Indian Bicycle Mechanic. photo: Sue Darlow

Guest Article: What You Don’t Know Will Eventually Kill You

Guest Article: What You Don’t Know Will Eventually Kill You

by / / 162 posts

@prowrench is throwing down the greasy gauntlet. There is truth in his words. We already understand the gap between the professional cyclist and us civilians extends somewhere over the horizon. We can ride the bikes, wear nice kit and ride the race routes but that’s about as close as we can get. No one is paying us to ride. We are not Pros. But we can work on our own bikes can’t we?

Please also see the required supplemental reading, All You Bike Pricks.

VLVV, Gianni

You got a new bike a few years ago and something magical happened. You realized that when your legs aren’t languishing under a desk at the office or basking under the blue glare of the television that, by some unknown miracle, they can propel you to astounding speeds on your bicycle. You took heart, rode some more and you got quick. You joined a club, subscribed to every magazine and every blog, you learned The Rules and quickly ascended to the ranks of the initiated cyclist. Good for you!

You, the tinkerer, are one savvy fellow. You have examined the simple steed beneath you and with your god given mechanical prowess turned a few screws, fiddled with some barrel adjusters, squirted some lube here and there and tamed a few squeaks and calmed the wild mis-shifts that embarrassed you in front of your friends. You maintain your bike, your brother-in-law’s bike, your neighbor’s bike and the kids’ bikes from the neighborhood. Fueled with a few small successes and powered by the unlimited knowledge bestowed upon you by YouTube University and several forums you are now an expert mechanic. You can turn a wrench with the best of them…right?

Let me introduce you to an idea that may not have crossed your mind: You can’t.

Before you take offense, lend me your ear and I will try to help you to comprehend the vastness of all that you don’t know. As a professional mechanic of 12 years, I would like to introduce you to the subject of bicycle maintenance repair from the point of view of the greasy handed elitists who you have come to defy and will avoid paying at all costs.

Every morning I wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed and go to work; just like you. When I get to work, however, I am greeted by the aroma of tires and a spacious shop filled with expensive specialty tools and all manner of bikes. From the wobbly beginners’ bike to the bike you wish you had but probably never will, I work on them all, every day. Your hobby is my bread and butter.

I have installed thousands upon thousands of tires and tubes and threaded countless cables through more shifters and brake levers than you can begin to imagine. I have turned a million spoke nipples and skillfully negotiated the careful equilibrium of the perfectly trued wheel more times that you have tied your shoes. I remember to meticulously check the tension of every nut and bolt on your bike with precisely calibrated torque wrenches: a thought that you wish had occurred to you and a tool you wish you had. I wrap handlebars with confidence and great care so that the tape overlaps with an even, artful twist and tightens as you grip it instead of unraveling after your first few rides. I obsessively position every component just as it ought to be because every bike deserves to be in tip top shape and it is my livelihood to make it so.

I know you think you understand how your bike works. How hard could it be right? There is nothing hidden. Your bicycle sits before you baring all and yet you could take your bike to your neighborhood shop right now and they could find a thousand things wrong with it and just as many ways to charge you in order to fix it. There is a reason for that and the explanation is on its way.

It has taken me years to hone the skills involved in my craft. I can hear when your rear derailleur hanger is out of alignment by a degree or two and that has only come after listening to thousands of derailleurs ticking away in my work stand. You may as well be stone deaf when it comes to that. I know that dropping your front derailleur a millimeter or so and twisting it out just a hair will help it decisively slam and lock your chain to the big ring in the blink of an eye. You might as well be trying to pilot a spacecraft through an asteroid field with a blindfold on. The mechanics at your local shop have paid the price for the precious knowledge which you have supposed could come so easily. Rather than beleaguer you with further examples of how I am right and you are wrong, I will endeavor to make the process of outsourcing the sacred task of maintaining your bike a smooth and painless one.

Bridging The Gap

Successfully communicating with your local mechanics will be key to finding happiness in this process. Mechanics are a fickle bunch and if you haven’t figured it out by reading thus far, some of us might be a tad egotistical and maybe a touch insecure. I will do my best to set you up for success as you repent and and take your bike in for its first much needed, legitimate service.

First, take everything that you have come to know about working on bikes and stick it in your pocket. Mechanics know how to work on bikes and they don’t care much for hearing what you think it entails. From the moment the mechanic lays eyes on your bike, seeing your terrible attempt at wrapping bars, your grossly over lubed drivetrain or the hack job that you did running and ugly web of too long or too short cables and housing all over your bike, he will know, and it will go without saying, what it is that you have been up to. Don’t be too proud of your work because it will only result in heartbreak.

