How do you buy your commuting gear?

We here at Bikecommuters.com do our bike and accessory purchases in a number of different ways. We’ve bought bikes and gear from local shops, scoured Craigslist for deals, and hit up any number of online vendors for the parts and accessories we need. Lots of stuff is available online — it used to be that your only recourse was the mom-and-pop bike shop for bikes, but now e-commerce has made it possible to shop from the comfort of your home (or office). You can easily purchase complete bikes for sale from Bicycles Online or a number of other Internet sources.

Sometimes when we are sourcing parts for special projects like keeping our vintage road bikes or racing MTBs up and running, we tend to go to Ebay first to check prices or to find the really oddball stuff we’re seeking. We’re always looking for the deal; we commuters tend to be a frugal lot! If we don’t find something online, we’ll pay a visit to one of our favorite local bike shops. Some of us tend to use the local shops for “instant gratification” items (particularly bike accessories and consumables like tires and tubes and small parts).

On occasion, we’ve even been known to ask our fellow cyclists if they have (or know where to find) a particular piece of the puzzle. And, a few of us keep some fairly well-stocked parts bins so we can source the “strange and unique” in return when called upon to do so!

We’re curious to hear from you: where do you generally buy your bikes, parts, and gear from? Strictly local, online only, or a combination of the two? Lets hear about it in the comments below.


16 Comments

  1. TheBigRider July 3, 2013 5:10 am 

    I used to shop online, but once I lost my job in the recession and took up consulting to fill the breach, I learned that every dollar spent locally is a dollar put to good use.

    Since then, I’ve made sure that all of my bike gear (as well as every other purchase I can manage) has been with local bike shops.

    Shop local — it makes a big difference.

    I don’t mind paying the little bit extra (though often the prices are the same, or awfully close).

    Running your own business, I discovered, is hard. Every customer is appreciated.

  2. RANTWICK July 3, 2013 6:56 am 

    I can relate to BigRider and oh how I have tried to stick with local LBSs… but where I live there are often pretty big differences in cost depending on what you need.

    Sadly, living here in Canada I have often found what I needed at the best price in England of all places.

    http://www.rantwick.com/2009/04/support-your-local-bike-shop-if-you-can.html

    I still hit the lbs for bits n’ pieces, but for big ticket or big project I find it too expensive.

  3. bigbenaugust July 3, 2013 7:17 am 

    It depends on a combination of local availability and urgency.

  4. Ghost Rider July 3, 2013 7:30 am 

    I try to support my LBS when I can…and when I can find a worthy one to support! It comes down to availability for me; when my LBS has to order a particular part and I have to wait for it…well, I can do all that on my own. Consumables and stuff I KNOW is in stock is always an LBS trip. Otherwise, I am scoring deals on Ebay or the English online sellers. Unlike Ranty, my English experiences almost always include FREE shipping!

  5. Panda July 3, 2013 7:56 am 

    I do about 90% online and 10% LBS. Don’t get me wrong, I want to support the LBS. However, I find it really hard to support local shops when many of shops in my area are rude or condescending to their customers. I once went into a shop asking for a kickstand for one of my bikes and was told, “Sorry, Dude. We’re not really into that sort of thing here.” I used to work as a mechanic in a LBS, we always had a box of kickstands under the bench for recreational customers and kids.

    And to echo RANTWICK, the price difference between online and the LBS is pretty ridiculous.

  6. spence July 3, 2013 8:43 am 

    I always go to my LBS first, at least for new parts/bikes/etc. I am willing to pay more, wait the couple of days/weeks for an item to arrive there, etc. Spending my money at my LBS directly impacts the lives of the workers (it is a worker-owned shop) and they are good people. For used parts, vintage bikes, I will go to craiglist/ebay, usually. The only thing I tend to purchase online has been clothing (my LBS doesn’t carry any) and I usually get it deeply discounted via steep & cheap or http://www.theclymb.com

