Do’s and don’ts for staying on your favorite wrench’s good side.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with your bicycle mechanic is a worthwhile endeavor that can be especially fruitful when you’re in a pinch and need an emergency repair the day before a big race. Bike mechanics have a reputation for being a surly bunch, but you can stay on their good side by following a few simple rules.
Do: Pick their brains.
Bike mechanics love to talk shop. The good ones have an encyclopedic knowledge of bikes and can teach you more than you ever wanted to know about how the parts on your bike work and how to care for them properly. (Just don’t go overboard.)
Don’t: Expect special treatment.
Don’t drop your bike off on a Friday afternoon for a complete overhaul before your race on Sunday morning. It sounds like common sense, but it happens all too often and will drive your mechanic crazy. The truth is, they’d love to get your bike taken care of before your race but they’re likely too busy to get it done. In the event of an emergency, like a busted derailleur hanger, your mechanic may bump you to the top of the list if you have proven to be a good customer in the past.
Do: Keep your bike clean.
There are few things mechanics hate more than working on a poorly maintained bike. Make their jobs a little easier by cleaning your bike before you drop it off. Pay special attention to wiping off sticky sports drink residue that can gunk up cables. Keeping your drivetrain clean and properly lubed will improve your bike’s performance and should limit the number of trips you take to your local service specialist.
Don’t: Ask them to show you how to perform a complicated task.
There’s a reason most bike shops have some kind of separation between the retail floor and the service area. Bike mechanics don’t have time to show you how to fix your bike, and that’s not what they get paid to do. If you want to learn how to work on your bike, find a clinic, take a class or consider asking your mechanic to pay for a one-on-one session. Just don’t ask to get a free lesson.
Do: Provide treats.
There are ways to increase the likelihood of receiving special treatment from your mechanic. A six-pack of beer (get an IPA if your mechanic has a beard) will go a long way toward improving your relationship. Coffee and baked goods are also appreciated.