Ask Uncle Dave mechanics
Ask Uncle Dave

Dear Uncle Dave: Why is My Local Mechanic Such a Dick?

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Aug 1, 2017

Oh my god. I’m so sick of hearing about ebikes. And I was doubly disappointed to find out that I was the asshole causing the topic to be raised one more time. For a guy who shares his opinion widely on the Internet, I’m remarkably shy of controversy. I stand behind my opinions but I also recognize that they are of a time and a place. Any opinion that generates discussion usually has some sort of impact on the way that I think about things moving forward. That’s why I generally dislike it when an old piece is re-posted. Opinions evolve and facts emerge, so chances are pretty good that I no longer think the exact same thing I thought at that time. I cringed when I woke up last week and saw my e-bike post up again. Not that I don’t agree with what I said, but in hindsight, I could have made my point a little bit more clearly, or considered that making that point probably wasn't worth the hassle.

That piece emerged as a way to deal with the frustration of the way people argue things online. You don’t have to scroll too far in the comments of any political piece before somebody throws down a “Libtard” and assumes that their clever wordplay has just won them the argument. Too often, in these discussions about e-bikes, I was witnessing something similar. Somebody would just start referring to them as “motorbikes”, and assume that we could all go home because they had seized the day. My main goal was to state a point that this wasn’t really productive and it wasn’t getting us anywhere. There was probably more to it, but I can’t bear to wade through the hundred plus comments again. The whole thing kind of turned me off talking about ebikes, because I honestly don’t give much of a shit about them. If I lived up in the Interior and had lots of money, I might. But based on my financial and geographical circumstances, it’s not really something that will be entering my life in the reasonable future. I’m super curious to try one as a commuter, but other than that I don’t really care.

And…shit…I guess I do have another point. I think it is totally valid to come at this from either side of the argument depending on where you live. The guy who lives off in the wilds of Canada most likely has a different point of view than the lady who rides in Marin County, and it is kind of silly for those two to attempt to invalidate the view of the other. A blanket ban or thumbs up most likely is not the solution, so can’t we just stop pretending that we have all of the answers?

On to the nonsense.

Dear Uncle Dave,

I recently went to a bike shop to buy a bleed kit for my brakes. When I went to ask if they also sold that tool that holds the brake hose to insert a barb, one shop worker suddenly went on a tirade about losing his job and what not. Honestly, a simple yes or no was all I needed (plus, when I inevitably f*** up the bleed, I'll still have to take my bike to that shop and I already have, twice, for my drivetrain and wheel). 

This has happened to the three bike shops that I've been to. And the only reason I switch bike shops is because I've moved to a new place/job. I'm not saying that the bike shops themselves suck. It's just that there's always that one guy who's in an extra bad mood to make up for every other employee being chill.

Do all bike shops have that one guy who's always in a bad mood? Is there such a thing as a super chill, small, local bike shop? Am I the actual bad guy here? What is the meaning of life?


Bleeding Heart

Dear Blahs:

Jesus Christ. This one really took me back, so please just bear with me a second. Sit back. Close your eyes. Imagine you're feeling flush, so you walk into a Whole Foods. You're cruising around the deli section, admiring the stews, but decide you've had enough of paying somebody else to cook for you. So you wander on over to the cheeses and start thinking about buying a finely aged parmesan with the goal of constructing a nice little pasta for dinner. You catch the attention of the person behind the counter, and ask them if they can suggest which cheese might work best for you and your specific needs. And they launch into a tirade about how your selfishness is putting all the food preparers out of a job.

This, of course, is stupid. It's totally unbelievable. Inconceivable. It would never happen. Nobody in the business of selling anything would ever use your potential purchase as a chance to complain to you about how the thing they're about to sell you is going to put them out of work. Except in a bike shop, I guess.

I'm hoping that you just caught this guy on a really, really bad day and there was a misunderstanding and it led to the exchange that you relayed to us. In all honesty, when I read the first few lines of your question, I was expecting some kind of lecture on how a real mechanic doesn't need a hose barby inserty thingamajig, not what you described. Maybe it was some strange combination of your face, your question and his mood that set him off in an entirely uncharacteristic emotional breakdown (not to say that your face would excuse his actions)?

