Archive for November, 2009

The Mechanics of Cycling — Building a Relationship With the Boys in the Back

Thursday, November 5th, 2009
Brandon Dryer is my favorite mechanic at my favorite Portland bike shop. He keeps my Seven running as perfectly as it did the day he brought it to life.

Brandon Dryer is my favorite mechanic at River City Cycles, my favorite Portland bike shop. He keeps my Seven running as perfectly as it did the day he brought it to life. Though the rest of the mechanics, the sales team and the fitters are all top-notch, Brandon is the real reason I’ve bought so many bikes from this shop over the past decade.

I get it. Price is important. But when shopping for a bike, if you really want to save a few bucks, shop around, figure out which bike is right for you, then buy it from the shop with the best service department in town. Even if the purchase price is a little higher, you’ll come out ahead in the long run.

The reason is simple — most bike shops will do minor repairs and adjustments for free. And a really good mechanic is able to do things like get a derailleur perfectly dialed in or a wheel trued in a matter of minutes. They can find and eliminate mystery noises that drive you batshit crazy. In essence, they can help you maintain oneness with your machine.

If I have to spend an extra $50 on the purchase price of my bike to have a really well-maintained bike that I might own and ride for the next 5-10 years, so be it.

What’s more, if you buy a bike (or tire or tube or computer or whatever) from a good shop and something is broken or not quite right, a good shop will simply swap it out with a working replacement. They will deal with the manufacturer so you don’t have to. Try that with an online bike store and let me know how you make out. Service like that has value.

Joshua Hutchens is my other favorite mechanic at my other favorite bike shop. He is also the owner. He likes sexy women, but he REALLY likes sexy bikes.

Joshua Hutchens is my other favorite mechanic at Cyclepath, my other favorite bike shop. He is also the owner. He likes sexy women, but he REALLY likes sexy bikes.

If you are someone like me who rides a lot, is hard on equipment and appreciates the sound of a perfectly silent bicycle, it pays to build a relationship with the guys in the back with the grease on their hands and the smiles on their faces.

The majority of bike mechanics are passionate about what they do. If you share their passion and treat them with the respect and reverence they deserve, they’ll go way out of their way to help you time after time after time.

 

Getting to know your mechanic

Building a solid relationship is pretty easy. Here are some of the things I’ve found that work well:

 Say “thank you” when they help you out
Let the shop owner know how much you appreciate their help
Name one of your bikes (or children) after them
Give them beer

Since some mechanics spend years or even decades at the same shop (or they actually own the shop) continued patronage is another great way to go. And since the perfect equation for the proper amount of bikes one needs is always N+1 (where N= the number of bikes you currently own), continued patronage is an easy thing to accomplish.