These are a few companies I have dealt with personally without difficulty.
There are definitely more out there, but I won't recommend what I haven't used myself. Please don't email me asking me to add your company to this list unless I'm already on your customer list. Do feel free to send me your catalog, and if I end up doing business with you and liking it, I'll add you to the list.
Nashbar has been around forever, used to have a catalog full of technical specs and line drawings, even frame building supplies and everything. Then lycra became fashionable and color printing got cheaper, and they became as much a fashion catalog as a parts supplier. Still, good prices and broad selection for a mail order catalog, and they often have good closeout deals. Now a part of Performance, but with a different selection, lots more closeouts, still a bit more of a bike-geek feel to it.
Reasonable selection and prices, many mid- and lower-priced items the racer-oriented catalogs don't carry; fast service. Used to be the biggest mail order competitor to Nashbar, then bought Nashbar, and now also has several retail bike shops around the country.
A real bike shop, not a mailorder house, but they will do mail order including special orders from Quality and other distributors. An excellent service to have if your local shop doesn't like strange special orders. Also an excellent information site on the web. And of course, Sheldon Brown works there. (If you don't know why that matters, do check out SheldonBrown.com.)
Knowledgeable staff, good high-end road and mountain racing selection but not much for touring or commuting, has some items that aren't in the catalog. A very well-illustrated catalog.
Started as a co-op for mountaineering gear in Seattle, now a general outdoor gear supplier with stores around the country and a good web catalog.
Their cycling gear ranges from small parts to their own Novara line of bicycles -- the Randonne is an excellent choice for an off-the-shelf touring bike, though like most touring bikes with Shimano drivetrains, they'd be better for touring if Shimano made a real touring triple instead of their overgeared "road triple" with a too-big 30 tooth granny gear.
I've had good experiences with the in-store service from REI's Seattle store, but some of their branch stores have very spotty reputations for service and selection. Still, even the worst of their stores has REI's warranty service.
(Somehow, mentioning REI always brings up the chain vs. local retailer debate, so here's my out: for me, REI *is* local. Their corporate headquarters, distribution center, and a good retail store are all within cycling distance of my house, and I've been shopping with them since the '70s.)
Also check out REI-OUTLET.com for deals on unfashionable colors, last year's style, etc.
Not a cycling catalog, a general clothing and outdoor gear overstocks catalog, often has good prices on last year's cycling clothes and some bike accessories.
Sells bicycle posters, mugs, ties, art, gifts, etc. Huge selection, decent prices, reliable service.
Home of Rivendell custom bicycle frames, and a catalog that specializes in old-fashioned, reliable componentry. Home of the original retrogrouch -- friction shifting, non-aero brake levers, leather saddles, beeswax, etc.
The leading U.S. supplier for the Schmidt SON hub generator system, and an excellent supplier of hard-to-find touring equipment. Need a 160mm triple crank? It's in stock today...
A treasure-trove of reprinted vintage cycling catalogs and other literature, including catalogs from Claud Butler, Campagnolo, Frejus, Ron Kitching, Stronglight, VAR, Zeus, and more. High quality copies in my experience, excellent reference data without the collector premium of original catalogs.
Custom-tailored cycling clothes (and clothes for other sports where aerodynamics and comfort are important -- ice and inline skating, cross-country skiing, bobsled, luge, etc.) at costs comparable to mid-priced off-the-rack clothing. Excellent quality for anyone, and a godsend for the unusually-proportioned.
I have a separate listing of suppliers for framebuilding if that's what brought you here.
This page written by Joshua Putnam. Please feel free to email questions, comments, corrections, suggestions, etc.
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