The last 5 years we [Bike industry] have seen a complete up-tick in the ebike manufacturing. This for the most part has been great, however, we'll discuss some of the pros and cons with buying online vs. visiting your local bike shop.
- Direct to Consumer (DTC): These types of manufacturers ONLY sell to online customers. They DO NOT, in most cases affiliate themselves with any bike shop. Some do have "test" centers where you can go and pre-ride the bike, but they are solely owned and operated by the manufacturer. Examples of these types of bike are Rad Power and Lectric. Rad Power is the largest DTC manufacturer in the United States and are located in Washington State. Lectric, is a Phoenix based company. There are a plethora of others, but these two most people have heard of. Amazon has a variety of ebikes as well. You may find DTC dealers at flea markets, swap meets and trade shows. Make sure to ask them the hard questions.
Pro's with DTC:
- Sit at home and enjoy your favorite TV show or glass of wine and shop for an ebike that looks appealing.
- Budget friendly (we will talk about budget later)
- Most have great reviews
- Can be shipped direct to you house in a well package box. It will require some assembly.
Con's with DTC:
- Assembly. While it will arrive mostly assembled it will require adjustments. For example, most bikes in general will need some type of brake adjustment due to the rotors rubbing. So, you may (in lots of cases) have to take to a bike shop. That will cost you money depending on the repair/adjustment.
- Lots of waste in packing material that will fill your trash for a week.
- Can nickel and dime you in the long run.
- Defects. While this has been getting better there are cases of ebikes showing up damaged. So, your all excited about getting on your bike to ride and you can't due to a defect or something that warrants a warranty claim. Are you prepared to do all that? Deal with the company on an item you potentially have little knowledge of and then have to send it back?
- What happens when you need maintenance? Who's gonna fix it?
- Literature online about the bike. What does it all mean? There is no one to explain it all to you online.
- Do you know really what kind of eBike would suite your needs or current situation? The online adds and articles do not go into all the details about this, however, is extremely important.
- Don't get to touch and feel product.
- Fitment. You're not able to sit on bike to see if it actually fits you or are comfortable
- Quality control. This is usually not as good. Price point is directly correlated to quality control.
- Buying your eBike at a brick and motar bike shop. The folks are your commensurate professionals in the field. Employees of the bike shop see all the constant changes in the market along with 100's of different varieties of bikes to include ebikes. Most bike shops have had to deal with the constant changes in the market the last few years and have very knowledgeable with the current ebike swing. They are your guide to understanding all the in and outs of the ebike world
Pro's with Bike Shops:
- They know the market of ebikes
- They know current trends with different manufacturers
- They see and deal with DTC brands and can help you make an informed decision
- Getting the right bike for you. Here, at Sonoran Cycles, we will ask you about medical history, type of riding you want to do. Do you travel and if so, how are you going to secure the bike? Have you seen or ridden any kind of ebike? There are lots of questions we ask to assure you the best bike for you and your situation.
- Not getting nickel and dimed. Most shops, including Sonoran Cycles, do not charge for adjustments on the bike, anytime. Swapping easy parts or doing a warranty repair is always free of charge.
- Can discuss specifics brands to stay away from.
- Fitment. Get to sit on bike and adjust to ensure fit.
- Get to test ride.
- Reviews. Remember all those great online reviews from DTC's? Ask the bike shop about the brand and see what kind of experience they may have with dealing with them. I bet the reviews are quite different.
Con's with Bike Shops:
- Cost. Usually the cost of DTC brands may cheaper due to there is no middle man.
- Might feel pressured by the sales staff.
- Can take more time to shop around than buying online.
Only you the consumer can make the decision on what is best for you, DTC or bike shop. However, based on the information above you may find it very clear. While we are sure there are great brands and customer service to be found online you caution to shop at your own risk.
If you buy online and need some type of service you will, without a doubt pay full labor charge for any bike shop to repair your bike. For example, if you have an electrical issue, be prepared to start off with a $100 charge. This is for diagnostics. You most likely will incur more charges every time the bike shop as to contact the manufacturer. This can be somewhere in the neighborhood of $20-$50 per occurrence. Ever heard of "Lawyer fees"? That's exactly what this is. A mechanics time is worth money. Remember that nice price tag you saw while shopping online? Well now, you have probably surpassed that just by racking up labor charges to fix your bike. This would not happen when buying at a shop. If under warranty, you'd never pay from buying from a bike shop. However, when buying from a DTC, who's paying? Bike shops do not receive payments from DTC's so you'll have to negotiate reimbursement with the manufacturer.
In closing, we hope this information is helpful in your search for your ebike. Please feel free to stop in and talk with us about our own experiences. We also understand that some bike shops are not as savory or experienced as others. So, taking the time to check a few bike shop is advised. You need to feel comfortable during your shopping experience and not pressured. We are here to help you make an informed decision on what is best for you. Thank you for reading.