An Equal Opportunity Offender

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Really? You don't think you should have to pay?

This rant is about a week late.

The latest obstacle, hill, wall that I am currently beating my head against as Service Manager, is dealing with rentals. We hadn't done rentals in years due to the difficulty of turning a profit when the bikes were getting trashed. So going into things for a second round after about three years, we were sure we would have to charge people for damage that occurred while the bike was in their position.

I rented a bike to a college kid, who cried over the price of the rental, but signed his name and verbally confirmed that he understood that any damage that the bicycle sustained while he had it would be charged to him. He left. He was at least happy that he was going to be able to ride a bike instead of hang out in a hotel room for two days.

I had bad feelings about this kid from the beginning, I knew the bike was gonna get fucked, and not in that pleasant, pretending to make love kind of way...

So he came back after two days. Let me add before proceeding any further, that this bike had been rented only once before he took it, meaning it was as good as new. No scratches, no dents, no monkey business, just a perfectly running/looking bike. I walked out front (where our check-in stand is) to check the rental back in. I took one look at the bike and knew things were not going to be pleasant.

He said the bike had worked perfectly and he hadn't had any issues.

The seat was ripped and heavily worn on both sides, both cranks were rubbed completely down to silver. The fork lowers were rubbed down to gray underneath the nice, thick plastic coating. The right stanchion was scratched. The down tube, right in front of the shock had a scratch from one side to the next. The top tube had freckles and two chips that were to the metal. Should I continue?

In the moment, I knew two things. A) this bike was fucked. B) this shithead was going to fight every penny that I tried to charge him. I started out by pointing out everything on the frame and told him a price. Then proceeded to act shocked when I noticed the fork, again, and showed him the scratches and how bad the bike was. His dumb ass friend kept telling me how they had tried to make sure the bikes were secure in the trailer they were using for transport and they hadn't quite been prepared for the rough roads. What the fuck do I care?

I knew that if I tried to get a legitimate amount of cash for the damage he wasn't going to have it. I let him off easy. He fumed from the point of me checking the first scratch until he paid and left.

A word to the wise, when you sign a contract stating that you will pay for any damage that occurs while an object is in your possession don't put it in a trailer and then rally down dirt roads. Chances are you're gonna end up getting fucked.

Out.

Brown Santa has Moved

Anyone who is any one and happens to have the pleasure of working in the oppressive confines of a bike shop knows there are certain days that are as good as Xmas. Until recently this day, at our shop, was Thursday.

Every Thursday between 11 am and 2 pm, the Brown Santa would arrive to deliver his goodies. His goodies were always bright, shiny and metal (or crabon). And they always had to do with bikes. Thursday was the day that your blue Chris King headset would arrive. That's right. The one you ordered on Monday just so you could get a gift on Thursday. And you know it always made you feel better. Thursday was the day.

Thursday was the day for our shop. I'm sure the day was different for everyone, but there was always a day. The day was more dictated by the shop's location than for any other reason.

Brown Santa never resided in the North Pole, although where he lives could be described as the Polar North. From his hole in the Twin Cities area, he would bring his goodies to all good and all bad bike wrenches. He's just loving that way, no discrimination based on a performance rating that was an arbitrary moral standard. Nope, he just delivered.

Well, Brown Santa still comes. He still hails from the Polar North but he is confused on which side of the big hump he wants to live and now has a balmy vacation home in SLC. So that one day that he would bring gifts has turned into two. And the planning is all off. Unless you spend the time to research which home he is sending you parts from, you have no idea when your goodies will show up.

I'm not complaining too much, his service is still stellar, but the excitement is kind of gone. You know what I mean?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

WTF?

Fuck gears? But bro your bike has the most gears possible for a mountain bike 30.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What was once a rim

Yes, when you drag a bike behind a truck for several miles damage to the bike may ensue. Especially if just the front wheel is bouncing, rubbing and grinding all the way down a dirt road.

What you are looking at was once a nice wheel. Salsa Delgado Race laced to a Chris King hub. The hub survived and wheel be rebuilt...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Wrench's Manifesto

I’m a wrench.

Not literally, I wrench on bikes.

I’m blue collar, I don’t make a lot of money and there is little respect for what I do.

But I love what I do.

It’s days like today that are part of a reoccurring epiphany in my life. I have consistently taken less money so that I can have a job that I enjoy. It is my plan to be a starving journalist and wrench for the rest of my life. And that’s it. I do what I am and it makes me happy.

