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What’s it like buying from an online cycling store?

If you haven’t done it before or recently, ordering from a quality online cycling store is similar to buying products from any specialty online retailer you may have experience with.  It’s a growing and increasingly accepted way for both the cycling enthusiast and major brands to do business.

Online stores get products to you as fast and often faster than many bike shops which nowadays carry less inventory on high performance, low turnover gear and have to order it through a distributor.  As authorized retailers, the biggest online stores do large volumes and have better price and service leverage working directly with cycling companies than do the smaller shops.  The online retailers I recommend have strong customer service records and will handle returns or warranty issues quickly and without a lot of back and forth.  I check them against various consumer rating services.  If they don’t rate extremely well, I don’t list them.

The larger online cycling stores will ship to you wherever you are, usually within the week and often for free on purchases for the amount of most of the gear I review.  Shipments coming out of the UK or Europe into the US don’t charge the taxes you would incur buying products from a physical store.

In addition to the online stores that focus on cycling products, I occasionally post links for recommended products to eBay and Amazon when they have the best prices through highly rated vendors (99.5%+ ratings).  If you are planning to buy from either one of these sources, please go through the links provided on this site the day you plan to buy as they don’t provide a referral fee otherwise.  And when you buy anything at all through this link to Amazon, you also support the site.

You can read my review of the best online stores here.

Thank you and be sure to share any feedback you have below, good or bad, about any of the stores we link to.

Steve

66 comments

  • Hi Steve, great blog. do you still write posts? thanks and looking forward for the next post

  • Thanks Noam. Working on a new one now. Best, Steve

  • I have spent hundreds of hours reviewing wheelsets online and haven’t found any sites as thorough as yours. Excellent job! I am looking at the Shimano Dura Ace wh9000 c35 clinchers. The three sites you suggest to purchase from are all UK. If I have problems with the wheelsets in the USA will the warranty be honored and who would I contact?

    Thanks for your help,
    Ron

    • Thanks Ron. Regardless of where they and you are based, if the shop is a certified (in this case Shimano) dealer the company will honor the warranty. I only provide links to certified dealers.

      Equally or perhaps more important, I only list shops that have good customer service reputations based on the research I do on them. So if you have any problems, the online shop should be able to help you first and stand up for you with the supplier company if needed. These shops do significant volume so have good leverage with the suppliers.

      Finally, ProBikeKit and Wiggle are UK based but do a considerable amount of business around the world including in the US. Wiggle is probably one of the best shops as far as service goes. Bike Discount is German based but is also well regarded throughout Europe. They all have customer service hours and phone numbers listed on their sites. You shouldn’t have any problems.

      Hope that helps. Steve

  • hi steve started riding again 29 years after i did some limited racing in British columbia back when,in 2012 my sister in law gave me her miele with shimano 105 equiped , ambrosio wheel set, upgraded to mavic askim race, the bike was to small but better than nothing still logged 2500 km, in september of 2012 bought a specialised tarmac expert SL3 with intregra components logged 1500km before winter , the wheel set was DTSwiss 2.0, 2013 season logged 6300 km at end of septmeber i went into a curve to fast with training tires leaned over , collar bone and shoulder plus a concussion was result was so looking forward to a granfondo event , in 2014 4370 due to injury and subsequent operation , midway through 2014 i upgraded to a wheel set easton FA 50 aero problem is wheel bearings on back wheel gave out after 2500km roughly. had them changed only to find out the hub bearings not good , still use the wheel so far this week a spoke broke on back wheel , managed to get back home the wheel held with hardly any effect to the alignment, anyway to the bone , i am 56 in the 165 -170 lbs roads here go from good to not so good to downright bad, the wheels i am looking at are made in montreal an hour from home , there WMD a280 ,28mm , 23mm and 18mmclincher rim alloy around 1100$ .have a choice of hubs thinking of opting for the chris king r45hubs with racing spokes, at the moment just started roll in the 16mph avg is around 28km through summer iam at 30-32 km avg for me carbon is out of price range plus the roads would probably not be kind.any suggestion for other wheels possible. thanks eric

