1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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Thread: LBS Etiquette

  1. #1
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    LBS Etiquette

    Hey everyone.

    Very new rider here, just a quick question about getting some routine maintanence at a LBS.

    Is it acceptable to ask the mechanics to watch and even explain what is going on? I know this isn't a free bike school, but I am interested in learning all the workings and various aspects of my bike. Any current or previous mechanics that have experience with customers like this? Did it annoy you or did you like the fact people were taking an active approach? If they do "teach" me stuff, is a tip expected or taken as an insult?

    In case it matters, I was going to see if they can figure out why my chain won't switch onto the biggest front cog (sorry if I'm using the wrong terminology). I tried adjusting limit screws and am not comfortable enough to mess with other stuff on the derailuer yet.

    Thanks ahead of time!

  2. #2
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    Reputation: dewthedru's Avatar
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    while they might not want you back there for everything, that's the exact sort of thing that's helpful to watch someone do. if they make you feel bad for wanting to learn how to adjust your der., then it's on them, not you. i wouldn't tip them for showing you how to adjust something like that.

    however, if they are doing the work for free and you didn't buy the bike there, a tip or a 6-pack might be in order.

  3. #3
    Former Bike Wrench
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    A former mechanic here:

    If its simple things like derailluer adjustments, flat tire repairs, chain replacement, etc. No problem, never had any issues with customer watching.

    More complicated stuff like wheel building, fork and shock overhauls, hydro brake work, etc. This is a mechanics livelihood. If he/she spends the time to show you how to do these repairs...he/she is essentially shooting themselves in the foot by taking business away from the shop. Don't expect this...would you train someone for free to take your job away from you?

    As far as tipping...Bicycle mechanics are almost 100% fueled by caffeine and beer. You'd be amazed at how many "discounts, freebies, and rush jobs" you'll get by occasionally bringing your local mechanic a Mocha or a Sixer of GOOD beer.

    If you'd like to learn more, many bike shops offer classes for bike owners and the Zinn and the art of Mountain Bike Maintenance book is a great guide.

  4. #4
    ...the wave won't brek
    Reputation: anthrax's Avatar
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    I ride with my Mechanic so I am in and out of the bike shop all the time.

    I have pretty much free reign when I am there.

    That being said, this is not normal for all customers. Your average recreational rider drops the bike off and leaves. So this is generally what is expected.

    Just talk to the guys at the bike shop. Ask them if you can watch so you can learn to do some of the routine adjustments yourself. - the worst thing they can say is NO.

    Most people will respect that. The other thing is, if they are giving you free adjustments, the more you learn to do yourself the better off it is for them because then they can process more paying customers.

    Remember too sometimes it is too busy or the the job is too big to work on your bike while you are there. If that is the case just leave the bike and pick it up when it is done.

    There a book on Mountain Bike Maintenance that is supposed to be quite good (I have not used it) Zinn and the Art o Mountain Bike Maintenance by Lennard Zinn

    Check it out it should help answer allot of your questions.


    As for the adjustment you were trying to do, you most likely did not need to adjust the High/Low Limit Screws (actually once those are set you usually need not touch them) but just adjust the barrel adjuster on the shifter lever.

    Good Luck,

    A
    Last edited by anthrax; 05-01-2007 at 09:10 AM.
    2008 Santa Cruz Superlight SPX-XC Kit

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  5. #5
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    Thanks everyone for the quick responses.

    I kind of figured the worst thing that would happen is they say no. Just wanted to check and make sure this isn't an unreasonable/agitating request. I'll ask them about more formal classes for basic stuff while there too.

    I don't have the Zinn book, but I did get the Big Blue Book from Park and was thinking of doing a couple other adjustments suggested in there. Just a little hesitant to mess with major stuff on a bike I'll be flying downhill through trees and rocks is all.

  6. #6
    Former Bike Wrench
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    PS-I love Irish Carbombs...could down them in seconds flat!!!!!

  7. #7
    2006 Yeti AS-X
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    I will have to remember that when I visit my LBS again. They have been very good to me and super friendly, always willing to go the extra mile. I will have to bring in a 24 pack of Coke the next time!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker72
    A former mechanic here:

    If its simple things like derailluer adjustments, flat tire repairs, chain replacement, etc. No problem, never had any issues with customer watching.

    More complicated stuff like wheel building, fork and shock overhauls, hydro brake work, etc. This is a mechanics livelihood. If he/she spends the time to show you how to do these repairs...he/she is essentially shooting themselves in the foot by taking business away from the shop. Don't expect this...would you train someone for free to take your job away from you?

    As far as tipping...Bicycle mechanics are almost 100% fueled by caffeine and beer. You'd be amazed at how many "discounts, freebies, and rush jobs" you'll get by occasionally bringing your local mechanic a Mocha or a Sixer of GOOD beer.

    If you'd like to learn more, many bike shops offer classes for bike owners and the Zinn and the art of Mountain Bike Maintenance book is a great guide.
    Exactly. The little things didn't matter so much. The big things, are hard to teach to folks and mechanics do wanna protect their jobs.

    Anthrax - did you steal my old avatar? PJ rocks!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker72
    A former mechanic here:

    If its simple things like derailluer adjustments, flat tire repairs, chain replacement, etc. No problem, never had any issues with customer watching.

    More complicated stuff like wheel building, fork and shock overhauls, hydro brake work, etc. This is a mechanics livelihood. If he/she spends the time to show you how to do these repairs...he/she is essentially shooting themselves in the foot by taking business away from the shop. Don't expect this...would you train someone for free to take your job away from you?

    As far as tipping...Bicycle mechanics are almost 100% fueled by caffeine and beer. You'd be amazed at how many "discounts, freebies, and rush jobs" you'll get by occasionally bringing your local mechanic a Mocha or a Sixer of GOOD beer.

    If you'd like to learn more, many bike shops offer classes for bike owners and the Zinn and the art of Mountain Bike Maintenance book is a great guide.
    Being an Auto Tech, I can relate and agree 100%. The concept is the same. I don't mind showing a customer how to change an air filter or light bulb, but I am not going to tell that person how to fix their AC or ABS for example.

  10. #10
    I post too much.
    Reputation: snaky69's Avatar
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    It should be no problem, I give my LBS freebies and they give me some back, we're in very good terms and everyone there knows me by name.

    Last time I went I had a wheel built and had a brand new rim that wasn't of any use to me, I let it go for $5 flat. Then yesterday, I had a problem with my pedals not coming out, I just went there 20 minutes before closing time, said hi to everybody, they removed my pedals and installed the new ones, we talked a bit, and I came out of there without taking out my wallet.

    It's all about being friendly.

  11. #11
    bang
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    you might also want to check out the park tool website, as they have guides aplenty. there's also a list of bike shops that teach their park tool school clinics.

  12. #12
    my fun has a hurting
    Reputation: cdburch's Avatar
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    ask them about rides while you are there too. the lbs is one of the best places to meet riding buddies (plus it gets you on really good terms with the wrenches)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker72
    PS-I love Irish Carbombs...could down them in seconds flat!!!!!
    Yeah they are always a good option at the local pub. If you are in D.C. I'd galdy swap some carbombs for some biking tips.

  14. #14
    MTBR Demi-God
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    I find it weird to bring in beer for the mechanics... even though I really want to. They are on the job, are they allowed to have beer while they are working?
    "Winners never quit. Quitters never win. But those who never win and never quit are idiots."

  15. #15
    I railed it like Kong
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    They can always take it home with them at the end of the day.
    I'm UNIQUE... just like everybody else.

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