Save Money on Bikes, Accessories, and Service
Saving Money on New Bikes
You can save money on new bikes by doing your research, knowing exactly what you want, then shopping ruthlessly for the best price whether online or in a brick and mortar store. Of course if you go from shop to shop and use up everyone's valuable time getting advice and information and then buy all your goods online or squeeze all every dime of profit out the local merchant, don't expect to make and keep a lot of friends who depend on the bike biz for their livelihood.
You can still save money and help support your local shop by buying closeouts and already discounted bikes. If you like the shop and the service, consider buying your accessories there as well.
If you don't like your local shop or they don't carry the products you want, then you may be able to save money by shopping online. Be sure to factor in sales tax, shipping costs and any assembly required when comparing online prices to local store prices. You might see a bike for $75 dollars less than at your local bike shop, but if you have to pay for freight and assembly, then the final deal might not be so sweet. Also remember that if you need to return the product for any defects or warranty service, many online companies will not pay the freight for you to return the product to them. Bikes in boxes can be big, heavy and costly to ship.
Saving Money Buying Used Bikes
Perhaps the best way of all to save money when buying bikes is to buy used. The more you know about bikes, the better your chances of getting a really great deal on a wonderful bike. Many people spend good money on a high quality bike, ride it a few times then let it sit in the garage unused for years and years. If you are knowledgeable about bikes, you can get an older, but barely used bike for pennies on the dollar. Expect to buy new tires, tubes and handlebar tape or grips on older machines as these things tend to rot with age. You may need to lube it up and have it serviced as well. Make absolutely sure the bike you buy is the right frame size for you before buying it. You don't want your bargain dream bike to be two sizes too big or too small.
Saving Money on Accessories
Saving money on accessories can be done at the time of a new bike purchase. If you outfitting yourself with many items, you can often ask for and get deals on the items you buy, especially if you are buying them from a local bike shop. Retailers have a bit more room for negotiation on soft goods like helmets, shorts, jerseys, bike bags and hard goods like bike racks, locks, and pumps. If they will not negotiate you can always find discounts on what you need online with a bit of diligence and time. Employees at national chain retailers do not generally have the authority or permission to negotiate prices and you can expect to pay the full sticker price for accessories at those stores.
Remember, if you do see lower prices for accessories online compared to your local retailer, don't forget to factor in shipping costs and possible return costs if the product needs to be sent back for any reason.
Saving Money on Service
The best way to save money on bike service is to learn how to fix some things yourself. Some communities like Charlottesville, have cooperatives that are run largely by volunteers for labor and take donations for bikes and parts. These types of organizations usually have a shop area with tools and supplies that the public can use to build and fix their own bikes.
These cooperatives often hold regular bicycle repair clinics for adults and young people to learn the basics of bicycle repair and maintenance. You might also ask around your local area to see if there are any classes at a local college or other organization.
Save Money - Learn to Fix Your Own Flats
If you really are not interested in becoming a bike mechanic then simply learning to fix a flat can save you a lot of money over the lifetime of your bike. You just need a few tire levers as shown below, a spare tube, and a pump in most cases.
The easy part of changing flat is taking the wheel off the bike, and then getting the tube out of the wheel.
The hard part of changing a flat tube is getting the new or repaired tube back inside the wheel and tire, and then putting the wheel back on the bike correctly. The rear wheel is slightly more effort since you need to get the wheel back in the frame with the chain and sprockets arranged correctly.
This is the type of basic repair that you would most likely learn at a one day bike repair class or clinic. It would be well worth the effort and time well spent.
For more information about learning to fix your own bike in the Charlottesville area, contact:
405 Avon St.