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Old 01-10-19, 01:14 PM
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Bikeadventure
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Help!!

I am having the worst time learning to repair bikes. It seems whenever I try to do any sort of work on my bicycle I totally butcher it and make it 10x worse than it already was. I am autistic and also have Nonverbal learning disability which makes it nearly impossible to simply learn repairs from YouTube as I simply cannot do something just from watching a video. Due to being disabled I have very little money and cannot afford a car (couldn't drive even if I wanted to due to my disability anyhow) and over the years have learned to appreciate bicycles, so I am an avid rider but I also rely on my bike for transportation. Over the years I have tried over and over to learn to repair bikes on my own in various ways, as money is very tight, but have had almost zero success, even if the repair seems to be going well, it will quickly fail while out on the road, no matter how many times I watch the videos back or practice repairs on my own. I would require one on one assistance from a very patient teacher in order to learn these things, however so far that has been unsucessfull. I have tried to gain supported employment at a bike shop in order to further my knowledge, but it's all been in vain, as I have been to all the bike shops in my area before and they have all seen firsthand my horrendous repairs, so even with the coercion of ARC (a program in my state that helps place disabled people in supported employment) no local shops will even consider hiring me thus that opportunity is lost. My last ditch effort was volunteering at a local bike giveaway to try to get some experience with bicycle repair but I was actually asked to leave after the third day because I was doing so poorly at fixing the bikes that it was interferinng with the other workers jobs because they were constantly having to stop what they weee working on to fix my mistakes 😞😞 that was my last chance to learn and I blew it. Bike school is not an option as there are none here on the east coast where I live, they are all located on the west coast and even if there were any closer to me I wouldn't be able to afford it anyways so it doesn't really matter. If only someone would give me an actual chance. . .but I've exhausted just about all avenues and largely due to finances and my disability, nothing seems to work. About ready to give up, posting on this forum is my desperate last effort to see if anyone knows any way I can find someone patient enough to teach me, so that I can actually do what I love and retain a shred of my Independence and not have to rely on people for rides the rest of my life, as I cannot afford bike shop labor, as it is, I can barely afford the cheapest bicycle components the local shops have on my budget. So if anyone knows of someone who can teach me repairs one on one. Would have to be for little or no money though. I am very passionate about bikes and would love nothing more than to be able to actually repair them properly.
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Old 01-10-19, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Bikeadventure View Post
I am very passionate about bikes and would love nothing more than to be able to actually repair them properly.
Maybe find something you're less passionate about, and are able to do well and pursue it. It's much easier to get rewarded that way. Then you can pursue your passions from a stronger position.
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Old 01-10-19, 01:57 PM
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What are you butchering?
Is it the bolts heads or the installation of the parts.
Patience is the key.
Look at the problem first then make a descision as to what needs doing.
Use the correct toolls for the job.
Carefully watch the movement of a correctly working part. Watch what moves what doesn't and the orientation of bolts and parts.
Start simple. Dissconnect a brake caliper from it's cable after carefully looking at it first. Then carefully reconnect it. Make sure it works as it did.Do it again and again till you are confident. Replace a cable follow the line of the cable till you are sure of it's function then remove it and reinstall.
Small steps performed cocsistently and you will get there.
One step at a time. No one was born with these skills.
It requires patience and mistakes to learn.
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Old 01-10-19, 02:10 PM
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Whew!!! You need to divide your thoughts into 2 or 3 sentence paragraphs!!!

Do you have any local bike co-ops? They tend to be non-profit shops that take donations and used and abused bikes to turn over at minimal costs... at least in theory.

An option would be rather than working as a "mechanic", to see if there is something else you could do. Cleanup, organizing parts, etc. That would also give you some time to watch and talk to the mechanics and people working on the bikes.

One of the problems with working on a shoestring budget is that you will be tempted to kludge something together when you really need to just get the proper parts and tools to do a job right. Make sure bolts are tight, but not so tight that you break them.

An option might be to watch around your neighborhood to see if you can find someone who is friendly and rides a bike, and does his own repair on bikes and other projects around the house. Yeah, asking a lot, but there are some people out there. Tell the person that you don't want him or her to do the work for you, but to rather help you learn.

Also, whenever you present your "finished work" to someone to inspect, you have to learn to be right there to talk about what you did and what needs done. Don't be offended when something is found to be wrong, but rather learn from the mistake.

