Local bike shops – a love story

The life-saving Cane Creek headset!
The life-saving Cane Creek headset!

Last week, we were changing frames to an XC bike (the video is coming tomorrow) and while we thought every part was sorted and ready for installation, we realized we were in trouble when we got to the fork and headset. Even though the frame said that it eats 1.1/8″ headsets, this one was special. A 44mm zero stack headset, which is something you don’t see so often. The tricky part was that we didn’t know what to call the part, the whole zero stack thing was only found out after we had the necessary part.

So, next step is the eternal friend of all bicycle maintainers – Google. There’s nothing worse than being all hyped and ready to build your bike and getting it done, and then having your flow broken because some unforeseen circumstance rumbles along to screw you sideways. We frantically searched for solutions, and then starting calling the local bike shops around for help and whether they’d have a part. Some were helpful and guided us towards the right direction, some of them (especially Mountain bike shop in Helsinki, shame on you) were useless, couldn’t bother and gave really crappy service. And we were talking about 100 euro headsets here for XC riding, not some pansy bits of alloy.

Luckily we had a call with Suomen Urheiluaitta (which is right in the city center of Helsinki, and are focused more on road bikes) and they directed us to FoxComp in Helsinki – a shop neither of us had heard before, a call there and we were on our way with the frame in tow. Finding the street was easy, but the shop was hidden like a fox not wanting to be found, but when we got in we were instantly in love. Not only was the service awesome, the bikes they had there were superb (they import Surly as well). We got our headset, FoxComp pressed it in while we waited and naturally we shopped around a bit more, chatted for an hour and finally continued on our way back to building the bike.

The thing is, there are these small local bike shops (LBS) littered around every city, and they are awesome. They are worth investing your money in. With this day of the online shopping, we sometimes forget that we could get the same parts faster and for the same price or even cheaper a few kilometers from our house. It’s easier to handle warranties and they usually don’t mind if you come with parts you got somewhere else – as long as you buy something from your LBS as well. Heck, they’ll sometimes even recommend you to order stuff from the large web stores instead of waiting 3 months for a nut or a bolt.

So, instead of buying your next bicycle from the hypermarket 15 kilometers away, walk (or ride) around your block to see if there is a local bike shop around – you’ll get what you need and you will start a relationship that can last for a lifetime.

Do you have stories about your local bike shop? We’d love to hear them!

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By Markus Sandelin

Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.