  • thanks steve will let you know , eric

    • hi steve its been a while as for wheels i went with a set of mavic ksyrium sls -23 bl, purchased while visiting friends in new hampshire came with mavic 25 tires,compared to price here quite a difference, switched back to a set of vittorias that i run at 135psi , happy with wheels and braking is better than the eastons ea 50s i had , now planning to go back down next season and will be looking to go with zipps 303 or would there be something better, by the time you see this i will have logged 3700km so far, started doing quite alot of hill climbing the sls feel good

  • Simple question please – In August 2014 you recommended Dura Ace 9000 CL24 as best value upgrade and in May 2015 you recommend Dura Ace 900 CL35 as best value all round wheel. I am 80 kg C grade club rider who does cyclosportives and criteriums. Which one do i go for?

  • i like to climb and have always used 700×20 veloflex. Is wider beter for climbing? What rim with do you recomend? thanks Scott

    • Scott, Width by itself is not better for climbing as a wider wheel, all else being equal will be heavier and less aerodynamic. There are other benefits of wider wheels – better handling, comfort and rolling resistance principally, that may make them worth considering. I’d suggest you read my post on climbing and descending wheels (here) and review some of my other posts on other types of wheels (here) that you might consider for a variety of purposes and budgets. Steve

  • Hey Steve, I am looking to build my own bike, starting with the frame. I am a heavier rider ( 250 lbs ) but am very strong when I ride. I have broken several derailleur hangers and destroyed several derailleurs in my time. My current frame is aluminum and has suited me just fine as I progressed with my riding experience. With so many options ( brands, frame type, etc. ) I don’t know where to start looking or what I should be looking for. Any suggestions ( or a post on frames ) would be awesome! Thanks!

    • JB, I probably don’t have any suggestions more than the obvious ones than what you probably already know. Strength and stiffness will be key to minimize the deflection in the frame, components and wheels when you put your power to work. I’d think aluminum would be the most flexy – perhaps chceck into a steel or titanium frame. I’d also suggest you go with a disc brake road bike with electronic components. This will provide far better braking power and less stress on your rims and controlled shifting (done by the motors rather than you) because you appear to be shifting under great load if you are chewing up your derailleurs. I’ve posts on disc brake bikes, wheels and components. Finally you’ll probably need a wheelset with 28 to 32 spokes; this may require a custom built or standard built wheel in a “stallion version.” Check out the American Classic Tubeless Disc. Steve

  • i just want to know what you think of the shimano rs 81-24’s i’m around 90kg, have some fulcrum 1’s but they are way to harsh on the chip seal road a we have around here and the bearings don’t last (only 4000km). thanks Rodney

    • Rodney, Chip seal isn’t going to be great on any stiff wheel like the Fulcrum 1. The RS81-24 wouldn’t be a whole lot better – more comfy yes but would be a little flexy for someone of your weight. I’d look for a wider wheel that would still be stiff enough but which you could put a 25mm tire on and lower the pressure to make it more comfortable. Unfortunately, that’s going to mean a carbon and considerably more expensive alloy wheel than the RS81 line for the time being. Take a look at my post on upgrade wheels here. The HED Ardennes or Easton EA90 SL would be two to consider. Steve

  • hi steve. now that SRAM has introduced wireless electronic shifting i’m sure shimano (an others) won’t be far behind. have you heard anything from shimano on their progress with wireless shifting?

    • Haven’t heard anything yet. Wouldn’t expect to at this point until Shimano announces their next Dura Ace line upgrade for model year 2017 or 2018. Not sure that they will go wireless either. Wireless simplifies the installation but after that, there’s little additional value in it being wireless. Steve

