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A Love Letter to the Local Bike Shop

By Christopher Ashley

You can buy everything cheaper online, and while you wait for it to arrive, you don’t have to wait for your Local Bike Shop (LBS) to open. So what’s the point in visiting your LBS?

It’s more than the parts

Your LBS may have greater overheads, meaning that the price of the components and bikes is steeper, but they have an ace up their sleeve – knowledge. Visiting your LBS is much about getting a second opinion from a qualified mechanic who’s experienced enough to give you the answer you need.

Em’s group ride is cancelled, so she visits her LBS for a chat.

Unlike online forums, which either seem to assume you’re a Tour de France mechanic or an 8-year-old child, your LBS staff will get to know you – and your bikes. This means that for a little extra money for your hardware, you’ll get timely, nuanced, and personalised advice from someone who cares.

Surprises everywhere

There’s nothing like visiting a city, in another country, and finding an unusual LBS offering a speciality range of bikes and components you can’t get at home, or online. In Florence, there’s the excellent Eroica that offers vintage Italian bikes from the 60s to the 80s.

Try walking out of this shop without buying a bike. Impossible.

I also love this video from 2002 – a bike shop in Rome that offered a Colnago-Ferrari collaborative roadie. What makes the video so magical is that the shop wasn’t the reason for the journey – it’s just something that was stumbled upon. A friend of mine visited Indonesia and told me of the excellent Velodome in Jakarta.

Support the community and it will support you

Epic BMX in Westminster, Southern California know that they’ve got to stay ahead of the curve to keep their customers coming back. They have a comprehensive social media presence, but Epic BMX know that the most important presence is physical. They’ve just announced a mobile workshop.

“homies” hanging at the shop, chatting plans and bikes…

So, Epic BMX plan to bring the LBS to you. Snap a chain at the park? This LBS will sling you another.  Blow a tube? They’ll patch you up. All they ask in return is you visit their shop. Maybe Amazon will eventually send a drone with the part, but they won’t be able to true your wheel quickly when dropping off a new tyre.

Personal relationships

Most importantly, your LBS offers you a relationship with other like-minded people. I could geek out about changing bottom bracket conventions till the cows come home, but sadly my wife isn’t quite as passionate.

smile and relax…

So I’ll leave you with this final video of Bob Warner’s bike shop from Leicester, England. “Bob” will happily chat about bottom brackets, while you wonder at the treasure trove of bike parts stacked around his shop.