Is it more cost effective to be your own mechanic?

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shlammed
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by shlammed

Horizons wrote:How did you guys learn how to build and maintain your own bikes? i'd love to build my bike up myself rather than have a mechanic do it.


buy a shit bike ($25), and take it apart part by part. and put it back together.

one day rebuild the headset, another rebuild the old style bottom bracket, the next do wheel hubs, etc.

there aren't many things on a bike to be able to build them. Truing a wheel is probably the most difficult part of a build and im sure with some perseverance all of the people on this board could get it if they don't already.

by Weenie


vdrey
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by vdrey

I have learned quite a bit from Zinn's book.

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jvanv8
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by jvanv8

Horizons wrote:How did you guys learn how to build and maintain your own bikes? i'd love to build my bike up myself rather than have a mechanic do it.

Based on my experience:
- Starting cycling while relatively poor helps.
- Starting cycling with a cheaper bike that fits your abilities/experience makes the risk of braking something a bummer, but you won't cry over Alevio (or similar). As your cycling performance and maintenance skills improve, elevated gear choices will be all the more natural & calculated based on this.
- Living 45 minutes from a bike shop helps.
- Having 1 bike helps. If you want to ride today, you have to fix it today.
- If you don't know how to fix something, look it up. When this didn't help me (this was back before YouTube and online manuals), I took it to the shop, then purchased the tools they used so I wouldn't have to come back again for the same problem.

I'm far from the biggest bike-wrench geek and I don't know how to deal with disc brakes or electric groups (since I've never had either) but I will learn as soon as I need to.
In the last 14 years, I've taken my bike to the shop 5 times:
- 3x Cutting carbon steerers (I don't have a carbon sawblade, yet..)
- Installing tubulars for the first time just before a bike vacation (I was a bit scared to ride in the Alps to test my proficiency, but obviously I do that myself now )
- Broken frame warranty required an authorized dealer to confirm the claim (bike came back from the shop with a broken seatpost... apparently someone (larger than me) was curious to throw a leg over my bike)

They really are very simple machines. You'll get it, as long as you start thinking you can do it.
In addition to money savings, the biggest element for me is never having much 'down time' while the bike is at the shop. Stocking typical spare parts at home also cuts down on the need to order replacement parts.

I could be wrong, but I think 95% people on WW build, maintain, and repair their own bikes.
Last edited by jvanv8 on Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Leviathan
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by Leviathan

I believe the answer to the question is "yes, until you balls the whole thing up, then no". I agree with the above post, little of this is difficult but I do also think some of the higher tech stuff needs more careful handling - torque wrenches for some of the hitech carbon parts - and also, Ive found some of the non-standard stuff, things like nokons, fitting praxis rings to Sram when they aren't supposed to fir, powercordz, etc are pretty much a law unto themselves..but frankly if I took something like powercordz to my LBS theyd probably throw them back at me and tell me to do it myself...

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Miller
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by Miller

jvanv8 wrote:In the last 14 years, I've taken my bike to the shop 5 times:
- 3x Cutting carbon steerers (I don't have a carbon sawblade, yet..)


Carbon sawblade? A basic junior hacksaw will rip through a carbon steerer in seconds. You'll take a bit longer of course in making sure of a square cut. Finish off with a bit of sandpaper so there are no rough edges and don't breathe the dust.

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Juanmoretime
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by Juanmoretime

Without rereading this whole thread besides cost effective there is the fun factor. The sense of being able to repair, rebuild or to build a bike. At least for me since I do all my own work including building, truing and occasional wheel building I have never had a mechanical failure that was something other than a component failure that no amount of preventative maintenance would have prevented.
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maxxevv
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by maxxevv

Miller wrote:Carbon sawblade? A basic junior hacksaw will rip through a carbon steerer in seconds. You'll take a bit longer of course in making sure of a square cut. Finish off with a bit of sandpaper so there are no rough edges and don't breathe the dust.


Its not a carbon saw blade, but rather to do a good clean cut, you need a fine tooth blade. Best if its those designed for harder to cut material like stainless steel. They are not expensive, just a small premium over a regular hacksaw blade.

