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Why the LBS are dying out ...

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Why the LBS are dying out ...

Old 04-28-19, 09:52 PM
  #301  
livedarklions
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Mostly, the biggest revelation I've had from this thread is that a few people haven't figured out the obvious: LBS are generally not good places to order things they don't have in stock. I use them a lot, but I literally never order stuff through them.

Obviously, they really don't make any money doing it, and really don't want to do it.
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Old 04-28-19, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Mostly, the biggest revelation I've had from this thread is that a few people haven't figured out the obvious: LBS are generally not good places to order things they don't have in stock. I use them a lot, but I literally never order stuff through them.

Obviously, they really don't make any money doing it, and really don't want to do it.
In my experience with my shop (one of a group of three) they usually get parts for me in about two days; maybe because they have clout, or at least established delivery routes because of their size.

They much more often have sufficient inventory in stock, including satisfactory bikes – I bought four there – to find a desired item, and give me good advice about what to buy, Admittedly though, when I want to see certain other items in person, accessories, or clothing, I do visit another shop with more in-store inventory.

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Old 04-29-19, 04:25 AM
  #303  
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
In my experience with my shop (one of a group of three) they usually get parts for me in about two days; maybe because they have clout, or at least established delivery routes because of their size.

They much more often have sufficient inventory in stock, including satisfactory bikes I bought four there to find a desired item, and give me good advice about what to buy, Admittedly though, when I want to see certain other items in person, accessories, or clothing, I do visit another shop with more in-store inventory.
I suspect that the shop you're describing is really exceptional in that regard. The shops where I live wouldn't have even close to that turnaround time.
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Old 04-29-19, 04:50 AM
  #304  
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
In my experience with my shop (one of a group of three) they usually get parts for me in about two days; maybe because they have clout, or at least established delivery routes because of their size.

They much more often have sufficient inventory in stock, including satisfactory bikes I bought four there to find a desired item, and give me good advice about what to buy, Admittedly though, when I want to see certain other items in person, accessories, or clothing, I do visit another shop with more in-store inventory.
Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I suspect that the shop you're describing is really exceptional in that regard. The shops where I live wouldn't have even close to that turnaround time.
Thanks for your reply @livedarklions . I have posted to the Living Car Free Forum,
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Boston is probably one of the most Car-free cities in the world [including for cycling]
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I often tout Boston as the epitome of LCF/LCL [Living Car Free / Car Light] in America, not to brag, but illustrate the possibilities

Location, location, location
I am aware that you know Boston, so FYA, my shop is Back Bay Bikes, part of the Papa Wheelies store group (Portsmouth, NH and Natick, MA), and Belmont Wheelworks is that other one.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Belmont Wheelworks is probably the premiere shop in Metro Boston. I have shopped there when looking for certain accessories; not necessarily to buy, but see what's available.
Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I bought a bike there for my son to take to Umass with him. Nothing high end, and they really worked with us to find a good fit.

Really well-run store with very helpful techs and salespeople.

They stopped carrying Trek btw. Seems like that drastically increased the range of bikes they sell.
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Old 04-30-19, 12:04 PM
  #305  
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There are many posts about negative experiences with your LBS. I feel sorry for you folks. We have 3 excellent shops within driving distance. Our nearest "LBS" is 35 miles away.

Yesterday the service manager from our LBS drove 35 miles on his day off to our small town to help service the 34 bikes in our bike safety fleet. An hour a day, 2-week program teaching 5th graders bike safety in our 5 elementary schools. As it turned out, he did most of the work doing safety checks; replacing cables brakes, grips, and a derailleur; adjusting brakes, derailleurs, seats, hubs, truing a wheel, and other minor adjustments. His shop also gives us a good discount on parts. It was an intense day, but we got through the fleet. He was also patient with his helper, and I learned a lot We really appreciate his personal effort and his shop's support helping keep our kids safe.
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Old 04-30-19, 12:10 PM
  #306  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I suspect that the shop you're describing is really exceptional in that regard. The shops where I live wouldn't have even close to that turnaround time.
QBP ships from, among other places, a distribution center in PA. Shops in Philly can get a lot of parts in about 2 days. REI is the same. Used to take maybe a week to get my order. Most orders now arrive in 2-3 days with standard shipping.
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Old 04-30-19, 12:13 PM
  #307  
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
In my experience with my shop (one of a group of three) they usually get parts for me in about two days; maybe because they have clout, or at least established delivery routes because of their size.
See my post above. Being in large metro areas helps these days.
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Old 04-30-19, 01:28 PM
  #308  
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
There are many posts about negative experiences with your LBS. I feel sorry for you folks. We have 3 excellent shops within driving distance. Our nearest "LBS" is 35 miles away.

