What do you want from a modern LBS?


Crashed out somewhere
Doing some more research and figured I'd post it out there to the greater web. The last few years has seen the LBS suffer at the hands of the online boom, however a few great LBS have come to play and are thriving in this environment. I'd be interested to hear about some of these stores and what makes them stand out from the other ones in your area. The more niche the shop the better- want to hear about those little ones that stand out for their excellence in one way or another.

Clearly price is always going to a be factor (eg. shimano trade vs online) but where does the grass roots coverage, ride days, track development, brand variation, mechanical service and technical know how sit with you as a rider and consumer?

What would you do to improve your LBS? do you want a couch and a post/after hang out ride space to chill and watch the latest dvds, a coke machine for beverages, or a rental workshop area that you can work on your bike and just rent the tools and not get charged labour.

What attitude and image are you looking for in your LBS? relaxed? out going? trendy? old and practical?

Where are people sitting with the chain stores, goldcross vs 99bikes etc. do you feel these are healthy or damaging for our industry? or that each store is within itself to be good or bad and that being a part of the franchises isn't effecting its preformance as a business?

Any more input is welcome, interested to see where this will go.

example of a store with something different:
http://www.bikegallery.com.au - very classy and very nicely setup.

a good business identity with our own jonnys store with a great shop vibe by the looks of it:
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Eats Squid
I'll give you a better run down later when I'm not at work but it's simple. Service.

Say hello, ask me if I need anything and then give it to me. Fuggin' simple concept but very few LBS' seem to be able to do this.


Wheel size expert
Interesting a few things

- I think the biggest thing for me is deffinately reliability and trust. If I'm handing my bike over or buying items I want to trust work and care is taken of my bike. Too many times I have gotten something back and it wasn't finished or taken care off as well as it could have been.

-online ordering is massive I think any store that doesn't offer online door drop off is at a massive disadvantage. I'd guess most do this now though.

-customer loyalty is massive for me too, as a customer using a particular store I'd like to think they would help me out, I actually use 2stores why, well for purchasing one is more dh orientated so stocked and cheaper and the other I use for servicing it is much closer about 10min drive vs 30-40min and I have more trust in the mechanic.

-I think testing days would be awesome, It's hard to do it a lot but more testing days for bikes or shocks would be great to see,

-overall support, going to races or sponsorship or just helping out riders with price is always going to be a big plus and the follow up is important. If I buy an item or a bike and it had a issue the best store will help you out even if it's not upto them they treat you like a fellow rider, helping out where they can within reason.

-consider stores like CRC send coupons every order this encourages repurchasing. Lbs will new match CRC unless some serious fixing is done before the items get to you guys but maybe incentive to come back would be a option if affordable.

-attitude I want to be able to walk in get help, I went to one the other day for gopro mounts, they were sitting down having coffee at the bar the mechanic had to come out and serve me after a few minute of standing at the counter. Walk in I want a I owls table mate essentially, someone who is informative and helpful but easy going and can have a chat.

-Getting involved in local development, we need to drive mtb in Australia to really get funding, it would be good to see store take initiative in getting on board and rallying people to help develop the sport, id hope this in turn would also prompt more riders and hopefully bring our prices down in Australia due to higher demand? I'm more likely to use store who is helping the riding community, it means our purchasing is not just helping the money economy of riding but it physically helping develop the sport.

-+1 as bellow honesty and contact, you can tell when you are getting pushed a sale or if you are expecting a call, call us back. When I bought my bike from YVC i switched out a few parts for upgrades and they were constantly in contact with prices and shipment etc, they also offered any help i needed after purchase.

-accuracy, If I order or buy something or ask for something particular and the item comes in or the service is done I expect it to be right, SO far I have ordered off CRC and MXfactory for the same item, CRC sent me the wrong one and then ran out of the item and is discontinued, MXfactory sent me the right one but the wrong colour. Its a pain, please get the items right.

quality fixes- One time a store snapped my X-0 bottom bolt, because it would have taken a drill to get it out and the derailleur was fine they said just put some tape around it, ok I did and it worked fine for years and still works but the point is I get a service you break something on my bike, you fix that, you don't tape it and cheap fix it. needless to say I only use that store If I must and its only for small items like go pro mounts. (yes same store as above with poor service )

