Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Do It Yourself (DIY) Bike Repairs

As a kid I had a higher than normal mechanical appitude. I was also good at building things and fixing things that broke. If I wasn't fixing things, I was destroying them by setting them on fire or blowing them up just to see what happens. I'm serious! This interest in how things work led to a lot of science and math classes in HS and later more advanced classes as a Mechanical Engineering student in College and later Grad School. To this date, I'm continually intrigued with new technology, new science and how things work. What particulary appeals to me in the biking industry are: bike computers, power meters, bike suspension systems, shifting systems and basically how bikes work.

So, what does this have to do with DIY bike repairs? You would think with my higher than normal mechanical aptitude, being good with my hands and fascination/interest in how things work that I perform my own bike repairs. Well, I don't. It's not because I'm not interested in working on my own bikes (I have four: hybrid bike, 2 road bikes and a Mtn. bike) or that I don't have the know-how to work on them, it's because I either don't have the time or I'm really not sure how to fix-it. (Actually, I think it's the latter reason) Instead of fixing things myself, I take them to the LBS and have them make the repairs for me. I've been happy with the Service I've received at my LBS in the past until recently. Therefore, instead of getting mad at them I've decided to start doing my own repairs...after all, working on a bike is not rocket science. (Hey, don't tell your LBS mechanic I said that..you'll hurt his/her feelings). And, working on your bike will give you a lot of self-satisfaction in addition to saving some money. Besides, I'm willing to bet that I can do a more thorough job than any LBS mechanic can- provided I know how to do the job correctly.
Now that's the $64k question (in my opinion)- how do you ensure you do the job correctly? There are 3 ways: 1) buy a book like Lennard Zinn's, "Zinn & the Art of Mountain/Road/Triathlon bike Maintenance 2) go online and Google whatever you want to do, for example, Google- "bleed hydraulic brakes", or 3) take a mechanics course at either a LBS or better yet one of the Nationally Certified Bike Mechanics Schools like UBI, Barnett, Park Tools, etc.

Why do it yourself? Here are a few reasons why I'm going to start doing it myself:
a. a lot cheaper to do it yourself
b. you get your bike back faster if you do it yourself
c. learn how your bike works/operates. It will come in handy if you ever breakdown on the road or trail
d. you'll do a more thorough job than a LBS mechanic
e. it's fun and self-satisfying
f. as I said previously, it's really pretty easy (definitely not rocket science)
g. you'll have more confidence in your equipment..especially at high speeds or during steep descents

If anyone is interested in joining me (email me), I'm going to sign-up for a Bicycle Assembly and Maintenance (BAM) course at the Barnett Bicycle Institute in Colorado Springs in July of 2010. It's a 5-day course (8 hrs. per day). I figure July would be an awesome time to head out to COS and do some Mtn Biking in the hills (cooler air) after a day of class. Here's a link to their website: http://www.bbinstitute.com/

No comments: