Thursday, February 3, 2011

Rise Above......

On our local ride list recently, there was a thread of much note. As Ian put it, "not since the great "carrying case debate of 2007" has there been such heated discussion on our humble forum."
It all began when someone posted that they were looking to purchase a new road bike, and asked (perhaps foolishly, as the sad fact is that such queries on forums often prove to be Pandora's Boxes) for people's recommendations on where and what to look for.
Among the first to reply was a fellow... lets call him Heywood. Heywood Jablomey (his real name! I know, right?!)... who admonished said inquirer thusly:
"Before you spend 2500+ for an all CF bike at a local may want to check out http://www.clownpenis.fart/ (THE actual site he referenced!... I know, right?!)
Evaluate all the pro's and con's of purchasing on-line versus local....$$$."

(blogger's depiction of Heywood)
To which there was a slurry of response... the majority of which was not favorable to such advice.
Here's an anonymous cross section:

"It’s NOT EXCLUSIVELY about $$$. It’s about a local that will help you! Knowledgeable, available, VALUABLE!!! If they are to take care of you, they have to make a living, as well.
 But clearly, it is a personal decision.
 All the Best in 2011!"

"What EVER you do, please support one of the locally owned bike shops (not a chain store) in the area. They can guide you to the right bike for you and your pocketbook."

"I disagree. Just use a local shop. Local shops can fit you properly, will assemble the bike correctly (you have to assemble the bikes from http://www.clownpenis.fart/), and local shops are owned by people in your community. Many of them are integral to bicycle advocacy in your state and city so they help make possible many of the riding opportunities and events that we all enjoy.
If you do go online for your bike, make sure that you thoroughly check them out. For instance, Motorbeercan (one of the clownpenis brands) has a one year warranty on their carbon frames. That doesn't show much confidence in the product that they are manufacturing. And where do you take them in the event that you do have a sizing, component, or frame problem?
I short, establish a relationship with your local shop of choice, buy a reputable brand, and support your local community."

Yours truly even chimed in:
"Thank you, Klaatu, Barada and Nikto. (their real names! I know, right?!) This is something the IBD's (independent bike dealers) are fighting all of the time.
While the short term savings of buying online are appealing, there are costs involved that often negate those saving entirely.
For one thing, most of the local, independent (and even franchised and corporate) shops offer free service on any bike they sell.
If you figure a rough tune up cost of between $50 to $75 (and I mean TRUE tune ups... not once overs) then the value you receive for literally unlimited tune ups in a year can be around $500 or more.
This doesn't even count the minor adjustments that will likely occur throughout the year.
In addition there's build cost. Unless you're comfortable assembling the bike yourself (and every one of the shops here can tell you the horror stories regarding this kind of thing) than you're looking at a rough cost of $150.
If you bring in the bike you purchased online, that cost actually goes up. And here's a very important reason for that. It's not simply a sour grapes-because-you-didn't-buy-it-here-thing.
 As a shop, we can vouch for the bikes we sell. We know the companies and know the product.
When we deal with online sales, we have no way of guaranteeing the quality and/or safety of the product. But the moment we touch the bike, we become liable for how it operates, while the online seller can easily shirk that responsibility by pawning it off on us.
And when something goes wrong... who's the last person to touch the bike? And who do you think is going to be held responsible?
Honestly... most of us would rather not assume that kind of risk, as it does us no good.
Also... most of us work hard to ensure you are fitted properly to your bike and offer free fitting on any bike we sell, as well as more indepth fittings to maximize performance. This kind of service typically runs from $60 to $300! depending on the scope of it.
And finally, there's the benefit of having and nurturing a relationship with your local shop. By buying through us, you keep us in business and better able to serve YOU. Which creates a symbiotic rather than adversarial relationship. In most cases if you've shown even a modicum of support to your local shop with a few purchases, small or otherwise, you are getting a very competitive price and likely a discount when and where we can give it. Seriously... None of us local boys are in the business of price gouging. It does us no good.
But the flip side of that is that if you simply want to buy online and then hold your local shop accountable for how badly your purchase operates, then the service you receive at the local shops will probably reflect that. Know what I mean?
Trust me...
Whichever local IBD you choose, there are very real and tangible benefits to supporting them. Keep that in mind and....
(R)EVOLVE!!!" (because I had to throw in our little tag line. I know.... right?!)

