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Incompetent Mechanic? Took bike in for brake fix, left with gear problems.

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Incompetent Mechanic? Took bike in for brake fix, left with gear problems.

Old 04-20-20, 03:16 AM
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Jammastersam
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Incompetent Mechanic? Took bike in for brake fix, left with gear problems.

Hi all,


I've been a long time MTB rider but have never really dabbled much in the maintenance or mechanics of my bike until recently when I tried to repair my front brakes and do an oil change - now I won't go into the full story but they were Clarks brakes and I failed miserably.


As we are in the middle of a lockdown, the two biggest bike shops in my town are only providing bike servicing to key workers, so I've gone to a new small independent bike shop which has only been open a few months. I took the bike in and straight away the mechanic wasted no time telling me what he thought of Clarks brakes and that they were beyond repair. Now I know they might not be as reputable a brand as Shimano, but they've been on the bike since I've had it (5 years) and I've never had a problem. Anyway, I took his advice to change these for Shimano brakes, which he ordered and fitted. I actually paid for the new brakes and a service, he also saw fit to also replace the disc rotors as there was a lot of wear on them.


So I pick the bike up about 5 days later and everything seems fine, I cycled it home no problem and the brakes were great. However, I took it out for a spin the next day and whilst changing gears my rear derailleur fully extended and locked up, totally preventing me from pedalling. This has NEVER happened to me before, I flipped the bike upside down and went through the gears until it went back to normal. I shrugged it off as a one-off and maybe the bike was resettling after the service, but the next the day it happened again multiple times. The gears now started to make a lot of sound and I noticed that I couldn't access all the gears when I switched into them. So I call up the shop and explain and the mechanic offers to look at the bike.


I dropped the bike off and the mechanic had a look, within seconds he told me the chain was too short and proceeded to cut my chain off the bike. There was NOTHING wrong with the chain except maybe some wear, but the chain had been on the bike it's entire life and was definitely not too short. I mentioned I had the bike serviced about a year ago and the mech blamed the incompetent mechanic at the larger bike shop who put on a short chain (chain wasn't changed). The mech then went into a very long winded explanation about gear ratios and proceeded to demonstrate examples of cross-chaining, telling me I shouldn't be using certain gears. I had never heard of cross chaining until googling it later, so I now know it exists, but believe me this had never been a problem prior to him looking at my bike. After a lot more explaining and him fitting a new chain, the mech told me the issue was that I had a Shimano Alivio front derailleur and SRAM rear derailleur and shifters, which apparently should not be combined (another blasting here to the incompetent mechanic at the big bike shop, again the front derailleur has never been changed). I asked him why this wasn't all checked when he serviced my bike and he replied with "You didn't pay to have a service".... I very much did pay for a service which he then checked my bill and said the service was for the brakes only, not the bike. I VERY much had the feeling I was being bull****ted at this point.


Sorry for the long winded post, but the bottom line is. I dropped my bike off to have the brakes fixed and when I picked it up, it had a new problem with the gears. In my opinion this is his problem to fix, not mine. Now he agreed to fit a new SRAM front derailleur for free if I covered the cost of the part, which wasn't much, so I agreed. He also gave me the new chain for free, which wasn't that appreciated since I doubt there was a problem with the old one. Now will the wise people of this forum please give me their opinions, is this new mechanic talking sense, he is incompetent, or is he just trying to get some money out of me?


Answers very much appreciated and sorry once again for the long story
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Old 04-20-20, 04:08 AM
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There's no way for us to know just from your description what was wrong with the derailleurs or chain except possibly if you showed a photo of them and gave more accurate details about the actual problem.

If you do a googgily search, you'll find some people asking the same question about a stuck RD fully extended on the largest cog. Some guesses were too short chain, B-screw not screwed in deep enough, chain suck, etc.
https://bicycles.stackexchange.com/q...rgest-rear-cog
https://forums.bikeride.com/thread-5191.html
https://forum.bikeradar.com/discussi...ech-locking-up

Whether or not the chain length was the problem, you can tell if it was too short by looking at it and seeing if the RD cage was fully extended when on the largest cog. It should not be.

