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  • Writer's pictureJohn Robinson

5 Reasons to Buy Your Next Bike From a Local Shop

Updated: Jun 5, 2021

So you want to buy a bike for yourself or your kid. Maybe you Google “bikes near me” and get a couple of hits for bike shops in your area, and then you come to the listings for the big box chain retailers. After a bit of clicking around you discover an important difference: big box store bikes are cheaper. Sometimes by a lot.

Assuming you’re a regular person and not an heiress or a rich hedge fund manager, cheap is good, especially if you aren’t planning to ride your new bike in the Tour de France. Right? Not so much. Here’s why spending more for a bike at a local shop will always be worth your investment.

1. Local shops offer exceptional customer service

Those of us who own or work at your local bike shop eat, sleep, and breathe bikes. Seriously. Come talk to us and you’ll see what I mean. Unfettered bike love is basically the only reason we do our jobs. We also also rely heavily on reputation to stay in business. In this age of Yelp!, even a single bad review can hurt a small business. Here at Johnny Velo Bikes we even offer a trade-in program to defray the cost of buying bikes for your growing child, because great customer service is our top priority.

You can trust that we care a lot more about you and your experience with your future bike than the big chain retailer. Worst case scenario for your big box store? You return the bike. Even if you’re angry, you’ll probably continue to buy your toilet paper, TVs, towels, and toys from this store. You and their millions of other customers.

2. We will build it properly

The person who assembles your bike in the stock room of a big box retail store is probably a fine, hardworking individual, but likely doesn’t know any more about bikes than you do. Or worse, they’re a third-party vendor. They’re in a hurry because time is money, and the consequences for them of hastily assembling a bike that doesn’t work properly or falls apart later are relatively low. (Until the big box store does a bad job so often that a class-action lawsuit ensues.)

Until I started learning how to work on my own bike, I had no idea there are hundreds of tools specially designed for the building and maintenance of bikes. People love to talk about bikes as “simple machines,” and compared to cars or, say, the hadron particle accelerator, they are. But there’s a ton of fine-tuning that goes into building a bike that rides well and safely, and the experts in the back of our shop spend hours with each bike making sure it’s just right. It’s a thing of beauty that’s well worth your investment.

3. You could end up stranded or injured by a cheap or poorly assembled bike

You might still be thinking, I’m riding this in the park, or my kid is riding it in the neighborhood. How much does it really matter? I guess it depends on how important stopping is to you. Wheels that are improperly fitted to a bike and brakes that aren’t adjusted correctly can be the difference between stopping when you pull the brake levers and… well, not stopping.

But let’s assume the big box bike is assembled perfectly. Low-quality parts mean, at best, your bike doesn’t last very long. At worst, the flimsy parts fail when you need them most. Broken brakes and brake levers, snapped kickstands, and flat tires from improperly installed tubes on low-quality bikes are all issues we see in our shop regularly.

4. Extended service for your bike

You may be able to get a limited warranty at a big box store, but we offer a great service plan. And if something goes wrong, it’s going to be far easier to pop into the shop and talk us, rather than activating some warranty program with a large store that doesn’t care that you can’t ride your bike this weekend because your shifter cable has snapped. We want you to Enjoy Your Ride™, and we we’ll do everything we can to make sure you do.

5. Sub-standard bikes just suck

The bike brands sold by a local bike shop are simply higher quality all around. How significant is this? Imagine you’re craving pizza. Think about your favorite pizza that you really want right now because I’m making you think about it. Now imagine that instead of getting that pizza, you pop into your high school cafeteria of yesteryear and grab a slice. That’s how significant.

Sure, you’re not hungry anymore. You’ve technically had pizza. But are you satisfied? Are you happy? Are you probably going to go out tomorrow and spend money again to get the pizza you really want? You deserve good pizza, and you deserve a good bike you can count on to get you to that pizza place safely. And if you choose wisely, you’ll have fun and transportation for years and even decades to come.


Your local bike shop supports your community. From school fundraisers to food drives to charity bike ride sponsorships, the money you spend at our shop is funneled back into central Ohio. When you shop locally, you invest in making your neighborhood a better place to live and work.

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