I have purchased off CRC and other sites before, I am less inclined to by big parts, tires I will but most parts I like to get locally, the close and easy service if issues arise is massive for me, I tend to buy more riding kits on line as you can pick up a full kit for the price less than the pants and once you get the right item (Iv had two wrong items delivered) they don't need any servicing or warranty at least very very rarely.
If bikes can get close to CRC I think one store stated if they can get within 20% or so customer are pretty happy, I think this is pretty reasonable given that you back it up with the above points.
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John U

MTB Precision
I want mechanics with the ability to fix anything on my bike well in accurately estimated amount of time (that would be the perfect situation but unlikely).

If shocks need to be shipped out to be serviced then accurate estimates on when it'll be back. If this changes then a phone call to update the new arrival time.

Staff that will actually call you back when they say thay will.

Good knowledge of mountain bike stuff would be good to have but I usually know what I'm after so stock, or ability to get stock when promised and follow it up when it arrives is probably more important.

If the shop does not have the ability or tools to fix something I want them to tell me and not just have a crack at it. I have had Magura Marta bolts Dremmeled to fit a flat blade screw driver because the store didn't use the right tools. I picked up a bike with shit loads of air in both brake lines because a shop didn't know how to bleed Magura Marta's but thought they'd have a go.

Bottom line - I don't want my bike to be in worse condition when I come to pick it up.

It's pretty simple really.
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Likes Dirt
HONESTY - if you say you are going to order my requested parts today then do it today, not weeks or months later

RELIABLE MECHANICS - my ex lbs, everytime i took it to get fixed they would stuff up something else or the repairs didnt work.


I however am very normal. Trust me.
Staff that will actually call you back when they say thay will.
This is all I want,

Tried at a few of the local shops to get a DT Swiss axle conversion kit, promised a call back by all, got none, bought online.

Yet again tried to get a upgrade for the internals for my Lyriks, same deal, not a single call back.

I only wish I lived a drivable distance from TBSM, they also have called, txt'd or emailed.


Likes Dirt
most bike shops can get anything through suppliers they have or they can make an account so that isn't too important.
but service is, i dont want to be left standing there, i am giving you money thus i want to be taken care of. alos grumpy people who serve you is real turn off. being only 17 i get talked down too alot, and it gives me the shits, preferably i prefer a young bloke serving as they are nicer to me, but the important thing is that are nice, and believe it or not even a 60 year old can be nice.
price, i understand that sometimes you cant compete with CRC and the like but i will pay a little morte for the service. what i will not tolerate is unexpected price jumps, this happened to me a while back when i was buying crank bolts, quoted $18-20 and when i turn up to get them, after having an email sent to me, bam its now $28. you should always have the right price, and f you misquote then deal with it, its your fault not mine.
another thing is speed, i want am email enquiring about a product replied to within a day, even if you havent enquired about it i want to hear from you, not have to send another email saying did you get my other one?

hope this helps, sorry if i got a bit ranty n carried away


Eats Squid
Regardless of modernity, I expect the same things.

Good knowledge
Get mech skills
Good products
Quality advice and service
Followup service / warranties etc (about to run a warranty by my LBS this week in fact)
Price not important if I have all of these
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Likes Dirt
Depends on how much information you need. Are you after a full business plan and store layout? I could go that far...

But I'm assuming it's the basics. *All my case study examples are Melbourne based.

Concept store/VM. All good bike stores are more than bikes just parked on the floor. They are presented in an interesting way, and the shop is interesting as well. I want an experience otherwise I can buy shit online cheaper and at anytime that looks better online than your physical store.

Service: Literally this is the no brainer. Get this right and you'll get business by word of mouth and referral. Too many places are shit at this, and they wonder why people are buying online? Have a sook and blame the internet, or suck it up, have a plan and execute. Good shops get business because of this, they know the product, they're professional, they have good mechanics, they're timely and they do the right thing. You're paid to do this so why not take some fucking pride in it? Why people can have jobs while they treat the job like it's a piece of crap and their customers, and think "why should I bother because I don't get paid enough" while I go without work absolutely amazes me!?

