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What is going on with Australian Bike Shops????

leopafe's picture

By leopafe - Posted on 01 May 2008

I know parts here in Australia are somewhat more expensive then in US, but there some things that I just can’t understand. I’ve been looking for a seal kit for my Fox RP23 shock and I found it in a couple of bike shops near my work and they were charging $40 for the kit. I also found it online from Moruya Bicycles ($29 with shipping). Then I decided to look abroad and found out that this kit costs around $7.00 in US.
What is wrong here???? I just can’t understand why prices here are so high (usually higher then ordering abroad + shipping) and that’s why I haven’t bought a single bike part from local bike shops since I got here.


Damien's picture

My local bike shops are a last port of call for me usually they dont have what I want. I dont think the importers, distributors and bike shops are really up to speed with the fact that they are competing with overseas online shops for sales of aftermarket parts and even whole bikes.

As an example my local bike shop has Hayes Stroker disc brake pads finally in stock but get this they are listed on the shelf for $72.00 a set but my regular online shop has them listed at $18.00(US) a set I found some even cheaper on Ebay for only $17.00(US)a set.

It doesnt matter what the bike shops do its easier, cheaper and quite often faster to buy online it more often than not takes longer for my bike shop to order a part in than it does for me to buy it online and have it delivered to my door.

Rob's picture

Someone in our midst has been researching this... come on... you know who you are, don't be shy!

FWIW - some things are best bought in person (clothes, shoes, bikes - if you want to test ride them - etc). Some things you need now! Sometimes you can't fix something yourself. For all these occasions the LBS is king.

That said, those LBS that overprice small items risk nothing but alienating customers. When they are in the 'need it now' category a purchase will be made resentfully if it's 2 or 3 (or often even more) times the price elsewhere. I don't know why they don't stick to making $$$ with clothing and bikes and most importantly good service and sell other parts at a reasonable price. Note I said, "I don't know", can someone tell us? Also, "reasonable"... it doesn't have to be as cheap as mail order, just in the same ball park.

As some of you will know we recently ordered a whole swag of brakes from O/S. The order arrived here 6 days after it was placed, and that's even with a day or two delay due to my typing CC expiry date incorrectly and having to get their customer service to fix this. I had some White Lightening in this order - 240ml for 8 bucks. This is about 40% cheaper that even T7 when they have it on special and half the price I recently paid for half the amount at an LBS (ie, 4 times less). We could go on and on about similar products. I find it odd to say the least but again have to say, don't know the local industry so don't know why things are like this. So just as confused as you Leo!

markrrrrr's picture

I agree with your comments about bike shop pricing in that they really need to get with the times and recognise where their competition is coming from......some of their pricing is ridiculously expensive in comparison.

I tend to buy from a both the internet in Aus and the US but also use the LBS in some circumstances. Clothing, advice and convenience are the main benefits of the LBS.

I've had trouble with sizing in shoes and clothing online in particular with Torpedo7 where their sizes are way off the mark and their staff are unable to advise if a particular item is sized smaller or whatever. The cost and inconvenience to return the item for an exchange is sometimes not worth the initial saving.

The LBS can be helpful when you need their knowledge to help with a purchase, although Nobmob is helpful with this too. If someone's taken the time to give me advice on say chain lube then I feel I should buy from them in return.

Also the convenience of being able to buy something immediately prior to your next ride is helpful too.

Cheers, Mark

Stuart M's picture

your LBS sells goods at a price that also includes taxes which are not there if you buy OS. 10% GST you say, well no, not quite.

The importer isn't likely to bring in a couple hundred dollars worth of gear at a time, it's more likely to be in the thousands. This then hits the duty threshold so depending on what the goods are they are slugged between 15 and 20% on invoice cost at an exchange rate at date of shipping, not date of purchase. Onto this new "total cost" will then be the lovely 10% GST, so all of a sudden their cost has gone up 25%. Oh yeah, then they get hit with a customs handling fee as well.

Onto this there is the additional transport cost of getting the goods from the distributor to the LBS. Now some will argue that there is the additional cost of the distributors mark up but I'm not sure how that one works with this partcular industry. I would have thought that the local distributor buys directly from the manufacturer and that therefore there mark up should be similar to the mark up imposed by the os distributor that sells the goods to the online stores we all buy from. Which in turn raises another point of difference. Like it or not we are a small market in comparison to those OS. Size gets buying power. Anyone in a manufacturing industry will no that larger accounts get their goods cheaper than smaller accounts and I don't think its unreasonable to assume that some of the bigger online stores would move more product than our local distributors do.