  • Fantastic site Steve , very comprehensive and well written

  • hi steve keep up good work really like the info on and answers given , since 2012 i started with a older miele cromoly frame with 105 comp, in september i bought a specialised tarmac expert bike ,ultegra components , for wheels came wtih dtswiss which i then bought a set of eastons ea 50 was pleased with them however did not hold up especially back wheel bearings , so this past june was visiting friends in portsmouth new hampshire, while there decided to buy a set of wheels ,i upgraded to the mavic ksyrium sls wheel set , paid 1149.00 even with the exchange in the canadian curr, still a good deal, here they where retail at 2800.00 before tax , since then i have logged a little over 7000km the only con would be the effect of high winds coming from the side the wheels will push you out of your line overall like my wheels wether i am climbing or on flats , braking i find is very good , handling also, the tires i have on are the continental 4000 II s ( 23 ) they stand up very well , here the roads i ride are very diverse from new pavement to old back roads and on occasion gravel road due to construction very slow and careful ride during the section of gravel , i will usually ride 2500 km then i switch the tires back to front , ordered them from chainreaction early paid approx $89.00 for two here they are anywhere from 90 +, i run them at 120lbs harder ride however i find less flats on , last ride was on 28 november gave me a total of 9700kmfor the season , since having my tarmac i have riden 22000km , the bike will be going in for a overhaul this winter , still thinking of upgrading to a new wheel set, from what i have read most probably the zipp 303 carbon wheels , anyway enough of a story , oh i have ridden the open corsa tires as well as the vittorai tires , for me the conti 4000 are the better tire for cost and durability, thanks eric

  • hi steve. i’m super interested in SRAM’s development of wireless shifting and i’m guessing shimano is working on a similar system. i’m interested because wireless shifting brings up the topic of finally bringing hands-free voice-activated shifting to cycling. the wireless system could be adapted to accept voice commands for the shifts, freeing up body contortions (reaching for a button) and concentration (keeping the ‘eye on the prize’) for making critical shifts during moments of high energy output. i’m sure it could be done using present day technologies (bouetooty, voice recognition, etc.). so, my question is: have you heard of any developments towaard this technology? i want to know because i’m about to upgrade to my last good bike (i’m 73) and i want to get the ‘latest’.

  • any opinion on the Zipp 303’s which I have now and love but can save almost a pound in weight with the Reynolds RZR 46’s ?

    • Jay, stay with the 303s and lose the pound (or more) from what you carry on your bike – what’s inside your saddle pack or shirt pocket, one less water bottle, etc. – or what you carry around your waistline :). Read my posts on riding faster for more ideas. Steve

      • Thanks for the quick and honest answer. I agree and am going to order the Clavacile cranks and rings .

        • good advice steve. it’s always a bit strange to me that many cyclists i ride with are always talking about ‘saving weight’ with expensive equipment but seem to overlook the cheap and healthy advantage of losing waistline weight. and it’s hard to remind them about this. almost like they don’t want to talk about it.

  • I’ve just crashed my bike, and managed to bend my shimano pd-6700 pedals body out of shape. Since I am now in the market for new pedals, do you have any information comparing the various pedal brand’s ? IE Speedplay Zero VS Shimano SPD- SL vs Look keo Blade etc?? Might be an interesting article for a bike tech geek like yourself???

    • David, Good suggestion. I hope to get to those this year. I’ve used both the SPD and Speedplay Zeros for a lot of miles. Never the Look Keos. SPDs are one sided, easier to get into while the Speedplays are harder to get into but 2 sided and are a lot more adjustable for fitting purposes. I think the SPDs are probably less expensive than the Speedplays. Some of the Power Meters are also suited better for the Speedplays and a couple use the looks. So it’s all what you need, like, willing to pay for. Steve

  • Steve,

    I am new to your site and really enjoy reading your work. Can you tell me if I buy Zipps or some other brand from one of your recommended sites like say Merlin how do I know if the manufacture will honor the warranty. Or if they are an authorized seller of the product. I am concerned about receiving counterfeit product or a product that is not covered by the manufactures warranty. I inquired with one manufacture and they told me to look for a local dealer which wasn’t what I asking them for.