If you are lacking tools, have at least $100 ready to invest in good high quality tools. You don't need to buy a whole bike shop, but a few cone wrenches, cassette and freewheel tools, plus typical wrenches and screwdrivers.
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Old 01-10-19, 02:34 PM
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I have mild Asperger's and some type of attention disorder(s?). I don't know if that applies to you.
SKIP the video's. Many are bad. maybe they need to be slower? IF they don't work, they don't work.
I'd suggest studying Saint Sheldon.
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/repairs.html

Then again, maybe this isn't for you. I'm useless when it comes to Arts & Literature.
Take your time.
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Old 01-10-19, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Bikeadventure View Post
I am having the worst time learning to repair bikes.
Send me a PM if you are anywhere near Atlanta, Georgia.


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Old 01-10-19, 03:42 PM
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Public Library has Bike Repair Books..
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Old 01-10-19, 03:53 PM
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+1 on bike co-ops and and +1 on repair books. If neither are available to you, look for places where cyclists gather near you and socialize with other cyclists - especially the ones with older, less conventional bikes. The world is full of people with bicycle obsession disorder (j/k) who love to talk about their bikes and bicycles in general. Not every cyclist's style of discussion or interest in bikes may suit you, but just try to enjoy what other people want to say about their bikes, and eventually you will find someone who wants to understand a bike problem you are having and you can work on it together.

-Will
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Old 01-10-19, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Bikeadventure View Post
So if anyone knows of someone who can teach me repairs one on one. Would have to be for little or no money though. I am very passionate about bikes and would love nothing more than to be able to actually repair them properly.
First off, where are you located? Maybe join a riding club if any are in your area and ask the other members if they can help you learn. Maybe ask about one component at a time so as not to overwhelm anyone that will spend 15 mins with you but not 8 hours. I don't know if it would help but as you mentioned Videos and such aren't helpful to you so I think having the function of each part and how it works explained in front of you may help understand how to fix it. Something such as a rear derailleur is actually a very simple device once you see how it works but can be confounding to even experienced Auto mechanics if they don't understand what each part does. Hands on experience is the best teacher.
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Old 01-10-19, 04:16 PM
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+1 on telling us where you live. I also suggest trying to take apart/fix a bike that has no use for you. So if you fail it's not effecting your daily needs. Also there's less self imposed pressure to get it right. I do like the suggestion of breaking down the bike into it's individual components and then just looking at that one part. Andy
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Old 01-10-19, 04:19 PM
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@Bikeadventure , You might post some photos and descriptions of some successes and failures here so we know where you are starting.

Then you can always ask here some specific questions about projects you are working on, and hopefully you will get some good advice (as well as needing to learn to weed out feeble attempts at humor).

Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
I have mild Asperger's and some type of attention disorder(s?). I don't know if that applies to you.
SKIP the video's. Many are bad. maybe they need to be slower? IF they don't work, they don't work.
I'd suggest studying Saint Sheldon.
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/repairs.html

Then again, maybe this isn't for you. I'm useless when it comes to Arts & Literature.
Take your time.
One thing about Asperger's is that it allows a person to get hyper-focused on certain details. That can both be good and bad. One can learn all the intricate details of something. Yet, one can also "Miss the Forest for the Trees."

I'm not quite sure where Autism falls into it. I'm sure everyone is different. Perhaps one can learn the tasks if one has patience, and does the research.
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Old 01-10-19, 06:04 PM
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I have Asperger's too. Struggles man.
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Old 01-10-19, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
I have mild Asperger's and some type of attention disorder(s?). I don't know if that applies to you.
SKIP the video's. Many are bad. maybe they need to be slower? IF they don't work, they don't work.
I'd suggest studying Saint Sheldon.
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/repairs.html