All of that said, I have to agree that some places do seem to just be profiteering. Case in point, a SRAM power link bought from one LBS for $5, as cheap as I've seen online, was being sold at another for $19.95. I can't see any justification for that.

I guess at the end of the day if my LBS has something thats within a reasonable cost, say 15% - 20%, of what I can get it for online then I would rather keep my money local. It builds a better relationship with that bloke you're going to turn to when you have stuffed something up. Bargains are hard to go bye though.

lorrie's picture

I agree too. but this is my end-user perspective not an inside industry specific perspective.

I'll use them for the last minute purchases and for servicing issues that I cannot do. But i will stop short of using them when they are 20%+ above any other price which i can find. Its great the amount of knowledge that they have.

However over the last few years the quality of stuff that I have purchased has risen and i have become much more picky about this and that type of metal and which function it has. Havent we all??? Therefore the cost has risen simply because I want to use Shimano XT/XTR instead of deore. For example it was a nightmnare when i wanted to buy a specific Rock Shox Reba's teams front forks and i will do lots to get it cheaper!

I guess what I am saying is that by demanding the higher end and extremely specific gadgets they simply might not stock. or can they afford to stock a high priced specific component?? But if you're a Joe average cyclist whose not worried about carbon this and that then they might have the stuff your want?

Also when I was in England I found that the same situation present so I bought from online shops, even american online shops and went to the LBS (and my mates) for services and last minute purchases.


Justin's picture

I know we have a few subscribers that work at bike shops... might be nice to get some 'anonymous' (i.e. private message to me which I will re-post) enlightenment on the subject.

However I think it will boil down to cost of doing business. And in a lot of cases they are held to ransom by the distributors - look for the middle-man, they are probably the ones making the money. Stories I have heard of shimano distribution, from a few years ago mind you, they have quite a mark-up. I sent a few emails to them at the time and got zero response.

Flynny's picture

For the record, I'm a bike shop guy so my take is completely biased. but I don't think I need to hide behind anonymous PMs

I have no idea why things are so expensive here. I'm certainly not rolling in cash at the moment.

Recently one of our custormers wanted a certain brand of componentary. A quick search showed that he could get it delivered from the UK for $20 more than we could get it wholesale (with out including gst and postage and even though there is multiple importers bringing this stuff in). We couldn't even give a quote that was close so in the end we told him to order it and he slipped us a bit for installing it.

It's just as annoying from our end as we seem to cope the brunt of disgruntled customers who look at the savings that could be made and just assume we drive prices up just to rip you off and line our pockets.

I don't think many importers are living in mansions either so I have no idea what the answer is.

But before you wipe the local bike shop all together I'd urged you to ask yourself when was the last time you saw some one from that OS shop working on a local trail? What race have you entered that had their sponsorship support? Do they have any involvement in the local club?

The almighty dollar is a powerful driver and it's hard to by pass what can be some big savings but it's surely not the be all and end of of why people choose shop locally or over seas?

Nick R's picture

between prices charged by a LBS in the US and the prices charged by the large on-line retailers such as Jenson USA and ebay retailers. The other thing that I noticed in my online travels is that some components / brands are very difficult to source on-line for example Specialized products - hence the need to visit the LBS.

pikey's picture

....hasn't got a chance.

Sad, but the way it is!

Have a guess what my latest purchase cost?

or should have cost?

Bernd's picture

This comment has been moved here.

Stuart M's picture

It might also be worth noting that Rob has previously questioned why more of our LBS don't take the same attitude that you have just displayed. Accept that there are some products, that for reasons beyond your control, you just can't compete price wise on but yet be happy to install the product the guy bought OS for a fee. That's got to be a winner all round. We get our savings, you get business and foster a more appreciative / loyal customer relationship.

Justin's picture

Then it's a buying power issue. Do these sites buy direct from the manufacturer or distributor? Does the fact that they are an online bike store mean they can cry poor at their suppliers?