U.S.P.:What makes our store better than someone elses. It has a built cafe on a busy bike route, see Mt Evelyn Cog Cafe. Do you have a place that offers free basic tools, pump? It's got a bike group that rides somewhere, and for free! It's got regular test rides. You always show up to the MTB/CX races in the local area and have a support tent? You have a customer loyalty program (discounted servicing, sales nights).

Product Knowledge: again you stock it, you should know it.

Stock: I know having stock and inventory is costly, but you should know what kind of store you are and what you should stock, and if you don't have it, know to within 1 day of when it will arrive. Again internet is beating you here, stuff from the UK can beat it to your door, while you wait on some lazy local supplier/store.

Location: You need to be accessible, or better yet on a bike route or somewhere thats nice to be. People pay more in nice suburbs.

Marketing/Social media/Web. You need to have some sort of a website to be open when you're not, to take bike and repair enquiries/bookings, be a webshop to support your physical shop, to have a blog about rides and riding groups, to have latest product releases. You need to have social media pages, FB and twitter. And it needs to be frequently updated and refreshed, DAILY or every second day at a minimum. You support/sponsor local races. You advertise on web pages and also banner ads on sites like this. You have sales, and price match the online stores, )dpn't have to do this all the time. You have a good looking/good quality shop riding kit, J Beasley in Footscray has one, Bike Gallery has a really nice one, as does Fyxomotosis, so does Total Rush in Richmond, it's essentially free advertising.

So thats just for starters, but if you get those right, then you're well on the way to owning/operating a great LBS.



Likes Dirt
Having moved cities a couple of times, these are the things that make me go back despite having only been to a shop maybe once or twice.

Honesty - phone calls, product knowledge, work carried out, delivery times and ordering. Just cut to the chase, if you don't know I don't care, at least tell me that. Hell, we can find out together! If you say you'll call, do it. I'm sorry if you forgot, but maybe you should sort some sort of reminder out so it doesn't happen again?

Willingness to help - I'm sorry if i'm poor and can't afford the raddest bike, but if you help me out anyway, I will come back and try to help you stay in business.

Availability - Supply chains are pretty poor sometimes, but when I've been working on the bike for a whole day and need something simple and common like a quick-link or a spare tube it'd be good if you had one in stock. If you don't I just go home and order online...

Enthusiasm - If I see you at a race, supporting events or hear a friend raving about your excellent service i'll try to buy stuff from you cause I know you love your job. If I walk in and you are frowning and couldn't care what I wanted but want my money anyway I'll probably walk back out.

Urban DH

Likes Bikes and Dirt
digging the idea of a couch or somewhere to sit post ride and the rent-a-workshop idea, and if you break or damage tools you should be held accountable

also my lbs ride 365, their service! holy shit! never befroe have i seen a shop soo.....dedicated, the old mechanic that used to work there, ryan walsh, fuck me, the bloke new everything about everything, fixed everything could service an shock, and fork, not matter what age or brand, anything! and another thing ryan was particularly good for was that if you were rolling past and stopped to say g'day and said there was a slight problem you'd fix when you get home he'd be like nah bring it in and he'd fix it on the spot, no charge! unless its was and hour or two which is a fair cop

DO MINOR ON THE SPOT REPAIRS FOR FREE it will pull in happy customers like there is no tomorrow! and it worked fro ride 365, i bailed on crc for a few months and spend thousands there, why? reliability, service, and because i was most importantly mates with the people who worked there, they treated all customers as mates, and looked after them like mates too!






Likes Bikes and Dirt
A bike shop that has a cafe is overpriced and full of wankers. Staff and customers included, no exception.

I go to a bike shop for very few things nowadays as I'm able to service everything myself. All I ask of my LBS's (plural...) is that they are happy to help me with whatever it is I've gone in there for, regardless of the amount I'm spending. Loyalty is earned. For me it is through attitude over price, while I appreciate a deal, I don't expect it- even if I've known them for years.
A good shop will know their target market and offer alternatives at a few price points on common items. I also expect that you know your product- I don't care if you can't tell me every purple handlebar ever made but if you have a purple handlebar in stock please know something about it.


