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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's what I posted on a recent thread:

antonio said:
Spending money at a bike shop isn't like giving to a good cause. They're a business and, if the demand drops, then the underperforming ones just have to go.

I've only been an avid cyclists for ~5 years so my experience is limited, but it seems many shop's have existed because in the past the mechanics did not have to compete with all the information available on the internet, and overall shops did not have to deal with internet pricing. But the internet is not going to go away, so some LBS's are going to have to step it up, or fold.

Looking ahead, that might mean longer trips to get to a shop, but considering I only visit shops about 1/2 dozen times a year, I'm ok with that.
My thoughts are based on my limited experiences and relationships, and on what I read on the internet :)rolleyes:), so I'm curious as to what everyone else thinks.

Ant
 

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My local shop seems extremely busy these days, selling and--in particular--fixing old or broken bikes. The number of people riding bikes to get places is skyrocketing. Most of them have little knowledge regarding bikes and aren't out there on the internet shopping for that type of purchase. They don't know much about bikes and need help from a local shop. A lot of them are bringing in their "new" department store bikes to get fixed when they break down right away.

Based upon what they keep in stock, it seems my local shop is selling lots of commuter bikes/paved path bikes. You won't find a bunch of high end carbon road and mountain bikes in stock, but there seem to be lots of the street riding models showing up and disappearing all the time.
 

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local trails rider
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I see my local shops approaching things in various ways.

Some make their bread and butter out of practical bikes and service, while the nicer road and mountain bikes are more like a hobby that is not exactly making a loss.

Some expand to other hobbies/sports like skiing or rock climbing.

One is a widely recognized suspension specialist.

There will be cyclists who at least want the services of competent mechanics. I for one want to leave stuff like BB and headset installation (with the frame prepping) and fork and shock servicing to someone who definitely knows what he is doing.
 

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Taking a look at society around us, I expect the fast food "restaurants" to disappear before LBS become extinct.

People, for the most part, don't really want to research much or spend time fixing things, etc. They just want "the expert" to tell them what they need and take care of it. It's the same with car repair, home repair, doctors, restaurants and most things affecting life.

Of course, there are exceptions, but the norm is enough to keep LBS in business. There might be saturation of the market and some LBS will close (just like restaurants always do).
 

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I live in a college town, and every time I visit the shop there is always at least 1 more person in the shop. Usually its someone getting a tube replaced or something like that. All of their sales are the entry level bikes going to incoming freshmen. If your question isn't about a road bike or entry level mountain bike you are SOL. So I have to do all my shopping online also. And the next closest shop is an hours drive away. So I do all the shopping online I can.
 

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gravity curmudgeon
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The cycling market is changing, especially for the LBS. No doubt. But they are not going away. The vast majority of cyclists ride inexpensive bikes and have near zero bike mechanic skills and/or time to mess with that stuff. Lots of local bike shops will continue to survive on the sale of price point bikes and a steady stream of bikes needing service.

For those of us who know what we want (generally, if not specifically), there are often better choices than the LBS. :D
 

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Each of the 2-3 shops I patronize always have other customers, so I don't think they are starving for business. For mechanical repairs alone I think they'll be around for a long time to come. True, you can learn to do most repairs online but few people have the tools or the time to do it themselves.

That being said, it's getting tougher to find shops that cater to those looking for high end gear or services. Those customers will inevitably need to go elsewhere.
 

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OnyRS said:
People, for the most part, don't really want to research much or spend time fixing things, etc. They just want "the expert" to tell them what they need and take care of it. It's the same with car repair, home repair, doctors, restaurants and most things affecting life.
I'm gonna' tip-toe into this one; long-time lurker but first post: I have a different perception. I think the norm has changed with the dawn of the internet and how much easier it has become to research things like car repair, home repair and even building bikes.

Prior to having the net as a research tool I do believe that society needed the pro's to handle it for them. When I look around I see everyone I know researching their projects via net and the DIY crowd has grown to include everyone I know. Not that the pro isn't called on to bail the person out of a bind, but that's mostly what their postitions have been reduced to in my experience.

I'm going to amend the prior statement to also include the economy as well as the internet. The economy also plays a large role in the DIY decision. If I had semi-disposable income I'd much rather sit back and allow a pro to handle installing my hardwood floors, swapping the transmission in my truck and build my bike. I'm not in that position and have found that less is more with some devoted time to research and praise due to forums like these. Thanks MTBR! I'm not saying I would attempt to weld my own frame, but when it comes to finding and fitting components I think it mostly wrench turning for which I've developed a skill. Wasn't born with it but I learned.

I'm not attempting to attack your point of view but just wanted to share my observations in that regard. It is possible, like the exceptions that you mentioned, that perception is relative to the community. I suspect there to be some communities that do fit your description I've just not experienced them among my middle class friends, family and neighbors.

OCTO13ER
 

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Don't worry, be happy!
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Let's not forget the LBS as a community hub for local mountain biking. We get support for our bike club, through $$ and other things, through our shops. They send potential members to us, buy lunch for the crew on work days, and more. You won't get that from the internet.

I do some pathetic attempts at wrenching and they help me fine tune my stuff. You don't get that from the internet.

I need help with stem/handlebars on the new bike I am putting together. Now, I know these guys are going to hook me up, and check the fit. You don't get that....

maybe I'm fortunate to have some great shops in my city. dunno.

Check this thread for more reasons why the net won't kill bike shops.
http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=426714
 

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OCTO13ER said:
I'm gonna' tip-toe into this one; long-time lurker but first post: I have a different perception. I think the norm has changed with the dawn of the internet and how much easier it has become to research things like car repair, home repair and even building bikes.

