Today, many cyclists cringe when the word off-season is used when referring to their favourite sport in winter. The invention of the fat bike took winter riding to a new level, yet that oddly heavy wheeled bicycle is not for every cyclist. Wider tires have encouraged many to fight the cold and engage in their favourite pastime in winter. But still the vast majority of cyclists do not ride outdoors in the winter.
Yet winter months in Alberta are still the best times for the fair weathered cyclists. Why? Its really simple economics. Bicycle shops from the big box format, to the smaller ma and pa boutiques find themselves in harder times in winter. Add to that the slowed Alberta economy, the increase in carbon taxes plus the raising cost of living and these bicycle shops find themselves in harder times.
It is these very influences that can be a boom to the cyclist.
Winter months are the times to take advantage of many bike shops to prepare their rides for the spring months ahead.
Whether you have spent five hundred dollars on a new bike or five thousands, the elements are just as hard on both, and yearly inspection, tuneups and adjustments are needed to keep your bike running properly and keep you safe.
Here are three solid reasons to have your bicycle serviced during the winters months.
1. Turn-around: Nothing is more frustrating than dropping your bicycle off and waiting a week or more for the work to be completed. This happens, not because the shop is incompetent, it happens because of volume. Starting in March until well into July, bicycle shops are swamped by cyclists requesting service work. Add to that the need for a service department to meet their obligations to the sales division and you can expect long details in getting your bike back. In winter, all service shops become cricket patches. Your bike turn-around can be expected to within the same day in many shops.
2. Warmer Welcomes: We include this here only because cyclists have experienced it. So often bicycle mechanics are under a great deal of pressure in spring. The stresses of workload tend to make many mechanics not the friendliest souls. This is never acceptable, but the human reality is simple. Workload, demanding bosses, the need to satisfy customers can work against personality. During the winter months, these factors are not present and you will always get a smile, hand shake and very welcoming service. Shifting your tune-up demands from spring to winter can be a game changer.
3. Big Savings: In Alberta, services rates are all over the map. All bicycle shops use the same language when offering their service bundles, but may not be giving the same level of service. It usually breaks down into three to four packages. Basic, Full and Advanced tune-ups. These are the flat labour costs and most do not include parts, shop supplies, and additional repairs, such as bleeds, fork services and wheel truing. A quick google search revealed that the a basic services offered are from $65 to $119 and can inflate to $299. The details in each one vary and it is important to understand some of the service terms and read carefully. However, it is the winter months were these shops need to keep the lights in and big saving can be found. The best place to look is on their website, Facebook pages and other social media platforms. It’s not unusual to save up to 25% on services costs!
Changing your habits when it comes to cycling includes changing your mindset regarding spring preparations. When it comes to cycling, winter is the best time of year to have your bicycle serviced and repaired. Turnaround is just one great reason, but also, watch for those savings.
Don’t ignore the smaller bike shops. These shops don’t have the same overhead than the big-box stores have and that usually translates to savings at the cash register.