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In Memoriam: The LBS

In Memoriam: The LBS

by / / 71 posts

There was a time when I held down ‘real jobs’. Jobs with (a little) stress, with (some) responsibility, but without soul. And while dealing with the great unwashed public never held much appeal, I always envied the guys who worked at my preferred LBS. They seemingly had it all–an endless supply of cheap bikes and parts, hanging out and shooting the breeze with other riders, and getting the heads-up on the latest and greatest developments and industry gossip. It was the epitome of the dream job for a bike rider.

They weren’t just the guys who fixed my bikes and sold me parts at mates’ rates; they also became my friends outside of the shop environment. We’d go to the pub, to parties, and to see bands. We had more in common than the obvious bike factor.

One of the guys had started out as a shop rat straight out of school, then eventually branched out and started his own shop with another riding mate. While I was spending my nights getting trashed and playing in a punk band, my empty daytime would be spent sitting around in the workshop, swapping tales from the road and picking up some tips from the mechanics on how to tweak my bikes. When anyone was sick or had to go away for some reason or another, I’d be asked to fill in. It was almost a real job, but one that was just as much fun as jumping around on stage at night.

With business starting to boom, necessitating a move to larger premises, I was offered a full-time position. Of course I took the opportunity. After all, I was always spending my paltry band earnings on bike bits anyway. The more successful the shop became, the more time the boss would spend away from it, buying expensive clothes, driving his fast car and chasing even faster women. His business partner must have seen the writing on the wall, and promptly sold his share.

The brother of the now sole owner was recruited to look after the financial side of things, while me and the mechanic looked after the sales and service sides. Now, the brother, being an ex-used car salesman, had the gift of the gab. But he didn’t know a lot about bikes, and not much more about business as it turned out. Most mornings he’d turn up to work looking dishevelled, reeking of cigarettes and booze, complaining of another hangover. He’d gruffly send one of the BMX groms, who hung out in the workshop, down to the takeaway to get him a bacon and egg roll and a Coke.  “Make sure the egg’s not runny,” he’d always bark at them. When the roll would inevitably contain a less-than-firm egg, the groms would hastily make their exit under a hail of abuse. One of the part-timers would gladly retrieve the discarded mess from the bin and scoff it down. The mechanic and I would get much entertainment from this.

By early afternoon, the hangover would be too much for him (and us) to endure, and the lure of the pub and its poker machines would be even greater to resist. We’d offer our helpful advice, encouraging him to take a few bucks from the till and go and enjoy the afternoon. His arm was easy to twist. We’d then be free to get the repairs done, play some music we actually liked and ride the scooters around on the concrete floor, honing our tricks and seeing who could wheelie the furthest and do the longest skids.

Thursdays were late trading nights, and usually they were pretty quiet, especially in winter. Left to our own devices, we’d invite mates and girlfriends around, grab a 6-pack or two, and have a little party before hitting the pub after we shut. The empty bottles littering the workshop combined with the aggressive music blaring probably scared any customers that ventured in, but we were usually too baked to notice, or care.

Meanwhile, the boss’s car was becoming way more pimped, his hair was falling out due to constant trips to the salon (and from the stress of his failing business, no doubt), and suppliers were reluctant to supply because they weren’t getting paid. We still were, but increasingly in cash, which was likely so they could avoid paying tax on our wages.

Not surprisingly, the shop went under only a few years after its inception, with the brothers returning to the used car game, never to be seen again in the bike industry. But looking back at those memories, I know that they were some of the best years of my working life, even if it was obvious our days were numbered and we’d soon be looking for alternative employment.

Today, the LBS is a dying breed, and only when it’s finally extinct will we realise that we helped kill something very special. I hope it doesn’t come to that, because the best memories aren’t going to come from hitting ‘Add To Cart’.

