What stops pros from becoming better mechanics?

By Julian Thrasher, ATG Training

BE THE BEST MECHANIC YOU CAN BE

I’m guessing as you start to read this that you are involved to some degree at least in the repair of customers bikes. Some of you will be old hands with many years’ experience, some of you relative newbies full of enthusiasm.

The point I’m getting at here is that no matter how long we have spent twirling spanners in the workshop, we should always strive to be the best we can possibly be.

It seems like a bit of a throw-away statement but if we dig a little deeper we can see that there can be some pretty big obstacles along the way that can prevent us from reaching our full potential.
I’d like to raise your awareness of these and give you some pointers to unlock some next level skills and I’m going to do this by challenging some often heard quotes and using some mental wizardry to make you better.

Below I’ve listed some things I have heard during my time as a Cytech workshop trainer and my reasons as to why these are blockers to becoming a better mechanic.

“I KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT BIKES”

Do you? This statement opens you up to a lot of possibility that you may not know as much as you think you do. It also is a closed mindset that prevents you from knowing more.

After all, if you know everything there is to know about bikes, what else is there to know? How about the latest fancy pants tech groupset from Sram or Shimano that you’ve never laid hands on?

One of the reasons the cycle industry is so interesting (or frustrating) is there’s always a new standard or product coming to market and if we adopt this know-it-all closed mindset way of thinking we are potentially blocking our knowledge of anything we don’t yet know, therefore creating an obstacle to being the best we can be.

Far better to admit that you know a good deal about how bikes work, but are always interested in the latest developments.

“I CAN’T DO IT”

Why can’t you do it? What is stopping you? Is it because the product is brand new to you and you’ve never worked on it before?

What an opportunity! Find out all you can about the product. I don’t need to tell you there’s a wealth of resources available online these days with tech help available on the end of a phone line from people paid to help you on the technical specifics.

Heck, we run courses every week to help people do things they can’t currently. You should be actively seeking out things you cannot do as these are further obstacles in your way to becoming the best you can be.

The “I can’t…” is closely followed by the:

“I DON’T WANT TO DO IT”

We’ve all been there. The customer rolls in with a (insert your least favourite bike here) and asks you to repair it for them. You may hate bar taping. Boo hoo. Suck it up Princess and get to work. Leaving it to the mechanic who is passionate about bar taping is limiting your skills. If you don’t do it because you don’t want to you won’t ever get very good at it.

I can bet you he feels the same about working on that mountain bike that’s in his stand…

“IT’S JUST TOO DIFFICULT”

Yes it is. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it and you’d be out of a job.

We’ve all been in the position where we have been given a seemingly impossible task and it’s very easy to fall down the “I can’t / don’t want too” rabbit holes as previously mentioned.

Sure when we are first given a job that is completely out of our comfort zone then it can appear outright daunting to begin with but unless we take on the job (methodically) we never stand the chance of succeeding and learning from the experience.

I’d like to finish off by quoting something I’m often heard stating here in the workshop: “The best experience bags are full ones – the worst are empty.”

By this I mean that without prior experience of a job to draw on everything is going to seem very difficult.

Don’t get me wrong, experiences aren’t always good ones – bad ones also have their part to play. No one is perfect and we have all had the job where just nothing seems to go the way it’s supposed to and it’s how we deal with that job mentally that will allow us to become better or create an obstacle in the future. If we view that difficult job as “I’m glad that happened as I now understand how to work with this in the future allowing me to avoid the difficulties I had this time”, we are far more likely to undertake the job again with better more successful results in the future becoming better than the individual who refuses point blank to ever do that job ever again.

So there we have it. Hopefully I’ve opened your mind up to a path to becoming the best you can possibly be! If you require further training and for more information on how to get Cytech qualified, please contact our customer services team on 01865 550324 or cycles@activatelearning.ac.uk