Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Virtual LBS?

I struggle with the LBS or Local Bike Shop experience. I understand the need for them and I suppose part of my frustration is the relative lack of what I consider to be a great shop in my town. I do all my own bike maintenance and builds, so unless I need a specific function or tool like a BB faced and chased, I am pretty self sufficient. I also am frugal enough to rarely spend full retail on stuff...too many good options out there either used or discounted parts on-line. And, I know as much or more about mountain bikes and parts as most of the 17 year old shop monkeys do. So for me, the shop is kinda a combo of General Store/cracker barrel experience...someplace to hang out and talk bikes with other customers, etc, pick up small parts, tubes, odds and ends...pretty much it.

Once again I drove around asking about some parts for the DiSSent build that I needed. Nothing in stock, but it all can be ordered for ya...have it by next week, maybe. I have played the 'I will place the order when I have enough stuff on the list to make it worthwhile' game before. Also, $40.00 for facing and chasing the HT and BB? Wow! Now I know you need to keep the lights on and eat at the bike shop, but that is pretty good money for about 15 minutes work.

So, I passed on the facing/chasing and found a decent solution to that at home. $40.00 in my pocket and everything spins fine. Funny...for $20.00, I would have had them do it, but not for $40.00. Perceived value at work there.

Then I called Jenson USA and ordered $200.00 worth of parts. The guy was helpful and knew why the last chainring I ordered for the Lev was not a great fit...turns out it was a unique to one model crank arm Shimano dealie... and got me on the right path. The parts were on my doorstep the next day. The next day. Jenson rocks!

Now, if they would only let me hang out around the virtual cracker barrel, I would be set.


Corey said...

Yeah, I second that on Jensen...they are great to deal with and the shipping is fast and always well packaged.

My LBS used to charge the inflated rates you describe, but this past winter they got a new manager and cut all their prices down to reasonable levels... i.e. a buck or two less than whatever special tool is required for the job in question.
I still do my own maintenance, but now I'm always sure to check with them when I need something larger done.

ron said...

Jenson is one of the they are close to me in OH, regular shipping typically arrives in one or two days.