Second, bear in mind that time and expertise are never on closeout and it will cost you to have the pros lay their hands on your beloved bike and resuscitate it to full health. It will be important for your mental well-being to consult with your cohorts and settle on a mechanic that everyone can agree bills repair work fairly and is worth the money that you’ll spend. Since you have been maintaining your bike, you have been letting basic things go through the cracks. The mechanic will want to fix all of these before you get your bike back so your first visit could cost a small fortune. Take heart though, because once this is out of the way, subsequent visits will consist of simple adjustments mainly and will be relatively inexpensive.

Thirdly and most importantly, be kind. I provide whatever service is due to every customer based on what they pay, even if they treat me like scum. For the nice customer however, I always go above and beyond. As the owner of my shop always says, “It is nice to be nice to the nice”. Kindness is currency but even more importantly, currency is currency. A little gratuity goes a long long way at the bike shop. Cash or beer are customary.

Taking your bike to the shop can be a hard step for the committed and self-assured home mechanic. Before the sum of what you don’t know piles up and results in your untimely mid-club-ride death, consider my words and come to the light! Hang up your mail order toy toolset and take your bike to the pros. You deserve it. Your bike deserves it. A-Merckx.

// Guest Article

  1. @ChrisO

    @meursault Yes I’ve had that happen with valve cores and Lezyne pumps – it’s one of the drawback to the screw-o hose system, if the core is not screwed in very tight, and you don’t really know until it happens.

    The first thing you should do with a valve core is take it out, put on some plumber’s tape, and reinsert it tightly. It will never happen again.

    If you were a pro mechanic you would know that.

    @James

    This has to be a joke so i wanted to put some humour back in to it.

    You have trued more wheels than times i have tied my shoelaces?

    I am 31, I have tied my shoelaces on average twice a day, everyday for the last 26 years…

    So – That’s an average of 730 times a year.

    730 X 26 = 18980

    I have tied my shoelaces 18980 times in my lifetime. so far. At 60 Years old this figure will have increased to 40150 times.

    It is not possible by any stretch of the imagination you have trued this many wheels.

    Basically, like some mechanics i have met before – You took a sharp intake of breath, exhaled slowly and made something up. Insufferable, egotistical mad man.

    Spaceship, asteroids, front derailleur??? Are you on the EPO?

    Why would i let someone with this mentality touch my bike, complacent, cocky and so full of your own self importance it’s unlikely you would give customers bikes the attention it deserves.

    I will keep replacing my own tubes, and tuning my own gears (a job completed six monthly to be safe) and go to a bike shop with problems i am unable to fix. Where I will have to trust that someone like you will make the best job of it possible.

    SPACESHIP, ASTEROID BELT, BLINDFOLD…

    ACE :)

    Brilliant!!

  2. @frank

    @ChrisO

    @meursault Yes I’ve had that happen with valve cores and Lezyne pumps – it’s one of the drawback to the screw-o hose system, if the core is not screwed in very tight, and you don’t really know until it happens.

    The first thing you should do with a valve core is take it out, put on some plumber’s tape, and reinsert it tightly. It will never happen again.

    If you were a pro mechanic you would know that.

    Another method that I’ve had success with is Loctite.  

  3. With regard to the Lezyne pump removing the valve, the trick is to unscrew the adapter head off the pump line, to release the pressure, before removing it from the valve, its the pressure in the line from the pump that binds the valve core to the adapter

    Lezyne now offer a replacement adapter head with a built in pressure release for their older pumps as its such a common problem.

  4. @mike Mine still does it even with the built in pressure release. Super frustrating in those hurried last few minutes before a ride. Plumbers tape/Loctite it is.

  5. @xyxax

    @frank

    @ChrisO

    @meursault Yes I’ve had that happen with valve cores and Lezyne pumps – it’s one of the drawback to the screw-o hose system, if the core is not screwed in very tight, and you don’t really know until it happens.

    The first thing you should do with a valve core is take it out, put on some plumber’s tape, and reinsert it tightly. It will never happen again.

    If you were a pro mechanic you would know that.

    Another method that I’ve had success with is Loctite.

    The valve core escape scenario is especially annoying/soul destroying when it strikes in the middle of of gluing tubulars – you’ve mounted the tubular, add some more air to get it seated nicely before filling it too maximum pressure.

    I didn’t need to do that more than once to start using loctite.

