Bicycling -- A Broken Industry


Because of the long term decline in bicycling (although it seems like there has been a recent upsurge), it seems to me the state of the bicycle industry, as far as making workaday basic bikes, is pitiful.

A bike costing $600 should be useable out of the door, but as I found out, that is far from the case.

Parts such as tires, spokes and brakes are cheap and must be replaced on delivery.

Wheels are not put together correctly.   I just discovered the bearings were packed wrong on my rear axle causing it to not turn freely.   Hours of friction.  Also the brake shoes were up so high they gripped the tire, not the rim!  This is from a brand new factory bike!

Bike replair shops are terrible.  The people who work there have no specific skills,  They can't anayze a problem properly and don't put in the time to fully fix it.  You have to do it all over again after getting the bike back.   They will upsell you when there's no need to replace parts, or forget to tell you what you really should replace, or fail to align everything as it should.

We need a complete Revolution in Bicycling to reform manufacturing, sales and repair, and force out the waste, inefficiency and falsehoods.


John...   Sounds like you had a sucky experience.

You are right, unit sales for bike shops have been slightly down but that number is deceiving.  The really small, poorly financed shops have been closing up for many reasons not the least of which is the sub-$500 price point has dropped.  Not many people are buying that $400 mt. bike like they did 20 years ago and those low end units kept those smaller shops in the game.  Bikes above $600 are selling and the dollars have never been higher per unit because road bikes (carbon) aren't cheap.  Point is... the big are weathering the storm and the small guys are gradually closing up.  20 years ago, there were 9,000 shops in America.  That number is now less than 4,000, but I guarantee Greggs did more revenue in the last few years then they did 20 years ago.

That said, I don't know about the bike you bought but it sounds like you got the one lemon.  If the bikes were coming from Asia all messed up, they literally couldn't keep up with the repairs you say your bike needed.  The shop would be buried.  Giant is a huge manufacturer for their models and 40% of the rest of the industry and they claim their bikes are 95% ready out of the box...  and they usually are.

But the hard truth is...  $600 doesn't get you what it used it.  I don't think you can even find a road bike (drop bars/sti shifters) under $700??  The cheapest commuter bike from specialized (sirrus) retails for $525??   And that has a one piece stamped crankset...  something you found on $300 bikes 20 years ago, and not a feature a dedicated cyclist would usually settle with.

Are all the shop mechanics seasoned pros??  No...   Not many of them even go thru formal training, which isn't really that expensive but the payoff isn't that great either.  Shop mechanics don't make a ton of money.  Most cyclists don't want to pay the hourly rate that would attract well trained mechanics.

If the bike is still "hinky," then I would get your head in a good place, and call the owner and have a nice conversation with him.  Don't back him into a corner... don't get him defensive.  Just tell him your experience and tell him you aren't fully comfortable on your new bike.  If it was me and I got that call, I would offer to do a full overhaul on the bike.  Adjust everything on the bike...  hubs, bottom bracket, stem, everything.