What makes a good local bicycle shop?
Hi, I’m Mike. I’m currently riding around SE Asia, but when I’m not on the bike I’m running my cycling blog pinch-flat. Romney cycles has let me write a post on what makes a good local bike shops today. I hope you like it.
When you walk into a bicycle shop for the first time, when the bell on the door dings and you’re hit with the smell of new tires, there are certain things you can look out for which will let you know whether you’ve found a gem or a dud.
With more and more small businesses popping up all over the place, it’s never been easier to keep your cycling habits going strong. In an ideal world, every bike shop would be a haven for cyclists of all kinds.
But, alas, that’s not always the case. So here are some things to keep an eye out for, which every good local bicycle shop should possess.
People with passion
Passion’s a funny thing. You can spend 10 minutes talking to an expert, and walk away thinking “They really know their stuff!” You can chat to the friendly merchant at the counter who might brighten your day a little afterwards with their positive vibes.
But passion? That’s something infinitely more attractive – and something which you pick up on right away. (Romney cycles have lots of this).
Whether you’re still tingling with the initial excitement of just breaking into cycling, or you’re a seasoned veteran with countless miles on the clock, you want to be dealing with people who share your fire.
You want to walk in knowing that you can geek-out over any aspect of cycling, in a safe haven where everyone’s on the same page. The staff shouldn’t just sell you things to keep you going, they should reflect your love of the bike-life and remind you what it’s all about.
But, that being said…
No snobs, please
Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common trait of many niche hobby stores. The shop owner may have particularly strong views of who qualifies as a “real cyclist” in his or her eyes, and if you don’t meet that criteria – well, you probably won’t feel too welcome.
Whilst it’s puzzling that so many business owners limit their customer-base with their snobbery, what’s more frustrating is the effect this can have on beginners. Everyone has to start somewhere, and riders who have just begun their cycling antics may very well feel apprehensive about walking into a shop for the first time.
So, the people at your local bicycle shop should be happy to assist anyone who’s looking for help in upping their game, be they clued-in or clueless.
The majority of your visits to the local cycle shop may well just be trips for new parts or regular maintenance and repair calls. But, consider this – a good cycling shop, will also act as a hub for all the local bike nuts.
Swinging by to pick up your new handlebar grips or to get your brakes fixed should come with the possibility of meeting new people, getting involved in local events, or learning about little-known trails and hot spots.
A good way to tell if your local shop is involved in community antics is to take a look at their social media. If their Facebook and Twitter pages come across as personal, fun, and show a degree of community involvement, then odds are you’ve found something good.
But how does a shop foster this kind of community-friendly feeling? Well, aside from the points already mentioned, a good chill-out area never hurts, where cyclists can take a break from riding and spend time in like-minded company. Bonus points if they sell coffee, too.
More concerned with pedalling, not peddling
This is a big one. A good local shop will be stocked with a wide range of gear, from everyday cycling gloves to rarer stock like Bullhorn bars, so you should never be in doubt that everything you need is all sitting in one place.
What this also means is that the staff will be focused on working within your needs, experience level, and budget. They won’t push any expensive, high-level equipment on you if you’re an intermediate rider, and, likewise, they won’t recommend any low-quality gear from poor brands whom they may be affiliated with.
For the beginner cyclist, this may be a hard thing to watch out for – especially if you’re very unfamiliar with cycling brands and which ones are considered the most reputable.
Just try to keep an eye out for that passion and savviness we talked about earlier – someone who loves what they do will remember what it’s like to be just starting out, and will be motivated to giving you the right recommendations.
And, if in doubt, a little research goes a long way.