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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 Trailrider92 View Post
    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.
    Nice job! Seriously.. I haven't gotten to the point where I'll take apart my fork or shock yet, but it's mainly because I don't want the dogs playing in the drip oil (same issue with brakes). That, and now time.

    That really blows. Time to go to another shop then.

    One of the shops I go to will show me how to do my own work. Right now, just about anything involving a hex wrench or a chain tool I'm pretty comfortable with.. along with some other things (chain whip, etc).. Still haven't gotten to the point of threading cables yet, but I'll pick up a project bike and build it from scratch at some point. Right now, it's a time issue.

    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.
    Despite what the other sex says (including the troll on this post), not on a lot of them work on their bike either. They'd like to, they dream they're going to, but so many of them don't. That's why LBSs exist: it's not strictly because of women customers.

    Don't get me wrong there are some who really do, and they do a great job, but most do some and the shops do some. It's not like a lot of people keep a headset press around for the heck of it. It's an expensive tool that gets minimal usage.

    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.

    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.
    I work on my bikes, but very minimally now due to time with my job (and lack of some specific tools that I don't feel like spending the money on). However, I'm always the one to clean and run a hex wrench through everything to make sure it's tight and some basic things like pedals, etc.

    The other thing that doesn't help me work on my bike right now is I need to get my torque wrench replaced. It's amazing how much confidence that will give you when you can torque down to specs. Yay for Nm or inch pounds
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  7. #7
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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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  8. #8
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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".

  10. #10
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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.

  11. #11
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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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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by musikron View Post
    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?
    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:

    Quote Originally Posted by musikron
    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.
    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirkdaddy View Post
    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.
    You are pretty awesome for teaching your girls to work and build a bike.

    Good on you for teaching your girl how to build something from the ground up too. That's usually a hard experience of trial and error (I've done a lot of error), and it can be frustrating.

    Even if she doesn't have the interest, she won't be afraid of tools or even trying something new.
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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.

  15. #15
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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?

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  16. #16
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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!

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    Quote Originally Posted by LucindaInGA View Post
    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
    Youtube probably has a ton of videos. I'd check there as well.

    Some shops will do clinics, and some wrenches will let you follow along.

    The best way to learn depends on your learning style: for me, it's going to be building or rebuilding a bike.
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    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!
    Aww, thanks. Have a happy holidays too
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  20. #20
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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 )

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    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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    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

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

  22. #22
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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."

  23. #23
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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.

  25. #25
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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!

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