Before I started working on bikes if you asked me to fix a problem with one, be it simple as a flat fix or a stem adjustment, I wouldn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground. I knew squat and what I thought I did know, was usually wrong. Well, most of it anyway. Example: you can not use the tongs of a fork instead of a tire lever on an Armadillo tire. You just can’t. It doesn’t work. Every time I learned something new about bicycles I would think back to what I initially thought was the the answer to the problem and laugh because I was so, so wrong. Oh, what a fool I was. I love that about bike repair. It can be a humbling experience and when you’re awesome like me it’s good to have something in your life to take you down a peg or two. It’s because of my learning experiences that when I take in a bike for repair and see customer’s problem solving hard at work, well, it just tickles me pink. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a bike comes in and a customer has Jerry rigged something to compensate for a broken part and I say to myself, “self, that is some clever stuff right there.” Sometimes. The rest of the time I am busting out the camera and calling the guys over to “come check this shit out!” Like this number:
I fecking love this one! Why? Oh, for all the obvious reasons. This isn’t the owner of a Magna or a Huffy. No, this is the owner of a “nicer bike”. Now, I am going to make assumptions here, because what kind of American would I be if I didn’t judge him, but if they already have a “nicer bike” with clipless pedals, a carbon fork, and a wireless computer, I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that they probably have the jersey and/or high performance cycling apparel that goes along with it. Just a guess. In the pocket of said athletic wear there is probably some goo or an energy bar… maybe a patch kit? Really, I don’t know how prepared this customer is . My point is that any of those things can be used as a shim.
Noun 1. shim – a thin wedge of material (wood or metal or stone) for driving into crevices.
A couple of patches would look a little better than the wood chunks plus it’s a flat surface so there’s a better chance of it staying in place because with a flat and somewhat consistent surface it is less likely to shift while you ride.
Maybe , this scenario pictured above was caused by lack of preparation. Maybe he just needed to go sit by the river, watch the sunset, and take deep breaths. You know, have some “me time”. Reflecting on life and whatnot. Maybe, just maybe he’s one of those guys who has a compulsive need to keep track of his miles, ALWAYS. I am writing in caps because I am trying to get my point across. Miles are important to this guy. After the sunset and a good cry he gets back on his bike and realizes his computer isn’t recording his precious miles and he flips his shit. Well, first thing he tries to do, of course, is hit the computer several times. He even removed it from the handle bar mount to smack it on his stem a bunch. After that doesn’t work, he closely inspects all of the parts. He checks out the fork notices that the rubber backing to the sensor is missing. Frantically, he starts shoving small stick that he found off of the ground to take the place of the missing piece. Like.. wildly shoving. The guy is going ape shit with the the sticks. Here is where a prepared person would roll up a wrapper from an energy bar they had in their jersey pocket and use it as a shim, but we’ve already established that this guy was not prepared, so that’s neither her nor there. He’s wearing flip flops and cargo shorts while riding a road bike for crying out loud! Ok, in this story he is. Once he’s haphazardly shoved the sticks into place he rides off into the sunset. He didn’t get to far before he hit a pothole. The jolt caused a piece of the stick to splinter off and a shard flew into his big toe which is exposed because of the of the flip flops I had mentioned earlier. As a few days passed and he chose to ignore medical attention, his toe develops a severe infection. The infection spreads at an alarming rate and by the time he decides to do something about it, it was too late…. he died. Obviously, he didn’t die because he brought his bike into the shop to be serviced, but it could happen. Learn from this guy’s mistake that could or couldn’t have happened. Don’t let a renegade splinter take your life. Be prepared.
This customer solution kind of left me with the question “really dude, you’re going to go with that?!” I know you, the reader, are extremely intelligent and probably very attractive, but in case you couldn’t figure this picture out, what you are looking at is a make shift child’s seat. I repeat, a child’s seat. I have shown this picture to a lot of my friends and either I get reaction of disbelief and horror or I hear “back in the day nobody had child seats on their bike, we had pails and ropes” or “no one wore helmets and we did just fine”. News flash, just because you did it back in the day doesn’t make it a good idea. Ever heard of DDT? Yeah, “back in the day” folks thought it was super. Survey says, it wasn’t such a great idea. Another thing about this customer solution was it didn’t look like this customer was in the poor house. I only say this is because he was wearing nicer shoes than I was and socially, that is how I gauge people. Perhaps he shopped around and the most inexpensive solution that he came up with is this little number. The money for those shoes have to come from somewhere, right? He had to make severe budget cuts starting with his kid. I am not a parent, unless you count two Basset Hounds, but I think that if I had a kid I would want a child’s seat that had been through some rigorous test to make sure it was safe enough to carry my most precious cargo, my wee one. But hey, if anything bad did happen, kids heal at an amazing rate. I am talking Wolverine rate here. I know, I know, a little kid eating it hard super hard face first on the pavement and sliding for twenty feet only to get up screaming with 4 of his teeth gone is the last thing that you want to be thinking of, but when I look at this bike…. it’s all I can think of. Poor kid and his face, he never had a chance. I hope he will be become some sort of underdog in something and we can all root for him….someday….somewhere.
Problem solving can be empowering, especially when you did what you thought was right and it turns out that there was no better solution, but word to the wise, you’re fix may not be the best fix. Take it to your local bike shop and see if they have any pointers. We are here to help. We all started where you did and I promise not to take pictures of your bike and put it on the internet.