Saturday, 14 July 2012

LBS -v- Wiggle, Evans, Chain Reaction.....

I think it is quite a tricky thing sometimes trying to decide between supporting a handful of Local Bike Shops  (LBSs) or enjoying the likes of Wiggle, Chain Reaction, Evans and so on.

The nice thing about the mail order gang is the convenience of being able to browse through a gigantic store which is full of everything (almost) you could ever need for cycling (Wiggle also do running gear, amongst other sports) and then place your order.    Then, as we all know, it turns up a few days later: couldn't be easier.

Right now the balance is tipping away from its normal neutral position and swinging towards one of my LBSs.  Here's why.  I popped in this afternoon for a couple of stainless steel bolts.  The only ones they had were too long.

"No problem" Ian said, I'll cut them down for you.  And so he did, plus finishing them off on his grinding wheel to keep the thread in tact.  All free of charge.  He knows that while he's giving away something, he also knows I'll be back to spend money there in the future.  He's pretty knowledgeable about all kinds of things in the cycling world and we shouldn't forget the skills in being able to undertake repairs and servicing pretty quickly.

I am fortunate in having a well positioned couple of LBSs nearby plus others not for from my office and I know that's not the case for all my readers.  Could be that for many in the UK all they can access is a Halfords which might struggle to be described as a LBS.

With so many High Streets going through a tough time alongside Wiggle et al bringing lots of competition, it's a tough choice sometimes.  So, which do you prefer?  LBS or Wiggle?


  1. Unless you have money to burn go for mail order matey as they are soooo much cheaper and more choice.

  2. Dear Bradthebike

    Sorry but I don't have money to burn at all but I do appreciate good service and I would be very sad if my LBS went to the wall.

    Do you ever use an LBS? Without them, where would you go for repairs and servicing - mail order repairs?

    You are right, they have much more choice though.

    Best wishes,


  3. A few thoughts on this. I don't think I would ever buy a complete bike online. I bought my oldest bikes before online shopping was invented, but my most recently purchased machines were all bought from LBSs - I have six bikes bought from five local bike shops. I went to yet sixth bike shop to have a pair of wheels built because I wanted to specify the hubs and rims, and to be able to take them back when they needed truing. When the bike needs that initial service or tweak (with maybe an upgrade) they are there without fuss. There's also looking at shiny things, asking for advice and picking up a few little bits and bobs. That's got me thinking now. Off the top of my head here are my last few purchases from LBSs:

    A couple of bottle cages; gear and brake cables with colour-coded cable clamp thingies; hub service and tyre replacement on my small-wheeler (I couldn't be bothered with the faff of those Sturmey Archer 3-speed gears); an under seat pack from LBS number seven (and a smaller - colour-coded - one from LBS number eight); three inner tubes for a tenner; blah, blah...

    I favour online stores when buying components I know what to do with. It's often very much cheaper - especially if you time it right - and there is a childish thrill when that package arrives. (Or is it just me?) Having said that if you dare flash your CTC membership card you can get 10% off the price. Ooh, I saved £8 on a child seat back in April from the LBS that fixed my wheel. I reckon the local bikes shops near me aren't doing too bad...

  4. Thanks Chris. I think you've struck a good balance there. You're also fortunate in having so many LBSs to choose from, though I guess it does depend on how Local the "L" is.

    My LBS just seem to give me a discount automatically but others further afield have given me a CTC discount. Phil Corley in Milton Keynes did just that even though the assistant had never heard of the CTC!

    I know exactly what you mean about the thrill of a parcel turning up and you slowly unpack it to savour what's inside.

    Kind regards