Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why is Buying a Bicycle Harder Than Buying a Car?

It just shouldn't be this difficult. Buying a bike ranks up there with having a rectal exam. It is actually worse than buying a car.

Bike manufacturers and shops do themselves no favors. Some of my pet peeves...

Shops have no stock. If you want a high end bike, you almost have to guess what you want. No one keeps any stock. "I can order that for you" say the local shops. But what if you it doesn't fit? Or you simply don't like it? Not to mention the wait, along with undeterminable deliveries from manufacturers. Might be five days, might be two weeks, might be three months. How about we'll get around to it whenever we feel like it.

Depsite having limited inventory... some local shops will only sell from stock. I know no one wants to sell you a bike when they have one already paid for on the floor. But that floor model isn't what I want. Gawd help you if you are an unusual size. One local shop acted as if they "might let me" order a bike. I "might" take my business elsewhere. Thanks.

Dealers trying the switcheroo. I went to one area dealer looking for a carbon-framed, high-end component bike. Knew exactly what I wanted. Just needed a dealer to order it. The sales manager said they didn't have that bike in stock (see above). Then suggested an aluminum, alivio and acera equiped, hard-tail that weighs over 35-lbs instead. The infamous "It's the bike I ride" line really put it over the top. Nothing wrong with the suggested bike. It was a bargain and good value. But it wasn't anything near what I was looking for. Not even in the same parish.

Manufacturers that put crappy components on high-end frames, and don't sell framesets. This has become a trend since my last bike purchase. Bad economy = keep the price-point down. I get it. But really... who wants $4,500 bike with SRAM X.3 shifters, and no-label brakes on it? Nothing wrong with those components. They work. But they are $450 price point, not $4,500. One can't help but feel they're not getting their $'s worth. The option is buy the bike and take it apart, rebuild it with new components, and throw away or fleabay the take-offs. This option is far more expensive and a huge headache. Ugg.

In all, the process is devoid of the expected joys and anticipation of making a major purchase. It is no wonder so many people are turned off to cycling. I can't say I blame them. For a newcomer to cycling... it must be a harrowing experience. It takes almost as much personal investment, dedication, and determination to buy a bike as ride a bike. As my friend Ted (not his real name), who reps a bike manufacturer, says: "I'm just glad I don't have to buy my bikes anymore."