Now that Labor Day is over and summer is beginning to come to a close, what are your plans? Are you going to hang up your bike for the season, pull out the trainer to prepare for the short days of autumn and winter, or are you going to keep riding through until next Spring?
Whatever you decide, chances are your bike might need some TLC. You might need some new tires, maybe you need to restock on some tubes, maybe a new chain, new bar wrap/ tape, or maybe your bike just needs a good cleaning. These are all great autumn and winter projects to keep one busy during the dark, cold months that will soon be upon us.
The question is where do you go to buy those essentials to keep your bike in top form and looking good? The sad fact is that finding a local bike shop that offers good value is becoming increasingly difficult to find. Many of them just can’t compete with online retailers or offer competitive prices.
Here in Cincinnati, OH, there was once a Performance Bike not far from where I lived. I enjoyed going there to buy tubes, nutritional refills, and, every now and then, a rare indulgence of some kind. What was nice about going to Performance or going to a local bike is the convenience, the immediate gratification, and the prices were usually pretty good, especially at Performance Bike. You could try on a helmet, a pair of cycling shoes, or a pair of bib shorts, and you would know you were getting something of good quality that fit correctly.
But even Performance Bike, which had many stores around the country, eventually couldn’t compete with internet retailers and places like REI and Amazon, even though it had its own online store. But it did always give me a warm feeling to see the bikes the store had for sale lined up on the sidewalk in front of the store.
I admit I got seduced by online bicycling retailers. And sometimes their prices might be a little cheaper or higher, it all depends on what I was seeking. And I admit I would get frustrated when I had a specific item I was seeking and couldn’t find it at either a local bike shop or Performance.
And that is what really sold me on using online cycling retailers, the depth of their stock. As a result, I now often buy the bulk of my cycling gear through online retailers, and there are lots of them. Five retailers that I have used throughout my time as a road cyclist are these:
- Competitive Cyclist (https://www.competitivecyclist.com/) This is one of my favorite retailers and they sell everything a bicyclist might want. Not only do they sell bikes, but they also sell apparel, nutritional supplements, wheels, bike computers, tires, etc. You name it and they probably have it.
- Glory Cycles (https://glorycycles.com/) While this retailer is based in Chicago and operates a brick-and-mortar store, the meat of its business is through online sales. If you have a European bike like a Pinarello, a Colnago, or another brand, it carries parts for those bikes. Another unique thing about Glory Cycles is if you read cycling magazines and see a new piece of gear advertised you’d like to try, chances are they will have it.
- Performance Bike (https://www.performancebike.com/) Once a big box retailer with stores all over the country, the company operates exclusively online. I occasionally use them still for deals on tubes or other items.
- Bike Tires Direct (https://www.biketiresdirect.com/) This retailer used to carry just tires in its early days, but now they are more like Performance. Sign up for their email newsletter because the retailer sends out an email every day that contains a discount on a specific item.
- Silca (https://silca.cc/) Silca is a relatively new company with firm, historic roots in bicycling culture. They specialize in high-end bike pumps, kind of an odd specialty. But they have branched out and now offer a variety of items, such as shop tools, t-shirts, saddle bags, etc. If you create an account when you purchase something, you can build-up points toward your next purchase, sort of like Performance used to be.
Where do you buy your cycling equipment, apparel, tools, etc.? Do you go to your local bike shop or use online retailers? What has been your experience with either a local bike shop or an online retailer?
Please like, share, and comment. Start a conversation with me on the blog about your experience.