While a bit clunky, I only had a moment to write it as I had a premonition that this thread was quickly going to either go into moderation or be nixxed entirely. (Just call me Nostradomus.)
But it got my albeit poorly stated point across.
Things became a bit heated after that. A well known local cyclist, who is without a doubt a character in his own right, proudly so (and I don't think he would disagree), and who is relatively quiet on the forum front was rankled enough by Heywood's (if I may be so bold) assanine entreaties that he was compelled to speak up with a little quip.
"PLUS, when your crappy ole on line bike breaks down in the parking lot, just before a ride on Saturday.......... Who you gonna call?? Ghost Busters ain't answering.  lol"

To which Heywood responded with the following:

"I'll just hop back in my car and go home....I am sure I'll be able to fix it without your help.
 Let me ask you this question wiseguy?  What are you gonna do when word spreads that your overcharging by 1000's of dollars for some ill-perceived service and quality that you preach?  What are you gonna do when your little bike shop closes down?"

At which point "Wiseguy" pointedly told Heywood what he could do with and where he could put various parts of his anatomy.
At which point it got even better! But I digress....

A few items of note here....
Heywood seems to be laboring under the false impression that Wiseguy is somehow affiliated with a local shop (and when he caterwauled"...I truly to god hope this person does not work at any of the bike shops around here?" I was sorely tempted to respond that Wiseguy is, in fact, my manager. (He is not.)) No... Wiseguy is not affiliated with any of the local shops, save that he is a avid cyclist and has been active in the cycling community locally and nationally for a very long time.
Unlike Heywood.... who is a lonely... lonely man (Yes....Sheer conjecture on my part, I admit.)
Further... and in extreme need of answering is Heywood's truly bizarre and potentially poisonous insinuation that there is some conspiracy to overcharge customers by "1000's". Whether its for the "ill perceived service and quality" that I "preach" or simply so that we can make a living by pulling the wool over the eyes of the people.
Ahhh Heywood.... And to think....I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids!

(meddling kid)
That's right... because all of us local boys are overcharging everyone... robbing them blind.... and as a result, we all live like millionaires. I look down from my penthouse suite, laughing at the tiny human ants as they plunder along, ignorant to my nefarious machinations until.....Until the moment Heywood spoke up. And ended my reign of terror.
Or maybe... Heywood is just a misinformed idiot.
Yes... I'd wager that's a little closer to the truth. No... in fact, it IS the truth. And subsequent attempts of people much more even keeled than myself to engage him in a discussion about such opinions only galvanized this thought in all of our heads as his dialogue become positively toxic.
Honestly, I'm much to Wiseguys line of thinking, and would like to entreat Heywood to treat me and my various bits similarly.
Let me tell you like it is:
The margins on bikes is slim. And when we discount a bike by as much as 10%, its at great detriment to our margin and thus livelihood. I kid you not. If you give me $3000 for a bike.... I actually get a small fraction of that amount. And I mean small. No... smaller. Smaller. Smaller. Yep.... Crazy, huh?
This isn't the clothing industry. This isn't the food business.
And there's definitely some misleading going on... but its not by us. I'll say it again..... our margins are small. And if you actually know any of us local boys... you know we're not rolling in it. By any stretch.

To give you some idea, let me share with you the fact that I very recently had a complete existential crisis (which I cryptically alluded to on this blog) where I had to decide whether or not I wanted to continue owning a bike shop.
I'll be honest... its hard sometimes. In this economy, even more so.
And it's worn me out on a multitude of levels. In such a way that I know I've let things slide. Gotten burnt out. Gotten slack. Dropped balls. And even alienated some people I didn't want to alienate. On a personal and professional level.
I'm not happy with any of it.
So lets get busy changing some of that.
Rest easy Cogs.... We're not going anywhere.
But we've got to start doing some things differently. And as our name suggests... we're all about some Revolution!

Revolution Cycles is dead....
Long live Revolution Cycles.

Myself and my fellow local, independent shop owners are not in this game for the money. We'd like to make a living, yes, and I'd ask that you have a little perspective on what a living constitutes for alot of us. But we didn't get into it to make mad bank.
We're in it because we love bikes. And we know them. (In the biblical sense.)
So help us keep spreading the love and the gospel of the bike.
We are but humble pilgrims.

Let the Black Flag fly.

Jealous cowards... try to control
Rise above... we're going to rise above
They distort... what we say
Rise above... we're going to rise above
Try and stop what we do
Rise above
We're gonna rise above
When they can't do it themselves
Rise Above
We're gonna rise above
We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us it's no use
Society's arms of control
Rise above
We're gonna rise above
Think they're smart
Can't think for themselves
Rise above
We're gonna rise above
Laugh at us
Behind our backs
Rise Above
We're gonna rise above
I find satisfaction
In what they lack
Rise Above
Were gonna rise above


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