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Etiquette for buying bicycles online and getting them built in Canberra?

fernandof 29 September 2011 25

With spring arriving (minus this week’s weather, obviously), I thought to make do on a long overdue promise and get myself a nice commuter bike. I was googling around and found some local shops like the Tuggeranong Bike Hub and some less local shops like Cell bikes in NSW. However, a knowledgeable friend recommended purchasing the bike for the UK as the prices are much lower. Looking at sites like wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles, I must admit he has a point.

I want to get the best value for money, obviously, but the problem with online purchases is that the bicycle will arrive disassembled and I’m not comfortable enough to assemble it myself. I was therefore thinking to buy the bike online and pay a mechanic here in Canberra to assemble it.

So here’s the question: is this something that would be acceptable by bike shops and if so, what’s the ballpark cost for assembling a bike?


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25 Responses to Etiquette for buying bicycles online and getting them built in Canberra?
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fernandof 5:00 pm 02 Oct 11

I think this thread needs a closure.

We bought our 2 bikes for my partner and myself. I got myself an awesome 2nd hand Shogun Mach 3 from a really nice bloke in Franklin (thanks to Spoono for redirecting me to the classified ads) and my better half got herself a Trek 7.3 from On the Rivet in Tuggeranong. Both bikes were at a hugely reduced cost than what I originally planned for (at about 500+- each, that's a serious bargain) , so we had some money left to get a rack for both bikes from the shop (On the Rivet) and get some other additions.

So there you have it, if you're after a 1st bike - take a very close look at the 2nd hand offers and ask local shops for their clearance deals. At that money, you're better off buying locally.

Thanks again for all the responses, you guys are the best!

churl 9:43 am 30 Sep 11

In my experience the biggest differences between commuter vs road bikes are the handlebars and the wheels/tyres. 'Flat', mtn bike style handlbars are generally more relaxing to use: look at the road cyclists and mostly they will be holding onto the short, straight section unless racing. On most bikes this makes quick braking difficult..

For longer commutes (e.g. 1h as suggested), bolt on bar ends, which make the thing look like cow horns, are currently unfashionable but give some variation in grip which is nice.

For wheels/tyres, get something in diameter between thin racing wheels and knobbly off-road tyres.

For commuting it is also nice to have a rear rack and box (or panniers perhaps) and mudguards.

Spoono 9:21 am 30 Sep 11

Jump on Allclassifieds and check out bikes. There's bargains to be had. People in Canberra are always buying decent bikes and end up riding them once or have to move OS etc.

http://www.allclassifieds.com.au/ac/ac0001?catid=68

fernandof 7:22 am 30 Sep 11

[quote comment="355853"]My main advice is be damn sure of your frame size if you're going to buy online.

The main advantage of buying local is you can have the bike properly fitted to you with follow-up adjustments. A centimetre here and there can really affect the ergonomics.

Moreover, if you want a local bike shop, you have to support it. Most work on narrow margins and get screwed by the distributors.[/quote]

I absolutely agree on the support local shops comment and that's why I'll go this weekend to local shops and see first-hand what they have to offer. I won't ask for assistance & fitting unless I'm absolutely sure I'll buy, otherwise it's just unfair for the shop that is putting the experience without getting paid.

That said, if I see that the price different is too steep, I'll just buy online with the assistance of friends (I have one particularly buddy whose absolutely crazy about cycling, participating in international tournaments and what not - I'm sure he'll be able to assist in the getting the correct size).

[quote comment="355853"]

Carbon forks aren't overkill. They help dampen road vibration. Don't get a mountain bike if you're going to be mainly commuting. Better to get a cyclocross or some other hybrid if you planning to do mostly on-road commuting, but still want the freedom to ride off sealed road. And make sure the frame has rack mounting points.[/quote]

My current "kmart-level" has suspension and I find it quite pointless for the kind of usage I'm doing, i.e., riding to work & to the shops on roads and relaxed dirt paths. I'm thinking about getting a non-suspension bike, but for the front fork to have a "bend" (not a straight line fork) so to gain some degree of flexibility in the frame. Hopefully this will make the ride a bit nicer, while still keeping the weight down. I'm not THAT bothered about weight, really, but I see no point adding weight for no reason,especially in the front of the bike.

[quote comment="355853"]You should be able to get something decent for $1200. Quality bikes have become a lot more affordable over the last few years. If you're serious about cycling, it's a good starting point.[/quote]

Great to hear & thanks for the assurance! :)

[quote comment="355855"][quote comment="355840"]I was looking at this one: https://www.wiggle.co.uk/boardman-hybrid-team/ probably with a more confy seat. Very reasonable price and good components. [/quote]

"Sorry - this product is no longer available

This Boardman Hybrid Team is no longer available."[/quote]

Try to change the Internation options on the top-right to match Australia. The bike is difinetly available for purchasing.

