Smarter Climbing Descending Cyclists

Clever Climbing and Smarter Descents for Cyclists

On the mountain stages for any cycling race, the road to victory is a combination of skill, experience and intelligence. Whether you are racing, training or riding with friends for fitness and pleasure, the importance of safety is amplified when it gets hilly. Higher speeds on descents and slow, inconsistent speeds while climbing can increase the danger of a bike crash. There are a few easy rules to reduce the risk and increase the pleasure.

In the free Cycling Essentials Bunch Riding Guide, the chapter on ascending and descending covers the four key considerations for bunch riding safety and etiquette on the climbs and descents.

 

Climbing Hills in the Bunch

A rider who starts too soon is on their own and can bonk. A rider who starts too late will miss the boat. Strategy, tactics, nutrition, skill, ability… and a multitude of factors affect performance. This goes for competition cycling, but also when riding with friends in a bunch.

For training and friendly bunch riding, it is often more enjoyable for riders to cycle at their own pace. This means that the bunch may split up and it is common courtesy for the faster riders to wait at the top of a climb. When there are lots of climbs, a designated meeting point should be selected. Allow time for the slower riders to recover.

If there is a long delay, consider sending a fit rider to check up on slower riders incase they have suffered a ‘mechanical’ and require assistance.

 

Racing up the hills

Fast riders who are held up by slower riders and don’t have the opportunity to pass are quickly frustrated, so make it easy for faster riders to pass.

While ascending, your reaction time and also the ability to move over can be affected by both concentration and the sheer effort, so thinking ahead makes sense. When climbing hills, try and keep to the side. If you are riding in a bunch, likewise, orientate yourself to the side so that there is space for other riders who want to pass.

When you are in a faster bunch and are approaching a slower bunch or slower riders from behind, call out and let the riders know that you are approaching and overtaking. It is good strategy to let them know how big the group is, for example the first rider may call “10 riders passing” and this ensures that the slower riders don’t pull out too soon. The last rider can also call out “last wheel” (or “last rider”).

 

Increase the Gap

 

In a good bunch riding in tight formation, the gap to the rider ahead can be quite small. This is an aerodynamic advantage but also demands a lot of trust and confidence in the skill of the riders ahead and that they are also looking out for obstacles that can be a safety risk to the bunch.

During the ascents and descents it is harder for a bunch to maintain consistency in speed and cadence. Going uphill, riders may have different abilities climbing but also different styles. Descents are fast and often involve braking and cornering which can be less predictable.

The rule of thumb is to increase the gap – the space to the rider ahead. When climbing hills, if the rider ahead suddenly gets out of their saddle to stand without warning, their bike will surge back. On descents, the rider ahead could brake earlier than you anticipate, but also react quickly to unexpected obstacles while cornering. Your safety is improved by increasing the gap to a safe distances, the faster the descent, the bigger the gap.

 

Be predictable

Accident easily occur when riders are unpredictable, the move out unexpectedly and unaware of riders approaching from behind or they suddenly brake.

Ensure that your bunch has a culture of calls and hand signals. If a rider wants to get out of the saddle and stand, they call “standing” or even if they take a drink, holding the drink bottle to the side so that riders behind know you are taking and drink and might slow.

Each rider in the bunch has a responsibility to ensure that the other riders are alert and know if there are any changes, such as to your position or speed.

Bunch and Paceline Formations

Paceline – Ride faster with the right paceline formation

The amount of energy a rider saves while drafting is usually quoted as 40%. It is scientifically proven that drafting in a paceline can save between 20 – 40% energy. This is substantial which is why you should notice that you need far less energy drafting. The energy savings will depend on the wind direction and speed, how far behind you are behind the rider in front and technique. 

A group of road cyclists riding together are usually called a bunch. The lead riders break the wind with following riders reaping the benefits. When the riders start to regularly swap the position at the front it becomes a paceline. The objective of the paceline is to move faster so this allows each rider to have a turn at the front before returning to the back to recover.

Paul Doherty of The Exploratorium provides more details on the science of drafting.

In cycling races a group of breakaway riders from different teams are forced to work together and start a paceline. A single rider however can ‘leech’ off the paceline. If they refuse to take turns at the front this can cause the breakaway group to slow down so the peloton can catch up, or it is to save energy for the sprint finish.

