20 May, 2016


by Scott

I'm not one of those natural tinkerers. I didn't take apart radios as a kid or try to figure out how a toaster worked.  My big achievement in the past was taking apart my espresso machine to put a new gasket in the steam wand. But I have always enjoyed working on bikes and taking care of my bikes.
My first job was working for a bike shop in suburban Vancouver. The owner had cycled across Canada and loved touring bikes, but was also smart enough to realize that in Vancouver in the mid to late 80's, mountain bikes paid the bills. Back then it was still cup and cone bottom brackets, 1 inch threaded headsets and thumb shifter's. All the bikes we sold were built up by us. We'd have 5 or 6 of us on hand on the busy summer days, each a combination bike mechanic and sales person. We'd get an order from the front of the shop and we'd build the bikes up, taking the BB apart and applying boat trailer grease instead of the Vaseline looking grease that the cups came with. Same thing with the headset, new grease packed in there and everything adjusted by hand, then handed over to the boss, who'd give it a whirl on the stand to check our work over, while talking to the new customer. After work, we'd hang out, working on our own bikes, rebuilding our bottom brackets or regreasing cables or using the shop degreaser to clean our chains and cassettes. All of us rode to work, in all weather, which in Vancouver meant rain at least one day a week. Throw in going off road on the weekends or week night rides in the winter, and the bikes took a lot of abuse. But it was fun to work away on my bike. We had good stands to work with, all the right tools to make it go easier and faster, plus my boss in the corner in case we ran into any trouble.
 (stolen from mtbr forum)
When I built up my Piolet last year, it certainly wasn't the same as when I built up my first MTB, a Rocky Mountain Hammer, back in 1988. The hubs are all sealed cartridge now, the headset and bottom bracket use cartridge bearings. I've been riding that Piolet as much as time and the weather here in Maryland will allow this winter. And yet, I'm not finding myself wishing that I could sit in the garage/shop and whittle away some hours repacking things. I've gotten older and have less spare time/free time to be able to look after that sort of thing now. Having cartridge bearings for the BB and headset means that I'll get the same level of performance now and in 5 years.

                                        (Scott's home made pen and pencil holder)

I'd say a good number of our customers are do it yourself'ers when it comes to bikes. Are you a DIY person when it comes to all things around the house and yard or are you more of a one specialty DIY person?

On another subject, should you want to install some nice, but inexpensive parts, then check what we've just added to the VO Specials Page.


John Ellsworth said...

I'll work on pretty much anything. Bikes, brakes and similar on the cars, pretty much anything on tractors and lawn equipment, and I'm game to tackle anything on the house. I farm stuff out if it'll take too long, if the downside risk of screwing it up is too high, or if I don't have and don't want to buy the required tools.

To your point, as I've gotten older, I've grown more willing to let someone else do the work. But not on the bikes! Our fleet may not be the most cutting edge bikes in the world (they tend to hover around 1992, tech-wise), but I keep them well maintained.

sadowdell said...

Just a guess...Gaggia Classic. Am I right?

VeloOrange said...

@sadowell - actually it is a Rancilio Silvia machine. Going on 6 years old and I got it as a demo model. Scott

William Seville said...

Well, my cars are too bloody complicated for me to wrench any more (one of them needs a computer to check the oil level).

I am well-off enough these days to out source wheel building to someone more competent. Everything else I still do myself. One set of wheels has "sealed" bearings. The rest (and all the BB's) are cup and cone.

And my experience of Vancouver is that it rains at least twice a week (in summer, more in winter :-) ) But if it's 2C and drizzling in Granville, it's snowing on the slopes.

Charlie Best said...

That's my Hammer! At least it was a few years ago, that picture was taken outside my apt. building on Main st. in Toronto. Rescued that bike from a balcony where it had sat for 2+ decades and restored it to the condition you see in the picture. It was too small for me and I sold it to a man who had the identical bike and wanted a smaller one for his wife.