Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Experience vs. Ability

One of the few things in this world which I will claim to be pretty good at is wrenching on bikes.  I have a feel for it, and I like to get ahold of a bike that other mechanics have deemed "unfixable", and figure out how to make it right.

But, I do know my limitations, and I will occasionally admit defeat.  In fact, I recently turned down an offer to work on some pro-level mountain bikes because I have fallen behind the curve on suspension and hydraulic brakes.

I have known a couple of other good mechanics, through the years.  For instance, no one holds a candle to Jimmy West, as far as I'm concerned. 

And, I have met a few so-so mechanics who were convinced that they were God's gift to spanners.  One of those guys worked at Destinations, part-time, when I first started working there.

Now, I didn't know everything there was to know about working on bikes, back then (and still don't), but it constantly annoyed me that Scott would call this other guy (let's call him David Daas) over, every time I paused to figure something out.

"Let David handle that.   He knows what he's doing."

And, David made sure that everyone in the place knew that he was "Mechanico Numero Uno", every chance he got.

One day, I was working right along and David came in, on his day off, to work on one of his personal bikes.  He had a frame, which took a 26.8 mm seat post, and he wanted to use a 27.2 mm Campy seat post in it.  His plan was to use the seat tube reamer and enlarge the inside diameter of the tube to make the larger post fit.

"That won't work...will it?" I said to him.  "The tube isn't that thick."  It was a lugged steel frame from the late 1980s, with a pretty nice tubeset.

"It'll work fine.  Once you've been in the business as long as I have, you'll be able to figure these things out, too," came the patronizing response.

So, David set to work.  He took a little material out out the tube, then tested the post.

Not quite.

He took some more out.

Close, but no cigar.

As he reamed the tube for the third time, I heard him quietly say, "Crap!"

I turned around and looked his way.  He was staring at the frame in the stand.  One cutting edge of the hone was protruding through the surface of the seat post.

"I didn't think that would work," I said.

"Didn't think what would work?" Scott asked, as he walked by.

After hearing the story, Scott never again sent David over to finish my work.  I may not have had as much experience as him, but I think I may have a little more sense...


1 comment:

  1. I have done some stupid things working on my own bikes. Fortunately, I've never done any of the really idiotic things in PUBLIC.


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