Cycle Shops

It's impossible to buy just a bicycle - you take home a machine which will become a personal friend. The best friends though will invariably come from bricks-and-mortar bike shops with real people behind them - here's why...

Someone once said; "If you want to make a small fortune take a large fortune and open a bike shop with it." No-one works in cycle retailing just for the money, not even the shop owners. Good bike shops are not uncommon, after all they wouldn't still be trading if they weren't doing something right. Staffed by good people doing a good job and we salute them. But great bike shops? Consider yourself blessed if you have a truly great bicycle shop within pedalling distance.

It's impossible to buy just a bicycle. You take home a machine which will become a personal friend as you ride it and get to know it more.

For anyone who rides regularly, a cheap bike is never exactly that. Any money saved on the day it's bought will quickly be cancelled out by repair bills and personal disruption as short-life components give up the ghost, one by one. For long periods this 'cheap' bike sits at home, until the time can be found to buy and fit a replacement part, or to take it (by car?) to the bike shop. Then the day comes when the owner decides that cycling wasn't much fun anyway: The bike was a heavy beast, and might as well stay out of sight and unrepaired. Besides, it had begun to show rust...

Yet cycle technology has never been more welcoming. You can buy bikes, accessories and clothing which will do their job, give you great pleasure, and last for ages but you are unlikely to get this in a big cut-price department store, or from a mail order catalogue. When you go to a specialist bike shop you may pay more, but you will also receive more. You are more likely to be advised by experts who are daily cyclists themselves. You will probably see a wider real choice than in a department store, especially with higher-priced bikes. You will be able to ask important questions about cycle security. You may be able to try on a range of clothing. Above all, you are less likely to be sold something which will give you long-term problems.

A specialised shop will assemble and adjust your bike with care, before you take it on the road. They can offer you maintenance advice, and are more likely to give you good after-sales service. If the bike you buy is in any way unusual their deeper general experience of cycle technology will be invaluable. So going to your local bike shop can bring real personal benefits. But your decision as to how and where you spend your money plays a part in the struggle of specialised cycle shops against the powers of Mammon in the big sheds on the edge of town.

Quality, specialist bike shops are essential to the fabric of a society which values cycling. A good bike shop is part of the local community.

It is the specialised shops who are taking an interest in bikes which are beyond the norm. They are often expensive to keep in stock and need considerable knowledge to explain. It also usually takes many times longer to explain and sell an unconventional cycle than it does to sell a cheap mountain bike from the Far East.

A few manufacturers prefer to deal with customers directly. This is usually because their products are too specialised, or may require a degree of custom building, or perhaps, being big and bulky, they take up too much precious floor space in the average shop.

Life is not always easy for independent local bike shops, so support any which make an effort.

And, as anyone who works in the cycle trade will tell you; the really important question is not ‘Which bike should I buy?' but ‘Which shop should I buy my bike from?'

Click here to visit Cyclorama Retailers, our listing of outstanding cycle shops.

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