But regardless, the point here was to present an example of what I'm looking for: not a road bike, not a mountain bike, but something in the middle with good light frame and descent components.

And for all others who replied with links to shops (Brandi, Aeek) - thanks a lot, I'll be looking into those as well! :)

OpenYourMind 10:52 pm 29 Sep 11

[quote comment="355835"]

Also in relation to assembling a bike, it is going to be the same as buying from the UK vs another state. It's basically a allen key job to put it together, quite easy.[/quote]

I'm not sure I totally agree with Borizuka on this one. Assembling a bike can be more involved than you may first expect. Even if everything fits to everything else, you may need some special tools and some skills. Assuming it's a geared bike, adjusting a derailleur can be a challenge, getting chain length right and chain joined takes some skill. Cutting cables well requires a decent cable cutting tool.

I'm not saying it's not diy-able, but it can be a bit more involved than an Ikea flatpack. That said, building your bike can be quite satisfying and also gives you better skills when it comes time to repair your bike.

RedDogInCan 10:46 pm 29 Sep 11

[quote comment="355840"]I was looking at this one: https://www.wiggle.co.uk/boardman-hybrid-team/ probably with a more confy seat. Very reasonable price and good components. [/quote]

"Sorry - this product is no longer available

This Boardman Hybrid Team is no longer available."

Postalgeek 10:34 pm 29 Sep 11

I've bought bikes online, and recently made the decision to buy local when I wanted to add a $2500 off-road tourer/commuter to the stable.

My main advice is be damn sure of your frame size if you're going to buy online.

The main advantage of buying local is you can have the bike properly fitted to you with follow-up adjustments. A centimetre here and there can really affect the ergonomics.

Moreover, if you want a local bike shop, you have to support it. Most work on narrow margins and get screwed by the distributors.

Carbon forks aren't overkill. They help dampen road vibration. Don't get a mountain bike if you're going to be mainly commuting. Better to get a cyclocross or some other hybrid if you planning to do mostly on-road commuting, but still want the freedom to ride off sealed road. And make sure the frame has rack mounting points.

You should be able to get something decent for $1200. Quality bikes have become a lot more affordable over the last few years. If you're serious about cycling, it's a good starting point.

Aeek 10:32 pm 29 Sep 11

hmm, Mal Adjusted have some interesting offerings, like http://cyclenet.com.au/info/node/1726

fernandof 9:44 pm 29 Sep 11

[quote comment="355809"]I'm curious at to what you define as a commuter bike, and which one you're looking at that is noticably cheaper than an equivalent bike from here?[/quote]

My definition for a commuter bike probably isn't the "correct" definition, but I'm thinking about something that can be used on a daily basis to go to work, about 1-2h ride each way. So I'm talking about something that borrows some elements from road bikes (especially lightweight frame, but doesn't have to be super-fast), but also borrows some elements from mountain bikes. The most important features for me would be ease of control, comfort of ride and reliability.

[quote comment="355809"]Global pricing models from the likes of Giant mean buying overseas usually has little benefit for mass-market bikes.

Buying parts from wiggle/CRC - go nuts. Whole bikes - don't bother.[/quote]

Specifically for whole bikes from overseas, I was looking at this one: https://www.wiggle.co.uk/boardman-hybrid-team/ probably with a more confy seat. Very reasonable price and good components. The carbon fork fork is a bit of an overkill for me, but for the price I don't think it can hurt... :)

My partner really likes this one: https://www.wiggle.co.uk/raleigh-urban-1-ladies-2010/ and the price is fantastic.

I'll be using those 2 as a reference when I'm shopping around (thanks Brandi for the list of local shops!).

screaming banshee 9:36 pm 29 Sep 11

Please remember that best value for money and cheapest price available are not the same thing.

Also, have you considered whether OS bikes meet Australian standards. I can't see there would be much in it but thats worth factoring in also.

borizuka 9:32 pm 29 Sep 11

I am a keen cyclist and buy things online quite often.

I know the prices and range is much better in the UK but I would advise you against it as you really need to by Australian due to the warranties offered. (parts/clothing of course are a different kettle of fish)

If you still want to by something cheap look at places like Cell, TBSM or even Torpedo7 as they all have sometimes decent specials. At least if you then have a warranty job say for a cracked CF frame, you don't have to send back to the UK...

Also in relation to assembling a bike, it is going to be the same as buying from the UK vs another state. It's basically a allen key job to put it together, quite easy.