If they are selling cheaper there is only a few reasons:
- Volume sales - buying power
- stock dumping
- signed up to clearance rates (e.g. sell 1000 units of x / month)

How does Torpedo do it? They are asia-pac and they have good prices.

edit: ps. thanks flynny for being up-front. But we know it's not true. All you bike-store guys drive BMW X5s or hummers to the trail and ride around on your 5kg carbon titanium beasts.

Matt's picture

A good LBS' will make you want to pop in for a chin-wag and to find out what's going on with the racing/trails and just say hello and look at the bling. It has a life and soul about it and the people and their attitude are what makes it. If you have a problem thay'll go out of their way to fix things for you.

You might not buy a whole heap of stuff but you'll go there for things like clothes, shoes, helmets, complex maintenance, impulse buys or those cheap bits you don't order too often.

Some go that extra yard to deserve support, some just rip you off, but it's pretty easy to tell which is which!

Expanding the picture a bit Aussie MTB'ing could really do with a bit more local industry and money staying in Oz, which could help advocacy and our political voice, just think how different it would be if there were a major manufacturer making bikes in Oz? So there is a bigger picture to supporting local bike shops (Thankfully that's the only nationalism you'll ever hear coming from me!).

Tell me I'm dreamin'

Flynny's picture

"thanks flynny for being up-front. But we know it's not true. All you bike-store guys drive BMW X5s or hummers to the trail and ride around on your 5kg carbon titanium beasts."

I'm not driving around in a BMW, it's in being serviced, and as for the hummer, it's a bit big for the narrow lanes up here so I normally just take the merc...

Actually for a slightly different but equally interesting perspective on how hard it is for local industry to compete chceck out Scratchy's Interview with Mick Warren of the now defunct Aireal Australia on the MTB show

Noel's picture

Maybe once you know exactly what you want to order its better on-line?

However, to actually see, play with, smell, touch, taste, weigh, verbally discuss 1-1, listen to other conversations, the LBS works for me. They are dudes who do my mechanicals so I like to keep in touch with them. Yeah I guess once bit shopping begins to be like going to Woolworths to do the groceries you have made it to GUAOIOLZ (GangUpAndOrderItOnLineZone). I'm not there yet, not like Pikey the chain man anyways.

Morgan's picture

Nobody has mentioned that retailers have to pay rent, electricity, rates, phone calls (online store communication is normally via email), staff etc.

They also have to turn stock over as fast as possible after they've paid for it (this is why they never have anything you want in the store-they only buy what they think they can sell quickly), and because they're buying only the one pair of shoes that you're ordering and not 50 pairs of them, nobody gets volume discounts.

I've never seen a bike store owner in a Beemer and never will - retail is a hard game and it ain't the front man making the dough. Same as fuel stations, who make 3-4 cents profit per litre..........

Justin's picture

Here's an interesting thought... I know many companies use an internal rate of exchange when calculating prices to various companies, I was searching for camera gear and stumbled across this SMH article

Could it be simply that the rate of exchange is outdated from the major manufacturers / distributors? Do we need a 'MTBers for foreign exchange parity' lobby?

Let me go away and price, say a derailleur from a few places..

Nick R's picture

I went into an inner city LBS this week to get some new gear. Prices in the store were 20% more than if I had ordered the same products from their on-line store / website Sad!

Harry's picture

Dirtworks tomorrow and this morning I find a broken spoke - frantic ring around to see who can help and have to give Dee Why Cycles a big rap, was told bring it in and we'll get straight on it - 15 min later good as new and trued to boot for a lot less that I was expecting to pay. I know and understand no one wants to pay more for things than they have to but this was service that would be a shame to loose because local bike shops in the long run loose out to online buying.

Noel's picture

520's at Cell Bikes = $68 (online including delivery)
520's at Bike Barn = $70 (a bike shop in North Parramatta)
520's at Blackman's = $95 (another bike shop in North Parramatta)

= Bike Barn has some good prices.

dez_b's picture

Harry I have to agree DY has been the best by a country mile in my dealings with service , Larry the owner and Mark and Chris the grunts out the back have always bent over backwards to help out when I have a problem with my bikes pushing my bike to the front of the queue and always doing an excellent job at a good price , I actually drive out of my way to go to there passing four closer bike shops on the way. A good bunch of blokes they had a great xmas party this year inviting customers and friends on a ride around Red Hill a great day with lots of laughs , Mark the bike mech. when hearing of my accident even drove up to my house with a stack of MTB movies for me to watch .

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