Top two reasons to do your own bike repairs

For the past week I’ve had my bike in the shop for a grinding noise when I ride. It is something that started recently and I wanted to take care of it immediately. I dropped off the bike Monday morning and was told it would be ready later in the week. I called on Friday to check up on it and I get the usual, “Oh sorry, we have been busy this week, but I’ll get right on it.” How many times have you heard that from any mechanic. I go in Saturday morning and find that they have not gotten to it yet. The store manager promises by end of business that day. I go out to eat, catch a movie and kill some time at Best Buy.  I arrive back at the store 1.5 hrs before closing only to find that nothing has been done. Great! What a waste of time this is. The store manger tells the mechanic to drop what he is doing and get on mine. A new bottom bracket and derailleur adjustment later I’m waliking ot the door with my bike. No charge on the labor costs since I had to wait. That’s cool.

This leads me to my top two reasons for doing your own bike repairs. You save time and money. It’s that simple. In the long run, you will save a lot of time and a lot of money when you learn to do the work yourself. Some of you may be thinking that you can’t do it, that it’s too complicated, you’re not mechanically inclined. Come on, just look at your bike. It’s two wheels with a crank, chain and some sprockets. Sure you need a couple of special tools, but once you buy them you are done. Many of the tune-ups can be accomplished with some basic tools such as plyers, screwdriver, rags, degreaser and some lubricant. Start off with the basics, cleaning your chain and cassettes then move on to adjusting your brakes and derailleurs.

To perform even more, there are many books on bike maintenance as well as videos on-0line to learn how to do it. Fire up your favorite web browser and run an Amazon search on “bicycle maintenance” and you will find a huge selection of books to choose from. The Park Tool Company has an excellent on-line Repair Help and Education section on bike maintenance that is free. The site is nice because not only does it show how to fix the problem, but what tools are needed to do the job. Of course the tools mentioned are Park Tools, but hey, many bike shops carry the tools. Let’s not forget to mention your biking buddy that can also lend a hand and show you. Once you learn to do the basics, you can avoid having to take your bike in for the tune up. Imagine spending an hour or two tuning up your bike and then getting out on the road the same day.  The big plus, you don’t have to haul your bike to the bike store and wait a week for them to finally get to it. Then find time to go pick it up when they are done. How sweet is that!

The other reason to do your own bike repairs is the money you save. Now who doesn’t like to save some money. Many stores offer to install an item you purchased from them for free. That’s great, if you have your bike with you, but who drives around with their bike with them? I live in the next town and I don’t want to drive back and forth to get it. So, that’s not much of a deal for me. I can install them myself, how hard is it to turn a bolt? Discuss this option, at the store, with one of the sales people to see what it is you need and ask questions on installation. At that point you can make the decision to do the work yourself or bring in your bike. At the very least try! The only way you will learn is if you try to do the work yourself.

So there you have it, time and money are my top two reasons for doing as much as possible your own bike repairs. I hate wasting time on waiting and on top of that, paying someone to waste my time. Give me a book, video and some tools and I’ll just do it myself.

This week was a bust

This has been a slow idle week for me. Friday after my ride I wanted to try out my new bike repair stand from Feedback Sports. I had wanted to clean the chain and gear, so I was all excited. After mounting the bike I performed a cursory inspection for the bike. Wouldn’t you know, the rear wheel is out of true again. I was not a happy camper. It was only three weeks ago that I had taken the bike in to the shop to get it trued and now I’m back where I started before. I packed the bike and the stand up. While I was at the bike store they said that my bike wont be ready until Tuesday or Wednesday. No joy.

Saturday was my Linux club meeting at 11 am but I wanted to get the bike into the store ASAP and hopefully they can get it fixed the same day. I hustle over to Bicycle World in Mcallen, to drop it off, and zip on back to Mission for the meeting. Since this was the last meeting for the Linux club for the season I got treated to a free pizza at Pizza Hut. Yum yum!

Well, I got my bike back on Wednesday as they promised. Turned out to be a loose spoke. They also fixed the front brakes too at no charge, so I’m happy with that. I spent the evening cleaning the chain and checking out the repair stand. I do need to replace the stock pedals with some dual platform pedals that I’ve had from my previous bike. While I’m at it, I should learn to true a wheel and do the work myself. I just need a wheel to practice on.

Todays ride was awesome! I had tons of energy to burn. I find it amazing how easily your average speed drops and just how difficult it is to bring it up. Oh well, I got my bike back and I’m back riding. Ride on!