// Folklore // In Memoriam // Nostalgia // Reverence

  1. When I first started racing, I started hanging around our LBS owned by Hans, an old Dutch guy with a very thick accent. As time went on, I got to know the manager (became good enough friends I was a groomsman at his wedding), and the other wrenches. After a bit, I’d get to use their stands and tools to wrench on my own machine. Then a couple guys went off to college, and I was working 12hr shifts in the ER, so I would work the shop on my days off. Didn’t pay me any money, but I earned “store credit”, which meant I could work awhile, then order that fancy new set of Spinergys, or Scott Dropin bars all at cost. Need a new MTB? Work for a month or so. Learned how fix most everything, build wheels, all with Hans yelling at me with that accent. Good guy he was, and I was sad for him when the economy turned, and he had to shutter the doors on a business that had been in town for 30 years.

    Find a good shop, and treat the guys right, and who knows what you’ll learn.

  2. while waxing poetic in memoriam, here’s my memory of the LBS

    it was the late 80’s, the lights dim in the LBS, it was small, and cram packed with bikes, layered on top of one another in single file, on the walls, as you narrowly entered the front, and the shop seemed now wider than 10ft or so.  At the back is the counter and the owner, and wrench and sales dept all in one.   Greg was cool though, soft spoken, articulate, a good listener, and with panache.  His oakley reading glasses (yes, in the 80’s) automatically ran him up the food chain, and as a repeat customer, and getting to know him, he was interesting to know.  College educated, he did nothing he was really prepared to do, he ended up running a bike shop.  But he smiled at the end of the day, he understood relationships, he was a teacher really.  Query’s of all things related to the bike, were answered with a Masters level response, with the ‘schools of thought’ on the matter, the pros, the cons, and then his opinion; sometimes fixed sometimes open to mine.  He always had the projects, many of them in the back, like orphans, little bike children waiting for his attention and a brighter future than their prior plights that landed them up thus far.  Wheelbuilding, he was a journeyman builder.  Thread count, check, thread pitch…much different, to the 1/25000th, done.  He knew it and he knew where every single nut was in that shop, and never needed to do inventory.  He would introduce each year with spring classes, teaching bike tuning, wheelbuilding, truing and the like.  He was afterall the teacher, and despite whether it was to the loss of his bottom line…afterall, if you think about it, he wasn’t into that, he was into the bike, and growing his business, his clientelle, us…

    Many weeks, many nights were spent in the dimly lit shop after 8-9pm, learning lacing patterns, how to’s and…well, the Rules of cycling.  He was the consumate pro-LBS.  Having bought a frame up ride, it took 2months to consider each part on the bike, and once it was decided upon, it took a week to build up.  Try swallowing that now adays, with our instangram nation and fix it now complex, but..it was righteously built and lasted me 14 tender-loving years

    And all that changed in the blink of an eye one day, as I entered in.  ‘Hey Dan’ and he called me back, we had the customary talk, and he mentioned to me what he mentioned to others that he had an ‘opportunity’, to join in to a ‘real’ job, with benefits, insurance, retirement…you know, to support his growing family, who was in high school and all….we all have it, and we all know the balance and who can blame him. 

    And he sold the shop, its still there, and I go by…thinking of the day, but its sterilized now, like the carbon on the shelf, its as authentic as the Chinarello on aliexpress

  3. I recently had a steel frame and fork made locally , this was a labour of love by the frame builder , I treasured every moment of the Worksop visit , the measuring , the tube set choice , the colour , the change of mind on the colour , even the 5 month wait for the finished frame  was part of the experience , then the final visit for pick up and the joy of discovering it was even better than I thought it was going to be, I paid full price for this, willingly.

    Then I ordered all the parts online , it was considerably cheaper , this only works if you have the experience and confidence to be sure of your choices , then it was off to the LBS to have it all put together which they did happily , result was my dream machine , all good.

  4. I can’t understand how brick and mortar retail businesses stay above water; the margins are so low and the overheads are so high.

    But having an LBS is one of the most cherished pieces of La Vie Velominatus. Branford Bike is a perfect example; I go in there for a reason – a pesky little issue I wasn’t sure how to fix – and after 5 minutes we’re all laughing, Doug is joking that I don’t measure my seat post in mm, but in stories, and an hour later I walk out with sore cheeks from smiling and laughing. There is a camaraderie that only a bike shop can give, no online store ever will.