Yesterday the service manager from our LBS drove 35 miles on his day off to our small town to help service the 34 bikes in our bike safety fleet. An hour a day, 2-week program teaching 5th graders bike safety in our 5 elementary schools. As it turned out, he did most of the work doing safety checks; replacing cables brakes, grips, and a derailleur; adjusting brakes, derailleurs, seats, hubs, truing a wheel, and other minor adjustments. His shop also gives us a good discount on parts. It was an intense day, but we got through the fleet. He was also patient with his helper, and I learned a lot We really appreciate his personal effort and his shop's support helping keep our kids safe.
That's what my people call a real mensch!

Just curious--what exactly is a "bike safety fleet"? I've never heard the term.
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Old 04-30-19, 01:39 PM
  #309  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Just curious--what exactly is a "bike safety fleet"? I've never heard the term.
Just guessing here but it's probably
Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
An hour a day, 2-week program teaching 5th graders bike safety in our 5 elementary schools.
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Old 04-30-19, 01:50 PM
  #310  
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Oh I was gonna make a high end bicycle purchase someday lol
Looking towards a Specialized or Schwinn
Dept stores carry the Schwinns - make that a short term goal purchase
Only found Specialized in LBSs which I prefer to an online order of a bicycle - at least one can test out the bicycle prior to purchase

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Old 04-30-19, 03:00 PM
  #311  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
That's what my people call a real mensch!

Just curious--what exactly is a "bike safety fleet"? I've never heard the term.
This is about 60%, about 20 bikes, of our fleet stowed for travel in a 20' trailer. It also includes 100 helmets, safety cones, and signs. Only about 30 helmets are used per session, but they need a 2-week quarantine before reuse. It is owned by the school district, and was procured through donations and grants. There are several cities in the area that own bike fleets for this purpose. Instructors are certified by the League of American Bicyclists. The bike safety course replaces PE for the 2-week session. In the last session a young man did not know how to ride a bike . Our lead instructor worked with the kid a few days before the session started. After going through the program he participated in the "graduation" Community Ride, over an hour ride through the community. This includes traffic laws, riding in traffic, hand signals, checking over their shoulders, proper turns, emergency stops, crossing a busy highway, bike care, taking the lane and more. There is riding almost every day of the session, even in the rain The kids loved it.

The other side of the trailer looks about the same.


Bike safety class' Community Ride two weeks ago.

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Old 04-30-19, 08:03 PM
  #312  
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
This is about 60%, about 20 bikes, of our fleet stowed for travel in a 20' trailer. It also includes 100 helmets, safety cones, and signs. Only about 30 helmets are used per session, but they need a 2-week quarantine before reuse. It is owned by the school district, and was procured through donations and grants. There are several cities in the area that own bike fleets for this purpose. Instructors are certified by the League of American Bicyclists. The bike safety course replaces PE for the 2-week session. In the last session a young man did not no how to ride a bike . Our lead instructor worked with the kid a few days before the session started. After going through the program he participated in the "graduation" Community Ride, over an hour ride through the community. This includes traffic laws, riding in traffic, hand signals, checking over their shoulders, proper turns, emergency stops, crossing a busy highway, bike care, and more. There is riding almost every day of the session, even in the rain The kids loved it.

The other side of the trailer looks about the same.
Great! Thanks.
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Old 05-10-19, 10:15 PM
  #313  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
I'd imagine profit margins are a bit fatter on high-end bikes than on entry-level, but the volume would be a lot less.

As for who would be riding bikes more .... not only do we not know in general, it could well vary from region to region.

