/ Bike mechanics - as many good as bad?

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Escher - on 04 Apr 2012
Are there as many good mechanics as bad?

I started this thread http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=495629&v=1#x6770451 a while ago to ask if my BB was unscrewing. Turns out the BB was installed the wrong way around. The tech also repositioned the front mech as it was too low. It's 10 years old but due to a back injury I've only just started riding it again and it's only done a couple of 100 miles. So the bb was done wrong when first sold as new, and I complained about the front mech rubbing and they said they all do that, there was nothing they can do. I trusted them as i didn't know better and This was from a fairly big shop who stock and sell a lot of expensive bikes. You'd think they'd build them a bit better!

My back wheel on my road bike was popping spokes from new as the tension was all wrong. I took it to a different LBS and they said a spoke was broken (it wasn't it had just unscrewed) and charged me 20 quid to true it and replace a spoke. Started shedding spokes again after a few miles so I trued it myself and it's been fine ever since, if a little bit out of true, at least it doesn't shed spokes anymore.

I think the latest mechanic I've taken it to is a good one. He didn't charge much and did a couple of extra things he noticed free of charge.

So are LBS mechanics as hit and miss as I've found so far? Seems as bad as with cars!
Liam M - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Escher: I found this when trying to get tyres for a less common wheel size - the knowledge of the people in the shops can vary hugely. I found the most reliable sources were those who make their own bikes/frames, though these suffer from often not having as much after market gear immediately available.
LastBoyScout on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Escher:

There is at least 1 proper training scheme for bike mechanics, so worth checking if the shop has any certificates hanging up.

Otherwise, I've got 2 bike shops I'll go to for specifically detailed queries and others I'll go to if I know what I'm talking about.

I once got offered a job in my local bike shop for knowing exactly what I was talking about - shame they couldn't afford me :-)
Frank4short - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Escher: Careful now before you know it you'll have unclesamsauntibess shouting you down for being a clown that knows nothing and that bike shop mechanics are the holy grail of the cycling industry. Then he'll spout on some myopic crap about the type of bike you're riding or the way it's set up or that you used the wrong parts or etc., etc., etc.

In answer to your question yes some bike shop mechanics just aren't very good. Finding a good one, if you are unsure about doing stuff yourself or don't have the tools, can be a challenge in itself. However once you get a good one stick with them. However in saying the above even the best guys sometimes even make mistakes whether it's just carelessness or being to busy or something else.
Escher - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to LastBoyScout: I particularly like the "built by approved Cytech technician" sticker on the frame. I guess they didn't cover how to install a BB. Surely most stuff is fairly straightforward. For any proper bike shop they must know how to build things properly, I think it's more not giving a stuff and doing a shoddy job rather than lack of technical knowledge.

In reply to Frank4Short. Hopefully that latest one I've gone to is good, I think I'll be taking my winter bike there for a service.
mkean - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Escher:
In my experience more bad than good. I visited 4 bike shops in one town (2 big chain ones, 2 independent) and none of them correctly diagnosed my shifting problem (wrong length bb installed) and I saw a few interesting ideas about engineering as well. One of the cretins dented my frame by attempting to tighten a failed clinch nut with a ball pein hammer!
a concerned citizen - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Escher: The major problem is it doesn't pay very well so doesn't attract people who want to do it long term. I did it for a few years on and off during uni and some of the chimp fisted bunglers I met whilst doing it beggared belief.

Best advice is to buy the park blue book and the tools as you need them.
Enty - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Escher:

Dude! Yes there are many idiot bike mechanics. It amazes me becuse a bicyle is not a communications satelite.
There's hardly anything on a bicycle you shouldn't be able to fix yourself. The thought of paying a 17 year old 25 quid an hour to replace a rear casette makes me shudder.

Definitely go the DIY route - loads of stuff on the tinternet. Start with the Park Tools website http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help

Even the special tools you need should not set you back more than 100 quid in total. Even a Park Tool Dag 2 is less than 60 quid which you wouldn't realy need.
I built a front and rear wheel jig out of an old Trek frame and forks.

Like you say you fixed your wheel your self so why not.

E

a concerned citizen - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Enty: You've just reminded me about a lad who refused to believe in the existence of reverse pedal threads and thought the only answer lay in a blow torch and, ironically, tightening the pedal even harder. Thankfully we caught that one.
Escher - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Enty: Yes, I do 95% myself now. The only things I might take a bike in for were wheel truing, or something with the bb which might need a bigger torque wrench than I have and my mtb has a weird bb that I don't have a tool for. But I'll do everything else now especially on the road bikes and I'm gradually amassing all the tools and i'll true wheels myself now too. Found every tutorial I've ever needed online.

I'm just surprised that you buy a 2 grand bike from a reputable shop and they put the bb in the wrong way around! But I did buy that bike 10 years ago. Really I'd like to win the lottery and have a different bike for everyday of the week (hmmm dogma on Monday, venge on tuesday, Raleigh chopper on Wednesday) and then hand them over to my personal bike tech (who lives in my bespoke bike garage) and he can give them back to me as good as new each day.
timjones - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Escher:

It's only a push bike! You really ought to be able to do it all yourself rather than paying someone else ;)
Enty - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to timjones:

I haven't pushed mine for years.

