Pinkbike Poll: How Mechanically Minded Are You?

Jan 30, 2020 at 13:33
by Daniel Sapp  
A Day in the Life of Yeti EWS Mechanic Shaun Hughes

As a responsible rider, it's always good to know a few mechanical basics, things like how to check that your bike is safe to ride, fix a flat, and straighten the handlebars after a crash. In reality, that will get you out on a ride and then back almost every time, outside of a catastrophic mechanical incident.

Like it or not, all bikes require maintenance, just like a car or any other piece of machinery. Weeks and months of riding through mud, sand, snow, or whatever Mother Nature has decided to deliver will take a toll on any bike, no matter how much the initial sticker price was. This is why a lot of riders do have a fairly comprehensive mechanical knowledge when it comes to their bikes. In addition to being able to get yourself and your friends out of the woods by piecing together a broken bike after a mechanical, it cuts down on the cost of having to pay someone else to do it.

So, how mechanically minded are you? Do you lace wheels and perform every bit of service yourself, do you drop off your bike at the local shop after every ride for someone else to maintain, or do you fall in the middle, leaving suspension overhauls and full builds to someone else but taking care of the day-to-day stuff yourself?

How Mechanically Minded are You?




379 Comments

  • 449 4
 My level is I can rebuild a shock, install a dropper or build a full bike, but I also pay $200 for new lowers because I stripped out the threads while installing a brake caliper. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • 93 0
 Sounds just like me. I'll build a bike or do a lower leg service no probs then cross thread a pedal fitting after a couple too many beers Wink
  • 45 52
flag iantmcg (Jan 31, 2020 at 12:14) (Below Threshold)
 I've come to realize by the time you replace a couple parts you broke with diy, it ends up costing the same to pay a pro as it costs to do yourself.
  • 194 1
 Cross threads are tight threads!
  • 50 4
 You didn't have to spend $ 200 because there are threaded inserts. They cost much less.
  • 4 2
 @iantmcg: yep. Lesson learned for me too
  • 65 4
 Heli-Coil... better than new.
  • 18 0
 @Chilliwacker: sure blame the beer lol!!!
  • 216 11
 In 2006 I got the hottest fork of the time 66RC2X, I changed the oil because a friend told me to not trust factory state. I carefully dealt with super fragile internals requiring some skill and finesse, only to put it together and cut the steerer too short...
  • 13 22
flag softsteel (Jan 31, 2020 at 13:10) (Below Threshold)
 @Jahtaka: Yeah, but threaded inserts are crap most of the time and you don`t have enough matter to put any.
Sincerely, instead of putting 200bucks into new lowers, and knowing that you don`t have to dismantle your breaks everyday, I would have used silicon to glue that fvcking bolt in these damaged threads and that was it. Russian way Wink
  • 9 0
 @WAKIdesigns: you made my day ahaha
  • 9 1
 @barefootdan: Natures own loctite
  • 4 0
 @barefootdan: natures loctite
  • 11 0
 @pargolf8: original, I like it
  • 5 0
 bits of steel wool might work in a pinch
  • 1 0
 @piersgritten: haha a term we use at work. “Dont natures loctite it!”
  • 7 0
 @iantmcg: But you learned things in the process and can do it again without paying anyone. Sometimes learning is costly.
  • 12 0
 @softsteel: Stock threads are aluminum only, a properly-installed Helicoil (or even better a Timesert) is far stronger than factory threads.
  • 10 0
 @johnbalz: very much so. some parts I've made for the aerospace industry spec thread inserts during manufacture, rather than ever try to use the aluminum threads.
  • 1 3
 ouch couldn't you just retap with a slightly larger bolt?
  • 1 3
 I mean can't you just tap a new thread? Seems like a pricey fix to something that could be a cheap fix???
  • 21 0
 I put WD40 on my discs, going way faster now.
  • 10 0
 @Chilliwacker: I had to learn the hard way that alcohol is only allowed during disassembly.
  • 5 0
 Sure it’s just magnesium, just weld it...
  • 1 0
 Or put a tire on backwards...
  • 9 0
 @Explodo: Exactly! When I screw something up, I call it tuition.
  • 3 1
 @fussylou: ...and make sure to have plenty of water on hand to put the fire out...
  • 1 0
 @friendlyfoe: Hahahaha true statement, just remember where the bolts go.
  • 2 1
 youre at the level that hasn't discovered the time-cert?
  • 1 1
 @Explodo: fair point, I do do quite a bit myself. Don't mess with brakes or pivot bearings or suspension beyond an oil change
  • 2 2
 Ever heard of a helacoil.
  • 29 0
 Built up a couple bikes, bled brakes, serviced lowers, always repairing my friends bikes, love working on bikes.

One day I couldn’t figure out why my new specialized kept slipping, like the pawls were slipping. Brought it back to the shop I bought it from and they tightened up the rear axle that was hanging out, unattached to the threaded end.

Of course this after much bragging about how I do all my own servicing on my bikes. It still stings a little bit ever time I walk in there. The shame is real.
  • 3 0
 There are some days when a Helicoil is your best friend.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: still a good fork haah
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Im imageing your situation, like "yeah internals done, puuuuh, cutting steerer now. Here we go. Install spacers and Stem.
O.o
-_-
  • 7 1
 @Here: that moment I popped it through the head tube...
  • 4 0
 @softsteel: f’ing up is part of the learning process.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: but. You said you rode that fork??
  • 1 0
 @friendlyfoe: great advice ! Smile
  • 1 0
 @krumpdancer101: haha yeah! Well once it was the beer Smile
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns:
Hahahah, fuuuuuuuu......
  • 1 0
 @krka73: Yes, heli coils are a great invention. There is no need to use a torque wrench, this a very stable solution. As you said- better than new.
  • 2 1
 @jorgeposada: rookie mistake,wd40 is a water displacer not a proper lubricant!
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: spent an evening fighting with my tyres Got them on and seated. Filled them with sealant pumped up nice and high overnight to get them to seal properly Got the the trail the next morning went to adjust the tyre pressure and undid the valve Cap and out comes the valve core that got jammed into the cap let all the air out and couldn’t get the valve out of the cap cause it had cross threaded itself into it . That was a good one
  • 1 2
 @makripper: yeah! I was a bit lucky. I needed to get a zero stack headset and got like 2cm sticking out of the head tube. Then got Tioga Taskforce stem. Two years later i got the steerer replaced with cro-mo steerer. That thing weighed 3150g. Not sure if there is a double crown fork today that weighs this much...
  • 2 1
 @Slipknot11: similar bummer here, I had a weird leak through the valve stem on shimano ust rim. Original valve wouldn’t seal, I think I opened the tire twice, white crap all over the place, no result. Got a standard Stans stem, stuck some electric tape under it and It finally did seal. Rode it twice, fine, all fine. But before the next ride I noticed that tire was deflated. I pumped it up and heard whizzing around the stem again. I screwed the ring tighter. Sound decreased. Tighter, much tighter, almost gone - took pliers - screwed it even tighter. The whole stem Started rotating but it was almost sealed. Very small bubble was coming out very slowly. Took second pliers to hold the stem with one and ring with other. And then the stem sheered spraying everything with sealant. Had to call everyone and say I’ll be late, that I have to insert a tube. Flatted twice on this ride... walked home. It wasn’t meant to be...

One more: wanted to change the chainring. Installed isis crank remover. Crank came off but remover got stuck in the crank. So I screwed the crank back in to have better leverage to screw the remover it out. Came off. This time to remove the crank again I screwed the remover in just a bit . Started removing the crank with it and then the remover ripped the thread off the crank. With threads ripped off I couldn’t remove the crank. Couldn’t bash it out with a hammer, had to go to a workshosp where they used a spider remover...
  • 4 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I waited weeks while I collected parts for a new bike. Made the mistake of buying a twelve pack to "help me put the bike together." Cut the fork too short, too. Last time I ask Corona to help me with anything.
  • 1 0
 @fussylou: Ha! Oh, I'm a nerd...
  • 3 1
 @viccuus: hahaha. I tried to change shaft in my Lyrik from 160 to 180 on 4g of shrooms... I managed to remove the lowers but Removing the lockring was too much. Needless to say, shrooms are safer than alcohol Big Grin
  • 1 0
 Welcome to the club Smile @Chilliwacker:
  • 2 0
 Let's not forget knowing when you're beat. Had a friend snap his shock bolt today and lose half the mounting hardware. Fortunately we are in thailand and had a new part fabricated quicker than your local warranty guru could pick up the phone. So I think we land somewhere between wizard and master mechanic.
  • 7 0
 @kfccoleslaw
Tighten it ‘til it strips and back it off a quarter turn.
  • 1 0
 Install Helicoil. It will be stronger than the original thread in the aluminium
  • 1 0
 Argh bro... helicoil kit and you will be $180 in the black.
  • 1 0
 @softsteel: That would suck next time you do a lower leg service tho..
  • 1 0
 @kabanosipyvo: I honestly think it would be safer to kick a grizzly in the nuts than to throw water at a magnesium fire...
  • 1 0
 @Urwho: Umm Hi sorry for the confusion, that is an old school mtg joke from the early 90's. Yes I was head mechanic and raced for decades, no wd40 anywhere in my house.
  • 1 0
 @jorgeposada: ok good to hear, id recommend something nice and thick, like slick honey to grease brake rotors. also im old too and trying to be funny....
  • 1 0
 @Urwho: The riding keeps us old timers young I hope! Will check that honey out. Our trick here for slippy brakes is a bunch of water all over the caliper and disc and a long steep street to get speed then modulate the brakes. Poor man's solution but works good to clean rotors on the fly.
  • 2 1
 a wizard would have drilled and tapped a size up or helicoiled the caliper
  • 2 1
 @Ironchefjon: i got downvoted by morons for suggesting this.
  • 1 4
 @Gregorysmithj1: have you ever asked yourself a questions what is a chance that someone who frequently uses propping system is not a moron?
  • 1 0
 Tit.
  • 1 0
 You mean a helicopter ?@d3toid:
  • 141 2
 There's going to be a lot of people choosing home mechanic when they really should be "that guy"
  • 69 4
 I’d class myself as both, I CAN fix it, I just didn’t
  • 2 0
 Ahem
  • 3 0
 "That guy" pretty much sums me up completely
  • 4 0
 Just riding along.
  • 6 7
 Amen brother.