    And then you’ve got the bit about walking into the workshop, smelling the grease, and learning a trick or two that you’d never thought of even though you’ve been doing this for 25 years.

  5. Yep, love my LBS, Pedalero.  The guy runs a little bike courier business, too, and he just has a tiny shop-front and then a workshop with buckets and racks and walls of stuff, and he seems to love actually talking to people who aren’t there complaining their rusted up drive-train ‘isn’t shifting right for some reason’.  My wife will be in there tomorrow to see if he can help straighten a drop-out.

    The local chain-store has the shiny bikes and the big investment in electro-power (it’s the hilliest city in Germany…), but I hope he can stick around.

  6. I wouldn’t want to start a shop these days, unless the location was perfect. The two more successful shops I know of are a Trek shop and a Specialized shop. They are both independent but they have aligned themselves with those brands and seem to do well. And they run very tight ships, both Campy Pro shops, good mechanics and cater to everyone.

    Being a completely independent shop not in the ideal location would be a very tough sell. But then again I have no business sense and I would run any shop I ever owned right off the cliff.

  7. @Souleur

    Beautiful story there, Mate. Learning is beautiful. Economics can be a bitch.

  8. I was trying to think of other shops/stores I got into, but I think these are the only I go into. Ranked by frequency.

    1) beer store

    2) grocery store/farmer’s market

    3) LBS

    4) postal service/local independent shipper (selling off bike parts I don’t use).

    I really can’t think of any other shops I ever go into.

  9. I miss having one of the best shops in the country as my LBS. they made it very inviting to stay and hang out while working on my bikes. now in a small town I am left with going to the ” best” shop in town. They get stuff done but I dont get the impression that people hang out there.

  10. I go by a 40% rule. If it’s 40% less online, I need to look out for myself as much as the staff of an LBS. That being said, Bar tape, tires, and all the small bit always warrant a ride down to the shop.

    It’s to bad that the only shop that carries the gloss orange fi'zi:k I have found is filled with fucktards.

  11. I really, really want to love an LBS and I really, really want one that I can call mine. But one way or another, just when I think I’m onto something, that I’ve finally found the one, a keeper, they always seem to let me down. Badly.

    One always gave me great deals on mountain bikes and the sort of protective kit I needed for falling off them a lot but when it comes to working on bikes, what a disaster zone. I’ve even come to realise that I can’t bleed hydraulic disc brakes as badly as them.

    Another can do the wrenching stuff but does such an amazing job of looking at at me in such a way that says “you’re not a proper cyclist, you’re just some sort of yuppie fuck who can’t play golf for shit” that I’ve given up and will only go there when the tool needed to fit a part is significantly more expensive that the part itself.

    So fuck it. I won’t apologise; I’m staying single and I’ll go where I please for my satisfaction, whether it be the internet for instant gratification or a spot of DIY when I really need to get to those hard to reach spots.

  12. For me Rule #58 is, by far, the hardest to abide by. I have a very hard time choking down double the cost of a part in service of supporting the LBS. It’s also very annoying to try to talk to some kid half my age who only cares about MTB or FGFS who I’ve forgotten more about bikes & cycling than he knows. I realize the pay is shite & they generally loves bikes, just not the ones I love. I get far more satisfaction out of a screaming online deal & performing my own installation & maintenance. Not everyone can be a true Cognescenti rule holist. The best thing about the LBS is they usually carry every cycling magazine I could ever want

  13. @Chris

    I really, really want to love an LBS and I really, really want one that I can call mine. But one way or another, just when I think I’m onto something, that I’ve finally found the one, a keeper, they always seem to let me down. Badly.

    One always gave me great deals on mountain bikes and the sort of protective kit I needed for falling off them a lot but when it comes to working on bikes, what a disaster zone. I’ve even come to realise that I can’t bleed hydraulic disc brakes as badly as them.