Pacelines are an important part of the strategy in competitive cycling. At the sprint finish for example, a lead-out is where a cycling team will align its riders in line to provide as much drafting cover for their champion sprinter as the race towards the finish. Each exhausted rider will peel off, one-by-one and done well, the champion sprinter is only on their own for the last stretch to the finish line. Such is the advantage of the lead-out that riders from other teams will draft behind champion sprinters and compete for line honours.

 

Doubles and Singles

Depending on the size of the bunch, the road and traffic conditions and the wind, a bunch will typically ride in single file or two abreast, doubles. For competitive events, a bunch can be much wider as riders challenge for positions towards the front.

For cycling on open roads, a bunch may need to change from doubles to singles to allow traffic to pass or move from singles to doubles when there is more space.

 

The Paceline

A paceline means that the riders in the group rotate position, typically each rider has a go at the front. Commonly the rider or riders at the front will peel-off and slowly move to the back of the bunch, the next two riders move up and take the lead.

The time at the front can depend on many factors, riders may choose to stay at the front until they need a break, there may be an allocated time (by the ride captain) such as 2 minutes or 5 minutes at the front (or based on distance) or riders inside the bunch may call the lead riders to ROLL if they feel that the bunch is slowing. When the lead riders decide to peel-off they may call ROLLING to inform the riders following and also give hand signals to suggest the riders behind need to move up.

A faster paceline technique is a Rolling Paceline (or Circular Paceline). Rather than lead riders peeling off, instead riders from the rear race up to the front and position themself on the lead and this pattern continues. It require more energy by the riders but is also a means that much higher speeds can be achieved so this technique is popular in team time trials.

The following short video is headcam footage of a rolling paceline.

 

Echelon 

An echelon is a paceline which changes formation to accommodate a cross wind. Wind is a significant factor which can slow a paceline down and rarely can a bunch rely on a perfect head-wind, tail-wind or no wind.

In the echelon formation, riders position them self in the wind-shadow and it may mean that the bunch becomes further spread across the road. If it is a double-paceline, the riders in the wind-shadow will all be protected while the cyclists facing the wind all have to work harder. The bunch can protect a rider and help them to save energy by positioning them well inside the bunch.

 

For more on bunch riding and paceline formations, technique and etiquette, download the Free Bunch Riding guide.

Bad Online Bike Shop

What NOT to buy online

I am subscribed to a newsletter from Anthony BikeRoar, though didn’t actually subscribe and know for a fact that my email address was scrapped and included without an Opt-In, so it’s all very naughty. 

The purpose of the BikeRoar website isn’t obvious, they seems to have a bike comparison function, a directory of American bike shops and cycling articles and news with a strong Mountain Bike focus. I generally glance through the newsletter which has “Top Five’s”  and beginners tips, but in their current newsletter I spotted a featured article, “What NOT to buy online” by author Joey Esterhuyzen.

Now that is an interesting topic and in the first paragraph the author states the position of BikeRoar to online shopping,

Although we are not anti-online shopping, we have, in the past, made a song and dance about buying and supporting your local bike shop…

But it continues, unfortunately, to say,

…here is a light-hearted list of what NOT to buy online…

All of my anticipation has immediately vanished, but I continued to read anyway and discovered that the article isn’t ‘light-hearted’ (as in humorous) rather it includes one funny picture and instead is ‘light-reading’; basic common-sense information with broad comments, barely pausing to give substance or examples for justification.

Funny Bike PictureScreen caputure from BikeRoar

 

When buying your cassette there is a high chance of getting it wrong. Selecting the wrong gear ratios, wrong model, wrong gear count, or forgetting to replace the chain at the same time (which itself is riddled with landmines). Along with this, you’ll need very specific tools you’ve never used before – for both the cassette AND the chain.

For a beginner, perhaps it is useful to ensure that the reader knows that the techy details (specs) are really important and if you get it wrong, you lose. But this type of information is not particularly new and applies to mail-order, telephone-orders and online shopping for car parts, audio sound-system parts, instruments… and almost any product that has parts and comes in different sizes.

In core message is that if you go to your (physical) local bike shop, the mechanic will get the right item because they have the experience, plus if they stuff it up, it is their fault. If however you chose to buy yourself online, then know exactly what you want and be prepared to assemble.

The information on cycling shoes does try to provide reasoning as to why and identical sizes shoe can still be a bad fit.