  6. @meursault

    Talking of gumption depletion, had quite a non ride this morning. Out with Mrs Mersault, planning on 25kms or so, as she is just starting out cycling. At furthest point on the loop get a puncture, 2mm glass shard on the cycle path. Remove glass, check for anything else sharp, then replace tube and (mini) pump. Five seconds later puncture. Remove tube, patch with Lezyne sticky. Put back together and pump, looking good! Unscrew Lezyne mini pump flex hose. Whoosh! All the air goes. The part of Presta valve that can unscrew does. Put back together pump. Five seconds later puncture. Obscenities now audible in next county. Use last sticky and pump again. Now whenever I have pumped to reasonable pressure, the top part of valve will not lock, no matter how hard I hand tighten. Argh!! Four mile walk home in the cleats, as I don’t really want to disturb anyone with a phone call on Sunday am.

    Once back home, allow three hours to restore gumption, and all is now repaired and good, including replacement cleats. I have no idea what the moral is, and sorry for a boring story, but I had to tell somebody. Thanks for reading.

    Happened to me in spookily similar circumstances on Thursday – bent the valve core clean off with my Lezyne Flex hose – thanks to @Upthetrossachs for the spare.

  7. @the Engine

    try not to unscrew the valve all the way; 1/2 is plenty to inflate and won’t bend that shit.

    If you were a Pro Mechanic you would know that.

  8. @frank

    @the Engine

    try not to unscrew the valve all the way; 1/2 is plenty to inflate and won’t bend that shit.

    If you were a Pro Mechanic you would know that.

    The LBS compare me unfavourably to the Muppets when it comes to my wrenching skills and I am under strict instructions not to fuck with #1 bike – #2 I have some leeway with

  9. @the Engine

    Forgive me, but “inflating your tires” does not constitute “wrenching”.

    If you were a Pro Mechanic, you would know this.

  10. @frank

    @the Engine

    Forgive me, but “inflating your tires” does not constitute “wrenching”.

    If you were a Pro Mechanic, you would know this.

    No – but I’d submit that “putting on your tyres the right way round” is wrenching knowledge that must be learned the hard way

  11. @Chris

    So painful.  Is this listed as a specific cause of apoplectic stroke and bent rims?

    If I were a Pro Mechanic, I would know this.

  12. @paolo

    @eightzero

    @frank If I had as many quid in the bank as a certain popular american female bike racer people around here seem to be so thrilled with, yeah…I’d likely be a little more talented at uphill sprints. Funny how having money buys you time to do other things. You know…like ride a Fucking Bike. But…we’ve had this discussion. And we’ve all agreed not to ever speak of it again.

    I really would be curious to know how many pros do anything with their bikes. Very top level guys likely never need to.

    An interesting piece here: http://bicycling.com/blogs/boulderreport/2013/08/09/the-demise-of-the-shadetree-mechanic/

    Quid? Are you a Brit? I always thought you were American. You certainly display the politics of envy rather well which in itself is a very British trait. Sorry fellow Brits but its true. I am not thrilled with Evelyn Stevens, I just think its unfair that you discriminate against her because of her supposed wealth. On behalf of rich arse holes everywhere I am offended at this kind of wealth discrimination. Good day to you sir!

    ps. Frank is right, if all it took was time and money I’d be faster than Motorcus by now. Instead I just suck.

    You could only be New Money to talk like that. So very vulgar.

  13. @Marko

    I’ll measure some cracks by putting some marks on with a sharpie. Then again, the VMH and I are having the twins ultrasounded next week. Maybe our doc is a velominata and wouldn’t mind scoping the frame for me.

    Is that a euphemism for dirty sex talk or are you really having twin Carlsons? But haven’t you been on a kayak for the last six months? errr…ahem…awkward silence…brilliant day, whot?

  14. @Gianni

    @Marko

    I’ll measure some cracks by putting some marks on with a sharpie. Then again, the VMH and I are having the twins ultrasounded next week. Maybe our doc is a Velominata and wouldn’t mind scoping the frame for me.

    Is that a euphemism for dirty sex talk or are you really having twin Carlsons? But haven’t you been on a kayak for the last six months? errr…ahem…awkward silence…brilliant day, whot?

    yes

  15. @gravity bob You don’t have to rely on your dinner to hold together while descending at break-neck speeds.

    You may keep cooking your own meals… unless you are eating puffer fish, then leave the preparation to a pro.

  16. @prowrench

    @gravity bob You don’t have to rely on your dinner to hold together while descending at break-neck speeds.

    You’re obviously not doing dinner right.