Where’s the “I know enough not to wear flip flops in a workshop like the dude in the photo” option?
  • 2 1
 @TheSmilingDentist: He's just about to inflate a tire. Doesn't necessarily make him the level of mechanic that wouldn't wear flip-flops. Flip flops could actually be fine as long as you install aramid insoles.
  • 4 0
 @TheSmilingDentist: That dude is Jared Graves' mechanic haha.
  • 4 0
 now you leave me staring at my fork that desperately needs a lowers service but I'm too lazy to buy seals and bath oil and too cheap to have a shop do it
  • 2 0
 I'm a fucking Dumbledor Wizard with this shit. There I said it.
  • 1 2
 @TheSmilingDentist: to be fair, not much in a bike shop is too bad for flip flops or sandals. I wouldn’t say it’s the “best” shoe for the job, but think about it, there’s not much heavy machinery or major power tools happening. The worst that might happen is putting a bike box on your foot, or rolling a wheel over your toe.

Now if you work in structural steel for example, I might not recommend Birkenstock’s...
  • 4 3
 @aks2017: If you aren't dropping tools on your toes, you aren't working on bikes.
  • 4 0
 @SnowChaser: I don’t know what you guys are talking about. I’ve been a shop wrench for 10 years. 3 years ago I switched to working in flip flops/slides all spring and summer. It was the best decision of my professional career. I realized, I’ve never dropped something on my feet. Sure, I drop things, but not on my feet and definitely not heavy things either. Hold on to your parts and tools kids- pros only drop bolts and very small washers which can never be found again. And get this, now, when I drop something, I move my feet to keep them safe- I know, life changing! FREE YOUR FEET! OSHA be damned!
  • 1 0
 @SnowChaser: the only danger with flip flops is that eventually a strand of derailleur cable will wiggle its way up through the sole and into the bottom of your foot. So be a pro and clean your shop!
  • 1 0
 @SnowChaser: this also reminds me of one of my friends who is a welder talking about how lots of people he works with who have been doing it for a long time working in sneakers. They all have the story of the one time they let some slag drip onto their shoe. But they still do it anyway and only have that one story. He’s new so he still wears the proper boots for the job.
  • 1 0
 It’s like the old mechanics sign, “Shop rates doubled if you tried to do it yourself before bringing it to us.”
  • 117 1
 One Way Mechanic: I can take it apart. I can't always put it back together.
  • 11 2
 Me as a child, i would take every single toy i owned apart to to see how it works. But when it came time to put it back together....?????
  • 3 0
 BikeSauce the Obliterator!
  • 3 0
 Haha. Too true. But it’s also the reverse when it’s midnight the night before a bike trip and I realize I forgot to use anti seize last time I change pedals and find myself contemplating whether it will be easier a. Customize the bike box to accommodate a stubborn pedal, b. Remove half the drivetrain and risk hamfisting the crank removal, or c. Say to h&ll with it and just rent when I get there Smile
  • 55 2
 It pretty crazy how much money (AND TIME) one can save by learning to wrench on your own. You can buy consumer direct bikes, you don't pay labor, and you can get stuff done quickly. Plus it's fun. Makes an expensive hobby a lot less expensive.
  • 10 78
flag Boosting (Jan 31, 2020 at 12:11) (Below Threshold)
 Lmao yeah it totally makes biking A LOT less expensive... NOT. It's still expensive as fuck and any good shop will install the parts you bought there for free especially if you bought your bike there.
  • 8 44
flag Boosting (Jan 31, 2020 at 12:13) (Below Threshold)
 That's without counting everytime you fuck up something that wasn't broken in the first place and have to take it to your mechanic to bail you out
  • 7 0
 I live in this island with no real shops, im very thankful for youtube!!! although i'll send a shock to a proper shop, just in case!!!
  • 20 0
 @Boosting: uhhhh he meant learning to do it correctly will save you time and money. Of course breaking your bike trying to fix it will cost you more, thanks captain obvious.
  • 30 0
 as a shop mechanic, I can tell you that some people seem to be incompatible with working on their own bikes.
  • 2 0
 For sure. I'll browse online until I find a box of bulk shift housing on closeout or other items that often need replacing (e.g. cables, sealant, brake pads/fluid) and stock up. I'll still send wheels in for a proper tension/true and suspension for service.
  • 13 1
 @senorbanana: Some people have gorilla mitts and there's no cure for that. Fixing anything mechanical requires a little finesse and some people don't have it. No shame in that, just the facts.
  • 7 0
 I think I came to the opposite realization of how much time (time=money) I could save by letting my shop take care of things Wink

Never going to bother doing a full service on a fork again lol
  • 15 1
 Exactly this. I actually enjoy spending a few hours in the garage with a couple beers, music on and servicing my bikes.
  • 4 1
 I guess it depends on how you got into cycling. If you just spent thousands on a mountainbike I can imagine it may be intimidating to wrench on these expensive parts. I've always been riding bikes. Not necessarily mountainbikes, but just the bike to go places. So soon enough you learn to fix stuff. To patch a tube. To take out the wheel to replace a completely blown tube (which compared to a mountainbike is a bit more fiddly on a bike with hub brake, chain tensioner and nuts and washers), fix or replace a broken chain etc. It is either that or walk home. Eventually you get a mountainbike and learn how to adjust gearing, cup and cone bearings, headset etc. It comes gradually and well, it isn't even that hard. There are always friends who can help you out with tools you don't yet have (oh, do I need a crank puller to work the crank off the axle) and eventually you build your own wheels. Of course it can become disheartening to find out you need a different product specific tool for a bearing or anything, but wheel building equipment doesn't really go out of style unless you're getting something quite unconventional.

Of course it also depends on whether you like to spend time learning this kind of stuff. If you don't, fair enough then don't. It would help me loads if I would be only slightly proficient with a soldering iron to repair guitar cables and internal wiring and all that. But it just is too fiddly for me. I know loads of people like to work on their cars whereas I don't go beyond replacing wheels, lights, fuses and topping up liquids. I'm comfortable riding my own bike in the dirt aware that the consequences of a failure are mostly mine. But a car driven at speed in traffic is just a different story to me. I don't consider myself qualified and the process of trial and error doesn't quite make sense to me in that context.

edit: @dglass: It's fine. Just keep a bucket handy in case you're having too many beers. I personally prefer a cup of tea when building wheels though. Makes me feel really sophisticated.
  • 3 0
 @Allen82: Just not too many beers. Contaminated some rotors that way.
  • 3 0
 Depends though. It’s the time, money and space issue for me. I don’t spend enough on repairs to warrant the prices on most mtb tools, I barely have time to ride let alone work on my bike and I sure as heck don’t have any space where I live to have a work area.
  • 1 0
 @me2menow: the only regular maintenance my bike needs is brake service which is easy enough. And bikes are so easy to disassemble with just Allen keys and a few wrenches.

