Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Commuting
Reload this Page >

45 bucks and new brakes (long ranty routine)

Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

45 bucks and new brakes (long ranty routine)

Old 11-13-05, 05:11 PM
  #1  
tokolosh
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 827
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
45 bucks and new brakes (long ranty routine)

some stories you find that you just have to tell to get them off your chest . . .

so my brake pads have all been worn down so far i really needed to do something with them if i want to ride to work tomorrow. so i went out yesterday to look for new pads, and ended up at the local bike kitchen.

this is a pretty cool place. it's a non-profit that takes in, refurbishes and sells donated bikes, and also provides workshop space with a la carte instruction for anyone wanting to do it themselves. i bought my old mountain bike from them, and that was the last time i did anything with my own brakes. These ones aren't quite the same way and i'm the first to admit i'm likely to tweak myself over the edge of a cliff through 'i wonder what this button does' disease. so i swallowed my shyness about owning a box-store mcbike, signed myself up for a stand and a workbench and pretty much laid myself open for all the instruction they had from the 20-somethings.

first the good part. once they had a feel for my level of understanding, plus my level of need to know all the tiny details, they adjusted nicely without making a big deal about either thing either way. told me everything i wanted to know without telling me it didn't matter, left me nicely alone between times, and (very very underrated teaching skill, if you ask me) did not waste too much of my time or my temper answering questions i hadn't asked or telling me things that were simply irrelevant. i'm uninformed, but not universally uninformed and not stupid, and i do have the basic mechanical concepts more or less down. so yay for them.

now the bad part. it took THREE HOURS to replace four brake pads and one front-brake cable on a basic bike with a very basic cantilever system. three. it also took three people, and me following three separate sets of instructions from the word go; each time taking the previous method apart in order to do it again the new, 'correct' way. the complication that caused all the stress and grassroots democracy was the metal flange you bolt the pads to. apparently it was way thinner than standard, so the spacers that came with the pads weren't enough to give a firm fit before i ran out of thread on the bolt. they all caught onto this as soon as i pointed it out, but if you believe it, all the aggro came from differing philosophies about where the additional spacers should go.

first i put the new spacers on the inside, pad side of the thing. then i took it all apart and moved the new ones to the outside, nut part of the thing. then person two came along and disliked the setup for some arcane aesthetic reason, so i cheerfully took it all apart and traded one set of extra spacers for a different set, in a different order. for reasons that don't need to be explained my hands can't do a lot of this kind of work, but i figured i could get through this much without too much cost. i tweaked my shoes into position, got approval on that and started in on adjusting my cable length; and that's when i found that with the vise off, the only way of getting them even close to closing was to shorten the cable way past the point i had been initially told was kosher and then bring the levers all the way down to the handgrips. nope.

so i flagged them down and pointed to the new 'something's not right'. they patted me on the head once or twice and told me i was doing just fine, until they saw what i meant. then they went ohhhhhhh, yes; yeah, that is weird. set about consulting with one another. i sat me down on the floor with my hands in my lap and waited for them to work it out. out came the party of the third part, wondering what the huddle was for. the artist went back to something else, and my little person showed him the problem, with much vague pointing and use of imprecise pronouns. oh, no, he said; this is all wrong. see, what you got to do is take the whole thing apart, and then you . . .

i got the giggles. i was hurting pretty badly by then, but they didn't know it so it must have looked a bit odd. now don't freak out, he told me; all you got to do is . . . nope, i said. i'm not hearing it and i'm not talking to you. get the artist in here. you three all get together at all the same time. figure it out. do your arguing and your discussing. hold a community vote. when you have a unanimous decision, one of you come over here with twenty-three colour glossy photos with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back, explaining what each one's about. explain me the story, top to bottom, start to finish, beginning to end, until i tell you that you're making sense. and then i'll do what you say. till then i'm just gonna sit right here in my happy place and listen to that music you've turned up so loud, and wait. and no, you can't just do it for me. i came in here to learn how to change my own brakes, and by god i'm gonna learn it if it kills all four of us.

so they did. i did it. i was pretty far gone by the end of it, and not very suave about insisting the latecomer to the party explain to me exactly what things he was looking at to tell him that this time we did have it right. to their credit, it does have to be said that they felt badly about it, and at no time did any of them try to blame me for not having a 'real' bike, or suggest that they couldn't be expected to know how to work on a piece of junk. i paid them for all the hours that it took, plus the parts, and thanked them all nicely for it. now i think it over i believe they didn't charge me the 'instruction' rate, which i have to admit seems about right to me, but maybe i'm not being fair about that.

sigh. expensive in more ways than one, and i feel kind of deckle-edged now, but at least my brakes work.
tokolosh is offline  
Old 11-13-05, 05:49 PM
  #2  
huhenio
Barbieri Telefonico
 
huhenio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Posts: 3,522

Bikes: Crappy but operational secondhand Motobecane Messenger

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Ouch ...
__________________
Giving Haircuts Over The Phone
huhenio is offline  
Old 11-13-05, 05:58 PM
  #3  
Bekologist
totally louche
 
