Opinion: You Should Be Fixing Your Own Bike

May 31, 2022 at 9:29
by Mike Levy  
Trek Fuel EX 9.8 X01 Photo by Dane Perras
Repairing your own bike will do more than just save you money; it'll also keep others from having to listen to you tick, tick... clunking on the trails.


Tick, tick, tick... clunk. Tick, tick, tick... clunk. The sound of a slow-shifting bike grates on me about as much as rattling e-bike motors or people who don't understand that the left lane is for passing, not where you live just because you're going 5kph over the speed limit in your Dodge Charger. And while the latter two problems might be unsolvable, I believe that most of us can - and should - figure out the first one. That's probably why I found myself so annoyed halfway through a ride last week...

"Ugh, this thing is shifting like shit," the friendly stranger said with obvious frustration in his voice as he slowly turned his cranks over, probably because he was stuck three gears too high with a set of tired legs. "I'll have to drop it off at the shop next week for them to fix it," he wheezed between gulps of air.

Had I not been barely holding onto the same struggle bus up a hill that felt a lot steeper than it should, I would have said that a quick quarter-turn of a barrel adjuster might sort it out. Or maybe just a friendly pull to bring the derailleur back into alignment-ish. Or could the cause have been his obviously rusty shift cable and housing cut three inches too short? Instead, I stayed quiet and stewed over how a strangely high percentage of mountain bikers, many of whom own the latest pricey gear, don't know how to keep their expensive toys running smoothly.

There are no doubt countless things that should be prioritized ahead of fixing your bike, including riding your bike, and having a moment of spare time is a luxury for many of us. I'm told that children need to be fed multiple times every single day and that many can't poo by themselves or even make dinner. I know people who have to drive to something called "an office" where they pretend to be busy for eight hours, which sounds nearly as horrible as actually being busy. Some of us have friends or even partners that we're supposed to spend time with and support. And yeah, all of that should probably come before shooting DOT fluid at the ceiling (and into your eyes) while learning how to bleed your ten-year-old Juicy 3s.

Even so, taking the time to work on your bike is well worth it, and not just to avoid a repair bill or stop that annoying tick, tick... clunk shifting that you've been putting up with for weeks.


What s inside your damper shaft
There's something about having dirty, oily hands that just feels right, and even more so when it's because you fixed something.


It's Good For the Soul

Fixing things simply feels good, doesn't it? There's something to be said for figuring out what's wrong and solving the problem on your own, whether that's as straightforward as turning a barrel adjuster or as scary as bending your $300 derailleur back to where it belongs.

Most of today's derailleurs and hangers are relatively sturdy compared to the half aluminum, half cheese stuff we were using not that long ago, but they're still far more vulnerable than they are indestructible. Rocks can be big and pointy and think your fancy XTR "mech" looks pretty delicious as you roll the dice yet again down that sketchy chute. And while it might not have felt like much of an impact, your fancy bike is going to tick, tick... clunk for the next year until you manage to get way too much money for it on the PB buy & sell because there's a worldwide shortage of everything.

However, if you owned a relatively inexpensive hanger straightener tool of some kind, and maybe found a video providing step-by-step instructions on how to not cause even more damage, you could likely massage things back to where they belong. A delicate pull at the bottom, rotate the tool to the opposite side and maybe just a gentle push, then re-adjust and work your way around, checking the progress as you make smaller and smaller adjustments until it's perfect. Maybe you bolt the derailleur back into place to find that it's pointing twenty-degrees off-center after being bent in the same incident, so this time you're using bare hands and eyeballs to carefully knead things straight.

You're covered in black grease but the next thing you know (or maybe hours later depending on how things go) it's shifting buttery smooth and tick-free. Not because you paid someone to use an over-priced tool or because you convinced a friend to do it, but because you did the right pushing and pulling of the bendy pieces until all the things that need to be aligned were aligned. Speaking of black grease, even a job as menial as cleaning your nasty-ass drivetrain can feel both constructive and cathartic; maybe it's just the solvent talking, but freshly cleaned pulley wheels make me happy. Okay, struggling to force that last bit of tire bead into place while stuffing a giant piece of foam inside your tire isn't exactly a meditative process, but maybe the result could feel just as beneficial after you've calmed down a bit...


A full tear down means everything comes apart and cleaned right down to the hubs.
Fresh grease is good for your freehub and good for your soul.


Fixing stuff just feels good, whether that's rebuilding an STI shifter that you've stripped down to a thousand tiny pieces on your workbench, or sweating and swearing over the last three inches of stubborn tire bead.

The most rewarding job? If you've got the time, learning how to build a wheel should be on your bucket list. Taking all the measurements, laying everything out, and especially putting the spokes through the correct holes on the hub flanges is a process that will test everything from your math to your organizational skills, and especially your patience. But it's all worth it when all the spokes cross in the right places and go to the right nipples, and their length is millimeter-perfect when you bring the tension up evenly. Even more so when it doesn't implode halfway through the first ride.

Pre-built wheels make all the sense in the world for pretty much everyone, especially if you live a busy life and haven't even gotten around to sorting out your shifting, let alone lacing a bunch of spokes. Regardless, if you set some time aside to fix your bike, be it a simple shifting adjustment or as involved as a complete damper tear-down, I bet you'll find that it's just as beneficial to your wallet as it is to your mindset.


Precision in the transition pits. Tahnee Seagrave s cockpit gets it s final touches.
Fixing your own bike will eventually lead to a better set-up and more mechanical sympathy.


Mechanical Sympathy

Burning palo santo and laying out your favorite crystals in your workshop while you lace a wheel is a little woo-woo, I admit, but there's no better way to spend a full moon night. That said, there is a far more tangible reason for you to fix your own bike: mechanical sympathy. In other words, when you know how something works, you're less likely to beat the shit out of it.

Have you ever taken a close look at your derailleur? They're basically a 400-ish gram exoskeleton of aluminum (and maybe some carbon) with a whole bunch of tiny pivots, pins, springs, and plastic that all need to be perfectly aligned for it to move the chain across twelve cogs to within a hair's width of accuracy. If the geometry is out of whack by even just a smidge, maybe because you took the wrong line down that damn chute again and hit it on the same pointy rock again, it might tick, tick... clunk until you shift it into the spokes and all those pieces get spread over the trail like a violent crime scene.

But if you've had the nervous sweats while slowly bending a tired derailleur hanger back into alignment for the third time, you might be a bit more careful about blindly flying into that chute again. After all, you know what it takes to repair and that the hanger might not survive yet another impact, so you choose a slightly better line that's just as fast but four inches to the left and far kinder to your bike.


The first of many many many wheels that will be built through the weekend as the rough Fort William track dishes out abuse.
Wheels constantly falling apart? You might need more mechanical sympathy in your life.


Wheels and tires are the first components to feel the brunt of things, which makes them a good indicator of how much mechanical sympathy you may or may not possess. So many dents that your tire won't seal anymore? Flat spots and loose spokes? Rim hasn't been straight since the day you bought your bike? Always getting flat tires on your rides? You could be using the wrong parts or the wrong pressure, of course, or maybe you're just riding like you pay someone else to keep that wheel from imploding.

When you're the one swapping spokes over to a new rim at 2am in the garage so you can ride the next day, or pulling out rim dents with a crescent wrench, or spending far too long making sure your bike's shifting is bang-on perfect, you're also more likely to treat your bike better on the trail.


You Don't Need Much

Unlike your car, dishwasher, and so many other things we own, most of your mountain bike's mechanical bits are on full display rather than hidden behind a plastic cover held on by twenty small screws and too many impossibly tight trim clips. If your bike isn't shifting right, you can probably figure out why by staring at it for a while or using Google; you don't need an automotive lift or ODB reader to decipher some clandestine code, and certainly don't need an expensive repair stand, expensive tools, or a clinically-clean workshop.


The dream shop, sure, but you can get through the same repair jobs while working on your upside-down bike in a carpeted hallway.


Many riders live in a place where doing any sort of mechanical work is challenging or impossible, which is a pretty good excuse for turning to a shop. But you can also get a hell of a lot done in a small space if you're careful and clean.

I remember being thirteen and doing a drivetrain overhaul with my bike upsidedown on the back patio in the rain, my only tools being a chain breaker, some rusty hex keys, and even rustier wire snippers. I remember nervously rebuilding a suspension fork in my carpeted bedroom with slip-joint pliers, too much grease, not enough oil, and no instructions. I remember kneeling at the back of my bike while trying to remember if I'm supposed to turn the derailleur's barrel adjuster to the left or to the right while wondering what the two tiny Phillips screws do and if I should invest in my first screwdriver. I remember trying to force fresh DOT fluid through my brakes but forgetting to open the bleed port, the result being more of it going onto the ceiling than anywhere else.

You don't know what you don't know, but you'll never know unless you dig into it.


Never not fine tuning suspension at the World Cup level
Unless you've got the skills and tools, forget about deep jobs like working on your suspension. Instead, focus on the day-to-day maintenance that keeps your bike running smoothly.


If the extent of your handiness tops out at changing lightbulbs and your tool collection begins and ends with a single Phillips screwdriver, I can understand why you'd rather pay a professional to repair your expensive mountain bike. But I'm not talking about re-shimming a damper or even lacing a new wheel; it's the far more straightforward mechanical work that keeps your bike running smoothly day-to-day and, more often than not, all you really need are a few wrenches of some kind, some grease, and some time. Depending on how deep you want to go, all the tools should cost less than one or two over-priced tires, and there's a how-to video for pretty much everything online these days, from fixing your shifting to cleaning DOT fluid out of your eyes.

Life can be hectic, unpredictable, and full of countless things that are far more important than your bike. Hell, people have no qualms about paying a stranger to clean the mess they created in their own house, so expecting everyone to find the time to quiet their creaky bottom bracket is a little far-fetched.

But all I'm saying is that taking the time, when you can, to repair and maintain your bike will do more than just save you money... It'll also keep others from having to listen to you tick, tick... clunking your way up any hills.


480 Comments

  • 380 44
 i have more money than time
  • 28 14
 Truer words have never been spoken
  • 126 10
 Must be f*cking nice. But how much are your really saving when your bike is in the shop for 1-2 weeks for simple stuff? Razz
  • 165 9
 So do I but I always fix my own bikes. I was working on bikes late last night, it is therapeutic and will make you a better rider by understanding how everything works.
  • 110 13
 @NorCalNomad: If your bike is in the shop for 1-2 weeks for simple stuff, you need to find another shop lol
  • 14 0
 Assuming you have more than one mtb that makes sense…also assuming you have a shop that’s convenient to get to… but if you only have one you’re back on the trail quicker if you fix it yourself.
  • 55 0
 The problem with this thinking is that it takes time to take your bike to the shop and then to pick it up later. Most repair jobs I've done lately took me less time than it would take to drive to an LBS twice. Definitely depends on the job, though.
  • 35 1
 @NorCalNomad: Solution: 2 bikes.
  • 43 50
flag cougar797 (Jun 2, 2022 at 8:18) (Below Threshold)
 I'm sorry but I hate the "im so busy but I can just throw money at it" thing. Good for you for being able to waste money on little stuff, but why would you regardless?
  • 3 0
 @sadfusde: But if you wait for several weeks it just means there are not enough shops in the are so ...
  • 23 2
 You will always find time for the things you care about or prioritize.
  • 16 2
 @cougar797: because you don't have the time
  • 10 0
 @NorCalNomad: This reminds me to buy a Magura bleed kit after my bike was at the shop for 2 weeks to get the brakes bled...
  • 2 0
 @NorCalNomad: fixing anything basic on my bike takes max 1-3 days in the service center for me.
  • 30 10
 Why does everyone think they can judge other people. Taking the time to learn some bike maintenance is rewarding for sure but I am probably not learning how to do suspension or brakes until my kids are out of the house or driving to their own after school things etc. I am also working hard on another hobby and possible alternative career. Some of us just want to go ride bikes in the woods. If I have time to tune up a derailleur and add sealant I am calling it a day.
  • 58 1
 Sometimes it's that even the LBS doesn't do a very good job...
  • 13 2
 @NorCalNomad: quite the opposite, actually. I’d trade the money for more time any day. Kids, mortgage, family obligations, job. They add up.
  • 28 2
 I don't even have lots of money, per se, but I definitely make more money working than I pay for service, so I may as well spend my time doing more work than fighting with fiddley parts. I don't mind a tire swap (pre-inserts) and changing cassettes and basic stuff, but no chance I'm doing my own suspension or anything like that. Nothing worse than doing something for the first time, getting frustrated and then having to live with possibly a worse result than if you'd just taken it to the shop and had it done right. If I wanna spend time doing something badly I'll take up painting. I want my bike to be its best.
  • 5 0
 It all depends on what needs to be fixed. There are a lot of things that I can take care of relatively easily, and there are other things that are going to take a longer time and require (or would be that much easier with) special equipment that I just don’t have. Sometimes there are repairs that if you want done right, it’s just better off having a real expert take care of it.

Personally, I haven’t had many problems scheduling a service at my preferred shop. Depending on what I need, I set an appointment and within 2-3 days I have an appointment and the bike is done at the end of the day. If I have no other choice and need something sooner, I will take care of it myself.
  • 2 1
 @TheR: Ideally you have two bikes too, just in case things go really bad on one. I know, that can get expensive though.
  • 2 0
 @sadfusde: The problem comes when there isn't anyone available to do your work regardless of how much money you have to throw at it.
  • 74 4
 Where I live, I think the bike shops are booking tune-ups three weeks out... how much time do you have?
  • 16 7
 @jesse-effing-edwards: basic fork service and brake bleeds are pretty easy, and you can bleed your own brakes better than a shop after watching 15 min of YouTube
  • 1 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: I have a few bikes, but only one mountain bike.
  • 11 7
 @mikelevy: Every person I’ve known that says “they have more money than time” when discussing doing their own maintenance also have multiple bikes…that they rarely ride.
  • 2 0
 @sadfusde @Uchwmdr You should see how many riders that are in my area + how every single shop (which is A LOT of shops) is backed up that much. Problems of living in a place that is excellent for biking. Wink

@Lanebobane Oh I'm definitely on the 2 bikes solution. Helps when I have to go to the shop for the few things I don't do (advance suspension service, and truing)
  • 11 1
 @NorCalNomad: N+1, in fact I'm riding a back up today. lol peasants.

j/k- kind of.

