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International riders: where do good mechanics live?(4 posts)

International riders: where do good mechanics live?rengaracchi
Jul 17, 2002 8:11 AM
I know that I am about to make a huge generalization, and what I am going to say will be contested by many counter examples, but from my limited experiences with bicycle mechanics between Japan and the US, I would say that the Japanese mechanics are generally better trained. Now, I have made so many people upset, angry and hate me, but please go on and read what made me think like this.

I bought a road bike with Shimano 105 more than a decade ago at a lbs in a small town in up-state NY. I put (happy) thousands of miles on it, but, believe it or not, I didn't know that Shimano index shifter clicks and does precise shifting both upward and downward. When I got the bike, it did the magic only upward. Because the bike was my first serious road bike, I thought Shimano made it in that way. I discovered they didn't only after I brought the bike to Japan and asked a Japanese mechanic to take a look at it for a general check up. When I got the bike back, everything felt so refined, and I told myself "What was I riding?" In addition to fixing the shifters, they also did very nice job on truing the wheels and re-wrapping the handlebars etc. The bike went through a renaissance.

Then recently I got another road bike with Shimano Ultegra directly from the US. The frame and built were great, however, derailleurs do not work as they should. I'm not implying that the Japanese mechanics know about Shimano components better because Shimano is a Japanese company. My another road bike that I asked a Japanese mechanic to build with Capmy Record came in the perfect condition. The assemblly was great, and from the beginnig, both derailleurs worked in harmony. There was no annoying chain rubbing the front derailleur noise at all in any combination of the gears.

I haven't had any experiences with European mechanics (although I met some and talked to them when I visited Italy earlier this year), but I would like to know how other people feel about it.

BTW, the Japanese mechanics I told about above were different (one is in Nagoya and the other Osaka), and I got to know them purly by chance.
From my experience, mechanics everywhere live in houses.onespeed
Jul 17, 2002 8:51 AM
where do good mechanics live?Fredrico
Jul 17, 2002 12:28 PM
You can find good bike mechanics anywhere. You just have to look. If you live in the USA obviously you can't go to Japan every time your bike needs a fix. So either you work on the bike yourself, or trust a mechanic at the local bike shop. Cycling in the USA is sport and attracts sports minded people. In Japan its utilitarian transportation and attracts more practical types, perhaps. But you have to work with what you have.

Good luck,
Jul 17, 2002 2:25 PM
Simply saying that the mechanics from this country or that are better is nothing more than disguised racism and you should recognize this trap.

Pretty flawed assumption in your post - that bicycle mechanics are "trained". While there are formal training programs not that many, in the US at least, go through them. Undoubtedly a guy that has a chance to go through a training program, any training program is usually going to be better off than one that has not. I say usually b/c it ultimately comes down to the individual their motivation and their work ethic. In Japan it can be a noble thing to be a bicycle mechanic for one's entire life and to be the best, bu this is a cultural thing. In the US lots of the bike mechanics are younger guys who happen to like bikes and may not have had much formal training - rather they're self taught or learn under the shop owner/head mechanic. Running a bike shop in the US isn't exactly the best way to get rich or even make a living in the US so people do it for all sorts of different reasons, but mostly passion. I'd be pretty happy if I could just do great work on nothing but nice bikes and make a great living but with a mechanical engineering degree and a master's degree I'm kinda over qualified and I couldn't afford our current life style. For me doing good work on really nice bikes is a very satisfying thing. I like taking something that is really messed up and making it work flawlessly, but it's always been my nature - I hate when mechanical things don't work correctly. I've got something like 30 years of messing around with bicycles, but not a single day in a class.