    Again, great website, thanks.
    Dave

    • Dave, There’s a lot of online bike stores out there so you are smart to ask. I research a ton of sites (actually about 90 at last count) and only provide links to about 40 that have at 4/5 customer satisfaction ratings from a large number of customers from credible, independent data collectors. Many of the rest (another 40 or so) just don’t have enough customer feedback and some (about 10) have less than 4/5 ratings, which is below my comfort level. Those 40 are first rate stores in the experience of 100s of customers. No, they don’t deal in counterfeit goods and yes they are authorized dealers of the goods they sell. You certainly are free to ask the store you want to buy at to demonstrate that they are an authorized dealer. And if you buy a product from an authorized dealer outside the country or outside your local area, any other authorized dealer including those close to you is obligated by contract to service it. Servicing it usually means they send it back to the manufacturer. Some manufacturers don’t sell online or sell only through their own online stores and that’s why you may have gotten the answer you did. I wrote a post last year http://intheknowcycling.com/2015/03/13/best-online-bike-stores/ that say more on this topic and I’ll be updating it in a couple weeks. Steve

  • Hi Steve, thank you your site is a breath of fresh air as far as cutting through all the bs out there regarding wheels, performance gains etc etc, well pretty much everything you have written about. Great work keep it up there would be a lot of cyclists appreciating all this info.Your recommendation to upgrade to the Dura Ace C24’s certainly makes sense as like many others I had compared these with the Fulcrum Zero’s and Campy Shamal Ultra’s but at my 77kg weight your thorough evaluations were well received. I have browsed through a lot of forums along the way and there is a reasonable amount of comment regarding the reduced rim thickness from 1.3mm to 0.7mm which is quite significant on the braking surface. Some cyclists are saying they have had reduced life out of these rims one commenting his had worn down past the wear indicators within 4,000km even with high quality brake pads installed.
    Any comments of your experiences on this issue would be great Steve.

    Thank you and all the best great site Steve

    Andrew

    • Thanks Andrew for for your very kind comments. Just doin’ what every other rider would be doin’ if they had the time. Fortunately, I can and enjoy making the time to do it. Regarding the C24s, I’ve only heard of this version of things from a few forums. I’ve not heard of any of these experiences outside of them or from dealers or published reports. I have a hard time believing Shimano would have their worst rims on their top line wheels (You never hear about similar wear issues with their other wheels). I also don’t know how some of those that claim these issues ride their wheels – rain, dirt/grit, commute, dirty pads or dry, good roads, maintained bikes, weekend warriors or somewhere in between.

      I take what I read from forums with an open mind but also with a wary eye. Not everyone is open about their identity, motivation or experience. There is a lot of hate of Shimano by those who believe they undersell their dealers or have taken away business from wheel builders or any number of other things. Specialized gets called out often for one thing or another as they are looked on as the evil empire. Campy is showered with praise for things they did 20 years ago and that are no longer relevant. Self proclaimed wheel builders and home wrenches solve cycling’s biggest challenges with simple or ingenious solutions, according to them. Again, these forums are interesting but it’s hard to know what to believe so I read them occasionally for their entertainment value but seldom for their objective accuracy. Steve

  • hey steve are u planning on doing a review on the mavic cxr 60 clincher version aero wheelset? looks awesome been reading some great aero data on it.

    • Rick, Thanks for commenting. I’ll look into them. Just be aware that companies always publish data that make their products look good. Steve

  • Hi Steve,

    I followed your advice and bought some Durace C24 clinchers to replace the RS10 wheels that came on my bike and they have been great.

    But 7 months and 8000km later and the front wheel has become really noisy when braking. The braking surface has a lot of chips and scratches most likely caused by riding in the rain and picking up stones. In hindsight maybe i could’ve checked the pads more often. But i never had this problem with my old wheels. Is the metals in these rims particularly soft?

    And more importantly do you know if this greatly impacts my braking? or is it more just the noise is undersireable?

    Do you know if it is possible to repair the surface or get it done professionally? I google it and couldn’t find much?

    cheers

    Travis

    • Travis, sorry to hear about your wheels. does sound like something got in the brake pads and scarred your wheels. i’d start off by changing the pads and making sure they are aligned right with the brake tracks. i’ve never heard about refinishing the surface though you might find a shop that is able to do that. Steve

  • Geoffrey Mowatt

    Hi Steve Where’s the shoes article hidden? I followed the link and got 404 not found…

    • Geoffrey, I took it down. I hit the publish button before it was ready to go out. Will come out within the next 24 hours. My bad. Steve

  • I’d like to upgrade my wheel set from a 2-year old set of Mavic Krysrium Elites running 25c Conti4ksII. I ride a lot of steep hills and rolling terrain. I ride 2-3 times per week and avg 16-17 m-h for 24-45 mile rides with longer rides once or twice per month. I weigh 160lbs. I would like lighter and, I think, more aero, and comfortable wheels. After reading your articles I am thinking I need to go back to 23C tires. My wife has a set of Profile Design 38, which seem to be great wheels. What do you think of these wheels? What else would you recommend? Price is important but not the primary consideration.

