Bicycle Mechanics - Etiquette when bringing a bike to a mechanic. Some questions
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03-17-09, 05:24 AM
I have a 1999 Stumpjumper in need of significant repairs and I do not have the tools or wherewithal to do the repairs myself. Also my budget is fairly constrained, thus I'd like to use some used parts to fix up my bike. Is it improper etiquette to bring in stuff I've purchased second hand and have the mechanic install it? For example I'd like to put a new (to me) fork on the bike and I could save a whole lot of money getting a 2006 RS Judy second hand.
Additionally is it inappropriate to buy things online and have a mechanic install them, circumventing the inflated prices of the bike shop they work for?
As far as cheaper parts off the internet, you wouldn't really be circumventing the higher prices, you'd just get your parts cheaper and pay more for installation. Also, if you buy the parts at the shop you'll be sure to get the correct ones. Used parts are acceptable in my book, but you still might pay a premium for installation. A lot will likely depend on the attitude you project when you broach the subject.
Talk to the shop owners first, don't just show up with a bike and a bunch of part. Some shops may be ok with the idea, ie. glad to make some money. While others would not be open to the idea at all. Don't expect any break of any kind on the labor charge.
03-17-09, 07:53 AM
Depends on what the part is. If it's a part they would never stock (vintage bars, or your dear departed grandad's favorite old Brooks saddle), then clearly you could provide it. At the other extreme, it's a common part that they have (say, inner tubes or cables), it would be kind of tacky of you to expect to be able to bring them to save a few slim bucks. It between those extremes, you may need to negotiate. It may depend on how much gall you have, in some cases :)
03-17-09, 09:57 AM
The best thing you can do in your situation is make sure everything you purchase is going to work together and be able to be installed. It's not THAT big of a deal if you buy online and have a shop do the labor. Toss some money their way when you deem it necessary though.
03-17-09, 10:44 AM
It is not hard to do that type of install. You will easily get a free set of tools for all the cash you will pay the bike shop.
just take it one step at a time. Install the shock then move on to the other items you want done. Even if you buy quality shop tools that make the job easy you will still be money ahead over letting a shop do it.
03-17-09, 12:21 PM
I agree wholeheartedly with mullegun on this one. Check it out for yourself... I'll bet that you can have your own tools for the cost of a single shop repair bill. For example... my LBS charges $15 to remove and replace a crankset without repacking the bottom bracket. A crank puller costs about that same $15 retail... but I got my Park crank puller on Ebay for $8 shipped.
It amazes me at the absolutely simple tasks that people are afraid to do themselves. Try doing it yourself! :thumb:
Now for shop etiquette. Talk to your shop guy... tell him what you want to do. Don't just walk in the door with an armful of parts for him to assemble for you. Talk to him first.
And make sure that the parts are clean and servicable ahead of time. Don't expect the mechanic to clean and lube your junk for free.
I had the opposite problem as you. My LBS owner hated me because I wouldn't buy a new bike from him. I still ride the 1984 Trek that I bought new off of the showroom floor all those years ago, and it drove this guy nuts. Add to that the fact that I turn my own wrenches. Rarely do I let anyone else work on my bikes. I tried to buy parts and tools from his shop, but he usually quoted me outrageous prices for stuff... way over retail. It was as if he was intentionally trying to chase me out of his shop.
Then one day I sat and had a chat with him. I told him how I tried to support him by buying as much of my stuff from him as possible, but I wasn't going to waste my cash by paying silly prices for stuff. He got used to the idea that I will prolly never buy a zippy full carbon fiber bike... but I buy parts, racks, bags, etc.
Now when I go into his shop, he can usually get me anything that I want for a reasonable price. And I buy a lot of my stuff from him. But we have an unspoken agreement... when people are in the shop who want the silly simple tasks done for them... I don't tell them how to do it themselves... I keep my mouth shut and let them pay him!
We get along fine now...
03-17-09, 12:51 PM
You can always bring the bike in and ask whether they can put second-hand parts on it as well. Most bike stores do tons of replacements of stock and used parts where the old ones still work and hold on to the parts. While they may not offer to use used ones up front, they may be available if you explain to them that you're on a budget.
