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  1. #1
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    Who here works on their own bikes?

    The other day I was talking to a guy at a LBS and the topic of rebuilding forks came up. I mentioned how I had just rebuilt my fork, and wasn't sure if I was gonna like the new seals I had switched to. He asked where I had had it done, and I told him I had done it myself. He looked at me with a very surprised look on his face, and then after hesitating, said, "Well whoever showed you how to do it, did they make sure they were the right kind of seals for your fork?"

    He basically just assumed that I hadn't done the fork myself, and that if I had, I had certainly had someone else showing me how to do it. He also assumed that someone else had made the decision to purchase the seals for me, as if I was somehow incapable of doing so myself. Needless to say, I was very angry with him and didn't continue our conversation much longer than that. I felt completely undermined and judged, and I was fairly certain it had to do with my gender.

    I would be willing to bet that he wouldn't have even bothered asking these questions had I been a guy. I find this extremely frustrating considering the amount of time I've spent working on my bike and learning how to do it correctly. I asked a mtber friend of mine (female) if I was over-reacting, and she told me that he was probably just surprised because not a lot of women work on their own bikes. I asked her if she did, and she said no-she had her bf do her bike maintenance! This was also surprising to me, because she is a very competent and skilled rider, who has ridden for a long time, so I just assumed she did her own maintenance as well.

    This situation has made me curious to see how common it is among mtber women to do your own bike repairs/maintenance? And if you do, what is the extent of it the maintenance/repair that you do? Did you teach yourself, or did someone else teach you? And how long were you riding before you learned? If you don't work on your own bike, then why not?

    Just some food for thought. I'd like to know what other women think of this topic.

  2. #2
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    I do my own maintenance and even have built up a couple bikes. I generally try to do all my own work if I can. Time is usually only the rate limiting factor. I've slowly obtained just about all the necessary tools and even recently bought a headset press... kind of had to since my newest mountain bike has a press fit bottom bracket (at least that's what I told myself). Suspension/forks are the only area that I'm not comfortable with, although it's a personal goal of mine to at least be able to do maintenance on my forks/suspension.
    My LBS knows that if I bring my bike in, it's usually pretty beat up!

  3. #3
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    Haven't you heard that women belong in the kitchen?

    Who here works on their own bikes?-p1030109-1280x960-.jpg

    I enjoy working on the bikes, I do a lot of stuff (self-taught) but have not learned anything about wheels or suspension. I started in about 6th grade on my sister's 10 speed.

    That interaction was really a lost opportunity for your LBS to make a loyal customer. I still remember a mechanic that complimented my hub overhaul (old cup and cone style) when he spun the wheel.

  4. #4
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    I think this is the kind of thing Stripes was driving at with the thread she started recently and how women who mountain bike are perceived. I like to try to work on my own bike whenever time and confidence allow . I built up my first bike a couple of years ago from the frame, including installing the bottom bracket and pressing in the headset. When I brought the frame into the LBS to get faced and chased, they started asking me about installing the headset and BB, too. I said no thanks, I was going to do it. The guy was like, well, you know you need special tools, right? I tried not to take it too personally and sweetly replied that yes, I did know that and had all the necessary tools and was going to be installing them myself. I think his reaction was a toss-up between being shocked and skeptical.

    I'm still learning, but like you, enjoy trying to learn on my own. I at least try to do some things myself and if I just can't seem to get it, I'll bring it into the LBS and I get along great with the guys there now. I haven't gotten up the courage to work on my own suspension yet, or wheels, but hope to learn down the line. There is something extremely satisfying being able to fix stuff myself.
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  5. #5
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    My wife will put air in her tires after I show her for the 50th time how to operate the new style presta style valves. Even then, she much prefers I do it for her. I can't get her to pick up a tool to save my life. She also plays guitar and while she will change her own strings, I can't get her the least bit interested in taking it further. I am a luthier so I have dreams of her helping me out on some basic instrument maintenance around the shop, but I'm pretty sure it's a pipe dream.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by musikron View Post
    My wife will put air in her tires after I show her for the 50th time how to operate the new style presta style valves. Even then, she much prefers I do it for her. I can't get her to pick up a tool to save my life. She also plays guitar and while she will change her own strings, I can't get her the least bit interested in taking it further. I am a luthier so I have dreams of her helping me out on some basic instrument maintenance around the shop, but I'm pretty sure it's a pipe dream.
    Hmm, you know what they say: "You can tuna fish"...

    In all seriousness, though, the purpose of this thread was to see who actually worked on their own bikes and how they got started or how much they do on their own. I think it can be a common misconception that women don't enjoy doing that sort of thing, as it seems to be in your experience. Obviously that's not always the case. I guess I'm not sure what the point of your response was other than to criticize your wife (on a women's forum) for something she doesn't enjoy or seem interested in doing?
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by petey15 View Post
    Hmm, you know what they say: "You can tuna fish"...

