Summertime is in full swing here in Oregon and these warm, sunny days have the streets and trails filled with bikers. Nothing ruins a lovely ride more than mechanical failure so it definitely pays to get your bike tuned up regularly and give it the TLC it needs to stay in tip-top shape.
That means you need to have a preferred go-to bike shop, and we’re here to help you find it.
START WITH HOME MAINTENANCE
Adjusting your brakes, overhauling a hub and truing a wheel might not be for you – and that’s okay – but there are some basics you can easily do at home. Why bother? Well, you wipe down your counters, you wash your clothes and you sweep your floors, so why not take care of your bike with a few similar basics?
Here’s what’s top of our list:
1) Air up your tires to max pressure (it’s written on the tire).
2) Lube your chain.
3) Wipe down your rims and remove excess grime all around.
Seriously, it’s that simple. You, a couple beers, and your buddies, sitting on the front porch with your bikes… the work will be finished before the six-pack is.
For additional home maintenance tips, read through our Maintenance Archives.
KEEP IT LOCAL
It’s important to build a relationship with your local shop. They’ll be there to help you in a pinch. Once you form a relationship, they’ll know your needs, riding style and your bike, which means they’ll be able to provide you even better service. And if you’re good to them, they’ll be good to you. They may even go out of their way to help you in an emergency even if the shop is swamped.
According to BikePortland.org, Portland alone has 73 bike shops to choose from.
MY SHOP DOESN’T HAVE IT
If your neighborhood bike shop is lacking something you need, the first step is to make it known to the management. Any well run bike shop is eager to know what customers want so they can provide relevant supplies and services.
If it turns out that what you need just can’t be provided by your neighborhood shop, it’s time to broaden your distance and look for another shop.
Take these tips into consideration:
1) A shop close to work.
2) A shop close to where you are on a regular basis.
3) A shop that caters to your particular type of riding.
4) A shop that gives back to the community through programs, donations, sponsorship, etc.
FIND THE SHOP THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU – AND BE CONFIDENT
Location, stock and logistics aren’t everything. Your go-to bike shop should also be extremely comfortable. Don’t be afraid to ask all the questions you have. In fact, we are advocates of bringing a list with you to the shop. It’s easy to get flustered by the shiny objects and busy environment, or even the intimidation factor. With a list, you can glance down to job your memory and ensure all your questions get asked.
Don’t let anyone bully you or make you feel stupid. You’re at a shop for a reason: Because you can’t do it yourself. You don’t need to know everything; you’re not expected to be an expert. Go in with confidence, get your questions answered, and don’t be afraid to leave to mull over your options before making a decision, even on maintenance work. Be sure you’re agreeing to work that you fully understand and are prepared to pay for.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
1) Call first to ensure you can get what you need and verify their hours.
2) If you’re bike shopping or know you’ll have in-depth questions or needs, plan to visit during off hours when the staff has more time. You’ll get better service, they’ll be more relaxed and helpful and you’ll be able to start a relationship with the shop.
3) If you’re visiting with a big service job or a last minute need, a tip is definitely in order. Beer and cash are generally never turned down.
4) Value the service you receive. People are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for auto repairs, but for some reason balk at the highly technical service they receive for their bikes. And we think that’s crazy. Bike mechanics work hard and the best ones draw upon many years of experience to diagnose odd issues and provide creative fixes to the most maddening of maintenance issues.
5) Read our article on additional ways to prepare for a visit to your mechanic.