Bikes that You Can’t Fix

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Do you ever think that bikes are getting way too complicated?  I do.  One that that nags at me, nearly all the time, in the back of my mind, is having bikes that might be impossible to fix on the fly.

This is post mainly is focused on my dual suspension MTB, but you could imagine any of your bikes that you don’t have the ability to fix yourself.

I don’t really ride this bike as much as I should and don’t actually understand it completely .  It isn’t like it is foreign to me, but I don’t look at it like Brad Bingham does, the guy who designed and helps build with Kent Eriksen.

But, I’ve see it when I’m hanging with Vincent too.  He has been having shock issues, which is my concern too, and when that happens, especially at a race, it sucks.

Vincent blew out his fork on Cannondale at the Growler in Gunnison and couldn’t finish the event.  Then he had the same problem with his tandem fork.  He got it rebuilt a couple times and finally, I think, he got a new fork completely.

I’m having the same problems with my fork and shock on my bike.  I only have about 500 miles on the bike, thus them.  Both are warrantied for a year and they are still in warranty, but the hassle of sending them in seems big.  I called Fox and they said I need to get a receipt of the “purchase”.

This isn’t a normal thing for me.  I fix my stuff normally.  And if I don’t think something is repairable at a race, I usually carry a spare one with me, so if I do have a problem, I can replace it.

I don’t know if this is a problem with Fox stuff or not.  I don’t hang around the MTB scene enough to know if this is a common problem or that maybe both the shock and fork are bombproof and I just am an outlier.  I do know my rear shock is losing pressure and there is oil coming out the air valve when I pump it up, which to me, seems wrong.  I can’t imagine a design where the oil and air aren’t separated.

I do know that I want to ride/race this bike this fall and it would be really a hassle if it is out of commission for a month.  I wonder what the turn around time on repair is?

I guess I’m just experiencing an issue that many other riders experience all the time.  Like trying to glue on cross tires or rebuilding a wheel or something.  But I know how to do those things and nearly everything else concerning the bikes I ride.  Maybe I just need to go online and learn how to fix these myself.  I’ve never rebuilt a shock, so have no idea whether I need special tools or what.  It seems like it is a no-brainer just sending them in to get fixed, but I really don’t like other people working on my bikes.  Not unless I know the other people and trust their work. Funny how that is.

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40 thoughts on “Bikes that You Can’t Fix

  1. Ryan

    Common problem on Fox shocks. IIRC, there is a small amount of oil that goes in the air can to keep it lubricated. Buy new seals and you can fix it yourself.

     
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  2. Joe

    My feeling exactly. They say my Fox shock should be rebuilt every 500 miles – that seems like a really small number of miles between overhauls. But I never get it done that often. When the action on the little three-position lever starts to get notchy I know it’s about time….

     
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  3. Larry T

    Bicycles getting way-too-complicated? Certainly! When did this start? I’d say the beginning-of-the-end might have been the Big-S product STI which to my recollection was one of those “Contains no user-serviceable parts” products. They said they were assembled by robots and no humans could take them apart for repairs. Granted, they didn’t fail often, but when they did, other than squirt ’em full of lube and pray, they mostly got scrapped. At least (for awhile anyway) their competitor, the Big-C’s Ergopower units were serviceable and parts were available, but it’s been downhill since. DI2, EPS, ETAP, etc? Throw the failed part in the e-waste bin and install a new one. This makes a mechanic into a mere parts-changer. Air/oil suspension? A huge pain-in-the-ass, though not on the trail if it’s working.. but when it croaks?
    I wonder when/if bicycles will become like consumer electronics – when they stop working for any reason, you just recycle ’em and get the newest-latest version?
    I’ll stick to mechanical stuff for as long as possible – stuff that I can adjust and repair.

     
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    1. DR

      My bikes from the late ’70’s and early ’80’s were great. The only technical innovation I found to be necessary were Simplex retro-friction downtube shifters. Since then we have been sold lots of things we don’t really need.

       
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  4. Jim Sully

    Built in obsolescence is a prime factor on today’s MB’s.
    The shop’s absolutely love,among other things,guaranteed yearly min.$2-300+ air-oil hydraulics rebuild biz.
    I loathe what today’s MB equipment standard has devolved into,it’s taken what should be a simple,dependable,durable steed and sold out lock step to a moto industry dominated wank fest.
    If I was in a hurry or wanted easy,I’d just drive my car, MB riding,imo, is supposed to be fkkn hard.
    Great stuff if one has a mechanic on the ride or at beckon call to rebuild-replace the ever failing industry wet dream sales force dead end junk.
    I’d rather chew on barbed wire than deal with today’s hydraulic-air dampened,lockout-squeaky disc brake crap.
    Happily staying on my early 90’s,no hydraulics trail rider.
    Grumpy Sully

     
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  5. The Cyclist

    My full rigid never stops. Even when the DS drop-out broke in two I just welded it back together. Full rigid. Full stop,

     
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    1. James

      Single speed too I hope. The cost for a complete drive train overall is less that the cost of a top end chain from Shimano or Campy . . . .

       
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  6. George S

    I think you meant to say Brad Bingham.

    I have an Eriksen / Bingham FS bike also. I’ve had it for 18 months now and have around 3500 miles on it.

    I did replace the rear shock but only because I wanted the remote shock like yours and had ordered the bike with the manual one. Neither shock has leaked any air. The small amount of oil that spits out the valve when pumping it up is normal.

    I also have a Fox remote fork on the bike. I haven’t had any problems with leaky seals or wipers on it so far either.

    My daughter has a 2013 Fox Factory fork on her bike and the wiper seal started weeping a little oil a couple of months ago. I ordered the wiper kit from my LBS and picked up a seal driver from RWC along with a Fox Fork punch tool (less than $150 for all three). You also need oil for the lower fork chamber and upper fork chamber (the upper fork oil is what you see spurting out when adjusting the air pressure).

    There is a video on wiper replacement on the Fox website that walks you through the process. It took me an hour to replace the wipers.

    I was pretty nervous about her fork working correctly as I replaced the wipers a couple of days before her first High School race this fall. The fork has worked great and is no longer seeping any oil.

    I’m sure you will have no problems working on these yourself.

     
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  7. conrad

    I spend most of my time on a cyclocross bike. Then sometimes I drag out my old 26″ hardtail and ride some trails. Thinking, damn this is plush. This bike is so much fun. When its time to head home, realize the fork has been on lockout the whole time.
    I am not too happy with most of the mainstream offerings these days. In no particular order: carbon frame/forks that have a safe or useful lifespan of 0 to 2 years. Manufactured in China but still cost as much as a motorcycle.
    ISIS/PF30/BB whatever ridiculous bottom brackets that totally suck and are obsolete in 2 years.
    10/11 speed cassettes with increasingly narrow/fragile/expensive chains. Perfect for mountain biking! Also really good for jacking up your chainline.
    Di2, so you can rip a 600 dollar derailleur in half in a muddy cross race. In a way though Di2 is good, because when it stops working on the pros’ bikes you can sort of keep up with them. Also Di2 is excellent for those really long adventure rides. You run out of batteries at the furthest possible point from civilization.

     
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    1. cyclocarbon

      conrad- never had di2 on a bike, eh?

      steve- so far as mtb parts, it’s just more stuff to learn. you can fix a car, you can fix a bike.

      I showed Franz how to bleed brakes for the first time this week. he is buying his own kit etc.. tech went from seeming to be magic and unserviceable to easy in 30 minutes.

       
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      1. Franz

        Thanks for showing me how to bleed my brakes. A little bit of education goes a long way. I definitely would rather spend time riding my bike than working on it. Di2 is way better mechanical. Although I would not ride it in conditions I thought it would break my derailleur but I would also not ride mechanical in the same conditions because I hate working on my bike.

         
  8. Charles Dostale

    Back in the day, a good bike shop had a Campagnolo cabinet with spare parts to rebuild any component. When Jarek Bek first came over from Poland Andy and I pretty much emptied our Campy cabinet fixing his bike, but we didn’t replace any entire components besides the bottom bracket. The rear derailleur needed new pivot bushings and both springs ( and pulleys of course ), but after that it worked like new. It had been on the ground a few times as well. Can you say the same for a currently available rear derailleur ?

     
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  9. JoeV

    Push Industries or Dirt Labs. Better than original in every way and faster turnaround. Maybe even cheaper. Definitely cheaper in the long run.

     
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  10. Large D

    Common problem for all mtb suspension, it’s why I only ride a hard tail and I keep a back up fork laying around. Pretty sad that one has to keep two $1000 forks on hand to ensure ridability at any given time.

     
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  11. Large D

    And fixing it yourself is fine if you can get the parts, it took Rockshox 4 months to get a new Sid damping cartridge in stock to replace my blown one. That was in the middle of the summer too, again the reason I keep two forks on hand.