I'll remove parts to bring them in for service (wheels/suspension) and maybe once a year get them to setup my drivetrain. The cost of that minimal amount of work is practically nothing.
  • 3 0
 @friendlyfoe: Funny enough I actually do enjoy bleeding brakes
  • 4 0
 You can save money by being your own mechanic and still buy your bikes and parts from the LBS. If you shop there enough, the big discounts will come because they know you ain't no tyre kicker, you know exactly what you want without tying up shop staffs' time, and when they sell you a bike the cost of 'free service' is zero to them. I've worked that like a charm for ten years.
  • 5 0
 I hate working on my bike, but I hate paying a bike shop to do it wrong even more.
  • 7 0
 @skelldify: Amen brother! I’ve never found bike shop service costs all that prohibitive, but crummy workmanship sure is!
  • 4 0
 @skelldify: definitely. Nobody ever works on my bike but me. I am far more motivated to take the time to do a good job than anyone at a bike shop is.
  • 2 0
 If you have a decent job, you can usually outpace the bike shop labor price and still have time to ride. I have most tools and am dangerous with a bike. Tonight I slapped on a new cassette to resolve slop and lag in shifts to other gears. Only I realized the cassette wobbles like a drunkard and that apparently the brand new internals the mechanic stuffed in my rear hub are not in there to the best of their existence. So I'm screwed in both directions. I'm morbidly incompetent and dangerous to my own bike and knuckes...and I'm screwed by the kid at the shop I randomly dropped it off at. So now, I get to double down and take the bike to the competent guys at the real deal shop, see if they can tweak it within reason and if not..chuck the wheel and buy a new one.
  • 2 0
 @senorbanana: this is true. Not everyone is mechanically inclined.
  • 1 0
 @me2menow: There's something very satisfying about seeing those air bubbles come out.
  • 1 0
 @Allen82: for me it's a relaxing and sometimes therapeutic exercise hahaha. I love working on my bike
  • 1 0
 @panchocampbell: story of my life!
  • 1 0
 @senorbanana: That's the wrong outlook my man.
Look at them as walking talking bonus monies. Wink as long as you don't pay their salary. Haha
  • 1 0
 Until you get addicted to nice tools
  • 42 0
 I like my own mechanic work, because I enjoy the handful of extra bolts I have when everything is done and put back together.
  • 14 0
 It's a good way to save weight as well
  • 11 0
 A few more repairs and I'll be able to build a second bike with all the parts left over...
  • 4 0
 It's called optimising the design
  • 35 5
 I find that with bikes, people think they're way smarter than they actually are. It's a classic case of the Dunning/Kruger effect (google it if you dont know). I think its because bicycles are a simple enough machine that people like to think they understand them when really they can be very complex and take some education to really understand.
  • 32 1
 Sounds like you've got a case of the Dunning/Kruger effect!
  • 9 1
 @john303: Hahaha maybe I do! That's the irony of it!
  • 22 9
 Dude it honestly isn’t very complicated
  • 33 0
 Was kind of thinking the same thing. Bike shop wrench by trade, and was very surprised to see so many people confidently say they placed higher than I think I'm at. Problem with these polls is that people are anonymous, and of course want to humblebrag to themselves at how pro they are.

A quarter of PB commenters are "wizard" level mechanics. Yeah. No.
  • 11 0
 @sherbet: i think the categories are a bit off. Yeah i do 95%+ of my own wrenching, including building wheels, but does that make me a master mechanic? Hell no. Im just good with tools. I wouldn’t even consider trying a full service on suspension. As far as i know most shops just send it out.
  • 5 1
 Its actually not that complicated and bikes really are pretty simple. Outside of building wheels and tuning/rebuilding suspensions there is no reason that most people couldn't work on or replace any part on their bike if they have the right tools (which isn't even all that many). Plenty of good tutorials on the internet these days. Look up what you are trying to do, go slow, and give it a try.
  • 3 2
 @Tmackstab Came here specifically to mention Dunning/Kruger. Every Pinkbike article should have a link to the Wikipedia for it at the bottom.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect
  • 2 0
 Goes both ways - yep, some people futz around with their bikes without ever really thinking it through and end up breaking more than they fix. But there are also a ton of people who feel mystified by things they could easily do, but they've sort of given into learned helplessness.
  • 3 0
 @sherbet: yeah as soon as i saw how many people decided that they, themselves were wizards..... ahhh pinkbike
  • 4 0
 @drfunsocks: Yeah I do also think that these categories are off and there is actually a good bit between what's stated here as Master Mechanic and Wizzard. I build wheels so apparently that puts me in the Master Mechanic category whereas I don't consider myself the level that would confidently walk into a workshop and tell everyone what to (which is what the Master Mechanic would be all about). Other than a simple Magura MX shock, I don't service rear shocks. I don't mess with shim stacks, I don't do one-time jobs with specialist tools like facing and reaming a headtube. And I haven't bled brakes other than my own. I actually based my decision what fork to get on how simple it is to service. Heck, my left pedal currently squeaks so horribly I no longer have friends to ride with.
  • 8 0
 @vinay: I suppose I should have added something at the end that says, "If you're having to ask for clarification, then you're probably one to two categories below where you think you may fall in."
  • 2 0
 @danielsapp: Alright, just adjusted my answer to Weekend Wrencher Wink .
  • 3 0
 @sino428: I build and re-build wheels, correctly tensioned, but I've no experience or confidence w/ suspensions. I got into building wheels as you suggest: there are good tutorials out there, just have to go slowly. Good thing I'm not paying myself by the hour.
Edit: there are also a LOT of CRAP videos out there. Go to a reliable information source.
  • 4 1
 After years of wrenching professionally the thing that always makes me chuckle is finally talking my buddies who do their own work in to letting me tune their bike for them. With out fail you always get a "this works so much better!" Then they go back to working on their own stuff for a couple of years.
  • 4 0
 @albert03: There's 'suspension' and then there's 'suspension'. A lower leg or air can service is barely harder than pulling apart a bike pump. These days the complicated damping circuits and their oils are isolated from the shock air sleeve and even the fork suspension. Servicing the sliding components that are exposed to dirt/dust/mud is what needs to be done regularly so it is a good arrow in your mechanical quiver. Wheel building is much harder.
  • 2 0
 @sherbet: would love to see a good chunk of those people install bearings or cut a fork steerer.
  • 7 2
 @sherbet: I ranked myself as a wizard. I’m a red seal heavy equipment mechanic with 15 years experience doing field service in many different industries from construction, forestry, mining and marine. And, I pulled wrenches since I was a kid before that.

Nothing on a bike is all that complex, it’s all just bearings, shafts, seals, and fasteners. Oh and a couple cables and a chain, just for fun.

The things I work on are no different, just a bit more complex. And the reality is most of our customers, both yours and mine, can do a good portion of our jobs. People pay us because they don’t want to do a job, more often than they pay us because they can’t.
  • 3 0
 @friendlyfoe: What exactly is hard about cutting a steer tube?
  • 1 0
 @albert03: Very true, definitely make sure the source of the videos are reliable. But there are still plenty out there. Many of the manufacturers themselves put out videos, Park Tool has a ton of good ones too. I was getting into mountain biking right around the time Pinkbike had their "Tech Tuesday" series of videos. Learned alot of the basics from those.
  • 1 0
 @sherbet: I was coming to comment the same thing on folks feeling they are WC level mechs just because they converted their wheels to tubeless once. Same slant as they/we all think we are better riders then they/we really are. But just to be clear I am WC level, no doubt....
  • 1 0
 @sherbet: so a qualified mechanic where did you place yourself? I feel we would be harder on ourselves than others.
  • 1 0
 @sino428: I overthink/overplan a lot, but...you want to cut it straight so it's nice to have a tool to help with that. You also need some forethought regarding your riding position, adjustability of that riding position, and for some, consideration of resale (leave it a little long?). Finishing the cut with a file is nice, not only so you don't slice your finger but so you get a clean star-fangled nut install.

All that said, you could make it "easy", but sometimes you get what your elbow grease pays for.
  • 2 0
 @iammarkstewart: Using the right tool for the job is definitely a reason to go to the bikeshop. I don't own a cutting guide for cutting steerer tubes as after all, it is not a regular thing to do. so yeah, these kind of jobs I typically leave up to the bikeshop to do. Just like facing/reaming headtube, installing headset, facing IS disc brake mounts etc. Last time though I built my bike early May (as that was when my frame was finished and delivered) so I wanted to have my new steerer cut by then. The bike shop was way too busy and they know me well so they just let me use their tools and do it myself. Just like when I first got into the sport and wanted to service my fork. The shop allowed me to use their workshop outside opening hours as they we're talking business with two guys. (One happened to be occasional PB photographer/contributor Irmo Keizer who up 'till then I only knew through e-mail, so that was nice).

In all these events, the bike shops didn't want any money though I can definitely see this as a possible business model. Kind of like a repair cafe. Most people in the sport (at least those I know) are fairly proficient concerning these basic tasks. They just might need some help with some small steps or just don't own the specific tools for the job. Of course I realize it may be challenging. Shop space is expensive and some customers may actually take more time and attention than if you'd do it yourself. But you can charge admission, you'll be selling spares, tools and drinks. People meet, vibe is good, I can definitely see myself be a customer if I for instance need to swap bearings I don't own the tools for.
  • 5 0
 @iammarkstewart: A cutting guide is $20. Obviously if you are going to do your own work it’s nice too have the right tools. I understand if it’s something you do once every few years it’s easier to just take it to a shop. Or maybe you just don’t have the time. My point though is that with the proper tools there is no reason that most riders couldn’t do almost all the work on their bikes themselves. People need to stop making some of this shit into rocket science. It’s mostly simple mechanical parts. Like setting up a derailleur. There’s three screws to set and proper cable tension. Get that right (which isn’t hard) and it’s going to work as well as it possibly can. There is no magic formula that some shop tech is going to have to make it work better. There is only one optimal setup and they are adjusting the same 3 screws we are.
  • 1 0
 @sino428: It actually real tempting to buy whatever you may need every couple of years, but I think it makes real sense to practice some restraint. Wheelbuilding tools (which are mostly the same as wheel truing tools, except for maybe the nipple driver), cassette tools, crank extractor, cone spanners etc (depending on your hubs) are all tools you'll need on a regular basis or even in a hurry (if you put on a new chain to then realize the cassette is too much worn). So it makes perfect sense to buy those, learn the skill and do your own regular maintenance. But as for cutting a steerer, no matter how cheap the tool is I think it is just as fine to pay the bike shop (or a friend who has the tool) a visit and do it there. Everyone draws the line somewhere else but this is where I draw it. I choose not to buy the tools you need only once per bike you build (or the occasional fork upgrade). I realize it is a slippery slope and I don't judge anyone for making different choices here.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: Funny that you mention a repair cafe, theres one in my hometown, and it took me from the kid who messed up everything he touched trying to fix it to getting hired by the actual LBS to work in the shop. started as a user, and ended up volunteering there all through high school, helping teach people to work on every sort of bike imaginable. taking apart and rebuilding a sturmey 7 spd hub after the shift rod broke off inside was definitely a highlight that i'd never have done on a bike i owned
  • 2 0
 @vinay: for sure, everyone has their own reasons for what they chose to do at home vs the shop. Whether it be time, money, tools, etc. And they those are all valid reasons. My only point is that most of these things are not difficult, and don’t need to be done by a professional. Choosing to have a shop do most of this stuff is simply a matter of convenience, not necessity. And that’s completely ok.
  • 3 0
 @friendlyfoe: If a bike shop mechanic talked to me as if cutting a steerer or changing frame bearing were hard to do I’d certainly keep my bike well away from him.
  • 1 0
 @sino428: I wasn't trying to say it was hard. I'm just trying to say that there's a fine line between happy-go-lucky easy and an unusable fork with a too-short steerer.

