Strangling the Internet softly

March 30, 2016 § 27 Comments

I was riding along, minding my own business, trying to look like a very excellent profamateur. The four riders in front of me were all very excellent profamateurs and one of them was actually a professional.

I was feeling highly excellent, as this was my second Donut Ride back after my terrible bicycle-falling-off-incident in which I tumbled off the bicycle and broke my left nutsack. We were on PV Drive North and, as I believe I have already mentioned, I was doing very excellently.

Suddenly my profamateur suplesse was shattered by a horrible grinding and clunking and thunking and greenking and scranking noise that leapt up from the throat of my rear wheel like a terrible, garlic-and-onion-and-pizza-infused beer belch that will not be denied. “Here I go again,” I panickedly thought as I stopped pedaling with excellence and my face froze in a rictus of terror as I contemplated falling off my bicycle again and re-cracking my barely healed nutsack.

The others looked back to see why I had suddenly decided to set off a string of firecrackers and I coasted to a halt. I gingerly put my foot down and saw my chain hanging limply, with pieces of my SRAM Red derailleur cage attached. I was shaking, so certain had I been that a falling-off-incident was imminent.

Destroyer began examining the expired derailleur as Holloway went back to collect the shards of derailleur. Charon somehow had an extra plastic baggie and put the pieces inside. Destroyer called Uber and in a few minutes I was on my way home.


Always wear your helmet in the Uber car.

That afternoon I got a call from French Toast Ride Director Sportif Dave Jaeger. “Dude,” he said. “I heard you broke a derailleur.”

“Word travels fast.”

“I got a brand new SRAM Red 10-speed still in the box. It’s yours. Come and get it.”

“Really? How much? I’ll need to check behind the couch cushions.”

“It’s yours. I upgraded to 11-speed and don’t want or need it. If you can warranty the broken one, I’ll take it, but if you can’t, no worries.”

I got the new derailleur and went over to Boozy P.’s. “Dude,” he said. “What happened?”

“Obviously, the SRAM Red 10-speed is highly defective.”

“It is?”

“Yeah. I’ve only had it for about five years and it’s only got about 65,000 miles on it. It’s practically new.”

“Of course it is,” Boozy P. said, putting down his morning beer. “But isn’t that the same derailleur you crashed on in November and ground half of the derailleur body off when you slid across the road?” He had emptied the plastic baggie and was looking at the mangled parts.

“Yes, but it’s still clearly defective. Plus, all the stuff that got ground off was non-essential vitamins and minerals.”

“All vitamins are essential, Wanky.”

Boozy P. slurped down a few more essential vitamins, then slapped on the new derailleur and handed me back the baggie. He paused for a second. “Wasn’t this also the same derailleur that King Harold had to disassemble for you on the Donut a few months ago because you’d been trying to adjust it with Old. No. 72?”

“Coincidence,” I snapped.

“Be careful out there.”

I got home and took out a padded envelope, addressed it to RIDE Cyclery in Encinitas, and penned this short letter.

“Hi, Brent. I bought this new in 2012 and it appears to either be defective or I crashed the shit out of it and destroyed it. Most likely the latter. I know it’s a long shot, but could you send it back to SRAM and see if they will warranty it for its defective failure not to withstand sliding 100-yards across the pavement at 30 mph?”

A couple of days later Brent sent me a terse text message. “Lovely package received. On it.”

A couple of weeks later a nice brown unmarked box not filled with a bag of dicks arrived at my office. Brand new derailleur.

So when people tell me that the Internet is killing their bike shop, I think about Brent and his shop that is doing so well in Encinitas that he opened another one in Carlsbad. Off the hook service is his standard, and standing behind what he sells is a principle, not a slogan. And when I think about standing behind their product and giving the customer the benefit of the doubt I think of SRAM.

Maybe Internet bike shops aren’t so invincible after all.


It’s bike parts, honey, really.



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§ 27 Responses to Strangling the Internet softly

  • Edwin says:

    So Specialized not; SRAM yes. Looking forward to your next product placement.

  • Tom Paterson says:

    “I don’t always try to warranty my abused and broken bike parts, but when I do, I warranty with SRAM. Stay upright, my friends!”

  • JF says:

    This is SO interesting!

  • Spinner says:

    Campy, at one time, provided the same kind of service: broke a Record crank that I had used for, ummmm, I don’t remember how long (senior moment), crashed on at least 6 times and generally abused with, ummm, “big power”. Sent me a new pair NO QUESTIONS ASKED….If I lived in SCal I would be a loyal customer of Brent and his shops.

  • Brian in VA says:

    I’ve found Garmin to also be this responsive, replacing something that actually flew off my bike due to incorrect attachment by yours truly. While I appreciate really good customer service from manufacturers, and especially my bike shop, I can’t help but wonder (a teeny bit) if the manufacturers feel the need to be able to do this because the components cost so friggin much.

    I was prepared to pay $214 for a new shift lever from Shimano when my wrench discovered it was a cable that had frayed and was dragging causing it not to shift. That seemed a tad excessive…… I was fortunate the mechanic knew was he knew.

    • fsethd says:

      Product costs 13 cents to make. Breaks. Replacement costs 24 cents, keeps customer happy when obsolete product is replaced by 11 cent new product that retails for $987.22.

  • shano92107 says:

    Props to SRAM, they bailed me out at SLO CX 2 years ago when they had their SRAM Red van at all the races. Nice folks, that kinda stuff makes you think twice b4 plopping down the cheddah for a new tranny

  • Deb says:

    “Suddenly my profamateur suplesse was shattered….” Should the whole bike blogging thing get old, you could try romance novels. 😉

  • Dan says:

    Kudos on having the package sent to your office. while THIS transaction was fee of charge I am certain that many others past and future were not. Keeps the bosslady from nailing you on how much you spent when said package arrives at home. Chapeau

    • fsethd says:

      You have to plan ahead. Never plan behind.

    • Joe C says:

      Learning to send all my purchases, and new bikes, to the office was one of the worst things I ever learned. My bank account has never been the same.

      • fsethd says:

        For years I just had them send my stuff to random addresses. Kept my online ordering way down.

  • Allan says:

    Now what’s wrong with a little customer service? There are only a very small handful of LBS’ that actually give a shit about CS, which is why I bottom-dollar shop. If I’m not gonna get the service, I may as well save as much as I can on the (according to the fuzzy math here) 7594% markup…

    I actually have (finally) found a shop with very good service, and guess what, they’ve already wrung more Benjamins out of me than most of the internet purchases I’ve made over the past few years.

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