The Spokesmen #132 – Ironically Moronic

Listen now by clicking here:



Today’s Spokespeople:


Cyclist Safety and Advocacy

Industry News

Tips, Hints and Best Practices

  • David: Gladys Bikes’ Saddle Library (thanks to listener Mark)
  • Carlton: Contact me to discuss your counterfeit bike frame purchase
  • Jim: Give to bike charities!
  • Jim: Take photos of your bike and accessories for insurance purposes
  • Tim: What happens behind you doesn’t matter in a race or group ride
  • Rich: Properly compensate shops and mechanics for work done on your bikes

How to Listen:


  1. Ian
    March 21, 2016

    As usual, Carlton nails the issue with his reference to the explosion of urban cycling. I often wonder while listening to the podcast why most of the Spokespeople seem so pessimistic about bike culture in the US. What I see in my city is success after success, the local government passing bike-friendly laws, drivers becoming more accepting of cyclists on the streets, and very little of the “backlash” that folks are talking about.

    This biking revolution seems to be taking place mostly in walkable urban places, which makes those places more attractive to people who value such things, who then move to those places and vote. It’s a virtuous cycle.

    In the car-dependent suburbs and rural areas, you’ve got a toxic environment that the Spokesmen are so familiar with.

    There really are two Americas. To quote William Gibson (on a different topic) “the future is here it’s just unevenly distributed”. If you want your kids to grow up walking and riding their bikes to school and activities, you may need to move to a city.

  2. Ian
    March 21, 2016

    One last thing: on the topic of LBS and “use it or lose it” I’m very sympathetic to that argument. But I think the experience between “industry insiders” who probably spend tens of thousands of dollars a year, have strong personal ties to LBS owners, and actually know what a “bro deal” is, is vastly different from your average consumer.

    When I scraped together $3k for a decent road bike a couple of years ago, I went to 4-5 of my LBS’ and it was one of the worst consumer experiences I’ve ever had.

    The first shop was well-regarded (by the racing community) and tried to sell me a year-old Wilier telling me I was getting a “massive discount”. I went home to think about getting either that bike (price quoted at $4800) vs one of the other bikes at that shop. While researching, I found out that the MSRP for that year-old bike was $4800, and that I could get it for about $1500 less online.

    The next shop I went to had 2-3 bikes that were in the range of what I was looking for (generic carbon road bike ~$2-3k). But they didn’t have any in my size. So of course the salesman spent 20 minutes trying to convince me that a 56cm would be *perfect* for me. (I’m 6’2″) “You know, the trend is towards smaller frames!” Right.

    [All I could think of was Tim’s comment from a few episodes back that “there are all these barely ridden bikes on eBay where you know the bike didn’t fit–and that’s how you know they didn’t go to an LBS!” 🙂 ]

    Eventually I ended up buying online from Competitive Cyclist. 1) The sales support was better than *anything* I’ve ever gotten at a LBS. 2) CC will accept returns up to a year after purchase for any reason. 3) Last (and least in my opinion) the same bike cost $1500 less.

    Frankly, I find the assumption that I’m supposed to somehow win over one of my LBS’ through relentless loyalty. What I’ve taken away from 20 years of patronizing LBS’ is that, for most shops, if you’re not a local racer or in the industry, they have nothing but a healthy dose of contempt for their customers and they deserve to go out of business.

  3. March 21, 2016


    Thank you for remembering my brilliance from a past episode. I tend to forget nearly everything I say. It might have something to do with the multiple concussions and skull fractures. But yes, I love seafood. Why do you ask?

    Living in the heart of San Diego, in a very, very walkable urban part of town, I’m plop in the midst of what *should* be a very cycling friendly area. We have infrastructure like protected bike lanes, and sharrows, but even with the infrastructure, we don’t have the support/ attention of drivers … and worse, the local businesses are “bikelashing” against the cycling advances tooth and nail because of their fears of reduced parking or car access hurting businesses. I agree with your hypothesis, entirely, but the reality here in much of San Diego is that the car culture and business interests outweigh the advances being made on behalf of cyclists. I have numerous good bike lanes just a few blocks from my front door- and they are almost always filled with delivery trucks for the businesses, or drivers who are looking for an open parking space, or just just pulled over out of vehicle traffic flow while they talk on the phone or text.

    My car vs bike accident in 2014 occurred a few blocks from home, in a shallow road lane, simply because the driver did not feel like waiting for the next light to make his left hand turn, so he gassed it while I was in the lane and t-boned me. My most recent accident involved another driver not wanting to wait to make a left turn. The infrastructure here is making huge leaps, but the drivers aren’t. They are more hurried and distracted than ever before.

    And the LBS experiences you mention are not rare. Hence the major growth of online sales. Even retail experiences that are good won’t change the fact that people are shifting their buying habits to online i every conceivable category, including groceries; I must see a 6-10 Amazon food delivery vehicles, or local grocery chain deliveries every day. The brick and mortar retailer- from bikes to shoes to food to microwaves- is hurting these days. The trick to survival is being more than just necessary to the consumer, but valuable to the consumer. You can create that value in numerous ways, but without … slow death.

  4. March 21, 2016

    “shallow road lane” is autocorrect making me mad … SHARROW!

  5. Ian
    March 21, 2016

    Hey Tim!

    You guys should try to get someone like Gabe Klein from Chicago (ex DC DOT) or Ashville, NC’s urban planning guy whose name escapes me (Joe Minicozzi?). There’s something that towns like DC, NYC, Chicago, etc… are doing that for some reason seems to be lacking in other urban areas.