    In all seriousness, though, the purpose of this thread was to see who actually worked on their own bikes and how they got started or how much they do on their own. I think it can be a common misconception that women don't enjoy doing that sort of thing, as it seems to be in your experience. Obviously that's not always the case. I guess I'm not sure what the point of your response was other than to criticize your wife (on a women's forum) for something she doesn't enjoy or seem interested in doing?
    So I'm the resident bike expert at my office and one of my partners had a bike (that he rarely rides) set up tubeless. He's been fairly indignant that the tires have gone flat, as happens when you don't ride and the sealant dries up. In fact he doesn't have a spare tube, tire irons or even pump. I've offered numerous times to reseal his tires, but alas I think he's bike is still sitting unused in his garage with flat tires! Given he's profession (surgeon) he really has no excuse on a skill level.

    I found that as I increased my mountain bike time and decreased the road time I had to learn more otherwise my bike would spend more time in the shop than on the trail. Plus no ones knows your bike better than you... the shop mechanic may not be able to notice the small creak or slight skipping you get riding.

    Like most other people- my suspension and wheel skills aren't up to par... I'm hoping I can barter with a friend and get him to teach me how to build wheels!

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    I would like to understand why some people enjoy and are good at that kind of thing and some aren't, which is why I chimed in to the conversation. I thought I was being helpful, I was not aware this was an exclusive section of the forums where men are not welcome. I've posted in here before and wasn't shunned. Maybe it was because I have a girls name?

    I was quite far from criticizing my own wife, I'm sorry you got that impression as I think more of her than anyone. The presta valve is a running joke in our house, we laugh about it, now anytime she can't open something (a package or the proverbial pickle jar) and I have to help out, she cheers me on with a quiet "presta, presta, presta" until the damn thing opens and then I get a loud, long "PRESTOOO!!!", complete with arms raised victoriously in the air. Its fun, you should try it sometimes.
    I shared about what she is comfortable doing... airing tires and changing guitar strings. There are lots of hands on things she is more than exceptional at, writing, playing piano and guitar (and singing), knitting awesome scarves, typing at the speed of light etc. Basically lots of things that require excellent fine motor skills and hand eye coordination, the same basic skills (aside from critical problem solving skills) that I use in lutherie or anyone else would use in bicycle repair. So physically she is capable of doing it. And before you pile on me for calling her "dumb" or some such ridiculousness, she's the most brilliant women I ever met and my hero which is why I am with her, she holds two degrees, including her MFA, which is a few reams above my "papers"!lol

    Everyone is different, and while it is good to branch out and try new things, you can't fit a square peg in a round hole. She can sit for months and write a musical or a novel and it brings her great pleasure doing it. Me on the other hand, am already sick of writing this response, but will happily re-fret a guitar or clean the drive train of our bikes, something even the thought of makes her skin crawl. Does this somehow make one of us superior to the other? I really don't think it does, it just makes us complimentary. There is nothing wrong with not being even, I'm better at some things, and she's better at others. In the words of the venerable Martha Stewart, "it's a good thing".

  9. #9
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    Good for you ladies. I have always worked on my own bikes and recently got my oldest daughter to build her own bike, although it wasn't really her choice of a project. Shes not as interested as I was as a young man. I am very patient and explain the theory behind what we are doing, then let her do it, but I am not sure she will ever have a interest like I did. Her younger sister seems even less interested. We are beyond having more kids and these girls are going to inherit a huge tool set - I am a semi-pro car mechanic and wood worker as well...Not to hijack the thread but any hints on making it fun. The bike we built turned out pretty good BTW, but shes not had a chance to ride it much.

    As far as ladies on bikes knowing how to fix them, I hope my girls will at least be able to do some repairs and tunes. My wife has tons of artistic ability and does other stuff but has no interest and lets me do her bikes. Oh well.

    I would not go to that shop again for work on my bike, if you can do forks, holy cow you can do about anything. I have only taken two sets apart as its messy, involved, and tedious. Hats off to you doing your own OP. In these modern days, YouTUbe can show anyone how to do about anything so it should not have surprised him.

  10. #10
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    When I was in college(aircraft mechanic school ) I stopped in on the closest shop in town to have my big ring sized so I could order the 46T instead of the worn out 44T. The manager proceded to tell me how my cables were all wrong and this that and the other were all wrong and how it was not trail worthy and that he should redo the drivetrain. Mind you this was in the middle of a XC season where I was top 3 on almost every race and commuting 25 miles a day. I was building bikes from spokes up since late middle school and helping my bf's

    He got a pretty heavy chewing out, just shy of slapping across the face and I went riding up 12 miles up the road to the other shop. They even have 2 lady mechanics, but that was irrelevant to me at that point. The whole crew treated me like a person and always have.

