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

By 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?

What’s Your opinion?


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

fernandof said :

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

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

fernandof said :

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.

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

Henry82 said :

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.

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.

Henry82 said :

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.

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.

Henry82 3:21 pm 29 Sep 11

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. 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.

troll-sniffer 3:05 pm 29 Sep 11

Seems like a misguided venture unless you’re looking at a really expensive bike with some features not available locally. The tone of your post would indicate that you’re not an experienced regular cyclist, and have probably been led up some garden path about the supposed merits of imported bikes vs local models.

For the average commuter cyclist in Canberra there is a vast range of locally distributed bikes from which to choose, and if you’re prepared to get ‘last year’s model’ you can be sure prices will be very competitive with any in the world. Not to mention the availability of service and parts.

Unless of course your ‘friend’ has convinced you that you need to start with a $3,000+ bicycle to commute in Canberra. If that’s the case by all means follow the advice, import the European wonder, just be prepared for the oohs and aaahs of fellow cyclists on the bike paths as they jealously realise the magnificence of your imported steed.

alaninoz 2:52 pm 29 Sep 11

Although you say you’re “not comfortable enough to assemble it myself” I’d recommend giving it a go. It’s not that hard – can do it and a bicycle is about the only thing I can take apart and put back together so it works. You’ll learn heaps and be able to do your own maintenance once it’s done.

niftydog 2:51 pm 29 Sep 11

Some shops will, some won’t. Also bear in mind that it is “bicycling new year” at the moment which possibly means wait times are fairly long. For budget bikes you’d struggle to make a saving once you factor in the extra time involved and add labour costs.

Simon from Cycle Surgery is a top bloke!

Brandi 2:00 pm 29 Sep 11

This is a pretty routine thing to do in racing circles for riders who are after something bespoke or best-of-breed. Independent mechanics do builds for $200-500. Consider the hours involved, the mechanic’s experience and the specialist tools needed to do the job right. Obviously the economy option is to buy a factory commuter for $500-700.

Some of the large bike shops won’t accept this type work unless you’re using their parts or base bike (more gravy for them). Bear in mind that if you get your parts orders wrong, it’s up to you to deal with it, so have a consulting session with the mechanic before you click Buy It Now.

It isn’t the cheapest way to go, but if this is what you really want, you’re better off approaching the smaller bike shops (eg. Cycle Surgery, Ride 365) or independent bike mechanics (eg. Ian Downing, Callahan Bicycles*).

Google and Facebook searches will turn up most of the local players, but there’s a list of local bike shops here:
http://www.vikingscyclingforum.org.au/forum/showthread.php?t=4324

*Disclaimer that I’m actually one of the independent machanics, and my advice is entirely biased.

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