I have a theory: my mechanical limitations when it comes to bike maintenance are directly linked to the amount of space available.
I have friends who have enormous garages at their disposal that are laid out like a shrine to common sense and elbow grease. There are bike stands on which to hang the thing as you work on it, rows of neatly ordered tools, a well placed piece of foam to kneel on, and plenty of space for all manner of spares, replacements and other unidentifiable bits and bobs. Some people even have lights and heating.
Oh, the luxury. Carrying out bike maintenance in these conditions is surely a pleasure, not a chore.
Me? Due to current lack of space (I’m working on that, a house with a garage is on the shopping list) I have a shed and a back yard.
In the shed, I am expected to fit two bikes, spare wheels, tools, and all manner of other bike related paraphernalia…and my shed is smaller than two bikes, spare wheels, tools and other bike related paraphernalia, so organisation and order is out of the question. To carry out any small piece of work on my bike I have to empty the entire contents of my shed just to find whatever I need, and then ferret about on the floor of my yard as I work in the cold (often) and dark (sometimes).
Some might say that I’m simply making excuses, and that even were I presented with a bike shop full of shiny tools and a pristine and professional workshop to use them in I’d find some other excuse not to work on the bike (too much time spent sitting writing about this stuff, and not enough doing it perhaps?)
Don’t get the wrong idea; I’m more than happy to do the basics, and will happily replace cables, change a cassette, or service the brakes, but anything too complicated (or time consuming) often results in a visit to my local bike shop where I can hand my trusty steed over to a man who knows his stuff (a Zen mechanic, no less).
I used to be keen to tackle any job required, but I once tried to ‘true’ a wheel a couple of days prior to an 80 mile ride and it ended up going ‘ping’ half-way up some unforgiving back-road of Yorkshire. Struggling home across wild Northern moor lands with a back wheel displaying the sort of ever increasing wobble reminiscent of some kind of comical clown bike does have a way of focussing the mind.
In other words, I know my limitations.