To help, or not to help?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
fixedit
Posts: 2
Joined: 27 Jul 2020, 12:16pm

To help, or not to help?

Postby fixedit » 27 Jul 2020, 1:45pm

Hi people, recent events have raised an idea, and I wondered if anyone here would care to air their thoughts or opinions.

Checking updates on the local Facebook page, I saw a comment from someone whose bike was out of action due to faulty brakes. They'd recently had it 'serviced' at the local cycle repair shop, but the shop is currently closed as the owner is ill.
As I've plenty of time due to still being furloughed, I sent them a message offering to take a look. (how difficult can it be to fix brakes?) The bikes in question were a couple of kids bikes, and all that was wrong was the brake pads had worn down so the brakes needed adjusting. The pads were quite worn so I advised the mother to buy some more. I sent her a link to some reasonable looking pads on eBay, and I offered to fit them if she wanted.

Being off work for so long, it felt good to be helping someone, and I wondered if I could help out more often. The guy who runs the local bike shop is highly rated, and having previously been a mechanic for at least two cycling teams is also quite skilled. There's no way I could do a lot of the stuff he does, nor do I want to, but it struck me there could be a 'market' for minor repairs. I'm thinking of simple stuff like fixing brakes & punctures. With the government currently giving cycling a bit of a push, it may encourage a few to dig rarely used bikes out of their sheds and get them working again.

So should I take it any further? I thought about placing a card on the noticeboard in a local shop, just offering to 'take a look at your bike & see if we can get it back on the road', or something like that. Just as a voluntary thing. My biggest concern, and I may be overthinking it, is a lack of knowledge on any potential rules & regulations. By placing an ad, would that affect any liability, or insurance type issues? The brake pads I just adjusted on the street in front of my house, but if I needed to make more than the odd adjustment (thinking puncture repair), I'd prefer to take the bike out of the way, into my back yard to work on.

For information, I'm 52 & I've been cycling most of my life. I've done all my own repairs since I was a kid, although that's never amounted to more than changing/repairing a wheel or the chain, so I've not done anything like a full strip-down. I don't want to make an 'official business' out of it, just offer some help in the local community.

tatanab
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Joined: 8 Feb 2007, 12:37pm

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby tatanab » 27 Jul 2020, 2:02pm

The modern bugbear of INSURANCE. Just in case something goes wrong or is claimed to have.

Marcus Aurelius
Posts: 1548
Joined: 1 Feb 2018, 10:20am

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 27 Jul 2020, 2:07pm

tatanab wrote:The modern bugbear of INSURANCE. Just in case something goes wrong or is claimed to have.

Exactly. It’s not worth the hassle if someone decides to take action against you for something that may or may not be your fault. I won’t even touch friends bikes anymore, but I will help by telling them what to do, lending them tools, and giving them links to parts suppliers.

rotavator
Posts: 464
Joined: 6 Jun 2016, 9:50pm
Location: North Wales

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby rotavator » 27 Jul 2020, 2:08pm

I would be very wary of doing any work on bikes other than those belonging to friends and relatives because of the risk of being blamed for faulty workmanship in the case of an accident.

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gaz
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Joined: 9 Mar 2007, 12:09pm
Location: Kent, lorry park of England

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby gaz » 27 Jul 2020, 2:45pm

Happy to do most of the work on my own bike and that of Mrs gaz, and I'll do the rest of the work a little less happily.

Other people's bikes, no*. I've no formal qualification and I've no insurance.

Had a discussion with a qualified mechanic at a Dr Bike maintenance session a few years ago. He'd declined to adjust the gears on a kid's bike, informing the child and parent that they were too far gone and recommended a full service at LBS. The kid kept coming back to ask if he would help, he kept saying no.

The reason was that it had numerous other signs of neglect. He believed a full service would uncover many more hidden issues and did not want to make a few minor adjustments to cure the obvious fault and be responsible for an unsafe bike being ridden.


*Roadside emergency, maybe. Assuming I had the right tools, the time to spare and couldn't talk them through it.
2020 : To redundancy ... and beyond!

pedals2slowly
Posts: 188
Joined: 11 Jan 2007, 7:50pm

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby pedals2slowly » 27 Jul 2020, 2:47pm

It depends on your attitude towards risk.
Personally I'm happy to do all sorts of minor repairs for friends, people I meet on the road and pupils and adults on my Bikeability courses. (Yes I know we're not supposed to)
If you can't be 100% sure that the cycle leaves you safer than when it came to you then steer clear.
From your post it sounds to me that you probably don't have enough experience to do do anything other than punctures and brake adjustment (even that can be fraught with difficulty)

Consider cycle mechanic insurance which can be had for £140 per annum.
Consult with Cycling UK insurers on how much you can do or be covered by any membership/activity insurance.
I seem to remember for Doctor Bike we should only point out problems and tell the owner to go to a bike shop for repair.

The worst that can happen is you could be found guilty of negligence and lose your house savings and possessions..............

Me? I'm very wary but take a considered approach, take very little risk and keep fixing people bikes for free or if I can't be bothered, or can't do something technically I'll point them in the direction of our local mobile mechanics who do a brilliant job and know a lot more than I do.

Marcus Aurelius
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Joined: 1 Feb 2018, 10:20am

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 27 Jul 2020, 2:49pm

gaz wrote:Happy to do most of the work on my own bike and that of Mrs gaz, and I'll do the rest of the work a little less happily.

