Buying Bicycle Parts Online – the Recumbent Experience

I’m getting the Recumbent Bike of mine ready for spring. I itching to get out and ride but it’s still just a bit cold. So I’m evaluating the upgrades I want to do to my bike – new wheels, crank set, brakes, etc. Then I’m putting those upgrades in line with my own economic reality to see what I can in fact “afford” to do and fighting my “wants” vs my “needs”.

So I’ve been doing a lot of online shopping and price comparison amongst the common sites – Treefort Bikes, AEBike, Price Point, Performance, etc. and the otherwise lesser known shops (There are a lot of online stores in other States) that I have not come across before. By simply typing a part number into Google Shopping you seem to come up with these places. And yes I do on occasion purchase from Hostel Shoppe for very specific items, but for my base components I tend to shop around a lot.

Unfortunately my online recumbent bicycle parts experience has been less than enjoyable. Because I’m a bit of a night owl that has a lot to do during the day I tend to shop at night. And as such I can’t just pick up the telephone and make a call (Who would answer?). So I rely on email to make my inquiries. Now mind you, I’m not as much of a shopper as a buyer, and I don’t write to shops/stores until I’m ready to buy – credit card at the desk side. And here is the kicker – I almost never get a reply! Once in a great while there will be someone on the other end who responds to my inquiries.

Now I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised as many of these places are just small mom and pops with a pretty website. But if you are going to be in the business of selling parts to consumers might you take the time to actually respond to the consumers who take the time to use your website? It makes sense to me!

The other problem is shipping times.  I currently have an order in with a company in the Midwest (I won’t name them for now) and here I am 9 days in still waiting. They took my order, then took an additional 3 days just to process it. On the 4th day they finally got it out to UPS. My best guess is they don’t really stock anything, but just wait till they get the order then go out and source it.

The good news is that when I have ordered online I have usually received what I purchased, in good condition, and have not had to return any items.

I guess I should wrap this up… and I know there will be no bike manufacturing reps who read this – I wish there were… I would like communication to get better! I’m very disappointed in Bicycle Companies (Manufacturers not dealers in this instance) in general who make these nice looking websites then fail to have any way for consumers to get the information they need to make informed decisions. I can not rely on my LBS’ as they tend lack Recumbent Knowledge. Yes my LBS’ know next to nothing about Recumbent Bicycles. It’s an exercise in frustration to try and talk to these guys about anything Recumbent related. So I rely on online shops and manufacturers. I can’t tell you how many manufacturers have actually responded to any of my requests for information. Because the count is extremely low. I may as well just send my email directly to the trash bin.

And wouldn’t it be nice if Shimano would actually publish weights on their lower end group sets? And while they are at it – it would be even nicer if they would keep manufacturing 9 speed as in my view it’s reached the point where additional speeds really are no longer important. The masses of us are recreational riders – not racers. I need durability, light weight, and smooth shifting – not more gears.

Well I’m off. Rant over.