Bicycle Mechanics - What are the hardest repairs/things to perform on a modern bike?
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Different tasks require different levels of skill and knowledge. I'm guessing chain cleaning is one of the easiest and most straightforward things to do. What are the hardest repair or maintenance tasks to perform on a bicycle?
Suspension problems excluded, there really isn't anything that's that hard to fix if you have the tools. A torque wrench is essential along with cone wrenches. IMO, wheel building/truing is more an art than a science. Sorry I couldn't be of more help. Wheels are the only thing I take to the shop.
Its not the bikes but the know-all customers who want things done wrong.
04-15-07, 06:20 AM
The real problem is finding the replacement parts easily and having the right tools.
04-15-07, 06:35 AM
Through the years, bikes have gotten easier to work on.
As a general catagory, brakes are more difficult to get right than shifters. Not all that long ago, I'd say that adjusting post-style cantelever brakes was probably the least loved repair to do. Today those brakes have mostly been replaced by linear pull brakes. The early ones were wonderful. Today some of the cheaper brands, for literally a dollar less, produce some linear pull brakes that are once again awful. Dual pivot road calipers are much easier to set up and keep adjusted than single pivot designs.
Shifting has improved hugely over the years. The big issue today is that the close rear spacing required by 9 & 10 speed cassettes makes derailleur hanger alignment more critical than it was previously. Once I figured that out and started checking for it early in the process, people started thinking that I was smarter than I really am.
Sealed bearing mechanisms have greatly reduced the amount of maintenance that's required and the judgement that's required for overhauling hubs and headsets.
One of the other posters hinted at what I think is the most difficult bike mechanic task today - somebody else's project bike. People bring in frames that have a mish-mash of components, sometimes mounted or cables routed in unorthadox ways, that they can't make work. Then they expect us to wave a magic wand and make it right for $25.00.
04-15-07, 07:22 AM
I agree with the cantilever post brakes being difficult, or maybe I just never got the hang of 'em. Glad they are gone! I haven't fooled with hydraulic disks yet, but I have worked on cars, so figure the principle should be the same. With most things, I've found if I watch how something comes apart, I can figure how it works, adjust or replace needed parts, and get it back together, fixed. Derailleurs have never been a problem. But maybe I'm lucky, have always been mechanically inclined. I do take my wheels to the shop for truing when needed.
* Adjusting brake pads
* Changing a tube
Everything else is easy - wheel building, headset mounting, adjusting gears and so on...
04-15-07, 08:00 AM
Rebuilding Campy Ergo brifters is probably as intricate a bike repair job as you will ever get into. It's akin to watch repair.
Shimano brifters are easy to work on since they can't be repaired. They either work (which they do for a long time) or you replace them.
Although it's been years since I worked in a shop, I would say the most "challenging" would be a customer bringing in a box of parts for an already taken apart internal 5 speed hub. Mebbe some parts would be missing, some would be extra parts from the 3 speed hub he couldn't figure out the week before. ARGHHHH:eek:
Ummm... repairing a cracked titanium frame?
04-15-07, 10:12 AM
Ummm... repairing a cracked titanium frame?
Oh you can just fire up the TIG welder and fix that.
But on a serious note, the hardest thing now I think would be #1 Rebuilding Suspension forks, #2 setting up disc brakes, #3 Front derailleur
Doing forks is my least favorite job at the shop and disc brakes are ok, but a lot of hassle to get just right. I can live with a little disc brake rub but some customers absolutely hate the tinging sound of the rotor rubbing the pads.
Front derailleurs (on any bike) can be a hassle for the occasional mechanic. I hated adjusting and setting up FD's when i first started working at a shop but now its gotten pretty easy. It is still hard when the cage gets mangled, or the cage has developed lots of slop to get into adjustment. If it were my bike, I would just replace it but many times thats not an option on repairs.
On road bikes, as long as you have all the tools, everything is easy. The new two piece cranks make installing and maintaining a lot easier.
04-15-07, 11:03 AM
Removing cotter pins, rebiulding 3 spd hubs.
04-15-07, 11:42 AM
Cottered cranks and seized stems/seatposts/bottom brackets.
Torque wrench? pfft. Maybe for carbon parts.
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