My job is something other than bikes and bikes aren't my only hobby and I agree with the article in spirit and will try to do some stuff myself, but ughh.
  • 4 0
 I do tubeless tires and stuff like that. Full bike tune? Probably taking it to a shop.
  • 14 0
 I have less patience than I have money
  • 17 0
 I have more time than money, because I wanted it this way
  • 19 0
 I have more time than money. But I'm also a bike mechanic.
  • 3 0
 @seraph: good on yer bruh!
  • 7 0
 I have not money nor time
  • 11 3
 Then you got a problem. Doing things is what makes life worth living, exchanging too much of your time for money will not end well. It's never too late to change...
  • 3 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: suspension really isn't that hard; especially if you buy something that's open bath!
  • 6 0
 @slow-cal: but you have the time to respond to comments.....hmmm
  • 2 2
 @Lanebobane: like wives, why stop at one?
  • 3 2
 @NorCalNomad: well never had a single bike take longer than a day or two in North Vancouver over the last 20 years... #findabettershop
  • 8 0
 @Uchwmdr: fixing almost anything on my bike takes max 1-2 beers in my garage. It's something I really enjoy and way less time and money than taking it to a shop.
  • 1 3
 Truth be told: That means you're doing "it" wrong.
  • 9 15
flag baca262 (Jun 2, 2022 at 11:28) (Below Threshold)
 what a shitty comment and proppers given there's inflation looming. bunch of fucking retards.
  • 1 0
 @skylanebike: first day on the internet huh?!
  • 5 0
 @mikelevy: 100% same issue here for quite a few years now. That’s why I learned how to do most repairs myself. Over time you accumulate the proper tools and as you noted, there are videos for pretty much every type of repair/maintenance. I spend my money on a cleaning lady. I’d rather fix my bike then scrub my kids skids out of the toilet.
  • 2 0
 @NorCalNomad: has enough $$ to have more than one bike too. Problem solved
  • 6 0
 I decided to ride my downhill bike today because my Enduro was dirty. First world problems like nothing else...
  • 2 1
 @SleepingAwake: I rode my road bike yesterday because my MTB is dirty...
  • 4 0
 @HB208: I rode my skateboard yesterday.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: sounds like there is a demand for tuneup only businesses
  • 18 0
 If you would rather spend money than time that’s understandable. I think Mike was pretty clear though that he’s not making an economic argument.

How many people treat basic mechanics like rocket science? That rider suffering the shitty shifting could probably fix - or at least improve - the issue in about 30 seconds trailside. Hell, he might not even need to stop pedaling. And if he die understand derailleurs he doesn’t need to stop and watch YouTube or open Sheldon brown to figure it out - just looking at the system and watching what happens when you push the shifter tells you everything you need to know in 90% of cases.

Meanwhile, if you care about time the last thing you need is a whole ride ruined by an easily fixable issue. The last thing you need is to spend 30 minutes driving to and from the shop and explaining the problem.

You do you, and of course it’s fine to pay a professional for big jobs like suspension servicing. But if you’re not fixing most issues that come up on a bike then I doubt time is the real issue.
  • 13 1
 @sadfusde: Spoken like someone who has never professionally turned wrenches. Most shops in my area were over 4 weeks at points over the last two years, and that's completely ignoring cases where you can't get parts that wouldn't have been broken or damaged if they were taken care of, such as leaving pivots, bearings, cranks, etc loose.

I've very legitimately seen bikes shelved for months due to neglectfully damaged parts going past the point of no return. Frames with ovalized pivots due to riding while loose. You may wait a lot longer than 2 weeks for a fix when you've written off your frame because you opted to keep riding it when it wasn't in a state for it.
  • 8 2
 @sherbet: Yah don't you like people voicing opinions based on absolutely made up experience. I've noticed people who don't want to learn to work on things like making every excuse possible to not take time or learn to work on things.
  • 10 7
 @wslee: Definitely… what kind of high level mechanical service do you think you are getting from teenagers and retirees making minimum wage? No one will care more about your bike than you.

If you’re on this site, you are already more committed to bikes than a casual rider and there is no reason you should be wasting money and more importantly time delivering your bike, waiting (for days), and picking up your bike from someone else who you still have to pay for services rendered.
  • 2 0
 @93EXCivic: I’d pass on the magura bleed kit, pick up the Jagwire pro kit instead.
  • 7 1
 @Baller7756: As @sherbet said above, "Spoken like someone who has never professionally turned wrenches", believe it or not there are genuine career mechanics out there who know what they're doing. Knowing how to fix your own bike and parts is one thing but when your next service could be any of the thousands of bikes with any of the thousand of parts out there's a bit more to it than "teenagers and retirees"
  • 9 0
 @Baller7756: That's pretty dismissive of some of the good mechanics out there. I know several mechanics who are at the age where they have families and such and they seem to do ok. My favorite local mechanic is probably 40 and now runs the mechanics, which is up to probably 7 employees.

They aren't all teens and such and some shops treat them pretty well. If you've had bad experiences, choose a better shop.

I like to do maintenance, it's kind of relaxing- so chains, brake pads/bleeds, stuff like that- more intense stuff? I don't even want to learn to lace wheels, change bottom brackets, or mess with suspension internals. I'd end up at the shop fixing my bad work anyway.
  • 4 0
 32 years old this year. Not sure if I fit into the "teenager" or the "retiree" demographics. Can anyone shed some light?
  • 2 0
 @sherbet: Ah, that means you're a retiree teenager, you reckon as I turn 20 next year I'll be band from being a bike mechanic?
  • 6 11
flag Baller7756 (Jun 2, 2022 at 16:56) (Below Threshold)
 @ICKYBOD: Of course there are exceptions… please don’t take offense (clearly tongue in cheek… but I understand people like to take offense these days). Yes, being able to tackle many makes and models is a skill, but I will never submit that anyone is more capable than I am. And if I’m fully capable and undeniably more vested in the performance and reliability of my own bike…I maintain that an owner is the best person to perform the maintenance and repair.

A bike is not a complicated piece of equipment… it’s the equivalent of calling a plummer for a clogged drain, or an electrician to change a light fixture, or a car mechanic to change oil and filters. It just doesn’t get that deep with a bike.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: there's at least one shop in Squamish that is only a week out Wink I think it's the same for the shop a buddy works at. I think people who have just moved to town (i.e. nearly everyone....) just tend to go to the one really obvious shop and don't think to shop around.
  • 1 0
 @mgs781HD: Yes, indeed, well put! Plus, trailside repairs are possible because you know what you're doing. Lastly, shops are so backed up that you get more riding in because you fixed it yourself.
  • 2 0
 When your job pleasing you more than fixing your own bike, I can totally agree with you. But when you're making money, and you feel you just wasting your life (despite the money you get), I can tell you, fixing your own bike is one of my most relaxing time I spend.
  • 1 0
 @ismellfish: your kids need to chill on the ruffage... lol
  • 9 3
 @mgs781HD: always work on my own bikes, friends bikes, SO’s bikes, people I dislikes bikes, etc. Fixing bikes does not make you a better rider,
riding your bike makes you a better rider,
doing yoga makes you a better rider,
Going to the gym makes you a better rider,
Eating well makes you a better rider,
Getting enough sleep makes you a better rider,

Working on your bike does not make you a better rider, it might afford you more seat time to ride your bike, which can make you a better rider
  • 10 2
 @nurseben: but it’s all doing things
At the heart of the issue it’s some pretty simple choices, if you get paid well for the “work” you do, paying others to provide labour or services makes sense. Especially if those services can be done, while you’re working, earning more money than the costs to fix the things…
If I’m a doctor, and derive a lot of satisfaction from the work that I do, and earn a good wage, it simply makes sense to trade those earnings to “buy back” my time. Time which I can spend cultivating a better relationship with others, or delving into another hobby, or volunteering at a homeless shelter…
Time spent banging knuckles on trying to remove a stubborn cassette, or slipping a wrench spinning a pedal is not therapeutic for some people.

I say all of this, with a full garage of tools, stands and project bikes, that I work on daily. I do derive pleasure from working and fixing things, but have no issue with people who decide to trade their money to me, to buy back their time. I hope they continue to do it, so I can afford to buy back my time and not paint my house.
  • 5 0
 @Dogl0rd: What if the bike shop watches that same 15 min video?????
  • 1 0
 @Lanebobane: or more…
  • 2 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: hahahahha
I’ll take up painting hits a little close to home. Everything except suspension work is easy. Fox40 full tear down has me like “the scream”
  • 1 0
 @unrooted: electric drive tho
  • 10 11
 How f-ing stupid do you have to be to put up with having more money than time? Like it’s some kind of badge of achievement. It’s actually the badge of someone who can’t think for themself.

99% of fixes & maintenance take less time than loading up the bike, dropping it off at the shop, and then retrieving it when it’s (eventually) ready.

What a pompous, myopic perspective.
  • 2 0
 I too have more money than time but the cathartic experience of working on my bikes is of high value in itself. It’s also proven useful in fixing my own or others bikes while mid ride.
  • 2 0
 I have neither time nor money currently, but I do everything except suspension, and only reason for that is I don't want to spill oil in my living room. There's nobody local that I would trust more than my own skills.
  • 1 0
 @sadfusde: Or the current shortages in the supply chain need to be fixed.
  • 4 0
 @Blownoutrides: Probably not as simple as that. It's not a line between two extremes, some people have more time AND money than others, others less. Depends on the lifestyle. You can still find that you'd like to have more time.

Anyway, I wish I could have the same experience as for the car. Drop it off for yearly in the morning and get it back after work. Then I could spend more time riding. However, for my bikes, the lead times are easily 1 month if there are parts so I have to do it myself (which is okay with some beers). Not sure if I do my Fox 40 though.
  • 1 0
 @bschleenbaker: I have none of both.
where does that put me?

ah.. yeah.
just call it quality time in the garage. just make sure thre#s a fridge stuffed with hoppy juice in there, too Big Grin

One of my bikes is the repair stands for two weeks already. Spend more on tools than on parts during that time...
  • 1 0
 @OU812: Money well spent, there. Makes bleeding and pressurizing Srams tolerably simple.
  • 2 0
 This is the problem! Most of times unexpected mechanical comes, when i don´t have time to spend on wrenching. Then i just have to cram it somewhere and just do it. Suspension service i leave nowdays to people who have experience and latest knowledge. I did service my forks back when 35mm boxxers were the forks to go. Wheelbuilding is other thing that i happily pay for those who can do it. Brakes are divided so that Shimano i can do, but wont do Srams. All other i have mastered component at a time when something has broken
  • 1 0
 @Lanebobane: I've tried this one, cracked my Enduro frame and my SID on my p111 has bushing play...
  • 7 0
 Reading replies I am astounded. A six word sentence is met with people judging your life choices and priorities. Readers, we know absolutely nothing about the person stating he or she would prefer to get the work done at a bike shop - their occupation, number of kids, other issues such as ill family members, other interests, etc. I do some of my own bike work now in retirement but have had times in the past when life’s issues just made it more reasonable to have someone else do the work. Why should any of us care what someone else prefers on this mundane inconsequential issue? Whatever floats your boat is the right thing to do, and if hearing someone else’s shifting on the trail gets you too upset then maybe you have an issue.
  • 4 0
 It take more time for me to make two trips to the shop, plus wait time, than to just fix it at home and get rolling again. I have back-up bikes, but still, trips to the shop are a PITA.
  • 2 2
 @cougar797: I can’t agree that supporting your local shop is a waste of money.
  • 1 0
 @IF-OBA-WILLS-IT
Could you reverse that?
Would you reverse that?
  • 1 0
 @drlancefreeride: Supporting sounds so one sided… sounds like the shop is a dependent… like you are making a charitable donation.
  • 2 0
 @oldguybigsky: I was just about to reply that I’m surprised you are astounded… but then I saw your user ID. This is what society has devolved into… just imagine 20 more years from now!
  • 3 0
 @Baller7756: I'm 51 years old. Own my own shop, don't employ anyone else and care for every bike that comes into my shop as if it were mine. Every one.
  • 2 0
 @catoctinmountaincyclery: Great! That's how it should be. Unfortunately, you're the exception.
  • 1 0
 @catoctinmountaincyclery: It’s great to read and know this.
  • 3 2
 @oldguybigsky: You’re taking this way to seriously. This is just a game people with more time than mental health play.

If you post your opinion on the internet you are inviting the judgement of strangers. That’s the entire f*cking point. Sometimes it comes in the form of upvotes, sometimes in pushback or opinions about your life choices. If you want those opinions to consider the details of your situation then include those details in your statement. If someone misses one of those details then you can call them out and score bonus points on the imaginary score sheet.

If you want to voice your opinion without judgement buy a journal. Open a word document. Talk to yourself on the way to work. Write on Quora and turn off comments. But internet comment sections are not the place for that and I’m astounded that someone thought they were.
  • 1 0
 @Lanebobane: But why stop at two?
  • 1 0
 @Dogl0rd: brake bleeds I may add to my repetoire. My shop is just so quick and good to me.
  • 2 0
 I used to wrench on my own stuff, but now I wrench on my stuff about 50% of the time, mostly because I don't have the time and I have a good relationship with me lbs. Also I'm fortunate enough now to have other bikes to ride. That being said I think it's important to atleast know how to fix your own stuff, and I'm making sure my kids know how to fix and maintain their bikes too, teaches them to care for and appreciate what they have more.
  • 4 0
 I also have more money than time. But 99% of the time fixing it by myself is faster AND cheaper. But mostly I'm more confident that I'll do it right than a shop.

I've found good shops from time to time, but mostly they are consistently inconsistent. You might get the veteran mechanic who can perform magic on anything. Or you might get the 17-year-old kid (no shade, this was me once) who forgets to tighten your brake lever after a bleed (real example). Here's a few others from the past 5 years, all different shops and mechanics

-250-pound mechanic hopped up and down on my brand new bike in for a warranty issue (size small, set up for 140 lbs) in the parking garage and tells me my suspension is shot because "it was bottoming out harshly".

-Mechanic erroneously removed spacers from a crank spindle and left it sliding back and forth in my frame.

-While bike was in for suspension warranty and tried to charge my $40 for a tubeless setup on a tire he reported to be leaking that wasn't leaking when we dropped it off.

-Set up a tubeless tire with the tread pattern backwards (and logos not lined up *gasp*), had to re-do it. (normally wouldn't have a shop set up a tire, but this was a particularly finicky one that wouldn't hold air and required 4 layers of tape to seal)

At this point I only go to shops if I have a warranty issue.
  • 2 0
 @seraph: I’m a mechanic with no time or money! No money because I just bought a new bike, but no time to actually put it together, let alone ride it…
  • 3 0
 @sherbet: The only thing more depressing than working on shit-pile bikes, is working on nice bikes that have been ridden into the ground due to sheer neglect. And it’s arguably more common, too.
  • 2 0
 @catoctinmountaincyclery: Alright then… for all the good people here… What are some of your rates and fees for common services?
  • 3 0
 @NorCalNomad: just send your butler to bike maintenance training
  • 4 0
 I use my money to buy tools....then I make the time. I'm the only one I trust to work on my bikes.
  • 7 1
 Bikes are simple as fuck. The people that somehow have manage to amass enough money to pay for whatever they want yet don't know how to do jack shit themselves always perplex me. There are few things you can do to a bike that take more than a couple hours. The same hours you probably waste in front of a TV every day of your life.
  • 2 2
 @rpdale: I'd rather watch TV that play with fiddly little parts
  • 3 0
 @rpdale: wow,
That’s quite the shiny pedestal you’ve stood upon there…
Maybe that person has a fairly high stress job, and uses that time watching TV to gather themselves, and get ready for the next day. Maybe working on their bike in any form is just added frustration, which compounds the issue of the stressful day.