    BTW the other shop went out of business a couple months after. Go fig...
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  11. #11
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    Another thought, even if you have the $ to pay a mechanic, or are lucky enough to have a live-in mechanic, they may not be with you out on the trail when something breaks. Having some mechanical skills can save you a long walk, or worse, like a night out when you are not prepared to do so.

    I have fixed a couple oddball things out on a ride, such as a pedal body that came off the spindle (it was still clipped to my shoe), and a weird chainsuck that required loosening/lowering the front derailleur to free the chain. Yes, there are some things un-fixable on the trail, such as I toasted an old freewheel and suddenly only had "neutral" (pedal, but no motion), and another time the bottom bracket got fried and the pedals would not turn at all. I had to coast/scoot/push out of those, but even then, I knew immediately it was irreparable and thus was able to get moving quicker and in a better (not helpless/frustrated) frame of mind.

    In other words, some mechanical ability gives you more freedom to explore.

  12. #12
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    Re: Who here works on their own bikes?

    I love hearing these stories. These are very inspiring. I'd love to learn how to properly maintain and build a bike.

    What's the best way to learn? We have community bike repair shops in town, that might be a good start.

    Any other thoughts?

    Sent from my Z10 using Tapatalk 2

  13. #13
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    I got started when I wanted to upgrade a few parts on my old hardtail. A friend of mine who got me interested in mountain biking in the first place offered to help install the parts for me since he had the tools. I insisted on being present to help and learn. He explained everything as he went along and gave me a lot of tips. He encouraged me to try to do some things while he talked me through it. It was great - really supportive and nonjudgmental.

    From there, the interest in working on my own bikes just grew. I found it a lot of fun and almost therapeutic to do the work myself. I could just lose myself in whatever project I was working on.

    I have a few bike repair books and got a stand one year for Christmas. I've steadily built up my collection of tools. I watch a lot of videos on Youtube. We also have a local shop that does weekly bike repair classes that focuses on specific topics each week, which is awesome. Most importantly, I've learned not to be afraid to try and when all else fails, bring it into the shop .
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post
    Did you read the FAQ to the Women's Lounge? Here's the link:
    Women's Lounge is for Women - Guys Read This

    Your post in this thread came across as a troll and chauvinistic. Even if that's not what you meant, it's how it came across. Your exact words so you're clear on what's not cool are:



    The regulars here have no problems with guys coming here, provided they don't act like we are beneath them/less skilled/need to be in the kitchen/barefoot and pregnant/serving you grapes/etc.

    Too many males come in here and act like they own the place. The folks at MTBR are nice enough to have a nice place to talk about things without having people come in and hijack the threads to tell us one way or another to serve as their platform for BS.
    No, I didn't read the faq, I just look at recent threads for anything interesting. If it's exclusive then it won't show up publicly. MTBXPLORER stated my main reason for wishing she took up a tool more often, "Having some mechanical skills can save you a long walk, or worse, like a night out when you are not prepared to do so." I was hoping this thread would give some inspiration honestly. Thanks for killing that for me.

    As far as the rest.. It has nothing to do with chauvinism, just differences in people. The singer in my band can't set up the damn PA he uses every week after 25 years (yes freaking YEARS) of me showing him how to do it. If he does it alone he's likely to impedance mismatch something and blow a transformer, he's done it more than once. Its the same exact thing as my wife and the tires. If for some reason you think these personality traits have the first thing to do with the parts in their pants, then frankly that sounds like your issue and not mine.

    I think you're spooking at shadows there kiddo, take a chill pill and have a Happy Holidays!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trailrider92 View Post
    I would be willing to bet that he wouldn't have even bothered asking these questions had I been a guy. I find this extremely frustrating considering the amount of time I've spent working on my bike and learning how to do it correctly.
    Sing it. Most shop guys are so dismissive. There are exactly two shops in town (of many...I live in Portland and I think we have equal numbers of bike shops and pubs) that I will take my bike to for repairs (stuff that I don't have the tools for, which isn't much, now.) Sadly, I have guy friends who also occasionally display this attitdue...guy friends who have in the past complimented me on my mech skills. WTF. To me, it's an indicator of how culturally ingrained these notions are. And an indicator that I must crush it at every opportunity

    Quote Originally Posted by Trailrider92 View Post
    I asked a mtber friend of mine (female) if I was over-reacting, and she told me that he was probably just surprised because not a lot of women work on their own bikes.
    FWIW I don't think you are either - you're just getting sick of it, like I am

    Quote Originally Posted by Trailrider92 View Post
    This situation has made me curious to see how common it is among mtber women to do your own bike repairs/maintenance? And if you do, what is the extent of it the maintenance/repair that you do? Did you teach yourself, or did someone else teach you? And how long were you riding before you learned? If you don't work on your own bike, then why not?
    I've been doing my own wrenching since shortly after I started riding, so a couple of decades. Not saying I could open a shop or anything, but I can fix just about anything on my bike and most stuff on my friends'. Except wheels. I've trued up a couple that weren't too bad, but haven't built my own. If it's a repair I haven't done yet, I'll either find it in Zinn, or find a youtube video, or get Mr Right to help me (last resort )

    To me, it's a matter of personal responsibility - I don't want to get stuck having to walk out of the woods. (See also: first aid training )

    gabrielle
    Quote Originally Posted by Impy
    just plain unfriendly and maladjusted.
    "Yes, honey: I do love this bike more than I love you."

