Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bike Shop Divorce


It’s the little things, in the end, isn’t it ? The little things become big things.

It all started so smoothly. I bought my Avanti Blade, and I loved it. So I persuaded people to buy more. It was all so light and easy. It was a virtuous loop. I took the bike in for a service, and told them that I was different. “I live on this bike”. So please don’t hesitate to fix any small thing that is wrong. And they did. It was all good.

How many expeditions, how many rides with them servicing the bike? I’ve lost count. Yes, they made mistakes. Who would forget when they left that badly worn chain on. I got halfway up the hill and it broke. But I just smiled and took the bike straight back, and they fixed it on the spot.

When I spent any time at the store it was like going home. We’ve known each other so long. Chatting away in the store. No need really to buy anything, just hang around. Talked about the Tour de France. Talked about riding around locally. Even talked about the family a bit.

Ah, the things we did. Completely renovated the whole bike over the last few years. Only the frame really is original. Everything else has gradually been replaced.

So how it did it go bad? Well, it was the wheel. The new wheel. The time had come to replace the back wheel - it was too far gone. A new one, with a solid spoke pattern and a strong rim.  On the last tour I did I had a really tough final day- 70km into a raging headwind. My fault. But about 25km from the end I heard a loud “crack”. I just ignored it, didn’t want to know. Yes, I made it to the end with a broken spoke, so I guess that showed that it wasn’t a bad rim. Spokes break. It happens.

Cheerily back to the store. Fixed the broken spoke, all smiles. Then I rode for another couple of days. Felt a bit of a drag. Looked at the back wheel. Another broken spoke. Now I’m not happy. Back to the store. Very embarrassing. “Re-spoke the wheel: only charge him $50”. So at least I’m getting a new wheel. Although now the price of the new wheel all-up is mounting.

But riding away from the bike shop I notice that the re-spoked wheel sounds a bit noisy. I look at it, and some of the spokes are way too loose. I tighten them. No, I don’t go back to the shop. Now I have doubts - now I would rather do it myself, at least I know it’s done properly.

But that wasn’t the final straw. About a week later I go to adjust the seat position and I look at the seatpost clamp. It’s the type where the bolt screws in, not the quick release type. The thread is pretty much stripped. I loosen it and tighten it again and, yes, it’s gone.

How could this have happened? I think about it. They have adjusted the seat and taken it for a test ride, and stuffed the clamp. A clamp costs about $5 - I would have happily paid for new one. All they had to say would have been “seat clamp on it’s way out - replaced it”. But instead of that, they fudged it.

I can fix almost anything on a bike. I used to do all my own maintenance. Looking at that seat post, I reached a decision. I can’t go back to that store. I can’t explain that fudging a seat post clamp lead to irretrievable breakdown of the relationship. I just can’t go back.

So from now on, I’ll be doing my own maintenance. Maybe a once a year full overhaul at one of the larger stores in the city. It lasted so long, it was so good, but now it’s all gone.

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