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What to think when the salesman tells you he’s a bike snob

Here’s the story of one of my more interesting trips to the local bike shop. What’s one of yours?


Whenever I head into a local bike shop, I try to find a salesman I haven’t talked with before and ask what gear is moving well. His answer gives me a sense for what customers are looking for or what the shop is promoting or what the salesman is really excited about – all good to know.


A couple weeks back, I started a discussion like this with a mid to late 20-year-old guy (I’ll call him Dude for reasons that will become clear in a moment) at one of my favorite cycling stores in the Boston area. This shop is one of 4 or 5 in a family owned chain and serves a broad range of customers from serious racers to occasional riders to kids getting their first bikes.


Since I had recently completed comprehensive reviews of all-around wheelsets and top-tier groupsets, after asking my first question about what was moving well, I asked Dude what he liked in these two categories.


Dude told me that he had personally switched this season from Zipp 404 Firecrests to Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3s. While he was no taller than me (5’ 10”), he told me he was a big guy and needed the extra stiffness the 5s gave him. OK, I thought to myself. While he’s younger, stronger and perhaps an extra 15 pounds of mostly muscle heavier than my 150, I wouldn’t consider him ‘big’ but I’ll go with it. I also thought the 404s were plenty stiff and the 5s were much the same but, hey, I was in the shop to listen and learn. Maybe he’s a hot racer and can tell a stiffness difference between the two that I can’t.


When we turned to discussing gruppos, it got really interesting. Dude was planning to switch from his top of the line mechanical Campagnolo Super Record set to the top of the line electronic Shimano Dura Ace 9070 Di2. Wow, I said, that’s quite a jump. What was wrong with the Campys and why not go with the Ultegra Di2s? Same performance, barely noticeable extra weight, half the price. (And, I thought to myself, where does a 20-something bike salesman get the coin for this pricey gear?)


“I know” he said, hardly pausing before answering my question. “I’m a bike snob. I like to ride the best, newest, hottest stuff. I could do fine staying with the same wheels and groupset for several years but I’m a snob.”


Rather than be amazed (or repulsed) by such an admission, I actually found him quite refreshing and entertaining. Here was a guy who knew himself, who comfortably admitted to his snobbery and who didn’t miss a beat telling customers what gear he thought about different gear. Instead of running for the exits with my hand firm holding my wallet, we talked a bit more, I thanked him and finally left.


Don’t know that I’d ever buy anything from a self-proclaimed bike snob, but I did rather enjoy this trip to my local bike shop more than most.


What was one of your more memorable experiences in a bike shop?

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