*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Screw my LBS ('local bicycle shop')

And say hello to the Internet.

Look, I want to give love to the 'local bicycle shop'.  I want to give love to every local shop.  However, take any retail and:
- they won't have what you need
- they won't care as much as you do
- they won't know as much as you do
- they will still disagree with your ideas
- you can find things online cheaper
- you can find things online you won't in stores

LBS mythology is misguided
The owner of an LBS needs to move product and services, or go under.  Same as any other retail.  He is not more interested in your particular cycling needs than in his profit margin.  He may be honest (and broke), and he may even tell you where you can get something elsewhere, but even then rarely, only for valued customers, and only if he knows.  An LBS carries two types of bike, for the most part: carbon 'dentist bikes', and aluminum 'bike shaped objects'.  I hate both, but regardless, these are options only at the highest and lowest ends of the price range, and for specific and limited uses.  When you need a specific part for your bike, unless it is so common that you can find it in every shop, there are low odds you will find it any particular shop.  Even a specialty shop, like the faux-randonneuring Velocraft in Tokyo, had less than half of the VO, Nitto, Honjo and Paul bits I wanted to see - and that is what they specialize in.

Store employees may not know any more than you do
Except in the best shops, which are few, and even then not know as much in specific areas important to yourself.  Why should they?  How much money do you imagine they are making (less than you, bourgeois trash)?  They know about the bikes they sell just enough to move them, and whatever accessories move with these.  If you have spent time deciding how to set up your bike, read reviews and specs online, you know as much about these particulars as they could, but they don't.  Like yourself they have their prejudices about the 'best' bike, which are the wrong prejudices for your needs.  And if there is money to be made, they will not tell you buying a product or service is unnecessary (commissioned or not).  As an example, 'Sweetpete's' in Toronto rebuilt a flip/flop wheel for me, because both I and they thought I needed a new hub for a fixed/fixed wheel, and what they rebuilt it with was an identical hub of another colour: the original was fine.

Online has the parts you want, and cheaper
And you did not waste time going across town half a dozen times to different shops to fail to find it.  If you are looking for a popular bike or part, you will certainly find it cheaper online.  If you are looking for something unusual, you may only find it online.  No store can keep much variety in stock, especially if they are not sure it will move quickly.  You might find Paul 'thumbies' for the same $75 in store as at the Paul website, or you might find them online cheaper; or you could get the same thing from VO for $50, or from Dixna for the same (in Japan).

The LBS is dead?
Of course not.  You are reading a bike-blog about LBS and looking for unsual bikes and parts.  Neither you nor me is the common customer.  If you can go into an LBS and throw over three-thousand dollars at a bike made of plastic that weighs less than your excess abdominal fat, you are a target demographic.  If you go into the LBS and throw less than five-hundred at a 'hybrid' with a cushy saddle and shitty suspension forks that you won't know is terrible because you never do more than 5km on paved 'multi-use' paths in the park, you are a target market.  The LBS does fuck all for us.

PS: There is some wrenching that I pay to get done, but less and less all the time.

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