 

But what I am missing is…

I am missing two things. Firstly, even accepting that the light-hearted humour is limited to a picture of a funny bike, I want more depth and I want real-life examples to open my mind. For example explaining what happens if I buy a compatible cassette for my bike which has a different gear range and the effect it will have when I try to climb the steep hill next time. Instead of telling me “…you’ll need very specific tools you’ve never used before…”, tell me which tools they are.

And secondly, I am really missing the content that made me click through in the first place. I do want to know what NOT to buy online. Online shoppers are now buying things online which they would not have considered five years ago. Clothing is booming and the risk of getting the wrong size is hardly stopping sales. There are not many product segments which are untouchable, but there must be some things you shouldn’t buy online.

 

Here it is: what should you NOT buy online

Let’s exclude advice targeted to beginner cyclists whether or not to purchase, rather really try and think of specific products you should not buy online. It was more difficult to put a list together than I anticipated.

You should not buy:

  • Flammable lubricants / cleaning agents because it is simply better not to air-deliver dangerous items.
  • Second-hand cycling knicks. It is not hygenic as they are intended to be worn without underwear.
  • Bicycle Helmets are a safety item so a perfect fit is important and you also need to ensure that the helmet complies with local regulations (if applicable) and with any regulations for competitive cycling, if you compete. I recommend that you know that it fits perfectly before buying which means a trip to your local dealer. Though do consider that showrooming (when you try first at a retail store with the intention of purchasing online) is bad form.
  • Items which are illegal to use in your country, for example, Germany has strict regulations on the brightness of bike lights and even how loud audible devices such as horns can be. While lights and loud air-horns for the bikes will pass through customs, if you fit them and uses them on public streets there can be consequences if you are stopped by police officers or involved in an accident.
  • Fake cycling apparel (and gear). Though it may be a fraction of the price of a genuine item there are two problems, the quality is often signficantly inferior and secondly by supporting fake / counterfeit / unlicensed products it supports an industry built on fraud rather than the cycling teams and cycling brands who deserve the support.
  • Bikes and gear of unknown origin. By all means, do some research and find out more, however if you don’t really know anything about the products and are not getting the right signals, then you don’t really know what you are getting.
  • Anything from untrusted online retailers. Check and see if it is a genuine online bike shop because you will never see your $800 again for the top-of-the-line-brand-new-too-good-too-be-true Pinarello.

And for an attempt at humour, don’t buy yellow jerseys or ‘world-champion’ jerseys or any other cycle-wear reserved for the victor of a race. You have to earn it first. The exception is when you are buying a collectable (and the money goes to charity) and you don’t wear it rather it hangs on the wall until it is uncovered that your cycling hero was a doper all along and now the jersey is worth only disdain.

 

 

Title Photo: © Egan Snow

Damaged Bike Delivery

Bike or gear damaged on delivery? You need to know this!

You can’t hide the disappointment when you order online to find the bike or gear damaged on delivery. This is going to be painful! But there are a few things you should do to turn wrongs into rights and avoid frustration and heartache.

 

1. Don’t accept badly damaged deliveries

If the package looks as though it has been through disaster zone, simply don’t sign for it. Tracked packages will go through the system and because it is recorded and returned and that you havn’t received it, you can clarify with support whether a replacement should be shipped or you want a refund.

 

2. Don’t open the package

For deliveries you may not have a choice, it doesn’t need to be signed off, or a family member, colleague or neighbour may have signed on your behalf. If the box is is a really poor condition, don’t open it. Leave it unopened and take photos and report to customer service.

This is a judgement call, if you ordered cycle wear then a crumpled box may not bother you. but it doesn’t hurt to take a photo before opening.

 

3. Document everything and take photos

As soon as you have a suspicion that something isn’t right, start taking photos, for example unpacking the box so you have photographic documentation to ‘prove’ to customer support for your favourite retailer that this was the condition in which you received the item.

Documentation continues to making ordered notes if you speak to customer support on the phone (time, date, name and reference number) and being organised. This will save you from trying to locate lost details and ensures that you can back yourself up.

 

4. If it looks fine, inspect it anyway

Take the time to check your order, is it complete. What about the condition of each item. While you may not spot mechanical defects, take the time to carefully look at the bike or gear, look for scratches, damage or anything which is out of the ordinary. Wheelsets should be true, bikes should have original protective wrapping and be in pristine condition while parts may be in original packaging or OEM packaging.

