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Thursday
Aug022012

Just because someone carries a wrench doesn't make them a mechanic

Race bikes need to be built right the first time. Really all bikes should be built this way as well, but I will limit this conversation to race bikes for now. Race bikes are expected to go faster, and have fewer problems than other bikes. This is not always the case. It often depends on who builds the bike. It’s also very important that the racer has full confidence in their bike. Confidence that it was built right the first time, by someone who knows what they’re doing. If the rider loses confidence in their bike, because it breaks without a crash, or the mechanic either forgot to make it right or didn’t know how to make it right in the first place, then the rider will not race to the full limit of their ability, and subsequently probably lose the race. We don’t race to lose; we race to win. Right?

 

One mistake that shops often make is thinking that they know more about the bike than the rider. And that if the rider isn’t building it themselves, then they don’t know how the end product should look or function. 

 

Today a racer brought their bike to my shop because they had lost confidence, not only in their bike, but in the mechanics that worked on it previously. That shop/mechanic apparently had no idea what in-line cable adjusters are. So they covered one of them with bar wrap. Then left the other one uncovered, but too close to the handlebar to be used effectively, if at all. Also bar tape should be neat, clean and consistent. The electrical tape that we use to finish the wrap should be an even distance from the stem and wrapped the same way on both sides. I always start and end the wrap, and the tape, under the bar to keep things neat. Sometimes I’ll add a strip of color within the tape to tie the bar to the bike color wise. I also used 18” less wrap, on each side, than the previous ‘mechanic,’ because I pulled it tight enough that it won’t unravel in a few rides. The other mechanic left gaps in the bar wrap in various places, which left a sloppy appearance. 

 

I think if you are going to take the time to learn how to work on bikes, you should learn how to do it right. If you don’t know how, or are just unsure, then you should ask someone who does. There is no shame in asking or learning. Having low standards is the same as having NO standards. I can’t let crappy work out the door. My conscience won’t let me. Plus I don’t want anyone getting hurt riding my work. One would think this would be true of all mechanics. Or you would think that the shop owner at least, would think this way. This is apparently not the case. Unfortunately for the rider, there is no way of telling if the person carrying the wrench is really a mechanic, or even if they are any good. All the certifications in the world isn’t enough to make one a good/great mechanic. In some cases, reputation isn’t a good reference either. Reputation at times is the impression of a person, with either a low standard, or a person who has never experienced a really good mechanic. Sadly in many cases, finding a great mechanic comes down to trial and error. The exception may be getting the opinion of several people from a variety of cycling forms.


I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.... 

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Reader Comments (4)

Great Blog Post. Thanks

August 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdave gilbert

Well played good sir. Well played.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTaylor

Funny you mention bar tape...

When I first visit a bike shop I inspect the installation of the bar tape...you can tell how much experience or training the "mechanic" has or lacks based on the condition of the tape...proper wrapping spacing, direction, tightness and finish all reflects upon the person building the bike.

I also check to see how tires are installed. Attention to details (labels, rotating direction, etc) means a mechanic knows, and even more so, cares about the industry he/she has decided to work.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Young

A pulley puller compensates for the difference between the strength of hydraulic manufacturing equipment and the strength of a human repair professional. Pullers allow repair personnel to remove or install a replacement part previously assembled by powerful equipment, without the need to have additional heavy manufacturing equipment available.

August 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentervalue garage equipment

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