Bike repair shop suggestions?

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simon.huntley
Participant
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I need a quick tune-up on my bike (brakes, shifters, etc). The bike still rides okay, but every bike shop I have called needs to keep the bike for a couple of days to get this done.

Any suggestions on a bike shop that will turn these around fast OR will schedule a time with me so I can drop it off and get it back the same day?

Since my bike is my primary mode of transportation and I don’t have a car I can use most days, I can’t leave my bike sitting in a shop for five days just to get some simple work done..

Any suggestions helpful! Maybe there is even an enterprising freelancing bike mechanic out there that can help me?


brian j
Participant
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Where are you located? That might help narrow down suggestions. Also, who have you contacted?


Erica
Participant
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kraynick’s is probably your best bet shop-wise, if time is a big priority.

If you haven’t been there, it’s usually, go in, get what parts are needed, fix it yourself in the shop, and pay for the parts when you leave. And if you don’t know what you’re doing (like me), there’s almost always someone there who will help you

However, my go-to shop is Thick. I’m going there today, actually.


simon.huntley
Participant
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I’m in the east end.. between swissvale & east liberty for work. I’d rather not do the work myself, I have enough work to do for the job I get paid for. I’m happy to pay someone to do it.


Marko82
Participant
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I have no first hand knowledge of thier work, but they make house calls

http://caravanbikes.com/


Eric Lundgren
Participant
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I think you might be out of luck then. This is the busy season for shops and the drop it off to get it in line for repairs is the way most bike shops do it. I don’t know anything about it but there is a little shop in Lawrenceville called Love bikes I think? Its behind the bowling alley maybe try them?


Erica
Participant
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Caravan picks up your bike and returns it to you once it’s fixed – it depends on their workload as to how long it will take, but they should be able to give a time estimate.

“Busy season” is right. This time last year, the time estimate on thick was about 2 weeks, iirc. (That works for me this time, because I won’t have the money to pay until about then)


brian j
Participant
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You may want to call Ted’s Excellent Bike Repair in the South Side. I suspect his load is a bit lighter than most shops, so he may have the bandwidth. The only time my commuter has been to a shop (post-dooring fork repair) he did the work, and did a fine job.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Consider Scholl’s in West View, but call first. Half-hour ride on an 8 Perrysville or 13 Bellevue gets you right there, pushing/carrying distance from the bus stop.


the beast
Participant
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I have always received quick (and good) service from Dirty Harry’s in Verona, not too bad of a ride from Highland park.


Mick
Participant
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I’ve gone to Pro-bikes in Squirrel hill (years ago, with different ownershiip structure) and Iron City Bikes in Oakland and they both have done OK with me.

If you change your mind and go DIY, Free Ride is near your neighborhood. Their “drop in classes” are often a good way to get work done efficiently, if the schedule lines up with yours.


Anonymous
Inactive
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Iron City had time to fiddle with my misbehaving brakes yesterday. They may be too busy to do whatever you need quickly right now — I guess it depends what kinds of things you need done — but for whatever reason they have tended to be relatively faster for me compared to some other shops (i.e., willing to fix problems while I’m standing there instead of telling me I have to leave my bike overnight / for multiple days).

Regardless of where you take it: if it’s just a lot of little things and the bike is still rideable, maybe you could space it out and not have them fix everything at once so that they don’t have to have it for multiple days?


Swalfoort
Participant
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If I read Simon’s post correctly, I think the veracity of the appointment time is more critical than how long it actually takes for a bike shop to get to the work. He just wants access to his bike while they are busy on other bikes. It seems (somewhat) reasonable that he could call around and say “put me in your queue now.” Then have them call him in 3-5 days or whatever and say, be here in the morning, or lose your repair slot.

Not an unreasonable expectation (my car dealership does it all the time).

Sorry to all the wrenches out there that I just pissed off. It was simply an observation from an outsider with no insider knowledge of how a repair shop stages its repairs.


Pierce
Participant
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@ simon.huntley

After you get it fixed, a longer terms strategy would be to learn how to fix it yourself.

