Why finding the right bike shop is important to you and your bike's overall health.
Whether you want to buy a new bike or you already have one, finding a fantastic local bike shop can elevate your love for biking. Your go-to shop will have staff you trust, a vibe that makes you feel good, and the gear you need to make your ride and your bike better.
How does one find this magical place? There are some obvious ways to choose a local bike shop. Online reviews. Word of mouth. Convenient location. The brands they carry. But what makes a bike shop is really special? Here’s how to know if your local bike shop is relationship-worthy.
It’s staffed by people with a variety of expertise.
No single human knows all there is to know about bikes and riding them. A great bike shop will employ people with a range of knowledge and experience, and they aren’t too proud to pull another employee into a conversation. It’s commendable, not a detriment, if an employee says, “I know this bike light is great, but Pat frequently rides at night and has tried a bunch of lights. Lemme grab her to see if she has any other recommendations.”
They ask your name and introduce themselves
At a great local shop, your business is more than a transaction. They ask your name, as well as questions about your riding habits. This allows them to better help you, but they’re also building a relationship with you, because they genuinely care about serving your needs.
Those customers who hang out all the time
Great shops have customers who come back again and again. Spend enough time there and you might notice an inner circle who drop in to talk bikes even when they don’t need anything. Our shop is on a popular bike path and we often have customers stop in mid-ride for water, first aid, flat fixes, nutrition, or conversation. But beware the closed inner circle. There’s a difference between regulars who like to hang out, and a clique that can make new customers feel like outsiders. The best bike shop employees (and regular customers) welcome you to the conversation.
You’d be amazed by how many customers bring us food. We have this one guy who was hanging out all day, then went home to make dinner. He came back an hour later with food for the staff. We’ve been the recipients of freshly baked cookies, mason jars of moonshine, cases of beer, etc. And it goes both ways. We have dog treats for your pooch and suckers for your kids. We share donuts with customers from time to time. Visit often enough and there’s a good chance we’ll offer you a PBR. If we’re about to close, we might even join you.
You see your shop out in the community
They have a tent or provide mechanical support at local biking events. They donate merchandise or money to local schools and charities. They contribute to the community in lots of small ways that make it a better place to live, work, and ride.
They offer fun experiences for people of all levels
Group rides bring the biking community together. During the riding season, shop rides are common, but some are fast-paced and can be intimidating for new people. If you’re just getting into biking, look for a shop with beginner or social, “no-drop” rides. We offer a monthly “Slowcial” ride that usually ends at a local brewery and attracts people of all experience levels, on all types of bikes.
You learn something new
A shop’s service department can make a big difference. They take the time to explain what your bike needs and why. They’ll answer your questions, and if the shop isn’t busy, they’ll take a minute to show you how something works on your bike. An awesome shop will empower you to understand your own bike if you want to learn.