I've tried junior hacksaws, they will work for small round tubes like steerers and seatposts. But they don't work well at all when you attempt to cut those bigger integrated seatposts or aero profile seatposts. A full sized hacksaw is still the way to go, with the correct blades, and cutting guide, do a much, much better job.

And I agree with Juan, its the sense of satisfaction and pride that's irreplaceable. :thumbup: :beerchug:

shlammed
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by shlammed

maxxevv wrote:And I agree with Juan, its the sense of satisfaction and pride that's irreplaceable. :thumbup: :beerchug:


and frustrating when things aren't working well.

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tymon_tm
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by tymon_tm

another argument for learning how to maintain & service your own bike is that $hit might happen anywhere - a broken chain, derailleur issues, or just "a noise". forget about a bike mechanic 'out there', best you'll find is a garage with basic tools to borrow for some beer money. now i know a lad who calls a cab when he punctures, but that's a really lame attitude. getting to know your bike, no matter how expensive or 'complex' it is, is the easiest way to make your rides enjoyable - i can't help but feel sorry for people who ride 'squeaky' bikes, often with serious safety issues, cause they apparently have no clue what causes the fault and how easily it can be dealt with.
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audiphile
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by audiphile

I love to do the work on my bike and while I believe it can be very cost effective, this can sometimes be secondary to whether you actually enjoy and will do the work on your own bike. Know plenty of people with a collection of bikes and bike tools that still take their bike to the LBS as they simply don't enjoy tinkering with their rig. If you think you will enjoy it, I bet it will be cost effective for you

maxxevv
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by maxxevv

shlammed wrote:
maxxevv wrote:And I agree with Juan, its the sense of satisfaction and pride that's irreplaceable. :thumbup: :beerchug:


and frustrating when things aren't working well.


Its analogous to having a holiday with your family. You can choose to plan and do everything yourself or join a tour. In both cases, things can still go wrong anytime. But for one, the remedy is completely out of your control and out of your hands. You can't do anything constructive to remedy it. But for the other, its completely in your hands.

Which one issit for you ?? :noidea:

Marin
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by Marin

I wouldn't let a bike shop mechanic touch my bike unless I knew him personally and was sure that he knows what he is doing. Too many bad experiences and horror stories.

That doesn't mean I never fcuk up, but at least then I know who to blame :D

Edit: Does this forum really censor words? I thought it was based in Germany???

Franklin
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by Franklin

if you are above the median income it's probably not especially cost effective. Add in that free time is usually a premium it's not looking that good for that argument.

The valid argument is that it's fun. Cost effective? Not really. People seldom do a cost/time/effectiveness calcualtion and think they are cheaper off doing stuff themselves. It's really seldom true.

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jbf
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by jbf

I do my own work and have since college (I'm in my 50's now). I would guess I've used a shop mechanic a dozen times in my life, and at least 50% of the time the work was so bad I had to redo it myself. I am sure that there are some great shops out there with great wrenches, but I have not found them. I often try to support local shops by purchasing parts, but they usually have no interest in stocking the parts I need as they seem more interested in selling fully built bikes. The economics of providing out of stock parts requires I over-pay or they have no interest at all. I often go into shops looking for frame prep work because the tooling is too expensive for the home mechanic. I live in an area with lots of $5-10K bikes and I still have not found anyone (other than a custom frame builder) with specialized tools to prep hydraulic brake mounts, or face a bottom bracket - crazy. I do not know if it is shop owners or techs that are the problem. I am sure there are great mechanics out there. They are just hard to find, or maybe too expensive for my budget. Maybe my standards are too high. But if I have a high end bike I have high standards, even if I am paying standard shop rates. The industry has a problem. Sorry for the rant ...

bombertodd
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by bombertodd

Franklin wrote:if you are above the median income it's probably not especially cost effective. Add in that free time is usually a premium it's not looking that good for that argument.

The valid argument is that it's fun. Cost effective? Not really. People seldom do a cost/time/effectiveness calculation and think they are cheaper off doing stuff themselves. It's really seldom true.


Although one's time is worth something, not everyone could make money instead of wrenching on their bike. In my case if I didn't work on my bike I'd watching TV, surfing the net, or doing some other activity. In other words my time working on my bike doesn't have an opportunity cost of any real value. Although some people might have be able to make money instead of wrenching. I'd think it would be cost effective more people than not.

by Weenie


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