Prior to having the net as a research tool I do believe that society needed the pro's to handle it for them. When I look around I see everyone I know researching their projects via net and the DIY crowd has grown to include everyone I know. Not that the pro isn't called on to bail the person out of a bind, but that's mostly what their postitions have been reduced to in my experience.

I'm going to amend the prior statement to also include the economy as well as the internet. The economy also plays a large role in the DIY decision. If I had semi-disposable income I'd much rather sit back and allow a pro to handle installing my hardwood floors, swapping the transmission in my truck and build my bike. I'm not in that position and have found that less is more with some devoted time to research and praise due to forums like these. Thanks MTBR! I'm not saying I would attempt to weld my own frame, but when it comes to finding and fitting components I think it mostly wrench turning for which I've developed a skill. Wasn't born with it but I learned.

I'm not attempting to attack your point of view but just wanted to share my observations in that regard. It is possible, like the exceptions that you mentioned, that perception is relative to the community. I suspect there to be some communities that do fit your description I've just not experienced them among my middle class friends, family and neighbors.

OCTO13ER
I agree with everything you said, but I'll say that it only applies to a minority. *Most* people are too lazy or unwilling to take the responsibility to take things into their own hands. Yes, the info is there and that definitely makes it easier for those that want to take advantage of it. But, I submit to you that more people don't care as much to do the research and learn it as to delegate to "experts", because they "just don't know how".

I'm sure that most people have a subject or a few subjects that they feel comfortable dealing with, or passionate enough to research about. I'm also sure that there are more people know than before that, because of the internet and the economy, research and deal with more subjects now than before, but I don't think that the number of people like this will rise any time soon to levels that will make the LBS a thing of the past.
 

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wanna dance?
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As long as there are new people to the sport, those people will need someone to work on their bikes for them.

I haven't bought anything more than some tubes and a pair of grips from a shop in probably 15 years, and the few instances where I've been on the road and had a bb cup or hs lockring come loose, & needed a simple tightening, have ended some happy-go-lucky kid mangling my parts. Now, if I need to stop in somewhere, I ask them how much they charge for the service, plop down the cash, and ask for the 32mm and some tape. I don't care if they think I'm weird. As long as you can't judge a mechanic by looking at him, nobody touches my bike with a tool but me.

Whether there are less or more shops than that stream of demand can support, is hard to pin down, because the trend for about 20 years has been a zillion shops open, with half of them just opening their doors and the other half in the process of closing them. A tiny lump in the middle stick it out, struggle through, and a few of those are successful enough to actually run like a real business.
 

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I agree with the general consencus (sp) in that the dedicated MTB community may turn more to the ways of the internet, but the average joe with a twelve year old kid who gets a flat is going to go to their LBS to get it fixed, for example, I just fixed 3 flat tires for a neighbour because they would rather pay me than my LBS.
 

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The herd needs major thinning - beginning with those projecting the attitude that below-average service, unfulfilled obligations, and uncompetitive prices are somehow favors.
 

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brick and mortar isnt going anywhere and i bet will grow over the next few years. most internet sales are too slow to be truly convenient and there will always be a need for repairs - that alone can keep a place in business.
 

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i don't forsee bike shops leaving any time soon. gas prices increasing like they are, people are gonna be buying MORE bikes...be the bikes from target, pricepoint.com, or the LBS...plus, like scoutcat said, there's always a need for service. plus, unless biking becomes a fashion statement (like skateboarding), i don't forsee a lot of in-it-for-the-money LBS's coming in soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
My point wasn't to discuss whether or not bike shops were good or bad. Rather, I wondered if their no longer being the center of knowledge and parts would lead to more bike shops closing down, so that only the cream of the crop would be left standing.

I completely missed the obvious - not every bike shop customer is mechanically inclined, nor do they all have the time/desire to work on their bikes. With that realization I'd now guess that, while LBS's might lose some knowledgeable, bargain seeking customers to the internet, that type of customer only makes up a small portion of the overall cycling community.
 

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antonio said:
My point wasn't to discuss whether or not bike shops were good or bad. Rather, I wondered if their no longer being the center of knowledge and parts would lead to more bike shops closing down, so that only the cream of the crop would be left standing.

I completely missed the obvious - not every bike shop customer is mechanically inclined, nor do they all have the time/desire to work on their bikes. With that realization I'd now guess that, while LBS's might lose some knowledgeable, bargain seeking customers to the internet, that type of customer only makes up a small portion of the overall cycling community.
Ant
You got it right this time IMO;)
 

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Even many "mechanically inclined" cyclists may feel that some tools are needed so rarely that they want to let a shop deal with some stuff, instead of buying the expensive tools.
 

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I live in a fairly small town and I've noticed the bike shops changing. About 10 years ago the shops around here seemed to have many bikes at all price points. Now they seem to focus on the very casual rider. I would say 95% percent of the bikes and parts they stock fit this type of customer. They do keep 1 model of each of the mid range bikes.

They seem to do a great business but for a person who is more of a cycling enthusiast such as myself I find myself getting frustrated. They have tried to help me with repairs and such on higher end parts and they often times surprise me. But i feel bad because I spend a significant amount of money and its hard for me to buy a bike there because they don't keep a stock of what I would want or the size I want. They don't have higher end parts in stock either. They always say they can order them for me but so can I and at a much cheaper price.

I guess it seems like that most people like me moved to using the internet or traveling father for a higher end bike shop. I've heard people in other areas saying the same thing so I guess it is just the effect of the internet on the evolution of the LBS.
 
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