  17. @James Lets do the math just for kicks…

    I work 52 5-day weeks a year give or take a few days for overtime or vacation.  I tune 10-15 bikes a day from spring to the end of summer and sometimes much more and in the winter it tapers a bit.  Lets say I average 10 bikes a working day year round multiplied by 2 wheel trues… multiplied by 12 years.

    Do some math and you’ll see that I am not off base here.  I really do true wheels more than you have tied your shoes.

  18. @prowrench I usually only tie my shoe when I first buy them.

  19. @prowrench

    @James Lets do the math just for kicks…

    I work 52 5-day weeks a year give or take a few days for overtime or vacation. I tune 10-15 bikes a day from spring to the end of summer and sometimes much more and in the winter it tapers a bit. Lets say I average 10 bikes a working day year round multiplied by 2 wheel trues… multiplied by 12 years.

    Do some math and you’ll see that I am not off base here. I really do true wheels more than you have tied your shoes.

    Ha! Knew you’d blow your cover eventually, 52 weeks my arse, only those of us who own a hospitality business do those kind of hours and we don’t get the weekends either, I bet you don’t true both wheels on half the bikes you service everyday so my maths puts you around a mere 20 thousand wheels! I love my bike mechanic, I always take my bike in clean and apologise for its filthy state, I deliver coffee and gift beer at appropriate times, servicing is where your LBS can make a living go on give it to ’em they deserve it.

  20. @piwakawaka

    @prowrench

    @James Lets do the math just for kicks…

    I work 52 5-day weeks a year give or take a few days for overtime or vacation. I tune 10-15 bikes a day from spring to the end of summer and sometimes much more and in the winter it tapers a bit. Lets say I average 10 bikes a working day year round multiplied by 2 wheel trues… multiplied by 12 years.

    Do some math and you’ll see that I am not off base here. I really do true wheels more than you have tied your shoes.

    Ha! Knew you’d blow your cover eventually, 52 weeks my arse, only those of us who own a hospitality business do those kind of hours and we don’t get the weekends either, I bet you don’t true both wheels on half the bikes you service everyday so my maths puts you around a mere 20 thousand wheels! I love my bike mechanic, I always take my bike in clean and apologise for its filthy state, I deliver coffee and gift beer at appropriate times, servicing is where your LBS can make a living go on give it to ’em they deserve it.

    I don’t think it was meant literally anyway… obviously it refers to any wheel-based activity.

  21. @ChrisO

    @piwakawaka

    @prowrench

    @James Lets do the math just for kicks…

    I work 52 5-day weeks a year give or take a few days for overtime or vacation. I tune 10-15 bikes a day from spring to the end of summer and sometimes much more and in the winter it tapers a bit. Lets say I average 10 bikes a working day year round multiplied by 2 wheel trues… multiplied by 12 years.

    Do some math and you’ll see that I am not off base here. I really do true wheels more than you have tied your shoes.

    Ha! Knew you’d blow your cover eventually, 52 weeks my arse, only those of us who own a hospitality business do those kind of hours and we don’t get the weekends either, I bet you don’t true both wheels on half the bikes you service everyday so my maths puts you around a mere 20 thousand wheels! I love my bike mechanic, I always take my bike in clean and apologise for its filthy state, I deliver coffee and gift beer at appropriate times, servicing is where your LBS can make a living go on give it to ’em they deserve it.

    I don’t think it was meant literally anyway… obviously it refers to any wheel-based activity.

    It’s like any trade, they all want you to think it is rocket science, the real skill lies in working on 10-15 bikes a day and moving seamlessly from high end to retro cool to kids and back giving each the benefit of knowledge AND experience, most people can do all sorts of stuff, but it will take longer and perhaps may not be quite as well done, throwing out the safety line is a classic better leave it to the experts tactic.

  22. @piwakawaka

    @ChrisO

    @piwakawaka

    @prowrench

    @James Lets do the math just for kicks…

    I work 52 5-day weeks a year give or take a few days for overtime or vacation. I tune 10-15 bikes a day from spring to the end of summer and sometimes much more and in the winter it tapers a bit. Lets say I average 10 bikes a working day year round multiplied by 2 wheel trues… multiplied by 12 years.

    Do some math and you’ll see that I am not off base here. I really do true wheels more than you have tied your shoes.

