By Martin Sigrist
My Tacx Neo finally gave up the ghost yesterday. To be fair it’s been a long time coming. It is one of the originals — I’ve forgotten how long ago I got it. I tried a few repairs and they sort of worked but not that well and yesterday it just didn’t want to turn. I’ve checked Youtube and there may be ways to fix it so I’ll order the parts and give it a go. But since winter is coming, I thought it best to treat it, even if I get it going again, as a backup and buy a new one. Especially since I know the design flaw in mine has been fixed on the new version so it should see me into my 70s.
So I went to my local bike shop (LBS) where I bought the original to see if they had one in stock or could order one in.
I know I could have stayed in the comfort of my own home, clicked a few buttons and got one delivered.
But here’s the thing. I like going to my local shop. I see people I know, including the owner, Mark. He’s a local cyclist who started his shop because he wanted to buy a bike and couldn’t find one locally.
So when I started cycling, knowing nothing about a bike except it had two wheels I had a local place I could go to and talk to a real person who was enthusiastic and knew his stuff. Mark guided me through the options and I ended up with the perfect choice for what I needed, an early Specialized Roubaix. I used it as a fast tourer and when I wanted to find a way to descend safely when going down a long -10% mountain descent full of hairpins in the pouring rain, Mark replaced the front forks with those from a MTB and I had a road bike with discs that I trusted to stop when I needed to to over a decade before manufacturers realized that others may want the same.
As a loyal customer I get a 10 percent discount, and I don’t begrudge the marginal extra I have to pay compared to shopping online if it goes towards keeping something I value being a part of the community.
So I went in and asked if I could order a new Neo.
To be told no, I can’t.
Garmin has taken over Tacx, and their distributor has stopped allowing my local shop to sell their products.
And it not just trainers. I can’t buy any Garmin products locally any more either.
I spent my entire career working for one of the best private enterprise companies in the world. So I’m a fan of the free market. It works. But my company also lived by some key principles and one of those was responsibility.
I have to ask myself how a major company like Garmin is acting in a responsible manner by saying, in effect, it doesn’t believe in or support local businesses that provide a service to local communities.
And my answer is “No. They aren’t.”
I’m also not entirely sure that their bean counters have done their calculations correctly.
I got my first Garmin because I’d got a bike, wanted a head unit and so bought one from the store where I’d bought my bike. It’s a pretty easy sale to any new bike owner who’s got a bike they think they will want to use for training and doesn’t want to risk using a phone that may be worth more than the bike itself for the purpose. That first Garmin was upgraded, and was later replaced and other compatible Garmin products were purchased to work with it.
Anyone in business will tell you that the first sale is the most important sale. It opens a door. When I went into my local shop all that time ago, I got service that made me want to come back for more.
Perhaps the numbers will add up and Garmin will somehow makeup for the opportunities lost as a result of their, IMO, irresponsible policy.
But they have for sure lost a $1,000 sale to Wahoo in this instance.
And they have lost something else from me too. Respect. I used to recommend Garmin. I have done so here in RBR. But never again.
With choices come consequences. Garmin have chosen not to support local businesses. The consequence is they won’t be getting any of my business in the future.
Now among the world’s fittest sexagenarians Martin Sigrist started riding on doctor’s orders in 2005 and had to push his bike up his first hill. Next year he soloed the Tour de France. He has since experienced every form of road cycling from criterium to ultra endurance. His ongoing mission is to use the latest in science and technology to fight a, so far successful, battle against Father Time.
Next Article: Less Salt, More Potassium to Help Prevent Heart Attacks