Monday, October 3, 2011

Thrifty Thrashing Tip #9: Don't Do Your Own Maintenance...

...if you don't know what you're doing.

This is a direct converse of the tip I published a week ago, "Do your own bike maintenance."

See, here's the thing: If you are relatively confident in your mechanical abilities, doing your own bike maintenance can help you save a significant amount of money by not having to pay someone else to do the work.

On the flip side, if you are not confident, you can end up doing much more harm than good to your bicycle, and you may end up having to take it to a shop anyway. If you've really jacked your rig up while trying to fix it, you may have just turned a simple procedure into a very complicated one, and you may have even destroyed the component that you were working on.

Of course, there is only one way to learn how to do bike maintenance, and that is by actually doing it. A maintenance book can help, but there are bound to be hiccups in the learning process.

If you are trying to be as economical as possible, it takes real wisdom to decide when you should strike off on your own, and when you are out of your league.

Your Turn: When do you decide that you're out of your league and take the bike in to the shop?

For me, it's usually when some fine-tuning is required. Serious wrenching and tightening bolts, etc.? Yeah, I'm fine with that. But doing something like a brake bleed or truing a wheel.... "Can I get some help please?"


Christopher October 3, 2011 at 12:47 PM  

My limitations come mostly cause I don't have all the tools I need. Like the brake bleed I was ready to do came to a screeching halt because I didn't have the torx tools. Oh well, I'll give it a go as soon as I pick up what I need.

Greg Heil October 3, 2011 at 12:48 PM  

Yeah, that can definitely be a problem. But like I mentioned in the first article, tools can be an excellent investment!

Rich October 3, 2011 at 4:57 PM  

it's funny. On the SS and the geared mt bikes I do all my own work, but on the road bike I have the dealer do everything except maybe change the tires or fix a flat....

Matt October 4, 2011 at 8:41 AM  

Truing a wheel isn't hard - it just takes a bit of time and patience (and the ability to remember which way loosens and which way tightens!). I wouldn't do it on an expensive wheel first time out, but I started on an old inexpensive wheel and am not afraid to tackle my own wheels now. I haven't built one yet... but I will someday!

I encourage people to try their own hand at repairs, as long as they're comfortable with the cost calculus (how much will they lose if it ends badly?).

Greg Heil October 4, 2011 at 8:44 AM  

@Rich, yeah that fine-tuning can be tough!

@Matt, time and patience... there, you said it! ;) Though seriously, I have tried truing my wheels before, sometimes it turns out well and sometimes not-so-well. I think it would help if I had a truing stand ;)

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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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