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post
    One of the shops I go to will show me how to do my own work.
    Discover Bikes in Hood River helped me out *big time* when I was "leveling up" my mech skills several years back. I am pretty much their customer for life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post
    It's frustrating that some boys think tools are extension of their manhood, but it's not .. it's just a tool. This means means BOTH sexes can use them. Grrr.
    You've seen this, right? How to Tell if a Toy is for Boys or Girls - updated - [Video Game Infographic] - Dueling Analogs

    gabrielle
    Quote Originally Posted by Impy
    just plain unfriendly and maladjusted.
    "Yes, honey: I do love this bike more than I love you."

  17. #17
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    [QUOTE=Stripes;10894238]Did you read the FAQ to the Women's Lounge? Here's the link:
    Women's Lounge is for Women - Guys Read This

    Quote Originally Posted by musikron View Post
    No, I didn't read the faq, I just look at recent threads for anything interesting.
    When someone asks, "have you read the FAQ", that's a polite hint that you're not playing by the accepted etiquette of the group.

    So, go read it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post
    Too many males come in here and act like they own the place. The folks at MTBR are nice enough to have a nice place to talk about things without having people come in and hijack the threads to tell us one way or another to serve as their platform for BS.
    Quote Originally Posted by musikron View Post
    I think you're spooking at shadows there kiddo, take a chill pill and have a Happy Holidays!
    This is incredibly dismissive, and I don't appreciate it.

    gabrielle
    Quote Originally Posted by Impy
    just plain unfriendly and maladjusted.
    "Yes, honey: I do love this bike more than I love you."

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    Yes I am absolutely dismissing their paranoid, anti-social behavior. If someones feelings get hurt because of their own prejudices and insecurities, that's no fault of mine but theirs. They are obviously looking for an enemy where one does not exist. Maybe the word is uppity? If you want to be exclusive with regards to race, creed, religion, or sex, an open public forum is not the place to do so.

    The fact you have done nothing to defend my poor idiot male singer in all this, yet trip all over yourself in a misguided and un-needed attempt to rally behind my brilliant wife, shows that it is YOU who is showing preferential treatment due to someones genitals, not I.

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    And on that note this thread can make like a spoke and get bent.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by musikron View Post
    And on that note this thread can make like a spoke and get bent.
    I'm guessing the biggest problem are having with your comments is that this thread is about stoke for girls working on their bikes, not to tell stories about how your gf/wife can't change a tire to save their life. We all have different skill sets. I love working on my bikes, but I hate changing the oil in my truck. Can I do it, sure, have I yes. I just don't like to.

    Trailrider92- Love this thread... I've thought about posting up a similar one for a while. When I get back from skiing I'll post up a picture of my bike garage set up. My boyfriend built me a bike tool bench that's pretty sweet... and yes I do occasionally work on his bike- he doesn't have the patience for it!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post
    Well, this post is all about women who work on their bikes, so we're all bent.

    Anyone here a wheelbuilder? I'm not into the dark art of wheel building, but I'd love to hear more about it.
    Me too. Can't true a wheel to save my life. And haven't dreamed (strike that I've dreamed), er, dared to do my own suspension.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kinsler View Post
    Trailrider92- Love this thread... I've thought about posting up a similar one for a while. When I get back from skiing I'll post up a picture of my bike garage set up. My boyfriend built me a bike tool bench that's pretty sweet... and yes I do occasionally work on his bike- he doesn't have the patience for it!
    Please do!
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    Quote Originally Posted by petey15 View Post
    Me too. Can't true a wheel to save my life. And haven't dreamed (strike that I've dreamed), er, dared to do my own suspension.
    Didn't somebody upthread say they just bent a spoke? Maybe we can practice on theirs.

    AFA suspension: I've done my forks twice now. There are really good videos on youtube. The important thing is to get the right oil, and not lose track of which leg is which

    Shocks...I send them to Push like everybody else.
    Quote Originally Posted by Impy
    just plain unfriendly and maladjusted.
    "Yes, honey: I do love this bike more than I love you."

