Friday, March 23, 2012

Quality and efficiency

I thought I had upper management in a teachable moment yesterday but I was wrong.

The top banana was checking over a Specialized path bike he had assembled when we noticed a brake pad was crooked. I pointed out that they tighten more smoothly when the threads of the post are greased.

"If you want them greased you can do it in the free tuneup," he said. "We don't have time to do all that when we have so many bikes to assemble."

Nothing he puts on the floor will ever be unsafe. The handlebars are always tight, the pedals are threaded in. The wheels have been trued. The gears will work properly. He's hardly the most hurried and careless assembler out there. Beyond that, though, you're on your own. Factory-assembled hubs are always too tight. Various threads are not greased, so the tightness of fasteners isn't reliable.

He doesn't complain about more meticulous assembly on more expensive bikes. That's good, because I would have to wear ear plugs or headphones every day.

High quality assembly saves a lot of time and some potential embarrassment down the road. Meticulously assembled bikes need almost nothing at the free tuneup. In fact, many of them need almost nothing a year later when the owners come back for routine maintenance. Bikes that are ridden farther or more vigorously will need work, but they also hold up a lot better if they were put together to a high standard in the first place.

Meticulous assembly takes longer than a rush job. It doesn't take a lot longer, especially if you know your system and have refined your technique. The time you spend up front is time you will save many times over at every later stage of the sale and just about every time the bike comes in for service. I do it for myself as much as I do it for the customer. Let's ALL have an easier, more fun time. There's greater profit in doing a good job. Who knew?


Steve A said...

Having experienced bike shop work from two different shops, I have come to regard same as akin to how a commercial engine cleaning on a car is a first small step towards a properly detailed job that finishes up with toothbrushes. In both cases, that first step gets a jump on things and makes the rest cleaner and more precise.

cafiend said...

In the case of detailed assembly, I START with toothbrushes. It's a lot easier and therefore faster to get into details before the bike is completely assembled than to have to take it apart to get into those sub-assemblies that don't get proper consideration at the factory.

Steve A said...

I can understand toothbrushes as a good start to assembly - it is very logical that the last step of disassembly would be the first step of assembly.

Of course, those that get REALLY serious about car show do not stop with toothbrushes. I have at least two jars of special toothpicks that have tiny brushes at one end...