 

5. Report to the retailer as soon as possible

The better retailers include ‘returns’ information with the delivery as well as with confirmation emails to make it easy and efficient for customers. (Likewise, the bad retailers hide this information and make it difficult and painful to lodge a return).

Provide the details of your order and describe the issue. If you are emailing rather than phoning, you may have to wait for a response and instructions.

 

6. Don’t use or ride the bike or equipment

It is temping to use or try equipment, but if it is not in order, resist this tempation. In an example, a customer reported a damaged Colnago from Wiggle however took the bike for a short ride. Wiggle staff responded The tyres, chain, and brake rims show considerable signs of clear use and rejected the claim suggesting that the customer had caused the damage. Wiggle documented, though included photos of a different bike – and the question is, who is telling the truth?

 

7. Don’t break it

The bike or the cycling gear may have arrived safe and sound, but removing it from packaging, assembling and simply accidently misusing can cause damage. Take time to browse any instruction and unpack and assemble with care. Don’t rush and be sure you know what you are doing.

Assembly can be tricky, Many bike parts, particularly Carbon Fiber, have torque specifications. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend for help or ask to borrow a torque wrench. If something does happen, go to part three and document.

 

8. Be polite, be persistent

It is frustrating dealing with canned emails and 5 different staff members where you have to start again. The best retailers allocate a single staff member to help resolve your issue, while the worst ones bounce you around, don’t respond in a timely manner or simply ignore you. Be polite, by firm and persistent. Include your preferred resolution.

If you are ‘absolutely right’ but getting no where, it may be the support staffs role to reject or deny claims. Ask to elevate the issue or to speak with a manager.

 

9. Threaten the retailer

Having tried all reasonable approaches to reach a solution, if the retailer isn’t taking you seriously then it may be time to let them know you will be seeking alternative approaches to resolve. Keep in mind that defaming a retailer can get you into trouble, the online bike shop may become more interested in finding a satisfactory resolution if it keeps you from telling all of your friends, or reporting on social media and social communities or even reporting to the relevant consumer protection orgaisations.

 

10. When all else fails, take action

Some retailers may not be phased by a threat, running a poor business may mean they they are regularly threatened and that they know the threats are hollow. It is problematic if you have ordered overseas, customer protection laws may not apply however you should follow up with consumer protection agencies in the same country as the retailer.

Social media can be a good channel to draw attention to your plight though take care to be factual and publishing information which a retailer coud use to sue you. Other customers may have advice to help you.

Consider other options, if you feel that a retailer is not operating ethically you may be able to inform the consumer protection agency in your own country who can at least try to protect other consumes.

Posting a genuine, factual and detailed negative review on rating websites or evening writing a real letter (pen and paper) to management.

 

photo © Tracey Adams

Local Bike Shop Online Store

Can a local bike shop make it big online?

This is a loaded question, most of the worlds biggest online retailers started out as local bike store who did the right thing at the right time in the right place. Local bike shops have made it big and many others are trying.

The real question is, “why do some bike shops make it and others fail?” If the successful online shops did the right thing and the right time in the right place, what are the wrong things?

 

Lack of Genuine Committment

There is a different between trying to be successful online, and actually committing to online retail. The common scenario is that the local bike shop decides it wants to go online – pays a web design company $10,000 to create a shop and struggles to get sales. When they do get sales, fulfilling orders is messy and in no time the online inventory is out of date, along with the software and it discarded as an expensive failure…. because ‘the internet doesn’t work’.

The web design agency play a role in the demise for failing to educate the bike shop and showing them the big picture. And the cost conscious bike shop all too easily ignores or overlooks key parts of online retailing. As noted in an earlier article, If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.

Part of genuine committment is a vision to look beyond the word of the one-dimensional web design company and take the initiative to understand the building blocks. Also to question information, to analyze, to research and make smarter decisions.

The building blocks for successful online retail

A brief and incomplete list of some of the key building blocks:

Marketing: whether big or small, you have to invest in marketing. You have to spend money and the smart retailers also discover the best channels and keep trying new approaches.

Fulfillment: A massive topic, and for the sake of simplicity includes logistics. This is ensuring that the inventory is current, that delivery projections are up-to-date through to processing the order, packing, dispatching, delivery and tracking. All along keeping the customer informed and happy.

