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For people who work in bike shops, what are some crazy/horror stories that you have?

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For people who work in bike shops, what are some crazy/horror stories that you have?

Old 01-05-22, 02:16 PM
  #26  
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Same shop as above, a kid, maybe 10 or 11, was bought a basic mountain bike by his parents, and a couple accessories. A multi-tool and some stuff. A couple days later the kid comes in and buys a shift cable. Whatever, he's allowed to tinker, it's how I learned. Next day he comes back in with his bike. For some reason the front brake wasn't working right. I see from afar that it's needs readjustment and that the end of the cable is all eFFed up and frayed, which was odd because the bike was still quite new and I knew there were end caps on when it left the store a week ago. I pulled the brake lever to see that the cable head was properly seated.. LO! The brake cable had been replaced with the shift cable! When I said 'this is a shift cable, and it's been installed in the brake by someone who doesn't know what they are doing' the kid immediately said "I DIDN"T DO IT! It was that other guy who fixes bikes here!"
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Old 01-05-22, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
Funny enough, a very similar situation must have happened, or perhaps even this one. We were absolutely NOT allowed to remove reflectors from a new bike. We absolutely HAD to install them on any and every new bike that we built. It wasn't optional.
Funny and true. I just bought a new carbon Trek Emonda recently and as I was leaving the shop, the owner said, "Don't forget to take those reflectors off the bike."
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Old 01-06-22, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
Funny enough, a very similar situation must have happened, or perhaps even this one. We were absolutely NOT allowed to remove reflectors from a new bike. We absolutely HAD to install them on any and every new bike that we built. It wasn't optional.

Originally Posted by classic carl View Post
Funny and true. I just bought a new carbon Trek Emonda recently and as I was leaving the shop, the owner said, "Don't forget to take those reflectors off the bike."
Front and rear and wheel reflectors are/were required by Ontario (Canada) Law, to be on all new bicycles sold. We told many customers that by Law we were not allowed to sell a bike without the reflectors being on it. I often wondered if any shops selling bicycles without the reflectors installed were charged by the authorities.

Cheers
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Old 01-06-22, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
Funny enough, a very similar situation must have happened, or perhaps even this one. We were absolutely NOT allowed to remove reflectors from a new bike. We absolutely HAD to install them on any and every new bike that we built. It wasn't optional.



Front and rear and wheel reflectors are/were required by Ontario (Canada) Law, to be on all new bicycles sold. We told many customers that by Law we were not allowed to sell a bike without the reflectors being on it. I often wondered if any shops selling bicycles without the reflectors installed were charged by the authorities.

Cheers
I worked in a larger shop in Ottawa (now closed) that imported frames and parts and assembled their own line of bikes. Sometimes the bikes were assembled in the larger store across the river in Gatineau, sometimes we just got shipped a frame and box of parts from the warehouse in Gatineau and assembled the bikes ourselves.

I would estimate that between 0% and 0% of those bikes had reflectors installed during assembly, and not too many more had then added at customer request before delivery. I think we had a box of reflectors for those rare occasions.
I would encourage lights for any bikes intended for use on the road *(along with lock, bell, fenders, kickstand, etc) but not everyone agreed on the extra cost.
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Old 01-06-22, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ClydeClydeson View Post
I worked in a larger shop in Ottawa (now closed) that imported frames and parts and assembled their own line of bikes. Sometimes the bikes were assembled in the larger store across the river in Gatineau, sometimes we just got shipped a frame and box of parts from the warehouse in Gatineau and assembled the bikes ourselves.

I would estimate that between 0% and 0% of those bikes had reflectors installed during assembly, and not too many more had then added at customer request before delivery. I think we had a box of reflectors for those rare occasions.
I would encourage lights for any bikes intended for use on the road *(along with lock, bell, fenders, kickstand, etc) but not everyone agreed on the extra cost.
"Well spoken, Bruce!"

Lights are super important especially for those who ride a night, get a good decently bright light at the front but most importantly over all else get one with a good beam pattern. STvZO regulations make a ton of sense and make some very smart lights for more urban riding. Also get a good light at the back and keep in mind other people have to look at it so make yourself visible but not dazzling or dangerous.

Locks, bells and fenders are also quite handy. Kickstand I could care less about but everything is handy. Though I do find the kickstand on my e-bike handy but that is heavy (on purpose not just a crappy bike) so leaning it is not easy and my lock is a touch longer to accommodate using a kickstand and with the wheel lock as well it is a tough nut to crack.