Bekologist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: A land that time forgot
Posts: 18,025

Bikes: the ever shifting stable loaded with comfortable road bikes and city and winter bikes

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
When did officer Obie come around and make you pick up all the garbage?
Bekologist is offline  
Old 11-13-05, 06:00 PM
  #4  
baxtefer
Cornucopia of Awesomeness
 
baxtefer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: not where i used to be
Posts: 4,847
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
UBC? I trust them a little bit more than the nose pickers at the other bike coop in town.
baxtefer is offline  
Old 11-13-05, 06:06 PM
  #5  
DamianM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 259
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Bekologist
When did officer Obie come around and make you pick up all the garbage?
DamianM is offline  
Old 11-13-05, 06:11 PM
  #6  
chipcom 
Infamous Member
 
chipcom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 24,365

Bikes: Surly Big Dummy, Fuji World, 80ish Bianchi

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Reminds me of the old 'how many certain-ethnic people does it take to screw in a light bulb' jokes.
__________________
"Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey
chipcom is offline  
Old 11-13-05, 06:15 PM
  #7  
Dchiefransom
Senior Member
 
Dchiefransom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Newark, CA. San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 6,244
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 29 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Bekologist
When did officer Obie come around and make you pick up all the garbage?
Somebody else caught it !!! This is a beautiful OP.
Dchiefransom is offline  
Old 11-13-05, 09:05 PM
  #8  
tokolosh
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 827
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Bekologist
When did officer Obie come around and make you pick up all the garbage?
the way it all went they should have had officer obie waiting to take my shoelaces off me as soon as i came through the door.


'kid . . .we don't want to have any hangings'
tokolosh is offline  
Old 11-13-05, 10:31 PM
  #9  
FloridaJohn
Randonneur-In-Training
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: W. Palm Beach, FL
Posts: 28
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Well, at least you didn't get sent to the Group W bench!
FloridaJohn is offline  
Old 11-13-05, 11:27 PM
  #10  
hester
just me.
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: l.a. baby!
Posts: 70

Bikes: a lovely blue 80's centurion

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
it seems to be who you talk to. i'm thinking they're all pretty similar. i got several new opinions after my bike was already off the stand. save something for another day, i guess...
i found the overall experience was enlightening, no? certain basic concepts that had eluded me were explained well enough, but yeah, chaotic is going light.
hester is offline  
Old 11-14-05, 01:00 AM
  #11  
tokolosh
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 827
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by FloridaJohn
Well, at least you didn't get sent to the Group W bench!
close thing though. i was kind of edging towards a section-8 by the end

Originally Posted by hester
it seems to be who you talk to. i'm thinking they're all pretty similar. i got several new opinions after my bike was already off the stand. save something for another day, i guess...
i found the overall experience was enlightening, no? certain basic concepts that had eluded me were explained well enough, but yeah, chaotic is going light.
i think i agree with you, and i also don't think this kind of thing is at all confined to this kind of place, or that i'd be any further ahead now if i'd just paid someone to do it. only difference is that i didn't pay that someone a bunch of money to do it wrong the first time where i couldn't see it, and then get left still not knowing why it was wrong, or how it was wrong, or what the right way would be. then i would either have paid someone else a bunch of money to play expert and exercise Theory Two, and felt just as jerked around. or have taken the whole thing apart in my living room anyway, and still not been any wiser by the end of it . . . i could have been just as borked around by some generic citizen who thought they knew everything there was to know about brakes, and i liked these people better.

i had a lot of the individual concepts, but all this did string it together for me into that bigger picture i was looking for. and actually i wouldn't have got some of that bigger picture if it hadn't been for all the chaos - there were things i just wouldn't have known that i didn't know, so i wouldn't have asked about them if they hadn't been pointed out to me by all the inconsistencies. but you can bet that if it had gone smoothly i would have brought my bike home and discovered i didn't know those things the hard way, all by myself. really, i think the only reason i minded was that it did hurt a lot by the time we got to where i was learning anything useful, but that's just a different issue.

Last edited by tokolosh; 11-14-05 at 01:06 AM.
tokolosh is offline  
Old 11-14-05, 08:05 AM
  #12  
Bekologist
totally louche
 
Bekologist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: A land that time forgot
Posts: 18,025

Bikes: the ever shifting stable loaded with comfortable road bikes and city and winter bikes

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
heavy.
Bekologist is offline  
Old 11-14-05, 09:24 AM
  #13  
a77impala
a77impala
 
a77impala's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Western South Dakota
Posts: 1,504
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 21 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
If I had to go through that to replace my brakes I would been jumping up and down hollering KILL, KILL, KILL!
a77impala is offline  
Old 11-14-05, 11:18 AM
  #14  
Bekologist
totally louche
 
Bekologist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: A land that time forgot
Posts: 18,025

Bikes: the ever shifting stable loaded with comfortable road bikes and city and winter bikes

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
How do I sign up for Alice's Anti-massacre movement? Broke that out and listened to it a half dozen times last night and right now, thanks for the memories.
Bekologist is offline  
Old 11-14-05, 11:24 AM
  #15  
cerewa
put our Heads Together
 
cerewa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: southeast pennsylvania
Posts: 3,155

Bikes: a mountain bike with a cargo box on the back and aero bars on the front. an old well-worn dahon folding bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
45 bucks and new brakes
I saw a brand new bike for $16 at Target once. It was on clearance-- obviously it wouldn't sell at full price.

