A Desperately Needed Dying Breed

Somebody didn ‘t get some BB love.

Joe dropped his bike off.

Joe and the shop go back about a decade. He had purchased a bike from another shop and they could never get the shifting to be dialed in. He brought it into us to see if there was anything we could do. He was frustrated to the point that he was willing to get a new group, if we could make his shit work. A coworker took a look at it. Noticed that the shifter only had 8 clicks when it should have had 9. Disassembled the shifter and moved the plate to make it the right amount of speeds. Shifting worked perfectly.

Joe has come back ever since. And he lives 5 hours away.

He dropped his bike off again. He had just had it tuned elsewhere as he couldn’t get down to us and needed it to be working. The rear derailleur was ghost shifting.

Any mechanic worth his salt, will tell you that you check the cable/housing first. Yup, ferrule going into the derailleur is bent in half and radials are popping out the end. But there is a strange rattle as well. On second look, the cassette is loose and is just about ready to fall off. Hmm, that would contribute to shifting issues. Needless to say, the bike was not in “I just got a tune up shape” but it also was in “I just got a tune up shape.”

Umm, yea. I’m gonna need you to go ahead and service that Mavic freehub a little more frequently.

Every once in a while, I hop on over to the website that won’t be named. I haven’t posted anything there for quite some time, but I find it interesting how many people still frequent it. After months of absolutely no new content, it still sees about 20 page views a day. Not huge but there is literally nothing new. No reason to check back, no reason to follow. But 20 page views a day. This still blows me away. The fact that anyone happened across that website blows me away.

Yup, that line that says minimum insertion shows the minimum amount of post that should be in the bike.

A couple of weeks ago, I cleaned out my tool box. All my tools were loaded up in the Mooseknuckler-mobile and brought home to the Mooseknuckler Alliance Bikecycle Shop. After 18 years of turning wrenches, making people’s lives better through  well-functioning bicycles had come to an end. It was an odd experience for me to think that I wouldn’t be slaving in the pits anymore, but rather that time of my life had come to an end.

There were various reasons for this to happen. Mostly, my riding rigid bikes for years on end and twisting ratchets for 8-10 hours a day at the same time had taken a serious toll on my wrist. After a few hours of wrenching, it just aches for days…

Empty tool boxes make me cry.
Empty tool boxes make me cry.

This spring we were busy. Extremely busy. I couldn’t find a bicycle mechanic with experience to save my life. I was forced to bring on two apprentices, both have worked out great and one will definitely be around for a while. But an experience mechanic is extremely difficult to find.

People are blown away when I tell them it takes three years of wrenching for a bike mechanic to be “profitable.” And by profitable I mean breaking even. The amount of experience and know-how required to wrench day in and day out is ridiculous. Not only do they need to know that a Campy cassette should be torqued to 50 NM, but also that a mid 90’s E-type derailleur for a low end bike is no longer available and the bb’s are extremely hard to find. Plus, the ability to diagnose a carbon crack, use epoxy to glue in OSBB cups, what assembly compound to use on disc brake rotor bolts and titanium bottom brackets. Where and when to use Loctite, and which one.

And most importantly, they need to know how and be able to do it quickly and consistently.

That doesn't go in there.
That doesn’t go in there.

In our world, none of this should surprise me. No one wants to fix things, they want to throw them away so they can get something new. The value of a quality product that will last and can be repaired is horribly under appreciated. With that goes the fact that people who can fix and maintain things are going extinct.

Well, here’s to them. A raised broken glass filled with cheap beer…

P. L. and R.

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