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Trash Just Trash!

Old 08-25-08, 04:02 PM
  #1  
gwd
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Trash Just Trash!

Last week a friend ruined a dérailleur and tried to get the local bike shop to fix it. The mechanic refused saying the bike was trash and he didn't want it in his shop. He told my friend to take the luggage rack off and put it on a new bike- bought at his shop of course. My friend found a discarded kids bike and swapped the derailleur and returned to transportational biking. I think I ran across the same mechanic who refused to work on a wheel, he told me "I wish people would stop trying to fix old bikes." He said he'd sell me a new wheel rather than remove the freewheel and replace a spoke. I told him that a kid needed the bike to get to a summer job. Then he said if I insisted on replacing the spoke he'd keep the wheel for two weeks.

This seems like a counter productive attitude since people who want to keep their old bikes on the road would be spending more and labor and parts. I only know two bike mechanics who are very encouraging for my DIY projects. I think they know I'll be back to them for tools and parts and when I get in over my head I'll have them get me out of trouble. They also can tell by looking at my bike that I use it for transportation so I wear things out faster so if they encourage me they'll see me again and again. So for those considering transportational cycling, shop around for mechanics that understand. The good thing about the trash incident is my friend got all mad and went out and learned a thing or two about working on your own bike. The suburban attitude is creating an underclass of bikers who work on their own bikes and scrounge for parts or buy over the internet.
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Old 08-25-08, 04:10 PM
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This attitude would certainly be counter productive with me to having a returning customer.
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Old 08-25-08, 05:22 PM
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Wow. He won't be in business long.
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Old 08-25-08, 06:49 PM
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This is impossible. BF gospel says local bike shops are always good. Your friend must have antagonized the gentle bike mechanic.
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Old 08-25-08, 06:58 PM
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You wouldn't get that response from anyone at the bike shops around here. However, if you bring in a bike that's mostly worn out and would cost more to maintain than the bike was ever worth, they'll tell you about that before they begin to work on it.
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Old 08-25-08, 08:07 PM
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Heh, the LBS around here just sold me a used wheel cause the new one they ordered for me was crap and didn't feel comfortable selling it to me.
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Old 08-25-08, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by gwd View Post
The suburban attitude is creating an underclass of bikers who work on their own bikes and scrounge for parts or buy over the internet.
Bikes are perfect for the shadetree mechanic - not really all that complicated, not that many tools that are needed. Just takes a bit of practice to figure out how to handle common repairs.

I am not getting what this mechanic really wanted. To sell you a brand new bike, I guess. Let me guess - they only have high-end stuff in this store....
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Old 08-25-08, 08:26 PM
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What a jerk, good thing Sheldon Brown is there (in spirit) to guide us all in bike repairs. I just rebuilt the freecoaster in my shimano 600 cassette thanks to his site.
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Old 08-25-08, 08:54 PM
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The beauty of the bicycle is that even if you do find one abandoned and rusted out past the point of refurbishing, invariably a lot of the parts are still worth cleaning up and reusing. My winter is usually spent cleaning up free parts and filing them away for future use.

That guy's attitude at the bicycle shop would get me fired at the Honda dealership if I tried that kind of crap on someone attempting to put a 20 year old Honda motorcycle back on the road.
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Old 08-25-08, 09:03 PM
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OP -- you need to out this guy and/or this LBS. They need a serious boycott!

I'll do work like that for cheeseburgers!
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Old 08-26-08, 12:54 AM
  #11  
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That mechanic sounds like a real big *****HAT. I hope his business fails. You and your friend need to learn to do your own wrenching. If I can, anyone can.

Last edited by becnal; 08-28-08 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 08-26-08, 03:27 AM
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Was this just the mechanic or the shop owner? If it was an employee I think I would have a quiet discussion with the shop owner. If it was the shop owner...good riddance. But unfortunately he will stay in business for quite a while dealing in his exclusiveness. There is a very sizable portion of the US population that believes new is always better...I call it Crass Consumerism, also known as Wonderful Waste. However I profit from people that are always casting off the old stuff and grasping for the newest and the bestest...

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Old 08-26-08, 06:15 AM
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I believe it. I've had something similar happen. I avoided that shop for a year. Then I went back in just one more time very recently, to see if I might be treated more favorably. Nope. Won't be going back again. Funny, this last time I had a little break from court and I was wearing dress clothing. The guy (the same one that had treated me so poorly last year) seemed friendlier than when I was just in my regular guy duds, but I'm clear now that this shop isn't interested in serving the transportational cylist.
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Old 08-26-08, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
Was this just the mechanic or the shop owner? If it was an employee I think I would have a quiet discussion with the shop owner. If it was the shop owner...good riddance. But unfortunately he will stay in business for quite a while dealing in his exclusiveness. There is a very sizable portion of the US population that believes new is always better...I call it Crass Consumerism, also known as Wonderful Waste. However I profit from people that are always casting off the old stuff and grasping for the newest and the bestest...

Aaron
My friend says there is also some old geezer who works in the same shop only a couple days a week who is super helpful with keeping the old bike going. The trick apparently is to know the old guy's schedule- and get your bike to schedule its breakdowns accordingly.

The main message here is to try different mechanics until you find one who gets transportational cycling. Some don't understand that an old bike that doesn't fit the latest fad can be very useful to someone. I don't think that every single biker should have to become his or her own mechanic with a complete set of tools. For myself I enjoy futzing with the bike but want to know if I screw something up there is an expert I can pay to make things right. Other people who want to use bikes for transport may want to pay the expert to take care of everything and not worry. I don't see anything wrong with division of labor.
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Old 08-26-08, 08:21 AM
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My town has a company with 2 bike shops in town. One tends to have an elitist type mentality in which a mt. bike needs to be high-end and an old bike needs to be "worth something." They usually try to sell rather than repair.