The real premise of this thread wasn't even that bike shops in general were dying out ... just that the OP couldn't figure out where to buy what her wanted. His complaint is against a four-store chin which is apparently very popular in his area---hardly "dying out."
Sorry guys my computer locked up while responding. I have spent over $50,000 in tools and $15,000 in storage to be able to service your bikes, and I still can't recover the cost of the tools. It seems far too difficult to post the message but suffice it to sa it costs way too much to do this for free.
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Old 05-11-19, 06:17 PM
  #314  
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk View Post
Sorry guys my computer locked up while responding. I have spent over $50,000 in tools and $15,000 in storage to be able to service your bikes, and I still can't recover the cost of the tools. It seems far too difficult to post the message but suffice it to sa it costs way too much to do this for free.
$50k on tools? Are you sure about that because auto mechanics spend on average around 30K to 50k and they have a lot more tools and computer stuff then a bike shop would, Park sells a complete masters tool kit for $7,600. So I'm assuming your shop must be very large and have maybe 10 mechanics so you need enough tools to go around? I read this post early today, so I went to a small mom and pop (actually a husband and wife, wife is the mechanic) shop and asked them how much money do they thing they got tied up in tools, they estimated about $5,000 because they bought some of their tools from other places that were cheaper than Park but work just as good. Another shop in town has 1 full time mechanic and 2 seasonal mechanics and that shop spent about $8,500 to $9,000 in tools and some of that was sort of recent expenditures due to new electronic stuff that has come out, and some of it was redundant tools in case two mechanics needed the same tool at the same time, so they bought duplicates of the most commonly used tools.

I didn't see anyone mentioning that bicycle mechanics should do their work for free or they're charging too much, in fact I think shop rates are a bit too low if you ask me, but they consider bicycle mechanics as the lowest form of mechanical knowledge; on the flip side I think automotive shop rates are too high at now hovering around $120 an hour-of course the mechanic himself doesn't make near that much, they'll only make around $24 hour average which I think is crappy of the shops to take so much profit from labor and parts and pay the mechanic poorly especially since most mechanics are paying for loans on their tools, and those loans never stop because every year the damn car manufactures have to make a car that requires the mechanics to buy a new tool or several new tools so the bill just gets added to the loan!; now try to put the auto mechanic thing into prospective, while the bike mechanic doesn't get ASE certifications, so the expertise level is different and not near as complicated as auto mechanics, but for a bike mechanic to make an average of $12 an hour is just poor wages, heck McDonalds pays that much in a lot of areas! Most bicycle mechanics work for shop owner and the shop owner owns the tools so the mechanic isn't subject to buying the tools and getting a loan for them.
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Old 05-11-19, 07:19 PM
  #315  
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Originally Posted by freegeek View Post
[RANT] ...I avoid LBS as the plague. [/END RANT]
If you are capable of doing your own bike/car/house/fence/mower/plumbing/appliance repair, why would you ever hire a $$$ technician to do it, other than your lack of time and inclination?

I worked in the bike industry for 30 years, often in an LBS. You know what flabbergasts me the most? The number of "cyclists" who can't fix a simple FLAT TIRE! Astounding numbers of people do not have the mental capability to remove even a front wheel and change or patch a tube. Hell, how many people don't even know there is AIR in the freaking tires!! I am dead serious here.

So between the Internet junkies (who ordered the wrong part or tool) and the complete morons who walk into almost any bike shop, it is incredible to me how most bike shop employees hold it together. Or when someone needs a 3-speed hub nut and freaks out because it costs $3. Yeah. "THREE DOLLARS!!?? THREE DOLLARS!!!!???? WTF???" It really happens.

Because the vast majority of "cyclists" don't know what end of a screwdriver to hold onto, and because companies like Shimano make so many changes that create hundreds of confusing options for doing the same function on a bicycle, there will always be backlogs and stock shortages in your LBS. It is bad biz to drown themselves in inventory that will be obsolete next year.

Sure there are some bad bike shops out there. Auto mechanics, eateries, dentists, and heart surgeons. That's life. Lucky you have a clue how to fix it yourself. And imagine how many YouTube videos there are coaching about "How To Fix A Bike Flat Tire" yet, so many can't even begin to grasp this usually simple procedure. You should certainly try to stand on the other side of the counter of a LBS and subject yourself to the azzhattery that strolls through those doors every day, and the manufacturers who spank you on the other cheek at the same time by selling product on the Web cheaper than you could get it wholesale, and see how you handle it. Based on your OPost, I doubt very well.