The FD doesn't have to match the RD brand. All the FD does is push the chain on or off the chainrings. What's more important is that the shifters match the correct indexing/pull ratio of the FD or RD.

If you didn't do any maintenance for 5 years, you would need to do some. Periodic adjustment of the alignment of FD, RD whenever bumped, crashed, or experiencing shift problems. Cleaning of chain ( and maybe disc brakes less often) maybe every hundred km, 2-4 weeks, or when riding in wet weather.

If you rode a few thousand km without cleaning the chain, it could be stretched out too far. If you have the same cassette and chainrings for 5 years, depending how often you were riding, they may be worn out. You have to check them for wear.

If you asked him to only change the brakes, I don't see why he would have to inspect your other components.
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Old 04-20-20, 04:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Jammastersam View Post
Hi all,


...I took the bike in and straight away the mechanic wasted no time telling me what he thought of Clarks brakes and that they were beyond repair. Now I know they might not be as reputable a brand as Shimano, but they've been on the bike since I've had it (5 years) and I've never had a problem.


So I pick the bike up ...and everything seems fine....whilst changing gears my rear derailleur fully extended and locked up, totally preventing me from pedalling. This has NEVER happened to me before, .....So I call up the shop and explain and the mechanic offers to look at the bike.


I dropped the bike off and the mechanic had a look, within seconds he told me the chain was too short and proceeded to cut my chain off the bike. There was NOTHING wrong with the chain except maybe some wear, but the chain had been on the bike it's entire life and was definitely not too short. I mentioned I had the bike serviced about a year ago and the mech blamed the incompetent mechanic at the larger bike shop who put on a short chain (chain wasn't changed). The mech then went into a very long winded explanation about gear ratios and proceeded to demonstrate examples of cross-chaining, telling me I shouldn't be using certain gears. I had never heard of cross chaining until googling it later, so I now know it exists, but believe me this had never been a problem prior to him looking at my bike. After a lot more explaining and him fitting a new chain, the mech told me the issue was that I had a Shimano Alivio front derailleur and SRAM rear derailleur and shifters, which apparently should not be combined (another blasting here to the incompetent mechanic at the big bike shop, again the front derailleur has never been changed).....


