The Chainlink

I want to hear from everyone, what do you hate about a bike shop? What do you love? What is missing from shops in Chicago?

We are changing our name and want to improve our store. We are Chicago bikers as well as a community bike shop and really want to figure out how a shop can do it best. We are creating more events as well.

What kind of events do people want to participate in? Information sessions? Mechanic workshops? Rides? Social events? Art shows?

Here is what I love and hate:
I hate when a bike shop staff talks down to me.
I love when I can have a great conversation in a bike shop.
I love when someone will go out of their way to order that extra part and call me when it's in.
I hate when a shop simply wants to sell stuff. They don't care about you, they just care about your money.
I love when the staff in a shop is passionate about bikes instead of the paycheck they're recieving that week.
I love when a shop feels inviting.

Your turn. Share some great or bad experiences and what you love, hate, and want to see.

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Sure as Shit - David was on that ride...I had to check visual evidence cause i have a CRAP memory. ;-) Well David you can be promoted to Martin level! ;-) And no Martin will never live it down...It coulda been the Nov Marauders ride, instead it was the Martin tags an Audi ride. ;-)


Ammo said:
He will never live that one up. That was quite the evening.

DavID said:
Props! Its great to help people! And we rode together when Martin tagged the parked Audi...

Gabe said:
I Love LOVE LOVE Martin...Next runners up are Samantha and David since i haven't ridden with them yet. That's what i love about bike shops. Let's be honest unless you know the person selling you stuff they still HAVE to sell you stuff. It's a job.
This is why I often buy my own parts online and what I can't install myself, have a trusted mechanic do it for me. I've found some good ones and I'm sticking with them.

Ali said:
Things I hate;

1)I am sorry for the good mechanics out there but to me majority of the mechanics in the city seems to be incompetent. I remember one mechanic telling me I needed a new chain, and then I told him OK replace the chain and the cassette, because I have always replaced those together in the past. He proceeded to tell me my cassette looked fine and needed no replacement. I even asked "Are you sure?" He says Oh yeah absolutely...3 days later I got on the bike to test it out to see that they have replaced my 10 speed campy chain with a 9 speed shimano chain, and the cassette needed replacing after all because it was skipping like a mofo after they got the right chain on there. I had to wait extra 5 days to have them ship the new parts in...Oh and If I do pay for a tune-up that does really mean that I expect my bike to shift properly...And don't get pissy with me when I bring it back in after circling the block and noticing it double shifts in the rear and does not shift in the front...

2)I hate the "Oh you don't know what you need, this is what you need" attitude...If I came in there for a Continental GP 4000, I really do want Conti GP4000, not something else...

3)I hate the sales people pushing a certain product because they have an a little too much of it in stock...

Things I like;

Really there are a few in there but ultimately I am determined to buy my stuff online from now on unless it is an emergency such as a tire or a tube...I am tired of paying inflated prices for inferior service.

Sorry but this past summer has been a tough one for me with the shops...I have pretty much lost all interest and trust in all but two.

-Ali
Thanks but i don't think i could survive the Martin status, but thanks. Just heal up soon for the next cruise.

Gabe said:
Sure as Shit - David was on that ride...I had to check visual evidence cause i have a CRAP memory. ;-) Well David you can be promoted to Martin level! ;-) And no Martin will never live it down...It coulda been the Nov Marauders ride, instead it was the Martin tags an Audi ride. ;-)


Ammo said:
He will never live that one up. That was quite the evening.

DavID said:
Props! Its great to help people! And we rode together when Martin tagged the parked Audi...

Gabe said:
I Love LOVE LOVE Martin...Next runners up are Samantha and David since i haven't ridden with them yet. That's what i love about bike shops. Let's be honest unless you know the person selling you stuff they still HAVE to sell you stuff. It's a job.
I love friendly employees who tell me what they think ( and you can tell when they actually are)
i like parties. bicicle cabaret was great.

i am interested in neighborhood bike tours. i am 29 months new to chicago and there are tons of neighborhoods i've been through, but not in.

i like bike shops with hardwood floors.

i like shops where there are non-bike related elements, like a jukebox, a disco ball, or an old airplane propeller. (ok fine, so the wright brothers ran a bike shop, but you know what i mean.)

i like bike shops with pets that greet you when you enter.

******

according to sky yaeger, the bike industry is "a great place to work if you have a trust fund." i believe for the most part, bike shop owners and employees get involved in it because they actually care. unfortunately, circumstances make it so they sometimes need to push that sale to survive, and eventually turn to the dark side. to be fair, i do what i gotta do for work so i get paid.

that being said, the way i deal with sales staff or mechanics that suck, or are condescending is to simply not go back. if they treat it purely like a business, then well so do i. if they treat it like some exclusive club, and i'm not invited, then fine, i'll bring my hard earned cash elsewhere.
yes agreed Gabe! Martin has turned me on to Performance. He is super good at explaining stuff to newbies like me. He doesn't talk down to you either. The mechanics there are cool too.

Gabe said:
I Love LOVE LOVE Martin...Next runners up are Samantha and David since i haven't ridden with them yet. That's what i love about bike shops. Let's be honest unless you know the person selling you stuff they still HAVE to sell you stuff. It's a job.
I am a FEMALE bike mechanic. I have worked for 'my' shop for 3 years now. I will tell you guys what I hate in customers! :P

1) I hate when a customer comes in and tried to haggle our prices. I don't set them, I can't change them.

2) My shop is in Indiana, and I hate when customers come in and say they saw this bike cheaper at Village. Yup, you did. But you're paying hella more sales tax, AND my shop gives free brake and derailleur tune ups FOR LIFE. That's right, FOR EVER. So go buy it from Village. I don't get commission, I can't change the price, I seriously don't care.

