Is it more cost effective to be your own mechanic?

Questions about bike hire abroad and everything light bike related. No off-topic chat please

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stella-azzurra
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by stella-azzurra

The simple answer is: Yes, it is cost effective by a lot!
I never took drugs to improve my performance at any time. I will be willing to stick my finger into a polygraph test if anyone with big media pull wants to take issue. If you buy a signed poster now it will not be tarnished later. --Graeme Obree

mrfish
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Location: Near Horgen, Switzerland

by mrfish

If you're really into bikes the cost of the tools will quickly pay back, and with practice you will probably become more proficient than an average shop mechanic who is focused on minimising time spent rather than maximising the quality of the job. Personally I use a bike shop mechanic about once a year for more difficult / time consuming jobs and more often than not I'm disappointed and end up eventually buying the necessary tools and redoing it myself.

But the real win from tinkering with bikes is that you can have the bike exactly the way you want it, with the satisfaction of knowing that you built it yourself. Then having nice rather than serviceable tools (and a bike room to put them in) is a logical next step after you have all the nice bike parts you want.

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kbbpll
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by kbbpll

Is it more cost effective? My LBS charges $150 for a "tune up". It's all such easy stuff that the clear answer is "yes". Sure, I bought the Campagnolo 11s chain tool. Used it twice so far. Already paid for itself. Sure, I mess up the bartape sometimes, but I get to curse myself, and not some pimply college kid. I won't do cutting or facing myself, but I don't switch bikes very often. When it comes time to replace BB bearings, I'll buy the extractor and figure it out.

Like mrfish says above, why wouldn't you want the bike exactly as you want it? But I get that a lot of people just want to ride and not get into the mechanics. To me they're missing out on a certain bond with the machine, but that's up to individuals.

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dogma85
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by dogma85

For me, there is no better source of satisfaction than maintaining bike by myself!
I guess that most of us have some specific setup on bikes or unexplainable habit, so I do not need to explain mechanic why do I like something like it is. Off course to be able to fix something, knowledge is required but there are plenty of very useful books, youtube, forums, and other places where this could be collected. Normally practice made mechanic but was ready to invest in this because when you love something you can't hate it in the same time :-)

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DMF
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Location: Sweden

by DMF

I imagine there is a special sort of satisfaction in having rolled every individual ball or needle in everyone of your bearings between your thumb and index finger, gently whispering to yourself 'mmm... that's the stuff...'

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shoemakerpom2010
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Location: Palm Coast, Fl.

by shoemakerpom2010

I used to be like that trying to do everything myself but some things I just want to work like gearing. I overhauled my BB30 bottom bracket myself this past weekend and while I managed to get it done it was a royal pain in the arse getting the old bearings out and the new in just right. Next time it goes to the shop. I would rather spend more time riding now that I am older then tinkering around.

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carbon2329
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by carbon2329

I've thought the same thing. If it's going to take hours, is it better to visit the LBS.

Not that I wouldn't want to learn myself, how to do it.

Now if you have the time then it's a no-brainer, but for me: married, kids, work (I'm the owner), house, cars....again kids :) .

I go back and forth whether I have the time, or is it more cost effective to have the lbs do 70% of it and me 30%.

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LouisN
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Location: Canada

by LouisN

Don't forget that you have to like spending time doing your own bike mechanic stuff.
Even more so if your time is so precious.

Not just a $$ thing...

Louis :)

mattr
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by mattr

carbon2329 wrote:If it's going to take hours, is it better to visit the LBS.
TBH, I can only think of one bike related job that would take actual hours, and that's wheel building. There's nothing else that should really take more than an hour or slightly over. (I'm excluding complete bike builds from this!)

stuka666
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by stuka666

Of course.

eric
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by eric

Around here it costs about $175 including parts (rim spokes and nipples) to get a wheel rebuilt, on a KinLin XR270. I can get those for $40 and spokes and nipples are about $35. So figure the labor cost is $100.

It takes me an hour to build a wheel. I don't need to work fast since I'm not doing it for a living. So I'm saving $100/hr by doing it myself. You'd have to be making about $250-300k/year to equal that rate in take home pay. So by that measure it is cost effective even before you count the travel time to/from the shop.

Even though I am no expert my wheels have been as durable as the ones I have had built locally. I also can build exactly what I need rather than having to get the builder to understand that even though I am light I need strong rear wheels if they are to last.

For me that is even more important than the cost savings.

NoiseBoy
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Location: Jersey, British Channel Islands

by NoiseBoy

I'd love to do my wrenching myself but I invariably end up taking it to the LBS. Primarily because I just don't have the space, my bike lives on the turbo in my bedroom because it's the only place indoors I can put it. I have to reach through the frame to get a T-shirt from the drawer in the morning. But also because I figure that the LBS does a good job, times are hard and i'm sure they welcome my cash, which I can afford to part with. I think I might be repenting for buying some expensive kit online...

Franklin
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Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 11:09 am

by Franklin

It all depends on your LBS.

My LBS is unanimously seen as the best wrench in our capital (both by his peers as by all competition cyclists). He also has the following policies:

1. Bikes made by him with his own frame (rebranded) no labor. Small repairs (for example adjust a shifter) will often be done immediately.
2. Competitive cyclists will generally be helped first with repairs.

I would be crazy to wrench my own bikes if

a. He's so much better than I could ever be. I simply don't have the time or tools.
b. Usually it's much faster. And if it takes a few days I'll take my second or my wife's bike.
c. I ride his brand, so it's labor for free. Of course, part price can be a tad higher than the lowest iNet price, but for b&m he's competitive.
d. Lastly: not only is my hourly wage pretty good, I don't like to wrench. It's not cost effective nor therapeutic for me.

Clearly it would be silly for me to be my own mechanic.

And it works for him. I gladly pay a (reasonable) premium on parts/clothes as long as he keeps his shop running. He became a friend and deserves my business. In 7 years he's retired... than it will be a quest to find a succesor. Perhaps time to go back to Shimano, there are pretty good shops who carry that brand (Campa is hard to find even here in Amsterdam).

Butcher
Shop Owner
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by Butcher

It is always amazing what people say about a good bike mechanic. It is good that people know their trade and are good at it, but really a bike is a very very simple machine that is really not hard to master at.

Try auto repair. I must know hydraulics, mechanical, electric, computers, software, and know every intermittent issue known to God. Not to mention, it must be done right the first time and be right all the time. I can only imagine what an airplane mechanic must do.

Just saying, a working on a bike [for me] is not difficult. Yes, I can see it is a waste of time/effort for others, but it is not rocket science.

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stella-azzurra
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by stella-azzurra

To a certain extent neither are cars. It's not rocket science once you have read through a manual.

And these days solutions are on-line explained very well by non rocket scientists for non-rocket scientists.

The only limitations would be lack of tools, space, time. Most mechanical jobs on cars are done with common tools.

At the very least, if you do not want to try fixing stuff yourself it is best to read up on how it would need to be fixed before going to the mechanic so that you don't get your shirt taken.
I never took drugs to improve my performance at any time. I will be willing to stick my finger into a polygraph test if anyone with big media pull wants to take issue. If you buy a signed poster now it will not be tarnished later. --Graeme Obree

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