Who cares how someone chooses to spend their money and time, it’s theirs, not yours.
I can emphatically tell you there are people who just dont grasp mechanical contrivances, so trying to understand, work on, and repair is beyond what they’re interested in doing.
  • 1 0
 @nurseben: Some people are not mechanically inclined! Just how it is
  • 2 3
 @TobyMills: This guy knows. It’s always the people with no mechanical aptitude that try to simplify bike mechanic work. It’s a certified trade, just like all other trades.
  • 2 0
 @wake-n-rake: He just likes to exaggerate
  • 1 1
 @Blownoutrides: name checks out
  • 1 0
 @oldguybigsky: It’s just an opportunity for those who hack on their own bike to beat their chests a bit. Some people are not mechanical and do not want to be, simple as that.
  • 3 0
 @emptybe-er: Nobody is born a mechanic, we all had to learn, and for most of us it's still an ongoing process.
  • 3 0
 @sherbet: As a mechanic and shop owner of 20yrs, I would agree. But some people are mechanical, and some people aren’t. And don’t want to be. And shouldn’t want to be. different strokes
  • 1 0
 @jordangthomas: reading comprehension is hard aint it. EVERY SHOP is backed up and there are more shops than you are old in my area. Hell there is one that JUST does suspension and they're also backed up even with probably another 15+ who also do suspension.
  • 1 0
 @mgs781HD: its half the fun!
  • 1 0
 @Baller7756: Bike shops should agree on an hourly rate like the car garages do in my town.
Brake bleed = 30-40$
Full tune = about 80$
New cush core install = 40$ because it can take almost an hour, even with their special lever!
  • 1 0
 @Chonky13: They pretty much do, but it’s regional. It doesn’t make sense to not be competitive with pricing. So a brake bleed in whistler is always gonna be more than a brake bleed in ohio. More overhead. And the mom and pop shop in ohio won’t be carrying 50 different brake pads, tires, grips, saddles. In fact, don’t even expect them to carry bikes from any brand other than Fuji, Raleigh (redline, db) or maybe a 3 yr old fezarri if you’re lucky.
  • 1 0
 @Chonky13: Yeah, auto mechanics have standardized hours for particular jobs and the prices they charge are always in cost/hour + parts and expenses. For example replace 2010 Toyota Tacoma water pump… book says 2.6 hours, our rate is $95/hour, pump is $210, gaskets $25. That will be $482 plus tax please… even if it only took the mechanic 1.5 hours to complete the job.

I suspect bike shops would try to do the same… but can’t seem to get any shop owners to talk about prices and charges.
  • 1 1
 you're just mad you live in detroit.
  • 1 2
 @mior: You mad you're mom didn't get your favorite flavor of poptart? Check your privilege and lack of knowledge child.
  • 1 0
 @Chonky13: I never had huge problems before inserts and the fact that I need a shop to put on tires now (or way more of my own time and too many swear words) I may just go back to the old fashioned empty tire.
  • 1 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: Inserts aren't too bad when you get the hang of them. Not as easy for sure, but good levers and some practice and they get better.
  • 1 0
 @NorCalNomad: unlike you, i am conscious of my health and dont eat pop tarts.
  • 1 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: you guys ever put a mousse in a dirt bike tire,
Cushcore insets aren’t bad, just take yer time, follow the instructions, use some soapy water, and some good tire levers
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: Nope, and never will haha
  • 1 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: it’s quite a bit more of a fight.
Or ever change a tractor tire, one that weighs a couple hundred pounds?

We all prolly need to stop complaining about every little inconvenience that pops up in mountain biking, we are better than that
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: I'm better than that. So good in fact I'm actively supporting my LBS with my lack of commitment to bike maintenance.
  • 2 0
 Damn, I really could go for a pop-tart now. Or a toaster struedel.
  • 2 0
 @ICKYBOD: Toaster Srtudels are just pop tarts that went to private school.
  • 2 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: I have no issue with that, that’s great, honestly it is.
I have no issue with someone deciding to have someone else do their work for them, again, honestly. The idea that people stand on a pedestal to look down on others for not doing their own bike maintenance is quite silly, by that thought process, we should all be doing all maintenance and repairs on our cars, homes, computers, small appliances, etc. I don’t doubt that some people do (I’m one in fact) but I don’t do everything. You’d be hard pressed to find me hanging drywall, taping/mudding, or insulating.

I guess my point is, own why you’re not doing it, don’t play like it’s too hard of a job, cause if a 17 yr old shop rat can get your cushcore installed in 20 mins with a half broken set of pedros levers, you sure as hell can as well
  • 1 0
 @Moe2344: And they are better for it!
  • 145 5
 In today's YouTube world where there is literally a video for anything, there is no excuse not to maintain your own stuff. It's such a lost skill.
  • 8 3
 Seconded
  • 12 3
 @Dopepedaler: Thirded. If your going to ride you should know how to take care of your gear. No excuse for running a poorly maintained bike.
  • 8 0
 very lucky the guys now!!! I started breaking my own stuff trying to figure out how it worked and some small tips and how to on bike magazines
  • 35 3
 Bike shops make a killing because of Youtube...
  • 4 1
 Fourthded.
  • 3 0
 Fifthed.
  • 15 1
 This. With a handful of tools and a laptop or phone with YouTube perched on a workbench you can tackle 95% of all maintenance on your bike, including servicing your fork and bleeding your brakes. The issue is confidence. We are happy to send big drops and clear big gaps but afraid to turn a wrench. In the immortal works of Rob Schneider "YOU CAN DO IT". Start with small stuff and work your way up. You will be a better biker for it, and you may even earn a few beers for showing someone else how to fix their rig.
  • 4 0
 @cougar797: Totally agree. The other reason is that you might need to fix something on the trail to get you back or to keep the ride going and it helps if you’ve done it before in the comfort of your own garage.
  • 3 0
 @PHX77: True that! I've been on trips where a bit of over night maintenance was the difference between getting the next day of riding in or not.
  • 8 1
 Go look at r/bikewrench and see the chaos that YouTube repairs can have.
  • 3 2
 @m47h13u: bike shop is a place for riders without knowhow. Exactly these riders are stuck on a mountain, if a small problem appears with their bikes, start panic, the night will catch them far from their home.
  • 4 0
 Gee Milner taught me how to build bikes.
  • 1 1
 @m47h13u: when my dad worked in a shop 30 odd years ago the manager would always sell a spoke wrench with a high end bike. Nearly a guarantee that you'll end up with those same wheels back quite soon, us lucky people at shops now have YouTube doing that for us
  • 2 0
 So vehicles, hvac, roofing.. or just bikes?
  • 2 1
 @emptybe-er: Everything except plumbing. I hate that shit.
  • 1 1
 @emptybe-er: I work on pretty much everything.
  • 72 3
 I feel this way until I'm 3 hours in to a 1 hour "easy" job. Then I curse myself for not just taking it to the bike shop where people actually know what they're doing. Then I can get back to riding bikes, which I also do a poor job of but at least it's fun?
  • 52 9
 "the bike shop where people actually know what they're doing"

I think you may overestimate bike shop employees. Maybe its just me but I cant tell you how many times I've gone into the shop and they were surprisingly oblivious. Guarantee that mechanic is youtubing tutorials in the back too.
  • 11 5
 @yoimaninja: I can’t second this enough.

I have had more maintenance done poorly, or parts left loose, from letting the so-called “experts” work on my bike than would have ever happened had I just done it myself, this goes for cars too.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I need help because of lack time or knowledge/experience, or both, but most of the time when I bite off my own maintenance, it’s totally worth the frustration, time, and the occasional broken part, because I ALWAYS learn something in the process.
  • 9 0
 @savagefilms …and to you, my friend, keep at it! That happens to everyone when they’re learning. Eventually the easy stuff actually becomes easy and ends up taking way less time than going to the shop, not to mention, sometimes, for any variety of reasons, the shop isn’t available, it’s a HUGE asset to be able to do it yourself!

My wife fought me on this for years. She would tell me, “I don’t have a mechanical mind like you, I can’t figure it out”. Here we are, six years after she started riding, and now she can do all basic maintenance and even some of the harder stuff. Hell, I watched her adjust the clutch tension on her derailleur trail side the other day, I’ve never even done that before! Brought a tear to my eye.

Anyway, that’s a long way of saying, I have faith in you!
  • 6 25
flag office (Jun 2, 2022 at 10:53) (Below Threshold)
 What job takes 3 hours? Literally can build a full bike up from scratch in that time.
  • 7 1
 I had a shop where I had suspension bearing work done and weeks later the frames broke around the suspension. Then the last time shame on me, I went to tighten the bearings on my Chris King hubs he had just serviced to find he used red, YES RED locktight on the treads. No, they all do not know what they are doing! BTW, he said that was to keep them from losing…
  • 8 0
 @Stinky-Dee: I had a somewhat scenario involving the threads on the bb not being greased by a bike technician. Come time I bought new cranks from the same bike shop, same bike tech had a hard time removing the bb and started ranting: "who the fcuk installed the bb on this didnt put any grease thata why its hard to remove." I was shocked to tell him "well, sadly you were the bike technician that built this bike from the ground up". From then on, I started working on my own bikes.
  • 2 1
 Bike shops have workspaces, access to tools and access spare parts. Most importantly? They've probably diagnosed the problem before.

Bike industry says: Wanna Service your fork? By this list of tools. Service your drive train? Gotta get another list of tools (b screw, chain tool, lock but). Bleed kits? Wheel true? The list goes on. I fundamentally agree with this argument but the realities might have more practical reasons for being dependent on mechanics vs trial and error. If you are working on your own bike, you need 2 mountain bikes just in case you f*ck something up and have to take it to the bike shop anyways (which is pretty much my experience every time I think something is a quick fix). Riding is the only exercise I can do at the moment so not having a functional bike is not an option. Also, this whole argument simply goes out the window if you don't have a workspace or places to store a bunch of tools.

Perfect example right now: I need to service my fork, I have a spare fork. I don't have the tools for swapping a fork or the right wrench to disassemble my current fork for the service. I'll probably wait for the weekend and try to mooch off a buddy's know-how and bike tools.
  • 7 3
 @bearstearns: Ehh dont fail into their trap. Yes there are a handful of specialized tools you may need for bikes but you can get away with most major repairs with nothing more than a metric allen key set, open ended wrench set, and some sockets. Things most people have already. Most of the over priced bike tools are the same shit just with "Park Tool" branded on em.

You can literally swap a fork with nothing more than allen keys and grease. Remove the headset cap and stem. drop the fork. grease new one and insert. Slide stem on. put on an retighten headset cap. retighten stem. Its not that complex
  • 2 0
 @yoimaninja: Literally you forgot to include WD40 to the list
  • 3 1
 @yoimaninja: you like riding with no star nut and full length steer tube I see.
  • 3 0
 @emptybe-er: only amateurs use star nuts. Jk but it was implied that one was already installed. Even if not you don't need the stupid star nut install tool. Metal rod and a hammer. As for steerer tube bonus points if u have a pipe cutter, if not hack saw is just fine. Pro tip tape off where u wanna cut to first as a guide and to keep it straight. Maybe I just do things the ghetto way but it's saves me a lot of money and my bikes ride just fine.
  • 1 0
 @yoimaninja: @yoimaninja: I agree with you that you can improvise a lot of specialty tools but nowadays you can get tools for so cheap it's worth just buying them. I bought a legit nicely machined star nut tool for $6 on Aliexpress.
  • 1 0
 @office: oh ya for sure. they definitely do a better job at it too. If its something I know I'll use more than once I'll usually buy it. I just hate spending the money on tools for one purpose that i'll more than likely never need again.
  • 55 0
 The more you work on your bike, the more you know about your bike. When you run into problems trail-side, you're way more likely to figure it out than a rube who only knows how to hand his bike off to a shop when something's wrong.
  • 24 0
 Precisely! Then you might know what that tick tick... clunk means on the trail.
  • 6 0
 I treat my vehicles the same way.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: is got a tick tick clunk on my rear road wheel. Ive put 150 miles on it and still have no idea what it is. I'm reasonable competent at bike maintenence (I don't damper / rear coil servicing and leave wheel building to the pros) so if I can't figure it out how would a shop.
  • 2 0
 A riding buddy and I re-assembled a blown up hub on the side of the trail using a rock and a tire lever. We both do our own service. It could have been a frustrating end to a ride.
  • 2 0
 @neongreen: In an NSMB forum, buddy was talking about a trail-side repair challenge that took an hour of consulting with random riders, because he/they couldn't figure out why his rear axle mysteriously wouldn't allow itself to be reinserted. Just wouldn't go back in, nobody could figure out why, but in the end it was the hanger had shifted out of place a bit. My response was "That was probably a 2013-1015 Trance, they've only got one little screw and the axle holding the axle in, and the hanger can rotate a bit out of place when you remove the rear wheel. I had a couple of those bikes." Yep, work on your own bike, and that's a 10 second fix.
  • 2 0
 @fartymarty: A buddy has this problem on his Mavic mtb rear wheel. It's a steel insert where the rim seam is (where two ends butt together).
  • 1 0
 @zephxiii: I'm pretty sure it's not drive / hub related therefore must be the beaten up (and cracked) rim i'm running. It's a strange one tho as i'm usually pretty good at solving noise problems.
  • 1 0
 Yes, but how much can you fix on the side of the trail? You are not gonna bleed your breaks or change bearings. I'm saying that as a guy who took appart my freehub in a mosquito infested forest to see what the noise was.
  • 2 0
 @taouin: Tonnes of problems can be addressed trail side, to make the difference between a really long walk or hike a bike, and riding out. Just a few simple tools/materials, and knowledge of how things work and to go together. Obviously not everything.
  • 59 6
 As a 54 year old dude who's dad told him at age 10, "If you're old enough to ride your YZ 80, then you're old enough to change the piston and rings" and taught me to do it, a lot of these comments make me sad. Down vote away, but where the hell did our work with our hands and can do attitude go? It's a freaking bicycle for crying out loud. Fix it yourself.
  • 30 13
 Boomers complaining about the world they created, what's new...
  • 6 0
 i can watch 15 youtube tutorials on how to fix something and it always ends up rooting the bike 5x worse than it started. call us a lost cause, but some of us have dads who know jack shit about how to fix anything
  • 11 1
 @Dogl0rd: Hate to be pedantic (I agree with what you said), but at 54 years old, he's not a boomer.
  • 4 2
 @gnarnaimo: Yeah, that is Gen X. Not sure which generation is more responsible for "kids these days", but they are certainly at fault. Amazing how people my age and older bitch about kids, when they are the ones responsible for creating our service economy.
  • 2 0
 @Dogl0rd: Gen Xer.... get it right.
  • 1 0
 Most people can and should do the basic like tires and adjusting shifters, but when you fall into the brake bleed and suspension seals, things that most people will not even do yearly because they don't ride enough, there's no point investing in tools and equipment to do that kind of work
  • 50 0
 I have some friends who shouldn't be putting air in their tires without supervision. Don't let them near an Allen key please, makes for more work undoing their repairs.
  • 13 0
 I was at a college co-op bike shop, dude next to me was airing up his tires and you know how the sound gets lower and lower the higher the PSI? It was getting very very quite and I was just cringing then BOOOOM, blew off the sidewall of his rim, he had 100+ PSI easy in a MTB tire.