So. If you're feeling really generous, give this jackass and his shop one more shot. Maybe you'll find that this mechanic is a misunderstood genius who can whisper heretofore undiscovered performance out of your steed? Maybe you'll learn all about the horrible day he was having that led to his customer service breakdown, have a good laugh, head out for a beer or two and you'll earn a lifelong friend? Or perhaps you'll just obtain a chance to scream "That's why people buy shit online!" over your shoulder as you walk through the door for the final time. Sounds like you really can't lose.


Uncle Dave

Uncle Dave's Music Club

I really, really, really tried to find something relatively new to talk about here, but I just couldn't do it. Instead, I'm giving you songs that I am surprised there are videos for from 90's Indie Rock Bands with interesting vocalists.

First up, Archers of Loaf "Harnessed in Slums". I can't believe that in 20+ years of listening to this song, this is the first time I have seen this video.

Next, let's go for some Superchunk and "Hyper Enough). I'm less surprised by the existence of this video, because I remember seeing a few Superchunk videos back in the day.

How about some Sebadoh? "Skull". I think I came by this for the first time from a Transworld Video. The actual video is a bit less interesting.

Lastly, let's get some Pavement in there. "Range Life", because why not.


Blahs! You better thank your dick of a mechanic because he's helped you win a pair of OneUp Components Composite Pedals. They have both features and specs and both are impressive. In Canada they will cost you $62. In the US and Internationally they are US $48. Send us an email to collect your prize. 

OneUp Composite Pedal Features

  • 40 rear loading threaded pins with nyloc nuts
  • DU plus cartridge bearing axle system
  • Thin leading edge chamfered design to deflect off obstacles
  • Wide platform design for increased stability
  • Contoured shape provides ultimate connected feel


Weight: 355g  Platform Size: 115x105mm # of Pins: 10 per side Axle Material: Black chromoly steel Height: 18.5mm (13.3 at the leading edge) Pin to Axle distance: 108mm Color: Stealth Black Body Material: Nylon Composite

OneUp Pedals

OneUp's Composite Pedals. Cheap and tough. 

This week's prize is pretty damned good. But in two weeks we're giving away a fork. Sorry (not sorry) Blahs. If you'd like to win a fork you'll need to send a question to Uncle Dave.

Trending on NSMB


+1 cxfahrer
Raymond Epstein  - Aug. 1, 2017, 7:41 a.m.

90's east* coast, yeah!!!

*mostly, even though Pavement rolled out of Stockton a few of them including Malkmus were from Virginia.


+3 Endur-Bro Cam McRae Mammal
Darryl Chereshkoff  - Aug. 1, 2017, 8:05 a.m.

Once you learn (sometimes the hard & expensive way) to wrench on your entire bike, so there is literally nothing you can't do, the happier you'll be.


+2 bikesuperior phile
mel22b  - Aug. 1, 2017, 8:13 a.m.

I've definitely run into a few mechanics that have the social skills of abused adolescent pit bull.  I think it has to do with the fact they are wayyy better riders than you and its your fault for not knowing that.  One day a shop owner will get smart and train their mechanics in social/sales skills.


+2 Cam McRae Mammal
Endur-Bro  - Aug. 1, 2017, 9:19 a.m.

Or they'll isolate the mechanics so they're able to work on bikes in peace.


RNAYEL  - Aug. 1, 2017, 4:19 p.m.

re: train mechanics in social/sales skills: Shout out to Matt at North Shore Bike Shop. Great, and social mechanics and staff.

re: isolate mechanics from stupid customers:  Shout out to Ryan at The Original Bike Shop/Cap's in New West, mechanics have a nice little hide out at the back of the shop where they can work in peace if that's their MO.


-1 Freerange
Bux Bux  - Aug. 1, 2017, 1:04 p.m.

Its really funny how shops run in high season. They are always slammed and takes forever to get a big job done. Yet they only work 8 hour days for the most part when it is super busy, which always blows my mind. More bikes repaired= more revenue + happy customers who support your shop.


-1 Freerange
AM  - Aug. 3, 2017, 3:07 p.m.

Im kind of amazed that most of the shops here don't do a night shift. Like a 4-midnight. even if just for the busiest 2 months. I guess that would mean hiring more people though so maybe thats the reason?


Freerange  - Aug. 6, 2017, 11:42 p.m.

