What Your Bike Tells Mechanics about You?
They say you are what you eat, but for bike mechanics, you are how your bike ended up in their shop. These good folks can learn a great deal not only about their customers’ bikes but also about their customers themselves the moment they get inside their shop. Their first hint? A smiling mug.
Facial expressions tell just how well the customer took the fact that their bike got banged up. Visual confirmation of the damage, on the other hand, tells whether or not the damage is limited to the bicycle only; if it looks like it crashed or there’s a mechanical damage, one can tell that both the bike and its rider are in bad condition. The quality of the setup also tells so much about the customer. If it looks a little too sloppy, mechanics would be happy to give their customer a quick lesson on bike use and maintenance.
True enough, initial inspections of the bike tell so much about its owner. Here are some things your bike inadvertently gives away about you during this phase:
How You Clean Up and Lubricate Your Bike
Professionals can effortlessly tell what lubricant is used simply based on the smell and the amount of the stuff on the chain. The amount of dirt mixing with the lube will also tell them just how well you wash your bike. For the uninitiated, here’s a good practice to follow: wash your bike first, and lubricate it right after, wiping off the excess lube once done. An unhealthy amount of lubricant can easily gunk up the drivetrain and be a liability.
Where You Usually Ride
You either ride outdoors or indoors, and mechanics can tell that you spend a lot of time on the latter by just looking at how much your rear tire comes in contact with the roller. Corrosion due to sweat is also prevalent in indoor bikes, and this often shows in the front derailleur which usually ends up seized with rust.
What Gears You Prefer
If your drivetrain is dirty, bike mechanics end up having an easy time learning what sort of gear you use the most. The amount of wear on your large chainring’s teeth and the smallest cassette cog lets them know whether or not you are a gear masher, and this can help them offer the best advice if you want to make changes to your gear setup.
Whether or Not You Need to Change Your Cleats
How often the rider changes their cleats is reflected by the wear on the part of the pedal where it makes contact and interfaces with the sole. This will give mechanics an idea of when you should be replacing your cleats, even if you are not wearing your shoes while in the bike shop. This is crucial advice, as failing to change cleats often can lead to problems with the way the cleats engage with the pedal.
Whether or Not You Need a New Fit
Where you place the handlebar tape tells mechanics just where you find it most comfortable to put your hands on while riding. This is also an indication of how much off did you adjust the stem. How the saddle is positioned also tells a lot about your body. Slammed forward, it gives away a hint of back problems, while if tipped upward at the nose, the mechanic will assume that you have some issues with your crotch.
You Are Not a Fan of the Front Brake
Mechanics note uneven brake usage if the brake pads or rims are unevenly worn, or if one of the brake levers have a mushier feel than the other. This poses the risk of locking up the front wheel, so mechanics will advise learning to use your brakes simultaneously as well as how to feather the front brake; mastering this can help you become more confident with your descents.
Your Suspension is Poorly Tuned
It’s easy to find that the rider is not taking full advantage of their bike’s suspension, a problem that’s very common with mountain bikers. A rubber ring on the shocks marks the full extent that the shock can travel, and if these rings stop before a stroke ends, one may not be getting the most from their bike’s suspension. Mechanics will then help you adjust this particular mechanism in relation to your weight and help you make full use of your bike’s suspension.