Category Archives: shop

My local library does not supply my reread every tens years list. (I must move.) So I have inadvertently wandered into my reread every thirty odd years list. I didn’t know I had one of those. (I doubt I will see it again, so should savor while I can.)

I blame Matthew Crawford for this — gratefully.

The radio was a clue. You can’t really think hard about what you’re doing and listen to the radio at the same time. Maybe they didn’t see their job as having anything to do with hard thought, just wrench twiddling. If you can twiddle wrenches while listening to the radio that’s more enjoyable.

Their speed was another clue. They were really slopping things around in a hurry and not looking where they slopped them. More money that way — if you don’t stop to think that it usually takes longer or comes out worse.

But the biggest clue seemed to be their expressions. They were hard to explain. Good-natured, friendly, easygoing — and uninvolved. They were like spectators. You had the feeling they had just wandered in there themselves and somebody had handed them a wrench. There was no identification wit the job. No saying, “I am a mechanic.” [….]

— Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I remembering reading it, and liking it. Sometime around 1980, after I had learnt Fortran, before I learnt number theory and Gödel. Sadly I don’t remember my reaction.

I know I understand the road now. And the prairie. I don’t know if I underatnd the philosophy better yet.

Are Bikes the Black Hole of Bike Shop Profitability?

Read the comments at Bicycle Retailer.

The Independent Bike Blog


A new financial study confirms a sad truth about bicycle retailing: most bike shops do not make a profit on the sale of new bicycles.

This may be old news to many, especially retailers wrestling with unruly income statements and stiff price competition, but the new report uses hard numbers to show that the failure of new bicycles to generate retail profit is much more than urban myth.

In fact, the report shows that new bicycle margins do not even cover their share of the basic operating costs of the average bike store. Overall store profitability is only possible because sales of higher margin items such as parts and accessories drive the averages up, categories now facing increasing price competition from on-line retailers.

The source is the NBDA Cost of Doing Business Survey, conducted by market research firm Industry Insights every two years since 1993. It is different from many…

View original post 519 more words


Leisure Trends: IBD sales rebound in March after a slow start to 2014

Lifestyle/leisure bike sales grew 33 percent to hit $7 million, and transit/fitness bikes sales were up 21 percent at 27 million over March 2013. And kids’ bikes grew an impressive 24 percent to reach $8 million for the month.

All bicycle sales were up in March — 13 percent in units and 5 percent in dollars, but road bikes continued their downslide, losing 8 percent over the same period last year. The 26-inch mountain bike category also slid 18 percent to $11 million, and 29ers fell again for the second straight month, with an 8 percent loss to land at $22 million.

Avoid the Entitlement Trap and ENGAGE

The Independent Bike Blog

entitlement Entitlement can be a disastrous thing for retailers facing increasing competition and struggling to compete. The future belongs to those who are willing to change, who are tired of playing defense, and who are willing and able to aggressively engage with customers and transform their lives.

That was the message from Mike Cosentino, owner of Big Peach Running Co., a seven-store running retailer based in Atlanta at the IBD Summit in Monterey in April.

He was speaking to an audience of bicycle retailers interested in hearing from a successful and growing retailer in a somewhat similar industry that is being challenged by on-line competition such as and

Cosentino didn’t hesitate to share his views that the first step for retailers is to dump old attitudes and take a fresh look at what it means to be a retailer today.

“The local market is not yours,” Cosentino told the…

View original post 556 more words

Old rules: least change

Old mechanics have old rules for old bicycles.

Good engineering, and good mechanics, have the principle of least change: make the smallest change needed to achieve the desired outcome.

The principle applies to whole bicycles. Beyond a certain age, beyond a certain level of disrepair, do little.

Great old frames deserve rebuilding — if the customer has the budget.

But don’t over-write and overwork a beat-up bike. In the end, the customer could have better spent the money. In the end, the bike will take more work then charged.

Old bikes have unpleasant surprises: bearings that seemed dry turnout blown; cables reveal rust; etc.

Do the least possible — or do everything, and charge for it. Anything in between rarely works.

Culture of service

We have a culture of service as a legacy from un-fine old steel such as Schwinn drainpipe sadly not yet rusted away.

Yet modern components operate close to the limit of tolerances.

A customer tightening a loose bolt or an inexperienced technician can ruin a frame or component.

Centering a disc caliper can offer fewer frustrations than centering a single-pivot side-pull. Yet the young technician struggling with the single-pivot will not likely harm the part nor put the customer at risk.

Steel bolts into alloy threads require judgment and a more skilled technician. Do we charge more to center a disc caliper? Or do we wait for the store down the street to change their prices or go out of business.

Is cheaper better?

Is cheaper better? by Ray Keener

… in the $300-$400 range sales plummet from 25 percent to 12 percent over that same period. [2009–2013]

Consumers don’t identify their needs by quality as much as they do by price. They buy bikes they think they can afford for the riding they want to do.