MTB Egypt’s guide to Egyptian bike shops: 2013 edition
The market for high quality bicycles and cycling equipment in Egypt is still relatively very small, but with a rapidly growing potential. The past few years in particular have witnessed a significant growth in demand for high quality cycling equipment. MTB Egypt has been one of the main drivers behind this increase in this demand, being the country’s first homegrown mountain biking enthusiast group and having relentlessly promoted the sport in Egypt for several years now.
That said, Egypt still suffers a severe lack of professional bike shops. The selection of high quality bikes, cycling accessories and tools is still extremely limited. This is the reason why many MTB Egypt riders still opt to import their bikes and parts from abroad, often at the added expense of paying import duties on top of the purchase prices.
There are indeed a number of establishments that call themselves “bike shops” in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt, but these are far from being professionally managed, high quality cycling equipment and apparel retail stores for several reasons. In this article, we define what a good Local Bike Shop (LBS) should be/have, then we review a few of the better known local cycling stores to see how they measure up to the demands of the growing needs of cyclists in Egypt.
What makes a good local bike shop?
Many things contribute to considering a bike shop a “good”one, but in our opinion, these are the most important:
- An adequately varied selection of bikes, bike parts, accessories, and tools.
- Competitive pricing and/or the ability and willingness to offer more lucrative purchase deals in the age of discount pricing on the Internet.
- Professional after-sales service and skilled bike mechanic(s). This is what we perhaps consider the most important trait of a good bike shop.
- A good sense of the demands of the local cycling community, and quickly filling these demands.
Where are the good local bike shops in Egypt?
Whether big or small, any bike shop worth its weight MUST be able to fulfill the above four criteria to an adequate measure to be considered a “good” bike shop. What we can conclude from this is that, unfortunately (and at the time of writing this article): there are currently NO ‘good’ bike shops in Egypt! Non of the local bike shops adequately fulfill even some of the above mentioned criteria, and as such, the jury is still out.
How we evaluate bike shops in this guide?
We get an endless stream of questions from new mountain bikers in Egypt about where to buy their first bikes and stock up on spare parts and gear up with necessary accessories. We are always VERY hesitant to make any local recommendations, simply because we believe that non of the current options are good enough. Mountain biking is a sport that favors high-quality, durable and dependable bikes and equipment. For the purposes of having a rough guide, we will make this review of Egyptian bike shops an annual feature to be updated with new shops AND new information about existing shops.
In the below evaluation of four bike shops in Cairo, we will look at five evaluation points, and give a mark out of 2 (so ten points in total) as follows:
0= Below par/bad/non-existent.
1= Average. Could be improved.
The five points are:
- Availability of stock: (of a good selection of bikes/accessories/parts/tools/ and good stock of frame sizes).
- After-sales service/warranty/skilled bike mechanic.
- Market sense (do they have the stuff that cyclists in Egypt look for?)
The mark given on each of the five points will be at the end between parentheses like so (1). Then a total mark out of ten is given for each. 1 being a very bad bike shop, 10 being an outstanding one.
We will NOT provide links to or contact information for any of the reviewed shops because MTB Egypt is not affiliated with or does not particularly recommend any of them. They are also listed in alphabetical order.
How do the “bike shops” in Egypt measure up?
Abu El Goukh
Kind of an old name in importing cheap chinese bikes and parts in Egypt. Has a few branches around town but good luck figuring out if they’re the same management or just the same family name. The ‘main’ branch is in downtown Cairo in one of the worst locations to find a parking spot ever.
1. Availability of stock: Has a decent selection of low-end Obea bikes which are a favorite with beginner mountain bikers in Cairo. Nothing else is worth looking at in their showrooms including that “Torpedo” brand bike which are all no-name Chinese junk. Does not maintain a good stock of frame sizes, they seem to import mostly larger sizes. They do keep some stock of basic replacement parts and accessories, like derailleur hangers, (low quality) helmets, tires, water bottles, etc. They do not offer demo bikes. (1)
2. Pricing: The entry-level Orbeas are decently priced. (2)
3. Location. (0)
4. After-sales service/bike mechanics: Many bikes purchased from Abu EL Goukh we have personally seen/ridden have had issues with assembly (0)
5. Market sense: (1) They offer a reasonably-priced beginner bikes and basic accessories, which are important for our beginner riders, otherwise not much else to mention.
