My local library does not supply my reread every tens years list. (I must move.) So I have inadvertently wandered into my reread every thirty odd years list. I didn’t know I had one of those. (I doubt I will see it again, so should savor while I can.)
I blame Matthew Crawford for this — gratefully.
The radio was a clue. You can’t really think hard about what you’re doing and listen to the radio at the same time. Maybe they didn’t see their job as having anything to do with hard thought, just wrench twiddling. If you can twiddle wrenches while listening to the radio that’s more enjoyable.
Their speed was another clue. They were really slopping things around in a hurry and not looking where they slopped them. More money that way — if you don’t stop to think that it usually takes longer or comes out worse.
But the biggest clue seemed to be their expressions. They were hard to explain. Good-natured, friendly, easygoing — and uninvolved. They were like spectators. You had the feeling they had just wandered in there themselves and somebody had handed them a wrench. There was no identification wit the job. No saying, “I am a mechanic.” [….]
— Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
I remembering reading it, and liking it. Sometime around 1980, after I had learnt Fortran, before I learnt number theory and Gödel. Sadly I don’t remember my reaction.
I know I understand the road now. And the prairie. I don’t know if I underatnd the philosophy better yet.
Treat your employees as you want them to treat customers.
Leisure Trends: IBD sales rebound in March after a slow start to 2014
Lifestyle/leisure bike sales grew 33 percent to hit $7 million, and transit/fitness bikes sales were up 21 percent at 27 million over March 2013. And kids’ bikes grew an impressive 24 percent to reach $8 million for the month.
All bicycle sales were up in March — 13 percent in units and 5 percent in dollars, but road bikes continued their downslide, losing 8 percent over the same period last year. The 26-inch mountain bike category also slid 18 percent to $11 million, and 29ers fell again for the second straight month, with an 8 percent loss to land at $22 million.
Old mechanics have old rules for old bicycles.
Good engineering, and good mechanics, have the principle of least change: make the smallest change needed to achieve the desired outcome.
The principle applies to whole bicycles. Beyond a certain age, beyond a certain level of disrepair, do little.
Great old frames deserve rebuilding — if the customer has the budget.
But don’t over-write and overwork a beat-up bike. In the end, the customer could have better spent the money. In the end, the bike will take more work then charged.
Old bikes have unpleasant surprises: bearings that seemed dry turnout blown; cables reveal rust; etc.
Do the least possible — or do everything, and charge for it. Anything in between rarely works.
We have a culture of service as a legacy from un-fine old steel such as Schwinn drainpipe sadly not yet rusted away.
Yet modern components operate close to the limit of tolerances.
A customer tightening a loose bolt or an inexperienced technician can ruin a frame or component.
Centering a disc caliper can offer fewer frustrations than centering a single-pivot side-pull. Yet the young technician struggling with the single-pivot will not likely harm the part nor put the customer at risk.
Steel bolts into alloy threads require judgment and a more skilled technician. Do we charge more to center a disc caliper? Or do we wait for the store down the street to change their prices or go out of business.
Is cheaper better? by Ray Keener
… in the $300-$400 range sales plummet from 25 percent to 12 percent over that same period. [2009–2013]
Consumers don’t identify their needs by quality as much as they do by price. They buy bikes they think they can afford for the riding they want to do.