Step 1 – curse the cycling gods! Step 2 – Try to ignore the problem for as long as possible. Step 3 – give in and visit the nearest bike shop. You then find someone who looks knowledgeable and describe the problem. This invariably ends up being a test of the grasp of advanced English language as bike problems tend to be a little tough to describe. “The thingy at the front is making a weird grinding sound like grank grank when I pedal”.
This will cause the bike shop assistant to look at the bike and assess how dirty it is. This I always find a little strange considering I did not ask for an assessment of my bike cleanliness. I could ask any old stranger if that’s what I needed: “Excuse me sir how clean would you say my bike is on a scale of one to ten?”.
The bike shop assistant will then test out the bike, confirm it doesn’t work and tell you how much it costs.
At this point you either just go yes, hand it over and walk home in a miserable state or go home and think about it. In a miserable state.
How do you know if what they have quoted you is a good price?
Well, during a recent ride to Chichester my front derailleur seized and I decided this would be a good time to test out the different prices of London bike shops.
New shop down Theobald’s Road
The first was a new small bike shop that has just opened down Theobald’s Road.
I went in, described my problem, got my bike cleanliness assessment and was quoted a price. £10 for labour and £25 for the part. I could leave the bike there and then if I wanted.
The next day I found myself cycling around Canary Wharf and spotted an Evans. I cycled past it and then remembered I wanted to write this blog post. So I cycled back and asked how much the repair might be.
£25 for labour and £20 for the part. I would need to book it in for the repair.
On Your Bike, London Bridge
Later on I’m around London Bridge area and pop into an old favourite shop of mine On Your Bike. I ask an assistant who points me in the direction of the repair workshop. Inside there I find three people sitting around swirling on their chairs. It looks like fun. I interrupt their swirling and ask how much their repair would be. They bring out one of their mechanics who takes a look and then tells me it will be £25 for the labour and £25 for the part.
However, he also advices me I may be able to un-seize it by taking it off, giving it a good clean and spraying it with plenty of lubricant while working it side to side.
This is the only bike shop that gives me this bit of extra advice and I really appreciate it.
I walk into the Cycle Surgery near Kings Cross and ask how much the repair will be. £20 – £25 for the part and £20 to £25 for the labour.
So let’s compare these:
New shop: £35 total
Evans: £45 total
On Your Bike: £50 total
Cycle Surgery: £40 to £50 total
The winner is..
The new shop down Theobald’s (I really should find out its name rather than calling it the new shop). Whilst there wasn’t a huge difference in prices it shows that it is worth shopping around. In particular smaller independent shops may be able to offer a better price. The added bonus is of course that you are supporting local businesses.
What am I going to do? I’m going to take the advice of the On Your Bike mechanic and try and fix it myself. Wish me luck!
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.