03-17-09, 01:38 PM
Agree with all those who recommend sounding out the shop folks in advance. You might also look around a bit to see if you've got a shop that deals in used parts; we have one locally that sells both new and used parts (and has great bins of cheap used stuff) and they are happy to install used stuff bought at their shop.
Besides the profit margin issue, remember that bringing in your own parts (new or used) for installation normally means the shop won't warranty the parts.
Find a bicycle mechanic in your area, not a bicycle shop. In my area there is even a mobile mechanic that works out of a big step van.
03-17-09, 07:07 PM
The cleanest bike will automatically find the nicest mechanic........
03-17-09, 07:09 PM
A lot will likely depend on the attitude you project when you broach the subject.
03-17-09, 08:11 PM
Additionally is it inappropriate to buy things online [or used] and have a mechanic install them, circumventing the inflated prices of the bike shop they work for?
I guess the uneasiness I feel from your question is that you come across sounding like a cheapskate and freeloader. (Reminds me of the old joke about the bum [sorry, "underhoused person"] who goes into a restaurant and asks, "Do you charge for bread and gravy?" Told, "No sir, we don't," the bum replies, "Good. I'll have bread and gravy!") Maybe in real life you aren't like that at all and I'm glad you are asking for advice first. But be honest, can you truly not afford to pay retail, or do you just envy the princely AIG-executive scale of bonuses that bike shop owners pay themselves and their employees?
Businesses will often try to work with a potentially good customer and agree to "loss leader" propositions for future good will, but customers who are perenially more trouble than they're worth eventually find the relationship terminated.
Yes, I think that if you project the attitude that the shop charges "inflated prices" but that they oughta help you out anyway, you will get the bum's rush. Better I agree to explain that you are trying to get your bike going on a budget and can they try to work with you on a labour price you can both live with. But if they aren't making any profit on the sale of the parts, they've got to make it up somehow on the labour side of the job. It will take more labour to pick through a boxful of random old junk, and make it work, than it would to bolt on nice new parts that are made to fit. And then when one of your old parts breaks, the shop knows that you are going to be bad-mouthing their work all over town. Customers like you always do.
Far better in your situation to learn to use tools and build your own junker. You will learn a lot of useful skills in the process and realize just how much effort it takes to do a bike job right.
03-17-09, 08:53 PM
any shop who has time and wants to make money will do your project whether you buy the parts from them or not. for some shops, they might not want to bother if they are only going to get labor charges and not the margin on parts. oh well, there's another shop in your area that isn't quite as busy.
you don't need to walk on eggshells with these mechanics. however, it's going to be frustrating for them if you got the wrong part of need additional parts that you want to source elsewhere.
My local shop simply charges the normal hourly shop rate for any part installation. They even have a chart for certain jobs, including moving entire groups from one frame to another. I can't imagine any shop turning up their nose at a reasonable part swap.
If you're shy about it, put the question like this: I am moving a fork from one bike to another (a very common thing that cyclists do). Or you could say simply, I have a different fork that I'd like to put on this bike (implying it's in your box of parts - another thing all cyclists have. If you don't like to bend the truth, get the used fork, toss it in the corner with your other bike parts, and then you'll be telling the truth) But I'm not good at installing and woudl rather have a pro do that to make sure I don't mess up. If I bring in the fork, can you remove the old one, swap over the crown race and install the other one?
See, you're not lying: the parts are indeed being moved from one bike to another. Or, if you buy a used fork and set it somewhere in your garage or w/ the other old bike parts you have, that scenario is true too. You have no obligation to tell them what bike they actually came off of, or who took them off or what the original source was, or when you got it. That's what I'd do, and I think it's a pretty normal transaction.
Heck you could just tell them you bought a used bike for parts to upgrade this one and would like them to do the technical work. All this makes you seem less like you're just circumventing their retail sales, and it's something cyclists do very often (buy old bikes for parts, swap from one bike to another, etc.)
Me? I'd just go in and say: How much do you charge for a fork swap? I have the fork and just need removal and replacement.
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