     
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    1. barb

      Large D, my thoughts exactly. When I needed to send my fork in to Fox for oil and seal replacement, I found an almost new one on fleaBay for a few hundred, and bought, installed and rode on it before sending my primary Float to Fox. They did the overhaul and had it back to me in about 2 1/2 weeks. Considering I ride maybe 5+ times per week, it would have been like heroin withdrawal to do without my bike for 2 1/2 (or longer) weeks, waiting for a fork to come in the mail. There are alternatives to $1,000 forks. If I rode a full susser, I’d have a spare rear shock too. The problem is, everything is made to fail early in it’s lifespan now. Everything. Cars, bike products, appliances, even your $600 phone. I’ve stuck with Shimano components expressly because of this premature failure guarantee going on in other component companies I won’t mention here, even though the masses buy them because they boast a few grams lighter. Bike shops and the bike industry has gone the way of every other greed-motivated industry. Make it as cheaply as you can, and sell it/gouge for as high a price as the market will bear. The exception is a custom titanium frame, that isn’t going to splinter and crack in two years, even if you huck it off a cliff. Steve, your full suspension bike is awesome, just go to UBI and take their fork class. You’ll be stoked when you learn how to fix it yourself and don’t have to trust the $11 an hour bike shop guys.

       
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      1. Thomas

        Barb as a wrench who makes 10$ an hour if you ever come to the shop i work at in st.louis i will smash your bike. Pro bike shop guys work for the love it and not the money. With your attitude it is no suprise your local shop wont help you.

         
  12. barb

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  13. MR

    Steve,

    This is akin to buying a racy car from the old back in their heyday. You get all the brilliance and design but it is up to you to overcome the manufacturing processes. In very much the same vein, you never quite knew if they were working right either. Coming to terms with there being complicated problems inherent to a mechanical device that will never be in balance essentially. And leaking oil.

    Here is what you can do (It might take a few sponsor fed shocks before you realize what cheaply made parts are actually wear items you can’t really improve much). Replace the cheaply made/specced weakest links first. This is a good point to experiment with different fluids and amounts of them used. Once it doesn’t feel like it is going to break, talk FOX into doing a pro-tune for you at a larger race. Your cleverness in the first stage enhances the chances of an ideal outcome during their process.

     
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  14. Stonerider

    Steve, Just get a nice hardtail 29er. The latest 29er hardtails with modern geometry will do everything you need it to do and it’ll be lighter than that full-suspension. Plus you have less moving parts which means less maintenance and more ride time.

     
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  15. barb

    It has nothing to do with an elitist attitude, I’m far from elitist myself and my opinion has everything to do with the kind of job they do. People who are smart, skilled and competent, aren’t working in bike shops for an hourly wage as a mechanic. They make $11 an hour in most bike shops because they’re either inexperienced and therefore unskilled and/or not very competent. This is “ok” if you’re riding a 35lb tourist bike, and not a serious cyclist, but for people who know anything at all about equipment, this level of “service” just doesn’t cut it. And this kind of “work” on my bikes has been my overwhelming experience with bike shop mechanics, which is why I agree 100% with Steve about not wanting people I don’t know, working on my bikes, and do a lot of service myself. Not to mention, if you go into almost ANY bike shop with a $7,000 bike, they’ll kiss your feet and give it to the best guy in there because they know they can charge more/a lot. If you go in there with a full XT build, Fox fork and Stans crest rims but you have a low end frame, they give it to the $11 an hour guy to learn on and not only do you get mistakes, half the time they don’t even do the job you brought it in there for.

     
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    1. Thomas Heidbrier

      Barb,
      You hit a real nerve. After calming down, realized it would not be worth my time to smash your bike or even bother looking at it . You are the customer who will never be pleased. Honestly, I feel bad for you. You have managed to paint every lowly paid bike mechanic as not smart, unskilled, and incompetent. You seem to be out of touch with how much a lot of Americans make and live off of. Profit margins in the cycling world are low. Very few are getting rich working in the industry.
      It is a shame that you can not find professional service. My coworkers and I treat the $10,000 Santa Cruz like we do the $100 Walmart bike. We take great pride in our profession and our skill. I bet there are guys in your city who work and feel the same way. All you have to do is ask.
      Riding 40 years is a long time. You know how much things have changed. Today every bike is different. The days of standards are gone. With that said working on bikes is not particularly hard or complicated. With Youtube, the proper tools and a service manual you can do all of your own work. People should have a understanding of how their bikes work and how to perform some of it. Next time you have a question or need some help we are a phone call away.

