In my earlier post, I answered the most frequent question I get from new cyclists, “Is it OK to buy a bike at Wal-Mart, K-Mart or Target?” I answered that question with quite a few “It depends… and if…” qualifications. With our budgets tight, we often look to these big box retailers as a way to stretch our dollars.
In today’s post, I am going to turn that question around to “Why should I buy my bicycle at a local bike shop?” I’ll give you four reasons to look beyond the price tag. Buying from a local bike shop is a more economical decision that you think.
Reason #1 – Expertise
A typical local bike shop is owned and managed by cyclists and employ fellow cyclists. This personal knowledge of bicycles and cycling accessories is just not there at the local big box store. The typical bike shop employee is interested in finding you a bike that meets both your budget and needs.
Visit two or three local bike shops when you go shopping for your next bike. Ask the salesperson questions. No question is too dumb to ask. You will uncover a good bit of insight and knowledge about cycling. It will help you identify if this is the right bike shop for you.
Reason #2 – Right Bike, Right Fit
Riding a bike that fits you properly makes your cycling experience much more enjoyable. That big box one-size-fits-all bike may look cool but may be uncomfortable and difficult to handle. Your local bike shop offers a wide variety of bikes including cruisers, mountain bikes, commuters, hybrids and road bikes. Each of these bikes comes in many sizes and with differing geometries (the position in which your body rides the bike).
You local bike shop employee will help you select the right bike based on what type of cycling you will be doing. They will balance your budget to bike features and options. Your purchase decision will dictate how comfortable you are on ALL of your future rides for years to come. It is well worth spending more money for comfort and fit.
Reason #3 – Better Quality
Bikes are like most other consumer goods. The higher the price, the higher the quality is a good general rule. Big box stores benefit by purchasing in large quantities. This is not the only factor in their lower prices. Big box bikes are usually 25% heavier and are equipped with cheaper components.
Your local bike shop bike will have higher quality components. They are assembled by bicycle mechanics and not a sales clerk with a screwdriver and hammer. When you take the bike home, it will be tuned properly and all components checked for a safe ride.
Reason #4 – Service and Repair
You will be responsible for minor adjustments and repairs of a Wal-Mart, Target or K-Mart bike. A bicycle is actually a quite complex machine with many gears and moving parts that can go out of whack. The local bike shop stands behind their bikes. Most offer free tune-ups and adjustments for as long as the first year.
I have not seen a bike shop that does not welcome you back when you have questions on shifting gears, adjusting brakes, and making minor repairs. Local bike shops employ mechanics that are trained on maintaining your specific bike. Having the support of trained mechanics is a great value with your purchase.
Adding it all up
Let’s look at this in terms of dollars and cents. A big box bike might last you 2-3 years before you outgrow it. The local bike shop bike will last you 10-15 years and maintain a better resale value. Having the right bike with the right fit keeps you from discarding that big box bike in favor of a more comfortable, easier to ride bike in the future.
The cost of buying a lower quality bike multiplies over time with ongoing maintenance and repair. For the big box bike, you will find yourself replacing components due to wear or wanting to upgrade to a higher quality for better performance. An annual bike check-up and tuning is a must for your own safety. A local bike shop purchase may include it or offer it at a discounted cost. The local bike shop makes minor repairs and adjustments free of charge to their customers.
You can easily recoup the extra $200-$300 spent at a local bike shop within 2-3 years. You should purchase the highest quality bike that you can afford in your budget. Invest in comfort, safety and performance since they will be with you for years. Support your local bike chop owner. They invest in your community and local cycling. Cycling is about enjoying the ride and that is what they want to help you do.