Bicycle Sales, Maintenance, and Repairs

Hi. I ride a road bike several times a week, outdoors, and use an indoor trainer when the weather isn’t helpful. I’m not very skilled in doing my own bike maintenance, thus relying on bike shops that offer maintenance services. Unfortunately, I’ve had quite a mixed experience, and unfortunately have never had problems even discussed (when picking up the bike), let alone actually repaired. On one occasion, a crank shaft was replaced, completely unnecessarily I found out later. Another time I was charged for a replacement chain (that I didn’t need), but worst still, wasn’t actually replaced! I’ve been given handwritten receipts from different workshops, all without any detail that could help with potential disputes (e.g. model, part numbers, evidence that the actual new part has been fitted).

I’ve also experienced some intimidation from the repairers, and have walked away on a number of occasions doubting myself. More recently, I was threatened with expletives and insults about my riding. These experiences are limited to my local area, in suburbia, so I agree this is not necessarily a representative sample. One repair cost me $400, and half of the items I requested to be done were not. I’m not going to identify these businesses nor myself, however, I do think this is an issue that many riders face. Our car service cost $400…nevertheless, I’m happy to pay for safety. But at this stage, I don’t have any guarantees that my bike, after service, is safe to travel at speeds up to 60km/h on the road.

I’m hoping to start a discussion about this issue, as I’m sure I haven’t been the only person experiencing this. I’d love to hear what others have to say, and am of course going to add more detailed information if his discussion thread goes anywhere. I’d also love to find out how one can source an ethical and skilled bike mechanic.



What I would do in your situation is have them package the parts they took off the bike to show you . Also to explain why they were replaced , example show excessive wear etc on part taken off bike . I have always done this with any machinery I have serviced . They can always slip the old part in the new parts box to show you . You are correct about safety . I often wonder if some of these “businesses” , and I use that term loosely know the value of repeat business due to good honest service . /
Shop around there must be some honest repairers out there who would appreciate your continued patronage due to their good service and honesty .


@Tom, if you post your location you might get a referral. Walkers Wheels, a one man owner-operator who has been around for yonks in Montmorency VIC has been pretty good to me.


Get yourself some tools and learn how to do it yourself, most of it is pretty straightforward work and there is plenty of information about how to do it online and in print.
Can’t say I’ve ever had any problems with my repairer- I’ve done my own bike builds and repairs for over 40 years :slight_smile:


I’m all for supporting local businesses, but like you my experience with the Australian bike industry (both shops and importer/wholesalers) has been far from good (with one or two notable exceptions). Parts are expensive, and service is poor. As a result I now order my parts online and do my own maintenance. There’s plenty of how-to’s online, and when you factor the time it takes to get to the bike shop to drop your bike off, then go back to pick it up (and go back several times because your bike’s not ready when they said it would be), it’s much quicker. You’ll probably get a better end result, and you’ll develop the skills to deal with any breakdowns while you’re out riding as well.


Hi Tom

My experience is somewhat similar to yours. What I noticed in some larger bike shops is that the work is done by younger people who may not be as knowledgeable as the ones out the front of the store. This to me is like when you go to get your car serviced and an apprentice does the work - unsupervised. I am happy for kids or apprentices to do the work as long as it is supervised and checked by someone knowledgeable. We are charged full rates, and not the lower pay rates, so a person at the level we paid for should be responsible for doing the work.

Our local bike shop give the impression of being very busy and condescending to talk to us about fixing or servicing our existing bikes. Ask about buying an expensive bike, and wow the attitude shift is amazing.

Perhaps there needs to be a national code of conduct for bike repairers so we mere mortals without bulging thighs can know who to trust.


Thanks for your comment. I agree it would be much easier to do my own maintenance, however, this is not something I can do easily. There are many factors involved in doing this, including, but not limited to: proper tools (e.g., torque wrenches), work benches, clamps, physical space that’s OK to get dirty (e.g. what about people living in apartments?), inventory of parts, etc. And another problem…not all people have the same fine motor skills and visual-spatial competences to do the more complex work required. I don’t personally service my car for similar reasons.

At the end of the day, it is a consumer issue because there are businesses not doing the right thing.


Thanks for your comment. Certainly shopping around is the way to go, and maybe something less local be more appropriate, perhaps a big bike shop in the CBD.

@Tom I hope all goes well for you . The CBD seems like a good idea .

Interesting topic @tom, thanks for starting the discussion. It’s tricky territory to navigate and I’m sure you’re not alone. Let us know how you go with the next attempted store. In the meantime, I’ll raise the issue with some of my colleagues who investigate these matters.