    Another can do the wrenching stuff but does such an amazing job of looking at at me in such a way that says “you’re not a proper cyclist, you’re just some sort of yuppie fuck who can’t play golf for shit” that I’ve given up and will only go there when the tool needed to fit a part is significantly more expensive that the part itself.

    So fuck it. I won’t apologise; I’m staying single and I’ll go where I please for my satisfaction, whether it be the internet for instant gratification or a spot of DIY when I really need to get to those hard to reach spots.

    I don’t know if you intended it to be, but that is fucking funny!  ….and quite true as well.

  14. In any large town there are 2 types of shops: 1.) the Pro Shop 2.) the Joe Schmoe Shop.  The Pro Shop is staffed by those who live breath and eat cycling, and usually do not have outstanding business acumen. Because of this, they are usually more skilled with a wrench but less motivated to assist a customer. The Joe Schmoe Shop, however, is run by businessman or woman with a mere interest in bicycles.  It is he or she who understands business, and therefore knows that all customers drive the business and welcomes all to the shop.  Of course, the Pro Shop will go out of business as they don’t know how to run a business, and the Joe Schmoe Shop will be chugging along merrily, servicing the 96% of cyclists who do not live, breath, or sleep cycling.

  15. @Gianni

    I wouldn’t want to start a shop these days, unless the location was perfect. The two more successful shops I know of are a Trek shop and a Specialized shop. They are both independent but they have aligned themselves with those brands and seem to do well. And they run very tight ships, both Campy Pro shops, good mechanics and cater to everyone.

    Quite the same here, the two largest (and currently both expanding shops) in my area are Trek and Specialized.

    However, it hasn’t deterred the opening of a few new shops around here (and word of even two more).  I can only hope this is a signal of the growth of the sport in my area.

    I would like to see these guys come off this full MSRP crap though, and get competitive with their pricing….

  16. @Cogfather

    For me Rule #58 is, by far, the hardest to abide by. I have a very hard time choking down double the cost of a part in service of supporting the LBS. It’s also very annoying to try to talk to some kid half my age who only cares about MTB or FGFS who I’ve forgotten more about bikes & cycling than he knows. I realize the pay is shite & they generally loves bikes, just not the ones I love. I get far more satisfaction out of a screaming online deal & performing my own installation & maintenance. Not everyone can be a true Cognescenti rule holist. The best thing about the LBS is they usually carry every cycling magazine I could ever want

    Sometimes it is best to purchase parts thru LBS that say “need protection” and no issues. I recently had Campagnolo Centaur controls that were 2 months beyond the 2 year date of purchase. The left shifter was not engaging correctly near the front end of the cassette — could not hold the tension. The Cycle Center along with Hawleys USA replaced the entire control lever hood and all within 2 days — no cost.

    Have also had my wheels built at Cycle Center to avoid “issues” down the road (pun).

  17. @Al

    Sounds like a shit bike shop – and we’re expected to be loyal to places like this.

    You need to learn to find the good within the shit — and sometimes its piss!

  18. @minion

    Cyclists are quite frequently fucking reminion.

    We usually avoid using that word dumb ass.

  19. @unversio

    @Cogfather

    For me Rule #58 is, by far, the hardest to abide by. I have a very hard time choking down double the cost of a part in service of supporting the LBS. It’s also very annoying to try to talk to some kid half my age who only cares about MTB or FGFS who I’ve forgotten more about bikes & cycling than he knows. I realize the pay is shite & they generally loves bikes, just not the ones I love. I get far more satisfaction out of a screaming online deal & performing my own installation & maintenance. Not everyone can be a true Cognescenti rule holist. The best thing about the LBS is they usually carry every cycling magazine I could ever want

    Sometimes it is best to purchase parts thru LBS that say “need protection” and no issues. I recently had Campagnolo Centaur controls that were 2 months beyond the 2 year date of purchase. The left shifter was not engaging correctly near the front end of the cassette “” could not hold the tension. The Cycle Center along with Hawleys USA replaced the entire control lever hood and all within 2 days “” no cost.