I was lucky to have an out-of-the-way bike shop that would let me get behind the counter and kind of show me how to do things, which is essentially what Kraynick does in Pittsburgh. If you go that route, I recommend coming in on early mornings except on Friday or Saturday because it’s usually always busy then, but still less so earlier in the morning (and he doesn’t even open until 11am, but you’re talking to the guy who’s basically been sleeping all day)

Secondly, I recommend free-ride’s Earn a Bike program. Having two bikes will make your life much less stressful if you rely on them to get around


Anonymous
Inactive
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I’m adding +1 for Kraynick’s and/or Free Ride. If all you need to fix is shifting and brakes, that’s typically less than an hour if you know what you’re doing. If you have to have someone teach you do it, it’s probably 1 hour with a good teacher. If you look up a how-to video of your repair and try to teach yourself to do it, it should still only take about 2 hours (assuming you have the tools you need).

So, you could be without your bike for 3-5 days while it’s in a repair queue, or you could invest 2-3 hours into DIY maintenance.

FYI, the drop-in class this Sunday at FR is Derailers (or Derailleurs if you’re French). It’s $15 or 2 hours of volunteer time (volunteer hours must be accrued prior to class). If you bring your bike there, you can fix it in class as you learn.


simon.huntley
Participant
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Thanks for all the pointers.

-yes it seems reasonable that I should just be able to schedule a time to bring a bike to a shop and have them do it that day, even if it is 3-5 days out. Though this is not the way the shops work that I called.. maybe if I made it completely clear that this is my only ride, they would help me out. Perhaps because most people do not rely on their bike, they are able to operate this way.

I will consider the free ride option.. if I brought it to one of the open shop nights, people would help me out? I think the back wheel needs to trued as well, along with a couple other adjustments here and there.

But in the end I have so very little free time these days and I’m happy to pay a shop to help me do this with the scheduling option. Maybe I’ll call around a bit more on that before I rule it out.


mr marvelous
Participant
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If you find a shop that schedules let us know, I need my bike serviced also and I can’t go more than a day without it.


Anonymous
Inactive
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I’m probably biased because I volunteer there a lot and I have earned two bikes from them.

Free Ride has general open shop on Thursdays from 6-10pm and Saturdays from 1-5pm. If you bring your bike in during open shop, we will help you make whatever repair(s) your bike needs by putting the tools in your hands and teaching you how to do it. Sometimes it gets busy (especially on Saturdays when the weather is nice), but we will always do our best to help you.

I’ll be there Thursday night, and probably Saturday, too. If you can’t make it on either of those days, I think Kraynick’s is the next best option.


edmonds59
Participant
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Perhaps as more people start having bikes as primary/only means of transportation, shops will start having shop rat/beater loaner bikes available for those folks. Would seem to require very little investment or commitment on the part of the shop. Oh, the world in my head.


steve k
Participant
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Why should that burden be on a shop? Why not the owner of the bike having a second bike as a beater? Still cheaper than a car. Or take the bus. Or walk.

When I only had a bike as my transport, I was prepared for not being able to ride if it wasn’t possible. if I needed a car for whatever, I arranged for it. This idea of a business that has a lot of people to please having to bend over backwards to help people that lack the knowledge to fix something is ridiculous. its not fair to someone else that is waiting that just because you ride and can only ride that you deserve special treatment. How do you know that other people aren’t in the same position but are making the necessary arrangements to experience minimal problems? its a misguided sense of entitlement.


Anonymous
Inactive
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I think the point people were making is just that cars get that treatment from repair shops because people consider their cars to be something they can’t live without for a day, but the standard hasn’t shifted to reflect the fact that some people’s lifestyles make their bikes just as necessary for everyday living as other people’s cars.