You and I apparently get derailleur set up, but someone who wants to try it but doesn't want to think about what they're doing won't have much success. And for the record, I am no wizard.
  • 32 0
 Tighten until you hear a crack, then back it off a 1/4 turn.
  • 7 0
 best advice for putting a carbon frame in a work stand
  • 5 0
 tighten until it loosens!
  • 25 0
 Other: I’m a Meh-chanic

Meh-chanic
Noun
Meh-chanic: someone who could fix it themselves, but finds it easier and cheaper to pay for it to be fixed.
  • 5 0
 I'm this too. I work full time as an auto tech, and would rather not spend time outside of work wrenching. So it gets fixed when I'm at work, and I pick it up and ride it at the end of the work day. Money well spent.
  • 2 1
 (Just wrapped up an eight minute exposé on their misguided diagnosis of the problem and a detailed explanation of their planned fix which would neither address the perceived problem nor the actual problem) "I could do all that myself but I just don't want to or don't have time to whatever."
  • 21 1
 Give me a file and a peice of aluminium and I will make you any part you need.
  • 27 0
 One rear tire please - no more flats for me
  • 13 2
 There’s the one mechanic at my local shop I trust to do the work I can’t/won’t do.
  • 31 0
 That's frustrating. "Here's my bike but none of you can touch it but him."

They probably have the new guy wrench on it the second you leave the store.
  • 2 1
 @Ride406orDie: it’s a two man service area. The kid does work on it, and last time he didn’t route the brake hose properly and the lead guy had to do it over again (required a bleed). Usually I drop it off when only the lead guy is working, off season it’s done same day (I call and order parts in advance). It’s not a big deal, I was a car mechanic and always had cars only I could work on it, or only whomever else could only work on it. Not a big deal, a good mechanic doesn’t care other than if you bring liquid encouragement, or snacks.

Small business like happy customers for some reason?
  • 2 0
 @Ride406orDie: that was normal at my old shop. The regulars had their preferred mechanic. No reason to take offense, it wasnt a slight, it was just that they had someone who knew exactly what they were looking for.
  • 2 0
 As a Home Mechanic+ who's had the privilege of working/learning in a shop with masters, this is a real thing and I don't fault people who get their bike back working the way they like preferring the tech who made it work that way. I also don't fault shop managers who lean on the skillsets of their team when needed.

I've never taken offense to not being the "chosen one", and in fact would rather defer to and learn from someone with more skill AND have a satisfied rider pick up their bike than me fudge it up and have a disappointed rider bring it back for the other tech anyway.

All this is a must in a multi-disciplinary shop or box store. I could sharpen a mean pair of skates, was good or better on bikes but if we needed something complex done with skis/board I'd have to schedule for when the shop manager was in because he was the snow shredder.
  • 11 0
 How many years does it take to graduate from "I can build wheels" to "RC calls me for advice"?
  • 17 3
 Never, you will never catch up RC, none of us will.
  • 12 0
 Where is the armchair mechanic option?
  • 5 0
 I think it was included originally but it got so overloaded that they had to shut it down.
  • 6 1
 "I have done so much, with so little, for so long, that I can now make anything out of nothing". A sign that hangs in Dave Marcis's race shop. (He used to be Dale #3's test driver...only wears Wingtip shoes IN the race car...look him up, great dude!)
  • 5 0
 I maintain/adjust everything on my bike except for shock and fork dampers, including building my own wheelsets.
I've been burned/misdiagnosed by almost every bike shop I've been to, with the worst offense being a warrantied guide R lever (the 3rd time) bled by the shop only to find out the front brake had air in it hauling ass down black mountain in Pisgah, NC. I've always bled my own brakes but the one time I trust the shop I get burned. I only take my bike to the shop to warranty SRAM/RS stuff but whenever I do they always try to add on a service I never asked for. Bike shop incompetence necessitated I learn and get all the tools to do it myself, so no, I don't support my LBS.
  • 2 0
 @audric: that is because they are "baked or drunk" at work
  • 8 1
 Youtube mechanic over here. Sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. Got some good shop round here when it doesn't.
  • 4 0
 My neighbor started a mobile bike repair business. No guilt trip like a shop gives you for buying cheaper online parts. I can walk down the road and drop the bike off when convenient. Has no incentive to sell me on things. Is honest about what parts are truly shot and what parts I could get another season out of. Also has an auto lift for fixing cars. Literally the best neighbor a guy could ask for. So I used to do a few things myself but much easier to just have it done for me.
  • 4 0
 I fixed my derailleur with a stick and two zip ties... and proceeded to run in like that for 6 months. I also bled my brake on-trail with water and it got me through a 7 hour ride. This makes me a Wizard? More like the hack!
  • 1 0
 To use a Gee Dub term.
You're Adeptus Mechanicus. Or Ad Mech.
Wink
  • 4 0
 LMAO! I have two (THAT GUY) friends I ride with that I have to ask if they got their bike fixed from the last ride before I invite them for another ride. It drives me crazy that they will knowingly show up to a ride with a broken bike. I just don't get it!
  • 3 0
 As a mechanic, I know theres a even higher price to pay for this knowledge. I would' been much better off with another profession don't get me wrong I've done OK and I love working on and tinkering with my toys but having a lawyers income would've been nice with the bikes all at the LBS.
  • 3 7
flag stumphumper92 (Jan 31, 2020 at 14:03) (Below Threshold)
 Are you saying you could've been a lawyer but you settled for bike mechanic? That's like saying I could've been the president but chose to work at MacDonalds... Not as easy as you think
  • 21 0
 @stumphumper92: You're right, it's not as easy as you think. There's no way your president would last a shift at McDonalds.
  • 1 1
 *dentistry
  • 1 0
 @stumphumper92: somebody's getting milk in his tires instead of Stans...
  • 18 1
 @stumphumper92: I see you got downvoted but I’m kinda with you on that one. I’ve been a wrench for 10 years. I’m the service manager at a very high volume shop now. It still doesn’t pay shite but thats what I expected. I didn’t become a bike mechanic to get rich. I did it because it was fun, the work environment is laid back, I get a great discount, I love bikes, etc. Not once did I have an illusion about it being a career. And man, now that I have a family, it’s really not the best career. The amount of knowledge you have to have is pretty big. Not to mention that generally shop guys have to pull double duty with helping on the sales floor when it’s really busy in the spring/summer. There’s a lot to selling service that people don’t realize. All the extra stuff besides just wrenching, ya know? And then being a manager on top of that and doing production planning, inventory management, scheduling, training, etc. It’s definitely a lot and we don’t make what we deserve in my opinion, but there’s a whole host of other non-tangible benefits that, depending on who you are, add a lot or a little value to the job. But at the end of the day, you don’t need to know as much as a lawyer or doctor. We’re not engineers. No one will die on our operating table. Ya know? And if you think you’re smart enough, talented enough, etc. to do something else, then go do it man! I graduated college and didn’t want to go into the real world yet. So I worked at the bike shop and partied all the time. But now, that lifestyle doesn’t suite me so much. I still love bikes, but not so much the irresponsible party monster life. Now I’m back in school working on a career change hahaha If you don’t like the bike shop, just realize, it’s just a bike shop, you can do something else if you want to as long as you work towards it. I dunno. Not trying to be all Horatio Alger about it. But if you don’t like your job, change it. If you think you have great knowledge being wasted, go use it somewhere else. I’m drunk and rambling but this really hit home for me. Bike shop life can be great, but it also really blows. And then you hop on pinkbike and everyone just pisses on bike shops and pisses on the mechanics and thinks they could give RC advice. Ya know? You work really hard all year, you work extra crazy hard in the spring and summer, you miss all the good riding days, you miss the weekends, your hands and wrists get worse and worse each year, you don’t make much money, you usually don’t have health insurance, you have to deal with crazy customers (like any retail/service job), and basically nobody in the industry or involved in the sport likes you or thinks your competent. But you get sick discounts, don’t have to wear a suit or uniform (most times), get to work on bikes all day, people tip you in beer, brownies, sometimes weed or actual money, and sometimes you can get drunk or baked at work during work hours and it’s ok- at least from what I’ve observed. Life is full of trade offs.
  • 2 1
 @bicimane: Man this brought a tear to my eye. I'm not into being drunk or baked at work but the rest is pretty spot on.
  • 2 1
 @bicimane: To be honest, I don't know many people happy with their jobs. I even think if I were a race car driver now, like I always wanted to be, I think, "what if I were a pro race driver, now in my life"; and the answer is, "I wouldn't be happy". It would be so much shit to deal with, and unknowns, and honestly, really hard work, to accomplish, "meh I don't really care anymore". I don't have the energy, or the mindset to care anymore, and that was my childhood dream.
  • 2 1
 @stumphumper92: I would not assume just because someone is wrenching at a shop they could not do anything else. In fact, a guy I worked with at a shop for a summer is now a, you guessed it, a Lawyer.
  • 2 1
 @bicimane: that's some great insight right there man, thanks!
  • 3 0
 @bicimane: never has a pinkbike been so right and hit so hard. From one to another I hear ya dude.
  • 3 0
 How is being able to "finagle non-compatible parts or trailside trash together to get myself out of the woods" limited to Wizards and not compatible with being a home mechanic?
Not having $1000s into specialized tools for every new standard can make cheapskates invent new ways and things.
I think the Master and Wizard levels are for those who can do it all fast and correct, while your World Cup rider is hounding you to finish so that they have time to qualify
  • 4 0
 For me it simply adds another layer to biking. One more thing to learn, skills are always good. I got into from a pure survivor stand point, I wanted to bikepack without getting stuck.
  • 3 0
 I used to be very mechanically inclined as a child, then it kind of wore off as I got older. Now I have no energy, and I've also drank a lot of alcohol, so I don't know.................I'd say if I had energy I would be mechanically inclined, but I don't.
  • 4 1
 Compared to diagnosing what's wrong with a car, or maybe a boiler, bikes are easy. That being said, it kills me not really being able to properly service a rear shock. I've explored getting a vacuum pump, and a dyno would be cool to have and use, but all that is beyond justification. It hurts a little sending shocks out for service.
  • 7 2
 Am a wizard but not arrogant enough to think RC would call me for advice. Shame on you all for being so full of it
  • 6 2
 Yeah, but the next choice down. "I can even build wheels, but only when it's by the book," is way below the skill level of any professional bike mechanic, and I think there are a few here. Instead of arrogance, I just saw that RC bit as a little hyperbole.
  • 1 0
 @pedalmore: hence the “other” option
  • 1 0
 @pedalmore: Maybe I’ve been unlucky but my experiences with local bike shops has often been there is only one member of staff is truly competent, that can even build a wheel, usually the owner of the shop, not always mind. The other staff, generally minimum wage kids who can barely put a part assembled new bike together out of the box correctly.