In my opinion, knowing how to fix one's own brakes is worth a whole lot more than any bike a department store will sell for 16 bucks.

On the other hand, bikes that cheap can be wonderful sacrifices to the cause of learning to fix bikes.
cerewa is offline  
Old 11-14-05, 02:40 PM
  #16  
jyossarian
SERENITY NOW!!!
 
jyossarian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: In the 212
Posts: 8,738

Bikes: Haro Vector, IRO Rob Roy, Bianchi Veloce

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Tokolosh, do yooz guyz have anything like this http://www.times-up.org/bike_workshop.php up there? If so, might be a good idea to check out. Also, although I'm sure you've heard this already, pick up a copy of Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike (or Roadbike) Maintenance. Explains things simple and clearly. It's the first thing I turn to when I give my bike the "I gotta make it better!" look. Happy tinkering!
__________________
HHCMF - Take pride in your ability to amaze lesser mortals! - MikeR



We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!
jyossarian is offline  
Old 11-14-05, 02:55 PM
  #17  
Flak
Flatland hack
 
Flak's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Nowhere near the mountains :/
Posts: 3,228
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The joys of DYI

Sounds like a bit of an ordeal, but you're better for it, and next time you change them, you'll be all good.

I spent countless hours playing with my old bike when it broke/needed adjustment. I was too poor to pay my LBS (i was just a kid at the time), and even though i learned how do it it all, im sure everything i learned was technically wrong, even if it did 'work'.
Flak is offline  
Old 11-14-05, 11:06 PM
  #18  
tokolosh
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 827
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
good ideas.

Originally Posted by jyossarian
Tokolosh, do yooz guyz have anything like this http://www.times-up.org/bike_workshop.php up there? If so, might be a good idea to check out.
not for bikes, as far as i know. gender moronicism wasn't an issue or a factor in this particular situation, incidentally. i do know the kinds of situation where it would have been, but those ones don't usually get this much rope to hang themselves with in the first place.

Also, although I'm sure you've heard this already, pick up a copy of Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike (or Roadbike) Maintenance.
also a good idea, but i make a living finding new and unsuspected ramifications for the 'clear and simple', so i dunno pretty cheerful about it now, actually - at least till my gearing needs work.
tokolosh is offline  
Old 11-15-05, 12:48 AM
  #19  
tokolosh
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 827
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Bekologist
How do I sign up for Alice's Anti-massacre movement? Broke that out and listened to it a half dozen times last night and right now, thanks for the memories.
well, see? that changes everything.

2 sets of brake pads @ $6/pair: $12 CDN
front brake cable: $3 CDN
workshop time: $30 CDN

unscheduled communal return to alice's restaurant: priceless in any currency.

can't be beat.
tokolosh is offline  
Old 11-15-05, 11:22 AM
  #20  
jyossarian
SERENITY NOW!!!
 
jyossarian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: In the 212
Posts: 8,738

Bikes: Haro Vector, IRO Rob Roy, Bianchi Veloce

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I think a crappy garage sale bike would be a perfect cadaver to practice stuff on, take apart, put back together, fix, etc. Kinda like med school students that practice butchering a dead body before messing with live ones. It'd also provide spare parts and you could probably learn more on your own than from a book or someone teaching you.
__________________
HHCMF - Take pride in your ability to amaze lesser mortals! - MikeR



We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!
jyossarian is offline  
Old 11-15-05, 10:30 PM
  #21  
tokolosh
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 827
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by jyossarian
I think a crappy garage sale bike would be a perfect cadaver to practice stuff on, take apart, put back together, fix, etc.
i bet that would be perfect for a lot of people. but usually i find i have to want something to work properly in order to get organised enough to try and make it happen. a bike i didn't need for riding purposes wouldn't be that something, so it would probably just sit. i'd take it apart to see what it was made of, and then just leave the bits lying around all over the place . . . if i'm not using something, doesn't matter much to me if it's fixed or it's broke.

i came home to my dad's house once, and found a motorcycle engine in his kitchen. seems my brother left it there when he moved out, and my dad had just been kind of living around it for a couple of years. it's important to recognise one's own genetic predispositions in time to avoid falling victim to them
tokolosh is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright İ 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.