Been gun shy ever since....
  • 8 1
 @RadBartTaylor: I blew a tire off the rim once. I will agree, you are never 100% the same after that.

In my case I think it was an old/defective tire. I was having trouble getting one small section of bead to seat and the thing blew off the rim at probably just under 50PSI.
  • 4 0
 I’ve been considering having potential riding partners do a pre ride maintenance test before I go on a ride with them…I either end up fixing some very basic issue for them, or they won’t accept help and I get to watch them cuss and scream for 15 minutes while attempting to change a flat.
  • 2 0
 @sino428: in this case it peeled the alum off the rim like a banana about a 5" section....I guess there is a reason most rims have a PSI rating!
  • 1 0
 @RadBartTaylor: Thats crazy. My rim was fine. It’s still use on one of my bikes. A different tire aired right up with no problem.
  • 1 0
 Yeah. I'd love to, I'm just not mechanically inclined. Bought some new tires and couldn't for the life of me get the existing ones unseated (Bontragers on Bontrager rims).
  • 5 0
 @SangamonTaylor: Did you let the air out of the tires first?
  • 1 0
 @SangamonTaylor: I've had that issue before, I've changed hundreds of tubeless tires over the years and I had one that was impossible to unseat...I had to cut it off, tried vicegrips, pipe wrench, hammer and punch, no bueno. It was one tire in the last 15 years, but it can happen.
  • 1 0
 @RadBartTaylor: yeah, I've never had an issue with tires before. Usually pop them off with no issues and then spend a moderately frustrating amount of time getting the new ones on and seated. This took me so long with no results that I decided to leave all future tasks to the pros.
  • 2 0
 @sino428: Seconded... had the ol' KABOOM!! at just shy of 50psi.

Either dodgy rim or tyre... or both!

Suffice to say... both were utterly banjaxed afterwards! Was left with a face full of sealant, ringing ears and an ingrained fear / nervousness of seating tyres on rims now... Also an expensive habit for not skimping on rims...
  • 1 0
 @TonyFlynn: Ha yea, I didn’t even mention the mess of sealant on me and the surrounding area of my garage.
  • 26 1
 I had to work on my bike when I was younger because I didn't have any money. Now I have money and I still work on my bike. It's not hard. It doesn't take long. The tools don't cost that much. In most cases, if you take your bike to a shop it'll still need tuning afterwards, so you may as well do it yourself.
  • 21 1
 I started mountain biking about 12 years ago. I had zero experience building or working on bikes at the time. But within about a year I was repairing and building up new bikes from scratch. Accumulating all the tools was probably the hardest thing. Your Tech Tuesday series that was out then actually taught me most of the basics at the time.
  • 11 0
 Tech Tuesday, a classic haha Smile
  • 12 0
 @mikelevy: bring Tech Tuesday back! Swapping an air shaft or a damper are surprisingly super easy things to do. At least with rockshox. I did some youtube certification and swapped my own internals on mu Lyrik. I actually had to watch some videos a couple times because it seemed to simple.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: I referred to your MRP chain tensioner install video from 2011 a couple months ago, timeless.
  • 19 0
 First step to working on your own bike is to find the stuff that works well for a long time. XT group set, DT Swiss Wheels, Hope generally are good places to start. That way you get a higher ratio of riding to fixing and when it does need need some TLC it's relatively simple to do.
  • 7 0
 Facts. I started riding seven years ago, learned how to fix everything when I broke it, and just finished building up my own alloy bike with DT Swiss rims, Onyx hubs and XT drivetrain. It rides great and was super satisfying.
  • 15 0
 a certain group of bike shop owners right now " how could Pinkbike BETRAY us like this"

Guess what, if you need to actively discourage your customers from learning how to do basic bike maintenance, you're probably the kind of bike shop that people actively avoid.

Hope those 5 customers who you convinced that they're too stupid to change a tire are worth alienating the everyone else.
  • 33 0
 From my experience most bike shop owners hate having customers.
  • 7 0
 @unrooted: not reserved entirely for bike shops, but it's absolutely mystifying how so many business owners active resent the people who pay their bills.

Everybody grouses, but some people take it to a level i find super confusing, to the point where they're actively sabotaging their business due to their disdain for their customers.
  • 5 0
 There are some good bike shops, but can definitely relate to this, that's what motivated me to start learning to do my own stuff!
  • 1 0
 where do you live that bike shop treat people like that? Here most bike shop are happy to sell you tools and tell you how to use them.
  • 13 0
 I've been working on and building racecars, street cars and airplanes for 20+ years. I have tens of thousands in tools. I started riding 3 years ago. There are so many specialized tools for bikes that it's really f'n stupid. It's not so much a lack of ability for a lot of people, its the fact that you need a billion different specialized tools for the job. Oh yeah, and if you buy a new bike, you'll need to buy more special tools because the ones you have don't fit. I still work on my own bike, and i've finally got enough stuff to be able to build a bike from a pile of parts, but my god was it a pain in the ass.
  • 13 0
 As someone who spent last night fighting for an hour and a half with the last two inches of tire bead that wouldn't go in, all that after after replacing the derailleur cable and doing some bendy-bendy work on the hanger - this article speaks to my soul. Went to bed tired but happy; rode the bike today and it brought a smile to my face.
  • 8 0
 Hell yes
  • 2 0
 Bontrager rims?
  • 1 0
 @bearstearns: nah, just one specific Double Down tire..
  • 13 1
 The local shops exist to help serve the riders in their community. There is nothing wrong with dropping your bike off for any type of maintenance. That keeps the shop guys employed, after all. I build my own bikes and do all routine maintenance (just send suspension components for annual services) but I still go into the shop for advice or help when I run into a head scratcher.
  • 10 0
 Indeed, my kids can't poop on their own, but I also can't really go biking after they go to bed and it's dark so I do all my own work. Also being a cheapskate engineer that has a hard time trusting other people to work on my stuff is another factor.
  • 10 0
 I can't recommend investing in a good riding light highly enough. When my kids were little the vast majority of my riding was at night after they went to bed. Find a couple of riding buddies in the same situation and you will have so much fun the extra exhaustion will be well worth it!
  • 20 1
 Almost every engineer I've met has been kinda cheap... what gives? Smile
  • 7 0
 My dude, get some lights and join the legion of after-bedtime rad dads out flailing around in the woods at night. I do about 80% of my riding after putting the kid to bed.

All of this predicated on you having a partner at home to maintain that adult presence- if that's not your circumstance, sorry, don't mean to intrude.
  • 6 0
 @mikelevy: almost all the engineers I work with are cheap…because they are highly rationale and have fat retirement accounts, or multiple homes they rent out.
  • 4 1
 @mikelevy: we like to figure things out, not purchase "solutions"
  • 9 0
 @mikelevy: Engineer here. It's got nothing to do with the money. The value derived from the satisfaction of doing the job yourself has no monetary equivalent. The paradox though is that this value is not necessarily shared by others. For example, the 30-year old oven that I revived every time it broke left my family rooting for the oven each time it failed. The oven (and family) eventually won...
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: kinda cheap engineer over here. Why buy a new one when the old one can be limped along for minimal cost / free?!
  • 8 0
 @mikelevy: Cheapness is also a consequence of knowing how stuff works, it de-glamorizes the allure of shiny things to the point where you pay for only the functionality you need, and fixing is just as good as buying.

"that noisy CV joint can hold on for a few hundred miles"
"that low-spec derailleur will shift the same as the pricey one, and 40g isn't worth the extra $100"
  • 1 0
 @VtVolk: I have a couple old bike lights, used to do the occasional late ride and keep them in the bag for when the ride lasted longer than expected. The main thing that holds me back from night rides now is that almost all my local trails are "closed" after dark. Seems kinda stupid that you can "close" the outdoors, but after the last two years we all know that everything can be closed by decree.
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: When you know that you can figure it out on your own (and that gives you satisfaction anyway) it's hard to spend the money to have someone else who often doesn't put as much care into the job as you do it. This is true for my bike, my car, my house... My first time doing tile, I did a far better job on a far more complex job in my bathroom than the contractor I had paid to do my other bathroom. He just wanted to get done with the job as quick as possible and move on to the next, and I wanted to make something I could really be proud of.
  • 10 0
 For all the lurkers out there, once you learn that a derailleur is just two limit screws, and a b-screw that controls how close the derailleur is to the cogs as it shifts across the cassette, it’s really not witchcraft.

Then you realize that bearings aren’t that hard to replace, freehubs aren’t difficult to service, and brakes aren’t too hard to bleed or replace pads on.

Next thing you know, you have a handful of really useful tools around the garage, and that neighbor that doesn’t know anything about bikes is coming up and starting a conversation about how to do something. Next, suddenly you have a little community- not only because you have tools, but you’ve passed something on, and also in the age of bike theft, you watch out for each other.

I’m not against taking the bike to your local LBS for support- there is a time and a place for that- but working on your own bike and sharing it with others is the gift that keeps on giving.
  • 8 0
 I started doing more and more maintenance and repair works during Covid as the lead times I got from LBS were bonkers. Still a bit wary of going too deep into the suspension, although I have done some basic maintenance on her. Now, I can do my brakes and pretty much all transmission jobs, saving me lots of time and some money. Of course I messed it up on a few occasions, but that's part of the process!!!
  • 6 0
 Totally, many places are booking repairs multiple weeks out, so it's super helpful to know how to do some stuff on your own.
  • 2 0
 I think this is an underappreciated aspect of working on your bike - how to repair and make do when spare parts aren’t easy and cheap and at your door in two days like they used to be.
  • 8 0
 I definitely agree fixing bikes is cool. I'm doing my first frame-up build right now for exactly that reason, to force myself to learn about some of the mechanical skills I'm not comfortable with. And generally speaking, there's not much downside to trying – if you screw it up, you can always take it to the shop later (although if you screw it up badly enough, you might end up increasing the bill).

That said, I don't think there's any shame in taking your bike to the shop either. The way my work and family schedule work out, it's pretty easy for me to find time to fix my bike while still being able to ride, hang out with the family, etc. But if I had to choose between fixing the bike myself and (for example) spending more time with my daughter? Yeah, the bike is going to the shop, and I'm going to feel zero guilt about it.

(I also think you could make a lot of the "fix your bike" arguments about other things. The truth is that building and repairing a lot of things, from PCs to plumbing, isn't that complicated if you have the right tools and a Youtube video or two. But most of us don't have the time to learn to fix ALL of these things ourselves, so you kind of have to pick and choose what you're going to DIY and what you're going to pay for because you want to spend your time some other way)
  • 10 3
 I don't care how easy everyone says it is, I am not opening up my forks. I don't trust myself, and know I will end up with extra parts when finished. I'd prefer my bikes to work well over trying to save a few $. That being said it does feel amazing after successfully fixing something for the first time... If you ride a lot you better be able to do the basics.
  • 8 0
 Those extra parts were clearly unnecessary anyway and the weight savings will make up for whatever "function" they supposedly had! You're coming out on top either way.
  • 9 0
 Servicing the lowers is really, really easy for most brands and can make a big difference in feel. You should give it a try.
  • 12 0
 A full fork or shock service can be intimidating, but just dropping the lowers or doing an air can service can make a massive difference in performance.
  • 4 0
 @WestwardHo: and very, very fast if you spend $15 for a seal install tool.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: If you have exotic brands like BOS, Ohlins or old Marzocchi no one in BC service them so you will have to do it yourself and it is pretty simple.

@unrooted The seal install tool help a lot with the freezer technic hahaha.
  • 7 0
 I do most of my own work. Wheel builds, basic fork and shock, pivots. But when I need proprietary tools which I may use 6 times before they are obsolete or need high pressure nitrogen or other special things, I’ll send those bits away. I also know many people that should not work on any bike. I helped a guy a few weeks back put his tire back on. He was trying to get a road tire on using a tire lever incorrectly. Painful to watch. I said "May I?" And pulled the tire on by hand quickly. He was grateful. Lots of people don’t really notice noises. They don’t understand that squeaks and clanks mean something wrong. Manny people think when something stops working completely it needs attention but only when things absolutely fail.
  • 4 0
 This my biggest complaint with buying tools. You spend an exorbitant amount of money to buy all the tools for say, servicing Rockshox suspension then your next bike has Fox. By the time you buy another Rockshox-equipped bike all your tools are obsolete.

I figured I needed around €200 worth of tools+oil (not including nitrogen) to do the big service on my Deluxe... and they've already changed to a different oil for the 2023 models.
  • 6 0
 The shop that I worked at for 10 years also offered free tech clinics on tuesdays to anyone who wanted to come. When a lot of people came we kept it pretty basic but if there were only a few people we would get deeper into stuff
  • 10 1
 hmm, I can hear the cancer seeping in his/her skin already. Wear some gloves!!!
  • 2 0
 Ha - thought the same thing, if you getting that crap all over your hands, latex gloves 100%
  • 7 0
 Mtbs need so much maintenance, you’re constantly fixing and replacing things if you ride a lot, seems like it would completely impractical to take it to the shop for everything.
  • 6 0
 @mikelevy This is a really good article I am in the process of learning to fix my bike I can adjust my shifting pretty well, replace cables, and bleed brakes, and I am also planning in a little while to try changing my pivot bearings. Another benefit of fixing your bike is you can buy a bunch of new tools.

One thing I found helpful, is to find a good shop in your area that has friendly knowledgeable mechanics. so if you ever mess up you can always bring your bike in and not be worried about some overly judgmental person, asking you why you would ever attempt this job yourself without the "right" tools. Rather if you have a good mechanic (like I do) they will ask you what you did, and then tell you what you did wrong and give you some tips on how to do it properly.
  • 6 0
 as someone who fixes bikes for a living(not for much longer hopefully), I spent a whole 9.5 hour shift working on a single person's bike because I kept getting pulled away by coworkers as well as the bike being riddled with issues. That's an abnormal day but it proves my point; if you have TIME then yes, please learn how to work on your own bike. If you don't have time, please take it to a bike shop because the only thing worse than working on your bike is working on your bike and making it worse.
  • 2 0
 I feel you. I too work in a shop and we beg riders to bring the bike in for a spring tune-up during slow times in Jan-Feb-Mar when we have no back log. Fast forward to summer when it's three weeks out and someone has a race this weekend, there are six haggard bikes covered in last year's dirt and Gatorade that haven't seen the light of day since and need eeevvverything overhauled, someone else needs brake bleeds, suspension overhaul, waiting on parts, and oh, someone is asking about ebikes... Taking care of your stuff/preventative maintenance goes a long way.
  • 6 0
 You just need to invest the time once.

My first brake bleed took nearly 2 hours and a lot of Dot definitely went on the carpet.