To those questioning fenders you may not ride in the rain but do you ride the day after maybe? Do you ride on a wooded path that is dirt heavy and may not dry up for weeks? Do you like to keep yourself and your bike cleaner? If you answered yes to any one of those questions you are a prime candidate for fenders. Also they can potentially have aerodynamic benefits according to Jan Heine and his testing.
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Old 01-06-22, 08:30 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by classic carl View Post
Funny and true. I just bought a new carbon Trek Emonda recently and as I was leaving the shop, the owner said, "Don't forget to take those reflectors off the bike."
Originally Posted by ClydeClydeson View Post
I worked in a larger shop in Ottawa (now closed) that imported frames and parts and assembled their own line of bikes. Sometimes the bikes were assembled in the larger store across the river in Gatineau, sometimes we just got shipped a frame and box of parts from the warehouse in Gatineau and assembled the bikes ourselves.

I would estimate that between 0% and 0% of those bikes had reflectors installed during assembly, and not too many more had then added at customer request before delivery. I think we had a box of reflectors for those rare occasions.
I would encourage lights for any bikes intended for use on the road *(along with lock, bell, fenders, kickstand, etc) but not everyone agreed on the extra cost.
We'd often let the customer remove the reflectors before the customer took the bike out the door but only after it was paid for. We'd toss the reflectors into a large box about 4' x 4' by 5'high. That box was darn near full when I left that shop.

I find it interesting that bicycles are the only vehicle (that I know of) that are allowed to be on the road but not required by law to have a mirror.

Cheers
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Old 01-06-22, 10:19 PM
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Where I am, there are a couple of Walmart type bike brands, one of which has a shop in even the smallest of towns. Cheap bikes, but the guys in those shops know their way around them just fine. The real issue is the big box store bikes for $100 or so; dirt cheap Chinese rigid MTB and Hybrid type bikes. The guys there always manage to install their forks backward; I even showed a guy in my apartment building with a really cheap box store XC MTB with suspension up front that his forks were backwards last summer and offered to get his bike in shape, but it was as if I had offered to take his wife to bed. Guy just needed his ahead stem rotated 180 degrees, but he looked at me like I wanted to practice dark magic on his precious machine. Some guys you just can't help.
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Old 01-06-22, 11:01 PM
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I used to have the same guy come in every year for a new chain and cassette for his mountain bike. He had a rather nice (for the time) Marin with an XT 18 speed driveline, but he only used one gear, ever. He rode the bike heavily in that one gear, wearing down the cassette on one cog. It was odd to see 5 brand-new looking cogs, and one which was worn down to the point that the chain skipped over it when he stood on the pedals.
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Old 01-07-22, 12:12 AM
  #34  
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Good stories all but I doubt that shop mechanics see a 10th of the horror stories that we see at co-ops…especially ones with “Fix-Your-Bike” hours. We get the bikes that shop refuse. We get things like a bike that someone had been riding for hundreds of miles without bearings on one side of the front wheel and with the cone turned around backwards. The axle didn’t turn in the hub shell. The axle was turning in the fork tips (quick release hub) and had eroded a significant amount of the threads on the axle and the fork tips. The guy was amazed at how fast the bike would go with bearings.

Or the coaster brake bike that someone’s mother’s boyfriend had tried to convert to a freewheel bike by removing the brake lever and about 3/4 of the bearings. And his mother told him that he had to leave it that way. The kid kept coming in for most of the summer with similar problems that, again, his mother insisted that I fix without changing anything. I started to hide in the bathroom if I saw him coming.

Or the guy who came in with a high end Specialized dual suspension mountain bike (probably stolen) who had the great idea of removing the chain by…wait for it…hacksawing through the seatstay. He was totally confused (and angry) when I told him that I couldn’t do anything for him and that he had ruined his bike.

Or the Dad that didn’t have the right size handlebar so he shimmed it to the right size. Since he had a welder, he did it poorly






Completely ground out the inside of the stem.

Or the bikes…yes multiples…that had been left under some tree so long that they looked like this






We counted 15 rings in 2020 meaning the bike had been sitting since 2005 at the earliest.
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Old 01-07-22, 07:05 AM
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A mother came in with her 14-year-old son, complaining that this was the third time she'd had to bring back his bike for gear adjustments in the two months since she'd boought it for him and that she'd demand her money back if she had to bring it back again.

I say to the son, "Have you been trying to adjust the gears?" The mother answers, "I asked him that and he said no."

I must have looked skeptical, because she then says, "MY SON DOESN'T LIE TO ME!"

