5 Reasons why you Should Shop at your Local Bike Shop

Every few weeks an argument breaks out in the Mtbr forums over whether a user should buy XYZ gadget or gizmo at the local bike shop or online. If you’re looking at things from a purely monetary perspective, it’s usually a no brainer. Online retailers almost always offer lower prices. Sometimes they even sell them for less than bike shops can purchase them at wholesale. But if you look past the dollar signs, there are dozens of reasons why should you still patronize your local shop. Here are five reasons why.

1. See and Feel

When you’re spending big bucks on a new bike or component, you want to be able to see and feel the product. If your local shop is a dealer, there’s a good chance they have your dream bike on the floor. Better yet, they may offer an in-house demo program. Some brands offer demo tours but the event dates are limited and your desired model may not be available. If you demo at your local shop, they may charge a fee, but you’ll be credited that sum if you end up purchasing a bike.


2. Knowledge

Reviews are a great way to do basic research, but your bike shop has access to knowledge most websites and magazines don’t. Because shops do dozens of bike repairs each day, they know first hand what components fail and which brands stand behind their product. They also have first-hand knowledge about how specific items fair on your local terrain. 

Another piece that’s often overlooked is parts compatibility. There are so many new (and old) standards, that it’s easy to accidentally order the wrong part. We’ve all done it. If you’re inexperienced, relying on a shop is your best bet. 

Even more importantly, a bike shop will make sure that your bike is set-up properly. You can learn all about suspension tuning and cleat position online, but a 2-minute YouTube video is no substitute for an experienced professional.

3. Service Plans

Any bike shop worth it’s loam offers some sort of tune-up policy. For example, the folks at Calgary Cycle offer original owners a lifetime tune-up service that covers brake and drivetrain adjustments, a basic wheel true, and hub/bearing adjustments. Not every shop service plan is that generous, but most shops offer at least a free once a year safety inspection or tune-up.

4. Warranty

Parts break. Sometimes it’s your fault, sometimes it’s not. Whether you buy components online or in the store, you’re entitled to a replacement if you’re the original owner and your claim is reasonable. However, it can be a hassle to make a warranty claim outside of the local bike shop system. When you buy through a shop, they take care of all that drama.

A good bike shop will also go above and beyond for their customers. It’s not unusual to hear that a store has extra components stashed away to help out loyal customers while their parts are out for repair. 

5. There when you need them

While the allure of bargain basement online prices is real, when you need something right away, your local bike shop is there. Whether it’s a spoke or a random tool, they can get you back on the trail faster than UPS. 

Did you buy your last bike at a bike shop? Why or why not?

By Saris Mercanti


Boost your Mobility with PNF

PNF stretching is an extremely effective, time-efficient way to implement mobility training after your workouts. We'll show you how to do it!

You can't spend too much time trolling fitness websites without coming across the word "mobility." Want to squat better? Mobilize. Want to learn how to do cleans? Mobilize. Want to feel less sore after a workout? Foam roll and then mobilize. 

We agree that mobility and your muscles' range of motion are important factors in fitness. If you want to do an exercise correctly, chances are you're going to want your muscles and joints to move through the motion as smoothly and easily as possible. 

The trouble is that, for most of us, stretching is painful and boring. You know you're supposed to stretch after you work out, so you sit on your butt, touch your toes a few times, and maybe do some arm circles. "Is this even doing anything?" you wonder. "Eh, that's probably good. Time to eat." 

We've been there, too.

The answer to your problems may be proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching. PNF stretching, also called "active assisted stretching" has been found to better increase range of motion (ROM) than ballistic and static stretching.1-3 Although utilizing PNF stretching can't help you feel motivated to mobilize, it can help you make sure that what you're doing is time efficient and actually working. 


PNF stretching is always done in the same pattern: 10-second stretch, 6-second contraction, 30-second stretch. The first stretch should be just to the point of discomfort. The 6-second contraction is an active isometric contraction at submaximal effort (around 20-50 percent of your max effort) against a partner's or other implement's resistance. The final 30-second passive stretch should go beyond the range of your first stretch. This style of PNF is called "contract-relax."

Still a little unclear? We'll use a partner hamstring stretch as the real-world example: 

  1. Lie on your back with your legs and arms on the floor. Lift one leg and allow your partner to push against it until you feel slight discomfort in your hamstring, and stay in this position for 10 seconds.

  2. Next, push with your hamstrings against your partner's resistance for 6 seconds. Think about driving your heel towards the ground.

  3. Follow that contraction by relaxing into a passive stretch by your partner for 30 seconds. After the contraction, you should be able to move your muscle into a greater ROM during the passive stretch. 

This basic pattern can be implemented by pretty much anyone. However, there are a few variations you can use depending on your flexibility and comfort level:

  1. For the first variation, begin your PNF stretch just like you normally do by having your partner stretch your hamstring for 10 seconds. Then, instead of isometrically contracting against your partner, have him or her push against you just hard enough that you can contract and move your leg all the way down to the floor against their resistance. After you've moved your muscle through its entire ROM, you'll move into another 30-second passive stretch.

  2. The second variation, referred to as "contract relax agonist contract" (CRAC), calls for you to contract the opposing muscle of the target muscle, or the muscle being stretched. You'll go through the 10-second passive stretch and the 6-second contraction like usual. But as your partner begins pushing your leg into the 30-second stretch, you'll contract your quads to pull the hamstrings into a greater stretch.

Contracting the opposing muscle as the target muscle stretches can actually help increase that muscle's ROM, so you can get even more bang for your buck with this dual focus. 


Your muscles communicate with your nervous system by relaying messages from both sensory and motor neurons. Sensory neurons send sensory information—sight, sound, feeling, and more—to the brain or spinal cord.

Motor neurons, on the other hand, are responsible for stimulating a muscle contraction. When the communication between a motor neuron and muscle is reduced, the muscle relaxes. One of the ways this happens is through activation of golgi tendon organs.

Golgi tendon organs (GTOs) are sensory receptors located within muscle tendons. GTOs respond to changes in muscle tension and provide feedback to your brain to regulate muscle force. Think of it as a safety mechanism: When tension in the muscle reaches levels that could pose a potential risk of injury, GTOs are stimulated to cause the muscle to relax. 

PNF stretching works because the isometric contraction activates the GTO, ultimately allowing the muscle to lengthen and experience a greater ROM. This technique utilizes "autogenic inhibition," which relaxes a muscle after a sustained contraction is held for 6 seconds. This process allows your muscle to be stretched beyond its initial maximum.1-4

PNF can also work through what's called "reciprocal inhibition," which means one side of a joint relaxes to allow for the contraction of the other. Voluntary contraction of the opposing muscle has been shown to reduce activation levels in the target muscle, allowing it to lengthen and achieve greater gains in ROM.5,6

It's a pretty neat way to use those innate body processes to improve your mobility. 


Because PNF stretching may challenge your flexibility beyond your usual ability, it's not a good idea to do it when you're cold. The best time to implement PNF stretching is after you've trained, when your muscles are already warm. One full repetition of PNF for each target muscle is enough to increase your ROM. 

Start by implementing PNF stretching into your routine twice per week. Because you're challenging your muscles through a larger ROM, they may need a little time to recover before you hit them again, so wait a day or two between bouts of PNF. Whether you use PNF for a few weeks or a year, changes in ROM will occur.

The best way to use PNF stretching is to grab a partner. If you have a training partner, then you already have a PNF stretching partner!

By Cassie Smith And Krissy Kendall, PhD