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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 05-27-07, 03:04 PM   #1
rvo7
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do it yourself or bike shop

I have my own business, do triathlons, read a ton and so I don't have much time. I was wondering
for bike repair and maintenance, should I get book and lean verthing about bikesknowing this will take up alot of time, or take everything to LBS. Are there people out there that just take everything to a LBS? i.e- flat tire, change brake pads - take to LS to repair.
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Old 05-27-07, 03:18 PM   #2
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It is a matter of time versus money. It can be worth it to just have the job done rather than take your limited free time to do it. I paid someone to reroof my house even tho I have done roofing and could do this myself because it was worth the money to not spend a week crawling around up there

However most bike repairs, like a tube change or replacing a broken cable, don't take very long to do and it can even save you time because you will not need to make the trip to the store, if you already have the repair part needed. I think a lot of customers that get basic repairs done at the shop, do it for one of two reasons. They don't know how or they don't want to get dirty.
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Old 05-27-07, 03:29 PM   #3
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Also depends on the quality of the LBS. No point in paying them to do a job if you're just going to need to fix it yourself.
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Old 05-27-07, 03:29 PM   #4
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Once the bike is set up, there is really very little maintenance that is necessary. Changing a chain and cassette, tires, slightly adjusting brakes, ders, truing wheels are all you will encounter. All these things are easy and if you know how to do them, you will spend less time doing them yourself than packing up the bike and taking it to the shop.
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Old 05-27-07, 03:32 PM   #5
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I agree, unless it requires special/expensive tools (beyond a basic bike maintenance kit) or you're really not mechanically inclined, chances are it's going to take longer to take the bike down to the shop and bring it back than it would just to fix it. And the shop is going to mail order the part from the same place you would, for the same price, and then mark it up and add labor. So unless spending the same amount of time and 1.5-2x as much money is your bag, I'd suggest DIY.

For the stuff that would require an expensive tool (I can't really think of anything that's TOO expensive) or a special tool (i.e. crank puller/bb tool) you have to gauge how often you'll use it vs. how much it costs vs. how much the shop will charge you to fix it.

I have several pretty good shops with good wrenches in them within 5 miles of me, but I still do it myself because it's quicker, easier, and more satisfying, not to mention cheaper.

But if you have an assistant to run your bike to the shop and pick it up and you can spend that time working instead of fixing your bike, I'd think the choice is obvious: you gotta spend money to make money.
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Old 05-27-07, 03:43 PM   #6
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If you are mechanically adept, learn how to clean & lube your drivetrain, replace and adjust brakepads, tune derailleurs, fix flats and keep things tight in general. Not a lot of tools are needed and this comprises 90% of the work your ride will need. Beyond that, have the LBS do it. BTW, the above stuff will not take a lot of time. Adjusting derailleurs takes a while to get right, but once you learn it, you got it. bk
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Old 05-27-07, 04:10 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by kandnhome
...And the shop is going to mail order the part from the same place you would, for the same price, and then mark it up and add labor...
Really? I'd love to know who is selling at wholesale to consumers.
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Old 05-27-07, 07:03 PM   #8
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Really? I'd love to know who is selling at wholesale to consumers.

Me to. None of the wholesalers I deal with would sell to a consumer.
It might seem that way because Jenson and Supergo sell (some)stuff real cheap. Of course that real cheap stuff comes with no packaging or instructions because they are manufacturer leftover blowouts(The stuff that Trek did not use and sold to onliners at Treks cost, to the detriment of the dealers that made them what they are today, but that is another story)
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Old 05-27-07, 07:12 PM   #9
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If you do triathlons, I would think you would want to be ABLE to do some minor repairs yourself. It might make the difference between riding and pushing.
Familiararity with the minor repairs will make them much easier/quicker to do when under stress.
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Old 05-27-07, 07:29 PM   #10
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I do all my own car maintanance too and when someone asks me where I get the time to do an oil change, I ask them where they get the time to take it to the dealer/shop, wait for the job to be done and drive home or worse, leave the car and make the trip twice. It takes much less time for me to do it in my own garage.

Same with bike repairs. It's faster to do it myself than to drive to the shop twice.
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Old 05-27-07, 08:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rvo7
I have my own business, do triathlons, read a ton and so I don't have much time. I was wondering
for bike repair and maintenance, should I get book and lean verthing about bikesknowing this will take up alot of time, or take everything to LBS. Are there people out there that just take everything to a LBS? i.e- flat tire, change brake pads - take to LS to repair.
Rev. Chuck hit the nail on the head.