I came to work today knowing I would be the only one here. I got things going and grabbed a bike for service. And that’s when it hit me like a pedal wrench upside the head, that I love working on bikes. There is something magical about trueing a wheel, rebalancing the tension without thinking about it. To be able to complete a tune-up while taking phone calls, helping customers and eating lunch (yes, I consume a lot of grease), because I’ve done it so many times. It hit me.

I also love bikes. They are simple, efficient, perfect. In our fast changing world there are few things that exist that haven’t changed. The bicycle is one. Sure it has been refined, we use carbon now, but frankly it is the same safety bike that has been around for over a century. The concepts and principles are the same. It is a constant.
There exists this link between me and the bicycle whether it’s riding up mountain singletrack while the sun breaks through grey sky to backlit yellow leaves in 65 degrees or taking a bike and making it work with grease on my hands, I love every minute.

That’s life inspired.

That’s my revolution.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Today's Bike

Brake pads don't need to touch anything. I've heard that air brakes work really well.

Broken spoke.

No crank bolts, either side.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Assembly? WTF is that?

Fixie Dave sent me a link to this blog, it seems fitting enough.

Mall Warts!

Out.

Eddy Merckx

A custy dropped an Eddy Merckx off today. A spectacle of perfect, this bike was in mint condition. The paint had a few chips but nothing that you wouldn't expect. It was graced with full Campagnolo Veloce; hubs, bb, cranks, deraileurs, shifters and headset. The hubs, in traditional Campy fashion, were smooth as butter. The rear had a little play but nothing that would warrant a post here. BB was in great shape as well, a little rust on the outer casing but smooth. To sum it up, Andy exclamed, "Beautiful!" when he walked through the door and saw it in my stand.

Now, this may not be what would seem to be an appropriate post, and I didn't take any photos out of respect...

The headset on this bike was fucked! I could barely turn the damn thing. Not only was it way too tight but the grease had completely solidified. This bike hadn't been ridden in about two years which explains the hard grease. I guess more than anything I was surprised to find such a fucked up headset on such a beautiful specimen of cycling history.

I took the time, more for the bike than the customer, to do everything possible to resurrect this headset. I hope it never seizes again.

Out.

Friday, March 5, 2010

This blog is about bikes and how people abuse them. More importantly it is about the technicians who spend countless hours trying to resurrect a bike even when the owner has no intention of letting the bike live. It is almost daily that a customer asks us blue collar workers to make a bike work that is totally fucked.

The inspiration for this blog was a Santa Cruz Blur LT. The repair started with a fork service. I dropped the lowers on the 32 Vanilla only to find the stanchions in dire straits. The fork had been void of oil for so long that the bushings had left a complete impression on the stanchions, down to the grooves which could be seen on the uppers. The chain read so far past 1% that it could easily have been the worst chain ever. The rear brake was having issues, upon purging the master cylinder, the only thing that came out was a pure black sludge. Both derailleurs had more play than, well you get the point.

This Santa Pooz was on the same ticket as the FSR XC featured a couple of posts ago. The fork on the FSR was salvageable, but the custy chose not to service it. Even after knowing that his Vanilla was fucked and he wouldn't be spending the money on it.

The point is, people abuse bikes. Then, in turn, they abuse bike techs. As bike wrenches we are expected to take a high performance object that is totally fucked and return it to its perfect, new condition. It's usually the custy who does not wish to pay who has the highest expectations.

For all you techs out there, this blog is for you. It is a forum to rag, reem, poke fun of, rant, relieve anger, destroy all expectations and basically get even with these people.

This is about us. If you have something to share, would like to post regularly, shoot me an email jlukasbrink(at)gmail(dot)com.

Out.

Today's pics

First up, a hub. The way that I understand these work is that you need to have bearings. The custy came in with this one thinking that the bearings were loose. Upon further inspection, there were no bearings, period. What you can see in the picture is the inner race sitting inside the freehub body. The outer race is still there, but there is no sign of the bearings or seals...

Oh my, a broken waterbottle cage. No big deal. Look closer, the boss is gone...

I'm pretty sure a fork needs oil to function. This fork's problem is that the oil is no longer inside the fork.

Magura brakes, what more can I say?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Today's Bike

You guessed it. That's moon dust caked on with a little bit, or maybe a lot of wax based lube. I was quite surprised to find that the drivetrain wasn't completely worn out.

No, that's not the wax based lube leaking down the fork, it's fork oil. The crazy thing is that this bike wasn't near as bad as the one that inspired the making of this blog. That bike started out with a fork service, but when I got the lowers off the stanchions were gone, the bushings were toast and there was mud inside. After informing the customer about the condition of his fork and the logic of fixing or not fixing, he still didn't want to service this one, which was salvageable.