Final mark: 4/10
1. Availability of stock: They keep a small stock of Bianchi, Gitane (two brands which are not really known for mountain bikes), Scott and other lesser-known brands. They don’t keep a variety of frame sizing. Unfortunately the staff at Besceletta give incorrect information about frame sizing, different bike applications (overhead shop staff trying to sell a hybrid on the shop floor as “good for mountain biking”), where the bikes are made (for instance they claim Bianchi is MADE in Italy, which is incorrect. It is an Italian brand while the bikes they offer in Egypt are made in Asia). They do not offer demo bikes.(1)
2. Pricing: This shop offers bikes which are grossly over-priced for their value. (0)
3. Location. They have three branches in Cairo which are decently accessible but which are just showrooms. No actual maintenance staff are ever on sight. Mark is given based on location accessibility only. (1)
4. After-sales service/bike mechanics: MTB Egypt riders report the worst after sales service from this shop. Bikes come with badly fitted drivetrains out of the shop. When I took a bike I purchased from them in for service, they soaked the chain in motor oil and fitted a replacement derailleur hanger apparently hacked out of some scrap metal (the bike is now stripped of all the original components and fitted with new ones I purchased, save for the frame). Also, they refuse service to bikes not purchased from them, which – while not illegal – is very unprofessional for a bike shop that tries to play itself as a premier cycling store. (0)
5. Market sense: They don’t even always have decent spare tubes.They take out people on massive group rides, off-road, WITHOUT helmets. Enough said. (0)
Final mark: 2/10
1. Availability of stock: 3agal Masr’s actual stock is not too clear because for now they seem to be online only. They do appear to at least claim to have availability of Bianchi, BH and Fuji low-end to mid-range hardtail and suspension. These are not very exciting names in the world of mountain biking, though. They also seem to offer a range of accessories from the Likes of Topeak and others. They do not offer demo bikes. (1)
2. Pricing: Their pricing appears to be too high for the spec of the bikes offered. Parts and accessories are also not very competitively priced. (0) UPDATE OCT 2013: It came to our attention that 3agal Masr sells inner tubes for L.E. 185 PER TUBE, which is insanely expensive. They extremely overprice their products.
3. Location.They appear to be online only, which is not a bad thing but any decent bike shop will have a good show room and service room. We heard they were working on a shop in Maadi but we have not actually seen it. Their website lists locations in 6th of October city and Alexandria. (1)
4. After-sales service/bike mechanics: 3agal Masr has a decently skilled mechanic called who will skilfully true your wheels and adjust your drivetrain, but don’t let him anywhere near your high-end front or rear suspension or carbon parts. The good thing is that they’ll do home visits, which is an asset in a crowded city like Cairo. Also, service is not tied to having bought a bike from them. (1)
5. Market sense: Mohyi, 3agal Masr’s co-owner, seems to be somewhat in tune with the market as he does occasionally make an effort to reach out to email lists and Facebook groups of cycling enthusiasts in Egypt. (1)
Final mark: 4/10
Sports World 360 (local Specialized Bicycles dealer)
1. Availability of stock: Sports World 360 is one of FOUR Specialized distributors listed under Cairo on Specialized’s official website. The other three include a supermarket, which is really weird. They do not actually keep any sizable stock, BUT will get you whatever bike you want from Specialized’s offerings if you’re willing to wait several weeks. They CLAIM to offer demo rides but non of the MTB Egypt riders who bought their bikes there were actually offered any demos. They have LIMITED stock of bike helmets and accessories. (1)
2. Pricing: Their pricing is more or less Specialized’s official MSRP. (2)
3. Location. They have one showroom in downtown Cairo. No service shop. (0)
4. After-sales service/bike mechanics: They do not have a skilled bike mechanic, but have handled warranty claims well according to MTB Egypt riders. They also sort of ‘outsource’ some maintenance issues to outside mechanic. (0) UPDATE SEP 2013: It came to our attention that the owner of Sports World 360 charges for warranty claims, which is something that should not happen for products still under warranty. As such, we downgrade the after-sales service mark from (1) to (0).
5. Market sense: As an official distributor for a bike cycling brand he seems to be doing two things well: ordering what you want and handling warranty claims well, which are things he SHOULD be doing anyway. Besides that, nothing special of note. (0)
Final mark: 3/10
Which one do we recommend?
None. Until there is a shop that adequately fulfills the criteria of a “good bike shop” as we outlined, we will always hesitate to recommend any of those shops or similar others. Shop around and see where you can get the best deal and where you are likely to get the best after-sales service. This guide will be periodically updated to reflect changes in the market. This review does not necessarily mean that all of those bike shops are ‘bad’, some of them certainly have strong points, but it means Egyptian bike shops have a lot of work to do to cater to a rapidly growing and discerning market.