Bicycle Maintenance – When Should I Take My Bike to a Professional?

By Jiri Kaloc

Understanding when to take your bike to a professional can save you time and money, and ensure your safety on the road or trail. But professional mechanics are expensive so you have to use good judgment for what to do yourself and when to hand your bike over to one. This article lays out several scenarios where help from a pro is definitely worth the money.

When you don’t have the specialised tools and skills

If you’ve been following the series, you know that there is a lot you can and should be able to do at home when it comes to bicycle maintenance. Cleaning your bike, lubricating the chain, fixing flats, and replacing tyres are good examples. But there are also situations where you could do more harm than good. When you don’t have expensive specialised equipment, advanced skills, and a deep understanding of certain components, it’s time for a pro to step in.

Complex gear adjustments: If you’re experiencing persistent issues with shifting that can’t be resolved with basic adjustments, it’s time to see a professional. They have the expertise to diagnose and fix intricate problems that could be related to the derailleur hanger, cable tension or internal gear mechanisms.

Hydraulic brakes: Working with hydraulic brakes requires specialised knowledge and tools. If your brakes feel spongy, aren’t releasing properly or you need to bleed the system, a professional mechanic should handle these tasks to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Wheel truing: Wheels that are out of alignment can affect your ride’s quality and safety. Professionals have the right tools and skills to true wheels and replace broken spokes. It’s something that doesn’t happen often so it would be inefficient to buy those tools and invest the time to learn the skills needed.

Suspension maintenance: Maintenance of suspension components often requires specific tools and a really clean environment to prevent damage. Whether it’s servicing seals and fluids or adjusting the suspension setup, leave it to the pros. There’s no need to risk ruining an expensive component.

Frame after a crash: If you fall or suspect structural damage for other reasons, a professional can assess your bike’s frame and fork for integrity. This is crucial for safety. You don’t want to ride on a compromised frame and risk a major failure.

Bicycle wheel
Wheels that are out of alignment can affect your ride’s quality and safety. © Profi

The benefits of professional help

Even for those confident in their maintenance skills, regular tune-ups by a professional could be valuable for several reasons.

Peace of mind: If you really want your bike to be thoroughly checked, have a professional look at it. They follow a detailed checklist to ensure every part of your bike is functioning correctly and safely.

Advanced maintenance: Professionals have a much deeper expertise and access to specialised tools which allows them to identify and fix issues early before they become major problems. This could save you from costly repairs down the line and extend the lifespan of your bike.

Performance optimisation: Pro mechanics can fine-tune your bike to match your riding style and preferences, enhancing comfort, efficiency, and performance. This customisation is something that’s hard to achieve with DIY maintenance.

How do you find a trusted bike shop?

If you only have one bike shop in your area, the choice is easy. But for many towns and cities, there are too many to choose from. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few things to keep a note of.

Ask for recommendations: It’s always good to start by asking fellow cyclists or local cycling clubs for their preferred shops and mechanics.

Evaluate communication: A good mechanic will take the time to explain what needs to be done and why, helping you understand your bike better.

Service guarantees: Many reputable shops offer guarantees on their work, providing peace of mind that if something isn’t right, they’ll fix it.

It will be some trial and error at first but it’s worth finding a mechanic you can trust. Building a relationship with a reliable bike shop or mechanic is key to your bike’s longevity and performance.