about my wife's bike - they gave her an instruction manual for an entirely different bike - not even the same brand. Fail, fail, fail.

Halfords may sell some crap, but I think they know their place - mass market with some decent higher-end stuff. Evans seem to think they are gods - and their regular pricing is the most expensive on everything. They run a regular "question time" on Facebook which is a joke - it's like the tower of Babel with them trying to plug products and people asking questions from every angle. But, hey - social media is the future of cycling, I guess.

Or is it just me?

45 user comments

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Argos74 wrote:
They're in an awkward position - catering for all varieties of experience, the commuter, sports/leisure road rider, downhiller, and whatever gets people on odd fixies.

A decent LBS has to do all that without advertising in magazines or flashy shop fittings.

My local shop has sold bikes to a huge range of people. Recent ones I know of include a child's first bike, top-of-the-range TCRs, MTBs of varying wheel sizes and types for the downhill, XC and enduro racers and a 3-speed town bike complete with basket to my son's godmother who is now retired and finally learnt to ride. It's all in a day's work. The staff love bikes and riding, and every customer is treated equally well.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2296 posts]
2nd September 2013 - 9:20

5 Likes

I'VE Never bought a bike from Evans but I have bought bits/parts/locks etc from them.

Manchester's Deansgate store always seems to have friendly and helpful staff, albeit sometimes a little stretched numbers wise.

The occasions I've used the store at the National Cycling Centre the staff have all been great.

It could be a combination of luck and also having much lower expectations because I'm not handing over several hundred quid that means I've generally been happy with Evan's and their service.

posted by farrell [1843 posts]
2nd September 2013 - 9:37

5 Likes

I had an okay experience buying a bike from Evans; it's their after sales service (or total lack of) I found appalling. Needless to say their warranty didn't cover any of the issues I had with my new bike. I ended up paying a LBS to do the repairs properly. I have now sworn I will never use them again not even for an inner tube.

posted by Dunluce [84 posts]
2nd September 2013 - 13:46

5 Likes

Cardiff Branch of Evans Cycles is OK; and I'd recommend them; also their on line service, I've had no problems with evans.

posted by Mostyn [425 posts]
4th September 2013 - 12:35

4 Likes

I've had the hard sell in Evans; trying to sell me all kinds of crazy sh*t that I don't need.

Cycle Surgery in Manchester I have few complaints with though. There was one fella who thought fit to change my use of pedal spacers without telling me (oh, so after seeing me in the shop for 5 mins, you know my biomechanics intimately already?!) but the other two guys I usually speak to know what they're doing.

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

posted by notfastenough [3682 posts]
4th September 2013 - 13:38

4 Likes

Hmm. Seems like quite a lot of bad experiences above.
I have had nothing worse than good service from them, and at times excellent.

Over the years, I have shopped in a number of the London stores: The Cut, Clapham, Wandsworth and Victoria and been pleased with all.

I bought my race bike from Evans, and over the course of 3 trips to 2 stores, completed decent (3-8 miles) test rides of 5+ bikes. There was no problem getting any of the bikes into store for me, they were happy to spend time setting up each bike to my needs, swapping my pedals over between bikes, changing saddle heights, etc. I ended up with a bike that I absolutely adore.

I have been riding/building/maintaining/obsessing over bikes for enough years to know probably more about bikes in general than most of their staff, and perhaps that helps, but I have no complaints with the service I have received.

Shame that the experiences I have had seem not to be universal.

posted by Tjuice [146 posts]
4th September 2013 - 21:09

5 Likes

Tried the Cheltenham shop for a disc braked road/CX bike. Choice ok but the nipper who tried to sell to me knew sod all or was incorrect. Didn't know that 105 was "above " Tiagra as an example.
Same in most bike chains in any sport.

posted by mattsccm [297 posts]
9th September 2013 - 12:14

4 Likes

I used to buy all my stuff at Evans (online/various stores). A nasty experience at the Reading store (time wasting and parts not there when they said they were, etc) allowed me to put the final nail into the coffin for them.

