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?