Are Bike Shops Going Extinct?

man looking in bike shop
As e-commerce booms, what's in store for traditional bike shops? Let's dive into the shifting landscape of the cycling retail world.
man looking in bike shop
Written by Robb Dorr

Every day, the internet becomes more important in our lives. It is our research device, shopping center, and advice column. We depend on it to show us what is new, relevant, and available. We see what we like and can have it dropped at our front door in every rainbow color. We can even shop in our underwear; no one is wiser.

But have you thought about what is not online? Every time you click the purchase button with your mouse, it drives another nail into the coffin of the independent bicycle dealer (IBD). This is perhaps the one retail entity that we never considered would be in trouble, but in reality, the IBD has just appeared on the endangered species list.

The Importance of the Local Bike Shop

Your local bike shop is arguably just as important as ever. And to drill home just why they remain so vital, here are a few things you will have to give up if local bike shops go extinct.

Touch and Feel

This is an important consideration. Shoe fit can’t be done effectively from a picture, nor can fittings of vital ride apparel like gloves, helmets, jerseys, and more. Not to mention textures and the importance of selecting items based on how they feel in your hands or against your skin.

Color Consideration

Colors are vastly different in real life than on your computer screen. Photoshop can easily enhance any image; of course, every manufacturer wants their products to look ideal. Sometimes things don’t look the same as you expected from viewing a product on a website.

Knowledge is King

Do you know exactly who gave provided the advice you read on a blog last week? The internet is filled with the opinion of people with no qualifications, so you have to pick and choose what and who you believe. Of course, a manufacturer will claim their product is the best in the world on their website, and you simply can’t beat the face-to-face interaction, accountability, and real-life experience you get in your local shop. Yes, there may be bad bike shops, and there may also be awesome online stores. But, as a whole, it’s better to talk to a real person and get matter-of-fact answers while looking them in the eye.

The Bike Won’t Build Itself

The biggest loss you’ll find with the extinction of bike shops is the number of tools required to properly build and service your bicycle. That is, if you are mechanically inclined enough to do the work yourself. The service industry is essential, and just as electricians and plumbers have become more scarce, the price of their labor keeps increasing. If tune-ups on a bicycle average in the neighborhood of $75 today, you can expect them to be well over $100 shortly — and you won’t have any option other than to pay the higher fee if you want the work done.

Test Rides and Demos

Can you imagine purchasing an $8,000 bike without having previously tested it out? And would you even know what bike size to start with?

Your local IBD invariably got you started riding mountain bikes and provided advice on the right bike for your budget and specific needs. And they’ll remain invaluable in choosing the right electric bike based on their passion and professional experience.

Warranty and Quality

The local IBD deals with the key players in the industry and knows the brands that stand behind their products. There are hundreds of competitors out there, which increasingly makes it challenging to choose the right one. However, your local IBD is crucial to selecting the best brand, facilitating warranty claims as they happen, and buying products with minimal failure that you can comfortably depend on.

Your Local IBD Remains Invaluable

You can always find a cheaper price online, but is it cheaper? Your time is also worth money, and your time on research should also be accounted for. At the bike shop, you can ask a question and get a professional opinion without having to sort through and gamble on hundreds of strangers’ opinions that you are gambling on.

There’s a reason people continue to turn to their local IBD to do their research and gain the employees’ hands-on insights and professional opinions. So we need everything we can to support the vital work these people offer us in helping fuel our passion for all things riding and e-bikes.

Find out more about why purchasing a cheap electric bike can cause problems, and discover everything you need to know about electric bikes in our e-bike FAQs.

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About Our Editorial Team

robb dorr
Written by Robb Dorr
Robb is a massive cycling enthusiast who has more than 20 years of non-motorized cycling experience. He started to lower the barrier of entry to cycling and reduce the intimidation people can experience when getting into the cycling world.

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