Now I just buy from Wiggle and life is much better. Wiggles Returns policy is lovely. I just pop into the local collect+ store on my way home if I need to return stuff. Can't ask for anything more. I'd pay more to get good service.

Now just need to find a good LBS near Slough.

posted by CycleLuddite [10 posts]
10th September 2013 - 14:13

7 Likes

CycleLuddite wrote:
I used to buy all my stuff at Evans (online/various stores). A nasty experience at the Reading store (time wasting and parts not there when they said they were, etc) allowed me to put the final nail into the coffin for them.

Now I just buy from Wiggle and life is much better. Wiggles Returns policy is lovely. I just pop into the local collect+ store on my way home if I need to return stuff. Can't ask for anything more. I'd pay more to get good service.

Now just need to find a good LBS near Slough.

I would like to turn this into a Wiggle love-in too. They are so dreamy.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1504 posts]
10th September 2013 - 16:11

8 Likes

I should say; Evans used to be better, and more competitive. I suspect expansion, the mini-boom UK cycling is experiencing and them taking the eye off the customer-service ball are all part of a problem they could still fix. They have the locations.

I have pretty good luck with Wiggle - quick free shipping and no problems with items on the site but not in stock (which at least a few other have problems with). I did have an issue with a set of bibs from Wiggle that came with a seam unsewn for an inch or so. They wanted a picture of the defect (done), then had a form for me to complete with the message

"Please send it back to us using the returns system found on our website and we will refund your returns carriage if found to be faulty. If the product is out of warranty or not considered a manufacturers defect we may only be able offer a repair service which may incur a fixing charge." - While I realise that is boilerplate, I expected a bit more after sending them a photo. Why bother?

I just gave in and sewed the things up myself. Compare to Northumberland with the new tyre in the post the next day - just return the defective one in the included postage-paid pack.

Chain Reaction is also fast - never had to return anything so can't say about that. The problem I have with CRC is that their listings are so skimpy you are sometimes not really sure what they are offering.

Ride your own ride

posted by CanAmSteve [218 posts]
10th September 2013 - 17:22

4 Likes

It's a bit of a lottery where ever you go. I've recently bought a bike from Evans Bristol and the first assistant I spoke to was useless. A return visit and I got a different chap and a much more knowledgeable conversation. When I actually bought it, the assistant didn't try to sell me anything extra and even suggested that I could get some bits I wanted cheaper elsewhere.

Some on here have praised Wiggle by my recent experience with them is that their communication is terrible when the item isn't in stock and then they don't like you writing an honest review.

Pay your money and take your choice.

posted by harragan [82 posts]
17th September 2013 - 16:39

5 Likes

Cardiff are fine. Good, decent range.

I often pop in, show them Wiggle or Merlin's price, then walk out with the price matched item.

posted by bendertherobot [514 posts]
18th September 2013 - 15:42

8 Likes

Its not just Evans, Planet X are just as bad and they are meant to know what they are doing.

I ordered a bike on cyclescheme, had to pay an extra 10% for the pleasure even though they are hardly small time anymore with the millions been pumped into the business. They confirmed the parts ordered where reserved awaiting receipt of my voucher, said voucher came and forwarded to PX, a day later the order goes "awaiting stock", called and found out they had given away my parts and not only that but then told me in the most demeaning way "cash payments take priority" even though they are paying less for the same bike.

2 weeks later the bike arrived, hardly any packaging in the box and a little cardboard box called "Your Starter Kit", I thought cracking all the stuff I will need for the bike so I looked in it, nothing except some random certificate stating I had bought said bike, it looked like something a year 11 could have drafted and printed, no instructions, no warranty and no tools to put the bike together (though I have these not everyone does).

Numerous problems with the bike from the brakes to flat spots on wheels, they even put the seat post at its lowest setting so when adjusted the carbon pole was scratched due to the poor finish on the frame.