Thanks also to everyone for sharing their experiences so far, please keep them coming.


Bike servicing is a bit like car servicing - you rely on the honesty and expertise of the service provider but there’s little you can do if you feel let down other than take your business elsewhere next time. Do you have a knowledgeable friend who can go with you to the bike shop? Certainly you should not go back to somewhere that has ripped you off previously - it would be better to go to a shop further away.

I started like you, taking my bike to the local bike shop. As the servicing bills got more expensive (because I rode more and more) I started doing simple maintenance by watching instructional videos on YouTube. There are hundreds of videos available and they cover all areas of bike maintenance. As I increased my confidence on simple jobs (e.g chain replacement, brake pads) I was ready to move on to more complex replacements like derailleurs, cassettes and even bottom brackets. Buy the parts online from retailers like Wiggle and the costs will be less than half what it costs to go to the local bike shop. You will need a bike toolset but you can pick these up for about $50-60 assuming your bike uses Shimano components as most do.

There’s now almost nothing I won’t tackle myself and I haven’t been to the bike shop for about three years. It’s very satisfying completing your own repairs and replacements - daunting at first but rewarding, both financially and motivationally. Check out some YouTube videos now and see what you think.


Tom you need to talk to other cyclists you meet when on the road, ask for their recommendations, I cycled for many years and never had a problem, I went to the same shop for over 10 years. Paul


I do this for anything - if you replace a part, I want it unless it was on an exchange basis in which case I want to see the docket. Off-topic a little, but alternators and starter motors are a classic. Often a <50$ fix for an apprentice and just swapped out when failed at 4-600$ each.

On the topic of bikes - bought one for my son at a ‘reputable’ bike shop - came back with the lid from the brake reservoir loose and leaking brake fluid. Was told they were inherently unreliable and to replace with a better brand, on a bike under warranty … ‘tricky to bleed’ apparently. Bought a bleed kit from the UK and it was fixed at home.

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I agree on the alternators and starter motors . My auto electrician told me some about such rip offs . Just digressing also . A friend of mine needed some plumbing work done on his home . He was quoted anywhere between $1000 and $1300 . I sent my regular plumber to see him . I’ve been using this plumber for years . Price on completion of work . $120 . Big difference aye . My mate was happy with both the quality of work performed and naturally the price difference ./

My plumber thrives on repeat business . The other cowboys are one hit wonder rip off merchants .

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I ride a bit and am also very bad at general maintenance. I was paying to get tubes replaced, that’s how hopeless I was!

What I did find very helpful was that a local council (not my own, but near enough) offered free bike maintenance classes (although it appears now it costs $20 - was free when I did it!).

The class was very helpful and I learned how to:

  • Maintain the bike
  • Clean the parts
  • Change a tube and repair a tube (with a patch kit)
  • Remove the chain and replace the chain, as well as understanding when to change it
  • Tighten the gears
  • Check the bike for any major faults like breaks or loose parts

Check out your council and surrounding council for similar free classes - I’m thinking about doing it again as a refresh.

If you’re in Sydney, here’s the link to the class I took:

Otherwise YouTube is great resource for simple repairs.

Totally agree re bike repairers though… it’s certainly worth doing a bit of a google and seeing if there are cycling forums that have recommended repairers.


What you can do is say on drop off of the bike to the store is say they don’t have approval to replace any parts unless they contact you and your give them your approval. Leave your contact number with them.

This should ensure that only necessary parts are replaced.

We do this for our car and assume the same would be practical for a bike.

When they call to say a part (s) need replacement you can then ask why, what would happen if you didn’t replace it or whether the replacement can be deferred to a later date…say next service.

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I’ve had a service done at Ivanhoe cycles now in Heidelberg for more than 20 years in the issues described above. Prices and included items for basic services are advertised on the wall of the service department. Other work done was fully explained, good value and never unwarranted. Replaced parts are always offered. Minor Adjustments are often completed without charge.
Most recently a flat tire on my way to work was taken to the shop by my wife on a Saturday morning and in spite of being busy they fixed it on the spot for $15 including a new tube, so that I could ride home after work. Why on earth would you bother repairing your own? Bicycle network members get 10% discount on parts as a bonus.
Advice offered in the sales department on bikes clothing accessories etc is extremely reliable.
Businesses like this Are like gold but they’re not a dying breed. I’ve had good service from a couple of other shops in the neighbourhood when it was expeditious to do so.
Incidentally I have no connection with Ivanhoe cycles other than as a satisfied customer.