I mean, I could learn how to change my own oil in my car, I guess, but I haven’t learned and probably won’t, and I can expect at least some car repair shops to make an appointment to do that and other basic maintenance in a short period while I wait. I have also been able to borrow cars on occasions when I couldn’t wait or couldn’t be without a car for the length of time they needed to keep it. It doesn’t seem so ridiculous to wish that parallel service existed for bikes. I don’t expect them to let me borrow a car every time or whatever, but I do expect that they will recognize that I can’t just leave my car there indefinitely when in reality the maintenance it needs will only actually take an hour or so. Because I have that expectation, I definitely don’t have a second car for those circumstances, nor do most people. And the only reason that expectation exists is because somewhere along the line someone realized that providing that convenience for people got them more business. There seems to be at least some demand, so the supply will probably come eventually as more people rely on their bikes the way the average American relies on a car. Doesn’t seem that unreasonable. (On the other hand, I’m not saying any of that is free for a shop, so people have to be willing to pay for the added convenience in one way or another.)


mr marvelous
Participant
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@ steve k I took my Subaru in for a tune up and the Dealer was backed up for 2 days, they gave me a loner car until my car was finished. I’t would be great if bike riders got the same treatment.


salty
Participant
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You pay for that loaner in higher repair bills, so I don’t really agree it’s “great”. I think that’s the crux of the issue – car repairs are vastly more expensive so they can bury costs like that, plus having a semi-dedicated person to schedule appointments, etc.

But, it would be nice to have options, even if you have to pay extra. I’d imagine no-shows are a problem with scheduling, maybe the shop could take a deposit that you forfeit if you don’t show up. Maybe they could rent you a bike if you need one. Maybe you can even pay extra for expedited service, although that’s contentious since it does affect other customers unlike the other two things.

I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect everyone who rides a bike to want to be a mechanic, or to keep a spare bike around. Having to find alternate transportation for one day is one thing, but having to do it for 2 weeks while your bike is sitting in the shop not being worked on is not that cool.


edmonds59
Participant
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Uh, I wasn’t suggesting it as a burden on the shop, rather as an amenity that would attract customers. Completely missed the point. From above, “…providing that convenience for people got them more business.”

At present, some bike shops seem to be the ones with the “misguided sense of entitlement”.

As you might gather, I am not a fan of snotty in-group know-it-alls in any industry from food to bikes to whatever. Conversely I try not to be the classic rude customer, either.


Eric Lundgren
Participant
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I think salty really hit the nail on the head with the cost aspect of this. Bike repairs rarely go over $300 espcially for a bike someone is using for regular transportation. Can bike shops afford to pay someone to schedule all of this stuff for a bunch of repairs that cost $100? Can bike shops afford to have loaner bikes that will inevitably get really abused and need repaired after they are returned, thus adding to the queue, if they don’t get stolen? I don’t think shops can afford this now. I think the volume of repairs will have to be much greater, which will probably happen at some point.


Eric Lundgren
Participant
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There is probably a liability issue with loaning bikes but I’m just speculating about that?

The volume of repairs mostly has to grow in the winter, I would suspect, so shops wouldn’t have to lay off mechanics because they don’t have work.


edmonds59
Participant
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Good point, to the shop’s credit, the bulk of customers seem to wait until the first sunny day to take their bike in to be fixed, when it could have been done in Fall or Winter. Like they weren’t sure Spring would come.


orionz06
Participant
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So what kind of bike do they loan? Rack, no rack? Size?

Would be cool but I think a spare bike for the cyclist is the wiser idea. Who only has one bike anyway? I know a few other commuters who have multiples, some even have several copies of the same old steel frame bikes that they rotate through.


Ken Kaminski
Participant
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A decent bike rental service would meet this need.


edmonds59
Participant
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Anyway I’ve repaired all my own junk since the time I could chew my own food, so I don’t have to deal with any of this. If a horse was my only transportation I’d sure learn how to brush and water it. I might not shoe it, but I’d think about it.


demigod
Participant
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It’s always good to have a backup bike. I do make appointments for service, but sometimes it’s hard to know what is wrong with the bike based on what is being described over the phone. That little noise might be something major, requiring ordering parts. Anyway, if you ask for Dennis at Probikes (412-586-5497), I can make you an appointment.


