Simple rules for working with and around bike stores

Here come some harsh but true simple rules to save you all time and money with your bicycle purchasing: 


Unless they are some guru mechanic, don’t talk to anyone working in a bike store who does not shave their legs. Rather, find someone in a bike store who lives and breathes this stuff and who suffers from cyclists’ Toruette’s, meaning they can’t help blurting out everything they know about carbon soles when all you asked for were socks. Through racing and buying socks and gloves, I’ve made friends with a few such dudes and they’re golden. Think of them as sometimes verbose personal tutors, there to impart whatever knowledge you need to extract from their encyclopaedic cycle-buff minds. Let their love be infectious. Repay them by buying all those things you want NOW from their shop, and letting them price match on big stuff.   

Hang out in shops to glean info. Find a shop you hate, where you would never buy anything, purely on principle, where guys with hairy legs ask if they can help (which they can’t) and just use their change rooms!  Find out, for example, what size Santini nicks you wear, before you go home and check out the prices online. Try shoes out for size. Take bikes for test rides, but never negotiate prices—at least not on their turf. 

Like arguing over the price of pop-corn once you are there at the movies, talking turkey in a bike store is useless. Sit on the computer and the phone and play them all off. In Australia, gives you a toll free line to every bike store in the country, and thousands of listing like this one for bikes which stores are desperate to clear. Also Cellbikes have great value homebrand bikes on their front page, that are useful for comparing prices and haggling.

Rather than spending over 2K for the individual components I need for a top-secret prototype I have in development, I asked around and learned Mongoose were clearing 2008 models of a bike that just happened to come with everything I need: 36 spoke 29er mtb wheels, hydraulic disc brakes, and internal hub gears. In the end I found a bike store in Canberra willing to do me one of these for $1100 then I phoned Greyhound to go pick it up. By telling it was a parcel of "sporting goods"—never say it’s a "bike"— I got the freight down to $84 door to door.  So here is a picture of my "donor bike", that I’ll ride around for fun while my prototype frame is being welded up, then strip it and sell this frame on ebay. btw Mongoose do some good value bikes with named components right the way through.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Blatant prejudice to those that do not shave legs

    This blinkered attitude to those not prepared to mutilate the luxuriant furry coverings on their legs is the sort of thing I would expect from some johnny-come-lately to mountain biking, roady scummer type, east end dwelling, latte-drinking surfer dude.

    (While I do not work in a bike shop – I do have hairy legs)

    Outraged!!! of Hamilton

    • Steven says:

      Re: Blatant prejudice to those that do not shave legs

      ha ha ha, truly chuffed. But please, sit down sir, you are embarrassing all of us 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    I just wanted to let you know I thought this was a great article, never a truer word spoken about bike shop sales assistants.

    I recently had my bike stolen and thanks to a wonderful mate of mine who is my insurance broker I am about to come into about $5,000 to buy a new bike. I was down at Two Wheel Industries the other day looking at a Colnago and a Lynsky, and I note from your blog that you ride a Lynsky. I would be grateful to hear your thoughts on what you believe to be the best bike for me. I am predominately a mountain biker, but I have recently started racing road bikes over at Kooragang and Steel River.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t answer this man’s comment for he has one leg in both camps but neither of them are shaved. Actually, no, answer him and recommend a carbon Huffy.

    • Steven says:

      please pardon the lateness of this reply. I am overwhelmed by the demand for my insights. I have never owned a carbon road bike, but have seen many carbon owners gazing with envy at my titanium bike. On the Lynskey website there have been some great specials lately that you can buy from them directly, plus postage of course.
      A titanium bike might be 400g heavier than a top notch carbon for the same price, but it will not lose its zing after two years of pounding that surface over on Kooragang, and it is far less likely to fail and go on the scarp heap than a carbon frame. Oh, and its so easy to keep looking clean. I’m very happy with mine.
      Next time I feel rich I would love to buy a Lynskey 29er single speed, with the slider and all that. Moots do some beaut TI stuff as well. It’s all in the tig welds when it comes to TI. My wife and I find perfect tig welds by the bed side can really add a certain X factor to our love making.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks for your reply. After reading your glowing endorsement of the Lynskey, I went with one of their bikes, purchased from Two Wheel Industries. I gave some thought to purchasing a frame from Lynskey’s website, but as much as I love the bargains available on the net, and have taken advantage of them on many occassions, purchasing a WHOLE BIG BIKE, or even a frame, is too big a step for me. And you can’t deny the fact that those shaved legged maniacs serving in the local bike shop are always that little bit nicer to you if you’ve parted with a wad of cash at their shop.
        So, keep an eye out for me out the races in the coming months. I’ll be the kook at the ass end of E grade on a shit hot Lynskey with a spectacular blue paint job. PS I know of you through the wide-eyed green monster, otherwise known as Rob Cooper. You’re as mad, and as interesting, as he said you were. No, madder. Regards Fatkook

        • Steven says:

          Hey fatkook, that’s wonderful! The back of E-grade puts you about 5 leagues ahead of those people who imagine they’re fit because they were when they were 12. It’s a great shop that one, 2 Wheel industries. Well worth the extra spent, just for the good crack and vibe there. Woodsy of course knows all there is to be known.
          I’ll keep an eye out for a blue blur when E grade goes over. (Or will that be D grade within a few weeks?)

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