Then again, maybe this isn't for you. I'm useless when it comes to Arts & Literature.
Take your time.
I find videos useless as well, even when they are well-done. Besides Sheldon Brown I have found the Park Tool site to have very good diagrams and procedures, especially those describing derailleur adjustments, and you never have to stop and rewind a diagram.
https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help
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Old 01-10-19, 10:11 PM
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The "East coast" is a pretty big place. You claim to have trouble with bike repairs, but you do not give any details about specific problems you have encountered. You should try not to allow individual problems overwhelm you, take each one by itself and concentrate on it. When you attempt to repair something, concentrate on that specific job, don't allow yourself to be distracted by other possible problems that might crop up. If you are better at reading text, there are innumerable written guides to bicycle repair. I also find many videos somewhat difficult to follow, you might miss something, and have to rewind several times to find the specific direction you need. Text is better, it is all in front of you and all you may have to do is to look up a few lines to find the information you missed the first time you read it. Don't despair, anyone who was able to write the original question in this thread is more than intelligent enough to figure out how to fix a bike
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Old 01-10-19, 10:11 PM
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Videos are hit or miss. the Park tool videos are pretty good, though.

I recommend Zinn's "Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance" book
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Old 01-11-19, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
I also suggest trying to take apart/fix a bike that has no use for you. So if you fail it's not effecting your daily needs. Also there's less self imposed pressure to get it right. I do like the suggestion of breaking down the bike into it's individual components and then just looking at that one part. Andy
This. Get yourself a free old bike (there are ways), and start tinkering. It doesn't even have to be a complete bike, just one with the components you want to familiarize yourself with.
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Old 01-11-19, 03:37 PM
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Sounds like you could benefit from a patient mentor.

If there's a support group in your community or an online support group you could ask for referrals to prospective mentors.

BTW, your writing skills are very good. You can express yourself clearly. That's a good sign. Nobody can write clearly without also having the ability to learn verbally, whether orally or in writing. You may be underestimating your capabilities. That's easy to understand. A lifetime of frustrations can reinforce a negative self image.

And if you can't find an experienced bike mechanic as a mentor, here's another thought...

Do you know anyone who does have the patience to work with you at your own pace? If so, that's really all you need to develop a partner in learning to repair bikes. You and a mentor can learn bike repair together. If a partner can learn quickly from online tutorials -- videos or written and illustrated instructions -- he or she can then interpret and share alongside you while you work together. The ability to learn something new and explain it clearly to another person is more important than being an expert but unable to teach.

I know it works because that's how all military training is done. Learn one; show one; teach one. We learned a new skill from an experienced instructor. We then showed the instructor that we understood the lesson. Then we turned around, traded places, and taught what we'd learned to reinforce the lesson. Some of my fellow military trainees also had learning disabilities or language barriers -- some of my Navy shipmates were from other countries and spoke English as a second language but weren't familiar with idiomatic expressions and informal English. This learn/show/teach technique was powerfully effective.

Best wishes. You can do this.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
[MENTION=494157]...One thing about Asperger's is that it allows a person to get hyper-focused on certain details. That can both be good and bad. One can learn all the intricate details of something. Yet, one can also "Miss the Forest for the Trees."...
That's a pop culture myth about superpowers. Akin to the myth that blind people have heightened audio awareness, etc. There's little evidence that people outside the norm/mean for senses and cognitive abilities develop compensatory superpowers. And that myth tends to undermine the confidence of real people with real disabilities who feel robbed somehow because nature didn't compensate with superpowers.
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Old 01-11-19, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
That's a pop culture myth about superpowers. Akin to the myth that blind people have heightened audio awareness, etc. There's little evidence that people outside the norm/mean for senses and cognitive abilities develop compensatory superpowers. And that myth tends to undermine the confidence of real people with real disabilities who feel robbed somehow because nature didn't compensate with superpowers.
I'm not suggesting a "Rain Man" explanation.

Asperger's is a "Spectrum" disorder, with covering a wide range of skills and deficits.

What I have observed with people diagnosed with Asperger's is that they frequently have this hyper-focus.

One guy I met could talk one's ears off about bridges, including quite some integrate details. I don't know if it would make a good engineer, but he at least liked bridges. Part of it depends on whether he will be able to effectively expand his focus enough to deal with a variety of issues.

But, Asperger's both has benefits and costs. As I mentioned, the risk of missing the forest for the trees.

My guess is the problem with videos is that for some people they don't give the info quickly enough. For others, they skip over important details. How do you adjust your cones without knowing exactly how tight to tighten them?

Some things like torque specs might be nice, but there is also an element learned through experience. Tighten it down until it feels right (something that a good mentor can help with).

Many of the best "self-taught" mechanics have already made every mistake not in the book. Which is also a good reason to have a "practice bike".
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