I did a lever bleed on some shimano brakes the other month and it took less than 10 minutes all in. I couldn’t imagine having to wait 2 weeks in the current climate for someone to do that
  • 1 0
 Once you know how to do it, it takes a fraction of the time after the first attempt.
  • 7 1
 I’m a dentist and all the mechanics at my LBS have immaculate oral health…and guess what….none of my three bikes ever stays in the shop longer than one day (unless the new carbon rims I ordered are late). So stick that in your pipe and smoke it!!! Who’s laughing now suckazz!
  • 1 1
 except you're not providing the service with your hands?
  • 5 0
 I service my suspension and build my own wheels when I have more time over the winter. I find building wheels the most satisfying and brake bleeding the most annoying task I do. Over the years I have come to appreciate the reliability of Shimano drivetrains and detest the fiddlelyness of Sram. That said, Sram forks are easier to work on and parts/tools are cheaper than Fox.... I love fixing my bikes almost as much as I like to ride them.
  • 5 0
 Having started mountain biking in the 90s when pretty much every ride was spent 50% riding and 50% trail side repairs, there's another importance benefit to being able to fix your own bike - when it breaks in the arse end of nowhere, you don't have to spend hours walking back to civilisation carrying a nackered bike. I've always considered the ability to fix your own bike to be an intrinsic part of mountain biking.
  • 3 0
 Nothing like rigging an impromptu single speed or knee-truing a taco’d wheel so you can ride out! Those were the days
  • 2 1
 I started mountain biking in the 90s too. As much as anyone complains about challenges with todays maintenance, it all pales in comparison to trying to index a shimano xt derailleur in 1994... an impossible task.
  • 3 0
 @MT36: Yeah I gave up and just kept the little switch on my thumbshifter in friction mode.
  • 2 0
 I learned to be very trail handy after piloting an AMP B-3 back in the day......exploding shocks and everything else!
  • 7 0
 Things like a lower leg service are so easy, need little tools and go a long way in keeping the performance good. Do it!
  • 3 0
 90's era marzocchi bombers were the EASIEST forks on the planet to work on.........modern rock shox are pretty easy to work on, especially the solo-air damper types....
  • 3 0
 @jokermtb: True, anyway no one will service the old Marzocchis and it is a 1h job. I did my Marzo 380 and Pike last week. Putting new seals can be a pain in the ass sometimes.
  • 1 0
 @Ba1rog: I will say that newer solo-air type Rock Shox forks are extremely easy to service, at least for oil changes and seals....simple usually equals easy to service.
  • 4 0
 Riding in Denver, the DIY life is born from necessity. Right now, you can't book a simple repair less than 3-4 weeks out at any of the reputable MTB mechanics in the metro area. I needed a Hope bleed + rear caliper rebuild/seals. It was either wait until early July and pay $~150 in labor or $70 in proprietary tools and parts and an evening learning something new about my bike.

I'll still leave suspension servicing to the pros especially the nitrogen charge for dampers, but it's been very rewarding learning to do virtually everything else on my bike myself.
  • 12 0
 Shops are booking two to three weeks out here as well, and the riding is prime - it pays to know how to fix your own shit.
  • 4 3
 The front range millens are freaking out, mouth agape, hands in the air crying because they don’t know how.
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: When it's doing the repair in the evening and then riding the next day vs putting your ride in the shop for a week and paying way more than what would cost you in materials and tools... the choice is simple
  • 5 0
 Ah the satisfaction of completely deep cleaning, greasing and oiling my bike after a couple hours in the garage. Nothing like it. ...Until I look over and see the wife's bike, three kids bikes. Ah shit.
  • 4 0
 If you're detail oriented, patient, and willing to accept an occasional failure, spinning wrenches might be for you. However, if you don't take the time to ensure you have the correct compatible parts and tools, then take the time to follow the correct process(es) to complete the repair you've started-might not be a good idea.

That first wheel or two might take 2-3 hours each to lace, tension, destress (repeat a few times), relace where you got the pattern wrong (crap) then relace because you have spokes crossing at the valve hole, relace a third time because you can't see the hub logo through the valve hole, and repeat you'll finally (finally) have a well built wheel. And yeah-the pattern needs to be right, and you SHOULD be able to see the hub logo through the valve hole-if that seems too fussy will you bother to use a torque wrench on your stem? Or make sure you pressed your new bearings into your frame squarely?

So if you're fastidious enough-find a clean corner to get set up, watch some tutorials on the job you're going to do and take your sweet time. If that seems like too much, keep your bike wiped down, your drivetrain clean, your chain lubed, and your tires inflated........and bring the person at your local shop a sixer when you bring your bike in.
  • 4 0
 Thanks Mike! “Because it feels good to know how to do it” was what I needed to hear. Finally pulled the trigger on a proper repair stand today. $270 for a Park Tools PCS-10… not because I want to save $$$ on repairs, but because I want a Zen & the Art of Bicycle Maintenance experience of knowing how to do more shit.
  • 3 0
 There is something refreshing about doing your own maintenance. Learning basics and fundamentals means you become the team mechanic and salvage your buddies chain to save the group ride, help them do lowers services, change out cassettes, and drink beers with good mates.
  • 5 0
 I learned to build my own bikes and wrench on my own bikes after so many shop's attitudes were garbage. Been years of freedom now. Never again, LBS, never again.
  • 6 0
 "Bike shops hate him for this one simple trick" - Levy changing his own tire.
  • 6 0
 And don't be the the image with oil all over your fingers. That shit goes straight to your liver. Put gloves on.
  • 1 0
 I was totally that mechanic for years... young and invincible and stupid. He's right- just wear the gloves!
  • 3 0
 Knowing how to maintain every aspect of your bike is a crucial aspect of heading out on an all-day or multi-day epic into the backcountry. If you wait until things are broken to take your die into the shop, that's how you get surprises on the trail, and also how you end up not knowing what tools to carry or how to repair things on the go. Not sure how so many people get away without maintaining their own bikes...
  • 3 0
 I do everything except wheel building. I'd do it so infrequently that I'd never get good at it.

That said, I have a very good feel for how tight things should be (yes, I use a torque wrench too, but not everything has published torque values). I've discovered that some people do not have this ability, and will either strip everything they put a tool on, or their bike will fall to pieces on the next ride. The former will find being a home mechanic very expensive. The latter may end up in the ER.
  • 4 1
 After spending about 600 bucks on tools ( 35% of which was a good but basic park tool bike stand ) I can finally completely rebuild my bike. I find it therapeutic and no one can do a better job ( regreasing each bearing after the season ) than me. The only thing I do not touch is god damn rear shock ( forks are relatively easy with proper tools ).

This season my last year bike runs better than when it was brand new from the store.

600 bucks is a huge investment for a person who considers every dollar spend on this MTB lifestyle, but I did this over two years as different mechanic jobs come up and def already offset it with just a fork lower service and brake bleed alone based on LBS pricing for such things.

P.S. This also includes countless hours of watching mechanic videos on Youtube

P.P.S. Get yourself a high quality tools for the job

- good torque wrench is 90 CAD on Amazon, you do not need fancy WERA for 270 CAD, but avoid chepos for 50 bucks
- nice set of Bondhus allen keys are half price of Park tools ( do you know who makes allen keys for Park Tools? Well know you do Big Grin )
- Fox lower leg removal tools are made by some Polish guy on eBay for half a price and better quality,
- 3D printed seal drivers all over eBay and Amazon for 20 bucks and make fork service super easy
- High quality grease in a Car Shop is available for 50-70% less than MTB branded stuff
- You can buy these cheap tools on amazon ( chain slap, bottom braket removal tool, bearing press), the cheapst ones are still very good quality due to simplicity of the tools.
- brake bleed kits on Amazon are around 40 CAD and same quality as branded stuff, will last you a few bleeds if you clean them properly... but I was never able to get more life out of them ( wear and tear dut to aggressive DOT fluid maybe, even after cleaning)
  • 2 0
 Couldn't agree more! No shop is as motivated as you are to spend the time to do the job properly. I trust my skills far more than any shop mechanic. Build your tool kit up over time, get the right tools for the job, watch youtube, and take your time.
  • 2 0
 You are better off with a calibrated elbow than a cheap torque wrench.
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce: in my experience, my elbow calibration is about 20% off which is enough to strip or snap bolts Big Grin
  • 2 1
 @valrock: I've never snapped the head off a bolt without a cheap torque wrench. Nothing on a bike requires bolt snapping power. Even good torque wrenches not stored properly can lead to false confidence and stripping and snapping.

Everything else you say is good advice, but don't ever cheap out on measuring devices.
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce: I still stand by that paying 270 CAD for MTB branded torque wrench is not worth it. As well as buying 50 CAD one from local car shop. But Amazon is full of stuff for about 100 CAD that are great, and for lower torque there is CDI one that is being rebranded and sold for 200% by other companies.
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce
@valrock

The $50 is probably fine too.

youtu.be/4LjKpVLLqNc

You'd be better off eyeballing the calibration periodically than relying on a name brand or budget.

m.youtube.com/watch?v=XaqBA-xSGbc
  • 1 0
 @jdejace: no 50 bucks is not worth it... replacing some very specific bolt will cost you half of that... if you have carbon frame risk is damaging that is too damn high. If you read reviews for those cheap ones they are good... but about 10% are total of calibration or do not click at all. 100 bucks range usually comes with a nice case and high-quality bike-specific bits and sockets which add value on their own.
  • 1 1
 @valrock: You do you. Spending an arbitrary amount that nobody can seem to agree on makes you feel better. Calibration makes me feel better.
  • 2 0
 @jdejace: buy helicoil and ez-outs.

This message sponsored by $50 torque wrenches.
  • 1 0
 @jdejace: nobody != you Big Grin Have a nice day
  • 3 0
 Definitely Satisfying being able to work on your own bike. Get a couple good beers, the tunes going and wrench away. Also after the initial investment of tools it’s alot cheaper. Just replace all my pivot bearings, new bb, rebuilt my dropper, bled brakes, fresh tires. 2 season old bike feels brand new again. And only cost me $220 all in. Mean while my buddy just paid a lbs $500 and a week and a half with no bike to just do pivot bearings and rear brake bleed.
  • 3 0
 my buddy likes taking his bike to the shop as often as possible. i think he feels its a good way to 'show off' his bike. he also only likes to ride certain places that I would consider 'poser-hubs'. he couldnt ride the other week because bike was in shop, I asked 'oh whats it in for?? to blow up the tyres???? he responded 'NO! had to replaced a SNAPPED gear cable (omg emoji)!!!!' the shop was a 30 min drive. he thinks hes doing the right thing because he spent £4000 on a bike he should let the experts deal with it?? I no longer offer the guy any advice whatsover but I did laugh to myself about shifter cable taking 10 mins to run a new inner through..
  • 3 0
 I taught myself how to do most aspects of bike repair because I was a broke teenager on a cheap bike who kept breaking things. It just so happens that I found that I enjoyed working on the bike and ended up becoming a mechanic in a shop which put me through the formal qualifications. 15 years on from the time I started working on my bike, I'm still at it and still love it and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with it.
  • 3 0
 Fixing my bike is like therapy. Sometimes if I'm stressed, I head to the garage and service the drive train, bearings, fork, etc. even if there's nothing wrong with the bike. After an hour or two of tinkering I usually feel much more centered.
  • 1 0
 Heck yes, exactly this... as long as the repair goes somewhat smoothly anyway haha
  • 3 0
 Wrenching for over 40 years. Once because I was a kid with a dad who taught me how to use tools, then when I knew I could set up my bike exactly like I wanted it better than anyone else, and now that I have more money than time, because bikes are simple machines, it's fun, and I trust my work more than the kid at the shop's. I'd rather buy a tool that I keep in my chest than pay the same money and wait for someone else to do it. I have done suspension work, but I'll leave that to the pros these days. Everything else is easy, including brake bleeds.
  • 3 0
 Robert M. Persig wrote a book several years ago about this titled, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” The book describes two kinds of people, those who are more interested in how things work, and those who care more about it just working. The former folks are already fixing their own bikes, and the latter keep the bike shops open.
  • 3 0
 Been so long since I took a bike to a shop I don’t even know what they charge these days but I imagine it’s not cheap. Always operated on theory that over the long term it’s cheaper buying the tools.
  • 2 0
 I usually break something the first time I try to fix it.....learned this back in the 90's when I was replacing a clutch basket on my 1985 KX125, and missed the whole thing about ft/lbs vs in/lbs for the clutch basket bolts....snapped off the head of the clutch basket bolts using ft/lbs, instead of in/lbs....very annoying mistake! Nothing more gratifying than working on stuff yourself, as you learn a lot about how things actually work, even if you're breaking them!
  • 5 0
 Also, if you're going to pay someone else to do it, at least clean your bike first you lazy git!
  • 1 0
 thankyou
  • 5 0
 How good is it to see something by Levy? Such a relief. And a great read as always.
  • 3 0
 Seconded. This was a great premise and very well written.
  • 1 0
 @andrewmajor: @andrewmajor: It had an uncle dave vibe, albeit toned down from 11 to 9 ish.
  • 2 0
 Seems like it would be uber stressful to not work on your own stuff, what if you have a big trip planned and break something a few days before just going to hope the bike shop can fix it or dont go?

Between 3 bicycles and two motorcycles if I didnt work on my own stuff I would be driving back and forth to shops constantly and would only be able to afford one of the above.
  • 2 0
 I do it just so I don't have the downtime in the shop. I can't have my bike away from me for 7 days! I will do most everything to keep my wheels rolling, but a shop visit (off season?) is a great way to get everything just that-much-more dialed in.
  • 2 0
 Over the last several years I've incrementally built up my bike repair skills. This was greatly accelerated due to the COVID bike shop boom, where in my area (Nor Cal) there is a 1-3 week wait for nearly anything. Among my riding group I find those who are naturally more mechanically inclined people (like myself, I'm an engineer so go figure) are naturally more willing to step up and do their own bike repair. Those who have had next to no exposure to anything mechanical their entire lives view it as a magical black box where the mechanic is the wizard who knows exactly what to do. I respect both schools of thought completely. Do whatever you're inclined to do and whatever gives you satisfaction. Smile
  • 2 0
 I badly want to be my own mechanic, however one of the things that holds me back is being able to diagnose *what* exactly is wrong. Shifting incorrectly? Which way should the derraileur be moved? Also, if I were to start doing my own work, is there a good basic tool set I should get? I already have allen wrenches and pliers, but what do I need to work on my suspension? Any help is appreciated.
  • 2 0
 It is hard to start from the beginning where you are, although lots of us had to; its worth the time and effort. Pick a single issue and then research what the solution is on the internet. You can do searches, forums, and there are so many youtube vids out there as well. Bikes always need something, so over time, just working on one problem at a time will yield a lot of experience and knowledge.

When I first started, my first round diagnosis was only accurate about 50% of the time, but gets better with experience. Even if you make mistakes, view those as learning opportunities; over time, you will get proficient.