Evans are bad but they are in no way alone on this front.

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [341 posts]
6th November 2013 - 10:52

4 Likes

Evans suck. Mediocre product range and disinterested staff who don't generally know what they're talking about

Cycle Surgery on the other hand have been excellent every time I've used them. My local store (Highbury) especially so.

posted by VeloPeo [243 posts]
6th November 2013 - 11:06

6 Likes

I bought a Pinnacle MTB from Evans Birmingham a couple of months ago and it went well. Bike ordered in, built up when they said it would be, some fettling between spins round the blocks. Staff knew what they were talking about and were friendly enough. Hasn't been back for it's first service yet but I've had a couple of things done in the workshop and no complaints so far.

I've had far, far worse experiences in LBSs so I guess it really is luck of the draw.

VeloPeo wrote:
Evans suck. Mediocre product range and disinterested staff who don't generally know what they're talking about

I sort of agree on the product range, but as a mainstream, high street operation it's not very surprising- there's probably very little point in them stocking the more niche stuff.

posted by Chuck [472 posts]
6th November 2013 - 11:29

4 Likes

Got my CAAD8 from there; had to for the work CTW scheme. Spent a little while going into different branches looking for one where the staff seemed to want the business; failed, so just got it from the most convenient.

Took over an hour to just pick it up - I took it for a spin to check it was the right size and built properly, then I was getting £100 of free accessories so they needed choosing but I couldn't actually pay and go until I'd tracked down a member of staff and waited in line. This when spending £1000... how much do you have to spend to get their attention?

It's not a bike shop. Just a shop that sells bikes.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [1144 posts]
6th November 2013 - 14:21

6 Likes

I've always received good service from the Evans at Castleford (except from one member of staff) and so so from the one in Leeds.

I find their choice of stock very limited and frustrating. It seems if you want Louis Garneau whatever, then you're in luck. Giro helmet, Shimano shoes, Endura Luminite gear... no chance!

I ordered an Endura Luminite jacket to collect in store, when I picked it up it was dirty, torn and literally stuffed into a bag for delivery. Took a week to get a replacement!

posted by newtonuk [47 posts]
7th November 2013 - 0:06

7 Likes

I am thinking of giving Evans another chance on a bike order, my first experience was as a noob to cycling and left the store thinking all would be well, turned out the down tube had a dint and a chip out of the head tube and the gears where never right, they needed constant indexing and adjustment. I took it back when I noticed (due to snow I had done 12 miles and less than 2 weeks later) and they just said “prove it was us”, we ended up with an argument over and over but in the end I gave up, legally it was down to them to prove it but some cocksure nobber thought he was right, all because I mentioned the mech should have picked up on it.

The new BMC hybrid range is looking pretty tasty if it ever comes into stock, the top range Hoy flat bar does too, so I might be tempted back. This time I will inspect every inch and use the letter of retail laws to make sure it is running smooth for the first year without issue.

Do you think they will discount bikes for cash?

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [341 posts]
7th November 2013 - 17:51

4 Likes

As Sasha Baron Conan as Borat would say: " I like Evans very much .............NOT." Silly
Need proof: http://innercitymobility.blogspot.de/2013/07/viva-la-tour-evans-test-sec... Crying
Online is ok as I was able to get Sky stuff, which was sold out on the Rapha website, in-store is like hampstead bandit said, peanuts and monkeys.

Coming to think of McD, there are two good things to say:
- the toilets are clean
- They use paper bags
BUT do they know a tea bag needs to be removed to avoid the tea getting bitter? Sad

posted by Dr. Ko [112 posts]
9th November 2013 - 3:28

3 Likes

I've had good service from Evans online, including one bike, which came better prepared than one I got from my previous LBS; however I found a brilliant bike shop in Wareham Dorset, which is 40 miles away but has become my shop of choice. Knowledgable and helpful staff, good range of bikes, situated in a railway station and with great rides on the doorstep- take a bow, Cycleexperience; no connection other than as a satisfied customer.