Sorry for the long winded post, but the bottom line is. I dropped my bike off to have the brakes fixed and when I picked it up, it had a new problem with the gears. In my opinion this is his problem to fix, not mine. Now he agreed to fit a new SRAM front derailleur for free if I covered the cost of the part, which wasn't much, so I agreed. He also gave me the new chain for free, which wasn't that appreciated since I doubt there was a problem with the old one. Now will the wise people of this forum please give me their opinions, is this new mechanic talking sense, he is incompetent, or is he just trying to get some money out of me?
From a maintenance perspective, working on a bike that’s seen considerable use is like working on a time bomb - you never know when the next part will ”go off”.
Not entirely sure about ”Derailer fully extended”.
If your chain was indeed too short to allow for big-big cross chaining, and you, by sheer luck hadn’t ended up there until now, then that can certainly cause problems.
IME, pedals locking up and stretching the derailer fully out is more likely to be caused by chain suck than cross chaining. But you’d have to be real lucky to fix a chainsuck bad enough to lock the pedals only by working the shifters.
And drivetrain wear can certainly cause chain suck.
So it’s entirely possible that this part was unrelated to what the mechanic had done.
Front Shifters and rear shifters are separate systems and do not have to match each other.
They do need to match ”internally”. Shifter needs to be compatible with derailer, number of speeds, chainline etc but that’s it.
Blaming a rear shifting issue on brand of front derailer has no technical merit.
I’ve never worked on Clark’s hydraulics, and I have no idea what you did to yours prior to taking them to the mechanic.
And entry-level Shimanos are cheap. It doesn’t take much tinker time to overshoot the cost of some entry-level Shimanos.
My guess would still be that if the Clark’s worked before, and all you did was mess up a bleed, then bringing the Clark’s back should have been economically possible. But maybe you’d popped popped the pistons out or something like that.
I’d say you got a mechanic that’s strongly opinionated, (anti-Clark’s) not very diplomatic (all others are hacks) and perhaps not a great communicator.
Whenever working on a worn bike - and a new customer - it’s important to define the accepted work so that the customer knows what to expect.
Can’t see that you actually needed the new fd. But whether that was down to money-grabbing or a mistaken belief that it was functionally required, I can’t tell from here.
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Old 04-20-20, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
From a maintenance perspective, working on a bike that’s seen considerable use is like working on a time bomb - you never know when the next part will ”go off”.
Not entirely sure about ”Derailer fully extended”.
If your chain was indeed too short to allow for big-big cross chaining, and you, by sheer luck hadn’t ended up there until now, then that can certainly cause problems.
IME, pedals locking up and stretching the derailer fully out is more likely to be caused by chain suck than cross chaining. But you’d have to be real lucky to fix a chainsuck bad enough to lock the pedals only by working the shifters.
And drivetrain wear can certainly cause chain suck.
So it’s entirely possible that this part was unrelated to what the mechanic had done.
Front Shifters and rear shifters are separate systems and do not have to match each other.
They do need to match ”internally”. Shifter needs to be compatible with derailer, number of speeds, chainline etc but that’s it.
Blaming a rear shifting issue on brand of front derailer has no technical merit.
I’ve never worked on Clark’s hydraulics, and I have no idea what you did to yours prior to taking them to the mechanic.
And entry-level Shimanos are cheap. It doesn’t take much tinker time to overshoot the cost of some entry-level Shimanos.
My guess would still be that if the Clark’s worked before, and all you did was mess up a bleed, then bringing the Clark’s back should have been economically possible. But maybe you’d popped popped the pistons out or something like that.
I’d say you got a mechanic that’s strongly opinionated, (anti-Clark’s) not very diplomatic (all others are hacks) and perhaps not a great communicator.
Whenever working on a worn bike - and a new customer - it’s important to define the accepted work so that the customer knows what to expect.
Can’t see that you actually needed the new fd. But whether that was down to money-grabbing or a mistaken belief that it was functionally required, I can’t tell from here.
Thanks for the reply. There was a lot of blaming other bike shops for previous work which I didn't really like, I've been using these big bike shops for years and never had a problem, now I've used this new guy once and have a problem. I do think the Clarks were irreparable, I'd taken off the front calliper and could see one of the pistons was not working at all and seemed lopsided, causing the pad to sit not quite right. So I think he was probably right to change the brake, although he didn't even check this to see if it could be fixed, he took my word for it, and I'm not an expert.

I don't think he's financially motivated tbh, as he has said he'll fit the new front DR for free. I just don't think it ever needed a new one. I get your point about the bike being a potential time bomb, but if I take a bike to a shop with one problem I don't expect it to leave with an entirely different problem. And although I personally had not been maintaining and servicing the bike, it had been serviced in the last 18 months. Any my shifters and rear DR are all the same make and model, it's just the front DR which is different.
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Old 04-20-20, 05:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Jammastersam View Post
Thanks for the reply. There was a lot of blaming other bike shops for previous work which I didn't really like, I've been using these big bike shops for years and never had a problem, now I've used this new guy once and have a problem. I do think the Clarks were irreparable, I'd taken off the front calliper and could see one of the pistons was not working at all and seemed lopsided, causing the pad to sit not quite right. So I think he was probably right to change the brake, although he didn't even check this to see if it could be fixed, he took my word for it, and I'm not an expert.

