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Who here does there own wrenching?(32 posts)

Who here does there own wrenching?jvr-oclv
Jan 11, 2002 12:28 PM
I love to work on my bike/bikes. Maybe too much according to my wife and three kids. In the winter I tear down the whole bike and clean and detail every piece. Replacing/upgrading wore out stuff etc. Re-building the bike and adjusting everything is very enjoyable to me. Just knowing I can do it and then riding my bike just gives me the best buzz. Working and maintaining the bike I love. There are no words that explain how much I enjoy cycling.
Anyhow just wondering how many people work on there own bike and how many farm it out to the LBS.

someone else touch my babies, blaspheme!slow-ron
Jan 11, 2002 12:36 PM
hey Beavis, that's one vote for home wrenching.
it's all about...gtx
Jan 11, 2002 12:45 PM
having the right tools and a good work space. I used to wrench in bike shops but hated working on my bikes at home--working on your bike in the kitchen sucks. But if you have a shop quality stand, good tools and a good place to work (and some mechanical inclination) it rocks! And if you have several bikes, you can do the major work when you have time--not under pressure (ie if I don't fix this now I'm not riding tomorrow). So, good tools, good space, and plenty of bikes!
it's all about...Akirasho
Jan 11, 2002 1:01 PM
... ditto.

We abide.

Remain In Light.
nice setup!gtx
Jan 11, 2002 3:04 PM
man, mine is a mess by comparison--I still don't have a proper workbench.
I really like your shop.nee Spoke Wrench
Jan 11, 2002 3:35 PM
I keep thinking I should get my son-in-law to take pictures of my shop to post sometime.
I do it all myself except build wheels(nm)Dave Hickey
Jan 11, 2002 12:48 PM
re: Who here does there own wrenching?mackgoo
Jan 11, 2002 12:58 PM
I do.
how did you learn to do your own wrenching?hikerryank
Jan 11, 2002 1:14 PM
For those of you who do, did you learn by trial and error, a book or get a friend to teach you? I've been trying to learn and it usually ends up costing me more money and time off the bike than if I'd just taken it to the shop in the first place.
how did you learn to do your own wrenching?mackgoo
Jan 11, 2002 1:17 PM
Bought a couple of books.
how did you learn to do your own wrenching?jvr-oclv
Jan 11, 2002 1:21 PM
Self taught. It just came natural to me.
how did you learn to do your own wrenching?Akirasho
Jan 11, 2002 1:35 PM
... originally by necessity... no money... needed bike as only form of transport...

I had a couple of dated text, but it was a start. I read a lot "how to's" in the "Bicycling" magazine of days gone by as well as "Bicycle Guide" (and a few MTB rags).

If you've got the internet... you've already got a great resource... there's lots of free advice from sites like, and as well as forums like these, to name just a few.

We abide.

Remain In Light.
how did you learn to do your own wrenching?Len J
Jan 11, 2002 1:40 PM
Made a deal with my local LBS.

He's an older guy who loves bikes & loves people who love to talk about bikes. Whenever i have a major repair, I buy everything from him, pay him for the time & ask him to teach me how to do it. He loves it & I learn. Last thing he taught me was how to build a set of wheels. Sure I pay a little more for the parts but I thinks its a cheap education.

how did you learn to do your own wrenching?Mel Erickson
Jan 11, 2002 2:01 PM
I do most of my work myself and learned from all the sources you mentioned. One of the best ways to learn is to develop a good relationship with a LBS and spend some time watching them work. You could ask them to let you know when they're going to do some work (wheel building, bottom bracket installation, fork maintenance, etc.) you're interested in learning about and if they minded letting you watch. A good book is invaluable (Zinn and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance). Try learning on a beater that doesn't put you out of commission if you screw up.
Trial and error on my utility bikecyclinseth
Jan 11, 2002 2:04 PM
Although there is nothing very complicated on a road bike. The only thing I don't do is build my own wheels (because I don't have a stand), remove/insert headset cups. For some reason I find overhauling my hubs very meditative.
I did my own work on my old Huffy cruiser as a kid,Straightblock
Jan 11, 2002 2:36 PM
and learned the basics about geared bikes from a library book. Got good enough to work at the LBS during college, and had a lot of wheelbuilding practice there making "stock" wheels during the slow winter months.

