Recently I've chatted up a few folks about their bikes. It's mainly been while out on a ride, and some random person will pull up alongside and we'll get to chatting.
It consistent. If the person is riding their first "real" road bike, and bought it at a bike store, they're invariably disappointed. They've been oversold, or are riding something that doesn't quite fit them size wise.
If they're on their second purchase or later, they are usually quite happy, mainly because they did their own research and made a choice without the help of a local shop.
My case is a great example that's similar to the stories I heard.
I wanted to "get back into cycling". I was kind of fat, weighing in at 195+ pounds. I was on a budget. And so I went into the local shop, wanting to support my "LBS."
The shop? I don't mind saying it was Wheels of Bloor in Toronto. Here's what happened:
First - The guy on the floor made no attempt to understand my history with bikes. I rode a sweet Bianchi frame for years. It was a large, with relaxed geometry.
He tried, immediately, to upsell me outside of my budget, but only using brand names to lure me, not any functional or "value for money" arguments.
He convinced me (in hindsight) that the "bike he wanted to get rid of", the second last Devinci on the floor, which fit my budget, would fit my body.
The fitter guy spent about 3 minutes, adjusted the seat height, and told me to keep my heels down and knees in.
I then took the bike home and took it out on it's first ride.
When I emailed, and then called, saying I thought the bike was too small, I got no response. Nothing.
So I continued to ride it, as I convinced myself that the purchase I made was decent, and heck, it was a noble thing to buy a Canadian made bike.
Now I hate the size, hate the components, and regret my purchase. (I do like Devinci however, they have some nice bikes, and use SolidWorks to design them also.)
The Bullet Summary?
- Automatic upsell
- No time understanding the customer
- Poor fitting (unless you spend even more money)
- Poor selection
- Terrible after sale service
So why do I say all this? I know a few new or soon to be riders read this blog, or find it via search. And I want them to be aware that buyers remorse lasts a long time when you lay your hard earned money down on a bike. You've got to really get engaged with the place that's selling you your equipment.
One woman that I rode with recently put it well. "I thought I had a relationship at the shop. I trusted him. I was wrong about that."
These reasons are also why I want Vitess to succeed and why I talk about them quite a bit to anyone who'll listen, or pretend to listen. They're not a bike shop. Sure they want to sell bikes but they engage with you on a level that very few bike shops do. It truly is a relationship between supplier and rider, and you get something that fits you. Now, their bikes are more expensive than average, but the value for money is great and they're changing up the business model in a way that serves the customers interests.
Now I just need to keep saving my pennies so I can stop drinking the coffee in the showroom while fondling carbon and become a customer.