New Forester

posted by Forester [108 posts]
9th November 2013 - 7:42

3 Likes

Never had an issue at the Gatwick store - it's actually my LBS! Knowledgeable staff and helpful with everything I've needed. It's a big chain and I can see that other stores are not the same as Gatwick. Halfords is trying to get there and they certainly have a huge customer base and the place most go for that first bike. They are miles away from Evans and still a car accessory shop IMHO.

posted by l4urence [9 posts]
9th November 2013 - 11:52

3 Likes

I think that's the issue in a nutshell. But while of course individual stores vary, the of randomness service at Evan's implies that whoever runs the company has taken their eye off the ball, and can't be bothered to do proper training.

Halfords has a somewhat more diverse base, so can perhaps better weather the inevitable peaks and troughs of any retail business. Too bad their website doesn't like (my) Macs, as they have some good sale prices and their range keeps increasing. Whoever built their website forged their own road, though.

Evan's, OTOH, have decent prices on bikes, but pretty much everything else is available for less everywhere else.

Ride your own ride

posted by CanAmSteve [218 posts]
9th November 2013 - 12:56

1 Like

The thing with a LBS is that it can be intimidating for a beginner. When I decided to buy a road bike my first call was at my LBS where I found a couple of lean, wiry blokes in lycra discussing gear ratios they were planning to use on their 100 miles plus ride that weekend.
Then the assistant bewildered me with jargon (that I now understand) and insisted on trying to sell me a bike that was £300 more than my budget. I realised that this was a world I was unready to enter.
So I went to Halfords, selected a bike off the shop floor on the basis that I liked its colour and didn't feel that anyone was patronising me.
2 years later I was able to buy a bike from the LBS confident that I knew what I wanted and what the assistant was talking about.

Crosshouses's picture

posted by Crosshouses [256 posts]
9th November 2013 - 19:42

2 Likes

My daughter picked up a bike from Evans a couple of weeks ago, because her firm are tied into Evans for the Bike to Work scheme.

Yes, there were a few assembly niggles; I had to sort out the bearings, retrue one of the wheels, adjust the headset, fix the mudguard, replace the seat bolt and seat both tyres properly, but I'm pragmatic about it. A couple of hours in my workshop were a lot less hassle than a protracted situation at the store.

At the end of the day, staff at Evans are hardly the bastions of bicycle knowledge. If they were then they'd find better wages elsewhere, wouldn't they? So go easy on them. And no shop assistant likes a smartarse customer asking patently complicated questions.

Do your homework, know what you want so you can just point to the bike you want, keep your receipt, take your bike back for anything serious, but just accept that what you're buying into is only one step up from buying a partly assembled bike in a box.

For many customers, especially ones who would be intimdated by staff at a LBS, Evans is all they really need, at least for their first bike.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

Neil753's picture

posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
9th November 2013 - 21:00

11 Likes

Crosshouses wrote:
The thing with a LBS is that it can be intimidating for a beginner. When I decided to buy a road bike my first call was at my LBS where I found a couple of lean, wiry blokes in lycra discussing gear ratios they were planning to use on their 100 miles plus ride that weekend.
Then the assistant bewildered me with jargon (that I now understand) and insisted on trying to sell me a bike that was £300 more than my budget. I realised that this was a world I was unready to enter.
So I went to Halfords, selected a bike off the shop floor on the basis that I liked its colour and didn't feel that anyone was patronising me.
2 years later I was able to buy a bike from the LBS confident that I knew what I wanted and what the assistant was talking about.

Wasn't it Einstein who said if you can't explain something simply you don't understand it well enough?

If a LBS can't provide advice to a novice without going into Jargon they don't know enough about cycling/their products.

