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I've recently gotten back into biking and have needed to make a few changes to my new bikes. Both were purchased from the closest bike shop that carried that particular brand which is about an hour away.

I've needed the help of the local bicycle shop for a few parts upgrades (stem and spacers, single speed cog) after I wasn't able or equipped to do it myself. So, the parts were purchased online and not from the LBS. It didn't occur to me at the time, but it's been on my mind a bit.


Is it considered rude to buy parts online and have the LBS install them?
 

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Traditionally it was a faux pas but nowadays I’ve found that shops are more likely to oblige without giving you stink eye. Sometimes I buy aftermarket parts that shops don’t even carry and they’ve been open to providing the labor. I mean, I could do the labor myself but hiring the shop to do it is one way of supporting them. Isn’t some business is better than no business?
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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It should never be faux pas, but you shouldn't expect any special treatment either. Labor is not cheap and keeping lights on, employees paid, leases paid, etc., all costs money. All too often someone walks into a shop expecting "I should be able to get this for cheap, because online it costs x amount". If you do not have that attitude, there should be no problem, no matter where you bought something to get installed. Only realize that service is usually backed up too, so just needing a part installed or even one step in an installation may mean waiting weeks. That's just fair.
 

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this topic came up a while back and was discussed at length. I can't remember what the outcome was (probably chaos and strife!) but times and attitudes are changing.

ideally, you'd buy parts from the shop and pay full retail for it. in the US, retailers can be held to a MAP policy—minimum advertised price. that price is often much higher than what you find online, especially from European and Asian retailers. I don't know how that works, but the prices you see online are often much lower than what the shop pays for those parts. for example, a customer at a shop where I worked once called and asked if we would price match a tire at $27. I looked it up and MAP was $40 and we would pay the distributor $28 to by that tire, or something like that. bike shops can't pay customers to take merchandise for them.

knowing this, most bike shops have evolved and are perfectly willing to install whatever parts on your bike no matter where they got them, so long as they are legitimately compatible and safe.

so they answer is: yes, bike shops should install parts you bought online if they want your business. they should not care where you bought parts. in fact, they should be happy you found those parts because a lot of things are hard to find right now because of the Covid-inspired spike in interest for cycling that has made many replacement parts hard to find.

if your shop is smart enough to do this and does a good job, make that your shop. buy some snacks, a water bottle, a t-shirt, or something that supports them while you're there, if you can.
 

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About a year ago, I wanted to convert a 2X drive bike I had to 1X. I am a BAD mechanic, so I spoke to my LBS(which happens to be a chain of about 5-6 stores) about the conversion and they actually worked with me to match online component pricing and then charged for their labor. I know every situation is unique, but it may be worth discussing with your LBS.
 

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When I used my local bike stores for repairs back in the days before I learned to service my own bikes, I used to have them install parts I got online all the time. I never got any grief for it and didn't expect any because I was giving them business and they charged me their normal shop rate.

It never even occurred to me that they would mind doing it back in those days before I followed MTBR and other sites. People bring whole bikes to them that they bought somewhere else all the time.

Has anybody actually experienced this kind of LBS snobbery or is it apocryphal?

I like patronizing my LBS and I have had some great ones.
 

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I haven't worked in a shop for a long time, but I don't remember anyone caring where the parts came from. I would have rather someone bring in something they bought online than a bag of used parts that their buddy sold them for $20 and is likely missing things.
 

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I know a few LBS that will install the parts for free or at a heavily discounted labor rate if you buy the parts from them. If not, full labor rate is charged. Personally, I only buy online if I plan to install it myself.
 

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For sure the shop cares if they have the same part sitting on the shelf, why wouldn't they? Still most of them will happily do the labor but of course they would have rather sold you the part too.
 

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Is it considered rude to buy parts online and have the LBS install them?
No, but the employees will have a good laugh after you leave when you bring in parts that are incompatible with your bike and end up spending even more money in the long run
 

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Policies are all over the place on this one. It's been a pretty long time since I've encountered a shop that outright refused to install parts purchased elsewhere, but I wouldn't put my money on that policy being completely extinct. I'll bet it's still around.

Some shops will install it just the same as any other part you buy from them. Yet other shops will charge you more to install parts you acquired from elsewhere. Just depends. Asking us isn't going to tell you how the shops in your area handle it.
 

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No, but the employees will have a good laugh after you leave when you bring in parts that are incompatible with your bike and end up spending even more money in the long run
Some bike store employees are condescending to say the least. There is a bike store where I live where the employees talk to me like I'm an idiot, scoff at almost everything I say, and treat me like I'm some middle-aged newbie. I occasionally go in when I need something I forgot to order like sealant or a brake pad but they make the experience very unpleasant.

A good bike store is priceless, however. I go out of my way to give them business even if it's a few dollars more.
 

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Some bike store employees are condescending to say the least. There is a bike store where I live where the employees talk to me like I'm an idiot, scoff at almost everything I say, and treat me like I'm some middle-aged newbie. I occasionally go in when I need something I forgot to order like sealant or a brake pad but they make the experience very unpleasant.

A good bike store is priceless, however. I go out of my way to give them business even if it's a few dollars more.
That store culture is disappearing thank god. Here in my little bike Mecca we have numerous shops from which to choose so maybe having some stiff competition helps weed out the bro-brah shops.

Remember back in the day when the grumpy mechanic had exalted status? Now he's just an employee with a shitty attitude.
 

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I actually bought my Salsa Cutthroat from a Salsa dealer out of state. The shop gave me free shipping and the bike was tax free. I actually told my local Salsa dealer about what I did (I know them pretty well). They were really cool with it and totally understood. I still buy a lot of stuff from their shop anyways and they are totally fine with it.
 

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A lot of brick and mortar stores also have online retail anymore. I'm no advocate for a race to the bottom but if they're not competitive with online pricing who's problem is that?

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I think the "we won't work on stuff you bought elsewhere" is an antiquated attitude. some bike shops were that way for a while. most have matured, but the idea that any bike shop would do that sticks around in spite of how rare it is. if your LBS gives you that kind of attitude, let them go out of business.
 

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Employees being condescending is the least of your worries. It's when they screw you with a smile that you should be concerned about. I know for a fact that at one shop, they talk junk about customers buying their parts elsewhere and find a way to make their money through labor markups. All this while being super friendly to the customer.
 

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My LBS is cool and always has been. They'd probably wisecrack at me for bringing in some online stuff for install, but not someone they don't know. Installations are just more money in the door, but you're definitely going to the back of the line. My LBS has been swamped with bike repairs since March. They've been staying closed on Mondays just to keep up with repairs.

What I don't think is cool, is when people take up the LBS's time figuring out what they need, when they know they're just going to go home and order it online.
 

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What I don't think is cool, is when people take up the LBS's time figuring out what they need, when they know they're just going to go home and order it online.
Definitely not cool, for any gear at any store.
I can order stuff online from my LBS, get all the deals, then go there in person to try it on etc. and make sure it will work. To me this seems like a much better approach.

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