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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 04-27-07, 09:00 PM   #1
Cassiel
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Having the bike seen...professionally.

So, I'm considering taking my bike to the bike doctor just to have a routine checkup. Is this worth it? I'm attempting to learn to maintain the thing myself, and just learned how to replace brake pads and chain. A lot of it, however, I know nothing about, and for all of it I'm a novice feeling my way in the dark. I've got the Zinn road bike book and I've pored over Sheldon Brown's website and a few others. Would it be worth my while just to get someone who knows what he/she's doing to look it over? (I should mention the bike is relatively new - just bought last August - and only has about 1400 miles on it.) What do you think?
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Old 04-27-07, 09:02 PM   #2
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Find your local bike co-op (I'm sure Portland has one) and go there. You will learn and support a great organization.

Edit, here is you local shop.

City Bikes Repair Shop
1914 SE Ankeny St.
Portland, OR97214
503.239.0553
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Old 04-28-07, 05:41 AM   #3
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Unless you feel something is really wrong with the bike and you have no idea what it could be, no. Learn the basic maintenance and do it regularly, that'll save you a lot of money.. Which you can then put on tools if you feel so inclined.
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Old 04-28-07, 06:12 PM   #4
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I do basic adjustments (brakes, derailleurs, etc.) myself. I lube the chain. I pump up the tires and change flats.

In the past, I've done complete builds and have rebuilt wheel hubs, bottom brackets, headsets, etc. I'm not fast or efficient at this and it aggravates me because of that. Sometimes special tools are needed, and I don't care to invest in them anymore.

I've never trued or built a wheel.

I do regular tweaking of my derailleurs and brakes, it is so simple (once you learn it and everyone can) that there's no reason to bring it in. I do this for the 6 bikes we have in our family. I even bought repair stand and a rolly-wheel telescoping shop seat to make it easy.

Every year or two I bring the bike in for a full checkup and tuning just because I don't have time or inclination to do more than the brakes and derailleurs. At that time i have them do all the work I don't like to do or can't do: bracket and hub work, wheel truing, etc. For the kids bikes that don't get ridden more than a couple hundred miles a year, I get this work done every 2-3 years. For my bikes, every year, at most every other year. Costs me $50-$75/per bike when I get it done. You do the math, but it maybe averages $25/bike/year in the long term; twice that for my personal bikes. No big deal.

I don't mind paying any professional to do work I'm not good at, don't enjoy or don't have time to do.
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Old 04-28-07, 06:35 PM   #5
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Camilo brings an excellent perpective. You have to balance your time and the results vs. taking it to a (good) mechanic. It's also hard to spot everything a bike might need, and most riders tend to fix things only when there's a problem, which can actually be more expensive than routine preventative maintenance.
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Old 04-28-07, 07:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynikal
Find your local bike co-op (I'm sure Portland has one) and go there. You will learn and support a great organization.

Edit, here is you local shop.

City Bikes Repair Shop
1914 SE Ankeny St.
Portland, OR97214
503.239.0553
Actually, I wouldn't necessarily recommend them in this case. Cassiel, given what I've read about your work commute, you might like Seven Corners at SE 21st and Powell. If you are able to take your bike in during the middle of the day or at least out of the evening rush hour, you will find that Corey and the other mechanic who works there will spend some real time with you. Their prices are reasonable.

There is also the Community Exchange Bike School. They repair, they teach, they rent/lend (depending on your economic circumstances) repair space, and they're all-around nice people.

Don't get me wrong, I like Citybikes a lot. I buy stuff from them no one else has, but I was totally turned off using them for repair/service or even advice by the way I was treated when I needed to borrow a pedal wrench to put pedals on my bike (that I had just bought from them). Then there was the argument about my choice of cargo trailer... If I can't get what I need without having to ask a lot of questions, I go someplace else. I've never felt questions were welcomed there. (It pains me to admit this, as I'm a great supporter of the cooperative business model.)
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Old 04-29-07, 06:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cny-bikeman
Camilo brings an excellent perpective. You have to balance your time and the results vs. taking it to a (good) mechanic. It's also hard to spot everything a bike might need, and most riders tend to fix things only when there's a problem, which can actually be more expensive than routine preventative maintenance.
Emphasis on "good mechanic". I have been around a long time and have seen too many shops where the techs are young kids that will work for what the owner pays them. (In fairness to any young kids reading and because I was actually once a young kid starting out, some of them do have the gumption to learn & mature into compentent mechanics. That will happen working under the supervision of someone; it can happen working alone, but thanks all the same, I don't want you learning and making mistakes on my dime.) You need to ask around to find out which shops actually have mechanics that will be able to spot developing problems, not round off bolt heads, etc, otherwise you will be wasting your time in the long run.
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