E
Toby_W on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Enty:

Think Toby, witty comment about weak legs not pushing the bike to it's limits... nothing, oh well. Probably for the best least I want to be chased up a col and pelted with bidons by an angry Enty ;-)

Cheers

Toby
SI - profile removed on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Escher: I wouldn't dream of letting anyone touch my bike unless they own their own shop and they've been in business for a long time.

If a shop sells expensive bikes this is probably how they make they're money, look for shops that don't sell bikes.
mkean - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Shaun L:
look for shops that don't sell bikes.

"Hi, can you fix my disk brakes?"

"No, I'm a green grocer"

I think you may need to be more specific :-)
SI - profile removed on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to mkean: I'm pretty sure my green grocer could fix my disk brakes. Maybe you've just got a shit green grocer? Do they sell really expensive fruit and veg?
Epic Ebdon - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Shaun L:

I wouldn't go that far. If you've got some idea yourself ad some mechanical knowledge, then you can usually work out just by chatting to the mechanic if they're any good or not. But I would follow the advice of find someone good and stick to them - I also don't have a problem of asking for someone by name at a bike shop - if the owner knows the customers like a particular mechanic, it's good for the owner, the mechanic and the customer.

Tim
lost1977 - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Escher:

some years back i took a frame in to have a headset fitted (i supplied the headset), mechanic said it would be 15 to fit it and come back in 30mins. came back after 50mins and he hadn't finished (he couldn't work out how to screw the top section on). i screwed it on and he charged me 30 because the job had taken longer than expected
Frank4short - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to LastBoyScout:

> There is at least 1 proper training scheme for bike mechanics, so worth checking if the shop has any certificates hanging up.

Based on previous experience I'm not entirely convinced about some of the bike mechanic courses either. The basic bicycle mechanics courses generally will teach someone with little or no knowledge how to do a fair bit of basic stuff around a bike. However they will not teach the nuances of certain specific systems over others or diagnosis of obscure yet inherently mechanically basic problems. These are the kind of things that largely only come with years of experience. Which unfortunately as 1 poster above has pointed out is rare as being a bike mechanic generally doesn't pay very well so unless you've found a rare good mechanic the person working on your bike may not care or have had the time to acquire the necessary skills. All of the above doesn't even cover the differences in say certain more complex types of disc brakes or suspension systems.
highclimber - on 04 Apr 2012
In reply to Escher: DIY is the only way. I have started doing the same on my car after ridiculous quotes for simple jobs.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Matt_Ivory - on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to Escher: I reckon go with the smaller ones, I've only ever needed to use one after I tried to fix a sticky piston in a brake calliper (needed bleeding). Went to Bad Ass Bikes near Bristol. The guy there said it would take 15 minutes and he would charge 15. Over an hour later he'd finished and still only charged me the fifteen.
Moral: go to him.
lpretro1 on 06 Jun 2012
In reply to Escher: Hi Escher - I hope I am one of the good bike mechanics around the place! First off here are no legal requirements for a bike mechanic to be qualified in the UK unlike for gas fitters, electricians etc etc. So anyone can set up shop and do bike repairs - there are some great guys who have never had a qualification I might add. There are however, two qualifications that a bike mechanic can get - one is the City & Guilds Level 2, the other is 'Cytech' Levels 1-3. So if you are looking for a 'good' bike mechanic then that is a place to start - with Cytech the minimum they should have is Level 2(Level 1 is very basic and ideally for a school leaver). The C&G qualification is of a higher standard imo - but many tout the Cytech ones as the 'industry standard' - which it is not as there is no defined industry standard!
However, qualifications are just the start - experience is second to none!In many shops the workshop side of things plays second fiddle to selling shiny new stuff. You may therefore be better off seeking out those who just fix bies as their business - see www.cyclefix.net. All of the people listed on there, myself included, are qualified AND insured. Many of us are mobiles of one sort or another and we fix bikes often at your home!
rallymania - on 12 Jun 2012
In reply to Escher:

was this bike you bought custom built or off the peg?
unclesamsauntibess - on 13 Jun 2012
In reply to Escher:
> Are there as many good mechanics as bad?
>
> I started this thread http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=495629&v=1#x6770451 a while ago to ask if my BB was unscrewing. Turns out the BB was installed the wrong way around. The tech also repositioned the front mech as it was too low. It's 10 years old but due to a back injury I've only just started riding it again and it's only done a couple of 100 miles. So the bb was done wrong when first sold as new, and I complained about the front mech rubbing and they said they all do that, there was nothing they can do. I trusted them as i didn't know better and This was from a fairly big shop who stock and sell a lot of expensive bikes. You'd think they'd build them a bit better!
>
> My back wheel on my road bike was popping spokes from new as the tension was all wrong. I took it to a different LBS and they said a spoke was broken (it wasn't it had just unscrewed) and charged me 20 quid to true it and replace a spoke. Started shedding spokes again after a few miles so I trued it myself and it's been fine ever since, if a little bit out of true, at least it doesn't shed spokes anymore.
>
> I think the latest mechanic I've taken it to is a good one. He didn't charge much and did a couple of extra things he noticed free of charge.
>
> So are LBS mechanics as hit and miss as I've found so far? Seems as bad as with cars!

of course it's hit and miss - what job do you do? are you good at it? do you know others who are crap at it?
John Rushby - on 13 Jun 2012
In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to timjones)
>
> I haven't pushed mine for years.
>
> E

THat's 'cos you bought the hideway electric motor from spartacus1975 on Ebay

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