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  1. #1
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Again reminded why professional mechanics are better than me

    I am frequently reminded that one difference between a shade tree home mechanic like me, and a real professional bike mechanic, is that the former can do quality work on a task, but the latter can do quality work on that task quickly, get it right the first time, and while fielding customer questions.

    Our receptionist rides a Bikes Direct single speed to work. Her brakes weren't working well, so she brought the bike to my house this morning. As she waited I replaced her brake pads, adjusted them close to the rims, trued the rims so the pads wouldn't be rubbing, removed the brake cables and housing, fixed cable friction problems that had the both brakes binding (according to her, both bikes she's bought from Bikes Direct had this problem), and rewrapped her bars. All simple stuff that I'd do perfectly on my own bike but that I would normally take one or two painstaking hours to do. Since she was waiting I did it fast, in half an hour.

    The result was fine on brakes, I'm kind of proud of that - her brakes were crap, now they are very good - but a sloppy tape job. Embarrassingly sloppy.

    She doesn't care. The bike is just transportation to her. But I'm going to sneak down to the bike room at work sometime and rewrap her bars.

    Are there examples of this in your own experience?. (Asking primarily those of you who are not professional mechanics, as I realize many of you are in fact pros).
    Your signature contains too many lines and must be shortened. You may only have up to 2 line(s). Long text may have been implicitly wrapped, causing it to be

  2. #2
    Senior Member trailangel's Avatar
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    Are you frickin' kidding me? Bike mechanic cannot wrap bars.
    Wrapping bars takes several weeks to think about doing, and then when the time is right,
    usually a good bottle of wine and at least a couple of hours to do the art that it is, and several hours afterward just looking at the bars!
    WTF

  3. #3
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    I took my bike to the LBS to ask about stem length and the owner took one look at my tape job and promptly rewrapped my bars. I hate wrapping bars but it's good to know an LBS with OCD.
    A ride on a bike is not a walk in the park

  4. #4
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    handle bar tape is all about the details and it is easy to tell when you know what to look for

  5. #5
    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
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    Pro mechanics are better than you because they would have wrapped the bars correctly, adjusted brakes/trued wheels correctly without having to replace pads, received payment for services, and would probably have got a date out of the deal.
    Last edited by mconlonx; 11-30-14 at 09:37 AM.
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

  6. #6
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    Pro mechanics would have shared the beer you brought them for doing work at home. Andy.

  7. #7
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    In all seriousness pro mechanics might not be any better then shade tree ones. Pros tend to see a far wider range of bikes and the problems they have. Pros tend to have a support network and mentors that they get info and advice from. Pros tend to have a far better tool selection with which to do the job faster and with less making do. But we're human and suffer from motivation, stress and hunger just like shade tree mechanics do.

    Perhaps the biggest difference is that pros have decided to make this work their source of income, the little that it is. This difference brings other issues to the proverbial table, but that's for another thread. Andy.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    In the car and motorcycle department, people find me to do work that the other "professionals" either cant or wont. I have fixed a number of cars when the owner was told they needed a new engine and the REAL fault was something simple and not very expensive.

    Just like anywhere else, there really are some VERY good talented mechanics, some so-so's, and (unfortunately) many poor performers. When you find a good one you hope they will be around forever. Unfortunately many have to dig around to find the next guy who is at least a little better than the last guy.

    There are a LOT of very competent "part time" guys just like the OP.

    -SP

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
    Pro mechanics are better than you because they would have wrapped the bars correctly, adjusted brakes/trued wheels correctly without having to replace pads, received payment for services, and would probably have got a date out of the deal.
    +1

  10. #10
    Passista Reynolds's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedy25 View Post
    In the car and motorcycle department, people find me to do work that the other "professionals" either cant or wont. I have fixed a number of cars when the owner was told they needed a new engine and the REAL fault was something simple and not very expensive.

    Just like anywhere else, there really are some VERY good talented mechanics, some so-so's, and (unfortunately) many poor performers. When you find a good one you hope they will be around forever. Unfortunately many have to dig around to find the next guy who is at least a little better than the last guy.

    There are a LOT of very competent "part time" guys just like the OP.

    -SP
    This. There are "pros" that can do routine repairs quickly, but get lost whenever something comes up that needs thinking.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    I'm definitely not a pro, but I use the same general mechanical skill that I use for practically everything else. For instance, I've repaired every appliance in the house, every small gas engine, various car problems, etc. I bring myself up to speed quickly on how things work, and lean pretty heavily on the Internet for content knowledge. I'm good at machining and brazing due to non bike related projects.

    I think the main thing about the pro is that they are repairing someone else's bike, and can't assume that the customer is knowledgeable enough to critique their work. This incurs a higher level of responsibility. There are a lot of things that I can get away with because I'm my own customer:

    I can choose my battles, for instance by owning bikes that I can fix with my existing tools, and in an age range where parts and knowledge are widespread. For instance, I only need to know how to dissect one kind of bottom bracket.

    I don't deal with exotic materials such as carbon.

    I know that my "customer" can be trusted to take care of the bike and notice anything that's deteriorating before it becomes unsafe, whereas the pro mechanic can't control what happens to the bike when it leaves their shop.

    My "customer" has some idiosyncrasies, but generally doesn't need psychiatric advice.

    Nobody knows the truth of my wheels but me.

    There are things that I can afford to get right on the second try, such as the precise adjustment of the brakes and gears.

  12. #12
    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
    My "customer" has some idiosyncrasies, but generally doesn't need psychiatric advice.
    You sure...?
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

  13. #13
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    IMO pro mechanics are not necessarly "better" than many cyclist that take care of their own bikes. Personally I feel that cyclist that has all the time in the world to get an adjustment right would would be better. Bike shop mechanics are under pressure to get bikes out fast. And faster is not always better. Some, myself included have worked in fine mechanics all their lives. Personally I had to make adjustment down to five ten thousands.
    That is a far finer spec than bikes demand. Compared to many machines I have worked on, a bike is a totally simple machine. OTOH people that have no mechanical sense at all should take their bikes to a pro.

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