    Have also had my wheels built at Cycle Center to avoid “issues” down the road (pun).

    The right shifter. Dang!

  20. Spot on piece !

    Ive posted this article link before, but it seems even more relevant under this post.

    The elusive “3rd place” is sadly dying under the weight of overheads and big corporates.

    http://www.ridemedia.com.au/ride-features/the-bike-shop-a-valuable-space-in-society/

    Have a read,

    gone are the days of the dusty wooden floorboards and the coffee perculating away and the smell’s associated.   Its all pretty sterile and clinical now.

  21. Check all the phonographs, records and cylinders in the lead photo. Apparently even in 1912 a LBS had to diversify and sell the hipsters some vinyl with their fixed gears.

  22. @RedRanger I have the same feelings every night.  After the LBS ride I have a 10 hour overnight shift to look forward to.  I sometimes wish I could work on bikes, but then the bike mechanics say they wish they could work on planes.

  23. @unversio

    @minion

    Cyclists are quite frequently fucking reminion.

    We usually avoid using that word dumb ass.

    We do, don’t we. Apologies all round, that was mental laziness on my part.

  24. @infinity87

    @RedRanger I have the same feelings every night. After the LBS ride I have a 10 hour overnight shift to look forward to. I sometimes wish I could work on bikes, but then the bike mechanics say they wish they could work on planes.

    If you saw the state of some of the bikes that come into the shop, you’d probably be pretty stoked to be working on planes that haven’t been either pissed/bled on, ridden through dogcrap, or doused in a litre of wd40 then cleaned with a pressure hose and the customer wonders why his wheels stop going round.

    I do think the death of the bike shop, like the death of newspapers are somewhat overstated. Cycling is ludicrously expensive, even for the frugal cyclist and much of what we deal with is people who are time poor and asset rich who don’t want to learn how to fix a bike when they can pay someone to fix it. And, some companies are becoming aggressively anti-online discounting, basically by setting their wholesale very high for the product they sell – so the LBS doesn’t make much on it, but they pay the same price as the internet store for the product. Saving 20 bucks for a Garmin online isn’t worth the wait and inconvenience.

  25. Great read, Bretto. I like how every LBS in the world smells the same. Such a great smell. The Twin Cities are full of great shops. From large chains, to sole owner shops with incredible knowledge and expertise, to co-ops that appeal to gauged-ear, single speed riding hipsters. There’s a good scene in the cities that doesn’t show much sign of dying, thank Merckx. Where I live though the LBS is about the size of a moderate living room and only stocks what “bike riders” need to keep their steeds on the road. I get that and don’t expect anything else from it. I try to shop there as much as I can. I  use it for tubes, cables, lube, SPD cleats, and Gatorskins as she gives me a good price on those. Unfortunately, she’s not open this summer as her hubby is gravely ill. It’s a good little shop and the owner has done a lot for cycling in our non-cycling town.

  26. @unversio

    @unversio

    @Cogfather

    For me Rule #58 is, by far, the hardest to abide by. I have a very hard time choking down double the cost of a part in service of supporting the LBS. It’s also very annoying to try to talk to some kid half my age who only cares about MTB or FGFS who I’ve forgotten more about bikes & cycling than he knows. I realize the pay is shite & they generally loves bikes, just not the ones I love. I get far more satisfaction out of a screaming online deal & performing my own installation & maintenance. Not everyone can be a true Cognescenti rule holist. The best thing about the LBS is they usually carry every cycling magazine I could ever want

    Sometimes it is best to purchase parts thru LBS that say “need protection” and no issues. I recently had Campagnolo Centaur controls that were 2 months beyond the 2 year date of purchase. The left shifter was not engaging correctly near the front end of the cassette “” could not hold the tension. The Cycle Center along with Hawleys USA replaced the entire control lever hood and all within 2 days “” no cost.

    Have also had my wheels built at Cycle Center to avoid “issues” down the road (pun).

    The right shifter. Dang!

