How to Choose a Bicycle Repair Store

A great bicycle repair store is a cyclist’s best friend.  It can be a source of invaluable advice and tips, great repair & maintenance services, and lasting friendships. Most shops are staffed by friendly, knowledgeable professionals, but here are a few things to look for before settling on your favorite bicycle repair store.

Attitude

People start businesses for two reasons.  One is that they are passionate about a product or service and want to provide it to others who will benefit from it.  Others, however, place money above all other concerns.  Which category your local bike shop fits into will become obvious once you visit it.  Ask the staff questions that may require a couple of minutes for them to answer (do this at a time when the shop isn’t especially busy).  Do they address your concerns in a friendly, professional manner, or are they rude or inattentive?  If they recommend a product, do they seem to be doing so with your best interests in mind, or is their goal simply to make a buck off of you?  Do they let you make decisions on your own, or do they try to pressure you?

Knowledge

No bike tech knows everything; avoid any that think they do.  But a capable one should be able to explain the reasons for a suggested repair, answer basic questions, and display a general understanding of the bike business.  He or she should also be courteous and take a moment to address your concerns.  Do the techs at the shop you’re visiting exhibit these qualities?

Appearance

Neatness counts when it comes to any business that’s open to the public.  Disorganized merchandise, dusty and dirty conditions, or just an overall slovenly atmosphere are warning signs.

In the interests of full disclosure, we’re sharing these tips not just to inform you, but also to toot our own horn a bit.  You see, we’re sure that once you visit Alamo Bike Shop, you’ll agree that we live up to the highest standards of honesty, customer service, and professionalism.  Come see us today and find out for yourself! We look forward to becoming your go-to bicycle repair store.

6 Tips for Buying Secondhand Bikes

With the economy still weak in many parts of the country, secondhand bikes are more popular than ever.  Buying one can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars off the cost of a new model.  However, as with any secondhand purchase, it pays to exercise a little extra caution when choosing one.  Some things to look for include:

 

  1. The frameset – Chipped paint and a few tiny oxidation spots are fine, but pass up any bike with dents in the frame, especially if it’s made of aluminum.  Look for cracks or bends where the wheel attaches to the frame (known as the “dropout”).  The front fork should have no play in it whatsoever.
  2. Saddle – Torn ones should have been replaced; avoid the “duct tape quick repair.”  Make sure there’s no play in the saddle; it should be parallel with a level floor.  Sit on it; your leg should slightly bend at the bottom of the down stroke.  Check the seal post clamp for cracks or other signs of wear.
  3. Brakes – Dried-out or worn brake pads are a huge safety risk.  The bike might still be a good deal, but be prepared to replace the pads ASAP.  Rusty or frayed cables, bent or cracked levers, or “mushy” braking are all signs the bike needs replacement parts.
  4. Drivetrain – There should be no play in the crankset.  If there is, the bike probably has worn bearings. Spin the flywheel; any chattering or knocking is a sign of bad bearings.  Shifting should be smooth and crisp in each gear; you’ll need to raise the rear wheel to check for this.
  5. Wheels – Check for side-to-side play.  If you notice any, then the hubs may be worn.  Squeeze the spokes; tension should be the same at every spot.  Loose or broken spokes are a huge red flag.  Tires with worn tread, dry rot, or damage to the sidewalls should be replaced.  Check the air pressure in the tires.  If they can’t hold the recommended level, then the bike has leakage problems.
  6. Bike shop check – if possible, have a local bike shop inspect the cycle before you purchase it.  Here at Alamo Bike Shop we’re happy to perform that service, but we also stock a number of secondhand bikes that are in excellent shape.  Come by and browse our selection soon!

3 Tips for Buying Discount Mountain Bikes

Discount mountain bikes are more popular than ever, thanks to the growing trend towards health-consciousness.  When you combine the fitness benefits of riding a bicycle with the challenge and scenic beauty of mountain biking, you get a one-of-a-kind experience that’s perfect for improving both body and mind.

As with any purchase, however, choosing a good mountain bike, whether new or pre-owned, involves knowing something about the product.  Here are some things to consider:

  1. Of all the bike’s components, the frame is the most important.  Pedals, brakes, etc., can be upgraded.  But if you’ve got a poor frame, then you’re out of luck.  Avoid ones made of high-tensile steel if possible, unless you don’t mind a very heavy bike.  Frames built from chromoly steel or aluminum offer a good balance between strength and weight, with chromoly being the more durable (and heavier) of the two.  If your budget permits it, then titanium and carbon fiber frames offer the best strength/weight ratio.
  2. Disc brakes are a must-have for mountain bikes, as traditional rim brakes are prone to slippage from mud and dirt—two things you’re likely to run into on the back roads.  Front-suspension bikes, known as “hard tails,” will protect your wrists and arms from the shock of rough downhill trails.  For maximum comfort, a full-suspension bike is best.
  3. Pre-owned mountain bikes can be a terrific bargain, but check one over thoroughly before buying.  Inspect the frame for cracks.  Make sure the wheels are true.  Inspect the cables for frayed or stretched points.  Check the suspension as well; it should be smooth, with no leaks or squeaks.  Check all fittings to make sure there is no unnecessary play, and give the tires a good look-over for any weather cracks.

There’s one way to make sure you get a great deal: buy your discount mountain bike from Alamo Bike Shop.  We thoroughly inspect all pre-owned bikes we sell, making sure they’re in premium shape.  We also sell new Jamis bikes, which are unsurpassed for quality.  Come by and browse our selection today!