No, I don't mean that you should only ride your mountain bike locally. In Central Ohio, we are blessed with some amazing opportunities to ride some really cool places, all within a few hours drive. Get out there and explore! But when it comes to where you shop & where you spend your cycling dollars, to Shop Local, or "Bike Local" as I call it, is an important step in supporting a thriving cycling community.
Bike shops are fighting the convenience & pricing volume of on-line retailers in a way that inevitably cuts into their business. Yes, you may save a tiny bit of money on-line but here are 5 reasons why we should all Bike Local.
1. Better Service
Actually... ANY service. If you haven't yet, go to your local bike shop & get to know the folks who work there. In most cases, they're not there because of the amazing pay. They work in a bike shop because they have this amazingly unbelievable, slightly irrational, passion for bikes. They love to talk about bikes. They love to ride bikes. They know the best rides in the area. They are an invaluable source of local biking knowledge. The service is typically awesome.
Whenever I travel to a new destination, my first stop is a local bike shop. I typically find the person with the biggest calves & ask them about the local riding scene. Google has nothing on the local shop's bike-geek when it comes to knowing the best trails & can't miss micro-brews. As much as that holds true for new destinations, it's also true for your home area. The crew at the local shop talks to a LOT of riders & they're a great source of information.
There are two guys in the city who wrench on my bikes. I know them. They know me. They know my bikes. They know how I want things done. They're pros at what they do and my biking experience is that much better because I have them on my team. That level of service only comes from building relationships at the local shop.
2.) Get it Right the First Time.
There's a lot of talk these days about buying parts at the local shop versus going on-line for a cheaper price. Here's my two cents: I'd much rather get it right the first time. I want to make sure that I'm getting what I want. I want to talk to someone and ask questions & in some cases, see if there's a better option. Maybe, after talking with someone at the shop, I'd actually rather go with a riser bar than the straight bar.
Too often, buying a part on the internet results in it not quite being what you thought it was. Then you get to re-package it and send it back. It would have been quicker and cheaper to visit the local shop & get it right the first time. There's value in that for me. Some people enjoy the unknown of figuring it out but I'd rather spend my time riding than tinkering around and ultimately wasting time.
3.) Support Those who Support You.
Local bike shops support local riding opportunities. They sponsor local events. They support local races and sponsor local teams. The bike shop down the street is probably a member of COMBO and they probably encourage their employees to attend trail days & chip in to build and maintain the trails that you enjoy riding.
Imagine how different the cycling community would be without your favorite bike shop. Simply put: local bike shops are an integral part of the cycling community. They need your support and in turn, they re-pay the favor!
4.) Jobs & small business owners.
Even the larger shops are typically owned locally & certainly support a number of jobs for some of the most committed cycling enthusiasts you've ever met. These shop owners return countless dollars to local communities. These jobs matter & to think that it's up to someone else to support local economies is an unfortunate way of looking at things.
5.) The Experience of the Shop.
At COMBO, one of our taglines is, "Without Trails, Where Would You Ride?" Well, without local bike shops, where would I hang out & drool over the latest bike technology? Where would I go to see the latest designs of shoes, pedals, helmets and that must-have thingy that my buddy just got & I'm incredibly jealous of? Where would I go to shoot-the-breeze with my wrench who always steers me in the right direction on maintenance to keep my bike in top shape?
The experience of the sense of community that is built in the shop is, in my mind, second only to actually being on the trail. It's an incredibly important place within the broader cycling community and we can do our part to support it.
Discover your Local Bike Shop
We are truly blessed to not only have a LOT of bike shops in the greater Columbus area, but some really good ones too! I have my favorite shop and one that supports the brand of bikes that I ride but when it comes to promoting bike shops, COMBO is fairly "shop agnostic" meaning we want you to find your local shop. Meet the crew there. Get to know them. Ask questions. They're bike geeks too. They know the best places to ride. They know granular, gory details about gear & maintenance & nutrition and all sorts of things that will enhance your enjoyment of the sport we all love.
How about sharing some "shout outs" to your favorite local shops & top wrenches in the Comment section below? Take this opportunity to show them how important they are to you & the broader mountain biking community.
See you on the trails.