Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Worst of Times...

When it comes to getting your bike repaired or tuned up, I have this bit of advice: The worst of times is the best of times. When the weather is cold or lousy and most people aren't thinking "hey, I should go to the bike shop" it is the best time for you, as a customer, to think "hey, I should go to the bike shop."

Now, as a bike mechanic, this advice is somewhat self-serving. We scrape out a living in the cold months and tend to be slammed with business in the warm months so if we can balance that business out it can make my life a bit less manic. But what's good for me is also good for you in this case. Allow me to elaborate.

Picture a day in July. The skies are clear, the days are warm. If your local bike shop is like a lot of the shops around here, it's jam packed busy. We're selling a lot of bikes and repairing a lot of bikes. We may have a two week backlog of repairs and a shop full of customers. I'm probably doing six tune-ups a day, plus a bunch of walk-in flat-tire repairs, routine derailleur and brake adjustments and while I certainly be doing my best to do the best job on each bike, I'm not going to have a whole lot of time to chat. My suppliers may be low on certain parts and our back room will be jammed with bikes awaiting repairs.

Now picture a day in February. It's cold and maybe it's raining or snowy. The sun might say the days are short but at the bike shop, the days are long. I may have spent most of my day inventorying and organizing our supply of spokes or alphabetizing the sunglasses display. If you do bring your bike in for a tune-up, it may be the only bike I'm working on that day.

I do my best on every bike that comes my way, but honestly the bikes in winter get more attention because I just plain have more time per bike. I have more time per customer. If you want me to show you how a barrel adjuster works or give you advice on toeing in brake pads or you want to debate the merits of various tires, I'll be happy to do it year 'round but I have much more time to chat on the dreary days. In July you get the Clif-Notes version, in February you get the Post-Grad thesis version.

Ironically, we're having our annual week of gorgeous February weather as I write this, but it won't last long and soon the grey days will return. They're the worst of times, but they can be the best of times to bring your bike to the bike shop,

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

PS. The shop where I work, the Bicycle Center of Issaquah, is offering 10% off all bike service and parts used for repair in the month of February. I can tell you for certain that we won't be offering a deal like that in July.

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