Some frequently asked questions:
I swear if this begins to resemble a "blog" you may come in and shoot me.
On repair work:
All repairs are done on a first-come-first-serve basis.
First-come-first serve is the most fair way I can give the greatest number of people fair treatment.
It is a reasonable expectation on your part that repairs will be completed on the same day or the next day in most circumstances.
It is highly unreasonable to attempt to plan your day around my day. You will fail. My day is never known.
Calling ahead to ask if I'm busy will yield a result of zero. When you get here things will be different.
All repairs take time, drop it off before you need it and there is no needless stress. I am very fast.
I am unable under any circumstances due to the nature of my business to give any estimates for repairs over the phone or via the interwebs.
You can look up my labor rates here but we can't go further than that until the bike is in my presence.
Do not take umbrage to what I say here, I do it so we have a common baseline of reasonable expatiations. I mean no offence, do not take one. :)
Q: "But I can get a bike new for 85 dollars, why would I pay that much for a used bike?"
A: To many, a bike is a bike is bike, nothing could be further from the truth. While there are 200 dollar shoes and 9 dollar shoes, 250,000 dollar cars and 9,000 dollar cars, there are 20,000 bikes and 85 dollar bikes, you're paying for something, not all things are the same. For many, a department store bike will be fine, however if you do more than ride it up and down your block once a week, it will start to fall apart. A bicycle is a tool, there are good ones and bad ones. Cheap tools will perform poorly and last a short amount of time while a good quality tool will give you good performance and be long lasting. Buying a new 85.00 Wal-Mart bike will cost you more in the long run than buying a 125.00 used bicycle that has been professionally maintained. Many of the bikes I sell for 85-150 dollars were 300-750 dollars new, so you're getting something that works well for a fraction of the price. The dept store klunker will fall apart in a scant few weeks. How do I know this? I hear it all the time. I hear that someone just bought a bike at Target and the cranks came loose or the rear wheel came loose or the brakes don't work, this is a daily routine for me. Now, one can take a cheap bike and whip it into shape but the quality of the components will limit how far any wrenching can go, a pig is still a pig, lipstick or not. What are the common failings of these low end bikes? The crank bearing races are often loose or are forced into the frame and cross threaded. What this means is the cranks will become loose and destroy the bearings, because the bearing race was installed crooked, it is forever jammed in place and will destroy bearing after bearing no matter how many times you fix it. The rear wheels also fail because the factory uses a soft metal for the race (a race is the thing or cup that holds the bearings) in the hub and the bearings are made from hardened steel, the effect of the hard bearing wearing against the softer race grinds the race down until it falls apart, ruining the rim. The wheel will have to have a new hub laced into it or be replaced.
Beaten but usable. Doneski.
The other factor is the people that assemble these bikes have a minimum quota that they have to meet or get paid by the piece, so they have incentive to knock them out a quick as possible. There is no fine adjustment happening, there is a high likelihood that the guy at Wal-Mart was assembling BB-Q's twenty minutes before he was assembling your bike. Either way, I'll be seeing you.
Q: I need a seatpost, it's about "this" big.
A: One of the the things that is not standardized on bicycles is seatposts. There are around 20 + different sizes and you'll need your EXACT size to fit right. Guessing DOES NOT WORK. You'll need the old seatpost or the bike to get the correct size. A lose seatpost will ruin your frame and forcing a larger one will ruin the frame as well. This seems to be a constant point of contention but you can't argue with the facts. Save time and anguish, bring the bike in, solve the problem. The end.
Q: When I ride, I get saddle sore. Will a bigger seat help?
A: Ride more. A bigger seat will help a little but you really need to get some saddle time, this will get you used to riding and thus less saddle soreness. If you're not riding for at least a 1/2 hour three times a week, you're not going to reap much benefit from it. If you have not been riding for a long time and are making a transition from a large seat (a lazy boy or the like) to a small seat (any bike seat) you will experience discomfort. Cycling is pain, plain and simple. You will be uncomfortable, this will never go away entirely, you will only get faster and get used to it. You want to stay comfortable, stay on your couch. If your childhood was anything like mine you got on your bike and rode all day. You rode everywhere, it was what you did. You can get there again but don't expect it to happen quickly or easily, if you've spent the last 20 years being a couch potato you have to undo 20 of being sedentary, it's work. However, the benefits are great. I'm very biased being that I own a bike shop but you will have more energy, feel better, heal faster, get sick less, and still be able to fit in a t-shirt you had in high school. The plusses of riding bikes are well documented. Bikes to not ride themselves however you will have to put your time in like anything worth doing.
