In early June, I brought my bike into MEC Calgary to be tuned under their Premium Service which includes just about everything you’d want done to your bike and only in an 8 to 12-hour turn-around. As anyone knows, at the height of the cycling season, it usually takes weeks to get your bike back from servicing. This is MEC’s way of beating the rush. You pay, you play!
A request for the “Primo” gets you noticed. It’s big bucks (roughly $300) so once you’re at the head of the queue, you’ll get the attention of a senior mechanic. In fact, he took me into the back service room, put my bike on a stand and privately reviewed the service and my additional needs. I had the same service on the same bike (2013 Cannondale SuperSix, Ultegra-equipped) last year when it didn’t need a lot of attention but this year I brought in a new bar to be installed and bar tape. I was curious to see how he’d mount the brakes on the new bar and wrap the tape. Both can be fairly personal but I trusted he’d do a good job. Also, I brought a new chain to be installed such that I could start fresh. My more serious concern was the increasingly poor-shifting and a developing BB creak.
I got a call the next morning to confirm a few things. My new bar was only 40 cm as opposed to the 44 cm on the bike originally. The freehub body on my PowerTap rear wheel was gouged and this was likely affecting the shifting so I said I’d bring in another wheel to complete the work. I did so and the next day, assuming the work was done, I went to collect my bike.
The Premium Service includes new cables and housing (always nice), wheel truing (not required on these nearly-new Dura Ace wheels), re-installation and tuning of the drivetrain (again, I had a new chain). They also clean and detail your entire bike. When my bike was returned, it did look brand new. They’d done all the promised work and in addition, they’d replaced a tube with a slow leak, which I knew about. I rode it home and it was as the saying goes, silky smooth and the bars looked great! On closer inspection, however, I did notice some small missed details: The newly installed tube’s valve stem wasn’t quite square. That’s sometimes hard to do with a long stem. Secondly, the seat post and clamp were both dirty. The clamp still had old residue on it suggesting they hadn’t fully removed all parts and the post was a bit greasy suggesting they hadn’t wiped it down after the final clamping on the stand. That said, I’ve seen similar failings at other bike shops to be sure.
In all, I was very pleased with MEC’s Premium Service. Despite the fast mid-summer turn-around, I’m still not sure I’d pay $300 for it unless If I had an older bike with lesser parts that I’d ridden hard for a few years. A lot of people don’t put much stock in MEC as a reputable bike shop but I do think that impression is changing. My experience is proof positive that they do solid work and as anyone who has shopped there for a few years knows, their bike square footage has increased dramatically. They’re a major player now and they have a service shop to back that up.