Photo by Seth Vidal/Flickr (Creative Commons)

I prefer to shop locally whenever I can and when I’m looking for bike parts, I head to one of my sponsors to get them.

Yesterday I was hunting for a pair of Ergon grips for my new mountain bike. I stopped by two of my sponsors looking for the grips and neither of them had the model I was looking for.

I ended up picking them up at REI, which had them in stock, but were about $10 more than Amazon.

I wanted them for my ride tomorrow and I had a gift card so it was a fairly easy decision. REI isn’t exactly local, but they do employ a lot of Tucsonans as opposed to places like Amazon.

Sometimes however the price differences are much bigger, which can make the decision harder.

Bikes tend to be harder to buy online because of rules in place by the bike manufacturers and because riding the bike before hand is important.

I have a friend who says he is willing to pay a 15 percent premium to local retailers, but beyond that he is going to buy online.

It got me wondering about how people decide to buy locally or online. Is it entirely a decision on price? Does service factor in? Like me, wanting it today versus next week. How do you decide if you are going to buy locally or online?

16 thoughts on “Buying bicycle parts locally or online?”
  1. In addition to always trying to buy local with cash (credit card margins take a chunk if that lbs money) I buy locally when there is any doubt of size, fit or compatability. Sure the convenience of buying something cheaper that just shows up after work two days later is great but after two fit problems with costly returns I bailed.

  2. I race for a team and I buy everything through sponsors.  I’m loyal to the shop and I also like the customer service.  They definitely reward my loyalty.  I also like to hang out at the shop….  I don’t think there’s an internet equivalent to that.  Google hangout with ebay customer service??

  3. It’s a toughie, but LBS always wins. I gotta see it, feel it, try it on , etc.  REI? Since I’ve been a member for 40+ years they are kinda close to me, but only item I bought thru them was a Brooks saddle. Mail order is too much of a pig in a poke. Cheers

  4. Disclosure: I work for an online retailer.
    Amazon.com has a lot going for it from the consumer’s perspective. Do you want to spend half a day calling and/or cycling to all of your LBSs looking for exotic parts, or do you want to sit on your butt at a computer and just find everything in one place?
    But there’s a dark side.
    Amazon offers zilch customer service, and you get no expertise with that bike part you might want to buy.
    Amazon takes a 15 percent cut — plus fees — from the manufacturer and/or distributor, giving them gives less profit per purchase. Hopefully make up for in volume. But maybe not, because…
    Amazon facilitates a race to the bottom — by encouraging sleazy pricing policies to win. So reputable retailers and distributors are put at a disadvantage.
    If you are going to buy online, you can still support a strong and reputable cycling industry buy buying from an online retailer other than Amazon.
    Here’s an anti-Amazon article I wrote in 2011:
    Bike Race to the Bottom — Amazon.com Style
    PS: I do buy from Amazon, but only if the product I’m looking for is (a) relatively exotic, (b) unlikely to be found locally or via an alternative online retailer, and (c) I’m not feeling profoundly lazy or impulsive at the moment. And other times too.

  5. the internet’s been around for a while now and plenty of bike shops are still in business.  i’d guess shops get enough revenue from sales of whole bikes, sales of parts to people who can’t wait and people who don’t like mail-order disco, and they also have revenue from repairs.  i don’t buy things on line myself but i do call around to the local shops for the best price.

  6. Depends on what you are shopping for. And whether you are utilizing internet to shift inventory risk back and forth between customer and vendor (obviously every little LBS or internet start-up can’t afford to carry every little bike part, though they wonder as a child about basic things like hiring, financing, cash flow., location and “disruptive” walk-ins).
    Consider a rather obscure yet wonderful part from Paul Components:
    “Chain Keeper”
    At Paul Components, you can buy it online for $61.00.
    Or, at Amazon third party seller for $45.68.
    Red Star recommends that you know what you are doing, plan ahead, and utilize all available info and make a purchase…

  7. Since REI doesn’t offer especially unique items, I’d say they are more of a competitor to local stores than a local store…like Walmart.
    Best to support local first or end up with a bunch Walgreens and CVS’s…try to find a local drug store.
    No none has mentioned the P store…is it the child of Satan?

  8. Depends.
    As things are developing, seems people are showrooming online. Not surprised: shopping, like nature, has a way…

  9. Where would I be able to buy an Izumi Eco chain in Tucson?  I tried pretty much anywhere I could think of to find one locally and I struck out.  Same thing for a Phil Wood 18T cog, no one local had one.  The funny thing is when I do find my not so commonly stocked items online they are usually at a bricks and mortar store just not one located in Tucson.

  10. @Commute_by_Bike As a customer of the online retailer you work for I will say I’m excited that you are relocating to Tucson and I’m looking forward to being able to walk in the door and see the merchandise in person.  I did buy my Burley Nomad from you guys and the quality of your website, the phone help plus the fact you are located in my home state were major factors in my decision to buy from you. It didn’t hurt that your pricing is really good too.  I bought during a sale.  
    The article on MAP is interesting, I was enjoying the discussion that followed.  I think bike trailers are enough of a niche market that they aren’t going to commoditize any time soon.  I do wonder how Ordinary Bikes will do with the District and several other large student housing complexes being so close by now.  Those pastel cruiser bikes are definitely a commodity market and that truly is a race to the bottom in terms of pricing etc.

  11. When I do call around for things like the Phil cog etc I always have the feeling I’m annoying the locals and I get answers like no we don’t have the Phil but we do have All City or Surlys in 17T.  Not particularly a helpful interaction.  It’s hard because there isn’t any one good store in Tucson or at least there isn’t one for me and I don’t have a relationship with any of them. It’s a Balkanized world out there now.  There are so many catagories I think it would be tough to even come close to covering them all and this creates a market for the online retailers because they the entire world to sell to.  Again I don’t mostly land at Amazon online.  It’s places like Ben’s, Lick Bike and Ocean City Cycles that stock what I’m looking for.  What Amazon does do well is make it easy to buy something.  If you have an Amazon account it’s pretty quick to buy something there and Pay Pal is not involved in the transaction.

  12. i prefer online shopping rather than buy locally. I bought many things from this site: http://www.aponzone.com/ You may also try this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.