After my last post, I realized we needed another Public Service Announcement here. I'm always seeing people who are under tight budgets paying their local bike shop Big Bucks to provide very simple service to their bikes. Or taking their bike back repeatedly to the shop because something wasn't done correctly. Or getting mad and whining at their husband/wife/S.O. because they haven't done the bike maintenance chores, while choosing to stay blissfully ignorant of what their own bike needs. And then having to phone someone in a panic from the road to pick them up with a flat tire.
Why not just learn to fix and maintain it yourself?
The off season is a perfect time to take a Bike Maintenance class! Ideally, you need to find one in your area that's 8 or more hours in length, allowing you enough time to take apart just about every system of your bike (under expert supervision) and put it back together again. I'd like to take a more advanced one now myself, actually.
My report on the 8-hour one I took at R.E.I. right after I bought Buttercup is here (part 1) and here (part 2). Lots of local bike shops or community colleges offer similar classes, though.
It was definitely worth every penny, and has paid for itself many times over now! Plus there's great satisfaction and peace of mind in knowing that you have done the job, and done it right.
And no, most jobs do not require a big investment in expensive tools. Got a $2 set of Allen wrenches? That and maybe $20 total of other tools will do 90% of what your bike needs.
And no, you can't use the excuse that you don't have time, because it's definitely going to take you MORE time to mess around with transporting your bike into the shop and picking it up every time you need some maintenance on it. Or sitting on the side of the road with a flat that you don't know how to fix. Or you end up leaving it sit and rot in the garage because it needs something minor, right?