3) I hate when people leave their bikes with us for forever. You should be able to come get your bike within two weeks, please. I need that hook back, and you paid good money for this service.

4) I hate when I answer the phone and the person says 'I need to speak to a tech.' I reply, 'Yes, I am a tech' to which they reply, 'No, a teecchh' all slow like that. Listen, buddy. What you're trying to say is you want to talk to a MALE. No problem, one less customer I have to deal with.

5) I hate when people directly question my prognosis on a bike. I am human, I mess up sometimes, but for god's sake...the creaking is coming from your bottom bracket. I promise. Double promise. And that rhythmic clicking you hear? PUSH YOUR DERAILLEUR CABLE SO IT DOESN'T HIT YOUR CRANK. I work for a bike shop, you brought your bike in to get fixed, I'm trying. Don't tell me I'm wrong unless you're SURE.

6) I don't like when customers come into the 'working' part of the shop. Some of the stuff we end up doing to bikes isn't pretty. Hacksaws, torches, and rubber mallets just don't ever leave a good taste in a customer's mouth. If you want a lesson on how to tune your derailleur, I am MORE than happy to give it to you, just ask. Don't stare at me while I get all clammy nervous and agitated.

Right. I'm done venting. I'm honestly not bitchy to anyone (except the Navigator guy...seriously dude...if I have to get coated in grease one more time because you don't think it's EVER necessary to clean your drive train, I'm going to kill you. Really). We try our best to help you; I'm very amicable and extremely willing to help anyone out. We'll order parts for you, and call you asap when they come in. If you bring your bike in for a tune up, we have it done within 4 days, normally sooner. I laugh and cut up with customers, and I sell with a no BS attitude. I want everyone to be happy with their purchases, so why pull the wool over your eyes?

I'm even nice enough not to charge if someone's brakes are squeaking and the pads need toed in a smidge, or if someone comes in with a flipped derailleur from shifting uphill. But shhhh...don't tell the shop owner that. :P
Jess, you are awesome...Customer Service jobs suck...Customer Service jobs suck even more when the Customer sucks too. ;-(
Jessica said:
6) I don't like when customers come into the 'working' part of the shop. Some of the stuff we end up doing to bikes isn't pretty. Hacksaws, torches, and rubber mallets just don't ever leave a good taste in a customer's mouth. If you want a lesson on how to tune your derailleur, I am MORE than happy to give it to you, just ask. Don't stare at me while I get all clammy nervous and agitated.


I know I stare at what the wrench is doing intently so I can do it myself the next time. Its not to make him/her nervous. I also ask questions. Nicely.

As irritating as it is that some bike shop people assume I don't know anything, it has to be a million times worse to have customers questioning your abilities a couple times a day.
I like a shop with a wide range of bikes, not concentrating on one type. Expand my mind!
I like a shop with knowledgeable employees who have no problem explaining a problem or issue, no matter how silly or newbie it may sound.
I like a shop which feels welcoming and authentic.

A lot of the shops in Chicago I like, although when I was in NY, there would be certain shops I'd walk in to which were trendy and style related. They used the word boutique. I could not stand it. I think Roscoe Village bikes, presents everything I like in a local shop. My only complaint is the size, but that's understandable due to location. Even their team is cool.
I like communities with a broad range of shops, and neighborhoods that cluster shops so it's easy to hit several in one trip. In the latter sense, Chicagoland isn't great. And it's lost a lot of good, humble neighborhood shops over the years -- but in the former, it's actually OK. Yojimbo's, Performance, Boulevard, Smithy, West Town, Turin, Oscar Wastyn, Working Bikes, Get a Grip, Blackstone, and Irv's each have a pretty distinct set of offerings. I think the best shops in this city have learned to specialize.
Tamara said:
Jessica said:
6) I don't like when customers come into the 'working' part of the shop. Some of the stuff we end up doing to bikes isn't pretty. Hacksaws, torches, and rubber mallets just don't ever leave a good taste in a customer's mouth. If you want a lesson on how to tune your derailleur, I am MORE than happy to give it to you, just ask. Don't stare at me while I get all clammy nervous and agitated.


I know I stare at what the wrench is doing intently so I can do it myself the next time. Its not to make him/her nervous. I also ask questions. Nicely.

As irritating as it is that some bike shop people assume I don't know anything, it has to be a million times worse to have customers questioning your abilities a couple times a day.

You're fine, no worries. It's when people stand close enough when I can feel the heat radiating off of them that I start to get pissy.

There was one guy who came in RIGHT at close wanting a kickstand removed off of a BMX bike. No problem!...except the kickstand was stuck, and stripped. We tried and tried for 30 minutes (30 minutes AFTER close. We all commute to work, and I had a 20 mile ride ahead of me... I wasn't angry, but I needed to leave.) In a last ditch effort to get it off, I used the torch to heat it up, hoping to loosen the threads. The IDIOT thought that the torch would get the aluminum hot enough to melt it off. I told him the torch wasn't capable of that, but NOO. "Sweetie," he said, "hand the torch over here." Yeah RIGHT buddy. I'm going to hand you a torch, so you can burn the shop down? Or melt the paint off the bike? And calling me sweetie is an efficient way to make me not care about you anymore...screw that...I checked the bike in and sawed the kickstand off the next morning.

Needless to say, I was angry enough to make my ride home in 50 minutes or so...my average MPH was crazy.

It's nice that I ride to work too...I get to see customers on bikes I fixed, riding having a blast. They seem to trust me more because they see me booking it out there with them. :)

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