Likes Dirt
Lots of good points above, but one thing that I always look for is shop-organised rides. I tend to ride by myself and enjoy doing meetups via nobmob/rotorburn etc.. but it's also nice to have a regular ride locked in the calendar. MC Cyclery do it a bit with a Wednesday night ride, but mid-week is hard

I think if a shop had a consistent saturday or sunday ride, venue changing or not, i'd be really keen. It's a good way to a) meet other riders, and b) meet the guys who run the shop, and then build up trust etc

Shops seem to do this for road cycling loads - so why not mountain biking?


Likes Bikes and Dirt
I just want good service I can trust.

My local is pretty good. Had a really bad run of flats and decided I wanted to go tubeless, decided to go properly and took my wheels into the LBS and asked for the kit to do it. Old mate at the counter sat me down, and we had a chat on what I wanted to do etc. Ended up with some better tubes since my rims aren't suited for tubeless proper. I see where he's coming from and I'm sure I walked away with a better deal because of it. They also got the tubes, not from a proper supplier, but another shop or something because there were none available and I needed them pretty badly. I went in a week or two later and they remembered me (hadn't been a customer long), asked how my wheels were. Good stuff.

They don't have the biggest shop, so obviously their stock is limited and layout is pretty cramped. But boy do they make up for it in service. Really happy with them and I'm more than happy to pay a bit extra for that good service.

So yeah. A couch and TV sounds pretty cool, but I just want someone I can trust my bike to, that can help me get parts and make informed decisions. I don't really expect free little services, but if they did then you could almost guarantee business increasing exponentially.


Eats Squid
A bike shop that has a cafe is overpriced and full of wankers. Staff and customers included, no exception.
Agreed, employ a mechanic not a barista....

Understand the value proposition that you are offering your customer...value not cost...service

Don't whinge about the online competition...understand why you are better!

Sort your shit out with your suppliers...don't whinge about em...I don't care if you can't buy as well as CRC that is your problem not mine!

Understand that I want you to make money, I just don't want to be ripped off.

Have stock...current! I know you don't believe me but you are not going to sell that 2006 Giant DH bike at its original price...

Organise rides, demo days engage with your local riding community...

Employ mechanics that can fix stuff, not 'you need a new one'.

Only work in the shop if it is a passion

Train your staff...train yourself
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Eats Squid
A bike shop that has a cafe is overpriced and full of wankers. Staff and customers included, no exception.
Interesting opinion there Reubs - jealous much? A cafe is a great addition to a bike shop. Coffee and cycling (road and mtb) go hand in hand and I imagine having a cafe brings in additional business.

Bike shops might not be able to compete with some online prices but they can more then make up for it with fantastic service - our LBS does this and more - I have complete trust in my LBS mechanic's advice and knowledge and all the staff are friendly. Even better, they have a cafe to hang out with friends. The bike shop + cafe is almost a second home to us :)

Guess that makes me a wanker in Reubs' eyes :p


Crashed out somewhere
excellent reply's thus far guys! It just seems that alot of LBS have lost their way and that if they are going to hang around we need to understand the point of difference for the next generation of stores.

Good to see some older members replying too and new, it's an incredible scope of cross sectioned market on here, too valuable to go past.

Anyone care to comment on the franchises aspect, or no one really that phased? It seems like a substantial amount of coin for something that one already has contacts and relationships for.

Secondhand shop stock seems like a good option, shopping around and location.

How many of you travel a decent distance or beyond the closest store to get the best service possible?


Likes Dirt
The coffee shop thing just screams desperation to me. The road is littered with businesses that "diversified" and failed. I think Warren Buffett calls it Diworsification. I truly believe that if a bike shop was 100% on it, passionate and servicing their customers they would have no need for a coffee shop. The best businesses in any industry specialise in what they do and don't just have a crack at anything that might spin a buck.

So what do I want in a bike shop?

I've never worked in the bike industry, why do I seem to know more about a store's products than the average employee?
Please "get back to me"
My 200km old drivetrain is fine, please don't tell me it needs replacing.
Please have things in stock....you're too slow getting it in anyway so if it's not in your shop I'll just get it in myself.
You don't need to beat CRC at $, just be in the ballpark.


Likes Bikes and Dirt
Please have things in stock....you're too slow getting it in anyway so if it's not in your shop I'll just get it in myself.
You don't need to beat CRC at $, just be in the ballpark.
Yep, will pay a bit more for prompt parts + allowing for the fact that you still need to make a buck.