William Black's picture

posted by William Black [196 posts]
9th November 2013 - 22:13

2 Likes

I bought my first/only bike from Evans' Clapham store and a number of other clothing items and accessories from a few other of their branches as well as online. I didn't have any "bad" experiences in the stores, and did encounter one girl in the Clapham branch who took the time to talk to me for half an hour all about carbon fibre and the merits and otherwise of various models, as well as taking a fair bit of time to fit me to a couple of bikes I was taking for a test ride.

Others in the same branch seemed to simply be salespeople in a bike shop. Which is what I found elsewhere as well. Overall I didn't have an unsatisfactory experience (I did when buying online though) - would have been better if I could have always dealt with that girl who knew what she was talking about and appeared to genuinely love cycling, as opposed to the opinionless salespeople I subsequently had to deal with.

When shopping around I also went to a LBS nearby the Clapham branch - can't remember the name, opposite side of the road and a bit further down. Spoke to a couple of the people there and it was a totally different experience, I was speaking to people with loads of experience and knowledge as opposed to some 18 year old salesperson. I didn't buy there in the end as I went with my work's Evans cycling scheme, but the contrast really made an impression on me.

My problem with Evans is mainly that they have a very small selection of items relative to other online retailers, and their prices are almost always more than their online competitors. And I never get items as quick from them as I do from Ribble/Wiggle. Due to these factors I stopped shopping with Evans completely, and Wiggle gets most of my custom as I've had consistently good experiences with them.

posted by eurotrash [88 posts]
9th November 2013 - 22:38

4 Likes

I remember going to the original Evans shop 30 years ago in The Cut, London. Even then they were highly over-priced and had an air of superiority about them. I was a schoolboy racer then. I have recently visited the Lakeside, Essex branch of Evans and the staff were like extras from The Living Dead. One guy stood near the till trying to stay awake until the end of his shift, yawning continuously. The stock is very poor though the shop is huge. I really would never use them now, it has to be the worst cycle retailer in the UK? I stick with Wiggle, Merlin Cycles, Ribble and CRC. In the old days we had great shops such as J D Whisker Willesden Lane, London and Goffs Oak Herts. Or Brian Wilkins Velosport in Epping.

I'm sure that I used to be fast?

posted by millhouse [25 posts]
9th November 2013 - 23:48

2 Likes

I think its down to the individuals within the stores, I've never had anyone try to hard sell me anything at Evans. If they did i think i could easily deal with that one. My experience is generally a positive one on all counts. I've had many decent open conversations with them on all aspects of road cycling. When businesses get as big as they do consistency of what they deliver is a key challenge. I've been to just as many LBS's and found them arrogant and looking down their noses at you. time will tell on all these, in this day an age delivering a good customer experience is key to any business' survival and repeat custom.

posted by GazHove [19 posts]
10th November 2013 - 21:34

4 Likes

I got a pair of tyres from there (click and collect) the other day because Wiggle was out of stock and they were the same price, or near enough. The idea of buying a bike from there would make me quite uncomfortable, although I had a decent chat with a mechanic at Spitalfields, who seemed to know his stuff. Going in there for advice is a total waste of time - better to go on a forum!

posted by deblemund [234 posts]
11th November 2013 - 16:49

3 Likes

Like Eurotrash, I had bad experiences with Evans about 30 years ago - so much so that I have never been back. Those people I have spoken too since then have pretty much all been dissatisfied with the service they have received from Evans, most recently a friend who bought a bike a few weeks ago. Before the bike was delivered he told me he had ordered a bike from Evans and it was being delivered the following week. It was meant to be set up for him - normal and, in his case, a necessity as he is a first time cyclist. No, it arrived still in its box. He had some trouble persuading them to do something about it. The 'something' was a free service which consisted of setting up the bike as it should been in the first place plus a £20 voucher. It seems nothing much has changed over the years. At least my friend is now happily cycling.

Watdabni

posted by Watdabni [8 posts]
12th November 2013 - 10:56

1 Like