When to Call in the Pros
A well-maintained bike is a beautiful thing. You will be able to ride further and with less effort, and the bike will last longer between mechanical issues. Regular maintenance will reduce the likelihood of a catastrophic failure that might leave you stranded, or worse yet, injured. But according to Christopher Wallace, bike mechanic, educator and speaker at the Feb. 10 virtual meeting of the Chicago Cycling Club, even if you are handy with tools and have the basic knowledge to perform preventive maintenance on your bike, there are instances when collaborating with the professionals at a bike shop is the best thing you can do to keep rolling.
Bike Shop Services
From the early days of the invention of the bicycle at the turn of the last century to today, there have been businesses that sell bikes and perform repairs. Bike shops have traditionally sold new bikes and performed bike service. But over the years, many modern bike shops have evolved to do a lot more. Some have branched out into related businesses, like selling (and brewing!) beer, coffee, and food. Others have expanded into other sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, and scooters. Those bike shops that have maintained a focus on core bike services may now sell parts, accessories, and tools, rent bikes for adults and children, organize, lead, and serve as a hub for community bike rides for adults and children, and provide classes on learning to ride, and basic bike mechanics. In addition to all of this, they give advice and share their expertise on anything related to cycling. Non-profit bike shops, in particular, usually have a strong education mission.
Expertise of Bike Shops
If you want to keep your bike in tip-top shape, what area would you benefit from taking advantage of the services of the professionals at a bike shop?
Essential Bike Maintenance Skills
What are the skills you should develop to insure you bikes operates smoothly? You can learn what to do from watching YouTube videos or from someone with more experience such as a friend or in a class at a bike shop. Since there is not a lot of standardization with bikes, professional bike mechanics themselves takes classes and spends years learning how to repair bikes. But there are basic skills that everyone can learn that will help you keep your bike working its best and save you money. Skills that are the most helpful for the home mechanic include:
Bike Maintenance is Not for Everyone
There are some people who just want to ride and do not want to spend their time working on their bikes. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as you ride only in the city where there are frequent bike shops, have access to public transit or a friend you can call to get home in case you have a mechanical problem. You could always ride with another person(s) who has some mechanical skill, and/or you invest in regular preventive maintenance service from the pros at a bike shop to catch and resolve issues before they occur. Anything other than this increases your risk of an unpleasant experience on your bike. For more freedom and fun, collaborating with a bike shop will allow you more flexibility on your rides to confidently travel further, knowing your bike is well maintained and if a problem should occur, you have the knowledge and skill to handle it.
What You Can Do for a Bike Shop
So far we have talked how a bike shop can help you, but what can you do to get the most out of an interaction with a bike shop? Here are some tips:
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