Bike shops tend to carry one brand of bike stuff (bicycles, parts, accessories, helmets, clothing). Kind of like car dealerships sell one manufacturer's line of products. A Chevy dealer won't carry Toyotas. A BMW dealer won't carry Fords.Why am I blogging about this? I had to cross 3 counties in one day twice in the last month to get the bike stuff I needed, and I learned two lessons from this experience. (And if I can save other folks from these kinds of headaches, I figure, why not?)
1) Make sure you realize that the bike and bike accessories you buy may dictate what shops you'll need to shop at in the future. This may not be a problem if you live in an urban area with several bike shops, but if you order a special kind of bike, just consider the resources that will be available to you to service your bike. If you order a bike for Christmas online from Trek for Susie, but the nearest Trek dealer is an hour away, you may want to think about it. This won't be a problem for general maintenance, but if replacement parts are needed, it may be an inconvenience.
2) Specialized and Trek stood behind their products. I needed a tire upgrade a few months back, so I bought a tire from the closest bike shop - the now-defunct Clemson Cyclery. The tire wore out faster than expected, so I wanted to see if I could get a replacement. I had to drive up to Carolina Triathlon because they were the closest Specialized dealer. But, they replaced the tire without a problem (or charge for a new one!), so I was pretty happy. I also had a bike tire pump that stopped working, but it was from Bontrager. The closet dealer was The Great Escape in Anderson (maybe I could have gone to the one in Greenville?...hindsight is 20-20!), so I "trek"ked over there. But, they also replaced the bike tire pump no questions and free of charge.
I was really impressed by each of the bike shops and the willingness of Specialized and Trek to stand behind their product. It's great to know that as a bike consumer, both companies and bike shops were willing to help out which got me back on my bike quickly. The staff at both of these places were great, too.
That's a big thumb's up for these national bike manufacturing companies and the local places that serve the bikers of the Upstate. It's a good thing when the machines we use to ride around on are supported by companies that stand behind their product. It's a rare thing these days, but I guess that just another reason to ride your bike.