I don't think he's financially motivated tbh, as he has said he'll fit the new front DR for free. I just don't think it ever needed a new one. I get your point about the bike being a potential time bomb, but if I take a bike to a shop with one problem I don't expect it to leave with an entirely different problem. And although I personally had not been maintaining and servicing the bike, it had been serviced in the last 18 months. Any my shifters and rear DR are all the same make and model, it's just the front DR which is different.
Service is a very broad and ambiguous word and can mean many different things. Regular maintenance is what a bike owner should be doing to keep the components in working order. Weekly or monthly cleaning and alignment of some moving parts is something that you probably don't bring into the shop for.
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Old 04-20-20, 08:39 AM
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IIRC, a Shimano front triple derailleur and SRAM shifter is a combo that works. It's mixing SRAM and Shimano in the rear that causes issues.
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Old 04-20-20, 09:33 AM
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I agree with the other posters that it's hard to say for sure whether the mechanic is good/bad or ripping you off. All I can say is that it's much better to learn to work on your own bike. Saves a lot of $$ and headaches from wondering if you can trust your mechanic and may save your bike from damage as you have experienced with the derailleur which could have destroyed your derailleur and wheel as well. This is usually just a simple adjustment. If you consider the time spent taking a bike to the shop most maintenance can be done in the same amount of time at home. Nothing wrong with having a pro do your work but it's not always the easiest way. Plenty of videos, articles and this forum to help you learn. Also look for a bike Co-Op near you where for a small donation (usually) they can provide you with tools and assistance to help you learn.
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Old 04-20-20, 06:59 PM
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I doubt the mechanic is trying to rip you off. I will point out one major mistake he made and that was to not fully inspect the bike in front of you before working on it. We learned this many years ago at our shop. Hopefully this fellow learns from it, too.
The old "you adjusted my brakes and now my gears don't work" routine became very old very quickly. Adjusting or replacing brakes has no connection to shifting gears, does not require rear wheel removal/install, shift lever,cable change or adjustment. The two are completely separate systems not related to each other when servicing either one of them.

I am willing to speculate that the problem has been there and was never realized until you decided to engage in that gear combination for the first time. With all this being said, learn to work on your own stuff and it will make you feel better knowing that when the brake repair "caused" a "new" shifting problem, the only person ripping you off is yourself.
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Old 04-20-20, 07:58 PM
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Tough to really say what happened but certainly if the bike was only in the shop for brake issues and those were solved it was unlikely they did anything with your gears.

It sounds a lot like the bike was in rough shape when it came in and maybe hasn't seen much servicing in a while and that will cause loads of issues with bikes and overtime just get worse and worse till they are fixed. I can say if that mechanic had actually made a fuss about the derailleurs they could have been young or you could have had an odd set up but generally front derailleurs don't matter quite as much brand wise. However without hearing their side of the story it is tough to weigh in on that but from what I am hearing it does sound typical of a bike with a poor service record and that is usually a nightmare for mechanics. People want to do the absolute minimum work to barely squeak by and then it of course has issues on top of issues and one shop or another gets blamed because we touched it.

If the brakes work well, that is good news if the gears don't it sounds like you need to replace chain and cassette/freewheel/cog more often and generally tune up the bike at least once a year and replace wear items with some regularity. Chains, cassettes/freewheels/cogs, cables and housing, brake pads, rotors, fluids (if hydraulic), tires, tubes, bearings...will likely all need replacement at some point and if you put it off and put it off, you will have issues down the line that will only get worse and eventually come to a head. Also if you don't keep your chain clean and lubed and generally keep the bike clean you can wear out components faster.
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Old 04-20-20, 08:12 PM
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I'm just going to say it: you're a nightmare customer.
If you're brakes worked when you picked the bike up, the rest was an unrelated problem. Bring your bike in every year for a checkup/service, or learn to do it yourself.
As mentioned, the only error the mechanic made was not going over your bike and advising you of the other issues (and it sounds they were there) it had.
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Old 04-20-20, 08:14 PM
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So you wanted your brakes adjusted, your gears worked fine. You ended up buying new brakes, new front mech, and had a new chain put on. Does your mechanic work at a Honda dealership?