    Ha! Knew you’d blow your cover eventually, 52 weeks my arse, only those of us who own a hospitality business do those kind of hours and we don’t get the weekends either, I bet you don’t true both wheels on half the bikes you service everyday so my maths puts you around a mere 20 thousand wheels! I love my bike mechanic, I always take my bike in clean and apologise for its filthy state, I deliver coffee and gift beer at appropriate times, servicing is where your LBS can make a living go on give it to ’em they deserve it.

    I don’t think it was meant literally anyway… obviously it refers to any wheel-based activity.

    It’s like any trade, they all want you to think it is rocket science, the real skill lies in working on 10-15 bikes a day and moving seamlessly from high end to retro cool to kids and back giving each the benefit of knowledge AND experience, most people can do all sorts of stuff, but it will take longer and perhaps may not be quite as well done, throwing out the safety line is a classic better leave it to the experts tactic.

    It was a joke, Joyce…

  23. I think the obvious lesson here is there are good mechanics, there are bad mechanics.

    The problem I often find with high-end bike shops is they can be a bit like the guitar shops I used to go in back in the day, for some reason the staff thought they were above me ‘cos they work in a guitar shop.

    If you get the wrong feeling about a shop then give it a wide berth and move on to the next one. It’s like anything, you’ve got to try them out until you find a good one, just don’t give them your best bike to start with!

    I’d like to think that no mechanic would do what I did when I built my De Rosa, I tried fitting the BB at midnight over the Christmas hols after several rather large Gin and Tonics.

    I didn’t realise the downtube was fouling on the bike stand at the time, next morning I spotted the inch long, deep scratch right through the logo.

    I cried that day for the first time since my daughter was born…

    Stay safe!

  24. I’ve spent so many years wearing shoes with Boa closure systems I’m now unable to tie my own shoe laces.  A professional bike mechanic warned me off buying some new Giro shoes with laces on the grounds they may be too complicated for me to adjust.

  25. @minion

    @Chris

    I have taken mechanics on their word but I’ve yet to find one who has done a the work to a level significantly higher than I believe that I can do myself. I’m not being arrogant in saying that, I can re-cable my bike and get an adequate level of shift quality from it. If I get the same or worse from a so called pro I think I’m entitled to feel disappointed.

    Road bikes are a relatively small proportion of the work that gets done in an LBS… …It’s not rocket science but there’s more to wrenching than road bikes, which are relatively simple.

    Which makes it even more disappointing when work is carried out poorly.

    @Chris

    …There is a new shop not too far away that I’ve yet to try. It’s a smaller place that looks to be much more rider orientated rather than part of a large business concern. I’ll go there at the earliest opportunity.

    I spent yesterday morning re-cabling my bike. One of my shifters got rather out of shape a few weeks ago when my son and I managed to end up in a heap on the road and I’d decided that it was a good opportunity to refresh the bar tape and cables.

    Before I’d finished the job though I got told that I would have to spend some time with the family so I had to put it away before I’d tuned the gears up. The kids elected for a bike ride which meant that I chased the faster two on my BMX for 45 minutes. My youngest then decided that his bike was too small and took off on my bike leaving me to finish on foot.

    Anyway, later that evening I got back into the garage to finish the job off. My two pedalwan learners came with me and started asking lots of questions. Explaining that the first task would be to check the alignment and adjustment of the front dérailleur against the chain rings, I rotated the cranks at which point we all noticed that the big ring was rather wavy to the point that one of the chain ring bolts had popped out. 

    It means that I’m unlikely to have a chance to get a replacement chain ring and finish the job before going to France next Monday so the new bike shop will get it’s chance to impress.

     

  26. @Velocitractor

    I think the obvious lesson here is there are good mechanics, there are bad mechanics.

    The problem I often find with high-end bike shops is they can be a bit like the guitar shops I used to go in back in the day, for some reason the staff thought they were above me ‘cos they work in a guitar shop.

    If you get the wrong feeling about a shop then give it a wide berth and move on to the next one. It’s like anything, you’ve got to try them out until you find a good one, just don’t give them your best bike to start with!

    I’d like to think that no mechanic would do what I did when I built my De Rosa, I tried fitting the BB at midnight over the Christmas hols after several rather large Gin and Tonics.

    I didn’t realise the downtube was fouling on the bike stand at the time, next morning I spotted the inch long, deep scratch right through the logo.

    I cried that day for the first time since my daughter was born…

    Stay safe!

    Similarly i tried to install ultratorque cups on my rain frame without realising campag had moved to powertorque….no harm done but plenty of expletives whilst consuming post ride recovery beverages!

  27. I talk to my mechanic. He guides me. He will  not let me falter. I seldom make any adjustments without his advice. I always ask. After having taken his basics class, if heading into untried waters, he give me good advice. Sometimes that advice is “Leave your bike here.”

