A Bicycle Tire Miracle?

I had to change a bicycle tube last week because I got a piece of glass in it. After patching it, I unknowingly pinched the tube and tore a big gash in it. I could not patch it because of the size and position of the pinch. Fortunately I had an older tube that is the wrong size, but was still in good condition. It worked for a few days, but then started loosing air. It was not a fast leak, but would be flat overnight. I decided to get another tube of the right size instead of trying to patch it.

A couple of days ago I stopped into the bike shop around the corner from our house and bought a tube. I did not get a chance to install it until yesterday. I asked for a 26″ tube, but they gave me a 28″ one. Frustrating, but no big deal. I had my son take the tube back to the bike shop to exchange it. He came home again with a different tube, but it too was 28″.

I have had an up and down relationship with this bike shop. While they are convenient and have fair prices, they tend to do these types of things. They have no attention to detail. My 86-year-old bicycle friend, Victor, has great respect for the man who started that bike shop. But now the shop is run by the man’s son and Victor has trouble finding anything nice to say about the shop. I would go to Victor to get my supplies, but he never lets me pay for anything. I feel like I am robbing from a good friend if I get parts from him.

So I sent my son back to the shop with the second wrong tube and asked him to exchange it again. He came back with a 26″ tube. Great! Almost. It was now the wrong diameter. It was time for me to go to the shop and get the right size.

Turns out they didn’t have the size tube I wanted. Wouldn’t have one for a couple of days. But they didn’t think that telling my son that information was important. I need my bike most over the weekend. Waiting until Monday was not something I could do. I asked them for my money back. He gave me most of it. I wasn’t willing to lose my temper and testimony over $1, so I let him keep that. I went to another bike shop near the house. They only sell high-end racing bike parts and did not have a tube that would fit my bike.

So I went back home and put my bike together with a tube that did not fit right. This is the tube that would lose air overnight.

By the way, for you bike geeks, I also rebuilt my rear hub with new cones and bearings while I was at it.

Last night when I went to bed the tire was still holding air. This morning it was still well inflated. This evening it was still holding air. Is this a bike tire miracle?

Though I have been tempted to abandon the local bike shop many times, I think this was the last straw. They just don’t seem to care about the customer. They only want to sell parts. If a shop doesn’t care about me, then I have trouble caring about them.

In contrast, the hardware store near the bike shop has all my respect and business. One time I was in there and they didn’t have enough change for me. They told me I could pay them the next time I was in, even if it took a few days. A couple of weeks ago I sent my son to buy some nuts, bolts and washers. Because I only needed 5 of each, they gave them to my son for free. While I can easily pay $3 for the hardware I need, they are a business that understands $3 is a small price to pay to have a loyal and faithful customer.

The next closest place I know about to buy tires, tubes and parts for my bike is about 3 miles away. Even though they are further away, I have always gotten exactly what I asked for. I guess they will get more of my business in the future.

Bike repair

I decided 2 weeks ago that I wanted to chip the rust off my bike and put it back into service. My rims were eating holes in my tubes from all the rust. Rim tape alone would not have been enough. However, I did not have any money at the time.

Finally payday arrived. It was a Wednesday that I was able to take my bike in for an estimate. I know this will sound ridiculously cheap, but that is because it is. Bikes are such a part of the culture here that the parts stores are almost as busy as auto parts stores. They deal in crazy volume. Plus many of the parts are cheap Chinese products.

I got an estimate for 2 new rims, all new spokes (64), a new seat, all new cables (brakes and gears) and a derailer cleaning and adjustment for a whopping total of $31.

Supposed to have been ready at 3:00 on Friday afternoon (2 days later). On Friday we buzzed by the shop and the bike was not ready. But, they said, it would be ready in a couple of hours. I could not get back on Friday evening, so I went by about noon on Saturday. Still not ready. I was assured that it would be ready by 3:00 since they closed at 4:00.

I called at a little after 3:00 on Saturday and the man said that it would be ready at noon or maybe 1:00 on Monday afternoon. I told him I was getting a bit frustrated with the constantly changing completion time. He absolutely assured me that it would be ready by noon.

Monday I called at 1:00. Still not ready. I talked to the man who was doing the work and he told me it would be ready by 2:30. By this time I was more than a little frustrated.

I ended up writing a nice long email to the general manager of the bike shop. They are a fairly large chain of stores here in the city, Bicimotos. I outlined my frustration with him and just asked that he respond to my email letting me know that he had talked to the store in question to find out what the issue was and to try and prevent it from happening in the future.

I got my bike that afternoon. Their excuse was that they could not get the rims I needed. They were at their main store downtown, but for some reason this chain of 10 stores was not able to figure out how to get 2 rims from one store to another. If they did not have the rims until Monday, why did they tell me on Friday to come back in a couple of hours and the job would be done? They either had the rims the whole time and just did not do the work, or they really did not get the rims until Monday but figured that I would be fine with them telling me to come back every 2 hours for 3 days until they arrived. Not cool.

The next day I got an email from the general manager telling me that he had a talk with the store. He also said that the problem was getting the rims to their location, but that it was no excuse and that he apologized for doing such a poor job. He also told me to take his email with me the next time I went there and I would get a discount.

While I appreciate his getting back with me and offering a discount, I will probably never go back to that store. I may go to another Bicimotos to buy parts or to have work done, but never to that particular location (ProlongaciĆ³n Montejo). You can only lie to me and treat me poorly just so many times before I take my business elsewhere. On top of that, I was not overly pleased with the completed job. Cables were too long.

My bike is nothing special. I bought it at a yard sale for $10 I think. It might have been $5. But for a store to hold my bike hostage and not do the work requested is just not acceptable. I somewhat worded it that way to the manager. I said that his store stole my bike for 3 days while they kept putting off the work.