I usually try to keep things pretty positive and that’s certainly my intention with my blog here as well. However, I keep running into this issue and it really bugs me.
Let me start by saying I’m a huge fan of local bike shops (LBS). I spend a fair amount of money with them because I’m always buying tubes, tires, CO2, the occasional snack, clothing and accessories for my bike. I’m a pretty handy guy and I know my way around my bike pretty well, but I sometimes take it to the pros at the LBS for minor repairs, like a new spoke or truing my wheels. So, let me share with you a recent experience I had when I took my TREK Madone in to have a spoke replaced on my rear wheel, which is made by TREK’s Bontrager division.
So, here I am talking to the service technician, who happens to be standing right underneath a sign that reads “Authorized Bontrager Service Center”
Me: Hey, I need a new DT aerolite spoke for my non-drive side rear wheel
Tech: Gee, I don’t know if we’re going be able to work on that, that’s kind of a specialized wheel, we probably don’t carry that.
At this point, I’m almost speechless. I’m standing right next to a display that includes several Bontrager wheels, including the set that I currently have and he’s still standing right underneath the sign.
Me: You ARE an authorized service center, right? I mean, you sell these bikes here, don’t you?
Tech: I’m pretty sure we’re not going to have that
Me: Can you at least check?
At this point, he finally talks to his manager, whom I have talked to before (I’ll get to him later). It turns out they do service these and carry these spokes. I know this because I’ve been there before.
Tech: Looks like we have one in stock, would you like me to put it on for you?
To his credit, he puts it on pretty quickly and makes sure that part of my wheel is true. I pay $20 for this privilege.
As I’m waiting, the service manager sneers at me. This guy really makes me mad because I purchased at least 10 bikes from this shop over the years (including bikes I used to purchase to give to a charity my company organized for less fortunate kids), so I’m a pretty good customer. However, every time I go in there to have wheels worked on, this guy tells me that I’m so big that I really should think about a different wheel set, one with 36 spokes because I’ll break all the other ones. The last time I had this conversation with him was when I had him replace my 13 yr old Mavic Open Pro rim on my Lemond because it had warped ever so slightly after sitting for a couple of years. I had 10,000s of miles on the previous rim without a broken spoke. I might have been more receptive had he not been so condescending. He’s also told me the same thing about my Bontrager Race wheels. I’m pretty sure that the pros who have used these before put a lot more torque on them than I ever do. Bontrager confirmed this for me.
Of course, the last time I had this wheel in this shop to be trued, they loosened the spokes so much that 20 miles into an 80 mile ride, I had to stop and tighten them all on the road because the spoke tension they set them to didn’t even meet the minimum recommended by the manufacturer. No doubt, they were planning on telling me I needed yet another new wheel set.
I’m sure they do a good job with most bikes. I just wish they would be take more care with my bikes and at least be more up front with their capabilities. If they can’t service performance road bikes, just let me know and give a recommendation. Please don’t sneer at me because I don’t weigh less than 150 lbs and am not under 5’8″ tall. I know what these bikes can handle and on a windy day, you’re gonna be thankful when I’m pulling up front.
Don’t blame me if I’m leery about having my LBS work on my bike.