Speak the Language of Bike Mechanics

Speak the Language of Bike Mechanics

Speak the Language of Bike Mechanics
by AJ Johnson
Your bike mechanic is your best friend, you just don’t know it. When there is a strange noise coming from your bike, when your chain needs replacing, or when you are about to leave for your big “A” race of the year, who do you take your bike to? While triathletes tend to be meticulous and detail oriented, this trait often disappears when it comes to bike maintenance. Having worked in several bike shops, I have seen some pretty sketchy bikes in the bike stand. Having your bike in good working condition is also a safety concern. So it’s a good idea to befriend your local wrench to ensure quality work and timeliness. Here are a few tips for you to follow so that your mechanic is happy to see you when you come in, rather than having to leave for lunch.

First off, take a minute to clean the bike. Just a quick wash with a rag is all it takes. Think of all the sports drink, gel splatter and sweat that is all over your top tube. If someone handed you a metal tube with bodily fluids all over it, would you be happy? I have seen mechanics play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who would have take the dirty tri-bike that just came in.

Second, if you are having an issue, try to be as detailed as you can. Just like your car, don’t go in and describe some weird noise and hope your mechanic can figure it out. Try to isolate the noise as best as you can. This will save your mechanic time, and get your bike back to you faster. Mechanics tend to be very detail oriented and little noises they can’t figure out drive them crazy. They won’t give you the bike back until they’ve solved the riddle, so it’s in your best interest to be specific.

Third, if at all possible, go to the same person regularly. This way they will know you, know the bike and there is more of a connection. Your service and turnaround time will be better.

Fourth, tip your mechanic. Having a good mechanic that you trust is worth it. This tip can be monetary, but in many cases a good six pack of beer if they are over 21, or their favorite sports drink if under 21, is a good choice. Tip them for something relatively minor early on to establish a good rapport. Then when it’s Thursday night and your bike is acting up before Saturday’s race, you can count on your mechanic to take care of you.

My last pointer is that if you want to learn more about your bike, ask your mechanic to let you watch what they are doing. Most mechs are happy to explain to you what’s happening and how to fix it. They enjoy showing someone how to properly maintain their bike and will be glad to tell you what you want or need to know. Just don’t walk back into the mechanic’s area without asking first. If you want to see what’s going on and to learn more, simply ask them if it’s ok for you join them at the bike stand.

These tips will help you create a better relationship with your mechanic and at the bike shop in general. They ensure that when you walk through the door of your local bike shop, the mechanics don’t all go to lunch. Follow these simple rules and not only will you and your mechanic be happy, but your bike will be as well.

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