I'm about to learn something new for a hardcore roadie, though, with the recent acquistion of a used MTB with a suspension fork that I'm sure is ready for service. Thank goodness those out-of-print service manuals can still be found online. All those springs, dampeners, and oils are a strange new world compared to a good old loose bearing bottom bracket full of Campy grease.
suspension forksgtx
Jan 11, 2002 3:30 PM
Here's a great site for obscure fork info.

Any more question and you should post here

Messing with suspension forks always makes me feel like a freekin motorcycle mechanic.
I forgot about Thanks, gtx. nmStraightblock
Jan 11, 2002 4:19 PM
how did you learn to do your own wrenching?PP
Jan 11, 2002 3:37 PM
Like lots of others out there I wasted college jobs working at a bike shop and the beach (internships and suits?). I know quite a few competent mechanics who taught themselves most of the stuff There is a learning curve and you definitely cost yourself more money at first, but it is invaluable knowledge.
First I destroyed a couple of bikes trying to fix 'em.MB1
Jan 11, 2002 3:58 PM
Then I knew what I was doing. Then I worked in the bike business for 20+ years. We couldn't ride all the miles we do if we had to rely on shops to keep our bikes up to snuff.
Jan 11, 2002 1:29 PM
I wrench for myself, my wife and my buds - heck I even help strays - pretty much for free. Like you I enjoy it and find it a form of therapy as long as I'm not working on junk. Occasionally I'll farm something to the LBS, but only if I don't have the tool (or can't borrow it) and I'm pressed for time. I haven't been able to justify the expense of the thread cutting and facing tools. I'm not trying to take money away from the LBS, but I like to help my buds out and it's a way to trade. Sometimes I end up fixing things that the LBS does a poor job on - it seems pretty difficult for them to do a good job on an Ultegra triple install and get it working flawlessly. I get some satisfaction out of doing something that some has said "can't be done." There aren't too many shops that will do a full rebuild on an Shimano STI shifter, but I don't go looking for this kind of job. I leave frame straightening and aligning to a skilled frame builder, but will tweak a rear der. hanger.
re: Who here does there own wrenching?RayBan
Jan 11, 2002 1:45 PM
I do my own work too. The only time I don't is if I don't have the proper tool Which pretty much comes down to the tools necessary to install a headset. I know I will look over every bolt etc. I don't rebuild wheels only tweak the tightness of the spokes. If the wheel needs spoke rebuilding its off to the shop. I have a great friend who owns a shop and sometimes we throw the bike up on the stand to pass the time while we share stories.
Sure that buzz isn't from the solvents. . . ;-)js5280
Jan 11, 2002 1:57 PM
I don't know if mechanical aptitude is innate or learned, but I used to watch my dad working on the car when I was a kid. Mechanical systems make sense to me so I'm usually willing to give it a go if I have the right tools and the learning curve isn't too expensive. I built my first bike up from a frame here last November but have maintained my own bikes since I was a kid. I have to admit, bike maintaince is pretty easy nowdays. Components are well designed so it's hard to screw up, most things require only tightening. Makes it easier for you to do maintaince, but the bike/component companies did it because it's makes a bike much cheaper to assemble. Headsets, cranks, brackets, hubs, of yesteryear were quite different. Now there is a lot of art to precision tuning a bicycle, I don't want to disparage the professional wrench's abilities. Wheels, derailers, cables, etc. in particular. However, I think someone w/ some mechanical understanding, a good reference, and the right tools can strip down and build a bike w/out much difficulty. Plus you have the pride of knowing you did it!
re: Who here does there own wrenching?Ray Sachs
Jan 11, 2002 4:29 PM
Like a few others, I do everything except build my own wheels and install headsets. Self tought, trial and error, take your time until you're pretty comfortable with something. One of the greatest feelings I ever had cycling was getting a used frameset from UPS one day, building it up with a bunch of miscellaneous parts that night, and going for a ride that included a 45 mph descent the next day and feeling totally secure on the bike. Knowing I took a bunch of odd-shaped pieces of metal, plastic, and rubber and turned them into a device that I could comfortably travel those speeds on was a great feeling of acomplishment / freedom / self-reliance, etc.
Now, of course, I take it totally for granted, but I still enjoy the tinkering.