    Our mechanic, who art in back,

    Rust-free be thy wrench.

    Thy shop is clean.

    Thy tips be done in basement as in shop.

    Teach us this day our daily lube

    And forgive us our wrenching

    As we forgive those who over-wrench at home.

    And lead us not into over confidence

    But deliver us from WD40.

    For thine is the shop bench, the knowledge and the tools

    now and forever. Amen

  28. @ChrisO

    @piwakawaka

    @prowrench

    @James Lets do the math just for kicks…

    I work 52 5-day weeks a year give or take a few days for overtime or vacation. I tune 10-15 bikes a day from spring to the end of summer and sometimes much more and in the winter it tapers a bit. Lets say I average 10 bikes a working day year round multiplied by 2 wheel trues… multiplied by 12 years.

    Do some math and you’ll see that I am not off base here. I really do true wheels more than you have tied your shoes.

    Ha! Knew you’d blow your cover eventually, 52 weeks my arse, only those of us who own a hospitality business do those kind of hours and we don’t get the weekends either, I bet you don’t true both wheels on half the bikes you service everyday so my maths puts you around a mere 20 thousand wheels! I love my bike mechanic, I always take my bike in clean and apologise for its filthy state, I deliver coffee and gift beer at appropriate times, servicing is where your LBS can make a living go on give it to ’em they deserve it.

    I don’t think it was meant literally anyway… obviously it refers to any wheel-based activity.

    Blessed be the wheelmakers……

    ( its a shame you had to spoil the joke by explaining it to a numpty)

  29. I’ve done things. Dumb things. Things I’d rather not discuss.

    I also got my new bike back from its 30-day tune-up (at a premier shop in Portland) with the asymmetric chain on wrong side out and with a loose headset. A noticeably loose headset. The service manager was quite responsive, but still. Somebody was wrenching stoned.

  30. Man, this article reminds me of the time I did some part time wrenching in a bike shop in Terre Haute. A woman bought a POS from an outfit called Service Merchandise where it had been loving assembled by monkeys with only an adjustable spanner on hand. She suspected it wasn’t right and seemed offended when I told her how much it would cost to get her bike fixed. I think when I used the phrase “you have been sold a death trap” might have worried her. (Headset loose, brake pads not hitting the rims and a host of other issues were obvious.) Amazing how it could actually be sold to be honest.

  31. The advice I always gave when a mom or dad brought the bike that the kid had worked on in – “Hide the ViceGrips and WD-40.”

    One of my favorites though was when a customer brought in a bike with a flat;

    “I just bought a brand new tube from you and it’s already flat.”

    “Did you make sure that what ever made it flat in the first place wasn’t still in the tire?”

    You silently smile to yourself as you see “realization” slowly creep into their brains and yet they always say “Yes.”

  32. Well said. That hit on all the important parts.

  33. @mike

    With regard to the Lezyne pump removing the valve, the trick is to unscrew the adapter head off the pump line, to release the pressure, before removing it from the valve, its the pressure in the line from the pump that binds the valve core to the adapter

    Lezyne now offer a replacement adapter head with a built in pressure release for their older pumps as its such a common problem.

    Just to be clear – you are saying leave the hose attached to the pump itself but screw the head off the hose, leaving it on the  tube valve, then remove it separately?

    Plumbers tape. Do you mean around the removable core then screwing it back in? Or just around the outside of the valve stem?

    I am not a pro mechanic.

  34. I always get a good laugh when I’m out cycling and a car goes by making an assortment of sounds which it should not be making. Damn, if the bicycle is not Silent, I try to sort it out immediately. I would never, ever drive some road unworthy cars people pilot around. I guess they do have that whole metal box thing to protect them from pavement, but some sound as if they might explode at any moment.

  35. @Wold Man Actually Di2 adjusts itself ;0)

  36. As a professional mechanic myself, I can see where @prowrench is coming from.  I work on aircraft for a living- can’t pull over on a cloud if something breaks- so I know a thing or 2 about precision and doing things right.  However, to talk down to someone who tried something and failed-even if they didn’t know it yet, is wrong.  In fact, it should be rejoiced.  If everyone did everything correctly, you would soon be out of a job.  And you have to admit, doing tune-ups all day everyday would get very boring if you didn’t go “WTF?!” atleast once a week.   And lets not forget, you too, were once inexperienced and clueless.

  37. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  Arthur Clark. 