  24. #24
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    I do forks and wheels, hate them but unless they are special(like mavic ust's) I can't bear to pay the labor rate. Not that hard, just taxing of the patience
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  25. #25
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    I don't work on my bike... my husband does because he enjoys it. Even his hobbies are mechanical/engineering oriented...mine are not

    I admire you ladies for your talents and knowledge in this field
    F*ck Cancer

    Eat your veggies

  26. #26
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    i do, but have a husband who is a wrench/handy guy and can fix anything I bugger. He taught me and I bought the Zinn Book many moons ago, pre internet.Built a set of 3x wheels, seemed fine. I bleed my brakes, tune up my bike, change oil/seals in fork, and used the DAG tool last week to bend my hanger back. I'm not great, but I'm fine riding the bikes that I work on. I think that if you are the type of person that enjoys hand-on projects, (fixing car or house?) you certainly can fix a bike. Yes, you have to buy lots of specific tools, take more time than pros, make dumb mistakes, but learn tons in the process. Last week, I ruined a new set of pads by getting mineral oil on them. rookie

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabrielle View Post
    To me, it's an indicator of how culturally ingrained these notions are. And an indicator that I must crush it at every opportunity

  28. #28
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    I'm a guy and work on my own bikes and am happy and/or excited when women work on their own bikes. I think it's cool. But then again, just like guys, there is a whole wide spectrum of people and their passions. Some people just want to ride and couldn't careless about the technology. The only time they notice something is if something doesn't work. Then there are the people who geek out on all kinds of neat stuff so they can do stuff to the nth degree. Unfortunately, some people stereotype more than others. I'm one of those guys that likes to know how things work and make improvements if they don't serve my needs. I also don't like to have to walk out so I try to find ways of making things work in challenging situations. I know there are women out there like that.

    The guy at the shop who assumed women can't or don't work on their own bikes is just plain senseless. At a shop it should be all about customer service and each customer should have their own unique needs. That to me is the difference of why we would support a shop vs. doing mail order, right? Bummer in this day and age we still treat people like that.

  29. #29
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    I started working on bike when waiting for hubby to do things was turning into a long wait. And there have been times when I've had more time than money. I've built a single speed, and do some general maintenance and adjustments but nothing that's like a strip down and rebuild.

    I've had a few moments of bringing my bike to the shop with bike and starting with:
    "I tried to work on my bike, and it didn't go as planned. Can you please help me out? "
    I have a few of those. I thrashed my bottom bracket on a muddy rainy weekend up in Canada and thought "I can do that" (tear it down, re do it) All went well except I couldn't get it back together quite right. So off to the LBS where the guys showed me how to pound it back together. Oh, you are supposed to pound on it?
    I'm not super confident, but will give some tasks a good effort and sometimes they come out great. The last one was switching out handlebars along with all the control, new grips and grip end plugs.

    I keep my LBS guys well plied with home baked goodies and referrals. I know it works when I can come in on a Sunday summer afternoon and have them fine too my munged trailside derailleur adjustment.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by kinsler View Post
    I'm guessing the biggest problem are having with your comments is that this thread is about stoke for girls working on their bikes, not to tell stories about how your gf/wife can't change a tire to save their life. We all have different skill sets. I love working on my bikes, but I hate changing the oil in my truck. Can I do it, sure, have I yes. I just don't like to.

    Trailrider92- Love this thread... I've thought about posting up a similar one for a while. When I get back from skiing I'll post up a picture of my bike garage set up. My boyfriend built me a bike tool bench that's pretty sweet... and yes I do occasionally work on his bike- he doesn't have the patience for it!
    It seems to me that if the wife in question was making jokes about herself not giving a rip about the presta valve and how she'd rather he do it for her... or whatever it was... it would a lot more acceptable.

    And on that note this thread can make like a spoke and get bent.
    ...and another guy tells the WL to get bent. Is he going to cancel his whole mtbr account too?

    As for how to learn - I bought a copy of Zinn, and for the longest time would sit there with a highlighter and really study the section applicable to that day's project. I'd mark the key points with a highlighter. Nowadays, I'll take the ipad out to the shop and key up videos if I need too. When I first started, I remember standing there with the dykes, getting ready to cut a cable to replace it, and it taking a good long time to work up the nerve to actually do it. It was scary.

    What I really like is to detail clean the bikes. Now that I can spend hours on with toothbrushes and q-tip and rag poker thingys. I have all the chains set up with power links so it is simple to dismantle the drivetrains and de-gunk everything.

    We did a big remodel last year and added a 16x40 bay for hubby's wood shop and boating stuff. I got a dedicated space for bike storage and a workbench in the original shop that is "my" bike space. You should have seen the evil looks I was giving him when he was talking about putting a table saw there. Hah, not in my lifetime. He likes bikes too, and I happen to take care of his for him. I've got space to hang 5 bikes, a work table, some wall space to hang things, some shelf space, and a good spot for the stand, and storage for the hitch rack and roof trays when they are not in season.

  31. #31
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    Who here works on their own bikes?