What qualifies someone as “a professional bike mechanic” / Master mechanic etc, I think the Pink bike descriptions are off? The guy that flys round the world working for a big World Cup team - I’d say he is, he’ll be a far better mechanic than I am or the minimum wage shop kid who can barely assemble a part built new bike out the box - nope. I won’t even call them mechanics but I bet if you asked them what their job is they’d say bike mechanic. It’s entirely possible a lot of pink bikers are far more competent than the shop kids so rate them selves higher.
  • 2 0
 i used to be the guy that couldn't care any less about mechanics - mostly because i was too busy working overtime to afford to hit the trails every now and again - and then recently decided i hated my job and did the bike mechanic certification - so. . .. .. .. don't know exactly what to pick. . . ... maybe somewhere between "home mechanic" and "master mechanic" !? i mean, i know a little bit more than the regular home mechanic. . .. but maybe not that much more Big Grin
  • 2 0
 I used to be hardcore home mechanic. That's when I was buying used parts from Ebay and CL. When I finally broke the bank on a new bike and established a relationship with my LBS, I decided to take advantage of their lifetime free tuneups. They're so awesome, that I decided it's easier to just drop my bike with them and know they're doing it right, than for me to mess with it. I get the satisfaction of knowing my bike is right, and I support my LBS.

Huge caveat though; you have to find a good LBS. I bought my first bike from one of the larger LBS's, and after the ONE free tuneup I got that took them 2 weeks and they forgot to true my rear wheel, I almost wrote off LBS's for good. Thankfully I found my current one that is awesome.
  • 1 0
 Please tell me your local shop is Bike Link. I miss those guys! Moved out of state years ago and haven't found another shop like them.
  • 3 1
 Im a bike mechanic for 20 years, I have repaired all kind of bikes and forks and shoks, Yesterday I was happy that I had a great deal, changing my fox 32 for a 34 sc to another guy, I was really happy and proud of the change, I mounted it on the bike, It looked great and having 120mm instead of 100 was my dream. Came back home, tried to adjust the rebound and I f*ck*ng broke the end of the rebound shaft!!!
Bottom line is, even pros are human! We all break parts!!! But customers sometimes never know, because shops assumed it and change parts for new if we screwed up! Good for Customers!
  • 3 1
 I've worked in the industry for years and let me tell you right now, most of you that answered "home mechanic" needed to select "that guy".
If i had a dollar for every "I work on my own bike" guy that comes in with an "unknown issue" and power washed the grease out of their bottom bracket I'd be a rich man
  • 2 0
 Do most things, build up bikes, lower leg service, shock can service and build up wheels. There is nothing too complex on a bike really. Only thing I'd steer clear off at the moment is fork and shock dampers. Prob got lucky I haven't broke anything yet.
  • 3 1
 The answers to this poll are why the PB comments and forums are troll level garbage.

Look at how many hours it takes to call yourself an ase master mechanic. Bikes are different since there isn’t formal training like there is in the auto industry, but without YEARS in a shop, UCI license+years of experience, or running your own business, yalls have no place as qualifying as anything other than a home mechanic.
  • 2 0
 Once plugged a sidewall slash with a dog boo bag!!! Held or months!!!

Fix aeroplanes for a living, been building bikes and fixing cars from birth!!

Watching people who can’t comprehend that you have to push and turn a screwdriver blows my mind!!
  • 1 0
 Yup, I am still surprised that so many people can't understand stuff that seems so simple to me. I am sure there are lots of things that I find difficult that come easy to other people though
  • 5 0
 Thanks to all the wizards out there who bail me out when I get in too deep
  • 4 0
 A multitool, zip ties, and some small gauge steel wire can get you out of almost anything if youre willing to try.
  • 4 0
 How do you fix a flat tire with that?
  • 3 1
 @Boosting: Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.
  • 3 0
 @Boosting: at the source of the flat, cut the inner tube in half with the multitool, then tie the tube back up and stuff it back in the wheel Wink
  • 2 1
 @wallheater: Enjoy your airless tube
  • 3 0
 @Boosting: Uhh, no that works. it's a trick that people have used for decades, i remember it as a tech tip in Mountain Bike Action, it's that old. the protip is to stuff the area around the knot with leaves so that it's got some cushion, to hopefully protect the rim.
  • 2 0
 @Boosting: Use the zip ties to fasten the wire in a shuriken style blade arrangement. Throw this new creation through a field of long grass, cutting swathes of it down. Stuff freshly cut grass into flat tire and limp home.

easy.
  • 1 0
 I'm 'that guy' because every time I try to fix something I do something stupid. I tried to install my brakepads without pushing the pistons back and moaned about it for like a week until I got sick of people telling me so I tried pushing back the pistons and the pads fit.
  • 1 0
 Put my new bike together first I've had with internal cables cut the brake cable to get it through the frame fitted the insert olive put it all on the bike cable stuck out half a mile had to cut it down again fit another insert in the cable which was as tight as a ducks arse!
  • 3 2
 Some of the most valuable things I learned in life were working in a bike shop. Like:

How to fix stripped treads on a titanium BB shell that I stripped out.

How to make a wheel into an s shape and then straight again.

How to tell a customer that it is possible to put a nexus hub in a 36” wheel and take years to complete.

Taking more than 2 ephedra pills is bad for your heart.

