I am on a cross country tour and broke a spoke on my rear wheel. The shop wanted to charge me 55 dollars to repace the spoke and a slight truing of the wheel. They try and gouge touring cyclist because they are the only shop for miles. The mechanic/owner said there was seperate charges for removing the tire/tube, replacing the spoke and nipple, and of course truing. Of course I didn't have the work done by them. They have a bad attitude and I do not reccomend them. Peace be to all.
While 55 dollars does seem a bit much for the spoke replacement and true, there could be a reason why they are trying to charge so much, and not necessary because they are the only game in town. As a former wrench, I’d like to comment on your posting, as well as giving tips on saving money on such repairs.
You mention “slight truing”. If you are already breaking spokes, this could require a near rebuild. Maybe they wanted to make sure you wouldn’t experience the same problem later down the road? You didn’t mention which spoke broke? If it is the rear drive side, it usually means more work as the cassette / freewheel also has to be removed, this care be problematic on a touring bike, especially if the threads weren’t properly greased. I guess you’ve ridden in the rain a bit? I’ve spent 30 frustrating minutes trying to get a lock ring off a stubborn cassette. The torque generated by low gears on a freewheel can really screw the sucker on! Also if it is a drive side spoke, the wheel generally requires more work.
In your place I would have:
1. removed the wheel
2. removed the tire and tube (may be a good time to rotate tires anyway to get a bit more mileage out of them, one of the few points I don’t agree with Sheldon Brown on)
3. Remove the rim strip
4. Keep the spoke in as the location of the breakage is important to judge the problem. (broke on the bend near the hub or near the nipple)
5. Clean the wheel and cassette (if it is the rear). It makes a much better impression and makes a mechanic much happier than dealing with dirt.
6. Then discuss the price.
This is the grunt work that doesn’t look valuable but takes time. Shops have to charge by the hour. Let them do the hard work of truing the wheel, while you do the simple, time consuming part. Of course, you can learn how to replace a spoke by yourself, or buy a fiberfix emergency spoke repair kit from Peter White cycles. I know someone who put one on several thousand touring miles ago and it is till going strong. See:
Please note that this is not a defense on their pricing, but it really does not seem way off the mark. Since the shop is not on the touring list, they don’t have a means to respond to your complaint.
Have a great tour!
I was able to borrow a socket to remove the cassette in the next town and replaced the spoke myself. The whole repair (remove the cassette, replace spoke and nipple,and true the wheel) took a total of 15 minutes. A spoke and nipple cost about 5 bucks. Do most shops get 200 bucks an hour?? And I was able to true the wheel on the frame as it was not that far off. This was the 1st spoke I broke in approx 750 miles. I appreciate your info and tips; but I still think the shop was out of line. I now carry a few extra (although used) spokes and nipples. I plan on buying the proper socket to remove the cassette myself in case this happens again. Also; I am touring on an old TREK 800 sport hard frame w/ 26x1.5 slicks and rear panniers. The whole bike cost me 35 bucks to build. Thank you for your answer to my post. Safe travels and tailwinds always. Peace.
I am psyched that you were able to learn how to fix your own bike - hurray, that is a big part of the freedom of biking. I also like that you are figuring out how to do it all on low cash, which is admirable and downright cool.
I will say, though, that a good bike shop would probably spend more than 15 minutes for fixing it. Their quote would be for doing all the grunt and dirty work the prior comment listed, as well as going over the wheel pretty closely to make sure your wheel was strong and ready for another 750 miles. They likely would use a tensiometer, too. Their costs include paying the mechanic, the electricity of the shop, keeping an inventory of a wide variety of weird parts, disposal of solvents/rags, and talking to you, as well as a low profit margin on bike sales. I'll tell you that there are few bike shops that are raking it in. So in your personal quest for doing it all on a shoestring budget, please respect that others are just trying to make it all work out financially themselves.
I can buy spokes at LBS for $0.75 so if your paying $5 for spoke and nipple I could help you out and still make a nice middle man profit!
Yes I think price a bit high but being able to do oneself does add to freedom BUT makes one think others charge exorbitantly. Sometimes difficult to judge what is fair. I am old guy. My day labored all day in fields hoeing and cultivating veggies (NOTE: ALL day) for 50 cents per DAY not hour, but I would not expect modern day LBS to get 5 cents for hour labor. Too bad you had unhappy experience.