While I honestly don’t remember my first bike, what I do remember is the first bike I ever saved for and bought with my own money. I was 9 years old. It was a sparkly bright-orange Mongoose BMX bike with shiny pegs on the front and back wheels. It was the love of my 9-year old life.
With that bike, I could do anything. I could keep up with my brother and his friends. I could fly through the air on the red dirt jumps that we created in desert behind our home. I could crash with grace. Did I mention it was the love of my 9-year old life?
Fast forward many years and I still have a love affair with bikes. At some point over the last 20 something years though, I discovered the magic of local bike shops. They are the lifeblood of local cycling communities. And, the majority of them will bend over backwards for their customers. In the age of online shopping, they need and deserve our support more than ever.
Check out these familiar scenarios: something on your bike is broken or maybe it’s your first bike you are shopping for. Or maybe your old bike is really worn out from loyally serving you well. Maybe you overcooked it into a corner and sent your bike bouncing down the not-so-soft red rocks of the desert. Or maybe you are like me, and live by the N+1 theory and think you need a bike for every discipline…and then some. Whatever your reason, you need to buy a new bike or bike parts.
What are your options? You could buy used from KSL or Craigslist or a local bike forum; you could purchase from online; or you could take a trip to your local bike shop.
Here are 6 reasons you should spend your hard earned dinero at your local bike shop for your next bike needs.
Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business rather than a nationally owned business, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers, and farms — further strengthening the economic base of the whole community -Sustainable Connections
Keep Your Money Where Your Heart Is
Let’s be real--money can be tight at times. The economy often fluctuates and usually when you “need” a bike the most is at the most financially inopportune time. But, by purchasing a bike from a local bike shop rather than a chain store or online, you are doing your community a financial favor. Not all of the money stays local but most does and what does stay, has great potential to cycle through our community (see the pun there?). You love your community, why send your money and heart elsewhere?
Keep Our Community Unique
One-of-a-kind businesses are what make a city more memorable. They are an integral part of distinguishing the uniqueness of our community. They stand out among all the chain stores which look relatively the same no matter where you go. What if every city or town we went to only had chain stores and restaurants?
Try Before You Buy
Nothing will ever beat holding something in your hand to see how it feels, how well it is made, how it fits, or functions. And of course, let’s not forget that awesome feeling of test riding your potential new bike. Yes, chain stores can offer test rides but they’re often limited to inside the store.
Your local bike shop will usually let you take a bike out for a decent test ride to really be able to feel if that is the bike for you. Not to mention, having someone there to give their professional opinion on fit and size of a bike is absolutely invaluable. Which leads to the next reason…
Support and Service
Bike shops have every bike-specific tool you’ll ever need – and the people that know how to use them
I barely have time to wash my bike let alone tune it up myself, nor do I have the full spectrum of skills that our local bike shop mechanics can offer. Most local bike shops offer incentives like a tune-up and adjustments in the first year after purchase, some may even go beyond that. Local bike shops can also handle warranty issues fairly quickly.
After buying a new bike in 2015, during a training ride, the rear derailleur broke. I was devastated, it was only a few days before my first Ironman race. Within hours though, my local bike shop had replaced it and I had my bike back.
If you buy online, it is all up to you. I would have been without a bike for most likely weeks waiting to get a replacement part and then would have most likely had to have taken it to a shop anyway to get the part put on.
One more story, I have bought online bike parts. Once. That may be one of the reasons I am writing this piece now.
Relationships and the Human Connection
While somehow, Amazon and Facebook seem to know what I’m thinking and what I want to shop for, they can’t hold a candle to the interactions at the local bike shop. When you buy locally (at any local business) you can build actual relationships.
There are all kinds of perks of getting to know the employees at your local bike shop. They will learn how you ride or what you like and be able to recommended some awesome gear specific to you.
If you missed my above example, most local bike shops are excellent at helping out in a pinch. One bike shop in my old city even let a customer borrow a bike for a local race while their own one was being repaired! Online shops might laugh hysterically if someone asked to borrow some gear.
Lastly, and Most Importantly: Local Bike Shops Support the Local Riding Scene
Without a doubt, the absolute best reason to support a local bike shop is because of the local riding scene. Often they have been integral in establishing and supporting this scene. When was the last time an online store hosted a ride in your community? What about weekly shop rides or clinics? Ever seen an employee from an online store doing local trail maintenance? Crickets…
The owners and employees of local bike shops are riders, just like us. They love our trails, roads, and community and find the same value in them as we do. Spend accordingly.