Customer Service: As with traditional retailers, customer service can make or break you. Of course the customer service requirements for online sale is different, but customers want immediate satisfaction and immediate answers. Word of mouth is just as important for online retailers and negative customer experiences are amplified even further in the internet.

Technology: From responsive websites to cater to smart phone and tablets to effective order process as well as clever technical integration and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). You need an expert at your side who knows technology.

Price: The internet makes it inherently easier to compare prices, as long as the retailer is trusted the the lowest price wins. Why pay more for the same product (an online retailer can hardly sell their ‘customer service’)?

 

The Visionary

Any bike shop can set-up online, but a visionary does more. They understand the potential of online to their business, they understand the change or adaption required. They invest and continue to drive, often employing specialists which push their online retail abilities beyond others.

It means that online retail is not for all, traditional businesses certainly shouldn’t ignore online retail (they need to adapt to remain competitive) but if a retailer isn’t truely dedicated to opening up online retail, they are often better off investing in their core business.

But their are plenty of sales out there, and just because one retailer is popular, it doesn’t mean they can maintain. Management and profit orientated decisions can taint a retailer leaving gaps for young online retailers who can do it better.

 

photo: © ubray

Saving Tax or VAT when buying online

Upfront, if you are eligible to pay tax, there is no magic way  to escape it. You may however be exempt from Tax…

The world’s biggest online bike stores are in the UK, the good news is that they have very competitive pricing and may (or may not) have the cheapest prices.

When you visit a bike online bike shop, the chances are, they will detect your location (and default currency) and provide you with the correct price. If they don’t, usually at the top right there is an option to change delivery destination and price.

In the UK their tax on products and services is VAT (Value Added Tax) and calculated at 20%. If you are in the UK, this is included in the display price and you pay it automatically. If you are in the European Union, the big shops such as Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles will automatically calculate the applicable (local) taxes – so you get your product and there is no additional taxes and there is no addition customs duty. If purchasing from a smaller online shop, you need to ensure that they have removed VAT, if the applicable taxes are not added in the sale price, you may be required to pay the local tax and customs duty when the package is delivered.

For non-EU countries, the display price on the big online stores, in your local currency and to your country will have the 20% VAT removed. When ‘importing’ however, you may be liable for local tax and customs duty. The values will vary from country to country, while some may have a threshold which allow imports without tax and or customs duty for products under a certain value. You need to check your local customs details.

Take note of returns, if you do return a product you may then require an exemption to return any payment made.

Can you Trust Online Retailer Reviews?

Just like your traditional local bike shop, growing a loyal customer following is an important part of business. I would argue that there is less customer loyalty with online shops compared with local bike shops. Being predominently price orientated and without that same recommendations, support, follow-up and maintenance, an online shop has a more limited role and more limited scope to build a following.

Despite less loyalty, when the price and time is right, it is significantly cheaper for online shops to sell to an existing customer rather than acquiring a new one.

Wiggle have been promoting their Gold customer loyalty plan and telling me that I have until the end of this month to spend $150 to remain in their program. So I should spend $150 for the sake of it?

Lets move along to online retailer social communication – specifically blogs and whether you can trust them.

So why wouldn’t you trust them – well of course because the online retailers want to sell and for this reason if they are publishing a review, they would hardly want to dissuade customers from buying. And that is where credibility walks out the door, as they are not independent media, how can they be impartial? (Another story is how independent magazines and website tend to publish reviews at exactly the same time that the same brand has advertising).

Searching the Wiggle blog for keyword “poor” and “bad” shows no results with articles or product reviews with these terms in the context of the products quality or attributes.

Chain Reaction Cycles have the CRC Hub with articles and videos, very much focussed on their products and events and news related to inventory.  They have created a more comprehensive community integrating video, blogs and social sharing tools, facebook, twitter and google+. Their useless search likewise delivers no results which suggest any criticism of any of the featured products.

We have previous discussed customer reviews and the tendency for bad reviews to disappear, or never to appear. Amazon have a different approach. By virtue of their size they happily allow negative customer reviews as they know that the customer will continue looking on their online shop for alternative products rather than leave.

In the cycling world, the product pool is smaller and even the big retailers can’t afford to annoy their suppliers and brands too much. But as a customer, yes, you can read a retailers reviews and also customer reviews and perhaps even get useful information. But be aware that there is a vested interest so time spend researching independently is worthwhile.