Their other shop is always open to helping me find parts that will get the job done to keep my bikes running and never comment on my choices unless something is unsafe or unwise.

Even a mechanic who works in both shops verifies my experiences.

It's too bad when a shop develops this type of mentality but, a lot of them can survive, and do very well, anyway. There are plenty of snobby bike owners, people who only buy new, or people who will always trust the mechanic/salesperson. Kind of like a car shop that will always do well because "Even though that part could be repaired, I wouldn't recommend it. What you really should do is replace the entire engine so that your new alternator won't be working parts from a different company. You don't want your new parts to be worn down by your old parts anyway."

Last edited by allbikes; 08-26-08 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 08-26-08, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Stubecontinued View Post
...good thing Sheldon Brown is there (in spirit) to guide us all in bike repairs.
Is it wrong of me to imagine him as a ghostly glowing Obi-Wan Kenobi type wearing a helmet with a bird on it, and looking over our shoulders as we work on our bikes? Or would he have been amused by that?
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Old 08-26-08, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by sykerocker View Post
That guy's attitude at the bicycle shop would get me fired at the Honda dealership if I tried that kind of crap on someone attempting to put a 20 year old Honda motorcycle back on the road.
The local Honda dealership won't work on anything 15 years or older. When I wanted to bring a CB550 in for just a tire change, they said they wouldn't do it, don't work on old bikes. Fine by me--I started buying parts online instead of at their parts counter.

In a way, attitudes like this are good--they encourage me to do my own work... and I'm finding that I do better work than someone just working on my bike for money.
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Old 08-26-08, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Indie View Post
Is it wrong of me to imagine him as a ghostly glowing Obi-Wan Kenobi type wearing a helmet with a bird on it, and looking over our shoulders as we work on our bikes? Or would he have been amused by that?
Probably amused. Never met the man personally but did email back and forth several times. On his personal website he has a list of things that he believed in. Seems he was aligned along the practical and physical side of things.

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Old 08-26-08, 04:10 PM
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I would guess this mechanic just isn't that good, didn't think he could do the job quick enough to make it a worth while job for him.
If he had to take too long fitting and adjusting, how much could he get away with charging for what was probably a low end RD?
I assume it was low end because your friend used "one off a kid's bike"
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Old 08-26-08, 07:01 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
The local Honda dealership won't work on anything 15 years or older. When I wanted to bring a CB550 in for just a tire change, they said they wouldn't do it, don't work on old bikes. Fine by me--I started buying parts online instead of at their parts counter.

In a way, attitudes like this are good--they encourage me to do my own work... and I'm finding that I do better work than someone just working on my bike for money.
For a while, shortly before I started working there, my place of employment had something of the same attitude. I can understand it up to a point . . . . lord knows I turned away more than a few in my first position as service writer. However, they weren't turned away because of age. They were turned away because they showed up with a beat to crap thirty year old CB750 that hadn't run in 25 years, and were willing to allow the shop a $250.00 budget to get it running. He had these dreams that since he got the bike cheap (or free), he could get it on the road for cheap, too.

Conveniently forgetting that he had a dead battery that cost $75.00 for a replacement, and four gummed up carburetors that would run $89.00 each to disassemble, clean and reassemble/setup, and rust in the gas tank, and . . . . . . . I think you get the picture.

The company cooled down on that policy once they realized they had someone who knew vintage well enough to start heading off the losers, allowing in the ones who would be worthwhile (even if you had to look closely to see the potential), and could explain it to the customer. Unfortunately, I was never the nicest guy in the place if said customer decided to stridently disagree with my appraisal. Eventually, I transferred to the back room at parts.

Conversely, while occasionally justifiable in the bicycle field (I still have a few memories of turning away some rusted out old three speed at the shop I worked for 35 years ago - for proportionately the same reason as the above example), it's a lot harder to justify. Not only are bicycles a lot simpler to work on, but, alone amongst most of the mechanical objects I've ever run across, the degree of standardization is rather wonderful to behold.

Within certain threading limitations, there no reason you can't take a part normally used on a 1998 Fuji and bolt it up to a 1973 Fuji, and have it work just fine. Maybe not exactly like the company intended when it was designed, but certainly well enough to get that old bike down the road effectively and safely. Try that on a motorized vehicle.

Finally, while some of us ride old bikes just because we love them, I've always felt that the majority of those riding said bikes do so because that's what they can afford. And while they don't have the purchasing power of Joe Doctor with his Orbea and Euskatel riding kit, his money still spends just as well. He just doesn't have as much of it to spend.

And oftimes, those small but still profitable jobs can be what makes the difference between profit and loss in a month.
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Old 08-27-08, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by sykerocker View Post
Within certain threading limitations, there no reason you can't take a part normally used on a 1998 Fuji and bolt it up to a 1973 Fuji, and have it work just fine. Maybe not exactly like the company intended when it was designed, but certainly well enough to get that old bike down the road effectively and safely. Try that on a motorized vehicle.

Finally, while some of us ride old bikes just because we love them, I've always felt that the majority of those riding said bikes do so because that's what they can afford. And while they don't have the purchasing power of Joe Doctor with his Orbea and Euskatel riding kit, his money still spends just as well. He just doesn't have as much of it to spend.

And oftimes, those small but still profitable jobs can be what makes the difference between profit and loss in a month.
This is the nut, if my friend the novice can swap in an old derailleur the expert could sell and swap in a new derailleur and turn a quick buck. Instead the expert has to get an snob attitude about "trash" bikes. Now the customer who is willing to pay experts do things has learned something and might start doing more work herself, losing the shop even more money.
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