Swobo Adventures Pt 6 – Conclusion (Why I’ll Never buy Another Swobo Nor Another Bike from Wheelworks Ever Again)

(part 5)

I really love my Dixon.

My proportionally short legs makes it very difficult to find bicycles to fit. Any average bike that should fit an average 5′ 4″ person digs into my private parts when met with my below-average stand over (discounting ‘ladies frames’). I took months trying out bikes and reading frame specs:  Specialized, Redline, Trek, Masi, Marin, Iro, Surly (ohgodsowantonethatfits),…nothing worked until I straddled a Swobo (that’s what she said. harharharsnorthar).

During this debacle I promised myself that I’d seek revenge:  I’d write to consumer advocacy groups in both California and Massachusetts, Better Business Bureau, the Attorney General’s office for Swobo’s failure to honor the warranty, write to every bicycle review group, the whole 9 yards and then some. But now that the bike is back, all of that just sounds like, well,  even more time to be wasted.

Total cost of SNAFU:

  • Shipping of frame $28
  • T pass for nearly two months = $100+
  • Pain and suffering (as any good lawyer might suggest. Specifically: irretrievable time on MBTA, catching of swine flu from MBTA, loss of productivity/sick days)

So much of this experience could have been avoided if people could just communicate.  Swobo to Ace, Ace to Swobo, Ace to me, Swobo to me. Since I’ve been a regular bicycle commuter, this was the single most unsatisfactory customer service experience I’ve received from any local bicycle shop.  Ace is literally one block from my house, and it is Oh-So-Convenient for me to go and pick up parts when I need them.  But I’m done.

Ace is not going to suffer from losing my business, and Swobo will care less about me not buying a Sanchez (in fact, I kind of care about not having a Sanchez. It’s such a nice bike.) But it is still a choice I have, and I choose to spend my money elsewhere, where I am treated as I treated my customers, once upon a time as a retail associate.

I’ll ride out the repair. If it proves to be solid, great. If the frame fails me again, then, oh, let the wrath begin.  Oh and – I’ll probaby still Yelp.

2-month Post-Repair Update:

Frame is going strong, new fender holding. Snow/salt/ice got nothing on me and my Dixon, dressed in its wintry studded rubber.  I’ve not been to Ace once since this incident, and have gone out of my way to patronize other local bicycle shops (Paramount, ATA Cycle, Park Sales, Menotomy Vintage Bicycles. I can vouch for the awesomeness of all of these vendors with the exception of ATA Cycles, having only been there once. Broadway I respect, but I don’t love…but that’s another story.)  I’m happy with this decision so far, and am enjoying riding more – by taking the bike further away.


  1. hapto Said,

    February 3, 2010 @ 11:44 am

    well damn. another reason for me to continue my Ace Boycott



    I’ve found ATA ok… for proximity and coolness… tho I know most of the staff by now, and I think that *REALLY* helps.
    OPEN cycles is also really good, and like, even clean your bike while its up on the stand… tho they need to get themselves together and make some orging system for getting things done.

    But pretty much every shop has screwed something up in one way or another… and its true… HOW they handle the screw-up is the biggest piece of the pie.

  2. Dan/pocky Said,

    March 30, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

    Wow. I saw this on your Facebook and had to read. This is an amazing story, but I’m totally not shocked.

    I got a distinctly bad vibe from Belmont Wheelworks when I was taking my friend bike shopping a few years ago. I took her to numerous places all over town, and although Belmont is a different shop than Ace, I’m sure the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    Basically, the story goes, it wasn’t very crowded in there, and we were looking at lots of stuff ourselves, while no salesperson even so much as introduced themself. Eventually we asked for a salesperson to come help us, and he came over, pointed at the bike we were interested in and asked for more like it, and he essentially said “yeah, that’s what we’ve got”, and walked away. That shop seems to cater to some fairly high-end clientele, and my assumption at the time was that the salesperson would rather have spent time looking for a high-paying customer than get our business anyway.

    I took her to Back Bay Bicycles, where I bought my Kona, and reaffirmed the great experience I’ve remembered getting from them. Back Bay is the only place in town that I know of that does free lifetime tune-ups on all bikes they sell. Lifetime. That says a lot. They spent a lot of time with her and while doing so, they sent me out to demo a Jake the Snake, even though they knew I had no intention of buying one — they just clearly wanted to do right by a customer who was bringing them repeat business. When I came back they made a suggestion to *me* about what I should recommend to her — she was a bit heavier, and they made sure to describe to me the advantages of a stronger wheel — without embarrassing her. Suffice it to say, she ended up buying a Specialized from them.

    I’ve also gotten really good vibes from Harris Cyclery in West Newton (the late Sheldon Brown’s shop) and also from Simple Living Cycles in Framingham (the real deal — an honest guy with a tiny shop packed to the gills with high-quality, inexpensive, no-frills stuff).

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