I never bought a tool set but just bought tools as I need them for jobs I am trying to do. There is a learning curve involved but it gets easier the more you learn, and mistakes are very good for learning.
  • 3 0
 There is certain art to doing diagnostics. Understanding the fundamentals of how a part is supposed to work will help guide that process. Having a strong sense of curiosity really helps. I actually enjoy dealing with challenging problems that other people give up on. It's also possible to develop a mechanical intuition. As you approach the bike, you may get a hunch for what the issue might be. This intuition gets further developed when you have the desire to know the true root cause of a issue. You can look at wrenching on bikes an allegory for spiritual development. The process either works, or it doesn't. Your bike can be a medium for expressing that objective truth, based on well it's working when you're done. For now, I would focus on learning how to to tune a drivetrain before diving into doing suspension work. As you grow in your skills, you'll also find out what your strengths and weaknesses are. I buy tools individually as I need them. I also stock up when if I find deals. Many can be substituted with what you find at your local hardware store. You can get a really nice set of Bondhus or PB-Swiss hex wrenches cheaper at your local tool store, than paying more for the bike branded stuff.
  • 4 0
 I'm a bike mechanic. There's literally only one other person on this planet I trust to work on my bike, and he's a career mechanic like me.
  • 3 0
 Amen brother.
  • 7 5
 When I first started dating my wife, she had some car issues, so I fixed her car. She later told me that she'd never seen someone who could use tools ... yup, got the girl by knowing how to work on shite! People who can't work on stuff are lame.
  • 3 0
 The skills I’ve developed from NOT taking my bike to the shop every time it needed maintenance have paid dividends more times than I can count, both for myself, the people I ride with, and the occasional stranded stranger.
  • 2 0
 I make a habit to buy a new tool everytime I come across major bike work and learn to use it. I used to be the guy who brought his wheels to the shop to get a cassette swapped. I'm now at the point where suspension, brakes and BBs are my only Achilles heel, but I don't really want to get into those things anyway. That and embarrassingly- tubeless tires. I just cannot get that done in a timely, clean or non super aggressively angry fashion. I also agree though with another person who said they have more money then time, not that I have tons of money. But sometimes I'm more then willing to part with it to use the time to ride.
  • 3 1
 Cracks me up when I hear guys at the trail head talking about sending in their bike to get the tires set up tubeless.

The only thing better than learning how wrench on a bike is teaching your kid how to do the same. I have never needed to take a bike to a shop outside of dropping a rear shock off for a full service. I recently built up a bike with my teen, from setting a star nut and doing a lowers service, to swapping out the drivetrain and bleeding brakes. Maybe it's me but spending a few hours getting a bike to shift perfectly or rebuilding something is meditative and relaxing.

Also, being known as the neighbor "who fixes bikes" brings with it a fresh, rotating beer selection.
  • 2 0
 I like just fixing my own stuff. I have no one else to blame for the failure that may happen next. And while I am not poor, or broke, the money it costs to fix some stuff isn't worth the time to take it to the shop. Especially true when it comes to my 25 year old diesel van that is also my workshop (and my home when the GF eventually dumps me).

Also, I like knowing I can (or can't) fix something on the side of the road or trail.
  • 2 0
 “ Unless you've got the skills and tools, forget about deep jobs like working on your suspension.” Lmao

Nothing deep or skill related in doing a lower leg service. The cost of the proprietary tools (if you choose to use them) will be less than one service likely anyways.
  • 2 0
 I made up my mind years ago to fix my own bikes. I was a student with children, so I had neither money nor time. I am not naturally mechanically oriented either and I'm not patient, but I put in the time and effort anyway.

Now, I can do anything on a bike, except build a wheel. I have money and time, but I still do my own repairs and upgrades because I am impatient, and don't want my bike sitting around someone else's shop waiting to get attention. I hate missing rides more than I am afraid of making beginning mechanic mistakes and learning how to work on a bike. This is opinionated, but how can you be a well rounded MTBer if you don't do your own work? Things will break on the trail. The whole rig will need tuning and retuning. You will want to not only choose the best upgrades, but upgrades that actually fit your specs for your bike.

It is not a moral issue by any means, but I feel if I didn't know how to fix or build a bike I would be missing out on a lot in the sport, not least of all some very performance oriented aspects of the sport.
  • 2 0
 One things that seems to be missing in both the op-ed and comments is the impact on smaller, independent shops who keep the lights on by doing repairs. With the Trek-store-ification going on in most areas, Specialized and other brands buying up chain shops, this will end up killing jobs and shops and leaving us with less choice. These types of shops are also (from my experience) the ones that do shoddy setups and repairs, so I keep using services from my local independent shop for things I don’t feel I’ve mastered. Just my 2 cents!
  • 2 0
 I am suprised at how low the billed labor rate is at bike shops. Here in Santa Barbara CA I would expect $140/hr for skilled tech work, which this is.

Anway, I am always embarrassed by males that do not work on their own stuff. It's one thing to pay to do it due to time, and another to pay to do due to lack of understanding. I fix computers (IT Tech by trade), cars, plumbing, house problems, electrical, bikes, woodworking etc.
  • 2 0
 Before I ever worked a day in a bike shop, I thought I really knew a thing or two about fixing a bike. Then I got a job at a shop- and discovered, in short order, that I didn't know the first thing about it- and had in fact been doing things wrong. Granted, that was before the age of youtube (big ups to all of you Zinn and the Art readers out there)- so it's probably a lot easier to find the right way to do things these days- but still...

It's very easy to learn the wrong way to do things outside of the professional setting, and you don't know what you don't know. When you bring your bike into a shop, you're going to people who (hopefully, I know not every shop is great) know what they're doing- because the art and science of bike repair has been passed down to them by others.

I'll say this- do most of the general stuff yourself. Let the shop handle the big stuff, and every year (or two) bring it in for a good old fashioned tune up by someone else. Oh- and don't forget to tip 'em- After all, us poor young bike mechanics (the good old days to be honest) are people too, and could really use the cash!
  • 2 0
 The year was 1996 and i had to ride on a weekend... simply had to! After asking my father every 10 minuts to take may rear wheel for truing he finally got tired and said: "dam your grand father new how to do that, why dont you follow his footsteps?"
Well i did, and by 99/00 i had my own lbs up to 07. Today i only work on my bikes or on close friend´s bikes and still love doing it.
  • 2 0
 As a long time bike shop mechanic I would like to thank the author for the impending rush of new home mechanics. Becoming a"good" mechanic requires a lot of trial and error. When you do make a bad error, our shop will welcome you without criticism or "better than you" attitude. I'll even show you what to do next time.
The tone of this article feels anti bike shop. Which is unfortunate. Yes, there are some shitty shop people out there. But there is also a lot of really great people who are on a mission to help riders have more fun. I've always believed having a good relationship with a shop adds to the experience. I'm also very handy with a background in all kinds of blue collar skills. However, when I want something done right the first time, I go to the professionals.
  • 2 0
 It may not seem like much but just yesterday I upgraded my 180mm rotors to 200mm!! I add to install the 20mm adapters, install the rotors, align the brake pads and rotors and bed them in!! I was delighted that I could do it and I saved myself a maybe €50-60 and a few days without my bike!!
  • 2 0
 Mr Levy..., thanks for this. I don't spend much time reading through comments. And even when I do for an article that captures my imagination - like this one - I mostly focus just on the last few score. But his article and comments are an exception. The range of responses was amazing. From barely contained anger to outright cluelessness. I laughed to hard it brought tears to my eyes. Every word had value. Whether from the shop owner, pro mech, diehard downhill slammer, youngsters & ratty old wore-out wizards - it seems like everybody has a stake in this. Maybe your article will prompt many to learn. Buy a few tools. Pick up a manual or two. Ask the shop mechanic a few questions. Learn some patience. And not let their pride get in the way of their basic instincts of when they're over their heads. Yup. Good stuff Maynard.
  • 2 0
 Thanks Mike! “Because it feels good to know how to do it” was what I needed to hear. Finally pulled the trigger on a proper repair stand today. $270 for a Park Tools PCS-10… not because I want to save $$$ on repairs, but because I want a Zen & the Art of Bicycle Maintenance experience of knowing how to do more shit.
  • 2 0
 Space ... the final frontier. The story as I saw it. Probably around 15 years ago a guy, James, quit working in a big shop and struck out on his own doing suspension component work. He worked from his basement, in a laundry room about 7 ft square. Tools and parts neatly arranged above the dryer and washer. That lasted a while and he moved to the garage, then to local shop space and now is one of the largest Wet Coast suspension specialty shops. And he started it in the laundry room. Apologies James, THE Largest Wet Coast shop.
  • 2 1
 Fix it yourself and take responsibility for yourself. Ain’t gonna help you if you saw thru your spokes 20 miles from civilization just because somebody else working on your bike backed out the end stops on the derailleur and forgot to reset them.
  • 6 5
 Working on suspension is not that hard and the benefits are enormous. Don't know like it works in US/Canada, but in Poland servicing suspension takes a week at absolute best and in winter up to 2 months if you want to do in acceptable money (I mean, you need to bring it and wait in a queue). Service will also typically charge you a retail MSRP on parts (even if they buy them much cheaper) .. So learning how to do it is not only lot's of money saved (all labour + at least 20% on parts), but also a lot of time. Sure, you can mess something up, but there are lots of tutorials on YT. There are of course exceptions like Fox X2 and similarly complicated dampers which are pain in the ass, they are doable but you will never do them very well without vacuum, but you can do them well enough. The best idea is to buy suspension which works well and is not very hard to service, typically it will also outlast super smooth but complicated stuff.
  • 13 2
 “Service will also typically charge you a retail MSRP on parts (even if they buy them much cheaper)”

Yeah…it’s called profit margins, it’s how a business affords to remain in business, and pay employees. Shops and service centers get dealer cost after being verified with the company as a resale entity, customers and consumers get retail. That’s how that works.
  • 3 4
 @mountainyj: the point is you can almost always buy it cheaper elsewhere. So there are shops which can earn money selling things with less margin, but the service has margin over labour and extra high margin on parts. I call this greed.
  • 4 2
 @lkubica: you have no idea how resale works. Shops are allowed to sell items at MSRP(they’re even allowed to go over this if they wish). Companies will list a set MAP price, Minimum advertised price. Shops and online resale dealers caught selling below this will generally be punished, by increased costs to them, or loss of dealership rights. This protects all other resale businesses and keeps an even playing field. Review Shimano’s online sales readjustments 3 years ago.
A shop has to calculate all of their costs of overhead, ie electrical, rent, mortgage, employee wages, and taxes. On any given day, their profit margin off of labor can barely be breaking even, or a even a loss. On good days they profit off of their labor margin. Having a set margin on goods allows a consistent margin to help keep the doors open and lights on. If on large sales, or services they feel like being generous and discounting their labor or products, that is up to them, but shouldn’t be something consumers expect to happen.
You are more than welcome to tinker and work on your own bike all you want. But criticizing shops who have gone through the effort of setting up a business, buying (renting) a brick and mortar retail/service space, hiring employees who they try to pay well, all so they can support and build a community around bikes and the joy of biking will get you nowhere. The only thing you’ll get from this is kicked to the back of the service line, and fairly charged for every second of service you require.
Go start a business please and then come back to this thread and review your philosophy.
  • 1 0
 I started learning how to work and fix my own bike the day I got my first MTB. Now, the only thing I can't and don't do at home are (re)building wheelsets, removing/pressing press-fit BBs, EC or ZS headset cup removal/instertion, and doing closed cartridge fork and shock damper maintenance. Mainly because I don't do those often enough to want to buy the expensive tools for them, I don't have the resources for involved suspension rebuilds, and I'm not really interested in the intricacies and sorcery involved in building wheels. I leave that to the pros at my LBS. But everything else including and up to bearing replacement, lower leg fork maintenance, open bath damper maintenance, replacing shock/fork seals, cables, brakes, etc. etc., I can do at home.

Saves me a ton of money too. Hourly labor charges at the LBS aren't cheap.
  • 5 1
 Wheel building isn't hard at all. There's this mystique around it as evidenced by your comments on it, but it's quite simple. Make sure the bigger spoke gap at the rim is over the valve stem. Have another wheel on hand to look at. You can get away with not using a tension gauge if you've got a good musical ear, though it is better to use one.
  • 4 0
 @Explodo: there’s many levels to building quality wheels that last. What you’ve described is the basic assembly.
When you start to understand using specific spoke types and gauges in leading and trailing circumstances, along with specific tensions in these cases, and how it results in ride quality, you’ll have a better understanding of the complex intricacies that go into building the highest quality wheel possible. This isn’t something that is learned through building one or two wheels, but hundreds.
  • 1 0
 I do sometimes. I enjoy it. But I'm only adequate at anything but the basics. I just don't do specific things enough to get really good at them . If I had a fleet of bikes and rode every day as my job, it would be different and I'd progress. But while I'll fix what needs fixing so I can ride, my bike inevitably feels crisper when I get a professional tune up.
  • 1 0
 The bike industry gets in its own way with "marketing innovations" that make my life harder.

"Marketing innovations" always seem to sacrifice ease of service for minimal performance benefit. What is the next thing that looks good, but will make servicing my bike a pain in the ass?
  • 1 0
 I'm always down to work on drivetrain or brakes. I'm getting more comfortable with basic suspension work and a couple of friends are great wheel builders. Installing tires with inserts is a mess, but doable. While it is probably my least favorite work, it sure is satisfying to see a new fuzzy tire with bright graphics pop onto the rim.
  • 1 0
 I have built 2 bikes for my sons and in the process, I get them involved in the build up, that way they learn how to and what to trouble shoot if something breaks down and they can ride out. I will admit that the only component of a bike that I won't touch is the fork/shock. But other than that, repairing or changing out worn parts is pretty straight forward with lots of good videos on YT. Especially ParkTool videos.
  • 1 0
 Iv been doing all my own bike maintanence for years and all my bikes are noisy as shit. Smooth shifting gears never last for more one ride after adjustment, i have three ride old gx dereallieur that shits like ass, and i try to fix after every ride without any joy
  • 5 0
 but what if I'm an idiot tho
  • 1 0
 "but what if I'm an idiot tho"
best have the money and be at the mercy of others : )
  • 1 0
 I did a Sunday afternoon bike maintenance session with the manager of one of my local bike shops, about 10 years ago. He took me through the whole process of stripping down and rebuilding my full suss. Was definitely a very good starting point for gaining knowledge and I’ve gradually built that up so that I can do most of the routine stuff, other than suspension servicing.
If I do come up against something that I’m not sure on, then the bike goes in for a mechanic to look at.
  • 2 0
 a friend destroyed a stem topcap the other day. the headset was loose - he tried to take the play out of it by winching down the topcap bolt (until it broke the cap) without loosening the steerer bolts on the stem...
  • 1 0
 I'll do everything except build wheels and service shocks and fork dampers. I built a wheel once, then paid a shop to fix it and they charged me as much as they would have if they had built it. Dampers are complicated, and I am tried of buying new tools just about every time. Though my suspension guy recently told me the damper in one of my forks is really easy so I may give it a try again. Shocks, again, special tools. While I have a few for the forks, I don't have most of the ones needed for shocks, and since my family rides too, I have a number of shocks to service.
  • 2 1
 I suck with tools. Probably cause more issues than I'd fix. I was able to setup my wheels as tubeless though, surprised my bike didn't randomly catch on fire randomly later. I think I'm going to try to get a bleed kit for my brakes and give that a shot.
  • 1 0
 I just did the same thing, and describe myself in the same way with most tools. Bleed kit video was fairly straightforward. It might take an annoying amount of time tho
  • 1 0
 I typically go to the bike shop after failing at the job myself. I find it useful just knowing how things work. I'm not much of a mechanic but I've gotten people broken down on the trail going again, a few of times over the years.
  • 1 0
 I work on my bike up untill A Bolt or something wont do what its ment to, then will drop off at shop.
I just pulled all the grease from my brand new 36 factory airspring - it rides much nicer now that its missing the 100g or more of grease from the Negative air spring side.