Eric Lundgren
Participant
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Pro Bikes steps up!


Erica
Participant
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To be fair, I didn’t have a backup bike until about two months ago, because I couldn’t afford one. I just always tried to have at least $20 to spare in case something happened, and I had to bus to work for a week. And if I was really broke, I would end up walking each day, which was always really annoying (even though it was my fault for not being prepared)


Chris Mayhew
Participant
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In my experience bike shops can and do schedule appointments. It was also my experience that it was 50/50 at best on people actually bringing them in when they said they would. And often a bike will need parts as the problem is diagnosed. And mainly the problem is that most people wait till the bike is broken and/or they have an important event they need the bike for and can’t deal with the problem any more.

A beater fleet would be cool but difficult to do. How many sizes and types of bikes would you need?

Having been on both ends of of it I think there’s probably a middle ground between Steve K and a good portion of the board.

And, FWIW, I almost never wait for repairs. Beer and coffee go a long ways towards that.


mr marvelous
Participant
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I only have one bike. Not because I don’t want more its just the way things workout. Not everyone has space to keep more than one bike


steve k
Participant
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Another point on a beater fleet from a shop. When is the maintenance on these bikes going to be done? Before a customers repair? How much would you pay to subsidize the cost on keeping the fleet running?

Its been my experience that most people have no idea what is really wrong with their bike. ”simple maintenance” is often not, and you’re doing a customer a disservice if you only try to address what they tell you is wrong. Its a good mechanics responsibility to use their knowledge to diagnose what problems exist or may arise. Guess what? That takes time as well.


Jacob McCrea
Participant
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I have to agree with Steve K’s comments. In my view, mechanical work can be cheap, fast and good, but you can’t get all three at the same time, so plan accordingly.

To the OP: I’d be happy to adjust the brakes and derailleurs (sp?) on Saturday morning if you want to bike over to my garage above the South Side. Should only take a few minutes if that’s all that’s wrong.


brian j
Participant
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I’ll echo one of Chris’ points: if you have a good relationship with a shop, that often translates to better service (and the ability to say “if I come in at this time, can you fix this?”).


Pierce
Participant
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+1 for good relationships

If you treat people like people, they reciprocate

A lot of repairs at bike shops probably aren’t time sensitive, so if you know the ownermechanic they’ll provide hold off on fixing the pathatlete’s bike to tune up yours

Heck, I even sent my old LBS a Christmas card and the owner called me back to say “Hey, thanks, I appreciate that.” If the bike is that important to you, let them know. I told my LBS “Hey, I use this bike to get to school and get to work, and without the help you guys provided me and my bike, I wouldn’t be able to do that.”

On the other hand, if you just call in and say “Hey, if I come in, can you fix my bike right away?” you sound like a dehumanized hassle and right now the bike shops are probably knee deep in all those people who need their bikes /now for weekend trips or charity rides, whatever


simon.huntley
Participant
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Wow! This thread really blew up over night.

I just got off the phone with Dennis at ProBikes to take my bike in Friday for *scheduled* repair. Go ProBikes! And this might not have been a problem at all if I had taken the time to explain my problem over the phone. But the couple shops I called sounded so dismissive about scheduling a time, that I didn’t even bother.

I like the idea of forming a relationship with your bike repair shop — smart for someone like me who needs his bike to be in order day in and day out.

I know this devolved into a discussion about a loaner bike, but I’m not sure that is the point. If it were a bigger repair, I can totally understand keeping the bike a night or two. I can get a car for the day from my wife or take the bus or work at home. The issue is that these are repairs that I don’t see taking more than a few hours: I want my bike to get in the queue while I continue to ride it and then I’ll bring it in when my number comes up.

A whole loaner fleet does sound like a burden to business and something that very few people would actually use. But paying extra for expedited service or a loaner fleet may make sense for the enterprising shop owner. I guess this will all be hashed out in the marketplace as the need for bike mechanics grows.

Thanks for the suggestions and the posts everyone! I think I have it worked out now.

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