The Cycle Gear Saga

I don’t like the negative turn that this post and my last one have taken. But this has simply been my experience this week, and I share my experiences with you, so here we are.

My motorcycle needed a new front tire. When researching local options, I found there was a Cycle Gear just half an hour away. I’ve had great experiences with them in Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as Tampa, Florida, and at their tent at IMS Outdoors. The tires I’m running are a matched pair. Only the front has worn out, and the rear has about half its life left (this is normal for these particular tires), so I ordered an exact replacement for the front to be shipped to the Springfield, Oregon store, half an hour away. I called them to ask how I go about getting it mounted and balanced. They told me to simply bring the wheel in anytime, and they do it on a first-come, first-served basis while I wait. Great! So I pulled the wheel off the bike in the barn, took the van to the store, and planned to get some work done online while I waited an hour or two for them to do their thing.

Expectation vs. Reality

When I arrived, I had to wait about 15 minutes to find a human being. I could hear them all joking around in the back room having a great old time. When a human finally appeared, he told me I’d have to leave my wheel there and come back. They were seriously backed up and hadn’t even checked in any delivered tires for the past four days. Maybe they wouldn’t be so backed up if they weren’t joking around in the back room instead of working. Doing both at the same time is perfectly acceptable as well — I like joking around, too — as long as they’re actually paying attention to customers who walk in.

I told them that they’d said on the phone the previous day I could have it done while I waited. The guy told me that might’ve been the case at the time I called, but it wasn’t the case now. This was a lie, because he’d also just told me they were so busy they hadn’t checked in any tire deliveries for four days, so they knew how backed up they were.

They already had my new tire (whether they knew it or not), and I didn’t know any other motorcycle shops in the area who could mount it. If I did, I would’ve told them to give me my tire, then told them where to go. Instead, I reluctantly left them my front wheel. If they knew they could get to it that day, I would’ve bummed around the area, gotten some work done, seen some sights, and picked it up later in the day. But they weren’t even sure they’d get to it the same day. So I hit the highway and drove back to Cottage Grove.

Wild Goose Chase

It was a half hour drive back to my friends’ place. Half an hour after I got there, Cycle Gear called to tell me my tire was ready to pick up. Great! Maybe they wanted to make things right and make a disappointed customer happy.

I drove back a little while later. That was when they told me no, my tire wasn’t mounted. The phone call was just to tell me that it had arrived at the store — something I already knew from an automated email, as well as the UPS package track. I’d just wasted an hour’s drive and a bit of expensive gas because they’d lied to me again.

Once again, I was willing to wait for it, even if it meant waiting until they closed at 7:00 pm, so that I wouldn’t have to make a third trip when I should’ve only needed to make one. But they still wouldn’t make any guarantee they’d get to it that day, despite all the lies and wasted time and gas they’d put me through. So once again, I left empty handed. This was also a busy work day for me, and while I’m fortunate enough to have a flexible schedule, I had to keep working well into the evening to make up the time they’d wasted to keep my projects on schedule.

New Day, New Crew

As tempted as I was to call them at 10:30 am the next day to see if they’d mounted my tire yet, I told myself they’d only just opened at 10:00, and to relax. I decided if they hadn’t called by 4:30 or so, I’d start harassing them, because at that point they’d be delaying my travel plans because of what should’ve been an in-and-out job.

Around 2:00 pm, they called me to say it was ready. I resisted the urge to say “Really, this time,” or demand photographic proof as one friend suggested. Keith threw me the key to their Miata, which would save me gas and make the drive a whole lot more fun.

I walked in, preparing to engage in intellectual combat with an unarmed opponent. There were two people working the counter, different people than the previous day, as opposed to none at all. One of them went out back and brought my wheel and new tire out to me. I signed the paperwork to confirm I’d picked it up, and that was it. Easy peasy, just like it should be, and like all of my other Cycle Gear experiences have been. But I did check to make sure they’d mounted the tire in the proper direction, because this particular store had destroyed any trust I had in them. The tire pressure was wrong for the front of a Kawasaki KLR650, but overinflation to seat the bead is normal when mounting a tire, and I always set the pressure myself before riding off on a new tire anyway, so I don’t hold this against them.

I’m not bashing Cycle Gear as a company. I went to an underperforming store on a particularly bad day. I will be contacting the company to tell them about my poor experience. I also have strong reservations about using Cycle Gear store I have no experience with to replace a tire again. This is unfortunate, because a national chain that can always get me the tires I want and replace them in a timely manner would be a wonderful thing for a traveler like me.

Honestly, even if they’d told me during my first phone call that I’d have to drop off my wheel and come back the next day, I would’ve been fine with that. In fact, I would’ve dropped off the wheel earlier than I did, just so they’d have it, and to put myself a little higher up the waiting list. It was the repeated lies and false information, then doubling down on them, that really upset me. Even if I do try another Cycle Gear the next time I need motorcycle tires, I absolutely will not return to the Springfield, Oregon location again, not even for a cheap pair of gloves.

Anyway. I have my new tire and wheel back. My bike is back in one piece, ready to ride. That means I can start loading my tools and the bike itself into my trailer, and start getting ready to hit the road once again. Despite my last two rant posts, I’ve had an extremely enjoyable stay with Keith and Laurel, playing frisbee with their daughter Victoria, and the infinite number of dogs, cats, and other critters around here. Even Lister has made some new feline friends. I definitely plan to come back next year and explore Oregon a bit more. I’ll just wait until a little bit later in the year when temperatures are a bit warmer than they were at the beginning of May.

But for now, it’s time to continue the journey north.

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