How to keep your bike mechanic happy

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The bike mechanic is the hero of every rider. Using his/her knowledge and expertise to eliminate those creaks and squeals, and transforming your run down donkey into your well-oiled trusty steed. But your bike mechanic’s life is not always an easy one, where he/she has a lot of reasons for being so grumpy.

Not only does his/her hands always smell like oil, and his/her feet ache from standing all day, he/she is forever fighting for respect from clients who believe they know better than him/her.  Because no one likes a grumpy bike mechanic, next time you are booking your bicycle in for its next service here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep your bike mechanic happy:

Do’s:

Pick your bike mechanic’s brain – like any professional, a bike mechanic loves to share his/her knowledge of what he/she does and knows.  They will gladly give you tips on the best way to to maintain your bike, as long as it is within reason.

Keep your bicycle clean – although your bicycle gets a good cleaning when it comes in for its service, there is nothing more frustrating than to work on a poorly maintained bike.

Provide treats – thank you goes a long way, but nothing makes your bike mechanic feel more appreciated than an iced coffee or box of biscuits every now and then to thank them for all the hard work they put into making sure you are safe out on your ride.

Don’ts:

Do not expect special treatment – even if you have been a loyal customer for years and occasionally have a few nights out with your bike mechanic, do not expect your bicycle to jump the queue. There is a system in place for a reason and your bike mechanic and bike shop aim to try keep all its customers happy.  Further, do not bring your bike two days before an event and expect the bike to be serviced overnight (again, there are clients who had brought their bikes in before yours which take priority, and you would have at least known a week before that you were entered into an event, so more than  few days notice is appreciated).

Don’t assume that age and gender means your needs will not be understood or met – people often judge bike mechanics on their age, feeling they are too young to know or understand your cycling needs.  Wrong!  Bike mechanics are in their positions for a reason.

Don’t ask your bike mechanic to show you how to fix your bike if you plan on doing so yourself – this is just common courtesy and respect for your bike mechanic’s profession and livelihood.  Further, your bike mechanic is quite busy as it is and does not have the time to sit and do a show and tell, taking him/her away from their other jobs.

Do not use “can I have discount?” as your opening line – would you be able to ask your grocery store for discount?  But in all seriousness, the whole point of coming into a bicycle store is to draw from their expertise, and not to run them out of business.  We are a business that has overheads to cover, if we are able we will gladly offer discounts; but do not come into the shop expecting it, and especially in labour.

On the same token do not tell your mechanic that you can “get it cheaper online” – yes it is the 21st century where everything is run by the cyber world; however you do not get the expertise advise and service from whatever.com than you would from your local bike store.  Just remember that your local bike store has overheads to cover, as such will retail all its items at manufacturer’s recommended retail prices.

Do not quote your friend who is a “bike expert” or bring them with you into the shop – there is a reason you came into the bike store; to acquire expert advise or opinion.  Allow the staff of the bike shop to share their expertise.

“I just put a new tube in last week, why has it gone flat again?” – it is likely that your bike mechanic may have missed a thorn or shard of glass in your tyre; but there is just as much a chance that you just rode over something on your last ride.

“I was just riding along when…” – Aaaah, those famous lines that every bike shop personnel has heard a thousand times.  Fact:  No component on your bicycle will be subjected to a major failure if you were “just riding along”.  If you bring your bike in regularly for servicing, your trusty bicycle mechanic will be able to pick up on any components that are worn or close to its end of life; and thus preventing any major failures on your next ride.  Again, you ride your bike, not your bike mechanic.  Parts will wear and fail.  It is up to you to ensure that you do your part in keeping your bicycle a well-oiled machine.

These few guidelines will be sure to keep your bike mechanic happy, and a happy bike mechanic means a happy bicycle and rider.

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