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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 08-26-08, 06:04 PM   #1
megarot
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Question for the Mechanics

So this is for you guys (or gals if there's any out there) who work professionally as a bike mechanic. Do you ever get any requests from people trying to learn about their bike to have you show them how to do their own work?
For instance I would love to learn more about working on my own bike - which i'm not afraid to get my hands dirty and I know the basic basics but I wanna know how to fix some of the other bigger issues that have came up but kinda feel like I need an extra bit of assistance (wheel truing for example).
Would that just be a source of irritation or would you be willing to help out if someone made the request?
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Old 08-26-08, 06:11 PM   #2
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Check out a bike coop if you have one near you. I think in CA they call them bike kitchens (?) They're usually staffed by super rad people who love bikes and also love showing you stuff. Ones near me run mechanics classes (basic/advanced), wheelbuilding classes, and women's only classes. Or find a bike nerd friend to teach you a few things?

When I worked as a mechanic, I had no problem demonstrating to someone how I do things, with explanations. Inevitably, my slowed pace was still way faster than they could comprehend. Also, fixing bikes is one of those things you need to get dirty and learn hands on. These were simple things- changing flats, using qr levers, installing/removing wheels.
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Old 08-26-08, 06:19 PM   #3
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Mentoring is an entirely different thing than fixing bikes. You have to think about exactly what you want to teach. Plan the experience. And give the student enough opportunity to experience the pitfalls and try to figure them out on their own. Then we'd discuss what they did, why, and maybe how to do it more easily next time.

If I'm fixing bikes, I don't want anybody looking over my shoulder or asking questions. I just want to get on with the job at hand.

I donn't mind doing either one, but I absolutely hate any attempt to mix the two.
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Old 08-26-08, 06:26 PM   #4
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im with sirpoopalot on this one (awesome name btw, haha) I have no problem demonstraiting repairs i do. I dont care if its changing a flat, truing wheels or rebuilding hubs, whatever. I show alot of people how to take wheels on and off and how to change flats. One thing i wont do and not because im a jerk but because were busy as crap right now is if your curious how to do something and i am not currently doing that type of repair or am not about to do it i cant show you everything you want to know. If you bring your bike in for an overhaul i dont care if you watch and ill explain what im doing but i dont really let people actually help with the work unless your one of those customers that spends as much time in the shop as i do.

If your currious just ask the techs whats up, any cool one will at least explain the steps and/or theory behind what you want to know. Just make sure he doesnt look swamped running between 3-4 customers, try to come in when its slow. Other than that check out parktool.com and sheldon browns site and you can learn all you need to know. I learned 95% of what i know by just trying, messing it up and then figuring out the proper way to do things by researching online. dont be scurred, bikes are simple to work on once you get theory and if you botch a repair usually nothing major will happen from it.
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Old 08-26-08, 06:30 PM   #5
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forgot to mention this very very important fact, assuming the your avitar is you. Bring the mechanic a 6 pack of fancy pants beer, i dont care how busy i am if a cute girl walks up, beer in hand, wanting to know how to work on bikes i would be happy to show her whatever she wants to know.
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Old 08-26-08, 06:38 PM   #6
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There's another option too.

Pickup a couple of cheap and cheezy goodwill grade old bikes and fix them up using Sheldon's website and the Park Tools websites as online training material. This way you're not working on your commuter special that you rely on to get to work and run errands. That alone will take a lot of the stress off the learning thing.

From there I know that I have picked up a HUGE amount of information by just reading forums like this one and when I see something that doesn't sound familiar I then go google it and learn about it. Then when I run across the part or issue it's not a surprise.

But hands on with a little help in the background either with someone watching or asking about a confusing area on this forum and you'll be fine.
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Old 08-26-08, 07:28 PM   #7
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UBI charges $750 for the "Introduction to Cylcling" class. I would do it for that.

As above, showing someone how to do something more complicated than changing a tube is a pain(And even showing how to do this is usually pointless, the person, who has admitted they do not know how to do it, never even buys the most basic of tools needed to perform this simple repair. In one ear , out the other).

