Bike Mechanics: Finding a good one!

Finding a good bike mechanic isn’t easy, I should know, I spent the first 6 months of 2009 trying to find someone who would understand what I meant when something went wrong.

When I speak mechanic it’s not exactly English and in everyday life I don’t normally use words like, cranks, bottom bracket and head stem; heaven forbid I use the word cassette or derailleur.

I prefer to explain my mechanical issues in a much simpler manner, for example, “the thingamajig in the back round thing is making the front round thing squeak when I pedal.”

I can already see the look of shock on your face, how on earth is a mechanic meant to translate that? Seriously, I really don’t think it’s too much to ask. I point at things whilst I’m explaining it and of course I also add sound effects to reproduce the sound as accurately as possible…

Just the other day when I explained a bike problem to one of the boys, (I should say men, because they are men); he looked at me, took the bike and made it perrrfect!

Why aren’t all mechanics born with such efficiency and brilliance? I probably should mention that the look I received after explaining my problem was a look of, “damn you Row, and you know the words, why can’t you use them?”

My theory on this is that mechanics like to know that they are needed. Regardless of our profession, we like to be appreciated. We like it when people know that we can do that one thing really well. This gives us all a sense of pride, so why not stroke someone’s ego occasionally if the end result is going to be gold!

Let’s be honest, there are plenty of men out there who don’t know the parts of their bike. As women, this journey to find the best mechanic isn’t just our problem; the word from my mechanic is that the men also need to take the same difficult path. Some of us will walk away after spending a little or a lot feeling totally dissatisfied, but I don’t think it’s just the mechanic that’s at fault; you have a part to play in this as well.
We need to be better customers in order to get better service!

Just like when you pat your loved ones on the back for doing a good job, make sure your mechanic knows that you appreciate everything he’s/she’s done. Don’t just take your bike and walk out, do learn his/her name, make eye contact and say thank you.

Knowing the names of the staff is important, when someone starts to look after you, stop them and ask their name. When you leave do make sure that you say, “thanks [insert name of awesome bike shop guy/girl here], you where really helpful, I’ll see you again soon.”

If you can show a genuine interest and are friendly, the chances are that it will pay off; your mechanic becomes part of the equipment that you need to ride and takes an interest in looking after you and your needs.

Only then will you begin to wonder how he knows that you need a new drive train before you do.

If you’re as bike obsessive as I am, you’ll be in your LBS at least three times a week and you’ll be following up doing research for family and friends as well.
My essentials for finding a good mechanic:

- It actually helps if you bought your bike from the same shop, though if you need to switch to another store, do it. I did and I’ve never been happier.

- If you don’t know anything about your bike, be honest about it. This then gives you the advantage of being able to use sound effects to describe the part that has malfunctioned.

- The bike mechanics should be able to understand/translate something you have explained in order to fix it without any hesitations.

- The mechanic should be able to tell you what they did in an easy to understand language; sound effects are optional.

- The shop should have a checklist to explain to you what you get in that service and how much it will cost. If they don’t, you should ask, ask them to explain it (keep in mind I’ve never asked my shop what’s on the list, but I know they have one).

- I commonly say to the boys (men), “any more than $300.00 give me a call”. Make sure you set a cost limit as a mechanic may feel that they have a responsibility in replacing your brake pads when they are down to the metal however need to be slowed down when they also think you need a new $5000 wheelset.

- My mechanic shows me how to do ‘stuff’ all the time, sure I don’t remember, but he always makes an effort and I appreciate that.

- They should be bike obsessed and eventually when you’re all happy and comfortable with each other, you may make jokes at each other’s expense.

Do not underestimate the power of a good smile though and remember, a little bit of cheekiness never goes astray. It is important that you build this relationship over time, don’t assume just because you are hot that they will bend over backwards for you… I’m not at all saying I’m hot, but I do have the cheeky attitude thing sorted!

I can recommend a good mechanic in Melbourne, email me at [email protected], or for more specific state to state information ask our members for details on the Australian Cycling Forums.



About The Author

is a Melbourne based road cyclist and covers women's interests in cycling, you can view her website at www.sheridescycling.com.au

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