      Regards
      Thomas Heidbrier
      Mechanic Ballwin Cycles

       
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  16. Barb

    I’ve been riding bikes for almost 40 years. With my attitude? I only developed my “attitude” after being burned and getting crappy work from so many bike shop mechanics, that I realized it was the norm and not the exception. I never went in there with a crappy attitude to begin with, and when I developed my attitude, I never went to bike shops after that. You work on your own bikes I’m sure, so take a shitty bike to a couple dozen shops and see what kind of work you get, no matter how good your attitude is. You know not of what you speak, I however, speak from personal experience, that was never preceded by an “attitude” of any kind. Your mean spirited reply however says it all. What’s completely predictable is how people go into a vicious attack mode, because anyone expresses an opinion that doesn’t agree with their own. It’s just so petty and mean. First get called an “elitist” who is “making fun” when there was NO making fun of any kind, now get told I have a shitty attitude and you’re going to smash my bike because why? Because I stated my UNEQUIVOCAL experience with bike shops. You don’t know me, to say I have any kind of attitude, and yet you assigned that based on MY EXPERIENCE. The two aren’t even related.

     
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  17. Barb

    Didn’t see a way to respond to this comment that was posted, but this is what my last post was in reply to AND PEOPLE, STICK TO THE ORIGINAL POINT, WHICH WAS Steve said he doesn’t like people he doesn’t know working on his bike. Why do you think that is??????????????

    Thomas commented on Bikes that You Can’t Fix.
    in response to barb:

    Barb as a wrench who makes 10$ an hour if you ever come to the shop i work at in st.louis i will smash your bike. Pro bike shop guys work for the love it and not the money. With your attitude it is no suprise your local shop wont help you.

     
    Reply
    1. Thomas Heidbrier

      Barb,
      You hit a real nerve. After calming down, realized it would not be worth my time to smash your bike or even bother looking at it . You are the customer who will never be pleased. Honestly, I feel bad for you. You have managed to paint every lowly paid bike mechanic as not smart, unskilled, and incompetent. You seem to be out of touch with how much a lot of Americans make and live off of. Profit margins in the cycling world are low. Very few are getting rich working in the industry.
      It is a shame that you can not find professional service. My coworkers and I treat the $10,000 Santa Cruz like we do the $100 Walmart bike. We take great pride in our profession and our skill. I bet there are guys in your city who work and feel the same way. All you have to do is ask.
      Riding 40 years is a long time. You know how much things have changed. Today every bike is different. The days of standards are gone. With that said working on bikes is not particularly hard or complicated. With Youtube, the proper tools and a service manual you can do all of your own work. People should have a understanding of how their bikes work and how to perform some of it. Next time you have a question or need some help we are a phone call away.

      Regards
      Thomas Heidbrier
      Mechanic Ballwin Cycles

       
      Reply
      1. Barb

        By the way, I’m not out of touch with what many Americans earn and live off of. I have spent the last 8 years since the economic crash, alternating between living in my van out of economic necessity, and barely earning enough to rent a place to live and I finished a graduate degree in Dec 2008. If “most” bike shops perceive they are not going to make $$ off of the service or sale, they put as little effort out as possible, or outright treat you like a leper. Just FYI, regarding your comment about how I will “never be happy” my recent review on Yelp for the shop I last used was completely positive. Of course I had to take my bike there and pay all over again after getting ripped off for a $40 bottom bracket overhaul from the first shop, where the mechanic cleaned off all of the existing grease, put a 1/16th inch wide strip of teflon tape on the threads of the drive side, and put it back together with the spacer on the wrong side, making it so the front der would not shift. I saw this when the second shop took the BB cups off right in front of me. When I originally brought it back to the first shop and asked them to look at it again (very respectfully and politely, as I did when I first brought it there) because the bottom bracket was creaking even worse than before I brought it there, the mechanic who was busy working on a Santa Cruz Nomad, told me to “go ride it for a few weeks and let the grease work in” and did not want to look at it again. My only option was to go to another shop.

         
  18. Frank K

    Steve, the hardest part about a Fox fork, or any modern suspension, is just starting the repair. It is almost as easy as changing the oil on your van, except there are more seals and you need to be more precise in how much oil you replace. Order the seals, pickup shock oil in 7, 10, or 15 weight from your local Motorcycle Shop (LBS? Sort of!) and you are set, almost. Have plenty of rags and a place to pour out and recycle the oil. You need to measure the exact milliliters of oil required, so also order a 100ml graduated cylinder if you don’t have something like it in the kitchen already. You’ll probably need 140ml or so of oil, which can be confirmed on the Fox website. Oh, and keep some spare clean rags as the oil seems to get everywhere. Enjoy. It doesn’t take long at all.

