REVIEW: Bike Gallery Downtown


Overall Rating: 3 Stars

I would like to preface this by saying, I have given Bike Gallery my business for many years, not just downtown but at their Woodstock and Hollywood branches as well. This review is about the downtown branch on SW 10th & Salmon in Portland and is based on my last several years of experiences there.
My most recent experience caused me to actually remove my bicycle from the shop: The mechanic was completely unsympathetic that my bicycle was stolen and that I was in there to fix a stop-gap bike, telling me that I needed all kinds of repairs on Gem (the little Huffy someone purchased from Target circa 1989) before I could ride her at all. After a loose look at everything ‘needed’, he estimated that those repairs would take over a week. COME AGAIN? So I had just said my bicycle was stolen and I don’t have a car and I needed this one to be just good enough to commute to work and to get around town in general UNTIL I FIND A NEW BICYCLE, and was told it would take over a week? What was I supposed to do for the next 8+ days?
Further, the mechanic summed the likely cost of repairs at nearly $100– most of the cost of the entire bicycle when I got it in 2012. Even when I told him that fact, he was inflexible on taking away any of the billed items to reduce the cost, saying they were all “absolutely mandatory” and seemed unconcerned when I asked whether I could even get any of that back in resale value. (I didn’t even get an answer.) The final offer was his reluctantly taking away putting new tape on the handlebars, bringing the total to $70 so that I could get by for a few weeks on essentially a toy bike.

That’s me and Gem with the white tires
The worst part was that he was absolutely sure I needed a new rear tire and that I would have to put a black one on. (The tires are white.) I asked if I could have some time to find a white one and he assured me I wouldn’t be able to, saying they don’t carry them at the shop and that they didn’t make this bicycle anymore and that it was “probably an unusual size”. Ever hear of Ebay, sir? There are white tires around.

Leaving there, I felt really bad about the transaction. Fortunately, my fabulous lady cyclist friend Eleena lent me her bicycle (she is also looking for a new one), so I was able to pull Gem out of there. As the subject of a later review, I brought Gem elsewhere and was not upsold on a new tire or anything else, and after a thorough look at the bicycle, I was told repairs would cost $24.

One bad apple shouldn’t spoil the bunch, though.

In general, I like the staff at Bike Gallery a lot, and this person was someone I’d never seen there before. So I don’t want this interaction to be the entire review for the shop (although on Yelp, the above is all they’re going to see, and I hope that employee’s condescending attitude gets put in check real fast). Still generally speaking, though, I have wanted to do a review for some time now, as this employee left a particularly bad taste but his behavior is not so far out of the norm.

Service: 3 (out of 5)

  • The high rating is driven by the quality of service. The staff is consistently helpful and knowledgeable, and I can really feel the difference when I ride away. Often they have gone out of their way to make sure the bicycle is working, and I have no real recollection of riding away unhappy– except for a recent brake adjustment on Green Lantern that still squealed.
  • They do a good job, but they are slow. Yes, they have quite a few bicycles back in the shop in need of repairs, and yes, I always see them working away. Up until recently, I didn’t consider them unduly slow, but in hindsight, 2 days to replace a tire tube is a bit much.
  • The staff has always been friendly and helpful, but they are big on trying to upsell you. At times staff members act visibly miffed if they see you’re not going for it, or (most annoyingly) they will keep trying anyway. Sometimes, when an upsell has worked, I walk away feeling not entirely great about the experience and have had to talk myself into it.
  • Sometimes the “upsell” is just insulting, like the several times when I walked in with Green Lantern and was told by various sales staff that he wasn’t that great for me and that they had some brand new bicycles that would be better. You think? I’m walking in with a customized vintage Peugeot so maybe I’m actually not in the market for a new bicycle when all I need are brakes tightened. One staff member seemed visibly annoyed that I wasn’t looking to buy a bike at that time, even though I have always been a paying customer for maintenance and merchandise.

Hours: 2/5

The hours are 9:30am to 6pm, which is completely inconvenient for the average professional. Having to walk an un-rideable bicycle over to them, or worse, put it on the back of a car and brave downtown traffic/ parking, is a big hassle. I’ve had to, at times, completely arrange my day (and sometimes my boyfriend’s day) around picking up and/or dropping off a bicycle within their allotted time frame.

Parts: 4/5

They use great quality parts, even on their low-end. Everything is new (which is good and bad). They do carry a spectrum of qualities, ranging from “standard” to “high-quality” to “top tier” to “built by astronauts for professional cyclists with corporate sponsors”. Over the years and the course of several bicycles, I have purchased from them my Bontrager water bottle setup, a bell, a rear rack, a front basket, pedals, handlebars, brake pads, tires and tubes, and various apparel. All of the above I have been completely happy with (and undoubtedly there’s more that escapes me at the moment).

Price: 2/5

Value for the Money: 4/5

Here is the biggest caveat that overshadows all of the other categories: THEY ARE PRICEY. You will get great parts and service, but you will pay for that. It speaks to their clientelle that they are pricey yet still try to heavily upsell you– and it’s true, I see them working on a lot of racing bikes and talking to people who put (literally) 10,000 miles per year on their $10,000 bicycles.

So there is an expectation that for the money, you are getting the best, and I find that to be true. You get a good value if you are willing to pay. For fabulous girls who are less price conscious who want to drop off their bicycles and come back a few days later with everything they wanted in good working order, this is the place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s