Why we can only sell bikes in
our stores and not via the Internet
(This is now in two parts; the
first part is the basic explanation, while the second part is in response to an email I
received and explains, in my own biased sense, why local bicycle dealers are a good thing)
Due to restrictions in our dealer agreements with TREK, Gary Fisher, Bontrager, Klein
and LeMond bicycles, we are unable to sell bicycles via the Internet. Because a bicycle
involves a great deal of personal attention during and after the sale, it's just not a
practical item to buy from somebody thousands of miles away, so these restrictions are
entirely reasonable. Buying a bicycle isn't like buying a VCR- you have to not only get
the correct type and size, but it also requires a great deal of skill to properly
assemble, plus follow-up service during the break-in period. So it may be safe buying a
VCR in a box through the mail, but certainly not a bicycle!
If you would like to buy a bike from us, you need to either drive to one of our two
stores or, if you're really desperate and can't get to us yourself, have a friend pick up
a bike for you. However, this is not something we encourage. (Please note
that, if you have someone else come in to get a bike for you, they have to
use their own money, credit card or cash, for the purchase. They cannot use
a third-party payment of any sort, period.) We strongly recommend buying
your new bike from a local dealer you can trust (we're not all scum!)
and whom you don't think will run away from you when you carry the bike in through
the front door in pieces because something went wrong.
PS: If you do decide to try to buy a bike from a dealer via mail-order,
keep in mind that you're dealing with someone who can lose (and many have
lost) their bike lines by doing so. Thus you should already realize
that the dealer is not too likely to be on the up-and-up and its not always
the case that your purchase will arrive quite as you planned.
We've seen some pretty bizarre stuff. It also involves a gray-market
purchase, which may kill the warranty.
From: David Xxxxx <xxxxxXXX@xxxnet.com>
Date: Wednesday, April 16, 1997 10:12 PM
Subject: For Real?
I was kind of looking for a new frame set to replace my totally battered
1992 Fisher SuperCaliber, and this brought me to your page.
I was just checking to see if I read this right. You advertise on the
internet,but you can't sell bikes?? Haven't the dinasours of bike making
figured out the internet is the future of retail?
Almost any dummy can fit a mountain bike over the "net." That seems
like a bad position to put you guys in as retailers. You can't find any
good bikes in my area, so you must shop on-line. Is this some type of
scam to get some people in to get sold stuff they weren't looking for?
Where do you live that you can't find a decent shop?
Perhaps I need to open one there!
Seriously, it's not that easy for the vast majority of
people to get "fit" to a bicycle over the 'net, and the industry exists for the
great majority of new people being exposed daily to cycling...if TREK (and any other
manufacturer) existed only to serve those who already know everything about bikes, that
would be an exceptionally small market. And if distribution of such labor-intensive items
as bicycles was handled through the 'net (mail order), a great many people would have a
great deal of trouble with getting their bikes to work right etc. So the industry must
support the existence of local bike shops that can expose new people to the wonders of
cycling and make bicycles as unintimidating as possible. And, of course, this costs money.
It would definitely be cheaper for me to get rid of a room-full of mechanics and
salespeople and just ship bikes out UPS...
OK, what it all boils down to is this-
A: You are, without choice, subsidizing other,
less-experienced buyers (because you're not being given the choice of buying something
cheaper and unassembled through the mail). This, you will argue, is wrong.
B: If the industry was *not* set up to support local places
(bike shops) to buy and repair things, the industry would shrivel up dramatically, and you
would have far fewer choices and innovations to choose from. You might pay less money, but
there would be fewer semi-to-really-serious cyclists, since most people's first-hand
experience with a bicycle would come from department stores.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is that nobody forces
anyone to buy a bike. It's what we call "an affordable luxury" and requires
people, usually dealers, to try and infect people with a bug that tells them, hey,
cycling's a fun thing to do! It's not driven by external factors as much as many
industries (for example, opening up golf courses leads to dramatic increases in sales of
golf clubs), but rather by direct exposure to the product.
Wow. I didn't mean to get into such detail and stuff here,
and hope I'm not coming across too stridently here. If you've got any questions about
what's available etc., please don't hesitate to ask. If there's something you can't find
locally, I can even try and get ahold of the regional rep for the area and see what can be
PS: When you ask "Is this some type of scam to get
some people in to get sold stuff they weren't looking for?"...well, my big mission as
a cyclist and a bicycle retailer is to try and make cycling as fun for people as possible,
and that definitely means that I'm going to be showing people options that hadn't even
occurred to them (cycling shorts to make riding more comfortable, mileage computers for
training and just plain fun, etc.). But I don't see this as being particularly evil or a
PPS: Regarding your old battered frameset...Fisher has a
frame replacement policy that allows you to turn in your old frame for a new one at
roughly 20% less than the frame would usually cost. If you have any idea of what size
& model you're interested in, I can find availability and price info for you. But, of
course, I can't sell you the darned thing!!!