    I do have to say, my LBS did take great care of me when I came in to bitch about my Mavic shoes coming apart.  I pointed out that a high dollar shoe was about to be rendered useless on account of the $0.02 thread, and no shoe smith would attempt to repair it.

    I got a brand new pair, (and now a Rule #9 pair)  So the full MSRP game paid off for me on that transaction!

  27. @Marko

    Great read, Bretto. I like how every LBS in the world smells the same. Such a great smell. The Twin Cities are full of great shops. From large chains, to sole owner shops with incredible knowledge and expertise, to co-ops that appeal to gauged-ear, single speed riding hipsters. There’s a good scene in the cities that doesn’t show much sign of dying, thank Merckx. Where I live though the LBS is about the size of a moderate living room and only stocks what “bike riders” need to keep their steeds on the road. I get that and don’t expect anything else from it. I try to shop there as much as I can. I use it for tubes, cables, lube, SPD cleats, and Gatorskins as she gives me a good price on those. Unfortunately, she’s not open this summer as her hubby is gravely ill. It’s a good little shop and the owner has done a lot for cycling in our non-cycling town.

    Good post. Maybe LBS’s should be judged on smell. My formative cycling years were spent engaged with Dooley’s Cycles in Paisley. A dark wee place in the lee of a railway viaduct. Most of the stock was hidden away in the back. You asked for it, the staff (Willie or “the old man” –  his father) would disappear and retrieve said item. There was a door to the right of the counter that led to the back shop. It was like a door to another world and you knew you were special if you got to got “through the back.”

    The shop’s gloom was suffused with an intoxicating smell of oil, rubber, plastic, and lubricant. The outside windows (often covered in condensation) were filled with an assortment of bikes and bike related stuff. Most of the serious expensive stuff was in the left hand window, the “regular” items in the right hand window. To me, the left hand window was like looking at the crown jewels. Campag parts, the odd Italian frame, posters featuring foreign riders. Most modern shops just lack character IMHO.

    I know it was the dark ages of retailing, but I just can’t connect with a modern bike shop that has no smell. It’s that indefinable cycling miasma that I remember and cherish.

    The shop is still there, run by Ian, nephew of Willie. It’s brighter, a bit more spacious, but still has “that” smell.

  28. @wiscot

    The shop’s gloom was suffused with an intoxicating smell of oil, rubber, plastic, and lubricant. 

    It’s probably a surprise that those of us above a certain age actually survived childhood with all the smells we had to sniff (in the nicest possible way) that are now banned or available only behind the poisons counter – plastic glues that were probably chloroform based, dope from shrinking tissue on balsa aeroplanes, solvents that used to be in things like evostik, overhead projector cleaner that was actually carbon tetrachloride etc……..or maybe that’s why we of a certain age are all a bit loopy…..

  29. @frank

    I can’t understand how brick and mortar retail businesses stay above water; the margins are so low and the overheads are so high.

    But having an LBS is one of the most cherished pieces of La Vie Velominatus. Branford Bike is a perfect example; I go in there for a reason – a pesky little issue I wasn’t sure how to fix – and after 5 minutes we’re all laughing, Doug is joking that I don’t measure my seat post in mm, but in stories, and an hour later I walk out with sore cheeks from smiling and laughing. There is a camaraderie that only a bike shop can give, no online store ever will.

    And then you’ve got the bit about walking into the workshop, smelling the grease, and learning a trick or two that you’d never thought of even though you’ve been doing this for 25 years.

    I bought my first pair of cycling shoes, Diadora’s, at Branford Bike, when they were in Branford, CT in the early 80s.

  30. If most LBS were so great people wouldn’t need to be guilted into going there.

  31. @Teocalli

    @wiscot

    The shop’s gloom was suffused with an intoxicating smell of oil, rubber, plastic, and lubricant.