     

    The same Pro bike mechanic that looks down at his clients attempts at being self-sufficient will at some point bring his car to me for service and I will get to listen to him go on about what he did or did not do and what he thinks is wrong with his car.  He might also call me to repair the HVAC system on his house or install a roll cage in his race car.  I am a paid Pro in the above trades as well as in welding and machining. 

     

    For every well trained seasoned bike mechanic there are at least 3 fresh faced scrubby chinned guys that are doing the job for the love of cycling or the love of money or a mix of both. Does anyone strive to achieve a career as a bike shop mechanic? I would bet that few do as it pays little. One reason it pays little is the fact that most of the work is quite simple to do and can be mastered without many years of training or elite intellect. Sure there are some more complex tasks such as shock rebuilds and the like but the vast majority of the work is stone simple work for any reasonably handy person with some basic training and the tools needed.  SOP for most independent shops is a skilled shop owner will hire a bike loving young guy or gal and train them.  The budding mechanic learns on client bikes not at some school for pro bike repair.   Just as some Pro shop mechanics are not tops in their craft some of us that visit the LBS to purchase a bike or parts for said bike are not stupid ham fisted hammer swingers.   Some of us spend the time to learn the systems of the bike they ride and maintain them well.  These are the people the Pro wrenches don’t see much.  We are riding, wrenching and purchasing the odd part from time to time. I have had every system on my road bike apart for service and after 8500 kilometers it works better than they day I took it home. When I purchase a set of derailleur cables and don’t ask how to install them I don’t need to be told they are hard to install and I should bring the bike in before I work on it.  I don’t go around spouting off that the Pro wrench work assembling and testing my bike was lacking.  It was and I somewhat expected to be.  The Pro putting it together was unboxing and assembling bike #4 of the 6 or so he had to do that day.  My focus is on one bike the one I bought,  his on many things.

      Just as the clients come in all forms so do mechanics.  The difference is the client is paying for a service, not to be talked down to or have his bike languish for a lack of a “relationship with the shop”. 

     

    Just as you can laugh and shake your head at what bike shop clients do to their bikes, some of us can laugh and shake our heads at what bike shop mechanics do.   But we don’t.  Well, some of us don’t.  Skip that, we do laugh but we don’t go spouting off allover about it.

     

    Rule #43 applies to all.

  38. @wiscot

    Man, this article reminds me of the time I did some part time wrenching in a bike shop in Terre Haute.

    Wiscot, I am sorry to hear you lived in Terre Haute at one time. Seeing as how you were employed, you were not doing time at the federal penitentiary, I’m guessing. Did you work at TH Cycling at 7th & Springhill? I myself only escaped there 5 or so years ago after 18 years of exile (job, you know). Glad you made it out alive!

  39. @moondance

    @wiscot

    Man, this article reminds me of the time I did some part time wrenching in a bike shop in Terre Haute.

    Wiscot, I am sorry to hear you lived in Terre Haute at one time. Seeing as how you were employed, you were not doing time at the federal penitentiary, I’m guessing. Did you work at TH Cycling at 7th & Springhill? I myself only escaped there 5 or so years ago after 18 years of exile (job, you know). Glad you made it out alive!

    Did you get lured to ISU?

    Ch. 1 Five hellish years of my childhood were spent in NW Indiana, in exile from northern California. I don’t think I ever really recovered.

    Ch. 2 Then, years later, I moved my family to the western suburbs of Chicago for a piss-poor academic job in the city. It beat NW Indiana, but it didn’t last long.

    Parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and S. Dakota are great. The rest of the Midwest can lick my sweaty fungal nutsack.

    Sorry.

  40. @PeakInTwoYears

    sweaty fungal nutsack

    It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.

  41. @Nate

    @PeakInTwoYears

    sweaty fungal nutsack

    It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.

    No. With respect, it’s the heat and the humidity and the bad food and the conventional attitudes and the FUCKING BUGS and the HEAT and the HUMIDITY and fuck me the whole traumatic business…

    Excuse me while I spend a few minutes journaling for my next therapy session.

  42. @moondance

    @wiscot

    Man, this article reminds me of the time I did some part time wrenching in a bike shop in Terre Haute.

    Wiscot, I am sorry to hear you lived in Terre Haute at one time. Seeing as how you were employed, you were not doing time at the federal penitentiary, I’m guessing. Did you work at TH Cycling at 7th & Springhill? I myself only escaped there 5 or so years ago after 18 years of exile (job, you know). Glad you made it out alive!

