My Bike Shop Sucks! How to find a better bike store

Two stories have come to light on the Australian Cycling Forums in the last week in which Aussie bike shops have let down their customers. The first story is of a customer who ordered a new 2014 model Italian carbon fibre road bike from a bicycle shop and, after waiting 8 weeks, his bike arrived. It was when he attempted to register the bike with the brand (for warranty) that it turned out that the new bike was in fact an old bike, a demo bike, that had been resprayed to resemble a new model bike.

In the second story, the customer received his fully-serviced and rebuilt bike from a respected inner city Melbourne bike shop in worse condition than when he dropped it off. He made the heinous mistake of relying on the mechanic’s word that the correct brand-name parts would be used and that the bike was actually ready to be picked up. Although the customer had previously had great experiences with the same shop (before a management change), the second failed attempt by the shop to properly service his bike has lost them a customer forever.

 

If you find a good shop, stick with it
It is a good rule of thumb to be loyal to a bike shop if they provide good service and look after you. But you have to find a good bike store first, and it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Because of this, a bike shop recommendation, from a friend or other reliable source, is like hitting the jackpot, especially if you get a recommendation for a specific mechanic at a bike shop, because it’s all about personality.

Otherwise, finding a bike shop can be a game of chance. If the staff ignore you when you walk in, are too busy to say “can I help you?”, or “I will be with you soon”, then this is the first sign that the shop may not know about customer service. Regardless of the mechanical experience of the staff, it is a service industry and they have to get this part right as well.

It goes without saying that the shop should carry the type of bikes you are riding; some cater for most types of bikes while other specialise in certain styles, such as just mountain bikes or BMX. They may not be able to provide the level of experience required to service your road bike, for example.

Depending on your level of experience and knowledge, it can be hard to determine the level of the staff’s mechanical expertise. When it comes to buying a bike or other gear, a good salesperson will give you a feeling of confidence – if you feel pressured or uncomfortable, take the opportunity to visit some other shops.

Mechanics are, understandably, often confident in their abilities, so this isn’t always an indication of the quality and reliability of their service. If they have a formal checklist, document your service requirements, and provide a specific completion date and price, this can suggest a more organised and reliable workshop.

Ripped Off Bike Shop
A good mechanic can also solve problems off the bike

 

We all make mistakes
It’s the ability of a shop to resolve its own mistakes that reveals their true character. I have had my fair share of bike shop fails and, when the staff  show competence in resolving a problem, that is when they will retain my business.

As a customer, you should show a bit of understanding as well; acting like a diva may not help, but determination and persistence may be necessary to get results.

In the case of the bike shop who sold the repainted demo model, it is reported that they insisted that the customer actually ordered a repainted bike. An unlikely story if the customer paid a deposit for a 2014 model bike, and while it is likely fraud on behalf of the shop, in the end the customer decided to let the shop order the correct bicycle instead of reporting them to the ACCC. Pity the next customer who gets taken for a ride.

Jordan Wilson Ride In Workshop Mechanic
Jordan of Ride in Workshop in Sydney has built a reputation on trust

 

What goes around, comes around
Bad bike shops eventually run into problems, ‘burning’ so many customers means they’ll fail to establish a solid customer-base. While these shops will make excuses and blame their failing on other factors such as competition from ‘online bike shops’, the number of successful local bikes shops is testament to the viability of ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers in this day and age.

But as passionate cyclists there is something we can do to help the good retailers: spread the word and let others know that your bike shop is looking after you.

On the flip-side, tact is required if you want to let others know you are unhappy with a bike shop because it’s easy to become ‘the vindictive customer’. The best point of contact for complaint, if you feel that you have been deceived and have exhausted all reasonable resolution avenues with the bike store, is to get in touch with the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission).

If you choose to go beyond just telling your friends and want to publish your bad experience, the bike shop may react or even threaten legal action. For this reason, positive recommendations are more powerful – actively recommend the good shops when you find them.

Do it yourself bike repair
When all else fails, trust yourself to do it yourself

 

Do it yourself
When it comes to regular maintenance and servicing, there is a lot that you can do yourself. Looking after your bike is not a chore, in fact it’s a bit like gardening as it relaxes the soul. You can tune and clean your bicycles to the standard you want, which will give you extra satisfaction on the bike. The other benefit of this is that if you ever do take your bike to a shop for repair, you’ll know what they’re doing and if they did the job properly.

Without mentioning names, do you have a horror story about a bike shop? Let me know in the comments. Even better, if your bike store has gone above and beyond, tell me who they are and share the love!

Here are the links to the two threads discussion the bad bike shop experiences:
Cycling Forum: I can’t believe a bike shop would do this
Cycling Forum: Bike Shop Whinge



Christopher Jones
About The Author

Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a professional design business, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.