Aeek 9:14 pm 29 Sep 11

I'd start with the tyres, something thick but still relatively fast. I love continental contacts but 700c x 32 are the narrowest, too fat for most road and hybrid frames. Schwalbe marathons are supposed to be great too and come in 25s.

Grrrr 7:17 pm 29 Sep 11

I'm curious at to what you define as a commuter bike, and which one you're looking at that is noticably cheaper than an equivalent bike from here?

Global pricing models from the likes of Giant mean buying overseas usually has little benefit for mass-market bikes.

Buying parts from wiggle/CRC - go nuts. Whole bikes - don't bother.

Palifox 7:05 pm 29 Sep 11

Unless you have your heart set on a Pashley, a Mercian or something like, I would not bother. I got a pretty decent Apollo hybrid from one of the local retailers 2 1/2 years ago for around $830. Alloy frame, umpteen gears of which I use maybe 10. I got them to dump the wider knobbly tyres and wheels for something more narrow and smoother for paved road use, plastic mudguards, rear blinkie and a fitted rear rack. I already had a helmet and an adequate front light.

I have ridden it almost every working day to work and back and some short weekend trips I have had one flat tyre and have recently replaced the shoes on the V-brakes.

The Pashley brand is available from a cycle shop in Woolongong though I don't think they carry much stock. .

Henry82 4:48 pm 29 Sep 11

[quote comment="355775"]Hmm, I might give it go. Look, I'll see what I can get for my budget on the local shops and I'll take it from there[/quote]

theres no harm in having a look. You can get a fairly decent [branded] mountain bike with disc breaks and front suspension for around $400, let me assure you they're much better than the bigw types. The benefit of buying locally is they'll give you a 3 month service for free where they'll re-tighten the gears, but that's about it. If you can, ask some of your mates to ride their bikes around the block a few times, that way you'll find out if you actually like that $900 road bike. I've taken my bike apart completely a few times (due to travel and having to fit it in the bike box). It's much easier with instructions, but you'll get it together eventually. I can only speak from my experience, i haven't pulled apart any bikes over $600 or so.

Felix the Cat 4:46 pm 29 Sep 11

Be aware too that if you buy a bike overseas you'll be up for Duty and GST if the cost of the bike (inc freight) exceeds $1000.

G-Fresh 4:27 pm 29 Sep 11

get your son to do it. At least that's what my dear mother did

Brandi 4:24 pm 29 Sep 11

[quote comment="355768"]I'm looking at the price range of up to 1200 for the bike + accessories (helmet, gloves, and possible "luggage" to carry my laptop to work). From the options available on the net of all the stores mentioned it still looks like the UK option is preferable if I built it myself.

[/quote]

You'll find a really good commuting bike and gear to go with it at that budget. Don't forget a robust lock.

If you're looking for something simple but stylish and a bit different, try Melbourne company Papillionaire Bicycles*:

http://papillionaire.com

*Yes, the spam is relentless - I'm their Canberra retailer.

fernandof 4:03 pm 29 Sep 11

[quote comment="355758"]I have to agree with troll-sniffer on this one. Your first car wasn't a ferrari, why do the same with a bike?

Buy a solid value bike for a few hundred dollars. There isn't much point forking out thousands of dollars and find riding isn't for you.[/quote]

Yeah, absolutely agree here, but I think I'd like to gear up a bit from my old bike. I mean, the main annoyances in my current bike is the weight (strong & heavy iron frame) and the shifters that are not brilliant and many times when I change gears the chain gets displaced and I lose momentum. Absolutely hate when it happens!

So I was thinking putting a bit more for a descent bike, nothing luxurious, just a decent alloy frame with reliable components, oh and fresh new helmet&gloves. I'm not a big commuter, especially this year that weather was so unpredictable, but I do use the bike periodically.

[quote comment="355758"]Anyway, back on topic, if you already regularly commute, putting together a bike isn't really that difficult. All you need is a spanner, some Allen keys and some time.[/quote]

Hmm, I might give it go. Look, I'll see what I can get for my budget on the local shops and I'll take it from there.

Thanks for the info!

fernandof 3:44 pm 29 Sep 11

Thanks for all the responses, I'm learning quite a lot from it!

To put some missing context into my post, I'm not a pro and this bike, although not overly expensive, would be a huge upgrade from my current "kmart-level" one...

I'm looking at the price range of up to 1200 for the bike + accessories (helmet, gloves, and possible "luggage" to carry my laptop to work). From the options available on the net of all the stores mentioned it still looks like the UK option is preferable if I built it myself.

That said, it seems only fair I'll do a proper market research by going to the shops this weekend. Also, I guess another benefit from buying locally, especially for laymen as me, would be the valuable advice I'll get from the professionals in the shop, and that advice is absolutely worth paying for.

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