    Sounds like we overlapped by a bit! I was lured to ISU for grad school from Scotland. (Hey, they offered me a scholarship and assistantship). Did grad school, worked in a couple of museums (Eugene V. Debs home and Swope Art Museum, both superb) and Terre Haute Schwinn and Fitness as it was called 20 years ago! Had seven great years in the Haute, but have been back a few times and wild horses couldn’t drag me back to live there. The heat and humidity suck in the summer and the winter’s ain’t easy either. Rode the bike a bit in IN and it was awful. The drivers here in SE Wisconsin are so much nicer.

  43. @PeakInTwoYears

    @moondance

    @wiscot

    Man, this article reminds me of the time I did some part time wrenching in a bike shop in Terre Haute.

    Wiscot, I am sorry to hear you lived in Terre Haute at one time. Seeing as how you were employed, you were not doing time at the federal penitentiary, I’m guessing. Did you work at TH Cycling at 7th & Springhill? I myself only escaped there 5 or so years ago after 18 years of exile (job, you know). Glad you made it out alive!

    Did you get lured to ISU?

    Ch. 1 Five hellish years of my childhood were spent in NW Indiana, in exile from northern California. I don’t think I ever really recovered.

    Ch. 2 Then, years later, I moved my family to the western suburbs of Chicago for a piss-poor academic job in the city. It beat NW Indiana, but it didn’t last long.

    Parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and S. Dakota are great. The rest of the Midwest can lick my sweaty fungal nutsack.

    Sorry.

    Pretty much the whole of northern Indiana is a wasteland: Rensselaer, Valpo, Gary, Hammond, etc, etc. I think most of the state would be happy to cede the territory to Illinois. Around Bloomington is nice (Brown and Monroe counties) but then you start heading south to redneck land. I’m from just outside Glasgow (Scotland, not Kentucky) and as told by a southern Indiana lady in 1990 that my English “was really good.” She was surprised that everyone fell about laughing as she thought my first language would have been Scottish. Mind you, in fairness, some Scots are rather difficult to comprehend.

  44. @wiscot

    As a kid, I lived for a while in the aptly-named Dyer, just south of Hammond. As an adult, when I was teaching, I talked to a guy who interviewed for a job at some little campus in Hammond. He said that at the end of the interview they asked him what he thought of the area. He told them he thought it was the ugliest place he’d ever seen. They said, yeah, we think so too.

    But out in the western ‘burbs of Chicago, I found places to like. There was some fun singletrack (first mtb riding there in the 90s, highest point in the county being a grass-covered landfill we called Mt. Trashmore) and a nice river in which to flyfish for smallmouth bass. The “Forest Preserves” held fun. My middle kid and I would go run around in them at orienteering events.

  45. If the rest of the group doesn’t mind our off-topic meanderings…

    I’m raised in Downers Grove, sledding on Mt. Trashmore when they opened it. I spent 4 years in Waukesha, Wi. New job with FAA took me to Terre Haute. Raised my boys there. Wife, self and boys all graduated from ISU. Love both of those museums. you may have been working the day I visited. Now in the Indianapolis area, where I have taken up riding in the past couple of years. I’m one of the older Pedal-wans around here. My oldest son moved back from a year in Valpo, now I am able to spoil the granddaughter more regularly.

  46. @minion  Just got back, ” engineers or think they are” Believe it or not there are many thousands of people who go to college to learn to be engineers. They learn about metallurgy, mathematics, control systems, six degrees of freedom, gears,all kinds of stuff to do with building stuff. Their job is building stuff and then maintaining that stuff. They have the skills and knowledge to read the instructions, test fit, fettle and build anything. Software may control the machines but somebody has got to build the machines. Sadly like many people you seem to think the guy in the grubby overalls is just a chimp with a spanner. In all probability he is a highly trained professional with exacting standards you could only aspire to, because he understands that if he doesn’t build it right it could lead to injury or death for his customer. Face it, you need the guy who comes to your office to repair your lift to be more focused and smarter than you are. He’s got your life in his hands…

  47. I have a nice little side business of fine tuning/cleaning race bikes AFTER they have been worked on by shop mechanics. I established this sideline having seen too many bikes come out of shops complete with greasy hand prints, misaligned tire decals, mis-cut cables, poorly aligned brake shoes/saddles/stems/brake levers. Yes, pros are great except when they aren’t pros and there are a lot of unprofessional mechanics out there. Shops get paid to perform specific tasks and not all will go a step further unless paid to do so.  My current rate is 3 bottles of red wine (french or italian preferred please).

  48. 腕時計 シチズン

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