So those of you who know me would understand that nobody but me and a couple of trusted buddies have laid a spanner on my bike for about 2 years - to the point where I've even done a tyre change or two with the old levers at Cheffie's place. I've had a couple of other tyre changes where I've taken rims in to a workshop and had them fitted and balanced, with no dramas. But on Saturday I thought "what the hell" and treated myself to a ride-in tyre change at Peter Stevens' A'Beckett St workshop in the city. It cost $66, which is on the upper end for a simple job like that, but I'd brought in my own tyres so I didn't mind them making a bit of money on me. When I picked the bike up, the bloke said "er, so how long are you going to keep this bike" - fair enough, it's pretty fugly - and then told me that my rear brake caliper was rooted and that I need to have a seal kit put through it, because it's dragging on the disc. 'Meh,' thinks I, 'it's working fine, I use it all the time,' and off I head to my mum's place 15km away. By the time I've got there all sorts of things are running through my head. Why isn't the brake working at all any more? The pedal's going right to the bottom and giving bugger-all stopping power. The disc was smoking hot by the time I'd parked it - and when I took a closer look, I quickly realised why: 1) The axle had been put in backwards 2) One of the chain tensioning spacers was in sideways (that would have taken some serious effort to f*ck up) 3) The brake caliper bracket (it's a slidey one that moves back and forth as you adjust the chain) was mounted incorrectly, such that one pad was constantly dragging on the disc and the other couldn't be pressed onto the disc at all using the pedal It took me more than an hour to work out exactly how they had f*cked it all up, and fix it. With all parts installed correctly (it's not rocket surgery, as somebody said) everything worked just like normal. Naturally, 4) the chain alignment was up the shithouse, and 5) when I finger-tested the wheel bearings, the one closest to the burning hot disc was noticeably shagged. So either that bearing has been on its way out for a while, and whatever special needs child PoS relieved from licking windows to work on my bike didn't even check it (a 2 second job) and tell me, or the heat from 15km of freeway riding with one pad dragging on my rear disc has cooked the bearing and destroyed it. That's the damage from ONE F*CKING TYRE CHANGE. I'm disappointed, sure. A little angry too. But most of all, I feel pity for the people out there that take their bike to well known dealership mechanics like Peter Stevens and have no idea that their bikes may well be worked on by work-experience kids who can't be trusted to sit the right way around on a toilet, let alone tamper with the vehicle you trust with your life each time you ride. Worse-off still are those trusting customers who have no knowledge of how to fix shitty work themselves. If I'd listened to the service manager's advice, I would have spent hundreds more dollars with them trying to fix the problem with new caliper seals. It desn't need seals, it just needs to be correctly f*cking assembled. It needs bearings though, which is my fault in part for trusting them to do perhaps the simplest and most common of all jobs correctly. So, people, if ever there was a defining moment that made you think "well shit, I'd better learn how to work on my own bike" - let this one be it. There are excellent mechanics around, Pete the Pom is one of them, and plenty of people will stand up and defend a good grease-monkey. But if you don't know your spannerman, you'd better arm yourself with enough knowledge to know when you're being f*cked with. As for me, my mistake was simple - I took it to PoS because they were close to where I needed to go for a few hours. Lazy and stupid, but I didn't expect to cop this for it. I won't be making that mistake again.