Thoughts on REI?



Scott'sTrek1000

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Jul 28, 2004
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I'm gonna take my bike to REI this weekend so I can get it (hopefully) fit better to me. What experiences have you had with them?
 

mikendres

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Aug 17, 2004
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Scott'sTrek1000 said:
I'm gonna take my bike to REI this weekend so I can get it (hopefully) fit better to me. What experiences have you had with them?
Im not so sure REI would be a good resource for fitting. I would first try a more high end bike shop first.
 

mikendres

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Aug 17, 2004
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I made a change to my last post because after I asked if you were from michigan, I clicked on your name and saw you were from NM. Sorry.

Try a high-end local bike shop if you can first. REI might not be the best resource for fittings. Getting fitted is such serious stuff....and sometimes at REI you get stuck with someone who is not that knowledgable in that area.

Scott'sTrek1000 said:
Nope. New Mexico
 

rule62

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Aug 16, 2004
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I actually bought a bike from REI (Novara Buzz.) When I contacted their local store guys with a couple of basic set-up questions, they were really quick to tell me that I should call their Seattle location because that was where I would find the "real bike shop guys." Based upon the conversations and dealings that I ended up having with the Seattle bike shop guys, I was anything but impressed. I ended up going by my now beloved LBS for a complimentary (translates free) fitting and have never thought of going anywhere else since.

Some of REI's cycling gear can be had at decent prices especially if you catch them in a sale, but that is about the extent of my use for them since purchasing my bike.

Your experience at your REI location may be very different, but I would sure check with them first to even see if they are up for it.

Hope this helps. ;)
 

daveornee

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Sep 18, 2003
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rule62 said:
I actually bought a bike from REI (Novara Buzz.) When I contacted their local store guys with a couple of basic set-up questions, they were really quick to tell me that I should call their Seattle location because that was where I would find the "real bike shop guys." Based upon the conversations and dealings that I ended up having with the Seattle bike shop guys, I was anything but impressed. I ended up going by my now beloved LBS for a complimentary (translates free) fitting and have never thought of going anywhere else since.

Some of REI's cycling gear can be had at decent prices especially if you catch them in a sale, but that is about the extent of my use for them since purchasing my bike.

Your experience at your REI location may be very different, but I would sure check with them first to even see if they are up for it.

Hope this helps. ;)

I agree with rule62; there are some very good REI bicycle employees and some not good for details above and beyond pricing, availability, and scheduling your service. In the Chicago area (Niles and Oakbrook Terrace), the shop managers and some of the employees are quite good, but remember you are dealing with $8/hr. people for the floor sales staff who get very little in-house training.
I would call ahead and ask some questions.
Do they have a selection of stems with differing rise and extension?
Do they have seat posts appropriate to your potential needs?
Can they schedule a time when you can set up your bicycle on a trainer to evaluate position issues?.... when would that be?..... and will the "fit experienced person" be able to spend the time doing it when you are available.
I have seen all these things done at the REI in Oakbrook Terrace by the shop manager who is now in Niles.
I suppose the same questions could be used for any shop where you might go for a fitting.... as well as any other specifics you know you want checked such as cleat positioning.
 

Bob N.

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Sep 14, 2004
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I bought my Hybrid at REI which was less expensive than LBS. The folks in there have been helpful thus far. Recent woe has been rear tire going flat after rides but not during. They thought they had given me a "bad tube" and replaced and installed it free. I had run my finger along inside of tire and found nothing, neither did they. Found out through further investigation myself that it was a bit of glass that was flush on the outside and would only poke through when I rode.

So, they've helped this "newbie", but I certainly haven't put them to much of a test.
 

ahimsa

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Aug 25, 2004
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My experience with the bike guys at REI has also been mixed, but negative enough to drive me away. Mostly the problem I found is that the ones I dealt with were highly opionated and I heard several given out bad advice that I truly think they didn't know was bad.

I attribute this to having enough knowledge to impress a human resources rep that knows quite a bit less, but not enough knowledge to be a benefit to the customers.

On the other hand, I have a buddy that worked as a mechanic for a while there and they actually paid for him to go the Barnett's school.
 

weremichael

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Jul 14, 2004
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Just to play devils advocate, don't all retail joints basically pay their employees about $8 hour. When I worked for REI (Eugene, OR), I did get on the job training. The entire bike department went to Seattle to test ride next years bikes and attend a seminar on fitting riders to bikes.

I assume most employees at bikeshops can get training if they express the desire to learn to their employer. So REI, LBS, or Supergo are all basically the same, just people. Some people live and breath bikes, some don't. Some shops have master techs, some don't.

What it truly comes down to is finding your favorite bike shop EMPLOYEE and stick with them. The shop really doesn't matter that much, because most shops will have to order higher end parts anyway.

Michael
 

RC2

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May 21, 2004
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Just because you're in NM means there's no high end bikeshops? I can sure find a ton that will sell me bikes for 5 grand or more. And some with great staff. Do some research before making blanket statements. For fitting I'd recommend fat tire cyclery on montano, they have a great staff and setup for fitting.
 

chispa60

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Sep 12, 2004
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I concur with weremichael, it pretty much boils down to the employee (or bike tech) your talk to. Usually the folks that work with the bikes are really into it. And almost always you can spot the guys (and gals) who are just a tome of knowledge or really excited about bikes that they'll search hi and low to find the answer to your question.

On the flip side, it's a bit hard to compare REI to retail stores or even bike shops as a whole, because it's somewhere in between.

On one side you've got REI the "retailer". They have a bunch of different stuff (from bikes to hiking/camping to boats to climbing) which means that their selection for each has to be smaller (unless you're at the Flagship store on the west coast). Meanwhile, the consumer can rake in all the benefits of REI, such as their return policy (it's actually quite nice considering all things).

On the flip side, you've got REI as specific shops (like the bike shop or the ski shop). We're talking highly trained techs that are put through a good bit of training (these are the folks fixing the skis/bikes). Just like ahimsa said, they do pay techs to go to Barnett's. Quite an investment don't you think? And while we're at the subject matter, REI brand of bikes (Novara's) are fairly comparable to other mid-range bikes. Granted the name isn't as recognizable as say Trek, Specialized, or Cannondale, but they do try to put good components on their bikes. Value-wise, they do a pretty good job.

Now I'm over here on the east coast, and my overall experience with REI has led me to work PT for them. It's a pretty nice atmosphere, but several posters are right when they comment on how little the employees get paid (less than $8/hour). They do try to offset it though.
 

litespeedguy

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Sep 13, 2003
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It all boils down to people - I'm sure you can find very knowledgable bike people at some REI store.

I went the "word of mouth" route and asked someone that I work with who races for a recommendation - I've been satisfied.

It can end up being trial and error though - there are very good mechanics out there - it's just a matter of finding them !