 

How to tell if the online bike shop is genuine

In a physical bike store, you walk in and receive your goods in return for payment. With an online store however you pay and wait which creates an element of risk.

Here are a few tips to tell whether or not a bike shops is genuine:

• Physical address – If there is a post office box or the shop is based in an ‘exotic’ country, take care. With a physical stree address you can check on google maps and google street view and see if the building exists.

• Phone Number – A genuine business without a phone number is unusual. If they don’t have one you can start asking ‘why’?

• Cross Check the Address – Google to the recue, see if the address is listed in google. Many countries have online telephone directories with business listings and the retailer should be listed in a number of these.

• Shop Reputation – The effective way to see if an online bike shop is questionable is to search for the shop name with additional keywords such as “bad”, “problems” or “scam”. For example:
“ABC Bikes” +problems

While any shop will invariably also have bad customers, you will be able to judge how serious the problems are, often you will see search results with cycling forums and blogs and comments

Use  WOT (Web Of Trust) browser plugin which relies on community aggregation to rate good sites and suspicious sites. This can also highlight any other website which you visit which has been flagged. WAT is still in its early days so not foolproof however is growing in popularity. Available from: mywot.com

• Reliable Payment – Avoid “Western Union” payment and shy away from bank transfers unless you know and have used the online retailer. Instead, credit card and paypal have more reliable security and customer protection. Make sure payment is secure -the padlock symbol should appear and the web address start with https:// (and not http:// without the ‘s’).

There are more tell-tale signs, if a bike shop fails any of these criteria, then be cautious.

Three reasons why your Local Bike Shop is better than the Online Shop

Lets start with acknowledging that there are plenty of bad bike shops – we are not talking about them. We are talking about the good bike shops and why they are better than online shops. In the last article we looked at three reasons why your local bike shop can’t compete with online bike shops. Lets turn the tables and see what your Local Bike Shop can do better.

Professional Advice: while the internet is a wealth of knowledge, the staff at your local bike shop get their hands dirty and should be on the top of their game mechanically as well as steer you in the right direction when you are buying a new bike. The best shops put your interest first – before a quick sale.

Immediate Satisfaction: Most bike shops sell the everyday items, inner tubes, tires and the accessories and parts to keep you on the road. No waiting, you are ready to go straight away.

Customer Service: This is underrated when buying online, until things go wrong. The big online stores work hard to improve this part of their business but the fact is, if you have a good bike shop and walk in the door with a problem, part of their business is to look after you and your servicing, repair and warranty issues.

When the price of that new bike too good to be true?

Imagine saving $2000 off brand new bike that is every other bike shop sells for $5000. What about a lovely Italian Pinarello or a firey Scott road bike, instead of 8K, you have spotted it online for 3.5K, less than half of the going price.

Though you have never heard of the online shop before, it looks professional and they have all of the top brands… all at heavily discounted prices. Lets have a closer look.

Have you ever seen a bike shop (online or physical) with such a wide range, brands which are usally never sold side by side in the same bike shop? Colnago’s next to Pinarello’s. Scotts next to Specialized and BMC’s.

This is one of the first signs to slow down because it is probably too good to be true.

The next tell-tale sign is that payment with Western Union is preferred – or a bank transfer.

Scammers can set up multiple online shops, each with a different design but all with unrealistic prices on brand name bikes and cycling gear to bait unsuspecting bargin hunters. If they can lure you in and convince you to pay then you have lost. As opposed to credit card or paypal payments which have an element of security and customer protection, Western Union and bank transfers don’t have these safety mechanisms making it impossible or extremely unlikely of ever getting your money back.

Yes, it can be hard to tell, the scam sites rip content and images from genuine shop but two easy steps can help get clarity. The first is google and searching for different combinations with the bike shop name and Web Address (URL) to see if customers have shared experiences or if there is any 3rd party information about them.

The second is to ask about the reputation of the online bike shop in forums. If no one has ever heard of the shop, be cautious. If you discover reports of scams and lost money, then avoid.

Sticking with the big name bike shops provides security but does make it tough for the new and smaller bike shops to compete for your business – however the chances are that even the new online bike shops and the small online bike shops have more realistic pricing and accept common and secure payment methods.

One in a while you will spot fantastic deals on bikes or parts, but if they are too good to be true, take care to protect yourself.