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  1. #1
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    Pros/cons fixing friends bikes

    Hi everyone,

    just wondering where you all stand on fixing friends bikes. several of my friends have recently had me do some work on their bikes and i've successfully replaced some f'd up bottom brackets, brake cables and such. The bikes in question are always beat up old motobecanes, centurions, or panasonics. Bikes that if taken care of will last, but aren't necessarily built with the best care and components. Anyways, after i finish and give the bike back to a happy owner they always find more problems (of course) and I am no longer able to have a non-bike conversation with them, or even worse they blame me for something malfunctioning that I didn't touch in the first place. So, is it worth all the grief? Is there a way around this? should I write out receipts showing what I did work on even though no money is changing hands? Should I just recommend a good bike shop to them even though they know that I rebuild my own bikes and have a full toolkit? Hell, if it was up to me I'd just tell them to spend a little cash, get a GOOD bike and take care of it! (i.e. don't leave it out in the rain!)

    Thanks for any insights or comments.

  2. #2
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    I thought this was going to be a question about possible legal issues.

    But it seems you simply have some friends who are not very good friends. I would think any friend would simply take your word that you fixed what you fixed, and that any further issue was not related. You are doing them a favor, as a friend; what could they possibly complain about?

    jim
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  3. #3
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    I work on my family's cars and bikes. The pro's are definitely a sense of satisfaction for helping someone out and ocassionally, they return the favor by helping me out.

    There are many con's, one of which you have experienced with your friends, and that is sometimes people aren't very grateful. I can't count the number of times I've been asked "Are you done yet?" when I'm outside in the freezing cold on a weekend night fixing one of my sisters' cars. It makes me want to stop working and tell them to tow their car to a shop and have it fixed on Monday like they would otherwise be doing if I wasn't willing to help. After I calm back down, I continue finishing the job anyway and remind myself that they are family.

    If it really gets to you that they are ungrateful, just say you are too busy to help. Letting it eat at you won't help the situation. If they are too childish to appreciate your help, perhaps a few $50-100 repair bills plus being without their bike for a week will help. I know it's helped with my sisters a few times (really helped that the repair bills were much more than $50-100 since we're talking cars not bikes)

  4. #4
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    Fixing some friends bikes is a good way to end up feeling used. They are saving money, letting you do a lot of stuff they should do themselves, like cleaning up the mess, and often 'want more' for free by blaming you for something else that was already wrong with their ride. They are cheapskates, and taking advantage of you works well for them. Use the potential legal issues to dodge the work. bk

  5. #5
    "Purgatory Central" Wino Ryder's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=happyrodent;7653019]Hi everyone,

    The bikes in question are always beat up old motobecanes, centurions, or panasonics. Bikes that if taken care of will last, but aren't necessarily built with the best care and components.QUOTE]

    Not necessarily built with the best care and components?? I think you're wrong on that. The bikes you mentioned are built pretty damn good from the ones I've seen. All those three have a certain collector value as evident by the many posts on the C&V forum asking about them. The componentry are almost always at least mid range, with the majority of them having up-scale components like Shimano 600, Sugino, and Dia-comp (Gran-comp). The same can be said for the frames too, with double butted cro-moly tubes that rivaled anything from Columbus or Reynolds.

    Dont get me wrong, I'm not necessarily chastising you. Just trying to "enlighten" you about the brands you mentioned.

    That said, tell your friends to get another mechanic if they want to gripe.
    ~ "I like the way the brake cables come out of the top of the levers and loop around to the brake calipers!...I like those downtube shifters too!...No no no, don't take 'em off, don't take 'em off,...leave 'em on, leave 'em on! - Thats right baby!!

    ~BF - Steel Club Member #00051

  6. #6
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    my friend had an old bike with a busted left shifter. i bought a 99cent nashbar friction right shifter (along with some of my stuff) and flipped it around and stuck it on the left side. it worked and it felt good. I didnt even bother asking for the $1 back. Another time i greased a girl's kickstand and she was like "omg lube is awesome!" *snicker.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ehilge's Avatar
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    I always figure its a karma type thing. I do something nice for my friends and they help me out somewhere else. Besides, it makes me feel somewhat useful which is nice. I had an interesting occurance recently though. My friends bike wasn't shifting right so I rode it and managed to throw the derailleur into the spokes and it screwed up his hanger and derailleur. Luckily though, he wasn't to mad and realized it could have happened to him. But now I need to help him fix the bigger problem. Oh well....