I look at the son. The son looks at me sheepishly.

I take the bike downstairs to the repair area and adjust the gears. I then add touchup paint to the theads and heads of the derailleur adjustment screws. When I bring the bike back upstairs, I explain that I've painted the adjustment screws so that if someone has been fooling around with the derailleur adjustments, they'll know it by the cracked paint. As far as I know, the gear adjustment problem never recurred.
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Old 01-07-22, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
A mother came in with her 14-year-old son, complaining that this was the third time she'd had to bring back his bike for gear adjustments in the two months since she'd boought it for him and that she'd demand her money back if she had to bring it back again.

I say to the son, "Have you been trying to adjust the gears?" The mother answers, "I asked him that and he said no."

I must have looked skeptical, because she then says, "MY SON DOESN'T LIE TO ME!"

I look at the son. The son looks at me sheepishly.

I take the bike downstairs to the repair area and adjust the gears. I then add touchup paint to the theads and heads of the derailleur adjustment screws. When I bring the bike back upstairs, I explain that I've painted the adjustment screws so that if someone has been fooling around with the derailleur adjustments, they'll know it by the cracked paint. As far as I know, the gear adjustment problem never recurred.
No offense to you, but I've been riding multi-geared bikes for 35+ years, and in all of those years I've gotten a bike back from the shop that shifted perfectly exactly once. Bikes shift differently under load than they do on the stand. IME at a minimum they (nearly always) require a bit of a turn on a barrel adjuster after they've been in the shop. (I've even gotten a bike back from the shop that wouldn't shift into the highest gear (lowest cog), and I had to back out the limit screw.) Bike shops are great, they're one of my favorite places on Earth, and I pay them to do a lot of stuff I'm not competent to do or that I just don't want to do. I also pay them to fix my boneheaded mistakes when I've screwed up a repair/maintenance/install task. However, mechanics are human, they sometimes have to rush to satisfy everyone, and you never know who's been working on your bike (especially in the summer when the shop may have hired on some teenagers to help during the busy season).

--------
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Old 01-07-22, 08:23 AM
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My son worked at a shop and I happened to be hanging there late on a Friday afternoon. About 10 minutes before closing, some guy races into the parking lot with a pickup truck full of rusty kid's mountain bikes which looked like they hadn't been used in years. He's completely exasperated and yells "We're leaving for vacation tomorrow morning and I forgot to get the kids' bikes tuned-up!" Well, the shop owner was a really nice guy and could see the desperation in the customer's eyes, so he cheerfully agreed to go over the bikes and have them ready in the morning. I could never be that understanding.
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Old 01-07-22, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by noimagination View Post
No offense to you, but I've been riding multi-geared bikes for 35+ years, and in all of those years I've gotten a bike back from the shop that shifted perfectly exactly once. Bikes shift differently under load than they do on the stand. IME at a minimum they (nearly always) require a bit of a turn on a barrel adjuster after they've been in the shop. (I've even gotten a bike back from the shop that wouldn't shift into the highest gear (lowest cog), and I had to back out the limit screw.) Bike shops are great, they're one of my favorite places on Earth, and I pay them to do a lot of stuff I'm not competent to do or that I just don't want to do. I also pay them to fix my boneheaded mistakes when I've screwed up a repair/maintenance/install task. However, mechanics are human, they sometimes have to rush to satisfy everyone, and you never know who's been working on your bike (especially in the summer when the shop may have hired on some teenagers to help during the busy season).

--------
Obviously new bikes need minor adjustments after the break-in period. That's why bike shops provide a free tune-up after 30 to 90 days for the bikes that they sell. In this case, the kid had been screwing the derailleur limit screws all the way in, since he didn't understand how derailleurs work.
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Old 01-07-22, 09:32 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
Funny enough, a very similar situation must have happened, or perhaps even this one. We were absolutely NOT allowed to remove reflectors from a new bike. We absolutely HAD to install them on any and every new bike that we built. It wasn't optional.
I don't understand why someone would remove a safety device from a bicycle. Reflectors add conspicuity to the bikes and cyclists. Maybe a testosterone behavior. "reflectors are for whimps" or "real cyclists don't have reflectors"
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Old 01-07-22, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by jfouellette View Post
I don't understand why someone would remove a safety device from a bicycle. Reflectors add conspicuity to the bikes and cyclists. Maybe a testosterone behavior. "reflectors are for whimps" or "real cyclists don't have reflectors"
I have front and rear lights and reflective strips in the fabric of my riding gear. . I don't really need a reflector. My MTB never goes where there are cars so I think the visibility thing is not needed there. I do understand that most people should keep the reflectors if they are not going to be using lights so I think you are spot on for some folks. I pull them off my motorcycles too. A bright red Ducati wit reflectors on the forks. No thanks. Its a beauty thing !! : )
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Old 01-07-22, 11:10 AM
  #41  
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My pics.