    I work on my own bikes. Parts manuals found on manufacturers sites help. The biggest help in learning how to do stuff is YouTube. There is a guy to be found on there that will show you how to do anything. Yes I said a guy! I have yet to look up anything mechanical I want to learn on a bicycle and found a video of a woman teaching it...ever. The male mechanic that offended the OP was probably (and innocently) operating on his personal experience of never having seen a woman do any wrenching. We are very much a minority.

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    I guess I should not post here since i am a guy, but kudos to all the riders that work on there bikes male and female. When I first started going to my LBS and telling them I rebuilt the fork and did other repairs I got the same response as the OP so I don't always think it is a gender thing. Now that they know me we have had some good exchanges of information and get along great. I also work on my friends bikes all the time for free male and female trying to get them interested in wrenching.

  33. #33
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    au contraire, we welcome guys who don't have a condescending attitude. They just seem to be short supply lately.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by dlennard View Post
    I guess I should not post here since i am a guy, but kudos to all the riders that work on there bikes male and female. When I first started going to my LBS and telling them I rebuilt the fork and did other repairs I got the same response as the OP so I don't always think it is a gender thing. Now that they know me we have had some good exchanges of information and get along great. I also work on my friends bikes all the time for free male and female trying to get them interested in wrenching.
    Nothing at all wrong about being a guy and posting on here. I think it's safe to say most of us appreciate a male's input, especially when it's encouraging or actually pertains to the topic at hand. Thanks .
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    I am a guy, and a mechanic/service manager - and just thought I would add in some words of encouragement!
    First, huge props for DIY fork maintenance, it is deceptively simple and I think intimidates people, when (as you probably know) it's not bad at all!
    In defense of dick-ish shop guy, if I didn't know you as a customer, I would be a bit questioning regardless of gender because fork maintenance, while simple, is super easy to mess up - a careless scratch of a stanchion, forgotten seal, etc. can ruin an $800+ piece of equipment, so I can't speak for him, but I know usually the "attitude" is about wanting to protect a pricey part of your bike!

    I have worked with / trained a few female mechanics all of whom have been excellent! Great attention to detail and a passion for getting things right - which is what makes a good mechanic and has nothing to do with gender

    Anyways, I say carry on and don't go back if you felt slighted - just keep in mind that often a mechanic's experience with DIY customers can be summarized as them making it more broken.

    Anyone looking for great resources, I highly recommend all the information on Park Tool's website, which is excellent if you prefer articles or videos. And check with your LBS! Bribe a mechanic with beer for some lessons, or see if they offer classes.

    Finally, for those curious about wheelbuilding - sheldonbrown.com or take a class with a good builder - but do it!!! Even the simple task of wheel truing is made far easier and better done by knowing how a wheel is built! And it is a great activity for winter blues.
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  36. #36
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    ^^ +1 on the Park Tool site.

    Also, some good stuff here, I think I found it when looking for drop bar-wrapping info...
    Mechanics | Bike Shop Girl

  37. #37
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    I work on my own bikes, and I have worked as a shop mechanic in the past. I do most things, including wheel builds (though, out of convenience, I now take those to the shop where I worked where there's a guy who does them well and fast), fork and shock service, Campy shifter rebuilds... whatever. My former co-workers and I do a show on Mountain Bike Radio that's called "Just Riding Along" (Just Riding Along on Mountain Bike Radio) and it's loosely based on listeners' questions about fixing bike things.

    As far as sexism... when I worked in a shop, I got that regularly- anything from someone asking to "speak to one of the mechanics" when they had a question on the phone (or in person), to two male customers who didn't want the girl working on their bikes (though, both of them eventually changed their minds).

    I don't know if she's still there (since I haven't worked at the shop in a year), but the best tech rep at SRAM that I ever dealt with over the phone is female.
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea138 View Post

    I don't know if she's still there (since I haven't worked at the shop in a year), but the best tech rep at SRAM that I ever dealt with over the phone is female.
    When I used to be a traveling fitness equipment repairer(til recently), I remember calling into one of the manufacturers for tech support and it was the same thing. The guys would usually spend a ton of time talking up every spec of the thing(which has a place) but the one girl rep I would get through to would get the explanations so much quicker. Oddly enough I almost never got any ill remarks being the one with the toolbox at the gyms. If anything I had to make sure I flagged stuff off because the customers would barely see me while I was working on it
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by LucindaInGA View Post
    What's the best way to learn? We have community bike repair shops in town, that might be a good start.
    My sister (mechanical engineer, but no prior experience with bikes) bought herself a vintage Huffy off of CL and volunteered at the local commie bike shop in exchange for mentoring & shop time - learned a ton in about 6 months, and has a very nicely running (street) bike now. I'd definitely check out that option.

    gabrielle
    Quote Originally Posted by Impy
    just plain unfriendly and maladjusted.
    "Yes, honey: I do love this bike more than I love you."

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by formica View Post
    I started working on bike when waiting for hubby to do things was turning into a long wait. And there have been times when I've had more time than money. I've built a single speed, and do some general maintenance and adjustments but nothing that's like a strip down and rebuild.