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by happyrodent View Post
    Hi everyone,

    just wondering where you all stand on fixing friends bikes. several of my friends have recently had me do some work on their bikes and i've successfully replaced some f'd up bottom brackets, brake cables and such. The bikes in question are always beat up old motobecanes, centurions, or panasonics. Bikes that if taken care of will last, but aren't necessarily built with the best care and components. Anyways, after i finish and give the bike back to a happy owner they always find more problems (of course) and I am no longer able to have a non-bike conversation with them, or even worse they blame me for something malfunctioning that I didn't touch in the first place. So, is it worth all the grief? Is there a way around this? should I write out receipts showing what I did work on even though no money is changing hands? Should I just recommend a good bike shop to them even though they know that I rebuild my own bikes and have a full toolkit? Hell, if it was up to me I'd just tell them to spend a little cash, get a GOOD bike and take care of it! (i.e. don't leave it out in the rain!)

    Thanks for any insights or comments.

    I'm a computer guy and THIS is why I dont fix friends computers... BEacsue then I'm responsible for everything.

    Your best response "emmm It sounds familiar but I'm not completely sure, the LBS will definitely be able to take care of it"

    They will appreciate the advice and you will avoid the headache.
    2009 BD Mercier Galaxy AL/Campy Veloce/PZ Aero Bars/Fulcrum 5's
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  9. #9
    ٩๏̯͡๏)۶ Luke52's Avatar
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    I've begun offering to fix friends' bikes..

    Hopefully shouldn't have any problems, but you never know..

    Fixed up a few family member's bikes though, no issues there.

  10. #10
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    I helped a coworker get a bike running once. Well, more like I did the work, and showed him everything that I was doing and why. Cleaned the chain, lubed a bunch of parts, adjusted the shifters, adjusted the saddle, etc. I've lent him a book about bike maintenance, too.

    But no, I don't think that I'll offer to fix bikes by just taking them home and working on them on my own time. If they want the help, they're also going to stand there and watch. I say something like, "Sure, bring it over and I'll show you what to do." They're going to start learning about what to do, and -- to put it rudely -- I'm going to waste as much of their time as they are of mine.

  11. #11
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    I guess I've been lucky with my friends and family since I've not had the complaints and hassles you apparently have gone through. If I did, that person would have been directed to the LBS for all future work.

    What I have done is point out what else should be done in the future and what the parts will cost before completing the job at hand.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Leader View Post
    I'm a computer guy and THIS is why I dont fix friends computers... BEacsue then I'm responsible for everything.

    Your best response "emmm It sounds familiar but I'm not completely sure, the LBS will definitely be able to take care of it"

    They will appreciate the advice and you will avoid the headache.
    I've learned that no good deed goes unpunished.

    You are completely right. People think that once you touch their bike, you are now guaranteeing that their bike will never have any problems in the future and if so, you are responsible for it.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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  13. #13
    Harumph somegeek's Avatar
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    I learned this with fixing folk's computers who repeatedly do the same things to screw them up "Oh, shiny! Must click! It'll make my PC faster and safer!"... I no longer fix their PCs.

    I like helping folks, but if someone doesn't have any inkling of learning how to fish, I'll quit tossing them fish. **** it...

    somegeek

  14. #14
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by happyrodent View Post
    Hi everyone,

    just wondering where you all stand on fixing friends bikes. several of my friends have recently had me do some work on their bikes and i've successfully replaced some f'd up bottom brackets, brake cables and such. The bikes in question are always beat up old motobecanes, centurions, or panasonics. Bikes that if taken care of will last, but aren't necessarily built with the best care and components. Anyways, after i finish and give the bike back to a happy owner they always find more problems (of course) and I am no longer able to have a non-bike conversation with them, or even worse they blame me for something malfunctioning that I didn't touch in the first place. So, is it worth all the grief? Is there a way around this? should I write out receipts showing what I did work on even though no money is changing hands? Should I just recommend a good bike shop to them even though they know that I rebuild my own bikes and have a full toolkit? Hell, if it was up to me I'd just tell them to spend a little cash, get a GOOD bike and take care of it! (i.e. don't leave it out in the rain!)

