Is This The End?

I love visiting local bicycle shops (LBS). It is fun to see the newest bikes, the latest jerseys, check for local rides and discuss cycling with the owner. I seldom buy anything. Even when I do it is seldom more than a tube of chamois cream. The LBS may be coming to an end as we know it. Of course, I am part of the reason the LBS is dying but I am not alone.


The LBS is coming to an end because of what economists call secular trends. Shops are being hit by Internet competition, consumer-direct sales by manufacturers, bikes that are simpler to assemble, use and maintain, as well as mobile bike services that will come to your door to fit, maintain and repair your bike. I have purchased my last four bikes online and then did the fitting at my LBS. I love my LBS but I am not going to pay thousands more for a high-end road bike just to shop local. Canyon is entering the US market this year without a single brick-and-mortar operation. All bikes will be mailed to your home. I still use my LBS for repairs and tune-ups but I have the option of having Velofix come to my home to do the work. None of these trends is going to slow or reverse.


Donny Perry of Specialized noted in his 2013 book Leading Out Retail that the number of LBS’s had fallen from 6,195 in 2000 to 4,055 in 2013. He writes that in the future, “the drop in the number of bike retailers is not going to be linear, it will be exponential.” He suggests a 35 percent loss in storefronts in 15 years, but adds “I believe the change will be faster.” Locally, 16 bike shops have closed in the Tennessee-Georgia-North Carolina region in the past 18 months.

Some bike shops will remain. Trek seems to have taken advantage of the situation by opening stores in selective locations. Performance has combined its huge Internet operation with a limited number of stores and a return policy that no LBS can match: one year return no questions asked. A number of high-end niche LBS’s will survive.

I am going to miss walking into the LBS smelling new tires, touching new bikes, shooting the breeze, and checking the closeout bin in the hope of finding a gem. Of course, I am sentimental I miss gas station attendants, elevator operators, escalator attendants, telephone operators, and travel agents. Unless the LBS reinvents itself, then this is the end.



8 thoughts on “Is This The End?

  1. I call bullshit.

    A solid bike with that build kit can be purchased from a bike shop for well under $3k and with that level frame for as little as $2k. That doesn’t leave room for you to save thousands. You may have save one or two hundred dollars, if you go purely on spec, but you bought a shitty handing bike from a company that hasn’t been financially stable in a very long time. In fact, in the bike frame world this one is the equivalent of purchasing an 8-10 year old frame, based on modern tech, that happens to be dressed up with new parts.

    What you did was purchase an unassembled bike, without any service included, with a questionable warranty, without a bike fit, to save MAYBE a couple of hundred dollars. You’re trying to justify your mediocre purchase and your penny-wise-pound-foolish purchasing decisions on a your own soap box. Do your local bike shop a favor and stay home. You’re wasting their time and they think you’re a douche bag.


    1. You may call anything you like and I am even going to approve it. The bike I saved almost $3,000 on was a Colnago Master Ti. I saved some $1000 0n a Merlin, maybe $250 on a Litespeed and about the same on a Bianchi.


  2. Acknowledging your part of the problem and not caring. Awesome. The real problem is when all the LBS closes, and all the other mom and pop places close and those people can’t shop and make purchases in return. Then your job will be the next on the chopping block. And I won’t care.


  3. Well, if that Lightspeed in the picture is your’s I would say you got what you paid for.
    Not much – that is.
    That bike if set up to for you is clearly not an ideal size.
    Let me explain: With the saddle slammed all the way back – that indicates a bike with too steep a seat tube angle for you. A 35 degree stem indicates a less than ideal front center fit or TT length- now, some folks if really small or large might need whacky setups if they cannot afford a custom bike, but that is clearly a middle size frame, so you have no excuses for riding a bike that dosn’t fit right other than “you got it cheap”.
    And to top it off, the stem is clamped well below the fork reinforcement insert (if there even is one in there) and it totally unsafe.
    Your internet purchase may saved you 250 bucks as you stated, but you got ZERO real value as the bike isn’t the right size for you. The bicycle equivalent of clown shoes. Any expert in bicycle fitting can notice that.
    That’s the expertise you get with a shop, knowledge that buys you real value and not just a cheap price.
    *You* think you got a great deal and saved some $$, but you objectively didn’t.
    Your bike pic only exemplifies and reinforces bad choices made by many non experts outside the range of their own expertise or internet research.
    Full disclosure, I work in the bike biz and see this all the time. It to me is the equivalent of seeing the person cruising down the highway at 90mph on the donut spare rated for 55mph. Think about it.
    Lastly, if your post wasn’t so smug, my reply would not be either.


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