    • Mark, Welcome. Sounds like you are doing some good riding. First, I don’t know the the wheels your wife has. Second, you don’t ride fast enough to benefit from aero wheels or the aero benefit of 23C tires. So if you like the comfort of your 25C tires and you end up picking a wheelset that is at least 17C internal width, stay with the 25C. Third, I don’t know how steep or long your hills are so hard to know if you should go for a climbing or all around wheelset. Relative to what else is available at a decent price, the Krysium Elites aren’t heavy and getting something within 100g of them, which is most of what is out there for a decent price, is not going to make a difference in your climbing. You would have to go about 200g lighter to notice a difference. Training (hill repeats, strength training) and losing a few pounds from your body will make an enormous difference. The Krysium Elite is a very stiff wheel and best for heavier riders (180lb and up). The two wheelset I’d recommend you consider would be the Shimano DA C24 (about $750), an excellent choice for someone your weight that likes to climb or the Shimano DA C35 (about $1200), a good all-around wheelset that is also an excellent climber. They are both alloy wheelsets wrapped in carbon. If you want an all carbon wheelset, the best value is the Reynolds Assault ($1400) about the same depth as the PD 38. This will give you some aero benefits when you are going faster than 18-20mph. You can find links to the best prices on these wheels from stores with excellent customer satisfaction ratings in the right hand column of the site and reviews on them using the search box at the top of the pages. Best, Steve

  • Thanks Steve, very informative and just what I needed to know.

  • Hello Steve:

    I have purchased a set of training wheels (DT Swiss 350’s with HED Belgium rims). Should I budget the money to either:
    1) purchase a set of ceramic bearing hubs or
    2) upgrade my current hubs with ceramic bearings?

    If so, is/are there manufacture(s) that you can recommend. I have been going back and forth with this question and would like to throw it your way.

    Thanks – Steve

    • Steve, What are you trying to accomplish adding ceramic hubs or bearings to your wheels? Hubs with ceramic bearings are really intended for premium race wheels or a very luxurious ride but are typically part of wheels with superior rims, spokes and a specific tire choice to get the speed of a race wheel or the feel of a very comfortable rolling ride. I wouldn’t see any benefit in putting them on a training wheel. Further if you wanted to put ceramic hubs like the DT180 on the wheels you own, you’d need to rebuild the wheels. I also don’t think you can merely change out the steel bearings on existing hubs like the DT350 with ceramic ones. Perhaps a better question for DT Swiss. Steve

      • Steve: Thanks for the reply. This situation was started when I was dropped during a hard training ride climb (6+% for about 6 KM). A teammate of mine started to pontificate about my training wheels (heavy, don’t roll smoothly, etc). Hey, they are training wheels! I will save my money.

  • Steve…I just wanted to thank you for all your outstanding recommendation’s….My Zipp 303’s always put a big smile on my face!!

  • Steve …. great site, really appreciate the independent approach you bring to your reviews, I have recommended your site to others.

    I am about to order my dream ‘final’ custom Ti bike as 70th birthday present… . partly based on your reviews I was anticipating using Ultegra Di2 and disk wheelset along lines of Zipp 30 Course.
    Just became aware that Shimano have announced updated Dura-Ace 9170 complete with disk brakes & updated wheels for launch early 2017. There could be something special to have uniform matched Shimano equipment (albeit not sure black colour is best for unpainted Ti)

    Questions:
    (i) Do you have high enough expectations for their wheels / groupset to warrant my delay in finalising order until new year (I do not ride in sub-zero temps, so this hopefully will not delay my riding very much)
    (ii) when do you expect to be in a position to update your wheel review to include the new Dura-Ace ones (thinking of C40 disk clincher)

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