    Thanks for any insights or comments.
    The solution is simple.

    Don't fix their bikes.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  15. #15
    Bikaholic blamp28's Avatar
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    I do only minor repairs for those not capable. For all others, I teach them to do it or suggest a good repair shop. This goes for Bikes, Cars, Computers etc. I really don't mind helping but wont get pulled into a position of taking responsibility for someone else's problem. I have my own family and responsibilities and they come first.
    Trek Fuel XC MTB, Giant OCR Road Bike, Rans Screamer - Tandem

  16. #16
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    BarracksSi- you are right.
    I have a buddy whose wife used to give him a big honey do list every weekend. A real PIA.
    Soooo he made sure that she was there to "hand" him tools, hold the measuring tape whether needed or not. Go get me this and go get me that. He would stop, take a break, have a brewski and continue. Just waisting time. You get the idea. After a few of those weekends she was "cured"
    It's nice to do people favors but don't spoil them and don't let them take advantage.
    .

  17. #17
    Senior Member 1fluffhead's Avatar
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    I have gotten burned too by helping friends out before. After the last time, I decided that if anyone wanted help, that they would need to come by on my schedule and be prepared to get dirty. I show them how to diagnosis the problem and when we find it, let them do all of the work to fix it with guidance. If they don't like this approach, I tell them to pay someone to do it for them because I don't have time to do free work, but only have time to teach others to help themselves. Seems to be working so far.
    Quote Originally Posted by diff_lock2 View Post
    so what if it's custom, are you suddenly NOT a jackass?

  18. #18
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    No freebies,if your out on the road I'll help you,otherwise pay me or do it yourself.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

  19. #19
    Senior Member Joshua A.C. New's Avatar
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    I love fixing my friends' bikes. It helps me pay them back for the stuff they do for me.
    Joshua A.C. Newman,
    Passionate lover of construction

  20. #20
    Genius FlatMaster's Avatar
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    As long as someone pays for parts if the're needed, I'll do anything for anyone.
    Ride or Die

  21. #21
    Senior Member jtfind's Avatar
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    I like to help out but have no problem advising a shop repair if it becomes too often or they want to cut corners. The work is free but complaints are $5 each .

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua A.C. New View Post
    I love fixing my friends' bikes. It helps me pay them back for the stuff they do for me.
    Congratulations on you choice of friends. We should all be so lucky.

  23. #23
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobn View Post
    BarracksSi- you are right.
    I have a buddy whose wife used to give him a big honey do list every weekend. A real PIA.
    Soooo he made sure that she was there to "hand" him tools, hold the measuring tape whether needed or not. Go get me this and go get me that. He would stop, take a break, have a brewski and continue. Just waisting time. You get the idea. After a few of those weekends she was "cured"
    It's nice to do people favors but don't spoil them and don't let them take advantage.
    .
    Yeah; I mean, don't get me wrong, I don't do it this way to actually waste their time -- I just want them to see what kind of effort is involved, and not simply walk away and expect some sort of magic on my part.

    Usually, it's not actually difficult, it's just something they didn't know how to do. So, once they see it in person, they start to figure it out and can probably take care of it when it happens again. It usually ends up like a short lesson.

  24. #24
    Road Nazi Hunter Donegal's Avatar
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    I fix all my friends bikes. I know their mechanical capabilities and would rather fix them in the comfort of my shop while watching tv instead of on the side of the road. Most of my friends would do anything for me if I needed help. If someone is not thankful for your gratis help, kick them square in the as* and tell them to go to a LBS and leave you alone. They sound awful petty. I usually get a hearty "Thank You" and the offer of payment no matter how many times I work on them.
    Rubber Side Down Racing Team
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  25. #25
    Real Men Ride Ordinaries fuzz2050's Avatar
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    If your having those sorts of trouble, then try a different approach. Instead of taking their bike and making them wait while you repair it, use it as an invitation to teach them how to repair the problem by themselves. Sure you might be there giving a guiding hand, and providing tools, but let them do the work.

    that way when something gets messed up in the future, they come to you asking 'can you help me with this repair that I might have messed up, not 'you messed up the repair that you did'

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