    The rear shock, even easier. Depressurize, replace the seals. Watch a video, for the correct order of things, you are dealing with 120psi or more and don’t want to scratch any surface.

    Watch a few videos and know how much oil you will need to replace. Then, keep track of parts during disassembly.

    This was my last frontier in repairs and I tackled it myself this summer.

     
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  19. Barb

    I’m not sure how you people are drawing your conclusions about my statements. I never indicated anything “making fun” of bike mechanics, nor did I say EVERY bike mechanic. I said the ONES I HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH OVER 40 YEARS. The initial comment was ABOUT STEVE’S POST saying he did not want people he didn’t know, working on his bikes. Again, I posit the question in the face of ongoing personal attacks sent inmy direction like a human school of pirhana, WHY DO YOU THINK HE MADE THAT STATEMENT?
    I’m done here, and will not respond to any further personal attacks, the more I try to clarify my position based ON MY OWN EXPERIENCE, the more I’m being attacked. The reality is, none of you know me, except that you seem to make arbitrary, extremely negative assignations about my personality. So no, I don’t want to deal wtih people like you, and that has zero to do with “attitude.” Now all of you who have hurled insults, please go pull the wings off of some flies, or whatever it is you do in your spare time.

     
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  20. barb

    no, it had to do with people reacting with a knee jerk attack without thinking about what was being said is my take. People frequently miss the bigger point completely, instead choosing to focus on the minutiae and immediately hurling personal insults, and making it about them. It wasn’t about them.

     
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  21. Barb

    *sigh*. Ok if you insist. How long are you going to keep beating me up? I would keep replying, but it’s clearly futile. The FACT is, I’ve had total shit experiences with bike shop mechanics. If that one mechanic out of 300 who actually does a good job doesn’t like the bad rap, I apologise. And they don’t all make $11, some of them make a lot more and still did a half-baked job on my bike, or sized me up as an idiot, and tried to sell me on everything they could (that I didn’t need.) Which is why (and I quote Steve) I (also) don’t like people I don’t know, working on my bikes.

     
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    1. David

      Barb- you’re a self righteous prick who apparently is unqualified to fix their own bike. After 40 years you should have mastered the unskilled simplistic nature of bicycle repair and have no need to burden a shop with your bs. Pro mechanics see your type coming a mile away and pass off your clunker to the new guy knowing at the end of the day you’ll end up whining about something anyways. After 15 years of high end wrenching I’ll take a restroom break when your type graces us with your presence.

       
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      1. barb

        P.S. I guess you missed this part of my post: “and do a lot of service myself.” Meaning, I don’t go to bike shops anymore, unless I have no other alternative. Like when traveling with my bike and don’t have parts or a place to work. Which is almost never.

         
      2. barb

        Here are a few Facebook posts from an article 5 Big Reasons to use your local bike shop: (in other words, it’s not like I’m the only “self righteous prick” who doesn’t trust bike shop mechanics)

        Eric Walden: I’m all for supporting local businesses, especially when it’s one of similar interest. However, I have yet up find an LBS that hasn’t let me down largely, on multiple occasions. I have tried to support a few different LBS’s and mostly left really disappointed and aggravated. I have the ability and tools to do most maintenance myself, and the opportunity to save a pretty penny online. Sorry but it saves me time and money that way.

        Like · Reply · 5 hrs

        Stuart Darby:
        1. You will pay over the odds
        2. They will give you bad sales advice based on what’s in the shop
        3. They won’t service it properly and tell you they did
        4. They are usually brand specific
        5. you actually have to travel to the shop for them to tell you they don’t have it, you have to wait a week for them to order it off the net then go back again hmmmm
        Like · Reply · 3 hrs

        Jessy Shawn Blanchette: I all ways install or fix my own bike , don’t trust anyone to work on my bike lol this way if it screws up its on me .. Lol

        TJ Fruit: I’m looking forward to the equally balanced article – Five Reasons Not to Buy From a Local Bike Shop.

         
  22. barb

    Jesus christ. People are still ragging on this? Shouldn’t you be asking how Steve is doing, instead of focusing on your poor itty bitty ego bruise? The internet has unleashed an entire society of closet bullies, and I won’t even dignify this kind of vicious (cowardly – hiding behind the internet) personal attack by offering any further response.
    Now, don’t go away mad, just go away. Maybe go to the middle east and join ISIS. They think nothing of destroying people over stupid petty reasons.

     
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