    Anyway, I hope you get well soon, Tim. I know what you’re going through. I ended up in the ER on Feb 1st when the fork on the Wilier I was riding decided to come apart at the crown and steerer tube interface. Luckily I was able to break my fall with my face, and kept the damage to a broken hand. 🙂

    Thanks for the entertaining podcast, guys!


  6. Andy LaCombe
    March 22, 2016

    I do not believe a car and car accident where there was no contact, does not equal a ticket. My sister had this incident where she swerved to miss a car and hit a curb – it was all on here to take car of it.

    I think the issue is you are trying to assess blame on a bit of a hypothetical.

    It may vary by state.


  7. Corinne
    March 23, 2016

    Lance was my grad speaker back in 2006. His general message boiled down to “you don’t need college, just go out and do it!” which was tough to hear, $160k in.

    My nearest bike shop is 100+ miles away. I work at a museum and keep reading all these news articles from the 1980s about how outrageously popular bikes were here at the time, but now, other than travelers following the continental divide trail, you never see anyone on a bike here. Bleak.

  8. DonB
    March 23, 2016

    Regarding LBS vs. online. Thinking of a parallel in another industry. Motorcycle shops have, for a while now, charge extra to mount tires that the customer brings in vs. tires they might by from the shop. Some shops simply refuse to mount customer provided tires. I don’t know if that’s good business or not, but it certainly speaks to them watching out for their bottom line.

    In the automobile scene (motorcycles and cars) many folks do not go to dealers for service. They go to independent service shops. Those shops (for the most part) do not sell motorcycles/cars. They sell service. They also sell parts.

    It would seem a good bike shop does not need to sell bikes. It needs to offer good maintenance and repair service, while stocking common parts. That’s the model from motor vehicle shops. Ask anyone who takes their car in. Do they prefer to take it to the dealer, or to a good mechanic shop? Most prefer the latter.

  9. DonB
    March 23, 2016

    Regarding the movie, I happened upon the Showtime documentary “Lance Armstrong: Stop at Nothing.” It’s not new. A year or two old, I think. It’s a very in depth look at the rise and fall (mostly fall) of LA. It is not a dramatization. It has actual participants talking, including Frankie and Betsy Andreu.

  10. JIm
    March 23, 2016

    I have really tried in the past few years to find a bike shop to support but, man, do they make it hard!

    First example, bought a frame and fork from Moots through the LBS. I decided to let the LBS do the whole build with completely new parts. The LBS ordered all of the parts and built the whole thing. It was expensive, there were really no breaks on parts or labor. My main gripe is they didn’t order parts until after the frame arrived and didn’t consult me on some of the details such as spoke color, etc. I was ok with that because I was supporting the shop, etc. Within 2 years, the shop closed down. So that was a dead end.

    2nd example, I had a different frame that I had bought from that same shop. The frame cracked and since I was original owner I took it to the new brand X dealer. This new dealer was terrible. They dragged their feet on sending the frame even after the manufacturer agreed to warranty the frame, charged me an obscene amount to ship the bare frame, and when I asked them for help on choosing parts and building up the new frame (I was looking for technical info and help locating a suitable fork), really would not engage me at all even though I have been positive through the whole transaction. I just don’t get why they are not doing anything to try to gain me as a customer. It’s bizarre.

    I live in an LBS-rich city and am still looking for a shop that adds value and doesn’t make me feel like I am inconveniencing them when I try to give them business. I’m not the type to just go hang out in a shop, but I always try to buy consumables like brake pads, tubes, and tires from an LBS. Weird thing is most shops do not seem to keep stock of simple things like pads and chains so I usually end up ordering them myself anyway.

  11. JIm
    March 23, 2016

    One other comment about LBS. If service is to be the main value an LBS can provide, I would recommend that shops come up with some sort of tiered service. If I have a problem with my commuter, I can’t really wait a full week to have them look at it, then decide to order parts, etc. So I usually do all my own service. But for the rare things I can’t do, I’d probably pay more to get my bike in an out over the weekend or at least have it diagnosed and parts on order so I’m only out of service for a short time.

  12. Ian
    March 24, 2016


    You don’t live in DC by any chance? 🙂

  13. Jim
    March 24, 2016

    Ian, no, Seattle burbs.

  14. Matthew Fox
    March 26, 2016


    loving the show and whilst i live in the UK and you broadcast from the states i find there is a lot of interesting subjects.

    Just like to comment on the use it or loose it part. I cannot agree more we should use our local bike shops however most of my recent purchases have been on the web why you should ask?
    one reason is if find as a middle aged man in lycra i am not racing so of no interest to the keen roadies my expectations when purchasing equipment is to go in and be sold to and i can afford to purchase an upsell product if the right case is made.
    Instead the sales guys don’t know their range and in some cases had to look at wiggle site to give me the info i required on a product.

    when buying some front pannier racks no one had a clue in 5 different stores and was not prepared to contact suppliers or do any research on the right racks and fit them for which i told them i was prepared to pay.

    so why do i ignore local bike shops … i don’t but when they increasingly ignore me i turn to the web for my information and thus don’t feel guilty purchasing on the web

    Matt Fox

  15. Macky
    March 28, 2016

    I won’t repeat the same comments above on how hard it is to patronize LBS’s, I’ll just say it is hard. And I try. I go so far as to research what I want on line and just e-mail my LBS to purchase. There are so few bike shops left here in Vancouver, BC who have not pissed me off at this point that I am going to a bike shop out of town on my way to Whistler. Untrained staff, upselling people into bikes that are way more expensive and “racy” than they need, ARROGANCE, etc, etc.

    I’ll still keep trying, but if the LBS world is to survive, they need to raise the professional bar.

    Love your show. Been listening in for a couple years now and it gets better every year. Keep it up!

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