Honestly . . .

I changed the brake cables on my old bike to adjust to the higher handlebars.

Was it difficult?

Not especially.

Was it empowering?  And did I feel my confidence grow as I came to know my bike more intimately?

Sure, why not?  I understand there are classes you can take for learning bike maintenance, places like Gracie’s Wrench in Portland.

And I like the idea in principle.  But honestly?


Did you know that in Copenhagen when they have a flat tire they drop the bike off at the shop in the morning and pick it up in the afternoon?  An American commented with (of course) moral outrage, spluttering something about, “I can hardly take any cyclist seriously who doesn’t change their own flat tires!!#@!”

I get the self-reliance thing.  I get the knowledge is power thing.  I get that repairs must be done by someone.  I get that that someone has got to be me sometimes.  But honestly?

Honestly, I’d rather be riding . . .


8 thoughts on “Honestly . . .

  1. heh. I am po, so i do almost all my bicycle maintenance. I have become friends with one of the local shops and they cut me deals on weird stuff they pick up all the time. The only things I won’t do are rear wheel overhauls and motor work on my Stokemonkey. Just yesterday I replaced the bottom bracket on my SS MTB.

    On the subject of brake cables: Consider reversing them — making the right one the front. I find this to be faaaar better for urban riding: it allows you to brake with the most effective brake AND handsignal at the same time. Its dorky, I know, but the Stoked X is *heavy*, and when fully loaded, needs all the braking power it can get sometimes.

  2. I like knowing how to do maintenance on my bikes, but honestly, most of the time, I default to the “drop it off at the shop” method. Especially having a good, trusted shop like Clever Cycles, I know they’ll do good work, charge me a reasonable price, and get it done as quickly as is reasonable. Plus it’s not too big a hassle to walk there either from work or from home.

    That being said, it’s nice to be able to do the regular lube the chain, oil the hub type stuff on your own.

    @JJ: the brakes on my old Raleigh were actually set up that way by default, with the front brake on the right. I definitely like it that way.

  3. I have to say my nearest “shop” is the basement where the co-resident bike guru usually does everything for me. It was part of our original deal when he was trying to lure me out onto two wheels. I just figure it’s time to be an “adult” cyclist – though there’s something to be said about having someone else smoothing my cycling path as well.

    Front brake on right? I’m afraid with this lightweight hybrid and the hills here on my rural ride I’d be flipping bikes wheels over handlebars?

  4. Indeed! When we went to Copenhagen we saw bike repair shops at every corner! Even better each train city station has a bike repair shop, a lot of people who may work outside the city park their bike at the stations, book it in for repair in the morning and collect it back at the end of the day then cycle home… how great is that!

    Changing tires/inner tubes on a Pashley is not the quickest & easiest thing, so having a nearby repair shop is just what’d I need 🙂 But anyway, although I have two bike repair shops on my way to work they open at 9am and close at 5pm. At 9am I am already at my desk by already about 1/2 hour and at 5pm I am still sitting at my desk…. doh! in Copehangen they open early when people are going to work and close a tad later than normal opening hours to allow people to collect their bikes!

  5. AASHTA, even tho he is no longer here:

    I learned how to brake riding Vespas. Rear brakes on a Vespa are significantly less efficient. due to engine placement.

    I once took a header over the handlebars when there was a catastrophic wheel failure in my front wheel. Uncomfortable thing, that.

  6. I seriously don’t know bike maintance. I would fit in well in copenhagen and I do drop by my LBS anytime something needs tweeking. The only sad thing is often they don’t charge me. I sometimes have to beg to pay. ( it’s always something so easy that it takes a few minutes. but I appreciate their time and care on my bike. )

    And honestly I’d rather be riding and have an excuse to walk into a bike shop and be among bikes. Luckily the husband knows some stuff so in a pinch I can have him do it. I should learn- but I have too many other things I need to be proficient in!

  7. I know how to do some basic maintenance and I even know, in theory, how to do major work on a bike including building it up from a frame up. This gives me the advantage of being able to discuss bikes with professionals in a more educated manner than before, and to ask for specific things done rather than “I don’t know what’s wrong with it, fix it!” or “make it pretty!”. And that is enough for me. I do not have the desire or the time to actually do the stuff myself – if I did, something else in my life would have to go in order to make room for it, and that is not an option for me.

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