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If I'm in over my head...where to find help

Old 11-26-20, 10:18 PM
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urlight
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If I'm in over my head...where to find help

We have a growing young family (including being on a journey of fostering) and are spending more and more time riding. Yep, if you pass us we're one of the ones with multiple bike trailers along kids on their own bikes doing the best they can to stay on their side of the path. Because of a limited budget we have a number of hand-me-downs which has been great. But now that the older kids are starting to use multi-speed bikes, I don't have the know-how to make major adjustments to derailleurs etc. We were just give a couple of really nice Giant youth bikes that need some adjustments. I bought a bike repair stand and started watching youtubes but can't figure it out. Taking a bike to a local shop costs $140 for a tuneup which just won't work with 5 or so bikes in play at any given time. Finally getting to my questions...
1. Where would one go to get some basic 101 training on how to make bike repairs?
2. Are there local bike aficionados who take on light repair work for less than what the brick and mortar shops charge?

Thanks for helping a newbie.
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Old 11-26-20, 10:23 PM
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Welcome! Where are you located? Perhaps someone here can make a specific recommendation or might even offer to help.

Last edited by thumpism; 11-26-20 at 10:32 PM.
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Old 11-26-20, 10:35 PM
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As noted, where are you located? Most cities of any size have a "Bike Kitchen" or "Bike Co-Op", staffed by volunteers, that take donated bikes and refurbish them for use by people who can't afford them and usually sell reclaimed parts and offer repair services and lessons at low cost.
Another possibility is to contact the local bike club and see if they have members who can help.
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Old 11-26-20, 10:44 PM
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Location matters a lot on a question like this. I'd be happy to teach how to do repairs and allow for tool use; my wife is working with a home school group to set up me teaching woodworking but the shop space also includes bike repair and that's been coming up as a question as well. I've got 3 kids and a wife that rides. All of us like to ride velodrome so 4 bikes (wife and I share), all of us ride mtb so 5 bikes, one rides bmx though the youngest now wants to, and everyone rides road/cross/gravel which means another large grouping. Wife and I have separate cross and road while the kids just use cross bikes for both. Needless to say, getting an annual tune up would be a ridiculous sum of money making learning how and getting the tools worth while.
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Old 11-26-20, 10:53 PM
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https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help
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Old 11-26-20, 11:42 PM
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For starters, you don't have to get a full $140 tune-up if all you need is a derailleur adjustment (or whatever).

I find most YouTube tutorials insufferable to watch. I vastly prefer to read a book or manual. I like this one.

Get your kids involved in the process as soon as they're old enough. Learning together makes for good bonding, and they'll eventually be able to do their own repairs.
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Old 11-27-20, 07:03 AM
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Park tool, RJ the bike guy, BikemanforU all have fairly decent videos and advice.
Shimano tech docs for their components.
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Old 11-27-20, 07:33 AM
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Many good suggestions already including seeking a bike coop or taking time to learn yourself. Many bike shops will perform a full tune up for $60 to $85 unless you are in an expensive area. But as someone else pointed out you may only need a quick derailleur adjustment which many shops will do for $10 to $20. As such you may be able to get things done for a lot less at a local bike shop. One of the best online references is the late Sheldon Brown's website:

https://sheldonbrown.com/

Shimano has excellent documentation here:

https://si.shimano.com/#/
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Old 11-27-20, 07:36 AM
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It was kind of hidden in the OP, but he/she said they tried YouTube and couldn't figure it out. They need a different type of instruction, or volunteer help.

If printed materials would help, look at Sheldon Brown's website.

I agree with asking around locally for someone who would volunteer to help with your family.
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Old 11-27-20, 09:14 AM
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I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers so as a kid money was tight for us as a family.

Back in the stone age, when I was a wee lad of 11 years old, I started riding multi gear bikes. First 3 speed, then 10 speed. It is true that my dad assisted me in the very early attempts to do my own work but I quickly took over the responsibility. When I was in 9th grade, before electrons were buzzing across the internet, I checked out a book in my school library titled The Complete Book Of Bicycling by Eugene A. Sloane. Very much dated now, this classic book walked me through every conceivable repair I needed to do and I even used it to lace up and true a set of wheels from scratch. The latter exercise at the tender age of 14.

Most consumer grade bicycles today are not very complicated but there is a certain technique involved, a set by step approach to adjustments. Having spent most of my adult life detached from bicycles I found that when I got back to it I needed some help. While I think the idea of using a local co-op is a great idea there may not be one available. The nearest one to me is 30 miles away.

I'm currently keeping all 5 of my bikes humming plus two that belong to my wife and between my adult kids another 2 bikes, that is 9 bikes total. My go-to manual are the ones by Leonard Zinn which are available used on Amazon. The above mentioned youtubes from Park Tool, in particular the one on derailleur adjustment is good as are the vids by RJ the Bike Guy just take it one step at a time, use the pause button. You will probably need some tools, in particular a bicycle specific cable cutter or a cut-off wheel for a dremel tool if you have one. If you have a specific question, ask away. You can do this!