Park tools is a good place to start if you're thinking of doing some wrenching.
http://www.parktool.com/repair/

As well as this forum!
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Old 05-27-07, 08:48 PM   #12
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Check these 3 out. There are some others. Some good, some bad.
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Old 05-27-07, 08:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HillRider
I do all my own car maintanance too and when someone asks me where I get the time to do an oil change, I ask them where they get the time to take it to the dealer/shop, wait for the job to be done and drive home or worse, leave the car and make the trip twice. It takes much less time for me to do it in my own garage.

Same with bike repairs. It's faster to do it myself than to drive to the shop twice.
I absolutely agree with Hillrider. One of the main reasons I do my own bicycle maintanance is because it saves me time. By the time I get the bike into or onto the car, transport it to the LBS, unload, chit-chat with the LBS guy, go home, return to the LBS, load, transport, unload blah blah blah, I spend AT LEAST three hours. No bicycle repair takes that much time. I can re-build or re-pack any hub or BB or headset or replace any derailure in that much time. Of course, flat repair or tube/tire replacement can be done in a fraction of that time.

Also, I can do the repairs when I need it done and at my leisure. If I have a flat or need to true a wheel in time for my commute the next day, I can do it that very night after dinner and have the bike ready for my ride in the morning. Relying on the LBS is at least a three-day wait.

That said, we do have a mobile bicycle repair guy here in our city. He is a very good mechanic, reasonably priced, and reliable. Tom will even come to your place of work and fix your bike right there, so if you have some problem on your commute to work, you can call him, explain your dilemma, and he will come to the rescue. I have called Tom a couple of times for that kind of service and it is fabulous. If every town had a high-quality mobile bike service like we do here, the world would be a better place.
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Old 05-27-07, 09:15 PM   #14
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^^
To be fair. you need to remove the trip time for any repair that would be done on the spot, like a flat reapir or der. adjustment, as most people do not have the parts needed to do the repair on hand and also need to spend ten-twenty minutes asking questions to get the correct parts.
I would bet money that any real pro could do it faster than you. My average for a tube replacement(ON bike, including finding the reason for failure and checking the brake and shifting) is under three minutes.(two minutes 38 seconds, without a repair stand, rear wheel)
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Old 05-27-07, 09:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev.Chuck
^^
To be fair. you need to remove the trip time for any repair that would be done on the spot, like a flat reapir or der. adjustment, as most people do not have the parts needed to do the repair on hand and also need to spend ten-twenty minutes asking questions to get the correct parts.
I would bet money that any real pro could do it faster than you. My average for a tube replacement(ON bike, including finding the reason for failure and checking the brake and shifting) is under three minutes.(two minutes 38 seconds, without a repair stand, rear wheel)
Well, that is true. I have spare parts for just about every part of every bike I own. That would not be practical for most folks. but still, If you kept a spare tube, some spare cables, and maybe six spare spokes or so, you would have most of it covered.
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Old 05-28-07, 07:35 AM   #16
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Quote:
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It might seem that way because Jenson and Supergo sell (some)stuff real cheap.
Supergo is no more. Bought out by Performance/Nashbar. Your point is right on, tho.
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Old 05-28-07, 09:26 AM   #17
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Another good reason to do your own repairs is that, in Summer, when you bring your bike to the LBS for a relatively minor repair, it will likely have to stay several days. Some shops have even longer waiting lists. Even for repairs like a new chain and cassette or fixing spokes. Quite often, the repair takes less time than the trip to the LBS and back.
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Old 05-28-07, 10:09 AM   #18
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Really? I'd love to know who is selling at wholesale to consumers.
You must live in an actual big city.

None of the shops near me buy anything but bikes and tires in enough quantity to get them from wholesalers.

I mean, seriously, a WTB saddle is a special order item. And it costs MSRP to MSRP + 5. You want a stem shorter than 90mm? Special order a Easton, $90-120. You want any kind of pedal besides a Wellgo platform or Candy C's? Special order, MSRP + 10 or so.

I guess I made the error of generalizing my situtation to the larger group. If your bike shops buy wholesale and sell below MSRP, consider yourself lucky. It's not like that everywhere.
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Old 05-28-07, 10:10 AM   #19
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The best reason for doing your own maintainence is so you can become this chap...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54CpPlCnM4I
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Old 05-28-07, 10:16 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev.Chuck
^^
To be fair. you need to remove the trip time for any repair that would be done on the spot, like a flat reapir or der. adjustment, as most people do not have the parts needed to do the repair on hand and also need to spend ten-twenty minutes asking questions to get the correct parts.
I would bet money that any real pro could do it faster than you. My average for a tube replacement(ON bike, including finding the reason for failure and checking the brake and shifting) is under three minutes.(two minutes 38 seconds, without a repair stand, rear wheel)

While I don't doubt that you're fast at tube changes, I highly doubt that 2:38 is your average. How many tire changes is that averaged over? How long have you been keeping track? If that really is your average and you've been keeping track for any length of time, you're most definitely NOT an average or typical mechanic, and 2:38 is a bit specific for a two-year running average.

My point about how long it takes a shop to fix your bike is that unless you're a serious big spender or a wrench's best buddy, your bike is not going to be top priority the moment it enters the shop. It will go into the line of bikes ahead of it, and might spend a couple days at the shop if the fix is tricky or the shop is busy.

Again, this is in a shop that employs 2-5 mechanics and about that many floor people at most (some of the shops around here are as small as 1/2 that), YMMV.
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Old 05-28-07, 10:31 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rvo7
I have my own business, do triathlons, read a ton and so I don't have much time. I was wondering
for bike repair and maintenance, should I get book and lean verthing about bikesknowing this will take up alot of time, or take everything to LBS. Are there people out there that just take everything to a LBS? i.e- flat tire, change brake pads - take to LS to repair.
In your case no : you have your own busisness,THAT time is more fruitfull ($$) to be spent at your work, the work you do best, you like to read and need to train,so much for the off-hours. Funny you should say LBS and triathelete together, the owner of my LBS of choice is a triathete, a successfull one. He helps many such dedicated triatheletes,he tweaks the bikes and because he's in both the buss. and the sport, he's well informed and very up-to-date. I see sveral bikes for fellow atheletes there each time I go. I can tinker, experiment as a half-assed wrench. If I had "something better to do" or a race to train for, I'd want my bike and myself to receive the best advantages possible. When I choose to work, I can make enough $$ to buy many, many bikes at will. Tinker on the off-season,try it on a trainer or a "project".
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Old 05-28-07, 11:56 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kandnhome
You must live in an actual big city.

None of the shops near me buy anything but bikes and tires in enough quantity to get them from wholesalers.

I mean, seriously, a WTB saddle is a special order item. And it costs MSRP to MSRP + 5. You want a stem shorter than 90mm? Special order a Easton, $90-120. You want any kind of pedal besides a Wellgo platform or Candy C's? Special order, MSRP + 10 or so.

I guess I made the error of generalizing my situtation to the larger group. If your bike shops buy wholesale and sell below MSRP, consider yourself lucky. It's not like that everywhere.
Wow.

I think your perception of how a bike shop works is a bit skewed from reality. Our shop has 4 employees, and the town is far from a big city with just 3500 year-round residents, yet we have a long list of wholesale accounts. These are available to any shop anywhere that meets the credit requirements, and even if they don't are available on a credit card basis. These accounts are supposed to be for brick-and-mortar shops only, but plenty of folks seem to be able to get around this requirement and sell online with much less overhead, skewing the public perception of value. Some shops will even breach their own contracts with these vendors and sell products on the gray market.

Due to our proximity to Durango, which has several bike shops in competition with one another (and us), our prices for both products and labor have to be competitive, offering a very slim margin. Also, given the perception being propogated that any shop that doesn't offer the same prices as an internet warehouse or closeout operation is ripping people off, we offer price matching to customers that request it...within reason. We also have a customer loyalty program that gives a discount to our regulars, and there's a discount for any member of our local cycling club. Top that off with free basic bike repair clinics, organized rides, free technical advice for anyone doing their own work, sponsorship for promising racers, local trail information for visitors, training and nutritional advice and all the other services we offer that I can't even take the time to list now...it's a wonder we keep the doors open.

If your local bike shop has to sell for more than MSRP, it could be that's just what they have to charge to keep their doors open, not necessarily that they are paying more than wholesale for their stock.

