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Finding a Good Bike Shop...

There are various signs that can help you find a good shop, and some things you should think about asking:

Organisations and certificates:

Many shops may display signs or certificates mentioning one or more of the following:

Association of Cycle Traders

Association of Cycle Traders (ACT)...

This is just what it says. The association represents shops, and to become a member the shop has to promise to comply with their code of conduct (and pay a membership fee, of course). The ACT provides its members with information about British Standards and other legal requirements. Some perfectly good shops do not belong to the ACT because they feel that it does not represent them properly, or is not worth the membership fee.
From the Association of Cycle Traders:

The Association of Cycle Traders, best known as the ACT, is the largest cycle trade organisation in the UK. The ACT is a membership organisation representing the interests of over 3000 specialist cycle retailers and their supply partners throughout the UK.
Established early last century, the ACT have been promoting specialist bike retailers for over 80 years and are committed to the support and longevity of speciality cycle retailing, delivering width of consumer choice, value and service.

Cytech logo

Cytech

Short for Cycle Technicians, Cytech is an accreditation scheme for bike mechanics administered by the ACT. There are three levels, and to become a level-3 mechanic requires a lot of work. Unfortunately many smaller shops cannot afford to put their mechanics through Cytech (it is quite expensive), even though they are very good.
From the Association of Cycle Traders:

Cytech is the bicycle industry's only recognised training and accreditation scheme for cycle mechanics and bike technicians. Cytech Accredited cycle shops will employ staff who have undergone professional training and accreditation to a Technical Level Two standard or above. There are 3 levels of Cytech accreditations, as well as a distance learning module, which cover everything from the basics of bike maintenance up to the most complex bike builds and servicing. Look out for Cytech certificates on display in your local shop.

XXXX Authorised Dealer

Many shops display signs or stickers saying that they are Authorised Dealers for a brand of bikes or components. It is very hard to work out what these mean - some companies require shops to send their mechanics on special courses to become authorised, others just insist that the shop buys enough from them.

Ride It Away

shows that the store is an Association of Cycle Traders member and is available to offer their Ride It Away retail finance package for purchases of most new bikes and accessories. Options will vary from store to store.

Bicycle Association of Great Britain...

represents manufacturers wholsesalers and importers of bikes and accessories in the UK. You are unlikely to see this mentioned within a shop.

Bike Hub

Bike Hub is a Cycle Industry levy fund which was initially set up by the Bicycle Association (BA) and the Association of Cycle Traders (ACT). Participating retailers and suppliers donate of proportion of the value of each sale they make toward the fund which is then used to help deliver schemes like Bike Week and Bike It (delivered through Sustrans). Retailers who contribute to this fund are investing a little back into cycling in the UK.

Talk to the salesperson:

Salespeople who are keen cyclists themselves will have a wealth of useful knowledge - good ones won't try to force it down your neck! A salesperson who does not cycle will not really know what they are talking about.

Find out about services, maintenance and repairs:

Bike components bed in after the first few weeks of riding, and a good bike shop will readjust everything which needs doing after this for free. Many will also offer reduced rates on maintenance and repairs for longer periods - a year or two, or even the lifetime of the bike.

Ask about customisation:

If you are buying a new bike, most good bike shops will not charge you for fiting the accessories at the time of purchase.
Most good shops will also allow you to change things that aren't quite right on the bike, if you want to swap the saddle for example - though they'll probably ask you to pay the difference if you are getting a more expensive one!

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