A worthwhile bike shop will not only be there to fix things when they break, but will identify your bigger-picture cycling needs, set you up with new accessories as you want them, and even help you build the one-of-a-kind custom bike of your dreams.
Design a bike from the ground up.
A bike shop can help you build a custom bike, which can be a good option for people with non-standard body types: long arms, short torso, and so on. Or maybe you’re a triathlete looking for optimal race performance out of your bike. “Some people also just really want something made specifically for them, to really fine-tune their stable of bikes. A custom bike is truly that. Nothing fits like a tailored suit,” says Casey Sussman, founder of Mars Cycles.
Get fitted for a bike.
The best bike shops will help you get your body measured to fit the right ride, whether it's a pre-made mass-market bike or one of your own design. This will make you more comfortable in the saddle, which can also add a little speed.
Find out if your new parts are compatible.
Are the bike parts you’re buying designed to work together? Is your frame BB30 but your cranks BBRight and your bottom bracket GXP? The pieces of your cycling puzzle must be designed to fit and work together, and your shop will be able to answer any of your questions.
Fix small, really specific problems.
From weird clicking sounds to other bike mysteries that the less-committed cyclist would overlook, your shop ought to have no problems adjusting whatever is necessary to get your bike in working order. Worthwhile mechanics will have experience working with a wide range of components, and will know how to fix even highly technical problems when they occur. Check Yelp reviews and call shops with some questions (whether you know the answer to them or not). Get a feel for the shop based on these interactions.
Find the perfect cycling shoe.
Bike shoes that let you clip into your pedal, keep your feet more attached to the bike efficiently translate your effort into speed. A good bike shop will have no problem talking to you at length about which shoes are right and wrong for you. They'll care a lot about getting you sized properly. Look for a foot-measuring Brannock device like you'd expect in a shoe store. Seeing one is a good sign.
Get advice about which parts you really need for your bike.
Ilya Nikhamin is co-owner of Redbeard Bikes in Brooklyn, New York, and he says when the customer has a strong sense of what he or she is looking for, then he is more easily able to help them. “Do you want indestructible wheels for a daily commute? Do you want gears that don't slip every time you shift? Do you want a frame that fits you better? Identify the key characteristics you want your ride to have, then find the answers by doing some independent research online or talking to a bicycle professional you trust,” he says.
Many shops offer multiple rides at a variety of skill levels and paces. Shops organize group rides for a lot of reasons: to build bike community, to give the nervous newbie a way to get started confidently, or to give the seasoned veteran an opportunity to push the limits. The best shops will be those that offer multiple rides at a variety of skill levels and paces. Rub elbows and spin wheels with other customers.