And of course underage drinking is okay if your boss gives it to you.
  • 3 0
 Haven't laced up my own wheels yet, so I guess I fall between Home and Master Mechanic? I know how to service suspension, sans damper rebuilds.
  • 4 1
 You're probably somewhere between Weekend Wrencher and Home Mechanic if I had to guess. Everyone seems to be giving themselves too much credit.
  • 2 0
 @danielsapp: an honest, classic mistake. I'm guilty too. lot of people can only work on their specific stuff, throw the competitor's derailleur at 'em and it might as well be a shock rebuild.
  • 2 0
 Of course the other thing critical to wizardry is learning - it’s less about knowing everything about every product and more about understanding the principles behind how things work and being able to learn and improvise as needed.
  • 2 0
 @danielsapp: I build my own wheels, service my own forks, bleed my own brakes, stripped down and rebuilt my bouncy reverb (as they local shop mechanic said it was a send away job) it wasn’t, I fixed it and it stayed fixed. My bike never has mechanicals out riding. I class myself as a diy / home mechanic. I think putting people who can build wheels as Master Mechanics is degrading the genuine ones.
  • 1 0
 @danielsapp: Yeah, probably right.
  • 1 0
 @StevieJB: I am in the same position as you sir, sans reverb dropper, because that is a hard pass on owning one of those.
  • 1 0
 @danielsapp: I built up a custom bike last May; know how replace bearings, service hubs, drive-train, suspension and bleed brakes. Big thing for me is I'm hungry for learning opportunities. Which are bountiful in this sport.
  • 1 0
 I did not work at all on my bike, only after season service with mechanic which costs more than car service, however I do not experience any issues during the season, also mechanic at the shop used to ping me for fork oil change and its based on average riding hours;

Now, I moved and need to find new mechanic;

Forks and shocks became more advanced, so you cannot do it trail side oil change for the 'bommber' anymore;

During the season I only swap tires / pads / grips as they wore out;
  • 2 1
 I can build or repair just about anything. just Lucky that way I guess. I learned a long time ago that not everyone understands mechanical systems as easily as I do. I still get surprised by people not understanding how basic stuff works or how to fix things that seem so simple to me. Everyone has their own unique abilities. I can't draw anything more complicated than a stick man! I am very pleased that my kid has similar abilities, and is now a very good bike shop mechanic. The other kid is an artist, so definitely didn't get that from me!
  • 1 0
 you my man,are pretty much just like me..
  • 4 0
 If by build wheels you mean can I lace it wrong at least once before getting it right? Then yes.
  • 1 0
 It's funny because it's true. I find by the 3rd wheel I'm on track.
  • 1 0
 I can do most anything but I draw the line at complex damper or dropper work because that work usually requires special proprietary tools that I do not own or wish to purchase for infrequent use. I’ve changed the brake in a 9point8 dropper but a Reverb really needs special tools to do it correctly. I have brake bleed kits, a good Park wheel stand and numerous spoke wrenches.
  • 1 0
 I kind of have an idea what needs to be done but I I am constantly having to watch Park Tools drive train video when installing a new shifter cable and tuning my derailleur. I've accepted I suck and pay someone to stop me making a meal of it.
  • 1 0
 I can and have done a lot of it myself...but these days I like to get a lot of the bigger things done at the shop as it's just easier than fiddling with something... especially when it involves small parts. I do think there is is something to be said for knowing how to put a bike together whether or not you regularly do it all yourself. I'd love to one day do the full professional training course just for the learning. I'm also lucky to have an amazing shop with bike wizards in it that do insanely good work. In the past, I have often just done it myself because I felt I could do it better than some of the shop groms working on my bike.
  • 1 0
 Just cause I can do most of it, doesn't mean that I still don't take it in to my LBS. He&She can do it way faster and WAY better than I can on most things so I'm happy to take it in, support the shop and always be riding a sweetly tuned bike. When I'm off on a big trip for days/weeks, knowing that they've set me up for success, it almost always makes for simpler trail side repairs.
  • 1 0
 i fit between master and home, i can basically do anything on a bike, including suspension, except i cant build a wheel.. but i can true a wheel very well! worked for at a shop for a few years, paid off well for discounts and knowledge.
  • 1 0
 There should be an option for those us who used to be masters, who used to work in bike shops but now pay others because we lack up to date specialized tools and don’t do some tasks often enough to do them effectively compared to a well practiced shop guy. Also not having a good work space at home.
  • 1 0
 Been wrenching on bikes as long as I can remember. Some of my earlier wizard like moments were in middle school and high school. Being broke meant I was scouting the local dump for bike parts, rolling around during spring and fall cleaning to see what old bikes people were throwing away, and hoarding whatever I could. First MTB was a 20" bmx bike with a set of bullmoose bars, 1-piece triple crank off a huffy MTB, 5spd 20" rear wheel, and a moped fork complete with drum brake up front. I got laughed at a lot Smile
  • 1 0
 I'm an ex-shop mechanic so can do almost everything on my bikes apart from wheel building, could get something wheel-shaped but never good enough to be given to a customer! Happy to leave suspension rebuilds and wheels to the guys that do it day-in-day-out so have now dropped down to Home Mechanic level. I know when I run out of knowledge, skill or appropriate toolage that it's time for a professional to take over. Haven't had a ride-ending mechanical for well over 4 years and the last one was a shock that decided to no longer hold air despite only being 4 hours old!
  • 1 0
 I do everything on my bike but that's only because I'm a broke ass foo, from suspension service, brake bleed, full disassembly of the frame including hub service to pivot work and wheel truing. And yea it's all good and all to know about your own bike from bolt to bolt but if I was well off I would find a trusted mechanic. And I do plan on being financially secure in the future so I can't wait to drop that shit off when I have a problem and pay extra so they can fix it the same day. I don't have a weird ego, or am trying to compensate, humans are f*cking weird and stupid when it comes to the whole dick measuring contest shit. "I do my own shit so I'm better than u" --- mentality. False delusional egos
  • 1 0
 I don't comment on PB all that often but I wanted to post here since it's my field. I am the head mechanic and service writer (based in Charlotte NC), for one of the largest bike retailers in the US. I didn't think I would come back into the bike industry after leaving years ago, it was my part time job while I was in school but hey, I do love it.
  • 1 0
 I have a few friends I ride with to thank for my wizardry. While they are riding pack less with a small fanny bag, I still carry a back pack camel back. wizard grab bag, or Macgyver tool kit which ever, but duct tape, zip ties, spare tube, patch kit, quick links and snacks are always in my possession, along with some other secret stuff.
  • 2 1
 I can make just about anything and fix everything mechanical but wheels are the one thing I have zero patience to build. At this point in my career I'd rather make money at work and have a competent mechanic do my suspension work. Just because you can doesn't mean you have time to. Bikes are pretty easy compared to most things out there so there are probably thousands of members on here more than capable of working on their bikes.
  • 1 0
 I can do most mechanical things needed on a bike, strip suspension, wheels (just), but it takes me forever to set up a rear derailleur for some reason. Such a simple 2 minute task takes me ages and then half the time it's no better. I know how and what to do but in this regard I am inept
  • 1 0
 I own a shop. My favorite customers are the ones who are into DIY. Nothing builds customer loyalty quite like a screwed up brake bleed done at home. After screwing it up on their own my customers are only too happy to pay me to do it right Wink
  • 2 0
 The people who are actually competent at DIY will never bring their bikes into your shop. There are also more capable home mechanics than you realize.
  • 1 0
 Most bike work, except the simpler tasks, usually starts with me enthusiastically watching a how to video,and ends with me having to go for a walk or have a cup of tea to calm down. I'm bad for breaking things like parts,unbreakable tools etc.
  • 1 0
 I'm somewhere between home mechanic and wizard,...I can build a wheel but I wouldn't want to... I can build and fix anything else, I just went thru a 5 month intensive research project to understand new bike tech and build my new bike after not even riding for 8 years after building at least 25-30 bikes for myself and friends in the 90's,.....I found last year that everything i knew had changed drastically in the 10 years or so since i built my last bike.. I'd still send my fork and shock out due to special tools they use that i'm not investing in... but i'm also really good at finding ways make parts that shouldn't work together, do so and as if they were meant to..... I really enjoy fabricating special parts to fit a need that no one makes anything for.... don't necessarily enjoy having to,...but i embrace it and appreciate the result a ton. I can't remember the last time I actually paid anyone to work on one of my bikes,
  • 2 0
 Waiting to see how this all shakes out but as it stands 40 wizards in less than 150 responses means we're either suffering from response bias, egos, or liars.
  • 1 0
 Their standards are pretty low tbh
  • 2 0
 There's a lot of more complicated stuff than building wheels, like shock rebuilds, that people know how to do. I'd guess most of the "wizards" picked it because they have experience with that kind of stuff. I've reshimmed fork dampers to suit my riding better, I'm not going to pick "I can build wheels with a book."
  • 2 0
 So I've been following this poll throughout the day and the number of self-identified wizard mechanics has hovered at almost exactly 16.5% of responses. Wizards and masters combined cover a little less than 40% of responses, competent home mechanics make up just over 40%, and the more realistic responses make up the remaining 20% or so. To be frank: there is just no f*cking way.
  • 2 0
 Can I be a Wizard that can fix almost anything, but also be That Guy because I cant possibly keep up to the rate at which things break?
  • 3 0
 Does the poll assume the mechanic to be sober? My answer varies greatly based on this
  • 2 1
 I'll rebuild my trucks engine from the crank up or build a dirt bike from the frame up but the only thing I'm touching on my mountain bike are tires, pedals and bars. Don't know why, but I hate working on bicycles.
  • 1 0
 I can handle most things, I can even build wheels, but only when it's by the book. - but, I'd hardly consider myself a "Master Mechanic" More like, "Proficient in searching Youtube"
  • 1 0
 I can do almost anything.... its just a matter of how many tools get thrown across the garage, haha. Thankfully my Son is a Pro mechanic, if I can't handle it he's got it handled for me, I'm lucky.
  • 2 2
 Not having the proper tool kit prevents a lot of people from learning more advanced bike mechanic skills. Park tool and other brands absolutely gouge the private bike mechanic price-wise so it’s way more economical to go the shop.
  • 2 1
 Park Tool is good but most bike specific tools can be found much cheaper. I have a full took box and own maybe two "park" branded tools. Many aren't actually bike specific and can simply be bought at home depot or lowes. Like some shit like snap ring pliers. Park took sells then for $35, Home Hepot has them for $10. Or a Park will sell you a cable cutter for $25 when its no different than the $12 one at Home Depot.