Due to a low volume in comparison with shops in larger cities, we also can't stock much in the way of high end components, and must order them in at a more expensive cost than high-volume dealers. Some customers do get pissed, but then again...we are in the position of whipping boy as we have to balance what we stock versus what will actually sell, and taking the chance of sitting on merchandise that we hope people will buy versus losing a customer comparing us to an anonymous warehouse offering no services other than shipping to your home.

In regards to the OP: Absolutely do as much of your own work as possible. It will enable you to not be at the mercy of (Dun Dun Dunnnn...) a Local Bike Shop, no sarcasm implied. We are all about meeting the needs of cyclists no matter where they are at, but not all shops are that way.
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Old 05-28-07, 08:24 PM   #23
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Wordbiker, and those concerned: I don't care how shops buy their parts; I assumed that since they are charging over MSRP they were paying close to it. If they are paying wholesale and charging even close to MSRP, that's all the more reason to buy online IMO. I don't need to perpetuate an outdated business model populated by people who are largely underinformed and at the same time paradoxically elitist.

As I said in my first post, there are several shops in a 5-mile radius and every one of them charges full retail or more for every item in their store short of tires and a few end-of-season bikes. Competition seems lacking, to say the least. The bike-shop atmosphere is so very different from what you describe it's hard to believe we're talking about the same thing. No free clinics, no knowledgeable sales staff, no free advice beyond what I already know from anyone but one particular wrench at one shop, you can forget about nutritional and training advice. And there is a weekend group ride, but you better be Cat 2 or 3 and a roadie (I prefer MTB -- no group rides for us!) if you even want to keep up, because they ain't slowing down for anyone.

I've never been to a bike shop (brick & mortar-style) that didn't charge full retail on every item it could, and more on many. I've only rarely seen these shops sell anything at a discount and then it's the XS and S size shorts and jerseys that would only fit an anemic European child.

As I said before, I'm sorry for my earlier generalizations -- these are just my experiences, not necessarily anyone else's. However, the lesson in bike-shop business technique above only entrenches my belief that the LBS is not far from extinction, at least the kind that live around here.

Again, count yourself lucky: not everyone has it as good as you do.
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Old 05-28-07, 08:37 PM   #24
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We'd all like to be able to DYI our bikes but sometimes it's just not feasible due to time or tools. The best argument for having two bikes is to avoid down time while you are waiting for the LBS to repair your ride.
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Old 05-28-07, 08:57 PM   #25
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Quote:
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Wordbiker...

As I said before, I'm sorry for my earlier generalizations -- these are just my experiences, not necessarily anyone else's. However, the lesson in bike-shop business technique above only entrenches my belief that the LBS is not far from extinction, at least the kind that live around here.

Again, count yourself lucky: not everyone has it as good as you do.
Yeah, it does sound like those shops suck.

My apologies if I sounded defensive, but I made huge changes and sacrifices in my life to do what I love to do and work in the bike business. I don't expect to make great money, but I do expect to have enjoyable work and to have a part in building the bike shop I've always wanted to go to. It just hurts to hear so many on this forum bashing LBS's in general, as if every one is the same across the nation and that they all deserve to be burned down. Given the obvious need for service and knowledge displayed by this forum, it makes me wonder what they will do if they're all driven out of business.

The shop is fairly new, so perhaps our business model is a bit different and more progressive as we have no "tradition" to be stuck in. I am getting a bit more thick-skinned about the bashing as I learn more and continue to work toward that "ideal shop" vision.

I also must admit, when I travel out of town, I visit and study the shops there, and many are just as you described. I made a game out of finding the "tragic flaw" in each one...and it wasn't that hard in several. Some were too elitist as you stated, others were too wrapped up in getting their margins or squabbling over market share with the other shops that they weren't really serving their customers.

The main reason I frequent this forum is to get a feel for what most cyclists want (and don't want) in a bike shop. Many of the expectations are just unreasonable on both sides of the coin. We can't give product away at less than our cost, but we do try to meet somewhere in the middle. We also answer to vendors and manufacturers that are trying to keep the perceived value of their respective products as high as possible, sometimes even being bound by contract to not sell under a certain price before a certain date, etc....understandable as if I were manufacturing a product, I'd want the same.

Given all that, I'd like to know: What would have to change (now be reasonable) for you to frequent a LBS in your neighborhood, and for you to call it your "home base"?
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