Update: I bought some Avid Brakes from JensonUSA in July - they shipped me used/repackaged brakes and tried to pass them off as new. That's just pathetic. They will never see another dollar from me.
Don't we all really want to know where to buy the parts we want for the best prices? Every time I need a new part or want a new part I do a search of the most popular sites then I do a search on Google Shopping. I want the best price for the parts I'm purchasing because I'm on a budget like most of you. And I've purchased from a number of dealers including JensonUSA, Pricepoint, Tree Fort Bikes, Amazon, AE Bike, Nashbar, Performance, Hostel Shoppe, and several others. And yes I even purchase from my local bike shops.
If you are buying one or two low cost items (Tubes, Lube, etc.) you are probably a lot better off just stopping by the local bicycle shop and picking them up. However with Recumbent Bikes they may not always have what you want. You'll probably pay a little more up front but avoid entirely the cost of shipping and handling, plus if you need to return an item you know where to take it and you can touch and feel what you are buying! In short by buying at the local bike shop you know what you are getting, you know the condition, and you know if there is a problem you can get help. So more power to local bike shops!
However if you are in an area where the local bike shop is not convenient or they simply have prices which are not justified then you go online. For example I recently picked up an XT rear cassette for $75 online that was $110 at my local bike shop. With such a disparity I chose to buy online.
This question can not be answered definitively without some explanation. What it really comes down to is parts availability, usually shipping costs and taxes. Let me give you an example. I recently ordered a number of items from Tree Fort Bikes because the parts total exceeded $125 the point at which they offer free basic shipping. I chose Tree Fort Bikes because they had a good price on one large ticket item, but also had in stock all the additional items I wanted to purchase (About 7 in total). The package arrived in good condition, all items were in retail packaging, and there were no mistakes in the order. Tree Fort Bikes has okay selection... not as wide as some of the others, but to be honest their shipping (Unless you pay for expidited service) is pathetically slow! I have read of people buying from Chain Reaction Cycles in the UK and having items arrive faster with basic shipping!
While speaking of Chain Reaction Cycles... their prices are all over the place in my view, but once in a while you'll come across something that is actually much cheaper for USA customers. And while I'm not sure how they do it... but they do... it's often really cheap for them to ship to the United States. In fact the tires I'm looking at purchasing right now are about $20 cheaper than any of the USA Bike Stores. My only concern is what do I do if I have to return an item?
A note about Amazon. I sometimes have purchased from Amazon. I usually will buy if their price is lower because they too are very good at shipping. The only time Amazon is not such a great deal in my view is when you are dealing with 3rd party vendors you have never heard of... if you have a problem these smaller no name places using Amazon can be very difficult to deal with.
1. Tree Fort Bikes
2. Amazon (If it ships direct from Amazon)
3. Local Bike Shop
5. Priceline (Honestly they are pretty limited in selection) but you should check there anyways.
6. AE Bike - good selection, prices higher than competition
8. Nashbar - I had some real problems with these guys in the past
9. Jenson USA - that is if you don't mind paying full retail for used stuff!
If you have a preferred vendor go ahead and tell us in the comments section below. You'll have to register to post a comment because every time I leave the comments open to the public without registration I get hammered with spam.
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