It takes longer, your train of thought gets interupted answering questions, your boss gets annoyed because your productivity goes down, you make no money from it.
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Old 08-26-08, 07:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by megarot View Post
So this is for you guys (or gals if there's any out there) who work professionally as a bike mechanic. Do you ever get any requests from people trying to learn about their bike to have you show them how to do their own work?
For instance I would love to learn more about working on my own bike - which i'm not afraid to get my hands dirty and I know the basic basics but I wanna know how to fix some of the other bigger issues that have came up but kinda feel like I need an extra bit of assistance (wheel truing for example).
Would that just be a source of irritation or would you be willing to help out if someone made the request?
If you're trying to get us to show you how to do a repair because you don't want to pay for it, i'd tell you to **** off. Seriously. But if you are geuinely interested in doing repairs, I have no problems with showing you perhaps off work hours at a community shop how to do xyz.
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Old 08-26-08, 08:25 PM   #9
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Get a good bike repair manual at the book store. It'll cost you about $25.00. When you want to do a repair, tune up, or install an upgrade on your ride, read all about it first. Keep the book handy while you are doing the work, and take your time. In no time, you will be a fair hand with the wrenches.

When I was learning, it really helped to do just one job at a time. Stick with it until it's done and everything works properly. You may have to make further adjustments after your next ride. It's just part of the process. Go forward, without fear, and now that the end of season is near, watch for a sale on a set of tools. bk
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Old 08-26-08, 08:31 PM   #10
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Oh... and there's this odd place that I used to visit BI (Before Internet) where they loan out books. As I recall they had some good ones about bicycle reparing.

I think it was called a "Library"......

Seriously, there was some good ones in the big branches we have here. Worth a try in your area unless you're way out in the country.
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Old 08-26-08, 10:29 PM   #11
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Great input guys. I actually have all the wrenches and hex keys etc to do the basic work... now going into something more specific like needing a chain whip or any of the big formal tools, I dont have.
My interest is that when I get a funky squeek or noise or something besides the seat post that needs to be adjusted, to know enough to do the fix myself instead of having to take it into the bike shop every time (pain in the arse) and I really don't mind doing things myself as long as I have a decent idea at what I'm doing. I've learned alot from online videos but once they try to show you something beyond changing your tire then trying to learn by a 60 second snippet of video gets a little tuff.
Anyway, I know the basics - know how to change my tire - know how to do the basic adjust on my derailers (yea i know its the unfancy word for it) - know how to lube the chain properly - can probly adjust the brakes, I havent had the need to yet but I'm sure I wouldn't have a problem - things like that. But I want more!!! hahaha
So yea I think I'll try the fancy beer in hand approach and see if someone would be willing to give a class after work. (oh and yea thats me on the avatar). And if that doesn't work maybe I'll try out that place that loans you... books was it?
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Old 08-27-08, 10:29 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by sirpoopalot View Post
Check out a bike coop if you have one near you.
a directory of such shops around the world is under "directory" at www.bikecollectives.org.
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Old 08-27-08, 10:51 AM   #13
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I learned about bikes by trial and (sometimes) by error, ever since I was a kid. My father was a car mechanic. I borrowed his tools (mainly wrenches, screw drivers and pliers); which was far from the special tools I really needed.

30 Years ago bikes used to be less complicated than they are today. In those days we had no internet nor Google, so we had to find out by ourselves. I cannot remember any pro bike mechanic helping me out when I was in trouble. Fortunately, my dad was my guardian angel.
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Old 08-27-08, 10:57 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
There's another option too.

Pickup a couple of cheap and cheezy goodwill grade old bikes and fix them up using Sheldon's website and the Park Tools websites as online training material. This way you're not working on your commuter special that you rely on to get to work and run errands. That alone will take a lot of the stress off the learning thing.
right on!
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Old 08-27-08, 11:44 AM   #15
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If you are anywhere near LA, the Bicycle Kitchen is a great place. http://www.bicyclekitchen.com/

A new place just opened up in Riverside, also. http://www.thebicyclelounge.com/
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Old 08-27-08, 12:25 PM   #16
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I am more or less in the same boat as you. I have learned from breaking my bike, reading about what I have broken, and fixing it.... hopefully. Overall, I have routinely found that with the help of a good book most bike repairs are easy and require few specialized tools.
You may also want to look into Park tool classes or REI classes on bike repair. I am going to do the REI ones the next time they are offered.
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Old 08-27-08, 12:33 PM   #17
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Not a mechanic here. I've been tinkering on my bikes since I was 13 and I've always asked mechanics for advice. I've had wildly different responses. Generally mechanics will take the time to answer your questions on repair and point you in the right direction with parts/tools if they are not slammed. Tip: don't go in on a Saturday afternoon in July. Occasionally you'll get someone rude who lords their bike knowledge over you, but generally bike folk want to spread the love. Find a shop where you feel comfortable. Also, a cute girl wanting to learn how to fix a bike will get attention, six pack or not!

Mechanics and shop owners take note: If a mechanic is rude to me about repair/parts questions I don't buy ANYTHING there. I judge a shop on the knowledge and helpfullness of the mechanics and will buy all of my parts/tools there.
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