Monday, July 14, 2014

Used Bicycles: You Are Doing it Wrong

Here's a tip: If you call yourself a "bike shop" you should at least hold some basic knowledge in building bicycles. You should also have pride in what you do, and your prices should reflect the quality of the products and services you offer. If you fall short in any of these areas, you may need to re-evaluate your primary objective. i.e, Are you in this for the money, or because you love it? Are you in business to offer the community a valuable service, or because your " ran a bike shop in the 70's..."? Just because it's "in your blood" does not mean you are any good at it. If you were, I wouldn't have to fix your mistakes.  ...and you make a lot of them.
Used bikes are a whole different realm of bicycle sales that, done correctly, can be somewhat lucrative.
The trouble of selling used bikes is that you take on a certain responsibility to put more time in to the bikes to ensure they are fully serviced and in good working order. (Otherwise, you can't justify the price) In many cases, the time spent getting the bike ready for sale is often considered time that you have to "eat" due to a low profit margin. That said, to me the time is well worth it because it is at this point that you can sell value to a potential customer in the fact that the bike has been fully disassembled, cleaned, re-greased, and re-assembled by skilled hands. This tells your customer, "I stand behind this product, and my work." There is something to be said about using parts that you have laying around to complete a build. Salvaging parts from another bike is natural when building up used bikes for re sale but they should at least be compatible. If they are not, they should not be modified to be made to work. The mentality of "it's good enough for who it's for" should be immediately removed from a bike shop's vocabulary. It is this attitude towards bikes that shows the customer, they are not good enough to have it done right. Consumers are not stupid. They know when they are being taken advantage of. A simple Google search will show them what they are getting for what they are paying. That said, they also do not know, what they do not know. Meaning, if it appears to work correctly, they may not notice a botched fork installation...

Sure it steers okay, with no play in the headset, but if they don't know what they are looking at, they might not notice something like this.

...they might not have noticed, but I did. This might be the most cobbled together assembly of a major bearing system I have ever seen. On some level, it may even be unsafe, but I will not speculate that it is, based on a couple of factors... 
A) the bearings are adjusted "correctly," meaning they are secure and roll smoothly, 
B) the stem, is buried in the steer tube where it should be (that is, if the steer tube was cut to the correct size) and does not exceed its minimum insertion point. 
However, for the uninitiated, there are several mistakes that were made here that are unacceptable and irresponsible at best. Let me elaborate: 


Is right where it should be. It is the upper bearing race. Hand tightened at first, it is the part that adjusts the whole thing. 

This (red):

Is the same part as the first one, Flipped upside down to perform the function of the nut at the top. (Note the inner race {yellow} that would normally snug into the bearing) The nut at the top is supposed to be tightened to the upper race, securing the adjustment. Instead, two identical pieces were used with one having no business being there.  

The steer tube (x-ed out in yellow) 

Should not even be there. When fitting a new fork to a bike, you ALWAYS cut off the excess, leaving (on this type of steer tube) just enough threads to tighten the nut to the upper race (the red arrow shows where it is supposed to go). 

The reason the nut is in the position you see here because the "mechanic" that installed it, used a nut with a differing thread pattern. This cross-threaded the nut which means it cannot be tightened further. Rather than fixing this mistake, black electrical tape was used to "clean up" the look of the exposed steer tube or as I prefer to describe it, to hide the mistake. Much like a cat covering its turds in the cat box, it might look like it's hidden, but the piece of shit is still there. You cannot hide this type of shit from me. 
I can smell it from a mile away.

While I appear to be taking this issue with a grain of salt (meaning I have not yet exploded in a tyraid of explicatives), I can assure you, I am outraged. There are several reasons for my concern here. Among them are the following: 
This type of shoddy workmanship is a hazard. 
Plus, this is some kid's bike. His mother brought it in for minor repairs and was not aware of it's true condition.  Also,  If you have the audacity to take someone's money for this, you are no different than the low life street hustler who takes advantage of people with the slide of a hand....a Con Man, if you will.
I take issue with this for these reasons and more. The biggest reason however, is due to the fact that the place that did this, does this all the time. I see this type of shit from them everyday. Their "bike shop" is just down the street from the shop I run out of my garage. Which, while a small operation, does not cut corners when it comes to used bikes. Any of my customers can attest to this. I stand behind my work.

 In addition, while I am not willing to call them out publicly (as we all have to get along in this town), I will be sending them a copy of this blog post in hopes that they can get their heads out of their asses once and for all. If you know who they are, please do not name them in the comment section. I wish to keep it civil. If you know me and appreciate my quality of work, please leave your thoughts below. If you think I am an ass hole, remember...

If I agreed with you, we'd BOTH be wrong.