If you forked over a lot for your mountain bike, as most people do, or just don’t like the idea of wasting a good bike, maintenance and repairs will be on your mind. You can make a choice between two main options; professional bike servicing or taking care of everything yourself at home. You may choose to do most of it yourself, but what happens if your bike needs more than you can handle?
You may be wondering, why even bother with servicing for bikes? They’re not like cars, after all. You have no legal obligation to do tests and repairs at set intervals. It may be true that for normal cycles you only use for going to the corner shop, there’s no point spending money on maintenance. But mountain bikes are a whole other animal – you don’t want it collapsing, or the brakes failing, while you’re riding downhill on a rough trail in the middle of nowhere, with no one and no supplies to help you recover from an accident. We think the issue is well worth discussing!
What does a professional service involve?
As you can see from Evans Cycle’s price list, the range of services available is extensive, and the prices reflect that, in this case being £5 for a puncture repair and £175 for a complete ‘elite’ service. You’ll usually take your bike in for a servicing for either specific problems that need repairing as needed, regular maintenance every few months or yearly servicing. I would say that a yearly service will run you on average £50-£70, as long as you go for the non-specialist, basic kind of package. This kind of package will involve some or all of the following; taking your bike apart, deep cleaning, replacing worn out or broken parts, testing the performance of each part, and generally getting it ship-shape and shiny. Similarly, there is also often a package in bike shops for ‘safety maintenance’, which is cheaper than a full servicing but covers the basics that will make sure you stay safe when riding.
Pros of professional servicing
- You don’t have to spend hours learning how to do it all yourself
- You can take your bike in as often as you need for any job, big or small
- You don’t have to feel like an idiot if you break the bike trying to DIY, and of course, not everyone is up for DIY. Don’t feel like you have to be able to fix and maintain it yourself to be able to call yourself a self-respecting rider. You can absolutely ride your bike and leave maintenance to the professionals – that’s what they’re there for. Just make sure you’re still checking your brakes, pumping your tires and putting lube on your chain for safety
- They’re fully trained and can definitely do it better than you could as a beginner
- If you stick around for the servicing you could learn a thing or two and take that knowledge home for future use
- Some jobs, especially for expensive/specialist bikes or really bad damage, are definitely best left to the experts as they require a lot of specialist knowledge and techniques
- Bikes can have a wide range of problems which, even if you’re the most practical person in the world and can learn anything in seconds, you won’t be able to fix with a £10 kit off Amazon. Tools for this kind of work can get expensive – that’s part of why the cost of professional repairs is completely fair, as they have to absorb the cost of tools, parts and equipment
- You’ve got the peace of mind that nothing has been missed and you can ride with confidence, whereas with DIY you have to rely on your own ability
Why DIY might be better
- Professional repairs are generally more expensive than getting your own kit and doing it in your garage
- Over the years that you have your bike, if you use a professional service for repairs the cost will easily add up to what you paid for your bike in the first place! If you’re on a tight budget DIY will definitely save you some pocket money
- If you’re up for it, not only are there classes so you can learn the process yourself, you can often find classes that are completely free! And if you don’t want to go to a physical class, the internet has enough resources for a masterclass that you can access wherever and whenever. We have our own post on essential maintenance tips here.
- Regularly doing these tasks yourself will keep you ‘in touch’ with your bike, and you’ll know when something’s wrong far sooner than someone who leaves the practical stuff to someone else
- Whatever package you buy, it probably won’t cover every kind of service. During the servicing they may come across a problem not covered by the package – and you’ll have to pay for it to be fixed separately, on top of what you’ve already spent! This is one reason why DIY makes financial sense. If you know enough about your bike to look it over and identify when something is wrong, you can skip that initial cost and just take it in for the specific repair (that is, if you can’t fix that yourself too)
Where to go
Local bike shops very often offer services for mountain bike repairs and maintenance, even the smaller ones. Some also teach workshops so you can learn the skill yourself.
There are also chain shops in the UK, such as Evans and Halfords, with the people, equipment and space to solve any problem you can think of. While the back room of your local bike shop may seem a bit ‘primitive’ compared to the bright, busy workshops of chain shops, you should keep the following in mind: locals are more likely to charge a reasonable price (to keep you from taking your business elsewhere), are able to really pay attention to each job, as each customer is important to them, and you’ll also, of course, be helping the local economy. On the other hand, large shops may offer discounts if you bought the bike with them, free servicing for a set period after purchase, and a wider range of accessories and parts on hand if you need them. It’s entirely up to you, and there’s no wrong choice.