Really sketchy tall bike + nicer Raleigh frame with a gas engine hacked on.








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Old 01-07-22, 11:10 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Got a call from a guy threatening to sue Trek. He had been riding at night without a light and got hurt. He felt it was Trek's fault because lights were not included with the bike. Good luck finding a lawyer to handle that one. Never heard from him again.
It’s worked in the past. From a rather old 1994 article from the LA Times:

Makers and sellers of bicycles are taking such steps because they worry about being sued. Heightening their fears is a New Jersey jury’s recent $7-million award to a cyclist who was traveling at 40 m.p.h. when he collided with a moving Jeep one night five years ago.

England’s Derby Cycle Corp., the world’s largest bike maker, settled on appeal to reduce the payment to Collin Johnson to $3.25 million.

The fact that the Nishiki Royale was equipped with reflectors led Johnson--an honor student from West Orange, N.J.--to believe he would be visible at night, according to his attorney, Ken Berkowitz. He said Johnson, now 22 and partially paralyzed, should have been advised that he needed to a install a light.
Your guy just didn’t have the right lawyer.
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Old 01-07-22, 11:40 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
Funny enough, a very similar situation must have happened, or perhaps even this one. We were absolutely NOT allowed to remove reflectors from a new bike. We absolutely HAD to install them on any and every new bike that we built. It wasn't optional.
There are a couple of reasons for having to put on reflectors. First federal regulations. The Consumer Product Safety Commission require them under federal statute

§ 1512.16 Requirements for reflectors.

Bicycles shall be equipped with reflective devices to permit recognition and identification under illumination from motor vehicle headlamps.
Second, most all states in the US require them under their laws in accordance with the Uniform Vehicle Code. Most states I’ve looked at require a front light, thankfully, but many require a rear reflector with a light being optional. They also require some kind of side reflector (as does the federal reg) even though a study by the CPSC shows that side reflectors are completely useless.

Originally Posted by Rdmonster69 View Post
I have front and rear lights and reflective strips in the fabric of my riding gear. . I don't really need a reflector. My MTB never goes where there are cars so I think the visibility thing is not needed there. I do understand that most people should keep the reflectors if they are not going to be using lights so I think you are spot on for some folks. I pull them off my motorcycles too. A bright red Ducati wit reflectors on the forks. No thanks. Its a beauty thing !! : )
While I agree that reflectors are mostly useless, I have them on my bikes in as small a profile as possible. Because most states require a front light at night as well as a rear reflector and side reflectors at all hours, it is a good idea to have them. If you get in an accident and don’t have the required reflectors, a good lawyer can make you partially or wholly culpable for any accident you might be involved in. That could have a severe impact on any ability to sue for damages in the event of an accident.

Originally Posted by jfouellette View Post
I don't understand why someone would remove a safety device from a bicycle. Reflectors add conspicuity to the bikes and cyclists. Maybe a testosterone behavior. "reflectors are for whimps" or "real cyclists don't have reflectors"
While I have reflectors for the above reason, I don’t see them as any kind of safety device. Active lighting is a safety device and I see requiring them at night to be a reasonable course of action. Reflectors are passive and depend on light hitting them as well as the reflector being clean enough and positioned correctly for light to hit them. My attitude isn’t that “reflectors are for wimps” but that reflectors are mostly useless. Side reflectors are particularly useless based on the conclusion that was reached in the study linked above but the CPSC and state laws still require them. Conclusion from that study:
​​​​​​​



And there is also the attitude among many cyclists that “if I have reflectors I don’t need lights”. There’s even case law that says you can sue if you only use reflectors because no one told you that you needed lights at night.
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Old 01-07-22, 11:48 AM
  #44  
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I asked a local retired Schwinn shop owner this question. He got agitated and told me of the boxcar with his order being broken into. A guy shows up a week later asking him to assemble a boxed bike. It didn't go well and he ended up getting sued...
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Old 01-07-22, 11:52 AM
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I was surprised that my Bianchi didn't come with any reflectors. Makes me wonder if it wasn't intended for sale as a US domestic market bike. Kind of like buying "gray market" camera gear.