Other people's bikes, no*. I've no formal qualification and I've no insurance.

Had a discussion with a qualified mechanic at a Dr Bike maintenance session a few years ago. He'd declined to adjust the gears on a kid's bike, informing the child and parent that they were too far gone and recommended a full service at LBS. The kid kept coming back to ask if he would help, he kept saying no.

The reason was that it had numerous other signs of neglect. He believed a full service would uncover many more hidden issues and did not want to make a few minor adjustments to cure the obvious fault and be responsible for an unsafe bike being ridden.


*Roadside emergency, maybe. Assuming I had the right tools, the time to spare and couldn't talk them through it.

Even roadside jobs are a nightmare at present though. You’ve got to keep distanced, and you can’t lend them tools, because of the plague.

Jdsk
Posts: 1233
Joined: 5 Mar 2019, 5:42pm

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby Jdsk » 27 Jul 2020, 2:49pm

pedals2slowly wrote:Me? I'm very wary but take a considered approach, take very little risk and keep fixing people bikes for free or if I can't be bothered, or can't do something technically I'll point them in the direction of our local mobile mechanics who do a brilliant job and know a lot more than I do.

Me too.

Jonathan

rjb
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Joined: 11 Jan 2007, 10:25am
Location: Somerset (originally 60/70's Plymouth)

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby rjb » 27 Jul 2020, 3:01pm

I dont offer but if someone asks me to look at their bike i will repair, adjust and carry out minor repairs without charge providing they pay for the materials. Several people in our village are aware of this opportunity and word does spread.
At the last count:- Peugeot 531 pro, Dawes Discovery Tandem, Dawes Kingpin, Raleigh 20, Falcon K2 MTB dropped bar tourer, Longstaff trike conversion on a Falcon corsa. :D

David9694
Posts: 602
Joined: 10 Feb 2018, 8:42am

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby David9694 » 27 Jul 2020, 7:10pm

Interesting question - the two guys around me that advertise on social media don’t seem that much better set up than I would be if I started doing what the OP describes. Truth is though I’ve made a tonne of mistakes on my Bikes and builds - no-one to blame except myself.

But in all the responses, not one example of trouble arising from helping. I understand the way of things - but it seems a shame that it’s like this.

fixedit
Posts: 2
Joined: 27 Jul 2020, 12:16pm

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby fixedit » 27 Jul 2020, 8:11pm

Thanks for the replies. Clearly a case of 'Proceed with caution' if I do decide to try.

rjb wrote:Several people in our village are aware of this opportunity and word does spread.

I am tempted to try this way. I offered to fit the new pads if she wanted, so will wait and she if she asks. It's always possible she may suggest me if she hears of someone else in a similar situation.


David9694 wrote:I understand the way of things - but it seems a shame that it’s like this.

My feeling too, but sadly the 'I can sue you' culture seems here to stay. Thankfully not everyone agrees, and hopefully if I do choose to help anyone, I can attempt a quick risk assessment first

Jamesh
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Joined: 2 Jan 2017, 5:56pm

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby Jamesh » 27 Jul 2020, 10:04pm

I would think and I'm often wrong is that if you do something for payment then you need to be qualified and insured.

If you do something to help family, freind or a neighbour then I'd think you'd be ok. However if something is organised like a bike library then insurance is obviously a prerequisite ..

Just my thoughts

Cheers James

Jdsk
Posts: 1233
Joined: 5 Mar 2019, 5:42pm

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby Jdsk » 27 Jul 2020, 10:18pm

rjb wrote:I dont offer but if someone asks me to look at their bike i will repair, adjust and carry out minor repairs without charge providing they pay for the materials. Several people in our village are aware of this opportunity and word does spread.

Well done. At any moment there are many bikes that can be restored to working condition quite quickly and simply. And people who might just go cycling if the bike were working...

In our village I offer this for favours auctions etc, and for anyone who promises to go on the Church cycle ride.

Jonathan

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Navara
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Joined: 29 Jun 2020, 11:38pm

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby Navara » 28 Jul 2020, 10:36am

Marcus Aurelius wrote:Even roadside jobs are a nightmare at present though. You’ve got to keep distanced, and you can’t lend them tools, because of the plague.

I've found that all that goes out of the window when someone is roadside in need of help :wink:

I generally do work colleagues,neighbours bikes etc.It's usually only adjustments,new tyres/tubes etc anyway but I recently helped(as in I did he watched)a mate swap his old Tiagra groupset to Ultegra.So he's a bit better off financially on now understands how to adjust and index his gears etc.My usual "fee" is either "get me a pint next time we see each other in the pub" or stick a donation in MR/RNLI box next time you come across one.
I have no worries about any repercussions.If anyone really wanted to go down that route then they would have to prove I'd even touched their bike.I hope most people don't think like that though?

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simonineaston
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Joined: 9 May 2007, 1:06pm
Location: Live & work in Briz'l

Re: To help, or not to help?

Postby simonineaston » 28 Jul 2020, 10:52am

The modern bugbear of INSURANCE. Just in case something goes wrong or is claimed to have.
It can't be beyond the scope of something like a simple log book, can it? The laminated frontispiece simply states "I, the undersigned, wheel away the bike & ride it at my own risk." then get the owner to sign and print name... [pending advice from a suitable lawyer, that is]
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)