    I have a few of those. I thrashed my bottom bracket on a muddy rainy weekend up in Canada and thought "I can do that" (tear it down, re do it) All went well except I couldn't get it back together quite right. So off to the LBS where the guys showed me how to pound it back together. Oh, you are supposed to pound on it?
    Yeah... I trashed a rear derailleur when I had to strip down my bike from an incredibly muddy Shenandoah 100 a couple years ago (worst chain suck ever!)... that was an expensive mistake!

    I've pulled apart my rear suspension triangle before... thankfully I had an old cracked frame to exchange parts and to figure out how all the pieces went back together!

  41. #41
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    I do little odds and ends, but nothing major. I have an amazing friend who is a bike mechanic, and am guilty of making late night panic trips over to his house the night before races for derailleur adjustments and what not. I once trying adjusting my own rear derailleur... yeah, I ended up like unbolting it, haha (damn youtube). For some reason working on a bike makes me feel dumb - yet I've participated in building an engine for my car I use to race and tune my own standalone engine management! Funny how I'll tear into an engine bay of a car and yet a derailleur is a mystery to me!

    I got the whole changing tubes and tires down (a necessity of course!),and can unbolt and rebolt random parts, and am good at yanking chains back into place, and also covering my whole bike in chain lube and even Pam (I love cyclocross season!). Really I just have no strong desire to learn more, though I know I could easily. My bikes are really a hot mess at times... after a season of MTB racing I did my last race with no rear brake pads left and my bottle cage was half falling off. I was so burnt out from the season I just didn't care, and that's where my awesome friend stepped in, took the bike and got her all tuned up and even put the bottle cage back on with no ridicule or judgement. Unlike cars for me, there's really no connection between riding/racing and wanting to work on the bike.

    The guys at my LBS always thank me for having a lubed chain at least

  42. #42
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    I have fixed stuff seems like all my life. I do nearly all of my own bike work. I was a single parent of two racers for quite some time and worked at a bike shop to support our habit. I was fortunate enough to learn a lot of the higher level stuff just by hanging out and bringing beer or pizza.
    "My daughter says I shouldn't dance like this, but I'm going to anyway!" Toni Price, Hippy Hour, 11/21

  43. #43
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    This is a great thread.

    I've taught my wife basic maintenance, enough for her to get her going when dealing with most issues out on the trail.

    I've done pretty much everything you can do on a full suspension MTB. Fork and shock rebuilds aren't hard...just keep things in order and everything clean. Truing wheels is quite easy and there are lots of good videos regarding the subject. Building wheels is time-consuming, but not hard. Doing it well takes time and patience....I've never fully mastered building great rear wheels, but fronts are a breeze.

    As stated before, there are lots of resources out there and acquiring tools and skills is just something that some people love to do, it's not a gender thing, but there are plenty of men who feel threatened by a capable woman. Sucks, but it's true.

    I saw further up in the discussion that the cost of tools was holding people back. I bought some specialty tools on eBay from a machinist who builds budget tools for home mechanics. I bought a headset press, crown race tool, and headset cup removal tool, all for under $50 (for everything). Yeah, it's not Park stuff, but it gets the job done the one or two times a year I need them.

    mtbtools | eBay

    I have no affiliation with him, but I can recommend the product for budget conscious people who want to service their bike!

    Also, our local bike club and local shops host service seminars regularly, including one every once and awhile for the ladies, taught by lady wrenches/riders as part of on-going skills clinics (for riding and wrenching), check to see if such things exist in your area.

  44. #44
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    I can do a lot of the minor stuff...change tires/sealant, cassettes, bottom brackets, cranksets, etc...
    I've been shown how to bleed my brakes, true my wheels, and change the seals on my fork...but if I'm being honest here, I trust my mechanic friends (all have been doing it for 20+ years) to do those things for me...simply because I'd rather buy them a beer, let them do it well, and trust that it is 100% trail ready.

    I have only been riding for about 2 yrs though, and right now the racing/training aspect of MTB is my focus, and time spent fixing major things on my bike=less time training. But I also know I would like to learn and become efficient in doing most major things to my bike at some point, either when I'm on an off season, or decide to take some seasons off of competitive racing.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabrielle View Post
    Sing it. Most shop guys are so dismissive. There are exactly two shops in town (of many...I live in Portland and I think we have equal numbers of bike shops and pubs) that I will take my bike to for repairs (stuff that I don't have the tools for, which isn't much, now.) Sadly, I have guy friends who also occasionally display this attitdue...guy friends who have in the past complimented me on my mech skills. WTF. To me, it's an indicator of how culturally ingrained these notions are. And an indicator that I must crush it at every opportunity



    FWIW I don't think you are either - you're just getting sick of it, like I am



    I've been doing my own wrenching since shortly after I started riding, so a couple of decades. Not saying I could open a shop or anything, but I can fix just about anything on my bike and most stuff on my friends'. Except wheels. I've trued up a couple that weren't too bad, but haven't built my own. If it's a repair I haven't done yet, I'll either find it in Zinn, or find a youtube video, or get Mr Right to help me (last resort )

    To me, it's a matter of personal responsibility - I don't want to get stuck having to walk out of the woods. (See also: first aid training )

    gabrielle
    Word, right down to the wheel comment. I've set up my own tubeless & maintain my hubs, but I won't even entertain the thought of trying to true a wheel, my money is well spent by having a tech that knows what they're doing. But there isn't a single other piece of my bike that I won't work on, including the fork (which isn't hard).

