May 12

Bike Store Reviews

With the repairs my bike needed, I had the opportunity to shop at a few different online bike stores and I wanted to share my experiences in case anyone is looking to upgrades or parts.

First, a quick update on my training.  I think I am getting back into a groove after a lack luster start of the week.  Part of the lack lusterness was due to my bike being out of commission and not being able to get in a decent bike ride. 

Monday: 2600 yards in the pool with 7 x 100 (moderate) and 6 x 150 (threshold).  I followed this up with an attempted bike ride, but due to my hurried attempt to replace the parts and get a ride in, I didn’t have time to properly adjust the rear derailleur and my gears were jumping all over the place.

Tuesday: 5.15 miles in 38:47 (7:35 average).  The highlight of this run was knocking out a 7:18 final mile while carrying a package of celery.  Jennie came down with a cold, so it was my job to make some chicken noodle soup and we were lacking celery.  So, I picked it up at the end of my run and sprinted home.

Wednesday: Return to Glory.  2400 yards in the pool with 3 x 400’s and 4 x 50’s.  I followed this up with a bike ride out to Grand Haven.  I had the wind at my back the entire way and averaged 21.8 mph over about 38 miles.  Mentally, I needed an easy bike ride to get me back into the swing of things.

Ok, onto the main topic, bike store reviews.  I shopped at two different online stores and two different brick and mortar (B&M) stores for the various things I needed during my projects and I’ll say a little bit about each.


I purchased three things from eDiscountBike, two parts and a tool kit.  The parts I bought, I ended up not using though.  I bought a 10 speed chain (Shimano CN-5600) and 10 speed rear cassette (Shimano CS-5600) without realizing that my shifters required 9-speed components and would not work with the 10 speed parts.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize my error until I had put the parts on the bike, so I didn’t even try to return them.  I’ll just chalk this up as a learning expense.  Even though, I didn’t use the parts, I was a little disappointed with the chain I ordered.  When it arrived, I noticed it didn’t come with the necessary connecting pin.  I went back and checked the product description to find that it did indeed mention that it DIDN’T come with the connecting pin albeit after it mentioned that it DID come with one.  Oh well.

As for the tool kit, it was immensely helpful in all of my repairs.  Unfortunately, the chain tool broke on the first chain I disassembled.  Thankfully, I had a spare one, so it wasn’t really a big deal.  The rest of the tools seem pretty durable and I don’t foresee any other issues.

Rating: wheel-50x50wheel-50x50wheel-50x50wheelhalf (3.5 out of 5 wheels)

I can’t really complain about the service I received or parts (other than my mistake).  However, the site was a bit cumbersome to navigate; not enough filters and the search function was flaky.  Also, the parts were unused pulls off of bikes so they didn’t come in their original packaging.  Not a huge deal, but something to keep in mind.

Tree Fort Bikes

I ended up purchasing the correct chain and cassette from Tree Fort Bikes.  I ended up going with a different seller for a couple reasons.  First, they are located in Michigan, so I figured that shipping would be faster.  Second, their prices couldn’t be beat.  And third, I can’t argue with a place that has their own beer.  Not only did Tree Fort Bikes have all the parts I needed (Shimano CN-HG73 and Shimano Tiagra HG-50), but the prices were great.  They even have a button for “Price Match Guarantee” where you can submit a different price for an item and the website you saw the price on.  I assume that they will match the lower price once they verify it, but I couldn’t find any lower prices.

I did have one snafu in my order.  After I clicked the “Submit my Order” button, I got an error and then never received a confirmation email.  I contacted them via email about the issue and promptly received an apology and a copy of the order confirmation.  I was very impressed with their responsive customer service.

My order came with a bonus Tree Fort Bikes sticker.  Simple pleasures.

As suspected, the order shipped quickly and I received it in less than the 5 days maximum ship time.  It helps when the package only has to go across the state and not across the country.

Now that I had the correct parts in hand, I quickly got them installed and was one step closer to having a functional bike again.

Rating: wheel-50x50wheel-50x50wheel-50x50wheel-50x50 (4 out of 5 wheels)

I will definitely be doing business with Tree Fort Bikes again in the future and hopefully, I will actually make it to their brick and mortar store if I am ever in the area.

Loose Spokes and Kentwood Cycling

I really don’t have much to say about either of the B&M stores as I really only made small purchases at them – namely connecting pins and ball bearings.  My main complaint with the B&M stores is the fact that they both seemed unwilling to sell me parts.  Both places wanted to do the work (and ostensibly charge me for the labor).   I’d rather do the work myself and have the learning experience. 

I didn’t actually go to Loose Spokes, but instead called ahead and had the parts put on hold for Jennie.  Not only were the parts exorbitantly expensive ($5 each for a chain connecting pin!!!), but the guys really didn’t want to sell them to Jennie.  It took her showing him a text message from me stating that it was the part I needed.

So, less than pleasant experiences at both B&M bike shops, but I will withhold a formal rating until I have more experience with them.

I hope this helps if you are in the need for any bike parts!

PS: As a side note, Jennie thought the wheels looked like donuts and thus wanted a donut with sprinkles.  Apologies if the wheels have the same affect on you.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2010/05/12/bike-store-reviews