Yeah weird. It's almost like absolutely no bike shop owners ever want to pay overtime. Maybe bike shop employees should just suck it up and take it because it's the high season and people don't know how to make an appointment for suspension service. And have no idea how to simply look at brake pads. Also.....did I mention bike shops avoid paying overtime like the fucking plague?


0 phile dddd
[user profile deleted]  - Aug. 1, 2017, 1:53 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

+1 phile
another_waki  - Aug. 3, 2017, 11:59 a.m.

Few ways to enrage a mechanic: tell him you broke a spoke and you need a new one. He'll roll his eyes and ask: what length. Tell him, it's a normal mountain bike. He'll tell you he needs a specific length wheels are different. Tell him, why can't he guess, tell him the model of the frame you own and that wheels came with the bike. As he gets even more annoyed, search for the picture of your bike on your phone and show it to him. Tell him the wheel size. At this point he should be fuming smoke from his ears and getting red, telling you to bring the wheel, or measure the length. Bring the whole bike. Slightly dirty bike. That should make him angry again but not as much that he could tell you to fk off.  After he is done ask him whether SRAM shifter will work with Shimano rear mech, keep pretending you don't understand why it shouldn't. When he is done telling you a story, trll him about a friend of yours who coped 12sp SRAM shifter with 10sp Shimano rear mech using a 3mm thick brick. Ask him whether Hope levers will work with Sram calipers, since they use same brake fluid. Ask him if ceramic bearings are a good idea and tell him a long story about trying your friends expensive road bike and how fast it felt and that he told you it's those bearings. Ask him if 23c tyres are faster than 25c. Keep asking why after each answer and nod as if he was very smart. Then at the end tell him "but it makes no sense, because if the..."


another_waki  - Aug. 3, 2017, 11:59 a.m.

Dear Uncle Dave. I am nowhere close to buy an E-bike, at least not for myself. I may buy a used one for my wife in few years. However, whole trail world cannot be held hostage by stupid policies of United States of America. I understand that it's citizens fear that their trail access can be limited and that a day may come when Police or other armed forces that come in this country in abundance, may shoot law-trespassing mountain bikers on sight. I don't really care. I actually don't. Because that mountain biker will be shot few thousands nautical miles from me and I found butterfly effect to be a rather stupid try hard attempt at being a cool movie about a cool scientific fact. Like me flushing the toilet can cause a Tsunami.
I live in Europe, I don't give a flying damn about E-bikes and I like Canadian bike sites. There is a rather broad spectrum between "I don't give a F" and "Send the Carrier group" or "What?" and "End of the world". However human nature and the way media operate these days turns us into seeing the ultimate opposites as the only options, FOR EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE. The ultimate truth is a very attractive concept. Also, I love how you pointd out the idiot, saying "they are motorbikes". People like that... sorry, please note: there are humans and there are people... yes... now, idiots like that are many: "26forlife!", "STFU and go ride your bike!", "Sam Hill legend!", "E-turds!"- they all sound as if they wanted a bloody medal for writing it. But what they really are, is that drunk, digusting idiot in a pub that stands up, shouts something and starts laughing. But nobody is laughing with him. Some are embarassed, some don't know what he said, some think they agree but, prefer to shut up. So the weird laughter goes silent, and then they sit down. You just don't see it through the internet... you just see other loosers using prop system to achieve nobody knows what. Number of ass licks VS Number of spits. Very noble. NOT


+1 Niels
phile  - Aug. 4, 2017, 12:02 a.m.

My mom was looking for xmas ideas, so I sent her to the new bike shop that just moved into my neighborhood in SoCal. (Long-time local shop, relocating to my hood.) She trekked over there and got me a $50 gift certificate. I lost it, and figured it was probably a lost cause. I finally wandered in there a week ago (7 months later). 

"My mom got me a gift certificate around xmas--do I need to have the hardcopy?"

"No...$50, right?"

I just needed some small stuff at the time--I came back to the counter with $25ish worth of stuff (Park FR-1.2, SCW-22, and shifter cable). The guy glanced at it, said "OK, that's $20, you have $30 left," and sent me on my way.

This is apparently a one-man shop: owner, salesperson, mechanic, accountant, Rainman, anachronism. And so not a dick! Thankfully it's mostly road bike stuff, so I can still buy cheap MTB parts online without massive guilt.


Please log in to leave a comment.