    It’s probably a surprise that those of us above a certain age actually survived childhood with all the smells we had to sniff (in the nicest possible way) that are now banned or available only behind the poisons counter – plastic glues that were probably chloroform based, dope from shrinking tissue on balsa aeroplanes, solvents that used to be in things like evostik, overhead projector cleaner that was actually carbon tetrachloride etc……..or maybe that’s why we of a certain age are all a bit loopy…..

    Ha! Yup, and in my teens I did a lot of model-making: Airfix, Monogram, Tamiya, that kind of thing. Loved the smell of the wee tubes of clear plastic adhesive. I remember in high school in the 70s, as a class we had to clean a whole area with straight up acetone. (At least I think it was acetone . . . whatever it was it reeked to high heaven and made us a bit woozy after a while. All in the name of education . . .

  32. Another good article. There are certainly good and bad LBS, but when you have a good relationship with a good one it is awesome. When I was just starting to cycle in Dallas I did a lot of group rides with an LBS there, got to know people, repairs and parts started costing less and less and quick trips to the store morphed in hour-long hangout sessions. When it was time to enter the wonderful world of carbon bikes they got my business and several thousand dollars. It was more important to me to support them than to save money buying online. The way I see it they had undercharged me on repairs and parts enough that it made sense. I hope others keep that in mind when they choose where to buy their cycling stuff.

  33. @pistard

    Check all the phonographs, records and cylinders in the lead photo. Apparently even in 1912 a LBS had to diversify and sell the hipsters some vinyl with their fixed gears.

    Always with the hipsters. Hey, at least their out of true wheels from skidding around without proper brakes pays the bills of a mechanic somewhere. Of course, I’m assuming they give enough of a shit about their incorrectly-sized tiny-ass handlebar fixes to actually keep them up.

  34. Here in northern Arizona we have a number of good shops, and a number of reasonably crappy ones. It’s taken me three years of living here, but I think I’ve finally figured out which shop to take a road bike to, which a mountain bike, etc. It sucks since the shop I really like to hang out at doesn’t do such a great job on the #1. A shop up the street is full of roadies and they do a bangup job on it and the VMH’s bike. Guess I’ll finally need to take the plunge and get a grownup’s mountain bike for the trails here… Or is that sacrilegious? Merckx help me.

  35. @Owen

    Guess I’ll finally need to take the plunge and get a grownup’s mountain bike for the trails here… Or is that sacrilegious? Merckx help me.

    Think of it as riding a MTB purely to hone your bike handling skills for #9 rides on the road.

  36. @infinity87

    @RedRanger I have the same feelings every night. After the LBS ride I have a 10 hour overnight shift to look forward to. I sometimes wish I could work on bikes, but then the bike mechanics say they wish they could work on planes.

    Super happy to have another AMT around. I work the same shift, 8pm-6am,  on CRJ200’s.

    @minion

    I think you over estimate the condition of most planes. dirty pigs is what most of them are, and working in the lav is no joy.

  37. @Owen a MTB is mandatory for every AZ resident. Always wished I had made it up to Prescott when I lived in the state.

  38. @RedRanger

    @Owen a MTB is mandatory for every AZ resident. Always wished I had made it up to Prescott when I lived in the state.

    That’s what they tell me. But then I’ll have to start growing out the leg hair and wearing baggies. Shudder.

  39. I’m not saying I won’t go ride, but it’s going to look like a skinny ass roadie in tight pants.

  40. @Owen I ride all my bikes in the same kit. Lycra.

  41. @RedRanger Fair enough. Laughing hilly bikers be damned. Maybe they’re just giggling due to some medicinal herbs.

  42. @Ron

    I was trying to think of other shops/stores I got into, but I think these are the only I go into. Ranked by frequency.

    1) beer store

    2) grocery store/farmer’s market

    3) LBS

    4) postal service/local independent shipper (selling off bike parts I don’t use).

    I really can’t think of any other shops I ever go into.

    The fourth one does not compute. If you have parts you’re not using, it means you need a frame you haven’t bought yet, not that you have parts you should be selling.

  43. @Owen my inspiration/wallpaper

  44. @frank

    I can’t understand how brick and mortar retail businesses stay above water; the margins are so low and the overheads are so high.