It's also possible the little box which would contain the reflectors was accidently left out of the big bike box.
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Old 01-07-22, 12:06 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by jfouellette View Post
I don't understand why someone would remove a safety device from a bicycle. Reflectors add conspicuity to the bikes and cyclists. Maybe a testosterone behavior. "reflectors are for whimps" or "real cyclists don't have reflectors"
I remove the wheel reflectors because they take the wheel out of weight. I replace front and rear reflectors with lighting and commonly use tires with a glowing sidewall strip on my "city" bikes.
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Old 01-07-22, 12:52 PM
  #47  
leob1
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I volunteer at a charity bike shop, all of our product come from donations. We take anything, I've seen bike in every imaginable condition, from brand new to probably have been under salt water. Broken and/or bent frames and parts are common.
We used to sell parts, one day this guy comes in "I need a seat pole!"
Me "A what?!?"
guy "I need a seat pole!"
Me(light goes off) "OH, you mean a seat post"
guy "Yeah, Yeah, a seat pole"
Me, shows him the milk crate filled with seat posts "What size? They come in different sizes and you need the right size"
guy grabs one "This is it!"
Me "You sure, did you measure? Do you have the old one to match?
guy "No, No! This is it!"
Me "If you say so, pay up front"
The guy is happy goes on his way.
a month or two go by,
Same guy comes it the shop "I NEED A SEAT POLE!"
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Old 01-07-22, 01:11 PM
  #48  
ClydeClydeson
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
"Well spoken, Bruce!"

Locks, bells and fenders are also quite handy. Kickstand I could care less about but everything is handy. Though I do find the kickstand on my e-bike handy but that is heavy (on purpose not just a crappy bike) so leaning it is not easy and my lock is a touch longer to accommodate using a kickstand and with the wheel lock as well it is a tough nut to crack.
Bells (or horns or other audible warning device) are legally required for bikes ridden on the road in my province. Occasionally some town or city would do a 'safety blitz' and start giving out tickets to cyclists without bells, among other infractions. Simple 'ping' bells were like $5, and the fine for not having a bell added up to over $100.

I was once a purist as well, like those who only appreciate a bike not in its bare stripped down 'race' form, without bells or lights or fenders. THe more non-race oriented riding I did the more I warmed up to having fenders and a bell. I still dislike kickstands, but there have certainly been a few occasions on tour where one would have been handy.

I started trying to sell lights and fenders and locks for customers' new bikes long before I was comfortable with the aesthetics of a bike festooned with accessories - they are practical and can help people enjoy their new bikes, but in reality, accessories generally have a much higher profit margin than the bike itself and that was my primary motivation for suggesting.

Last edited by ClydeClydeson; 01-07-22 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 01-07-22, 01:34 PM
  #49  
ClydeClydeson
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I volunteered at a bike co-op for a while. All bikes at the co-op were donated, and were fixed by volunteers to be sold to keep the lights on, but just barely, OR (more often) volunteers would work a certain number of hours and earn a bike, with no money changing hands. When bikes first came in, the seatpost, stem, and bottom bracket were checked to ensure they weren't seized, and the bike was given a very quick once-over to ensure there was nothing else that would make the bike unfixable or unsafe like a cracked frame or fork. Then the useable bikes were moved to another room to await a full rebuild by volunteers, and the unusable were stripped of any usable parts and put into the 'discard' pile to await transport to the metal recycler.

One evening a chap comes in, I can't remember what for, and sees a ruined bike in the 'discard' pile that he claimed was his. He started ranting about how we were running a 'chop shop' and that he was calling the police. A couple of us regular volunteers politely tried to calm him down, said go ahead and call the police because we have nothing to hide and then we can straighten this out. We tried to explain that the shop was non-profit and it's mandate was to provide bikes to people on low incomes, but he kept ranting.

Then a middle aged lady who was volunteering, fixing an old bike, leaned over to me and said "I've dealt with people like this before, I'll show you how to handle it".

She walked right up to the angry guy and pointed to the door.

Lady: "OUT!"
Angry Guy: "This is a chop sh..."
Lady: "OUT!"
Angry Guy: "I'm coming back wi..."
Lady: "OUT!"
Angry Guy: "You ar..."
Lady: "OUT!"
Angry Guy: "I..."
Lady: "OUT!"

Then the angry guy turned and walked out the door. We went back to fixing the old bikes. Never heard back from the angry guy again.
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Old 01-07-22, 01:34 PM
  #50  
grant40
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I got this from the bike co op for $10 a couple years ago.



The stem is the only thing that I didn't throw away or give back to the shop.
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