    As for the attitude of the guy at the shop.....realize that what I'm about to say is coming from someone that has always worked on all of her own stuff. My cars, boats & bikes (motor & pedal) I've always worked on. I've never been afraid of basic & much of the advanced maintenance on vehicles because I grew up doing it, & learned it literally at my dad's knee. In fact I can remember him teaching me how to patch a tube when I was maybe 10 years old. But unfortunately it's not common, and I can't tell you how many arguments I've had to just walk away from in the myriad of auto parts stores, marine supply places & bike shops. It's a man's world as they say, & we're not supposed to know anything about it. (I think that it is getting better, or maybe I'm dealing with it better, not sure.) So, all that I can tell you is that you only have control over you. You can choose to be upset about it, or you can do something about it. I'm old enough now that I don't put up with it, at all, & I've become very effective at dealing with it. Then again, I don't have to very often because the shops that I will go to all know me.

    Those of you wanting to learn, there have been so many good suggestions: Youtube, clinics at the LBS (some of them even have a women's only night each month), local co-ops if you have one, etc. Heck, I'm in Corvallis & would be happy to meet up with any of you & have a Bike Maintenance Party.

  46. #46
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    I do everything on my bike,including build them, but then again, I'm also a mechanical engineering with 19 years of competition robot building experience and have built several race cars from the ground up. Looking at it from that perspective, a bicycle just isn't that scary. :P
    However I haven't built a wheel, and don't want to. I'm just not interested it looks like a giant pain.

    Best LBS story: I go to pick up a bike I dropped off for the hubby to have the rear brake bled. The formula bleed kit is more than getting it done at a shop so we dropped it off. I pick the bike up and the rear is still softer than the front, to which the shop manager tells me that since the rear has a longer hose it will always be softer than the front due to having more fluid. ERRRR WRONG ANSWER.
    I let him know in no uncertain terms how completely stupid that answer is.
    1. brake fluid is non-compressible, otherwise your car would never stop
    2. the hoses are hard plastic which doesn't flex or expand under pressure, which is the only way having a longer run would result in having a softer lever feel
    3. brake fluid is NON COMPRESSIBLE which means you can't compress it, which means that when you squeeze on the lever it transfer that pressure all the way to the pad.

    And then they kept the bike, re-bled the brake and gave it back to me working perfectly.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by gren737 View Post
    I do everything on my bike,including build them, but then again, I'm also a mechanical engineering with 19 years of competition robot building experience and have built several race cars from the ground up. Looking at it from that perspective, a bicycle just isn't that scary. :P
    However I haven't built a wheel, and don't want to. I'm just not interested it looks like a giant pain.

    Best LBS story: I go to pick up a bike I dropped off for the hubby to have the rear brake bled. The formula bleed kit is more than getting it done at a shop so we dropped it off. I pick the bike up and the rear is still softer than the front, to which the shop manager tells me that since the rear has a longer hose it will always be softer than the front due to having more fluid. ERRRR WRONG ANSWER.
    I let him know in no uncertain terms how completely stupid that answer is.
    1. brake fluid is non-compressible, otherwise your car would never stop
    2. the hoses are hard plastic which doesn't flex or expand under pressure, which is the only way having a longer run would result in having a softer lever feel
    3. brake fluid is NON COMPRESSIBLE which means you can't compress it, which means that when you squeeze on the lever it transfer that pressure all the way to the pad.

    And then they kept the bike, re-bled the brake and gave it back to me working perfectly.
    FWIW, I could see a bad shop/mechanic giving that excuse to anyone they thought they could get it past.
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    There are people on the interwebz that spout that nonsense as truth.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkychick View Post
    I've had to just walk away from in the myriad of auto parts stores, marine supply places & bike shops. It's a man's world as they say.
    Word on that one! If any of you ladies think bike shop guys are huffy with us try getting reasonable help in a dirt bike moto store. Think x 100 less helpful and more snooty. I have had salesmen roll their eyes directly at me in our local moto store. I buy my dirt bike stuff online now...

  50. #50
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    This thread is great! It feels good knowing there are so many other women out there who enjoy working on their bikes and aren't intimidated by trying something on their own. Empowering and encouraging...go us!
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