  7. BluesCat July 3, 2013 8:43 am 

    For a new, complete bike, I go to my LBS. They know me, why I ride, and what the latest gear is that would interest me. Since I’ve been a customer there for over a decade, in addition to the regular free 30-day checkup for a new bike, I always find that they’ve done something a little extra whenever I pick up one of my bikes after they’ve serviced it; at no charge to me. One time, I discovered they’d replaced the mounting bracket for one of my lights; no charge.
    .
    I always buy my consumables at my LBS, too; things like tubes, tires, patch kits, cleaning stuff and lube. Mostly this is because whenever I discover I need this stuff, I need it TODAY and my LBS is only a short, mile-and-a-half ride away on one of my other bikes.
    .
    But, lets face it, American bike shops have to stock those accessories that they can sell to the majority of their customers — recreational and competitive riders — and we bike commuters are very much in the minority. For that reason, whenever I’m looking for a rack bag, or a set of panniers, or a handlebar bag, or a seat bag, or an actual rack, I’ll buy from one of the advertisers for one of the on-line sites that has “bike” and “commute” in their URL.

  8. Tom July 3, 2013 11:25 am 

    I try to spread out my purchases between the few local bike shops near me. I receive commuter checks (stipends $20/month) from my employer that can be redeemed at local bike shops, so it’s a no brainer to shop locally.

    Sometimes it’s tough to swallow paying retail (or over retail) for items in the LBS that can be had via Amazon prime for 30% off retail. So with some stuff I buy it online. Ebay is also great for used hard parts like racks.

    So I would say 60% local, 40% online.

  9. Aaron Graff July 4, 2013 11:35 am 

    It depends on what I’m looking for/need. I do shop around and compare LBS prices vs online (factoring in shipping too) and go from there. I also look at things I can upcycle/reuse and see when I can fabricate my own items (mounts, lights, etc).

  10. idaho-udaho July 4, 2013 9:02 pm 

    LBS or Ebay.

  11. idaho-udaho July 4, 2013 9:04 pm 

    Tom, where do you work that your employer gives commuter checks? That is fantastic, and I would happily support the business.

  12. listenermark July 5, 2013 5:50 pm 

    I am fortunate to have a great local shop and I try to spend my money there. However, they are official Trek and Specialized dealers. That means they are required, by contract, to also carry the entire line of accessories, tires, etc…. The big boys might make good bikes but there accessory lines leave a lot to be desired. So, a bunch of stuff I like to use (Schwalbe tires, Niterider lights, Hammer nutrition, etc..) isn’t available locally but Amazon is always open and they deliver to my door (no small perk for a guy who doesn’t own a car.)

  13. Raiyn July 5, 2013 8:48 pm 

    For consumables (tubes, cables, housing etc), small parts, helmets, and actual bikes I tend to go LBS.
    For the bulk of everything else I go eBay, online shops or Amazon because of price, availability, and convenience.

  14. Dan July 6, 2013 6:25 am 

    We have purchased all of the bikes for my family at the LBS. It is essential to have a test ride (or two) before making the decision. Buying local also begins the relationship that continues with services. I get most accessories there as well – lights, fenders, racks, tires, tubes.

    However, for clothing and panniers, local shops can’t stock much variety (especially the big man sizes I need), so online is the way to go.

  15. r0ger July 9, 2013 6:03 pm 

    I’ve bought 3 bikes and a bunch of gear, ties, tubes, and etc. at my favorite semi-local bike shop. I’ve bought two bikes at http://www.bworks.org/bikeworks/ where the prices are good and every cent goes to get bikes in the hands of under privileged kids. I got a Giant for $15 from Salvation Army and an $8 Diamondback from Goodwill, but those deals have pretty much dried up around here. I buy patches by the 100 from Amazon.

  16. Karen July 14, 2013 9:02 am 

    I buy from my LBS. First of all, I like to support local businesses. Beyond that I am the kind of person who really needs to put my hands and eyes on a product and thoroughly inspect it before I make a purchase. I love researching products on-line, through product reviews and blogs and the information I gain motivates me to seek out the product in LBS or those I find when I’m traveling. For me to make the purchase though, I have to have the product in front of me so that I feel confident in what I’m buying.

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