Last edited by grizzly59; 04-20-20 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 04-21-20, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Jammastersam View Post
. Now will the wise people of this forum please give me their opinions, is this new mechanic talking sense, he is incompetent, or is he just trying to get some money out of me?
First of all, welcome to BikeForums. I hope you stick around.

Second, to answer your question: Mechanics don't like returns, so they are motivated to do the best job they can. Sometimes they are confounded by distractions that cause issues to be overlooked (or worse, essential things left undone), but these things should be infrequent. Obviously he is not trying to take your money. My guess is that you had a convergence of two unrelated issues.

The important question is whether your bike is working well after this second visit.
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Old 04-21-20, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by nesteel View Post
I'm just going to say it: you're a nightmare customer.
If you're brakes worked when you picked the bike up, the rest was an unrelated problem. Bring your bike in every year for a checkup/service, or learn to do it yourself.
As mentioned, the only error the mechanic made was not going over your bike and advising you of the other issues (and it sounds they were there) it had.
I think you're missing the issue here. There was NO PROBLEM with the gears when I brought the bike in initially. I've never had an issue with the gears and the issue only started after picking the bike up from him. I think ANY customer would question that!
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Old 04-21-20, 08:51 AM
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Thanks for the reply. I hope I stick around too!

I'll keep you posted on the second visit!
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Old 04-21-20, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Jammastersam View Post
I think you're missing the issue here. There was NO PROBLEM with the gears when I brought the bike in initially. I've never had an issue with the gears and the issue only started after picking the bike up from him. I think ANY customer would question that!
There was "no problem" that you knew of. Sorry if it seems like we're blaming the victim here but since you are admittedly naive to bike mechanics I'm going to assume that there was likely an underlying issue with your gears (either due to skipped maintenance or some outright defect) that you had never noticed before that is now apparent for whatever reason, but not caused by the bike shop (although I acknowledge there is a slight possibility of this as well).

To add to what's already been said, a brake job is not inclusive of a drivetrain tune up. This isn't like taking your car to get an oil change and getting a "50 point inspection" while it's in the bay.

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Old 04-21-20, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Jammastersam View Post
I think you're missing the issue here. There was NO PROBLEM with the gears when I brought the bike in initially. I've never had an issue with the gears and the issue only started after picking the bike up from him. I think ANY customer would question that!
Nope, not missing the issue. Post up a pic of your receipt (please cover the shops name and other personal info) and we'll go from there.
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Old 04-21-20, 09:44 AM
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Uhm, if I read your post correctly, your brakes were worn but your chain, which had never been changed, was just fine. Over 5 years of steady riding would tend to wear the chain (and chainrings and cogs). I suspect your drive train had issues you just didn't recognize until after having the brakes replaced. Bottom line though, if you don't like the service, don't go back.
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Old 04-21-20, 09:52 AM
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Unfortunately we don't have a before/after to work with on this. You took it in for brakes and a service and unfortunately we don't know what is meant by a service and what he did for it with the service. I would find it suspicious that if the equipment is original or replaced 18 months or more ago that you didn't previously have a problem with chain length while cross chained. I could see where a mechanic, doing an adjustment and finding the chain sags too much, removes a set of links and something ends up wrong, when the real issue might have really been a worn rear der. It's a rookie mistake but I've seen it done, I would think that the owner of a shop would know better but I'd also think the owner of a shop would check the function of stock equipment before claiming it just shouldn't work when its something as basic as a front der. I'd also think that a shop owner shouldn't be badmouthing competitive shops they may need to lean on in the future or components that come on new customer's bikes. So maybe a stupid rookie mistake is possible.
Could also just be that you've worn everything enough that the chain hangs up on the chainring and looks/acts like its too short and you've just discovered this emerging problem and its a case of bad timing. I've seen this as well and even more often. Personally I'd just avoid the place, his attitude towards other shops, parts, his not knowing if he serviced it when you paid for a service and what may be an emerging problem he didn't warn you off or didn't notice if he did service it is all just too sloppy. Once 9 speed came out and especially 10sp where chains and cassettes wore at the same time and a lot quicker the shops I worked in put a chain checker to every bike that came in for service to warn the customer if there was a pending problem and keep just this situation from being our problem.
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Old 04-21-20, 09:54 AM
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Just for reference, I change my chain at least twice a year. Chainrings also, but not twice a year, about every third chain swappage....your stuff was worn out, ready for problems...
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Old 04-21-20, 09:56 AM
  #20  
Jammastersam
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Originally Posted by nesteel View Post
Nope, not missing the issue. Post up a pic of your receipt (please cover the shops name and other personal info) and we'll go from there.
So a picture of the receipt wont help as it just includes the brakes and a 'package' service. With the service, the website confirms it includes:


Gear adjustment

Brakes adjustment

Tyres checked for damage and wear

Cables checked for damage

Chain checked and lubricated

Headset adjusted and bolts re-torqued

Full safety check

Frame & fork wiped clean


Thanks for making me recheck this as the mechanic said he HAD NOT performed a service on the bike yet I have been charged for a service included the above items. And as you can see, this should have included a gear adjustment. So either he has 'adjusted' the gears and they are now not working as they previously were, or he has not performed the service and charged me for something I didn't get.
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Old 04-21-20, 10:17 AM
  #21  
nesteel 
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Originally Posted by Jammastersam View Post
So a picture of the receipt wont help as it just includes the brakes and a 'package' service. With the service, the website confirms it includes:


Gear adjustment

Brakes adjustment

Tyres checked for damage and wear

Cables checked for damage

Chain checked and lubricated

Headset adjusted and bolts re-torqued

Full safety check

Frame & fork wiped clean


Thanks for making me recheck this as the mechanic said he HAD NOT performed a service on the bike yet I have been charged for a service included the above items. And as you can see, this should have included a gear adjustment. So either he has 'adjusted' the gears and they are now not working as they previously were, or he has not performed the service and charged me for something I didn't get.
Thank you. I'll retract my previous statement. It would appear the mechanic did not complete the service you paid for. That is unfortunate, and should be addressed. You have every right to be dissatisfied, as would any reasonable person.
Any chain length issues should've/would've been caught during an adjustment/run through, as would a derailleur/shifter compatibility situation.
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Old 04-21-20, 08:11 PM
  #22  
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All of those highlighted checks are things that should be done at least once a month or 1 to 2 hundred km, which means doing it yourself if you don't want to go to a shop 12 to 24 times per year.
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Old 04-21-20, 09:02 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by tomtomtom123 View Post
All of those highlighted checks are things that should be done at least once a month or 1 to 2 hundred km, which means doing it yourself if you don't want to go to a shop 12 to 24 times per year.
200km is only 130miles, I've had plenty of weeks where I've done that and I don't touch the bike. I've done about 100 miles in the last month on my gravel bike and I'm not even close to thinking about touching it. There is a need to adjust a brake or der cable a time or two after it has been replaced due to cable stretch. Once that one, maybe second adjustment has been done it shouldn't need much for hundreds of miles if not more. Brakes don't need adjustment unless you're wearing through pads, usually once a year unless you live in the mountains.
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Old 04-23-20, 03:57 PM
  #24  
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May I be "Mister Obvious" here and ask: How does one change out the rotors on a disk brake without having both wheels off the bike? Then putting them back on should require a check for being centered and running true for the discs. That alone should require a check on the shifting of the RD, for correct working after the wheel was replaced. JMHO, MH
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Old 04-28-20, 03:36 PM
  #25  
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After having pretty bad service in 2 different LBSs I started doing all my bikes related work myself. I keep acquiring tools and knowledge. This is fun and quite useful.
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