The Golden Wrench

A blog about bicycle repair and maintenance by the mechanics at Freewheel Bike.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Saturdays in the bike shop world are a unique day, not because of anything intrinsic to Saturdays in general, but because of a mood of insanity which suddenly infects the population at large. Nothing causes a seasoned wrench to go into survival mode like a nice, sunny Saturday morning. We awaken to the sweet trilling of male cardinals outside our windows, roll cheerfully out of bed, see the sunshine dancing through the gently rustling leaves on the oak tree in the front yard, realize what day it is, and promptly faint dead away. Nice, warm, sunny Saturdays? Bah! We'd rather have tornadoes and meteor showers or a plague of frogs and lice, because every anthropoid specimen and his cat within fifty miles will go for a bike ride on such a sublime Saturday morning, and roughly 80% of them will have a flat tire 20 minutes before lunchtime. And they will stand in line waiting for us to save the day.

We've saved lots of days: stop by and check out our thumb callouses!

It's funny how many different ways to say "I have a flat" people come up with.

Customer: "I was JRAing down the Greenway, whistling a merry tune, uhh... something from Bach's St. Matthew's Passion, an aria or some such, in the key of B major, and all of the sudden, molecules began stampeding out of some unauthorized aperture in my pneus velos. Can you burst forth in a glorious flurry of industry in my behalf? Can you resurrect my faithful companion and transportation? She has the soul of a thoroughbred, you know. Give me hope! Will my inexorable steed ride again to fame?"

Mechanic: "Indeed!"

Another thing that's funny about Saturdays is that people come in with old, French frames and long lists on yellow paper. Sometimes it's an old English frame, and sometimes the list is on pink paper, but this person is intent on making a fixed-gear something-or-other out of it, having just watched a bunch of videos of guys in fedoras and slip-ons doing slow wheelies and 30-foot skids in parking lots. He feels that every item on the list should cost an average of $3.72 and that his total bill should be around $100: after all, it doesn't have derailleurs, right, and it's old, right?

Fortunately, most of these frames have some sort of game-over damage to them, such as a 26.8 mm seatpost lodged in a 26.4 mm seat tube (which is splitting toward the bottom bracket), or "I rear-ended a parked bus while teasing my 'fro" wrinkles near the head tube. Others, though not broken physically, are broken in soul.

Oh yes, we can make this thing sparkle for $100.