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Back The LBS

  
  
  
  
  
  


Local bike shop, Cycling, Cycling HolidaysMy first proper bike was a Viking racer. It was in the window of the local bike shop, Mike Vaughan Cycles in Kenilworth, when I went to collect it with Dad in June 1978. Dad didn’t really know one end of a racing bike from the other, but the advice he got in ‘Mike’s Bikes’ as we knew it, was spot on. Putting the gleaming black thoroughbred in the window so Dad could witness my gobsmacked expression when I first saw it was a nice touch. 

I live far away from Mike’s Bikes now but I’m told the shop is still thriving. Today my local bike shop (or ‘LBS’ as aficionados like to say) is M & D Cycles in Abergavenny. It’s another great bike shop, full of cyclists and banter, where no job is too small. Occasionally when I’m in there, I hear Dads being given good advice about bikes for their young boys. 

I’m old enough to remember Not the Nine O’clock News and the sketch about a gent going into an all singing and dancing hi-fi shop. He asks to buy a ‘gramophone’. The sales assistant, Rowan Atkinson, ridicules the customer asking: ‘Do you want woofers and tweeters with that, Grandad?’ 

Bike shops can sometimes be exclusive and intimidating. Good independent bike shops are anything but, though. Instead, they are inclusive, helpful and welcoming. Sometimes, they are a little bit more expensive than chain stores or on-line retailers but it’s the service you’re paying for, and it’s usually worth it. 

The service starts with good advice: vital if you’re buying you’re first bike, or even you’re second or third. When you’ve tested a few steeds and eventually chosen the right one, it’ll be built up and then adjusted to ensure it fits properly. A good fit is fundamental to enjoying cycling. Importantly, if the fit isn’t bang on first time but you bought the bike locally, you can return and have it adjusted. Local bike shop, Cycling, Cycling Holidays

This is the beginning of a relationship that may last decades: you, the bike and the bike shop owner are all partners. You’ll return to the LBS again and again over the years – for inner tubes, tyres, brake blocks and advice on where to ride at first; then you’ll be back for minor repairs, training routes, wheel truing, new bearings and eventually, a replacement drive train or your next bike. The relationship is important, especially if you’re new to cycling or just taking it up again: it’s a steadying hand on the small of your back. Local bike shops are a bit like rural post offices and country pubs. To be viable, we have to use them. If we don’t, we’ll lose them. 

Comments

Totally agree Rob, I regularly pop into my LBS just to browse and have a chat which further helps foster good relations. Got service way about the cause recently when having real problem changing disc brake pads. They did them without charge even though it took about 40 mins to do and by the time they were finished the shop floor was covered in crud from my bike.
Posted @ Wednesday, July 04, 2012 2:06 AM by Ian
A good LBS is worth it's weight in gold, agreed. They can, however, be thin on the ground. I had some bad experiences when shopping around for my first bike in over 20 years. My truly local LBS tried to sell me a Giant Defy 3, a nice bike, in my budget, the frame of which was too big, embarrassingly so. But, hey, they had it in stock. The next nearest LBS sneered at my $1000 budget, the owner leaving me in the capable hands of a kid around 11 or 12 years old who was reading a comic book (I'm not making any of this up) while he excused himself and helped a guy outside load up a very expensive looking mountain bike. With expectations lowered to a really low level, I walked into a Bianchi dealer, fearing the worse only to be treated like, well, a serious customer. I told them my budget, my riding skills - near zero - and expectations. They couldn't have been nicer. They let me loose on bikes for test rides, respected my wishes (steel frame please) and didn't sneer at my budget. I now ride a Bianchi (base model, love it Campione, does the job, I'm back in the saddle) and spend money regularly in my LBS that's not really local. I bought my kid's bikes there too. Three of them. I recommended it to a friend who also purchased a bike there recently. Bikeland West Caldwell NJ, a first class LBS. Love the blog Rob. 
 
Johnny
Posted @ Wednesday, July 04, 2012 10:18 AM by Johnny
i can confirm Mike's Bikes is still going strong 
heartily recommend Cheltenham Cycles too. great, knowledgeable staff
Posted @ Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:37 AM by rOcKeTdOg
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