And even the tools that are bike specific can be found from other lesser named brands for much cheaper.
  • 2 0
 Yeah Park is crap. Unior is similarly priced, sometimes cheaper, for better quality tools. And many of the common tools can be had for a fraction of what either companies charge.
  • 1 1
 @sino428: Alan keys of a specific mm, chain whips, cassette tools, suspension tools... there are a lot of tools that are bike specific
  • 1 0
 @bridgermurray: I know that. That’s why in my comment I said “and even the tools that are bike specific can be found from other lesser name brands for much cheaper”. To use your example google a chain whip. Park tool will cost you $25+ dollars. Some generic brand that does the same thing will cost $10.

If you are doing work on your bike only occasionally it’s not worth buying all the tools. But if you have a few bikes and want to maintain them it’s def worth investing in the tools you need. They aren’t really all that expensive at the end of the day.
  • 1 0
 @spaceofades: What Park tools are you referring to? You may not like Park, but their good tools are not crap. Their lower end tools are pretty good too. Thats a pretty much blanket statement. Their pro wheel truing stand is excellent. Same for their cable cutters.
  • 1 0
 @woofer2609: park tool definitely makes good stuff. They are just a bit overpriced and more than a home mechanic needs. For a shop where the tools are being used all day every day the better quality stuff is probably good. But for home wrenching where you may use some of these tools once a month at most the cheaper brands are more than enough.
  • 1 0
 @sino428: I agree that they are expensive, but I am too old to use poor quality tools, and plan on using mine for another 20 + years and passing them on to my son. I was more disagreeing with the comment that stated their tools were crap. Their Mini Chain Brute tool is by far one of the better chain breakers Ive ever used. The metal in their cone wrenches just seems to be that much harder than any competitor, which means they don't lose their edges. I actually consider their tools to be pretty good value. I enjoy wrenching, so I consider it money well spent. My Park derailleur hanger alignment tool just increases the enjoyment of riding my bike with absolutely crisp shifts. I haven't drunk enough of the Park KoolAid to buy the pizza slicer...yet. I consider Park the equivalent of Motion Pro tools; innovative and well made.
  • 2 0
 @woofer2609: I've had generally bad experiences with much of Park's offering. P handle set, rounded out within 1 year of professional use. Dag 2.2, ruined in less than half that time. Cone wrenches are...eh. nothing special there.
To be fair, I have used older models of Dag with absolutely no issues, and use the box ends happily with absolutely no issues. But the P handles, and the D2.2 failing so quickly put me off the Big Blue.

On the other hand, my Unior p handles have been working well with only cosmetic issues over the past 2 years. Others I work with use the same uniors, and have been for longer than I have owned mine. And all this, for (what I paid) less than the Park set.

Park offers a lot of the specialty tools for an ok price, and generally good quality. But for many of the super specialty tools you can get better quality, and the basic tools you can get better quality AND a better price.
  • 1 0
 This really is just a lesson in potential energy vs kinetic energy. We all CAN fix/build everything, whether we all DO fix everything is dependent on many variables, mine being the number of beers I drank in the garage.
  • 1 1
 Everyone I've ever met who's a "Wizard" always ended up relying on my "Master/Home mechanic" skills.

Don't get me wrong. Bicycles aren't calculus or differential equations. But they can be just as annoying (with an emphasis on annoying) and frustrating. That being said I always managed to figure out the formulas for both. Sadly bikes pay less. Frown
  • 4 0
 I can service my own shaft, but I prefer a little help.
  • 2 2
 200+ comments in, so few will read this. But I choose wizard because of where I got my start in the industry. Non-profit bike shops! Where it is encouraged to learn how things work and take 2 (or 3 or 4) broken things to make 1 functional thing. I did that for 6 years before moving to a professional shop with a great reputation; after going there I really learned even further the in's and out's of things.
I can and have built anything. I've put stuff together that wasn't exactly meant to be and it has worked great. And my favorite/most used bike is 85% parts that were going to get recycled or thrown away but I knew how to fix/repair them to a fully functional and even better state.
  • 1 0
 If you work service in a shop your wizard skills stay pretty sharp. The "book" files out the window pretty damn quick when other people's money and expectations try to bend reality. If you've been the holla if you hear me!
  • 1 0
 On my bikes I do everything except suspension service and brake bleeds. I'd do bleeds if I had the tools for it. I also prefer not to press in bearings, but only because I dont have propper tools
  • 1 0
 Im a Diesel Mechanic by trade. I fix gear worth a shitload of money, yet I take my bike to the LBS every time. I clean and lube myself, and tubes ect, but anything actually mechanical goes straight to the store.
  • 1 1
 I wrench on helicopters and have done avionics installs.. Have completed rewired cars for engine swaps. Rebuilt motors and overhauled transmissions. In addition to building a house and doing all the work ourselves.. So I am pretty confident in jumping into anything mechanical!
  • 2 1
 Once whittled an axle out of some 15mm dowel because I forgot my axle!! Held for 14 miles then pulled the wood screws out of one end on a high speed burm...
Left some fresh “man loam” on the berm in the form of poo
  • 1 0
 I can handle most things, I can even build wheels, but only when it's by the book... but I would NEVER call myself a Master Mechanic. Except here, I clicked based on description not title
  • 1 0
 Working on my bike is one of the most relaxing activities, I hate dealing with cheap bikes though. Only thing I ever broke (I service my fork too) is a ceramic break piston, cost me $30 to change the caliper.
  • 1 0
 Got my friend out of the woods when his frame snapped with two sticks, the knife on my Alien multitool, a rock, zip ties and duct tape. Not a pretty bodge. But got the poor sap home.
  • 1 0
 There should be a follow up poll entitled: "what any respectable bike mechanic would class my mechanical ability as"

My bet is the results would be vastly different to this poll !
  • 1 0
 Used to fix and maintain my bike all the time years ago, that was before I got a job so now I pay someone else. I still maintain my bikes but brake bleeds, and the messier more complicated stuff goes straight to the shop.
  • 1 0
 I'm at that wizard level, but i don't always do everything by the book, because real life > what theoretically should work. My bikes run so darn quiet an onyx hub is probably louder.
  • 2 1
 I'm 5 hrs round trip from a real shop, so I had no choice, plus I was splitting cases on motorcycle engines before most on this forum were even born
  • 2 0
 I need a box to tick for "my knowledge an skill are held back by my lack of tools an a kitchen for a workshop" :'(
  • 2 0
 I can't spoke wheels......nor can I deal with hydraulic brakes...*Puppy Face*
  • 1 0
 Where's the "I can do anything and everything, but have no time to do it due to life/job/family/kids/etc, so I pay for someone else to do it"...?
  • 3 0
 I'm a bike MacGuyver and one of the last disciples of Sheldon Brown!!!
  • 1 0
 Somewhere between "i got this" and frantically typing www.youtube.ca into my computer with one hand, while my other hand holds a part of my bike.
  • 1 2
 Corporate big brand store: “we don’t know what happened. We cut it twice and it’s still too short!?!?”

Me:

Local small shop: “Jesus Christ, let me see the damn thing!”

Also unless you’re racing it’s hard to realize some times how much all the local shops give back to the community.
  • 2 0
 Judging by the typical comments here I figured it would nothing but bike wizards
  • 1 2
 I built my first wheel from junk yard parts in 6th grade, it didn’t work out, but forty five years later I build wheels without a care. It takes time to learn the finer things.

I think it’s a damn shame folks don’t do their own stunts, it’s really not hard, especially with the internet to guide ya.