11 Responses to “My Bike Shop Sucks! How to find a better bike store”

  1. Bryan Moss says:

    Jim from Aspley Bike Shop (formerly Aspley Bike Hub). On Xmas eve 2012 I came off 10k into a planned 100k ride and broke my front forks. I left my bike with one of his staff and was expecting I’d get it back sometime mid-January when the new forks arrived. I actually got a call from Jim later that day telling me he had fitted some spare forks for me (on one of his busiest days mind you!!) so I could keep riding over Xmas. Suffice to say there’s only one bike shop I use now!

  2. GreatScott2000 says:

    Recommend Pinnacle Cycles, Mountain Hwy, The Basin.
    Forgot the proprietor’s name but he’s a young road cyclist himself (which helps).

    I ditched my old bike shop after they kept charging for unwanted work when servicing my bike, mostly replacing brake sheaths/cables. Last straw was refusing to true a rear wheel because it was brought it online.

  3. Gordon says:

    Riders Choice in Leederville (Perth). Sales guys are knowledgeable and friendly. My 2014 Domane has had a couple of minor issues, and an upgraded wheelset. No problem is too big ot too small, always ready to help out. Only complaint, which isn’t really a complaint I guess, they are always busy so don’t often have time to chew the fat. Owner Gary Suckling is a long time rider and Perth cycling identity who always greets people with a smile and a handshake.

  4. slowK says:

    Well… I started the “I can’t believe a bike shop would do this” thread with the link to carbon addiction’s blog.

    To balance things out, I highly recommend Velofix in Rozelle (inner west Sydney). Anthony, Sven et al have been great. Fixed things on my bikes that other shops haven’t been able to. Helpful, no attitude, trustworthy.

  5. X says:

    I use Bontrager and Trek parts – I’ve been supported by the local shop who I did not buy the wheels from (eBay), and I’ve been supported by the Trek Sales Manager at a race when I couldn’t find a pump to fit the wrong valve length. They are a premium brand and they understand that loyalty is earnt. They aren’t perfect, but let’s face it… every single person riding a Trek is an advertisement for them. Every person riding Bontrager carbon wheels helps normalise the product. I didn’t buy the wheels from them, but I stayed loyal to the brand and I have stayed with everything Bontrager. If a shop can’t see the importance of their customer base, then they will die.

  6. mark s says:

    I’d recommend sticking with the mechanic rather than the bike shop…I used a store and all went well until one disastrous and damaging service. Turned out the old mechanic had left and the new one was barely out of school.

  7. JohnW says:

    I can highly recommend Cranks in Chatswood NSW. The owner, Paul, is very responsive and goes out of his way to ensure that his customers are very satisfied. I bought my Cannondale CAAD 10 from him in May and had a very good experience. The rear hub (Shimano) has given a bit of trouble after about 1,00kms. Paul has lent me his carbon wheel while he negotiates on my behalf to get Shimano to replace it with a new wheel.

  8. Jondoorsay says:

    I can highly recommend a new bike shop on the block in Bentleigh called the Urban Peddler. I’ve had my bike now for close to a year and it’s been to other reputable shops in melbourne who didn’t set up my campy gear correctly and didn’t get it right again a second time around. Arran from Urban took one look and diagnosed the problem straight away and had it fixed the same day and it now runs like a dream and it didn’t cost the earth. Two thumbs up

  9. Rajiv says:

    I was so impressed by the quality of service provided by Bike Obsession, Brisbane, a family run business that when I was looking for an upgrade I ended up buying two bikes from them (both Bianchi). I have since moved to Melbourne, but would highly recommend them.

  10. Michael Giles says:

    I can highly recommend the Lifestyle and Leisure bike shop in Schofields in Sydney’s North West. Sam and Cain really look after you and their servicing by Murf and Arthur is outstanding with nothing they cannot fix!

    Well worth the travel if you are out of the area – you won’t be disappointed!

  11. Naomi says:

    How to find a good bike mechanic? Impossible if you live in the sprigglies and/or you are a ‘stupid old woman’ aka SOW who resides anywhere.
    This industry reminds me of the motorcycle trade when I started out 43 years ago on motorised two wheelers. Nothing has changed there either: they care only about their mates, girlies with cute bits on show, and the handful of elite performers who may just make them famous and drop their names once that happens.

    As for DIY, after several decades of performing simple service on my moto’s, and a few semesters at bicycle TAFE, I know which I’d rather do [service any broken-ass UJM]. There appears to be a comprehensive, accomplished conspiracy to completely with hold technical information from bicycle consumers – all in the pursuit of harm minimization of course. Without extensive trade experience, there is for example, no resource to elucidate which components will go with what from that huge Japanese inventory, especially on my bottom of the range flat bar bit of crap that was assembled from completely different bits to those described in the almost-a-handbook it came with, or its online spec.

Leave a Reply