Everybody should be able to:
Adjust Derailleur
grease pivots and torque correctly.
and change basic seals on fork/shock
bleed brakes

Generally everything else like Wheel true, big suspension services etc are fine to go down to the shop.

Should also be mandatory for every Person who buys a complete with Sram brakes they are taught how to bleed them correctly so they cant come on social media and whinge.
  • 1 0
 It's good to have a long-term view when asking if you should learn how to fix something, it's a skill set that you retain for life, similar to investing in good tools.
The first couple times might take longer than a trip to the shop, but once you know it by heart you'll often knock out a repair in less time than it'd take you for both trips (drop-off and pick-up).
And you have the satisfaction of having the job done right and maybe save some cash.

Not to mention the benefits of trailside repair skills............
  • 1 0
 It is all fun and games until you find a threaded part or bolt with red loctite, which is never shown or mentioned in the manufacturer manual or the youtube vid you just have watched. The best tools that have saved me from going to my LBS with a defeat have been a good bench vise, an axle vise, a portable torch and get a breaker bar.
  • 1 0
 Over the years I've learned how to do so much but still use my LBS for a few things around shock and fork servicing.Having a bit of knowledge has saved a long walk home or back to the car for myself or a friend on a fair few occasions as well. I generally build my bikes up myself from the frame up and that is so satisfying, even the threading of internal routed cables that have no internal guides!!!!
  • 1 0
 i do pretty much everything myself, wheel building, brake bleeding, frame bearings. full suspension service on any suspension components where the manufacturer puts out service guides or at least willing to send you the info individually. MRP and DVO are particularly good at that (currently have an MRP Stage and DVO topaz). Besides sending shocks that I couldnt crack out for service, havent had anyone else work on my bike or its parts since 2006 shortly after I started riding when I had the shop install new handlebars and I got the bike back with untightened stem bolts. Which made me vow to do it all myself from then on. .With a little creativity you often dont need the special tools they make you think you need.
  • 1 0
 I can't afford to support the local shops nearly as much as I'd like to. So I l learned to wrench from reading, watching and doing. I found that it was very relaxing (most of the time...) and it was something I could do without bothering with life's BS for a while.

I'm not rich enough to afford the GG or Canfield that I'd love to get so I built my own bike with modern parts and an old classic 05 Cannondale Prophet frame. I did a full 27.5 conversion, 1x11, fox factory 34 150mm, magura mt5s etc. That took me years to get to and it's never done. The geometry is weird, the regressive single pivot limits shock options etc, but it's what I can afford. I'm fine with that. Ride what you got.

I like wrenching almost as much as I like riding.
  • 1 0
 I had a Prophet as well - great bikes, and I hear you on that regressive rate... mine had a coil-sprung Roco and had to be over-sprung by about 300 in/lb haha
  • 1 0
 This is why we need to know what stuff actually lasts and is less prone to breaking. I can do lots of stuff that needs to be fixed and adjusted as part of a regular maintenance scheme, but when I have to deal with loose pivots and more complicated or time consuming things repeatedly and, quite frankly annoyingly often, I run out of time. So yes, I’ll work on things, but please sell me stuff that is not going to break when you look at it wrong. I am also a clydesdale, so I am hard on things. Second (hardtail) bike has been a necessity, because if stuff breaks or there are issues (on either bike, but really the FS), sometimes I neither have the time to fix it myself OR take it to the shop. But how the heck would I know which frame to buy next not for its incredible small bump sensitivity or pedaling efficiency, but for durability? That’s information I need. Where do I get that? Like the German ADAC pannenstatistik that gives you car reliability data for each year and model.
  • 2 0
 LBS' love saying, "the internet can't fix your bike," in response to online sales.

...But no one ever says, "the bike shop can't fix your bike on the side of a trail."

Learning how to wrench is invaluable.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, When I was 12, I did all my bike repairs, I loved taking the bike apart and putting it back together. When I was working, I used the shop for 99% of maintenance - I had a great relationship with a shop owner who did my repairs himself. Now that I'm retired, I'm trying to get myself back to that my 12 year old level of repair skills (or riding skills, or that matter)
  • 1 0
 The argument being made is pretty much the same as Mathew Crawford's "Shop Class as Soulcraft", that there is something of value in working on your stuff. I would agree that you can gain something from learning to fix your bike or anything else, or build something.
Obviously its subjective, if you aren't open to finding value in the experience you aren't going to, but for me it is something I actually enjoy and it does make the experience of riding different for me.
I also like working on my old jeep, brewing my own beer, and working on my friends' or local kids' bikes. I am busy but I want make time for things I find rewarding, after all soon we'll be dead.
  • 1 0
 Just remember to keep warranty work to a minimum. If you screw something up trying to fix it that is covered under warranty, you will really be pissed at yourself. If something is already broken, then don't be afraid to dive in and repair it on your own. And Snap On or Park Tools are not needed to basic work. Good ole' Harbor Freight tools work fine!
  • 1 0
 Haven't seen a comment one that I can't agree with. Lots of factors at play about whether to do it yurself, rely on yur LBS, or even send stuff off to a factory service resource. But whatever you need to do in any of a myriad of circumstances (including just run it to ground) - one basic truth remains. You really need to be able to fix yur own toys. Within yur capabilities. And that basic truth applies from bicycles, through motorcycles. And should also include monster trucks, golf clubs, airplanes, fishing gear, antique cars, and yur decorative weaving loom. I mean..., you envision yurself to be "da man", right? Imagine what people think about that when you need to take even the simplest of trailside repairs & adjustments to the shop, and the 12 year old gremmie who's hanging out & sweeping the floors, fixes it in two minutes on the fly with his Dad's old rusted broken ca.1985 multi-tool that he carries like most of us do a pocket knife. True nature is revealed. Instead of going off galavanting on vacation - go to bike-school. You'll be SO HAPPY that you did. Besides learning new & amazing stuff about how to deal with yur own problems - you WILL become a more competent bicyclist - and you'll make new friends & gain new insights about what bicycling is all about. And..., you will have taken big steps forward in your quest to grow up & become "da man" in others eyes besides just your own.
  • 1 0
 As a mechanic/engineer, to those who do fix their own bikes, if do get into the really oily and greasy jobs (brake bleeding, shock/fork rebuild etc) please use barrier cream or gloves, these substances aren’t good for you permeating through your skin.
  • 1 0
 All the commenters saying, “there’s really nothing to it, it’s so simple” are the same people bringing their bike in after attempting to play mechanic and then expecting the mechanic to listen to their embarrassing war story while they work. And it’s never women with the war story, just emasculated men. It gets old.
  • 2 0
 We should do a poll on the mechanical jobs that should be done by oneself, and those that should be done at shops.

For a start, should we send to the LBS for replacing of bearings on a full sus bike?
  • 2 0
 Excellent idea for a PB poll.
  • 1 0
 I'm no ace mechanic, but I always say 'I can't afford the type of cork-sniffing maintenance I like to do to my bikes'. Deep cleaning with a q-tip, flushing & filling sealed bearings, periodically torque-checking every bolt, peeling dried latex off of tires, snipping zip tie ends with toenail clippers... if I had to pay someone to do all this I wouldn't be able to ride bikes.
  • 2 0
 Imagine if no one ever fixed their own bikes and took them in to be serviced/fixed no one would ever be riding with the line up of bikes waiting to be serviced/fixed
  • 1 1
 Yes, to an extent. I’ll do bleeds, component replacements, bolt checks, stuff like that, but suspension? No amount of YouTube video is going to get me to trust myself enough to mess with the internals. That I will gladly leave to the professionals
  • 3 0
 First (and only) time I tried to do a routine service on my fork I watched multiple youtube tutorials and read several articles. One of the first instructions was to give a part a smack with a rubber mallet, one guy in a video used a short piece of a 2x4. I gave it a light tap, probably not hard enough to unseat it but I wanted to be careful.... broke it...

Part of me thinks a Pro would have had the same problem, but then it would have been their problem and they have the tools, experience, and access to parts to fix it. I do most of my own service, but only jobs I know I can handle with the parts and tools I have on hand if something goes wrong.
  • 2 0
 @thrasher2: Jesus dude what did you do haha.

Also top tip, use a plastic mallet. A rubber mallet for tent pegs also works for a lot of things
  • 2 0
 @Sambikes11: It was this part from Rockshox lower leg service video: youtu.be/q71iSEEuiw0?t=137

The tech in this video was way rougher than I thought I was being. They make it look so easy! Just a couple quick taps!
  • 4 0
 Everybody should learn to fix everything.
  • 1 0
 I like to work on my bike and it's a fun side hobby to riding. However, I'd probably be a faster racer if I focused on riding instead of fiddling. Fortunately racing is just for fun as well.
  • 1 1
 Sure, you can YouTube the s*** out of anything and if you can turn a wrench, anyone can be a mechanic. My problems I face all the time are 1) given today's bike standards and price of parts, I would have to buy and wait to replace the part or fix it and may cost more than I hoped for and secondly, there is a specific tool for almost every part of the bike. I've ascertained just about every basic tool needed over the years and probably spent hundreds of dollars on them and hope that I might've saved some money somewhere down the line. I wonder how cost-effective that might've been compared to bringing my bike into the shop? I certainly believe in basic maintenance and feel anyone can (and should) attempt to do it however, the limit for me would be changing out a fork or pressing in a new bottom bracket as examples.
  • 1 0
 im comfortable fixing everything except servicing a rear shock. its great to learn how to do stuff yourself, because otherwise your bike will be in the shop for 2-3 weeks waiting on a service that only takes 2-3 hours
  • 2 0
 Should I service my fox lowers? It’s not really that’s it’s annoying and that you need specific tools and oil. It’s more that I’m lazy and I don’t wanna.
  • 5 0
 Put on music or a podcast and just get it done.
  • 1 1
 @mikelevy: Missed opportunity to plug the latest episode of the PB Podcast
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: haha I guess it’s settled then. I’ll re-watch the video Christina made a while back.
  • 3 0
 It takes me more time to take my bike to the shop, drop it off, pick it up and bring it home than it does for me to service lowers.
  • 2 0
 @snokarver: 100% this!
tune-ups, oil changes (car and bike), nearly any parts installs all take less time with cheap tools than both shop round-trips
  • 3 0
 I just love working on my bikes, simple as that.. Its not only about money , Its a passion
  • 2 0
 The new "on trend" internal headset cable routing does NOT make this easier. Designed for people that do not work on bikes, and buy based on looks alone.
  • 1 0
 So anyone knows how to fix that blown dropper post (wintek) I tried to fix for the third with new o-ring seals which did not work?

No spares and no YouTube video, only o-rings...
  • 1 0
 I feel like this may partly be a symptom of location. The mechanical aptitude vs money ratio is pretty skewed in the sea to sky corridor. I know seasoned riders that can’t even change. Tire. It’s crazy.
  • 2 0
 You need to give a trigger warning for images of a shop with an e-bike in it. Come on man. Now I have to go do my breathing exercises.
  • 2 2
 This stuff is so basic, even building a wheel is simple if you actually bother to try it. What one man can do another can do, just try and it will save you god knows how much money! I took my bike to a bike shop just once to have a bottom bracket pressed in as I didn’t have the tool. $70 for 3 minutes of work!!! Just bought the tool afterwards and can do it for free to mine and my friends bikes now…. Bike shops are a rip off especially considering how simple a mtb bike is to fix and maintain.
  • 2 0
 Funny, I just double checked our pricing and we charge $10. Which includes taking the frame in, writing up the request in Lightspeed so it can be billed, and confirming the details so if there are any issues in the future, the customer and shop are on the same page. Plus the time to get the BB press out and do the work. So a little more than 3 minutes.... Did you not check and agree the pricing before the work commenced?? Not all bike shops are a 'rip off'.
  • 5 5
 This article does nothing but undervalue the work and merit of what full time bike mechanics do, as well as being full of conflicting arguments and points. I agree that everyone can benefit to learn a little bit about how their bikes work and how to repair them on the side of the trail, but as someone who spends a lot of his days dealing with people who have broken things on their bikes by attempting to follow an un-reputable video online I would say, if you want to learn about fixing bikes, find a course to teach you through a local bike shop.

You mention in the article about cheap derailleur hanger tools and then 2 sentences down go on to talk about why would you pay a mechanic to use an "over-priced tool."

You also talk about the merits of building and lacing your own wheels then a paragraph down say "But I'm not talking about re-shimming a damper or even lacing a new wheel"
  • 13 1
 "This article does nothing but undervalues the work and merit of what full-time bike mechanics do" - They're not curing cancer or building a spaceship, they're just fixing silly bikes. I worked as a mechanic in the same small shop for more than a decade, and nothing that I wrote would have ever offended me. People should definitely take a class if they think it'll give them more confidence or a better understanding... but also, bikes aren't hard.

"You mention in the article about cheap derailleur hanger tools and then 2 sentences down go on to talk about why would you pay a mechanic to use an "over-priced tool." Totally, because some of them cost too much money and some of them cost way less but do the same thing.

"You also talk about the merits of building and lacing your own wheels then a paragraph down say "But I'm not talking about re-shimming a damper or even lacing a new wheel" Totally, because it'd be cool if everyone looked after their own wheels and I will always encourage people to do that, but I really want people to just look after their own damn bikes.
  • 4 2
 @mikelevy: "nothing that I wrote would have ever offended me" - I am not massively feeling offended I just feel during this article you massively undervalue and over simplify the work that bike mechanics do, shown once again by the "bikes aren't hard" comment.

What if rather than your derailleur hanger being bent its the derailleur cage, frame alignment, bent links in chain, bent teeth on the cassette, worn components such as chain, cassette, pulley wheels, clutch and so many more possibilities.

"Bikes aren't hard" - So the 100's of different industry standards make them simple? Certain jobs such as barrel adjusters are simple to learn and definitely something everyone should do, but there is still so much more than that.


Lacing / building a wheel to a high standard is something that you find loads of full time mechanics still can't do, especially to a standard that will live up to the abuse that the Pacific Northwest throws at them
  • 12 1
 @AlexAkers1996: I guess we'll have to disagree on this one. Having worked as a mechanic, I 100% believe that almost everyone should be capable of figuring out if it's their "derailleur cage, frame alignment, bent links in the chain, bent teeth on the cassette, worn components such as chain, cassette, pulley wheels, clutch, and so many more possibilities." All of those fall under the same category as a rusty shift cable - easy to diagnose and easy to fix.

I'm not trying to belittle what pro mechanics do, but I do believe that 90% of repair jobs are relatively easy and most people are able to do them, even if they won't. As for industry standards, they can certainly suck but Google is your friend when you need to figure out what bottom bracket or brake adapter you need.