I say to all the folks who don’t do their own work: just do it.
  • 1 0
 There was an international bicycle mech group on FB when I used to do the FB thing. I got banned. Not sure where that puts me Confused
  • 1 0
 I'm "can bodge a bike back together like some sort of mtb McGyver 50km from civilisation but sometimes I put tyres on backwards" level mechanic.
  • 1 1
 I fall between a master mechanic and a wizard. I can do everything; build a bike, bleed brakes, set up a drivetrain, build wheels and rebuild suspension but I use YouTube to guide me though the some of the ebuilds/bleeds
  • 2 0
 I enjoy wrenching on my bike, even wheel building. Wouldn't ever consider working as a mechanic though.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, I do too, but people's expectations would definitely put a damper on the enjoyment. I remember I got my tube changed once, and the guy did it in like less than a minute, I was like, "damn guy"; and that memory always kind of made me sheepish about my abilities. Like, "I can do it"; just not super professionally as heck.
  • 1 0
 I will never pay someone to fix my bike. There's nothing complicated. Infact, the only thing I do pay anyone else to do is work on anything related to gas in the house
  • 2 0
 I'm good at plugging it in, is that count? #26ebikeforlife
  • 1 0
 I know the wheel is round, and people keep trying to reinvent ittup lol
  • 2 0
 I can build wheels, can't guarantee they're dished right or true
  • 2 0
 There are wayyyyyyy more "That guy's" on here. Ya'll are lyin.
  • 1 0
 Hey I’m a that guy but I can build my own bikes.
  • 1 0
 the last summer during a ride I fixed a hole in the tyre with a cigarette butt....thanks "that uncivilized guy"
  • 1 2
 You can tell the person making this poll was competent, because the bottom half is a little out of order. Like how drivetrain tinkering/chain repairs are some how above replacing tires?
  • 1 0
 I’m in the boat of I can do most of the work. But, I’d rather pay someone who is actually trained to do it.
  • 1 0
 As a professional Im telling you I think many people are lying in this poll.
  • 1 0
 Does anyone else find that MTB's have a higher level of mechanical proficiency than our road loving brethren?
  • 1 0
 i look after my bike well, clean it- lube it- oli it and still things squeaks and stuff always breaks
  • 1 0
 I like to support the LBS, esp ones that sell cheap beers at the service counter.
  • 1 0
 RC is a Guy who has ridden MTB's longer than all of us! however i do most of my own part to get my DH ready for the season.
  • 1 0
 I want to see the (at least) 2181 handbuilt wheels from these "master mechanics" Yall mf'ers are lying and you know it.
  • 1 0
 I just go to the bike shop to drink beer and hide from the wife these days.
  • 1 2
 My name at the shop is literally "Bike Wizard!!!!" My multi-tool even says it, and I've had it screamed at me from across a random parking lot when a customer who's bike I've fixed sees me.
  • 1 0
 I'm a master at using a block of wood and a hammer as a replacement for bike industry tools.
  • 1 0
 What up Sam Pilgrim
  • 1 0
 I do things. Most the time it works and sometimes it doesn’t. And then I do it again until it does work.
  • 2 4
 wizard status. my specialty is configuring broken rear derailleurs with mismatched parts from other makes. had a shifter fall apart in the woods, lost some important stuff, made it work to get out and completely fixed it with some donor parts later on.
  • 2 0
 Cool story
  • 1 1
 @Ironmonsoon602: ...my bad, PB used to be a place to engage with the community but clearly thats not welcome anymore, will no longer comment, for everyones behalf.
  • 1 0
 I’m a wizard, but more like Longbottom. No fear but little talent to back it up.
  • 1 1
 What about the Home/Master mechanic that doesn't need te correct tools and doesn't do everything by the book? I think that is where I'm at.
  • 1 0
 I cant build a wheel yet but I can weld and/or machine any tool I need or part I break to maintain my bikes
  • 1 0
 I'm a Keyboard wizard, I have a guy 24/7 follow me around fixing my bike and get my beer!
  • 1 0
 I voted wizard - then realised I should have stepped it down when I read the first comment.
  • 1 0
 Pretty simple...I do pretty much everything except suspension. I’d bet that I’d be in the mtb “bell curve” of 80ish%
  • 1 0
 I buy all the tools, do it all myself. Fuck it up then pay for someone to do it for me and repeat.
  • 1 0
 I can true a wheel decently, but not build one. I take suspension stuff in the shop unless it's a super easy one.
  • 1 0
 I can machine a gear shifter clamp out of an old crank but i can't cut the cables to the right length.
  • 3 2
 Never considered myself a wizard before
  • 4 0
 Agreed! But after reading that description and the amount of time's I have helped people fix their dh bikes with rocks, twigs and set up "dummy derailleurs" for them on the trail side, I guess I am a wizard too. And yea I build my own wheels and service my suspension and frame bearings. Thousands of dollars saved over the years.
  • 2 0
 @nevertoofast: reminds me of the time i had to "true" a wheel with a branch. and another time i stuffed a bunch of leaves and such into a tire because i didn't have a spare tube or a patch kit (this was pre-tubeless)
  • 1 0
 @captainderp: hahaha that's awesome. The random natural objects around you really show their utility value under those circumstances. As for the tire, that's kush core before kush core was kush core !
  • 2 0
 @nevertoofast: yep, fixed a break lever pivot with the correct sized twig and repurposed spring from elsewhere on the bike
  • 2 0
 @nevertoofast: Loamcore
  • 1 1
 Going into my 31st year working in a shop. I doubt there's a better job out there.
  • 1 0
 Currently, one person is "that guy". :-D
  • 1 1
 i've watched a lot of gee milner dream bike builds, so i can say that i can build a bike!
  • 1 4
 Home mechanic, but it sometimes comes back to bite me. My GX derailleur has been having issues at the main pivot, and I've been experiencing a bit of chain drop and slop. I disassembled and lubed the pivot when it happened a couple months ago, but it decided to lock up on me and drop my chain in the absolute worst spot last weekend. $600 in parts, cracked ribs, destroyed elbow, etc.. I still wouldn't trust the local shops on anything other than suspension (DirtLabs).
  • 1 0
 You lot must love me, I keep my LBS in business with my ignorance
  • 3 1
 YOUTUBE certified
  • 2 0
 You mean; Masters level accreditation from Y.T.U
  • 1 1
 I’m an excellent home mechanic but I also fall into the that guy segment that doesn’t maintain anything....
  • 2 1
 Lmao at all the wizards. No way is there that many
  • 1 1
 Might be because you ride with numbskulls? Truly, most of my riding buddies and family riders are all thumbs too.

Being a mechanic is a knack, but with work it can be acquired. Most people are lazy when it comes to tinkering.

Still pretty funny to see the number of good mechanics on Pinkbike vs the number of non mechanics on the trail ....
  • 1 0
 I am Other - commenting below
  • 2 1
 I am Merlin. I put things in orbit and get them back.
  • 1 0
 Im pretty crap, except for when I HAVE to fix something...
  • 2 0
 not at all
  • 1 0
 lol dude
  • 1 0
 Alright, then get me an avocado, an ice pick, and my snorkel!
  • 1 0
 Bike mechanic since 2001! Master with some magic skills Smile
  • 1 0
 no matter my skill level i would always go to shop
  • 1 0
 GREAT CONTENT, need /want more mechanically mind test !!
  • 1 0
 Dunning-Kruger Effect is evident in those stats.
  • 2 3
 I have saved literally hundreds of dollars by using canola oil in my breaks and olive oil in my fork. A lot of bike shops do the same thing, but just to make more money. SAD.
  • 3 0
 Good olive oil costs more than both brake fluid and decent suspension lube!
  • 3 0
 This is what 'That Guy' looks like.
  • 1 0
 Can I choose wizard if I own a Harry Potter wand?
  • 1 0
 If you can’t fix it with zip ties or by welding.....its fu***d!
  • 1 0
 A true master mechanic would smash a Wizard!!!
  • 1 0
 I once built my new bike with my newborn in the babybjorn
  • 1 0
 building wheels, bleeding brakes, tuning shimstacks.. almost a wizard?
  • 1 0
 what is the purpose of this poll?
  • 1 0
 If it aint broke, fix it til it is!
  • 2 1
 I work at a bike shop and am really good at making stuff work
  • 2 2
 iM a gReAt mEcHaNiC tOtAlLy bEtTeR tHaN rC
  • 1 2
 to all those wizzards out there; can you revalve a rear shock and change shaft's bushing??
  • 2 0
 Why yes, I certainly can. I could build a complete bike from raw materials if I wanted to. Doesn't necessarily Make me a wizard, just someone who understands how things work and how to build or repair just about anything.
  • 1 0
 @Skooks: that's cool, good for you. Still, I'm suspicious a few of the now 2000 top level mechanics have over stimated their capabilities Wink
  • 1 1
 Only fix shit if it's broken. Where is that option?
  • 2 2
 im literally a shop mechanic...
  • 7 0
 Yeah, a coffee shop mechanic Wink
  • 1 0
 and they aren't all created equal! haha just playing, but it's true. I think it's amazing that 1200 people on here think they are master mechanics. and maybe they are. but I've only met one or two true zen master techs in my life.
  • 2 0
 @wallheater: you know me too well. will fix clapped bikes for coffee Wink Wink
  • 1 0
 @Crampagnolo: I don't think a coffee shop sells what you think it does.
  • 1 1
 But it should be a test not just a poll
  • 2 1
 Retired head mechanic...
  • 1 0
 Mechanics don't retire. We work until we're dead.
  • 2 0
 @seraph: Let's just call my situation a hiatus that's lasted around a decade.
But I am actually considering opening up my own shop. I still love the sport that literally saved my life. And I see a solid profit from offering quality repair services and a passion for the trade.
I started literally as a stockboy at our Magura, Mantis, Hutchinson and Hope distributor after school hours.
Then went on to one shop after another.
And frankly, I miss being the grumpy wrench in the backroom. Being kept away from all but the hoghest end customers or the nastiest ones. I took no shit from anyone. Not even our PD's escaped my cynicism.
I remember one fun incident.
I was building a wheel on the sidewalk outside the shop in a singlet.
Two bikecops roll up. Front rotor on one bike singing. And the contract we had with the local PD said that we'd drop everything for our friends in Blue.
Which I did. I kneeled down on the sidewalk, trued the rotor and tweaked the caliper a smidge.
Whiøe doing this the bigger of the two cops blurted out "Ain't those arms of yours to small for such a tattoo?"
Without missing a beat I look up at said officer and replied "Aren't you a tad fat to be riding a bike with no brakes?" While I put my cable cutters on the brake lines and grinned at him.
His paryner cracked up in a laughing fit like many of my other customers.
And no I didn't get booked. Haha
  • 1 0
 I can count to potato.
  • 1 2
 I tensioned and trued over 3000 carbon fiber bicycle wheels in the last year to very exact standards. You tell me.
  • 2 3
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