A Fresh Local Bike Shop Experience

Finding a good local bike shop can be challenging. You hear too many stories where customer service isn’t good, prices are outrageous, or they have a poor selection of cycling gear. I see it here too and that lead me to look around when shopping for tires last weekend. The bike shop I normally frequent is convenient. They have two stores in the area and both are close by car. I’ve experienced good customer service with them and gotten help with some mechanical issues on my bike. Everytime I go in there though I get frustrated with the equipment selection. They sell basically one brand – Bontrager. Personally, I have nothing against Bontrager but I’d like to be able to have other options and you really can’t do that in these shops. So, after experiencing another pre-ride flat and finding some cuts on my tires last Saturday, I decided to invest in some new tires before starting my Tour de Cure training plan. I already knew the selection at the shop I normally frequented so I decided to shake things up and try another shop. Boy was I glad I did. Journey Into the Unknown As my wife and I were driving out towards the beach where this ‘other’ shop was, she was asking questions about my tires and why I was getting flats. You see, about three months ago she bought me a new back tire at the store I normally go to and it was a hard case tire meant to reduce flats. So you can understand her questions. We talked about tires, cuts, and so on....

Starting The Morning Out Right

The Bike Is Fixed My crank problems were finally resolved on Friday and I picked up my bike that afternoon. The shop never heard back from Sugino (the maker’s of my cranks). Instead of flat-out telling me I needed a new crankset (which is what I was prepared for), one of the mechanics did some experimenting and found that a Cannondale external crank nut fit my crankset perfectly. Crisis solved. I escaped with my bike for only $33 which included the crank nut and a service of the bottom bracket. Thanks @bicyclesetc. Saturday’s Ride and the Headache I rode on Saturday morning and the cranks performed perfectly. It wasn’t a hard ride but it was hard on me after having been off for so long. I was basically limping along putting in the miles. I rode 10 miles in 46 minutes along a new route that I created. I started off at 7 AM which meant traffic wasn’t bad going underneath the interstate. What’s really nice is that about 9 miles of that 10 is on bike lanes. I didn’t see any other riders out on Saturday. I was back home by 8:30 and then the family headed to the beach for a couple of hours for some sun and fun. The waves were rolling in pretty good with quite a few folks out surfing. If we’re going to be going to the beach more I’ll need to invest in a boogie board again. Maybe sometime I’ll try and take up surfing. It looks like fun. My chest/stomach got a little too much sun though. I paid for it...

Cranks, Nuts, and a Tshirt

This mornings ride was very low key because I can’t ride my road bike right now (see below) and because I’m taking it easy until my body readjusts to riding again. I took the hybrid out for a short three mile loop. I’ll ride the hybrid for a few more days until I get the Allez back from the shop. Why I Have A Crank Problem Yesterday you may remember that I had a problem with left crank arm again where it wants to come off during my rides. I’ve replaced both bolts that hold it on to no avail. Yesterday, while heading to Lowes (a local home improvement store) to get some Blue Loctite, I stopped into a local bike shop to talk to a mechanic about my crank problems (no jokes please). It turns out that I’m missing the compression nut that screws into the left-side of the crank arm. The mechanic says that without that nut I’ll never be able to keep the crank arm on. Here’s a diagram of what I’m talking about. The compression nut is part #5. This particular shop would have had to order me a nut (no, my nickname isn’t Juan Pelota) because they don’t sale Specialized bikes. I left there and headed over to the shop that carries Specialized bikes to pick up the nut which was only $5. Today I’m going to take my bike back to shop #1 to have them overhaul my bottom bracket and put the nut on. Just so you know, that nut requires a special tool (TL-FC16 in the figure above). It looks like...

Bicycle Comparison Chart

Most of you know I’m searching for a new bike. My price point is right in the neighborhood of $800 which doesn’t let me get to the 105 component level I want unless I can find me a good deal used (which I’m open to) or buy online (I’m skeptical of doing). I do know that I want at least a 9 speed rear cog set and would like STI. I’m open for compromises such as considering a triple chainwheel set instead of a double. After finally concluding that I won’t be challenging Lance or Levi in the Tour De France I’ve decided that I can probably forgo my 105 requirement. At most I’ll be doing the organized ride which would be more for distance riding rather than placing. The number one priority of my new bike is, as it always has been, to help me lose weight. I decided to make myself a handy-dandy chart to help me along and to show you what I’m looking at (the real reason for the chart is because I’m an Excel geek that can’t help myself). I did get an email from a guy who has a 2007 Specialized Allez Elite Triple that sounds promising. He’s sending me pics tonight to look at. Those bikes in the chart below labeled as ‘local’ are available at a Local Bike Shop while the ‘online’ bikes are available at Bikes Direct. There are advantages and disadvantages to buying at either place. I wish there was a Bikes Direct store here in Dallas that I could go look at some of their bikes. We have...

Another Bike Store Trip

I’ve gone to several shops now just looking at what they have while paying specific attention to price-points and what you get at those points. Like I said, I’ve been concentrating on getting something with at least 105 components all the way around and that’s relatively easy to do at an affordable price (approx $1200 with the Specialized Allez). On my trip yesterday I was looking to see how much it would cost me to up the ante on the group to Ultegra. The price jump from 105 to Ultegra is pretty significant on the mainstream brands of Trek and Specialized at anywhere from $600 to $1500+. Besides the jump to Ultegra the frame type (Aluminum to Carbon), wheel set, and crank material (aluminum to carbon) are also driving up the price. It was hard to find an Ultegra equipped bike below $2200. That’s too steep for me. I did see a few bikes in the used section that came with Ultegra, were in my old frame size, and were nice bikes. A couple were actually decently priced and will be something I keep my eye on as this unfolds. I will get re-sized when I do this though because, 1) it needs to be done, 2) I always felt my old bike was a little big at 52 cm, and 3) the stand over height on my old bike was too high. In my last post about my trip to the bike shop, I bashed Bianchi pretty hard because of the colors and name of their bike. Yesterday I was very surprised to find a Bianchi I liked,...

Local Bike Shops and Social Media

The age old question of supporting your local bike shop or ordering online has raged for a while and is still a very hot topic. I don’t want to banter the pros and cons of doing so but would rather discuss why local bike shops aren’t taking advantage of social media and trying to draw local riders into their shops. As most of you know, I’m in the hunt for a new bike. As I sat here at the kitchen table this morning drinking a cup of coffee, wishing I was riding instead, I wrote a tweet saying that I was considering going to a local bike shop to look at what they had to offer. Then I tacked a question onto the end of it: Why aren’t they (the local bike shops) on here (Twitter) trying to get me into their shop? I think that’s a valid question. So many people are using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc.) and using it to connect to one another. Cyclists in particular are using Twitter like nobody’s business after seeing professionals like Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, and Christian Vande Velde (to name a few) create accounts and begin interacting with their fans. Local Bike shops are missing out on this by not using the tools to connect to cyclists in their area. I could see local bike shops offering special discounts or coupons via Twitter, group discussions on Facebook, or posting pictures from the local evening ride on Flickr. Lance Armstrong did this the other day when he invited Twitter followers to a group ride that departed from his...
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