I do the majority of it.laffeaux
Jan 11, 2002 4:43 PM
I do everything except build new wheels (or true them when they're really bad), press in headset cups, and install star nuts in forks. Otherwise it's me behind the wrench.
re: Who here does there own wrenching?Woof the dog
Jan 11, 2002 6:44 PM
i work on my bike, but i lack serious tools other than allen wrenches and basic stuff, like a hammer, a bunch of screwdrivers, glue, tape, etc. etc. etc. hehe. I actually have the sanding machine, all kinds of bits and rounds and other crap. I'd rather not mess with the cranks, but I can take everything else apart and put it back together - it is much easier with the modern headset bearings that are pressed in that round thing 'cause as I found out, shimano 600 headset has these little bastards that go all over the place and make you search for an hour with a flashlight in all the corners and under the carpet.

You know what, I hate doing all the wrenchin', I just love riding to feel air in my bushy tail! I do it to save money, time, and someone's mistakes. Why can't a bike be just perfect and never need adjustment or replacement?


Woof the riding dog.
Me ... the shop does not know how to -- its too old!Humma Hah
Jan 11, 2002 8:39 PM
The cruiser is 30 years old, older than the guys down at A1. They've never seen the inside of a Bendix coasterbrake, thought it was the same as a Shimano. I had to order the parts from my old shop in San Diego.

A couple of weeks ago, they sold me a chain that was too short. I'd specified a 112-link cruiser chain, but they gave me a 98-link stunt bike chain. Then they gave me some extra chain to extend it, but the links were thinner and the two would not go together. These guys have never seen a masterlink chain used on a full-sized bike!
oh jeez!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Woof the dog
Jan 11, 2002 10:07 PM
Hummah, I know you love your old heavy cruiser and all...and I know you will keep riding it no matter what, but how about getting something light to at least experience how it rides. Then, you can hang it on the wall if you still wanna keep riding a cruiser. Jeez, living in the richest country in the world, being a rocket scientist(aren't you?), and not having a light bike?

Are you really a light-weight-bike virgin ;-)?


Woof the dog.
I'm shopping ...Humma Hah
Jan 12, 2002 8:34 PM
Took a track class a couple of summers back. I've borrowed a couple of lighter bikes from time to time. I used to own a Varsity for a few years, but that doesn't count as it is maybe 2 lbs lighter than the cruiser.

As most regulars here know, I'm constantly promising to buy a classy older mount, the dream being an older Paramount, fixed/singlespeed, so I can keep up with MB1 and the divine Miss M on their fixie centuries. They usually pull away into the distance at about mile 8 when I ride the cruiser, and I can only pass them if they take a break somewhere along the ride.
re: Who here does there own wrenching?RaiderMike
Jan 11, 2002 10:44 PM
Wrenching relaxes me, and I am so damn particular I found myself disassembling, and reassembling work I was paying people to do and it was turning out pretty good so I bought a set of bike tools, and started doing everything myself with the exception of building a wheelset. As a project to keep me busy while recovering from ACL reconstruction surgery I started buying road bike parts, and a frame set. I finished buying parts early this week, and put it together yesterday, and will ride it for the first time tommorow. Can hardly wait
re: Who here does there own wrenching?josh_putnam
Jan 12, 2002 12:09 AM
I didn't have a good local bike shop growing up, so I do all my own wrenching out of habit, even when there's a good shop around. I don't build my own components, but other than that I do most of it myself, frame brazing, wheel building, prep work, maintenance, etc. It's relaxing and satisfying to build and maintain an elegant machine.
re: Who here does there own wrenching?Frank
Jan 12, 2002 7:46 PM
I finished building up a Steelman...started yesterday afternoon and finished about 3 am today. Reason it took that long was I got called away to work from 3pm til 11pm so didn't really take me 15 hours!

I used to have the bikes built for me when I ordered them or had to take them to my "local" LBS 100+ miles away. I finally decided to try building up a bike and enjoyed it so much that I haven't used the other options since. I also find I save money by buying frames and components and building the bikes up myself.

It does take me a while to build up a bike (4 or 5 hours) but it is because I am so meticulous and careful when building one up, plus I am taking the time to learn and enjoy what I am doing. I grease and lube everthing and try to end up with a really nice looking finished product.

I have all of the bike tools I need except for tools to chase threads, have a garage with a heater and radio, and all the parts I need. It is a great way for me to relax...but not as good as riding. I also always have another bike so it isn't "life or death" in getting one built, plus I have the other bike to reference if I need to.

Finally, I find the building of the bike helps me enjoy the ride even more as I feel like it is more a part of me. Maybe that sounds corny, but it works for me!