Friday, 11 October 2013

An unexpected shock from the cheap and nasty land

Although I had worried from my trip to Braeside described in an earlier post from a couple of weeks ago, the last three days have been traumatic beyond my belief.

The fact that I had carried my bike up a creek whose cleanliness I always doubted was a worry to me from the time I found the exit to Boundary Road. I was worried that the mechanisms had dirt but cleaned only the panniers (which were so dirty I had to clean them fully twice for improvement) and rode the bike as it was for some time. However, after a while noise in the rear wheel became so bad as to worry me severely, so that a week ago, thinking it was merely loss of lubricant, I decided to lubricate it to see if the noise would go. From the time I sprayed the oil, I knew something was wrong, but I never suspected just how bad. On Sunday, I decided I would take the bike to BSC Bikes to see what was wrong. I thought it would be a minor repair, but at first I found it would have to be new ball bearings on the pedal which would cost ninety dollars, then an oil change in the rear gear system for sixty dollars.

When I came in on Wednesday with clean panniers, I was expecting a finished bike but suffered one of the rudest shocks of my life. I was told that the rear gear system had rusted beyond repair, and on my request I was shown how badly it was damaged. I was amazed to still see the water in the gear train three weeks afterwards! I was told that there was an option of an eight-speed replacement wheel could be installed because the original seven-speed one was out of stock for four hundred and thirty dollars. I hesitated about accepting because the braking mechanism worried me: it involved pushing back to brake rather than the handle brake on my previous bikes. Consequently, I spoke to my mother about and looked for a new bicycle, though I live in fear I will make a similar mistake again and ruin bicycle after bicycle.

Two days spent - at least in the afternoons - in bike stores have clouded the problem even more. Even a little experience with a back-pedalling brake did not allieviate my fears at a time when I am desperate to have a bike at a cheap cost. It is a pity that I cannot either test it thoroughly to be sure it can work on my present bike, and a bike shop further south down Brunswick Street was really stern that there is no way I could make the necessary test at any store, and that a rental so I could have a bike whilst waiting the three months BSC Bikes had said a replacement gear train would take is virtually impossible. Moreover, I have no wish to live three months without a bike although I could save thousands of dollars compared to a new bike, which is almost certain to develop the same problems. The trouble is that Australia has such poor service that one often does not know when the item will come, whereas I imagine in Eurasia and the Americas this “three-month” wait would be so fast the replacement geartrain would have come to me today if it had been ordered on Wednesday!

Although I have found a few possible bikes at the upper end of my price limit, I am still worried about spending the money and realise decent service would eliminate the need. More than that, proper warranty I have always dreamed would ensure immediate replacement even when - as in this case - the damage is one hundred percent my own fault for never servicing the bike. Still, maybe even routine service would be in the long term far cheaper than the “shoestring” maintenance policy I have stuck to over the past two years! On the other hand, I always imagine superlative quality would ensure that this damage could be withstood with perfect ease, as well as that Australia’s apolitical, ultraconservative populace ensures shoddy quality is the order of every day.

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