    I actually don’t understand how just about *any* retail place stays in business. Clothing stores are talking about charging a “try on fee.” That’s right – go check the clothes, pop the bar code into your iPhone, and buy it online for cheaper, free ship…*while you’re still in the dressing room*. Last time I was in Macy (the last time I will ever go there) I got treated like crap. Same for Sears. Don’t even think about using a credit card in Target.

    I value value, and like service that is reasonably priced. I can be loyal when appropriate. Otherwise…it is my hard earned quid.

  45. @RedRanger I would be dead on or around step three.

  46. I must be lucky as I have an awesome LBS, “pro-shop” if you like. It’s small which helps. The owner is an ex-ntional level pro and works the shop with a sales guy and a junior. He prides himself on high quality workmanship, I get prices very much close, and sometimes below on-line. Fitting is free, any issues are sorted with loaner parts if it’s going to take more than a day. I still check on-line prices before I ask for quote but the difference (don’t forget to add postage!) is always mimimal given the other benefits. Eg: I bought a tail light and it stopped working after a few months. I took in, he grabed a new one off the shelf and sent me home no questions asked. I can’t see Wiggle doing that. I don’t even pay for some stuff up front. I trial a bunch of gear obligation free; “Just ride it for a week or so and if you like it pay the invoice. If not bring it back” Ask Chain reaction for that kind of service! I don’t buy a single thing, nothing on-line these days. When I bought my last bike ($6500) I went in to pick it up and asked for an invoice so I could go get cash for him (safe EFTPOS fees). Nope, take the bike and the invoice and do an internet transfer when you get home. Freaking awesome dude, nothing is too much trouble and he’s won a customer for life.

  47. @Tobin

    @Al not all bike shops are created equal, we have several in my market but only two that I trust implicitly with my ride and my hard earned cash. Knowing who the shop belongs to and who wrenches on my bike goes along way, and in my case the owners are the wrenches. I am not a fan of online retailers as it takes the soul out of the experience, it is simply a transaction – I enjoy going to my local shop and having a cup of coffee and chatting with my wrench (aka Dan) Plus, it is kinda hard to bring a six pack to an online store to jump the queue when you need something yesterday.

    Yeah, I agree; there are some good shops nearby that I use regularly. Regarding the article though, I don’t see the allure of paying over the odds to keep a badly run shop stay in business just so the owner can ponce about in a ‘pimped’ car, and the staff can write some sentimental tosh years later.

  48. i love my LBSs, spend lots of money at the one about 5 miles away and even bigger bucks at the LBS which is an officially recognized dealer for my preferred brand.

    BUT

    as an MBA, accountant and business adviser i have no sympathy for poorly run businesses going under due to owner/management neglect and/or embezzlement.

    i save my tears for the guys/gals doing their best to service their customers, build their base and make a buck. trashing the store after hours? GROW THE EFF UP!

  49. I’m in the LBS and a couple rolls in on MTBs: “Hey, you should put some signs out there. We almost got lost.”

    They came to the edge of 200,000 acres of non-motorized, protected wilderness and they were expecting it to be marked up like a golf course?

    We do have some signs. There’s the beer can route where someone nailed beer cans 10′ up when you should turn. Doesn’t tell you which way to turn, just that you should.

  50. @G’rilla

    I’m in the LBS and a couple rolls in on MTBs: “Hey, you should put some signs out there. We almost got lost.”

    They came to the edge of 200,000 acres of non-motorized, protected wilderness and they were expecting it to be marked up like a golf course?

    We do have some signs. There’s the beer can route where someone nailed beer cans 10′ up when you should turn. Doesn’t tell you which way to turn, just that you should.

    I’m also assuming they don’t tell you for which route the turn is intended.

    Please tell me the LBS owner was drinking a beer – finishing it as they were speaking – looked at it and said, “Well, she-it. I was gonna nail this-un to a tree, but I reckon’ it’d be put to better use if I chuck it at you dipshits. Oh well.” *ding*

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