I’m kinesthetic, I learn by doing. I want to figure out for myself how something works and only open instruction manuals after something goes wrong. Nine years ago I “built” my first bike. I say built in quotes because I was working in a shop at the time and bikes typically come partially assembled from the factory, so it’s not as involved as building from the frame up. Gradually, I learned how to take care of my bike mechanically, how to adjust derailleurs, bleed brakes, route internal cables. Then, under the watchful eye of a skilled mechanic I learned how to build wheels and tune suspension.
Along the way threads were stripped, bolts were overtightened, and brake bleeds went awry; but this all increased my learning and my desire to get it right next time. I learned to look, listen and feel when things were not working right. Over time, the “building”, unbuilding, rebuilding, and fixing lead to a greater understanding of how bikes work, and an increased pride in caring for my bikes.
Last year, I ordered a Santa Cruz Nomad frame and all the components. Until then, I had bought my bikes complete and would strip the frame of components I did not care for and rebuild it. But, this time it was a true ground up build. I remember laying everything out on the garage floor and spending the evening building my bike. It was such a rewarding experience, watching the bike come to life piece by piece, then finally taking that first ride. It was a tremendous sense of accomplishment and remains my pride and joy.
This year, my new “build” was a Yeti SB5 Beti. She came mostly assembled, so much of my time was spent carefully unwrapping all the foam from the frame and applying frame protectors. Next week she’ll get a new wheelset and as the parts wear in they’ll get adjusted, and readjusted, and eventually rebuilt in my garage.
For me, being a DIY’er satisfies my curious, kinesthetic needs. Things do not always go right, and sometimes things take three times longer than expected, but that is all part of the learning process. So, if you’re not all that familiar with your bike, I encourage you to take a look at it, watch and listen to how it works, watch some You Tubes, or take a repair class. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.