Knowing your mechanical limits

I consider myself pretty mechanically inclined. Whether it’s wrenching on my own bikes, cars or even assembling furniture we bought at Ikea, I can do it without any hesitation.

However, in some of my mechanical endeavors, there’s a limit on what I’m willing to take on due to the fact that I can easily get myself in more trouble than I wish to take on.

For example, with my vehicles. I can do brakes, belts, water pump, install tires (yes I know how to mount and balance)basic lighting and a few other things that helps save me money since I can do these simple repairs at home (except the tire mounting thing). But for what I call “BIG” jobs such as timing belt, valves, head gasket or anything that requires me opening up the actual engine, then I leave that to the professionals.
The same thing goes for bikes. I can pretty much do about 90% of bicycle repairs. But I can’t build wheels. I’ve rebuilt shocks and forks, those are actually easier than you would imagine since half the time all you have to do is swap out o-rings and seals. However, I know my limits. I recall as a young kid, I had a BMX bike that I took the rear wheel and removed all the spokes. I then tried to re-lace it back together. Needless to say, I couldn’t ride my bike for weeks until I ended up buying a new wheel…

7 Replies to “Knowing your mechanical limits”

  1. I can do timing belts. The hardest part is just getting to the damn thing. Also, I can build the begeezus out of some wheels. I’ve built hundreds over the years — radial, 2 cross, 3 cross, 4 cross, crow’s foot, red cross, even done wheel-building races for beer and bragging rights. As with any mechanical endeavor, you need to have the right tool for the job. However, the best tools are useless in the unwieldy hands of an inexperienced mechanic. So. . . don’t be a tool and send that pro truing stand of yours over my way. I’ll give it the love it deserves, and craves. Fret not, I’ll trade you a bag of zip ties for any truing jobs you may do in the future.

  2. Ha, had to try. But, if you ever need wheels built hit me up. I’ll gladly build you any wheels you need for the low price of a couple of cake pops.

  3. Hmm, I may have to take you up on that. I’m debating if I should buy LadyP’s new wheel set or have it custom built. I got her a new bike, a 29er thingy and I wanted to lighten it up a bit with a new wheel set and have a combined weight of around 1700-1800g. Any suggestions on how to do that if we went with you building them? My budget would be some where between 350-450 for the set.

  4. Let me do a little research. I am in the market for new 29er wheels myself. There are many more wheel “system” options now than ever before. There are some great prebuilt wheelsets on the market. However, some of them get real pricey. The biggest drawback I have seen to some of these wheelsets is the use of proprietary parts, particularly spokes. Plus, as with anything DIY, you know exactly what you have when you (me) built your wheels instead of employee #1138.

    I have always liked Mavic and Velocity rims. For Lady P we could hit the color spectrum with Velocity rims. However, since I already drank the 29er Kool-Aid I might as well take a swig of the tubeless flavor too. I hear good things about the Stan’s Arch rims and I am considering them for my next build. Hubs are where the money will be eaten up. I like the Hope Pro II as a well-performing-budget-friendly choice. The only part not up for negotiation is the spokes — DT without question.

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