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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 02-13-10, 08:49 AM   #1
zacster
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How many of you are actually bike mechanics

A quick poll to see how many are actual bike mechanics with worthwhile advice. I only work on my own and you should take my advice with a grain of salt, what little advice I actually give.

Really, which among you have done this for a living?
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Old 02-13-10, 08:56 AM   #2
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"Forum: 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."

I took their use of the term "bicycle mechanics" to mean bicycle mechanicals, not guys in bike shops fixing bikes for money. They're telling you the subject, not the people who post here.

If you don't want amateur advice, why don't you go to a bike shop and pay for your help?

Last edited by garage sale GT; 02-13-10 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 02-13-10, 09:52 AM   #3
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Don't assume that advice from a professional bike mechanic is automatically better or more on point than that from a non-professional mechanic. I've been in the bike industry for 40 plus years, and my job brings me into constant contact with bike mechanics.

I can tell you for a fact that many of the folks turning wrenches in bike shops are only barely competent, and some not even that. Many are "self taught" or learned at the side of others no better than themselves. Others are fine up to a certain level, but unfortunately don't know their own limitations. This isn't intended as a general indictment of most of those turning wrenches at the LBS, but more of a "caveat emptor".

On the flip side there are a good number of amateur mechanics who work only on their own bikes, but are extremely knowledgeable. Many have crossover skills and knowledge from technical careers, others are serious hobbyists with lots of practical experience.

BTW- the problem of unqualified or borderline qualified technical staff isn't limited to the bike field. Anyone who's needed to hire out work for anything from appliance repair to home construction, or auto repair knows how broad the skills range is. As an old friend of mine always used to say, "what do you call the guy who graduated dead last from medical school, barely made it through his internship at a crappy hospital, and only passed his boards on the third try?.........Doctor"

Forums like this one are good sources for advice, but you need to take it with more than one grain of salt.
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Old 02-13-10, 10:06 AM   #4
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I am a Master Mechanic ,I has work in shops, I own my own shop and I still love working on bikes to this day. I been doing this for 35 years and I haven't found a bike yet that I can not fix.
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Old 02-13-10, 10:06 AM   #5
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My harmony professor in college was a retired NASA engineer. He held no music degrees and taught himself piano and harmony through books. He understood and taught it just as well, if not better, than our conservatory trained harmony professor.

Still, I spent a couple of years working as a mechanic for a bike shop, and many years before and after that working on my teammates', my family's, and my own bikes. Since my shop experience is now over 10 years old, there are a few things I refrain from giving advice on, like disc brakes and rear suspension. Take my advice however you want.

Also, I believe very few bike shop mechanics do it "for a living", considering the low pay. Even the head mechanic at the shop I worked at had to be an apartment manager to make ends meet for his single, small studio, car free lifestyle.
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Old 02-13-10, 10:09 AM   #6
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I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 02-13-10, 10:12 AM   #7
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I've owned my own bike shop and I've worked in some others. I'm pretty good with a certain class of bikes, particularly after they've had a few years of wear. That's the bread and butter of the bike business.

There's a lot of stuff that I have very limited experience with. For example, I've probably only worked on a handful of Campy-equipped bikes in my life so I don't respond to Campy related questions.
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Old 02-13-10, 10:22 AM   #8
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Bikes are my hobby, but I fix Fords for a living.
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Old 02-13-10, 10:23 AM   #9
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not me! :-)
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Old 02-13-10, 10:41 AM   #10
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I don't work on bikes for a living but I'm damn good.
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Old 02-13-10, 10:45 AM   #11
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I opened a bike shop a couple of years ago and work, along with three other guys, as a mechanic in my shop. I also do sales, bookkeeping, floor sweeping, cashier duties, errand boy duties, etc. etc. in the shop, as does everybody else here.
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Old 02-13-10, 10:52 AM   #12
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I get paid to work on bikes, did a two year apprenticeship before I could call myself a pro. I have learned a ton just through wrenching and encountering all the problems bikes can present you with, but a lot of my 'knowledge' was acquired through the internet. Also, i do not have a lot of advice as talking on the internet about a bike you cannot see or touch is pretty meaningless.
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Old 02-13-10, 10:55 AM   #13
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well I tried to do it for a living in the late '80s early '90s but then decided I need to actually earn a decent income. I worked in a few different shops, managed the parts dept of one, was a assistant manager, a 'team' mechanic for one of the shops clubs and attended some races with them, I also worked in a few neutral support vehicles.