Q: My back hurts when I ride my mountain bike.
A: One, if you ride more, your body will adjust and you'll feel the pains of the road less and less. Secondly, if you still want to do something about it, I recommend ditching the straight bar (great for navigating dirt roads and bumps) to a swept back bar (that puts your hands in their normal relaxed position). You'll usually have to re-cable the bike.
Q: What is my bike worth?
A: What someone is willing to pay you for it. There is no Kelly blue book for bikes, used bikes of no particular caliber are not worth much and "collectable" bikes have no set value either. I pay next to nothing for bikes because they come easier to me than most people so my marginal utility for a given bicycle is less than a private citizen. I recommend you go on line and do your homework if you want top dollar for your bike. E-bay is generally an inflated price, so don't use it as your sole guide. Keep in mind that what you paid for it and sentimental value do not factor in.
Also, if you are contemplating trying to wheel and deal in vintage bikes I'd recommend you stop now before it's too late. The amount of minutia that you would have to collect in your head to make intelligent and informed purchases in order to reap a profit will require so much time and effort on your part that it would be easier to get a four year degree, achieve world peace, get dogs and cats to live together in harmony etc. In other words, don't waste your time, you'll make more working a fast food job than you ever will flipping collectable bikes. The amount of time you'd have to invest going to yard sales, swap meets etc when you add it all up the "score" you just got wound up netting you 3 bucks an hour. You think I'm joking but I'm not. Also there are so many people trying to do this and so may kinds of bike nerd collectors each one having their prized objects, the amount of information is staggering. At the end of the day I can easily sell 100 bikes at 65.00 dollars each or go through endless tire kicking to sell one 500.00 sting-ray, making a 100 people happy or one collector-nerd happy. I've heard of that American pickers show, I don't have a TV but just because some guy who gets paid to spend a television networks money on rusty junk does not mean that 1978 Schwinn Varsity rusting in your backyard is worth a mint. Go get a real job.
Q: Are all Schwinns worth money?
A: No. Schwinn made many different kinds of bikes in the USA before they went overseas in the 1980's. Only some of the bikes they produced have a value to collectors. Varsities and Colligates are on the bottom of the barrel, girls bikes of any kind are low in the pecking order. Keep in mind that an original, unmolested bike in poor condition will fetch more than one that has be redone with non-factory parts and paint.
Q: Do you get "x" collectable bike in and how often?
A: I get this one a lot. I wield no control over what my inventory is from day to day. You cannot open up a catalogue and order vintage bikes. If something is rare back in the day then it will be even harder to find now. So for example, you're not going to find a 26" Cooks bros bmx because they only made a few of them for a few years in the 1970's and 80's. It's not going to happen, this stuff does not just wander into my shop on a regular basis. Not to mention that collector bikes are a small portion of my business and I make the majority of my money from low-end bikes. I'll sell 50 used mountain bikes before I sell one sting-ray, so I don't go out of my way to find this stuff. I'd say for every 300 bikes I get, I'll get one rare gem. High end bikes are similar because the people that buy them are aficionados and they know what they have and plan to keep it, so you don't find Italian road bikes for 10 bucks at a yard sale and thus they seldom are hanging on my wall with a price tag on them. Sometimes I get things, most of the time not but I cannot pull things out of my hat. If I don't have a given old bike or part then I have no way to know if or when I will. My crystal ball is a t the shop and the guys not returning any of my phone calls so...yeah.
I recommend the following:
e-bay. expensive but there it is.
Long Beach Bicycle swap meet. A collectors market, so expect to pay. Last time I went it was 10 bucks to get in and the pickings were slim.
You'll have to go to countless garage sales and swap meets to find your treasure, it's hard work but it is the only way.
Q: Chinese Junk! Why?
