On Tubes

Having a chat one day with a customer led me to believe there is quite a bit a guy in my position is to do; interaction with the world is critical in order to make sure that folks know what is going on with their bicycles.

Customer: I need something again 🙂
me: Ok, what do you need today?
Customer: You sold me the outer tire. Is there an inner tire? I am not sure if it’s called “inner tire”

me: oh, you need tubes

Customer: it goes inside the big tire
me: ok
Customer: I need it for one bike frame

Just so you know, this fellow’s first language isn’t American Engrish.

What are we supposed to do when our first instict is to make fun of these folks? In French, the tube returns through translation as “room for air”. While it is much easier to make fun of French people because they literally invented the bicycle, it isn’t how this industry is going to proliferate.

To all the core bike mechanics out there, you know as well as I do that this is about breaking barriers, not building them.

DIY issue 1

So there’s a cool thing going around called DIY, or Do It Yourself. Bike D.I.Y. is also a thing. Let’s take an examination of things that folks think they can do themselves, generally.

  1. Washing the dishes. Loading the dishwasher is not how you wash dishes. That’s called punting. Here’s how you wash dishes by hand: https://youtu.be/woT1zf2Fke0
  2. Repair your trailer wheel bearings. Driving down the highway in front of me that guys wheel fell off his trailer. Trailer tipped and dragged. Sparks everywhere!
  3. Bike disc brakes: guy brings me his brake caliper in two halves, still drenched in hydraulic fluid. “I was replacing my brake pads!” This video from GCN: https://youtu.be/Lbi1HQMQIBo





There’s Youtube videos on all of this stuff. But DIY involves a serious amount of troubleshooting. Here’s a photo of what you can do sometimes:

Do you see a sheet metal screw in there? Yeah, this guy DIY’ed after losing his bleeder valve. This caliper is done.

Headset installation. Please tell me that looks correct.

I know I’ve posted this headset assembly picture before but man it’s a good one. Another example is the guy who came in with a 1.5″ tapered steer tube fork and wanted to install it on a bike with standard headtube. He’d read on the internet that all he needed was a “common bearing” from a bike shop to make it happen.

The bike is a $500 bike, with a straight headtube. The fork is a $600 unit with all the modern tech. Not only did he assume wrongly that I had the part he desired, which cannot say exits, he also thought he could simply adapt his 9mm standard QR axle to the new fork’s 15mm thru-axle system with end-caps. The axle of his hub is a threaded cup/cone assembly. Nothing about this idea was going to work.

The best part then was he returned two months later to accomplish the same task. It was like he’d forgotten. Another tech gave him the same information.

Just because you fixed your leaky sink doesn’t make you a true problem solver or bike mechanic. DIY all you want but don’t get upset when we have to put your stuff back together for hourly labor.




Headset Assembly (part 2)

A while back, and by that I mean back 5 years, I had the unfortunate task of working on a bike that couldn’t be built. This guy rolled in with a Time frame and wanted a build. After ordering some parts for the initial assembly, fork to frame (headset), we found a problem.

Calling Time we found that the frame had been a warranty concern and was supposed to have been field destroyed. The defect had something to do with the fork and frame interface. The weird proprietary headset interface had lost its tolerances and therefore couldn’t be preloaded to safety specifications.

I had the conversation with the idiot who brought me this frame. He stated that his “friend who owned a shop” gave him the frame saying there was nothing wrong… Not all shops have equal prowess in working on bikes. Just like not all mechanics are created equal.. The bike couldn’t be built. The “owner” of this auto-destructed frame wouldn’t understand it. He got a wrench to the face.




If you own a shop and want to give your dumb friends broken shit, at least tell them so they don’t look so ignorant when they show up at a real shop to get service.

As for Time, Here’s the proverbial wrench to the face. For you and your $5000 frame that only suckers buy, the CAD sketch Time emailed me (No, I am not making this up):

I draw shit every day. Mine looks like a 4th grader did it. Because I didn’t get past the 4th grade. CAD images look like (which is what I expected):

If you spend $5000 on a frame feel free to contact me before doing so. If you are going to spend that much money at least get a frame that any low-level mechanic can service. Oh, and get a frame that’s supported by at least some level of non-joker.




As a manner of a note: I’m calling out the industry here. If you ended up with one of these you just did it wrong. Benignly. You may have even been tricked.

To the Industry, stop making weird shit. Headsets need to simple.

Headset assembly (part 1)

Done Wrong: 

If you are not at all mechanically inclined or lack organizational skills in the smallest amount, don’t get into working on your bike. This bone head didn’t get this warning. The headset was taken apart and then reassembled in the “well, it looks like I got everything in there” method.

This is like dressing your child in the dark using towels because you can’t tell the difference between towels and clothes. Don’t do it.

The parts of a headset have a home and they look like they match and correspond with other parts. It’s a funny thing. Almost like matching up a lid with a container. But some brains cannot get this logic. And it ends up looking like a banana sitting on an apple, and presenting it as apple pie.

Here’s a drawing:

Notice how in the upper image the compression collar is 1. upside down and 2. underneath the upper bearing and 3. the bearing is also upside down.

Hopefully this helps you. And don’t over think it. If you do it will get messed up.