I have assemebled bikes from boxes, from a frame and bike 'kit' and from a custom selected kit or just picking parts off the shelf. repaired a few bent dropouts and faced and chased my share of BB shells and headtubes and steerers.
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Old 02-13-10, 11:03 AM   #14
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I've never been a paid mechanic, but I understand the logical bits behind why certain things will work and certain things do not.
I don't understand every single aspect of bikes (mainly genres that I have no interest in), but what I do know, I have tried myself or read up on how it works.
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Old 02-13-10, 11:12 AM   #15
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not me! :-)
Not me, too! :-)
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Old 02-13-10, 11:26 AM   #16
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I was an auto mechanic for 10 years before I was a bike mechanic. Just as I never met a good auto mechanic who went completely 'by the book', I've never met a good mechanic who fixes bikes by a manual. Cars and Bicycles both require problem-solving skills that don't involve a 3-Step process. If a person has good spacial-relations sense, good mechanical aptitude, and a good imagination, they tend to be a pretty good mechanic. The 'good imagination' tends to be the most important, and the least evidenced, aspect of being a good bike mechanic.

Now I have my own shop, but I'm still a bike mechanic. I've always tended toward "hands-on" jobs that produce a result from my labour. Auto mechanic, bike mechanic, web designer, web developer, computer technician, etc. I like fixing problems.
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Old 02-13-10, 11:33 AM   #17
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Hey, Platy - how's the business going?
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Old 02-13-10, 11:34 AM   #18
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I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

very funny
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Old 02-13-10, 11:34 AM   #19
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I don't even know what a bicycle is
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Old 02-13-10, 11:41 AM   #20
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I'm actually a mechanical engineer (now retired). I've been wrenching on bikes for 25 years. What helps me is the 30 years I spent in the field of small machined metal components (mostly for nuclear weapons). That gives me a good feel for tolerances and fits. I'm also interested in auto mechanics, but only as a hobby, not a profession. I was swapping engines when I was 16. When I give up cycling, I'm going back to building street rods. I've got that planned for late 2012.
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Old 02-13-10, 11:45 AM   #21
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I'm actually a mechanical engineer (now retired). I've been wrenching on bikes for 25 years. What helps me is the 30 years I spent in the field of small machined metal components (mostly for nuclear weapons). That gives me a good feel for tolerances and fits. I'm also interested in auto mechanics, but only as a hobby, not a profession. I was swapping engines when I was 16. When I give up cycling, I'm going back to building street rods. I've got that planned for late 2012.
You plan 2 years ahead?
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Old 02-13-10, 11:49 AM   #22
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Hey, Platy - how's the business going?
Starting to pick up a bit. The DePauw kiddies are starting to get ready for their Little 5 now. Hopefully I'll be completely swamped in a week or two.
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Old 02-13-10, 12:18 PM   #23
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Not me. Its a hobby; but my wife sent me to mechanic school (UBI) as a b'day gift so I have some training. That said, I only feel comfortable commenting on issues I deal with regularly with my own bikes.
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Old 02-13-10, 12:27 PM   #24
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I haven't worked professionally as a bike mechanic for many years now, but I have worked in many shops and built bikes for nationally and world ranked competitors in my day.
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Old 02-13-10, 12:52 PM   #25
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I'll second FBNY's point about actual-bike-mechanic work not necessarily correlating with quality of bike-mechanic knowledge. I worked for three years as a shop mechanic in high school. But now I know WAY more than I did then. But it's all self-taught (and forum-learned) stuff, and mainly within the range of stuff that I've worked on for myself and my friends.

@Doohickie - awesome.
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