WHICH BIKE STORES SHOULD YOU SHOP AT THIS HOLIDAY SEASON?

Every few months or so I do a complete review and update of my Best Online Bike Store Ratings.  Seeing that we are heading into the crazy holiday shopping season, I thought it would be good to do an update now so you can shop at the best stores for road cycling enthusiasts and steer clear of the ones that aren’t worth your time.  If you click the post title above, you’ll see the November 1 ratings and can click through to any of the stores on the list.

I rate the stores based on a combination of four factors: 1) Price, 2) Satisfaction, 3) Selection, and 4) Support.  The major point here is that it’s about more than price.  I track nearly 100 bike stores and only about a third – 35 to be exact – have the combination of good prices, high levels of customer satisfaction as rated by independent services I follow, and the kind of selection that makes it worth roadies like you and me shopping there.  The other two thirds either have less than acceptable or unknown customer satisfaction ratings or a limited selection of enthusiast level road bike gear, often selling more gear that’s suited to recreational or mountain bikers.

And if 35 still sounds like a big number of stores to sort through (and it is), the first 14 stores on the list typically have the prices and selection an notch above the rest.  Further, 11 of those stores support you readers with exclusive price discounts or giveaway vouchers and all 11 provide a small percentage of whatever you spend through the store links I post back to the site to help me cover the costs of buying gear for reviews and running the site.

So you can start with those 11 or just use the links I provide you in the review posts to the stores I’ve found among the 35 that have the gear in stock and at the best prices.

What changed from the last update?  Not a whole lot changed to be honest, and that’s a good thing as I and you haven’t been missing much if you’ve been using the list to guide your store choices.

WiggleProBikeKitCompetitive Cyclist and Chain Reaction Cycles continue to be the top four rated stores on price, satisfaction and selection.  They are also great supporters of you In The Know Cycling readers and the site and will each be providing gift certificates, aka vouchers, worth from $250US/£200/€225 to $500US/£400/€450 as part of an exclusive “Everyone Wins” giveaway I’ll posting about next week.  Yeah, really.

I moved both Westbrook Cycles and Tweeks Cycles up the list into the 5th and 6th positions respectively after seeing how aggressive their pricing has become and what a good selection of enthusiast gear they now have.  They are smaller online stores compared to the four above but it just goes to show that focusing on roadies can be a good formula too.  Welcome to the front of the peloton guys.

Starbike and Planet Cyclery were added to the list as each now have enough independent customer satisfaction data at high enough levels to qualify.  Neither support the site but they’ve got prices, customer satisfaction and product selection levels that merit them being in the top 35 so I’m glad to have them along.  I also removed two whose customer satisfaction ratings dropped below the bar I use to select stores I’d be willing to shop at and therefore recommend to you.  I’ll not call them out here and hope they can fix whatever issues customers had with them over the last couple months that caused the drop.  Both were supporters of the site but if they don’t make enough customers happy, I have to suspend them from my links same as any other store.

So that’s the update for now.  Again, you can check the post which shows where all the stores I track fall either on or off the ratings list and why.

If you aren’t already one of the first to find out about each new post I put up or want to read more about the Everyone Wins giveaway I’ll announce next week, go to the top of the sidebar to your right to sign-up for e-mail notification or the bottom to like us Facebook or follow on Twitter.  I’ll also be sorting through and posting about where to find best holiday shopping deals.

Enjoy your ride!

Steve

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