Bikes aren't hard. Rebuilding a damper or lacing a wheel takes a bunch of knowledge and tools but no, the day-to-day repair jobs that most of us should be doing are not hard. You do not need to be a professional bike mechanic and talking like that discourages people from working their own stuff.
  • 8 0
 @mikelevy: "They're not curing cancer or building a spaceship, they're just fixing silly bikes." Truer words have never been spoken. Yes, you learned a skill. yes, some people are not mechanically apt, and what you do seems like magic to them. But there's plenty of OTHER people who are also mechanically apt, and can read a manual, that did not happen to choose a bike mechanic as their job. And they have to advantage of being able to take their time, since it's their bike.

And here's the kicker for me: I CARE about my bike. I've seen an awful lot bikes come out of bike shops with work done on them that was absolute proof that the mechanic didn't care if it the work was done right, incompetent, or both.
  • 5 0
 @groghunter: "I've seen an awful lot bikes come out of bike shops with work done on them that was absolute proof that the mechanic didn't care if it the work was done right, incompetent, or both"
Exactly. Some of my friends who send their bikes off to shops for maintenance had more problems afterwards than before. Some bikeshop mechanics put grease on pivot bolts instead of loctite. Guess what happened in the bikepark?
If you don't know the mechanics that work on your bike, they can cause a problems. So always try to do most things yourself and you can't blame anyone else for f*cking up your bike.
And if you ride RockShox suspension, even a damper rebuild is no rocket science if you have the right tools. Their documentation is very good
  • 2 0
 @bashhard: it actually makes me feel weird to own a bike i didn't build up myself. I'd much rather have something break because i did something wrong, than have something break because i got the last bike somebody assembled that day, and i didn't check it.
  • 1 0
 @bashhard: And then there's fox f*cking people over with two different $80 tools just to get the lower legs off.
  • 4 0
 Tinkering/working on the bike is almost as enjoyable as riding the bike.
  • 1 0
 Yup, agreed. There are certainly days when I could ride but just end up tinkering haha
  • 4 0
 Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance.
  • 1 0
 The only reason I fix my own bike is because the shops near me either can't get it done within the next 3 months, or they can't do it correctly period and just cause more problems.
  • 2 1
 Given that the vast majority of riders aren’t able to clean their bikes and lube chains properly, I’d hate to see what happens if/when even more riders start doing linkage bearing replacements with 2X4s and hammers…
  • 1 0
 That is not what Mike Levy is suggesting they do in this article. At least that’s not the impression I got.
  • 1 0
 I do some of the simple stuff... But before i do anything on bb's or cranks, the industry should sort their f**king standards out. Not gonna buy three different wrenches for three bikes.
  • 2 0
 Best bike article in awhile. Good one Levy! I love working on my bike and keeping it dialled so I can beat the shit out of it on the trails.
  • 1 0
 Up until recently I never even thought to take my bike into a shop for servicing. lol I've been riding bikes since 1973 and the first time I've taken a bike in for servicing was 2022 for a frame warranty claim.
  • 1 0
 Full workshop set up in my garage. Build my own wheels, bikes etc. Can't remember if any of my bikes were repaired in a bike shop, once a year for a shock damper rebuild and that's it.
  • 1 1
 Yes, fixing things on your own is satisfying. I'd say if you can afford a MTB then there are more rewarding and financially beneficial things to fix or learn about on your own than fixing your MTB (house repairs, stock, etc.). Derailleur a little off and want one fast? Buy off a take-off and swap your shifter and derailleur. Ride and do whatever makes you happy so long as it doesn't harm anyone else. AND it's not bad to support your LBS. Many support your local trails.
  • 1 0
 "but the next thing you know (or maybe hours later depending on how things go)" - it's definitely hours.

Or at least it seems that way, based on my annual re-learning of how to bleed brakes.
  • 4 3
 How are brick-n-mortar (BS) shops going to talk you into the newest tech if you don't bring your perfectly adequate bike in to have them work on it for you?
  • 2 1
 To a limit. I'll bleed brakes, change bearings, etc etc, but I won't do more than a lower leg service on a fork. I'll always pay a professional when it comes to suspension.
  • 7 8
 Golden rule: do it if you want to do it but DO IT WELL!!! Otherwise: learn how to do it well or pay someone skilled to do it.
(Engineers are the worst customers I have: they think they are genious and that maintaining a bike is "so simple"... whereas they can barely inflate a tyre or turn a screw in the right sense).
  • 11 1
 Yeah, all engineers are like that. No engineer can inflate a tire. Trust me, I'm an engineer
  • 8 1
 It's a well known fact that engineers know why things work but don't know how to make them work. If I had a dollar for every aerospace engineer who asked me "I work on planes for a living, don't you think I know how to fix a bike?" I could have retired.
  • 7 1
 @m47h13u: Some engineers are like that, yes. But there is not just one type of engineers. I don't understand this kind of engineer-bashing. I know quiet a few engineers who are incredibly good mechanics as well, not all of them are theoreticians.
  • 3 0
 @bashhard: I say that jokingly as I'm friends and family with many myself. And trust me, they joke about it too. Fixing bikes is very much something you can or can't be good at and education/title plays no part in it. I can work on bikes all day long but want to commit crimes against humanity anytime I work on a car. I'm also too close to an aerospace "hub" so the obnoxious types tend to be over-represented. I guess context is key.
  • 4 0
 Their are lots of different peoples that become engineers, where I work there’s guys who can’t turn a screwdriver, but can draw up great plans, and guys who barely know how to use a computer but built and do all the maintenance on their personal airplanes.
  • 7 0
 I am an engineer and can build or repair almost anything. That skill has absolutely nothing to do with being an engineer, and everything to do with spending way too much time working on my beater cars as a kid.
  • 2 0
 @m47h13u: THIS: "I work on planes for a living, don't you think I know how to fix a bike?"
In Toulouse most engineers work for Airbus aircrafts or for the aerospace industry and that's exactly the kind of discourse I'm often subject to... and they also like to discuss the price whereas they earn pretty good wages. My answer is: "10% on the bill = 10% on a plane if I buy one?". I love them so much...
  • 1 0
 If I'm an engineer, but was a bike mechanic first, where do I fall? Trying to decipher if I can turn a screw or not.
  • 2 1
 @phobospwns: I’m guessing it means you’re an expert at talking down to people.
  • 1 0
 @bashhard: HA! That's hilarious!! But yur right ona money. Definition of an expert, right? From one "expert" to another..., "a person who knows more & more about less & less - till they know everything there is about nothing at all".
  • 3 0
 27.2 degrees of brake lever angle...I need that app.
  • 1 0
 Yep, anyone know what app that is? @mikelevy
  • 3 0
 @dolface: Lots of angle finder apps out there, so I think it's just one of them. I use one to check test bikes, and I also have a cheap analog one from Home Depot - super handy to keep things consistent.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Thanks, which app do you use? As you said there are a ton of them out there and I just want to copy what someone else does because I'm lazy... Smile
  • 2 0
 Keep in mind garage floors have slope too for drainage. This was something I had to compensate for when making suspension changes to my race car in the shop. I had to use a laser level, mark 4 spots and make shims to bring the car to gravitational water level.
  • 1 0
 I absolutely hate hate hate hate truing wheels!!! best $10 I ever spend is at my LBS and having them do that miserable task!
  • 3 0
 Wait, aren't they already all bike mechanics and engineers on Pinkbike?
  • 2 0
 My favorite is when i think i can simply adjust the brake pistons to get rid of the pad rub, but end up with my brakes FUBAR
  • 1 0
 This is one of the things I would most like to learn how to fix. Break rub is the bane of my existence in the bike world
  • 2 0
 @ryd-or-die: Little trick I learned the other day that I've gone years without knowing, and I've done this like 5+ times now with no issues. Use business cards in between the pad and rotor while loosening the caliper to re-center. I've been told the "just loosen the caliper bolts and pull the brake lever and it'll center the rotor!" BS so many times and it never works, but it does work with business cards.

To get rid of pad rub (assuming the rotor is straight, if your rotor is real bent you have to bend it back) do the following steps: take pads out, push pistons back in, put pads back in, loosen caliper bolts, then the key here is to slip an index card or business card in between the pad and the rotor, then pull the brake lever several times and hold it tight while you tighten the caliper bolts. Remove the cards and boom no more brake rub.
  • 5 1
 WEAR GLOVES!
  • 3 0
 Opinion: I will never learn what a bottom bracket is.
  • 8 0
 It's what's making that annoying noise btw
  • 2 6
flag mattibart (Jun 2, 2022 at 10:10) (Below Threshold)
 @mikelevy: you
  • 4 0
 me too! im not even sure what the top bracket is either. i will figure it out one day, until then im taking my bike to the shop to service the top bracket. they only charged me £94.50 last time they replaced it - I couldnt really tell the difference but they are the experts & very helpful.
  • 2 2
 SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BIKE SHOP!.......oh wait do we only say that when the LBS wants to overcharge you for a product you can buy online and ship directly to your house cheaper and usually faster?
  • 2 1
 I feel much better paying the LBS for an actual service they provide than an unnecessary middle man mark up on parts.
  • 2 0
 We charge more because that's how the industry/ any industry works. You/ people who may know less than yourself are also getting delivery free and peace of mind your getting the right part out of all the different standards, your paying for someone's time and knowledge much like you'd pay a consultant.

Also regular returning customers tend to receive discounts on parts/labour which often makes it cheaper, unless you fit it all yourself then fair play i wouldn't disagree with you
  • 2 0
 Not opinion but fact: I can't afford to pay someone else to work on my bike.
  • 1 0
 When I had a YT, I did all my own wrenching. It was great experience, but I'm happier now having the shop do most service on my shop-bought bike.
  • 2 0
 Bike maintenance rule number 1 should be learning where grease and loctite go!
  • 3 0
 Loctite goes in the fork and grease goes on the chain, right?
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: nah, grease goes on your brake pads to stop them squealing!
  • 1 0
 I don't do my dropper, wheels (builds or truing) or pivot bearings; but everything else is pretty straight forward and really worth learning how to do.
  • 1 0
 Missed opportunity to plug Appalachian Bicycle Institute and a handful of other places doing the Lord's work and actually teaching people how to work on bikes.
  • 3 0
 If you want something done right, do it yourself.
  • 1 2
 I remember 5 years ago now? I joked with the local shop "I used to build race cars, how hard can it be to build a bike?!" and he'd get all upset...well, 5 years later I have my own thing going on, build bikes, sell parts and have a blast with it! Smile Always make time for what's important.
  • 7 4
 I know it's an opinion piece but this is so pretentious.
  • 1 0
 My girl's dad rides 2000 miles a yr at least yet can't even change his own tire or adjust his derailleur.... really baffles me.
  • 1 0
 New seals just came in the mail this afternoon. Not as fun as drilling out the crap Suntour cartridge in a Marz55 but rewarding in its own way.
  • 3 0
 Ew I think there is an ebike in one of the pictures
  • 3 1
 It's better to service your own stuff, rather that paying someone to do and end up having to do it yourself properly anyway.
  • 1 0
 "you don't need an automotive lift or ODB reader to decipher some clandestine code, and certainly don't need an expensive repair stand, expensive tools" yet...
  • 1 0
 Opinion from your LBS mechanic: You f**ked up your bike and now I'm fixing it.

It's cool though. Attempted wrenching certainly helps pay the bills.
  • 1 0
 Fun read! Getting past the fear of doing things wrong and trying new things in the shop has revolutionized how my bike feels on the trail and I am stoked.
  • 2 0
 Definitely fix/work on my own bike. I trust my work.
  • 2 0
 That’s just like… you’re opinion.

But I agree.
  • 2 0
 *your
  • 2 1
 I'll do my own work to a point. I can bleed some brakes but I'm not attempting to service my suspension.
  • 1 0
 Do what you can
  • 2 0
 More articles like this PB
  • 2 0
 Absolutely if you can, try,.
  • 5 7
 When your done reefing and breaking shit. Please feel free to come on down to your LBS and we can charge you more than we would have if you hadn't touched it to make it feel good again. Sure some things like drivetrain cleaning and a little barrel adjustment knowledge is good. But to more or less break down what we techs can do and minimize the thousands of hours of work and effort to get to where we are is a disservice. No wonder why most techs are capped just above minimum wage. Well done pink bike well fkn done.v
  • 12 2
 I was a pro mechanic for a decade and yeah, of course there's skill involved. But to say that consumers shouldn't go past cleaning or turning a barrel adjuster is crazy talk. Torque wrenches aren't expensive and most critical components have it etched right on them; people are going to break stuff and pay you to use an easy-out for five minutes, but they can learn.

Also, you don't make much money because bike shops often don't make much money and the amount of work can be heavily dependent on weather and the seasons, not because I wrote a thing saying people need to learn how to maintain their own stuff Wink
  • 1 0
 I'd advise you don't look at YouTube...
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: Bike mechanic is a certified trade for a reason, just like all other trades. And just like all other trades, you can do it for 10 yrs and still be relatively clueless if you aren’t very smart or mechanically inclined. Telling someone it takes 5 min to easy out (rarely the fix btw) a stripped bolt is not accurate at all. Just listening to their story about how they thought everything was going fine until it wasn’t and write out a work ticket and then explaining how to avoid the same issue next time (bring it to a pro) takes longer than 5 minutes.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: btw, I’ve been a “pro” bike mechanic for 20 yrs and owned my own shop for yrs so I’m right Wink
  • 1 0
 I hate oily hands and would love to have a wc mechnic that would fix all my bikes.
  • 1 0
 Every 50H you should do a lower leg service of your fork. Most riders wait several years to lubricate their fork!
  • 1 0
 Pressing fresh bearings is super nice, you're missing out by letting someone else have the pleasure
  • 1 1
 Gain the control do it yourself, if you dont have the time then you best
have the money and be at the mercy of others : )
  • 2 2
 I take my bike to the Lamborghini dealership as I find their labor rate cheaper these days.
  • 2 3
 I'd rather work on my machine than let what passes for a mechanic around here charge $80/hr to watch a YouTube between sips of redbull and trips to the outhouse.
  • 2 2
 Levy’s wrong as usual. It took one paragraph to understand he’s clueless.
  • 4 1
 Lemme guess: you work in a bike shop?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: I can picture the eyebrows as you read that comment…
  • 1 0
 Half the people with bikes are simply not mechanically inclined. I work on plenty of engineer’s bikes etc, very smart people but can’t install a rim strip
  • 1 0
 The day I'm so busy I sell my TV is the day I'll take my bike to a shop.
  • 1 0
 I ride till the engine light comes on.
  • 1 0
 Wow lot's of comments...does anyone still re-pack bearings? I do.
  • 2 0
 I haven't for years but I remember trying to get those Shimano hubs set juuuuuust right.
  • 1 1
 Especially now, i see serious E Bikes being used in war now gents
  • 1 1
 Nothings betta than a bit ovtonkering and then knowing that you are safe!
  • 1 1
 Fix your own Peugeot 309 also
  • 1 0
 Have you got one? Haven’t seen a 309 GTI in forever!
  • 2 5
 4th pic with phone measuring the angle says a lot about that mechanic..
  • 1 1
 What does it say?
  • 1 0
 @philc13: 27.2 degrees...
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