I don’t mean to knock the local bike shop. I rely on them for many things, from routine replenishments of energy food like Shot Blocks to purchases of gloves, computers, other accessories, and even complete bikes.
I’m lucky enough to know a guy who is a skilled bike mechanic, and I can bring my bike over to his house for a quick turnaround at very reasonable prices. So I’m less likely now to run into trouble than I was one evening a few years ago when I took my old bike into a shop for repairs.
My old Raleigh’s alloy wheels weren’t clinchers. I could mount clincher tires on them, but I had to inflate the tires to only about 70 pounds, rather than the 100 pounds they would have been able to handle on clincher wheels. Higher pressures meant the tube would bulge out from between the wheel and tire and burst. One afternoon, I had a flat during a ride. I fixed it, but was concerned about the fix. So that evening, I took it to a bike shop to get a new tire and some tubes. While I was there, I figured to save time, I’d have them mount the tire.
As a browsed through the store, I heard a sharp BANG! like a gun shot. I trotted back to the service area, where the scruffy-looking mechanic stared embarrassedly at the blown tire.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” I said, “those tires shouldn’t be inflated more than 70 pounds.”
He looked at the wheel and nodded agreement. He took out a new tube, put it in the tire, and started to pump it up.
By now, the other store employees were gathered around to watch the show. He took out another tube and repeated the process. This time, it looked okay, so he put the wheel on the bike.
“Hey man, this just isn’t gonna work,” he said to me.
“It’s worked in the past,” I said. “I’ve done a metric century on these wheels.”
“Yeah, well you won’t any more,” he retorted. “Not only won’t this wheel take this tire, now it’s out of true.”
“So true it,” I said.
“I’ll have to charge you,” he answered.
“No. You knocked it out of true, you make it good.”
“No can do,” he said.
He gave me another tube. I paid for the new tire, and left the shop with my bike. A few days later, I bought my current bike (at a different shop), and I haven’t messed with the Raleigh ever since. I suspect the tire I bought, which was a different brand than the one it replaced, might have been the culprit. It probably didn’t seat on the wheel the same way as the other one did. But the failure of the mechanic to pinpoint the problem and recommend a workable solution bugged me. I vowed never to go to that store for service again. (I continue to buy routine items there, like socks and recently, a new pump.)
Most bike store service departments I’ve dealt with are wonderful, with competent mechanics who do good work in little time. But have you ever dealt with one like this guy? Or worse?
Elliott @ Austin on Two Wheels says
Sounds like BS. I do not believe a tire blowing would send a wheel out of true. It is much more likely it was already out of true. Still, truing and properly tensioning the wheel would have taken all of 10 minutes.
Clive Chapman says
I’ve only had one bad experience with a LBS that was I thought pretty good. It wasn’t about their spannering ability or how well stocked the shop was, it was that they ripped me off. I couldn’t do a damn thing about it and it disappointed me severely as I was a good customer. Sod ’em, I spend my hard earned elsewhere and they haven’t seen me since, nor will they ever.
In my opinion, if you are not putting tubulars on tubular wheels, then wether “it worked in the past” or not, then the mechanic shouldn’t have even said he’d try it, because you aren’t supposed to do it.. Components are built to be used a certain way, and putting clinchers on tubs is not right. Putting a tire and a tube on a clincher wheel will not untrue or ruin the wheel – but running the wrong type of tire at too low a pressure for a metric century certainly could.
Please have your wheel trued and buy a set of yellowjersey.com 3 for $50 sew up tires.
That being said, good LBS mechanics are few and far between.
Bike Noob says
Sorry, I guess I was unclear.This was a 1981 low-end Raleigh 10-speed with alloy wheels. Whatever tires fitted those wheels 30 years ago, the tires made nowadays don’t seem to.
First off – just read finished reading your entire blog, I just started biking again after a 17 year break two months ago, and reading your blog has been fantastic for me, I’ve learned a ton of things, some of which I’d learned before I bought my bike…
Anyway, back to the subject. So far the one bad LBS experience I’ve had was from when I bought the bike, specifically their assembly job. The last bike I had was a pretty cheap mountain bike that I rode the hell out of in my teens, this was my first decent bike, and I didn’t really know what to look for to see how well assembled it was. Over the past two months, I’ve found that:
– The rear derailleur couldn’t shift onto the largest cog because it was off by an index. Also, the indexes weren’t lined up, it would often jump multiple gears when upshifting and took some serious finesse to get to downshift.