A: All bikes come from China or Taiwan, get over it. The $99.00 klunker from wal-mart and the $6000.00 full suspension mountain bike with hydraulic disc brakes, they may even come from the same factory. Bicycles cannot be made in the US; it's too costly. USA builders make custom bikes that are usually in the 1200.00 dollar range for a frame and fork. I make a BMX cruiser frame for around 600.00. Not custom but low production, the same bike would cost me around 75.00 if it were made overseas, the materials cost for my frame is over 200.00. That's the big difference. Americans have the highest standard of living in the entire world, do you really think they will take jobs for 8 bucks an hour so the bicycle manufacture can sell a bike for a hundred bucks? No. We have labor laws and environmental laws that make the manufacture of mass produced bicycles out of the question. China does not, they are one of the most polluted countries in the entire world however. Bikes and parts used to be made in Japan and in 1985 our government with a few others tried to increase the value of the Yen in relation to our dollars (the g-5 summit) this made the cost of producing high quality but affordable bicycles and components out of the question. It was more commonly know as "yen-shock". This forced the Japanese to take their manufacturing to other places, namely Taiwan and China. Us Americans as avid consumers, wanted things cheaper and cheaper so guess what? You got it. Frankly if you buy a bike from Target or Wal-Mart you get exactly what you paid for: junk. Good bikes start in the 750+ dollar range. A 350.00 bike is only a step above the ones you get at the department store. You can use this stuff as long as you realize that it will break and break often. Building a bike here means huge costs in labor, taxes, infrastructure, and environmental fees and constraints. The costs to manufacture the tubing for the frames, the forging, stamping, casting, painting , chroming, of frames and parts would be huge. This would make a $99.00 beach cruiser cost about 650.00 just to have the "Made in USA" sticker on it. Inner tubes would be 15.00 each instead of 5.00, and so on. And who says it will be made better? How many people do you know that do just the bare minimum at their workplace as not to get fired? Exactly. So enough of this then, deal with it.
Are there standards?
Yes. No. I see people's face twist up in perplexing contortions when I have to break down all the "standards" in the bike industry. It sucks. All it does if create confusion. I once posted "An open letter to the Bike Industry" on a web forum and all kinds of verbal abuse from keyboard cowboys. Here it is:
An open letter to the bike industry
Dear Bike Industry,
I’m beginning to feel that you don’t have myself and my fellow rider’s best interest at heart, all you seem to be interested in is creating new “standards” and try to force people to buy them under the auspice that the new “standard” is better than before. I would like to think that most cyclists are a savvy bunch, but we do glom onto new tech with eagerness, a fault that you (the bicycle industry) seems more than happy to exploit.
Every year there’s a new bottom bracket “standard”. Something becomes a standard once it is in wide, common, and accepted use like a square taper bb. I have never felt the need to put any of these new, false standards on my bike instead of using a tried and true standard. I think you need to think about how you label all of these pointless bottom bracket options out there. The advantages are nominal to the rider, and only serve to create more niche markets and confuse new riders that get overwhelmed by all the “standards” that have been made. Shame on you. The people that can really gain any benefit if at all from any of these alleged improvements are pro racers, and pro races get their bikes and parts for free, we, the majority of the bike buying public have to pay for our stuff. Did my square tape bb suddenly stop working after years of loyal service and 1000’s of miles? No, it did not. My mountain bike is old for sure and my friends that have newer bikes are still behind me just like they are before they had a new bike with all of the new “improvements” in technology, I expected them to leave me in the dust being that I have only 21 speeds and they 30, but alas it did not happen. I also find it funny that I having 21 speeds never once thought I could make this traverse or climb that section of trail if I only had some more gears, and now you try and sell me less gears in the form of a 2 x10 drive train for more money than my 21 gears, do you take me for a fool? Shame on you bike industry. I can go on, how lame and pointless 31.8 bars are and how ugly they look, or how a 200 dollar seat post that drops can’t beat a 10 buck quick release seat post clamp and to take the 10 seconds to take in the view before you drop in is worth way more than another lever do-hickey on your bike, are you really that lazy? And the 29 wheels, really? Every time I see some poor 5.5” guy on a 29er, I just feel like the bike industry is made up of carneys and we are it’s willing dupes. And these massive head tube bearings they look like the wheel bearings in my van, there’s no way you can convince me I “need” that junk. At some point I just feel like you think I’m an idiot they will buy anything that you put before me, I think you think so little of us as a group that one can keep changing things endlessly chasing one’s tail in the pointless quest of improving something that needs no improvement, even the bike magazines are getting weary of your cavalcade of falsehoods, they are usually your ever loyal heralds but that is even changing.
I turned away from mountain biking magazines for few years and when I came back, mountain bikes no longer existed. There are xc, all mountain, free ride, downhill, etc. but there are no “mountain bikes” anymore. I still own and use a mountain bike, I understand that by creating labels and slicing the pie in ever-smaller slices you can perhaps sucker someone into buying a bunch of bikes that only get used for one type of trail. I guess that’s clever marketing and sales go up, but I think in doing so you alienate the beginner that will certainly be confused and intimidated by all the jargon and techo-babble when they go to their local shop and want a “mountain bike” Shame on you bike industry, I think you need a time-out to think about what you’ve done.