Some bike shops and co-ops offer low cost or sometimes free classes on bike repair and maintenance. The co-op nearest to me offers the Park Tool basic maintenance class for a fee of $100 but that includes a membership in the co-op and use of the tools and help if needed. Another option is a local bike club which might be useful in locating local bike nuts willing to help.

Last edited by Thomas15; 11-27-20 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 11-27-20, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by urlight View Post
1. Where would one go to get some basic 101 training on how to make bike repairs?
2. Are there local bike aficionados who take on light repair work for less than what the brick and mortar shops charge?

Thanks for helping a newbie.
These 2 questions require information about where you live
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Old 11-27-20, 11:17 AM
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Book recommendation

Sam Tracy’s Bicycle! is worth looking at. It’s focused more on practicality and keeping older bikes on the road than keeping up with the latest technology. The tone is approachable and aimed towards folks learning to work on their bikes instead of seasoned experts. (If you’ve ever read John Muir’s How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, the tone will sound familiar.)
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Old 11-27-20, 01:11 PM
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I'd say let those kids figure it out.

as a young person, fixing my bike was a formative experience and conferred valuable problem solving and analytical skills that served well in later life.

Show the kids what the problem is, explain the cable pull and hand them a screwdriver.

you might be surprised what happens. The old "teach 'em how to fish" strategy.

Mark Petry
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Old 11-27-20, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by mpetry912 View Post
I'd say let those kids figure it out....
Excellent idea. I was one of nine baby boom children, raised by a plumber, so all we got were hand-me-downs and salvage. If we didn't figure out how to fix them, we didn't ride. It was great experience in the formative years. Of course, it's taken over half a century to unlearn some bad habits.
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Old 11-27-20, 02:23 PM
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You all are amazing. We are near the area of metro west Boston where Watertown/Waltham/Newton meet.

Btw, I found the Park Tool videos previously and they're great. In the situation with the Giant bikes I've got both front and rear derailleurs off and just couldn't figure out how to make it work. That's what prompted me to reach out for help. Again, heaps of thanks.
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Old 11-27-20, 02:27 PM
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Love the teach 'em to fish analogy. First dad has to learn how to fish before can teach them. (oldest is 9)
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Old 11-27-20, 04:42 PM
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Shimano has their tech docs here.

https://si.shimano.com/#/
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Old 11-28-20, 07:14 AM
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As you are in the Boston area you might want to take a class at Broadway Bicycle school in Cambridge. Classes are suspended now due to COVID-19 but it seems they will resume in 2021. Here is a link...

broadwaybicycleschool.com » Classes
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Old 11-29-20, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
Welcome! Where are you located? Perhaps someone here can make a specific recommendation or might even offer to help.
Thanks you! Metro west Boston, specifically Watertown/Waltham/Newton area.
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Old 11-29-20, 08:56 AM
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Thanks so much for responding. We're in the Metro West area of Boston, specifically the Watertown/Waltham/Newton are. Would love to learn about any kitchen's or co-ops. Even helpful for that language so I can do some searching of my own on the web. Thanks again.
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Old 11-29-20, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by urlight View Post
Would love to learn about any kitchen's or co-ops
You're sort of equidistant from Somerville Bike Kitchen, CommonWheels, and Bikes Not Bombs. AFAICT from the internet none of them are open at the moment, but you should check them all out when the pandemic is resolved. I'd say that Somerville Bike Kitchen and Bikes Not Bombs are a little better stocked in terms of tools. SBK is in a multi-level carriage house with other community tool organizations - the other ones offer access to machining equipment, electronics, biotech (autoclave, PCR machine, culture baths, organic chemistry stuff), and musical instruments. But CommonWheels briefly had a skate park upstairs and a Street Fighter II cabinet on the same floor so... pretty even I would say.
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Old 11-29-20, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by urlight View Post
Thanks so much for responding. We're in the Metro West area of Boston, specifically the Watertown/Waltham/Newton are. Would love to learn about any kitchen's or co-ops. Even helpful for that language so I can do some searching of my own on the web. Thanks again.
Sent you a message. Welcome to the forums!
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Old 11-30-20, 08:33 PM
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Thanks for reaching out. The forum system is telling me I can't access my private messages until I've made 10 posts. Will respond soon!
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Old 12-21-20, 09:53 AM
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Russ, thanks so much for reaching out. Am in grad school and just now following up after the end of the semester. The bike forum system requires 10 posts to be able to use the private message function so will holler at you directly when I make it there!
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Old 12-21-20, 10:23 AM
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Thomas, thanks so much for the practical resources you shared. Am picking up a manual by Zinn and look forward to digging into repairs! Thanks.
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