– The front derailleur’s high limit screw was so far off that it couldn’t shift to the largest of the three chainrings and the chain ground against the cage on the middle chainring.
– The headset was loose enough that it’d thunk around under braking
– The disk brakes were spongy and weak, then the front cable frayed apart leaving me with no front brakes
– Minor one: the front reflector was attached to the handlebars, but so loose that you could literally spin it around the bars. Should have been an immediate sign as to how much care went into assembly.
– This one I didn’t find until the first time I went to clean the cassette — the rear derailleur hanger was completely loose, I had to turn the bolt on it 3+ full turns just to get it even remotely tight.
Thanks to the blogs and sites I’ve been reading up on, I was able to fix a lot of those issues myself, but the frayed brake cable was when I decided it was time to take it in. I was told it frayed because I had tightened the cable too much via the barrel adjuster up on the brake lever. I told him I’d adjusted it because, when I got the bike, I could pull the brake lever all the way until it hit the handlebar and had very little braking force, then went on to describe the other issues I’d had when it got assembled. To his credit, he did fix the issues he said he’d fix, and he fixed them well, but to his discredit he didn’t seem to concerned about the issues I had with the bike in the first place. For the shifters, he kept trying to convince me that it was cable stretch, but seeing as they were issues from the moment I bought the bike (and should never be fixed by the high limit screw on a derailleur), I somehow doubt that diagnosis.
I get free repairs/tune ups for the first year from this shop since I bought the bike there, but at this point, I think I’m just going to go somewhere else and pay for those things.
Durr, I mean “I wish I’d learned before I bought my bike”
You probably need 27″ tires rather than 700C. I had an old Raleigh that took 27″ tires. You can still find them at most bike shops, although your choices are generally limited to just one or two.
Bike Noob says
Yup, they were 27-inchers.
Jeff A says
I’m still riding my old (’73) Raleigh Grand Sport, and it has 27’s. The original rims did not have a “hook” like newer made clinchers, but I never had a problem mounting tires or holding 100 psi.
Mike Berryman says
I bet you were at the same shop where twice I picked up my bike and could not ride it. The second time the pedal was stripped and hanging in the crank. The crank was stripped also. He made good but I was still out a week of riding and the cost of a new set of cleats to go with my spare set of pedals
Bike Noob says
Ouch! Next time we meet on a ride, we’ll have to compare notes.
I left my bike in the LBS for free adjustments and a spoke replacement (I had bought it about six months earlier and the free adjustment was part of the purchase agreement). I came in the next day and they had forgot to work on it. With 20 minutes before the shop closed, the mechanic hurriedly threw my bike on a rack and went through the check up. He put the spoke on and tried to true the wheel at breakneck speed. Not surprisingly, the wheel went out of true within 50 miles. I’ve been fiddling with it for the past three months, but it still isn’t quite right. I’ll take the bike back one more time when my one year free adjustment period ends and we’ll see how things go. Right now, the LBS is on thin ice.
Where to start, from the moment my mountain bike left the shop it failed to change gear correctly on the front dérailleur with out getting chain suck. I took it back several times but it still failed to function correctly all the time. It got so bad that I refused to go back to the shop and paid for a new front dérailleur assembly and new chain after the front end spat the chain off and chewed it up really badly. In the end things got so bad that I had to go back to the shop as I now had some major frame damage on the rear wheel stay caused by chain suck (I had contacted the bike manufacturer about it but they said it had to go back to an authorised dealer). I spoke to the manger at the shop and he agreed that the service had been poor in the past and he agreed to a frame swap. At the same time I purchased a new set of forks (not from the shop) and asked the shop if they would fit them when they swapped the frames.
I collected the bike and the old forks, the front dérailleur problem was marginally better. About two month later I saw an advert on my local mtb club web site asking if anybody had some cheap forks, I had the old one from my bike and I went I got the box with them in from the shed and I could not believe what I saw when I opened the lid, it looked like a caveman had hacked the bottom headset race for the headset off the fork stanchion, there were chunks missing out of the stanchion, the lbs response, it was difficult to get off………… I now have a local bike mechanic who does my bike now. As for the LBS, I try to avoid going in there now, they had there chance and blew it
Finally, I have just replaced the bottom bracket on my bike (wear and tear) and guess what, that has cured my front dérailleur chain suck problem. Not sure why or how but it has.
Sorry for the rant………..