To answer your OP question "Why are LBS dying out"? Because they are tired of dealing with the public.

Q: How can you get a million dollars in the bike business?

A: Start with two million.

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Old 05-12-19, 06:11 AM
  #316  
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No die off of the LBS where I live in NE CT.
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Old 05-12-19, 06:34 AM
  #317  
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With a $50K budget I could have all the tools I need to work on bikes, plus a decent small machine shop with milling machine, lathe, drill press etc.
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Old 05-12-19, 09:36 AM
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Great Scott,
I am pretty sure about that. Remember though I have been a mechanic since the late 1960's. And if I only spent $1000 per year that would more than cover the cost of my tools. A couple of examples though should explain my costs and reasons for the "why". I used to buy tools like Craftsman and Park, but found that the tools did not hold up in the long run. Open end wrenches would bend open and slip when force was applied, and when I replaced them through the lifetime warranty process the new wrenches were even shorter and still prone to bend open. The parks cone wrenches would do the same thing needing replacement almost yearly. I do have a pretty complete shop just for my own use. The 35 gal. air compressor is needed to drive impact wrenches, and costs close to $700, add hoses and couplers and it is closer to $850. A good set of wrenches from MAC (either standard or metric) is $325. Now put two sets of each in the box. I use one wrench on either side of a wheel when tightening it because you can control the torque applied equally for each side.
It it the same for my Var cone wrench sets. Two of each for similar reasons, but each set is close to $200. Add some specialty tools like impact wrenches, which are $450 for the most recent purchase from Snap-On. That impact wrench is coupled to a set of sockets that are about $300 and used for free-wheel removal. Those special tools are about $25 for each tool from Park, and you will need at least 12 of these to cover different model free-wheels. Add in other specialty tools like bottom bracket taps. Dies for each side are $275 and you will need two of each in Italian and English designs and add the cost of the handles at $100. Think about all of the other special tools like BB cup tools, and headset tools. Cable cutters from Knipex even when purchased at tool discount store are $54. It adds up pretty quickly.
I will admit I do also have automotive tools as well, but I can't really factor in the cost of a $4500 engine analyser with bike specific tools. As for the cost of storage; The last price I paid for a Mid range Matco box was $13,5000, and cost of a replacement from Snap-On is $15,000.
So yes Scott, I am pretty sure about those tool costs,and storage. HTH, MH
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Old 05-12-19, 09:47 AM
  #319  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Mostly, the biggest revelation I've had from this thread is that a few people haven't figured out the obvious: LBS are generally not good places to order things they don't have in stock. I use them a lot, but I literally never order stuff through them.

Obviously, they really don't make any money doing it, and really don't want to do it.
I'm not sure I understand why they wouldn't make money. I've ordered through my two LBS and the gear comes quickly. My problem is when I see something that is $300 on line and $400 at the LBS. There is a financial point where if I had to buy through the LBS, I couldn't afford the item.
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Old 05-12-19, 09:57 AM
  #320  
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FWIW, I live in northeast CT and have two shops within 10 min. of my house. Both are smaller. One is excellent. The other is average. About 20 min. away, on rural roads, is the best shop I've ever known and a second really good shop. None of them are in danger of going out of business.
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Old 05-12-19, 10:00 AM
  #321  
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Great Scott,
I likely inferred that there are folks out there who expect a lot for free or close to it. You are absolutely correct about the costs of operating a bikes shop. Or a lot of other shops. I stepped away from the Cycling industry for about twenty years and worked in the Golf industry. During that time I researched, and wrote The Flat Rate Manual for golf repairs. A similar product should exist in Cycling, but the last one I saw is very outdated. The thing that most folks forget about being in business is that there are many hidden costs to the consumer. No one walking into a bike shop ever considers the cost of liability insurance, or the costs of building rent, water, heat, and lights. All of the overhead goes into being able to turn the key and open the shop every day. My current assessment of the cost to run a bike shop is a labor rate of $100-$120 per hour. That includes being able to pay mechanics a living wage of $25 per hour of labor turned.
Other hidden costs are things like Franchise fees. In golf, it costs $10,000 per year to be allowed to carry Callaway golf clubs. I haven't looked up the fees for cycling companys' but I would not be surprised to see something similar. Sorry for the long winded details but I think sometimes the view from the cheap seats doesn't always see a bigger picture. Smiles, MH
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Old 05-12-19, 10:55 AM
  #322  
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk View Post
Great Scott,
All of the overhead goes into being able to turn the key and open the shop every day. My current assessment of the cost to run a bike shop is a labor rate of $100-$120 per hour. That includes being able to pay mechanics a living wage of $25 per hour of labor turned.
Other hidden costs are things like Franchise fees. In golf, it costs $10,000 per year to be allowed to carry Callaway golf clubs. I haven't looked up the fees for cycling companys' but I would not be surprised to see something similar. Sorry for the long winded details but I think sometimes the view from the cheap seats doesn't always see a bigger picture. Smiles, MH
Isn't there some sorta discussion to be had about balance between volume and margin? If folks are buying tubes online because they're $4/pc, and the LBS is $8/pc.. Would the LBS sell 3x more of them if they priced them at $6/pc, etc. One LBS I know sells Clif bars at $3 each.. so of course I stock up from Amazon at less than $1 each. Sure they'll get a random sale to the desperate hungry guy who forgot to bring one with him, but would sales triple selling at $2 each? etc etc

