If you are looking to purchase a new bike, the first step to a successful experience is finding the right shop. This is especially true if you are new to biking. The reason for this is, that if you really intend to use your bike, the bike purchase itself is not the end of the line. Rather, it is a beginning of a relationship, which should be based on trust.
Maybe that's too touchy-feely for some people. The anonymous experience of buying a bike from a megamart may be a little less intimidating. After all, there is noone there to size you up and ask those rather personal questions about comfort and fit. But, believe me, if you're going to take biking seriously, you have to get a little touchy-feely with your friendly bike shop, or at least a friendly bike shop employee.
It can be difficult to put yourself in the hands of an expert, especially if you supect he or she works on commission. Our staff at Rapid Transit Cycleshop do not work on commission. There are two main reasons for this.
One is that, rather than creating a conflict of interest between the salesperson and the customer, we want the salesperson to look out for the customer's best interests. This goes beyond being objective or offering good advice. What it really comes down to is a person with some expertise and an open mind guiding you toward making your own subjective decision. And that does require you to open up a bit, and trust someone.
The other reason we don't work on commission is that the salesperson is only one stage in the chain of events that brings the quality product to the customer. The entire staff, from the product buyer, to assembler, to the mechanic who checks the bike and takes care of the follow-up service, the manager who has trained the salesperson to uncover the customer's needs, everyone contributes to the process of putting the right bike in the hands of the right rider.
So how do you find the right shop for your needs?
Go into a shop, and ask a few questions. Do they work on commission? Do they ride bikes in the way that you do or would like to? See how you feel in the store. Do you feel like they are happy to see you? Are they willing to answer your questions? Do they treat you nicely and speak in a way that you understand?
If you've walked into the right bike shop, the conversation should change after you've covered some preliminaries. Now, they should be asking you questions. Whether you've walked in with no idea or a very specific idea of what you are looking for, the staff should try to learn more about your needs to help you explore the possibilities.
What was the last bike you rode?
How long have you had it?
What about it did you or did you not enjoy?
How much did you ride in the past?
What may have kept you from riding as much as you thought you would?
How do you plan you use the new bike you will buy?
Are there any specific features that you need in a bike?
If they point you to a bike without having asked a single question, keep looking.