Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Try to be nice. Try to be nice. Try to be nice...

Home Mechanic Week continues. On the stand before me is a Cannondale Flash 29er with Avid Elixir hydraulic disc brakes. The customer got mad when the rear brakes acted up out on the rail trail, so he ripped the pads out and flung them into the undergrowth. He also managed to lose the screw that secures the pads in the caliper.

He had tried to make things work better by blasting both brake calipers and the bottom bracket area with spray white lithium grease. Wasn't I just talking about grandpa grease?
The front caliper still has pads, but the customer says, "They don't work very well." Apparently, a blast of lithium grease does not enhance brake performance.

People feel free to mess with their bikes when they wouldn't dream of ripping into their car, their electronics, or the plumbing in their house, because bikes are kid stuff. Has anyone told the bike industry this? That whole Tour dee France thingie is just a bunch of overgrown kids in short pants who have figured out how to get paid not to grow up. It ain't a real man's sport, like football,  or NASCAR.

The customer says he only rides on the path. I will recommend that he ditch the hydraulics completely, in favor of a mechanical system less vulnerable to abuse. Grandpa grease will still contaminate the pads, but he won't have to worry about caliper pistons. I'm having to reseat the pistons and bleed the system as a result of whatever was wrong in the first place, compounded by his completely unhelpful intervention.


Anonymous said...

Dear Citizen:

I have been reading your blog for a long time now and it is time that I started commenting. You have so few comments.

I have a modest fleet of nine vintage European road bikes (a Peugeot PX-10, a Somec from the 70's...). I will not acquire a bike that I cannot strip down and repair myself, one that I cannot understand. For more complicated things I have a faithful LBS mechanic. I pride myself that I ask only rational questions of him. He gives be discounts with a smile.

I sypathise with your situation.

I am an American expat in Finland.


cafiend said...

Nice to hear from you, Leo. I share your belief in simple machinery, easily maintained at home. Finland. Cool. And rational questions are great. I love teaching people who actually learn.

Justine Valinotti said...

At least your customer said he tried to fix his bike. When I've worked in shops, I had customers tell me something "just broke" or "stopped working" when I could see they'd tried to fix something themselves.

My favorite story, though, is of the kid who came in with a pretzeled rear wheel. "I was turning a corner and the wheel collapsed", he claimed.

Hello, Leo!

cafiend said...

JRA stories are endless, and endlessly funny. In the 1990s we developed a style combining crime scene analysis and FAA crash reconstruction. The customer would give us their story. We would then present all the evidence supporting our own theory of what really happened. This got us a lot of confessions. I felt like bike mechanic/district attorney.

We would even get witnesses to turn on the perp. A boisterous young guy tried to convince us that the chairing on his BMX bike just folded over while he was riding. Then his friend blurted out that he had been trying to jump over something and landed on it.

Steve A said...

In its defense, lithium grease is very good at getting rid of door hinge squeaks!

greatpumpkin said...

Just don't lube the door hinges in our father's house. He once dismantled and un-lubricated all the door hinges our visiting helpful grandfather had carefully oiled. Pop had memorized the sound of every door's squeak and could tell where anyone was in the house in the middle of the night. I recently used this argument on a home buyer who was upset to discover after closing that the original oak floors in his beautiful vintage 1939 house creaked. It didn't work--he wanted to rip out all the floors and replace them.