If a mechanic is idle and has nothing to work on at the moment, is shop better off pricing his services with a customer on location, at a rate that doesn't make him think he'll try it himself at home instead?
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Old 05-12-19, 12:27 PM
  #323  
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Advocatus Diaboli,
I think the discussion started with a rant about LBS's inability to stock an item he wanted right away. The discussion went kind of downhill and off topic and then some complaints about what I consider instant gratification. I think it has morphed into some discussion about the underlying reasons for high costs in LBS's. I can see the volume discount as a benefit to the consumer, especially in the items that are not hard goods. Gatorade, and Cliff bars, even clothing has to have volume to make a small profit. But that is not what covers the bigger costs of keeping the doors open. An example is my local bike project; they sell tubes for $4, and cables for $1. Great deals for maintenance but those items don't even come close to paying the $500 mo rent and the light bill. They run a very basic operation and maintain a free use tool board, with no restroom facilities, They pay one employee for what is supposed to 10 hours per week to maintain inventories but most of that is done by volunteer labor. So they struggle along by selling a few used bikes, and reconditioning donated bikes to re-sell. No liability insurance (they can't afford it), and the focus is on training folks to learn self repairs.
The mechanics who try to break out on their own, don't consider any overhead costs, and certainly don't even think bout liability issues. One person crashing over the bars on a test ride, changes everything in an instant. JMHO, MH

Last edited by Mad Honk; 05-12-19 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 05-12-19, 01:24 PM
  #324  
bruce19
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk View Post
Advocatus Diaboi,
I think the discussion started with a rant about LBS's inability to stock an item he wanted right away. The discussion went kind downhill and off topic...............
Here? On BF? Are you sure?
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Old 05-12-19, 02:34 PM
  #325  
Gresp15C
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
If you are capable of doing your own bike/car/house/fence/mower/plumbing/appliance repair, why would you ever hire a $$$ technician to do it, other than your lack of time and inclination?

I worked in the bike industry for 30 years, often in an LBS. You know what flabbergasts me the most? The number of "cyclists" who can't fix a simple FLAT TIRE! Astounding numbers of people do not have the mental capability to remove even a front wheel and change or patch a tube. Hell, how many people don't even know there is AIR in the freaking tires!! I am dead serious here.
Indeed, I've had people tell me their time is too valuable. And what, pray tell, are they spending their precious time doing? Driving to the bike shop. Twice.
So between the Internet junkies (who ordered the wrong part or tool) and the complete morons who walk into almost any bike shop, it is incredible to me how most bike shop employees hold it together. Or when someone needs a 3-speed hub nut and freaks out because it costs $3. Yeah. "THREE DOLLARS!!?? THREE DOLLARS!!!!???? WTF???" It really happens.
Just tell them to get the nut at Home Depot. It's in the aisle that carries hardware with Whitworth threads.
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