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Best bike mechanic: Go!

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Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby jjoyce » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:02 am

You know, a guy who doesn't dis your bike or make it seem like he's used to working on much better. Somebody who values function over form, who will get the bike you have up to snuff and explain to you what the problem is. Like a good car mechanic, except with bikes.

What's with bike mechanics, bartenders, record store clerks, waiters who don't just misunderstand the meaning of customer service, but seem intent on making you feel like you're unfit to be in their establishment?

A Madison thing?
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby Endo Rockstar » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:27 am

Dude, its bad in this town. So bad.

I settled on Machinery Row. The mechanics have always been friendly enough, and do really solid work. This was after dealing with eye-rolls, and a general lack of interest in me being in the shop of many other places.

Regarding the other places? Christ, I know I'm not a trained bike mechanic so I don't know the sizing, spacing, and thread count, of every component on my bike. That's why I'm bringing it in! So standing there with your arms crossed doing your best to make me look like I'm and idiot is not going to leave me in awe of your knowledge and ability. It's going to make me take my business elsewhere.

-Dan Motor
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby rabble » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:41 am

I had a front sprocket fall apart and walked it to machinery row. The guy was fairly nice and they repaired it while I waited, and off I went. First grade I got to, the chain started skipping on the gear so I brought it back. The guy who did the repair says "Yeah, usually the chain won't work with the new gear because they've worn to match each other. Only way to fix it is a new chain."

"So, you were expecting this to happen?" "It's pretty common." "And you didn't mention it because...."

Silence. So I got a new chain, rode off, and haven't been back since.

I like Revolution. I've brought it in for new grips, two tuneups, blown tires, and something else I can't remember and I've always liked how they treated me.
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby Endo Rockstar » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:56 am

rabble wrote:I had a front sprocket fall apart and walked it to machinery row. The guy was fairly nice and they repaired it while I waited, and off I went. First grade I got to, the chain started skipping on the gear so I brought it back. The guy who did the repair says "Yeah, usually the chain won't work with the new gear because they've worn to match each other. Only way to fix it is a new chain."

"So, you were expecting this to happen?" "It's pretty common." "And you didn't mention it because...."

Silence. So I got a new chain, rode off, and haven't been back since.

I like Revolution. I've brought it in for new grips, two tuneups, blown tires, and something else I can't remember and I've always liked how they treated me.


Hmmm, I'll have to give revolution a go.

Thanks for the tip!

-Dan Motor
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby Stebben84 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:01 am

I've had good luck with Willy bikes on E. Wash. I haven't been there much, but they were friendly quick and had good advice.
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby wallrock » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:18 pm

It's been a few years since I've taken in my bike for anything so things may have changed, but my sole experience with Machinery Row was pretty decent. I bought my bike from Budget when I was still in college and they were fine then but I wasn't too impressed when I called about getting a tube changed. And with Yellow Jersey it was like, "Sorry for bothering you with my troubles." That guy was a dick.
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby dave esmond » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:33 pm

jjoyce wrote:Somebody who values function over form, who will get the bike you have up to snuff and explain to you what the problem is.


As a former bike mechanic I just have to say a lot of bikes are never gonna be up to snuff. They're never gonna really function right. Sometimes that's hard to hear. But if you really want someone who values function, you're gonna hear it sometimes.

So mostly what you're looking for is someone who's gonna keep their mouth shut. I get that. I'd rather hear about what's never gonna work right. But that's me.

I've had good luck with Revolution & Budget. My favorite mechanics work at the east side Trek store and Stoton Cycle. I've never had work done at Dream Bikes but those kids never seem grumpy. Yellow Jersey does first class work...but you're not gonna get "keep their mouth shut" service. In my case I like that. But shop for your own needs.

For the most part I do 90% of stuff myself and I encourage everyone to learn how to do most of the work themselves. It's not hard.
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby rabble » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:38 pm

wallrock wrote:It's been a few years since I've taken in my bike for anything so things may have changed, but my sole experience with Machinery Row was pretty decent. I bought my bike from Budget when I was still in college and they were fine then but I wasn't too impressed when I called about getting a tube changed.

I thought Machinery Row was just another Budget store with a different name. Did they change hands, or is different enough from all those other Budget stores that it's essentially its own place?
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby Right Bower » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:53 pm

Matt Y. @ Willy Bikes, West Washington location. Hands down.

If I need a part, he's on it, and the part is in within the week. If he can't get a certain part, he makes suggestions for other options.

When he does work on my bikes, it's done quickly, and with explanation (which to me, is most valuable).
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby Right Bower » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:57 pm

rabble wrote:I thought Machinery Row was just another Budget store with a different name. Did they change hands, or is different enough from all those other Budget stores that it's essentially its own place?


Machinery Row and Budget are still both owned by Roger.
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby Kenneth Burns » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:58 pm

I've also had pleasing experiences at Willy Bikes on West Wash. The repairmen are friendly, and they throw in lagniappes. This builds goodwill.
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby ArturoBandini » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:53 pm

rabble wrote:I had a front sprocket fall apart and walked it to machinery row. The guy was fairly nice and they repaired it while I waited, and off I went. First grade I got to, the chain started skipping on the gear so I brought it back. The guy who did the repair says "Yeah, usually the chain won't work with the new gear because they've worn to match each other. Only way to fix it is a new chain."

Heh, "front sprocket".

I'd give the shop guy some slack on this one. It's hard to replicate the conditions of pedaling up a steep grade in the shop or on a flat-ground test ride, so chain-skipping problems due to wear can be hard to diagnose preemptively. However, it is very easy to diagnose a stretched/worn chain, so they should have done that. Sometimes an old/new chain/gear combo will work, sometimes it won't. Gambling on it might save you $20 if you can reuse your old chain.

I occasionally visit YJ, Machinery Row, Willy West Wash, Budget, and Dream Bikes. I like Dream Bikes the best because they have lightly-used parts and random stuff that can get you going again on the cheap. Like Dave, I do most of my own wrenching at home using the internet as a guide (thank you, Sheldon Brown, RIP).
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby rabble » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:58 pm

ArturoBandini wrote:Heh, "front sprocket".

I'd give the shop guy some slack on this one. It's hard to replicate the conditions of pedaling up a steep grade in the shop or on a flat-ground test ride, so chain-skipping problems due to wear can be hard to diagnose preemptively.

I've asked at every bike shop since, and every tech said if you've had the chain longer than a year, it's mated to the gear and will skip.

So no. No slack. He should have at least said something.
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby Ducatista » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:04 pm

Not an answer, but I thought of this thread when a coworker sent me this link to a video about 718 Cyclery, a shop that helps people design and build their own bikes. They call it the "inverted bike shop." Pretty cool.
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Re: Best bike mechanic: Go!

Postby ArturoBandini » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:07 pm

rabble wrote:I've asked at every bike shop since, and every tech said if you've had the chain longer than a year, it's mated to the gear and will skip.

So no. No slack. He should have at least said something.
They should have said something, yes.

That one year of chain life rule is pretty favorable to bike part retailers, I think. It entirely depends on how much riding you do within that one year, and how well you keep things clean and in tune. I've had no problem swapping used 9-speed cassettes and chains between various bikes and all have hundreds of miles on them and are at least 5-6 years old. Of course, YMMV.

Did you also have to change your rear cogs (cassette or freewheel?). Usually those go before the chainrings up front, and they are more sensitive to wear/mismatch because they have fewer teeth of chain wrap and more force applied to each tooth.
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