With bike service in the city routinely taking 2 weeks or longer at this time of the year, one can imagine how excited I was when I was offered to secretly shop MEC’s Premium Bike Service with its 8-hour turn-around. Normally I don’t think of MEC when I think of getting my bike service but that’s simply because I’ve been riding for a while and I’m not in the habit of thinking of MEC as being in the service—let alone bike—business.
The service is a $305 value and they check your bike quite thoroughly. As listed, the service includes: The Premium Bike Service Package includes:
– Complete overhaul of your bike (all parts are removed from the frame, cleaned, and degreased)
– Loose bearing points repacked with new bearings and grease (headset, hubs, bottom bracket)
– Front and rear wheels trued and tensioned
– All housing and cables replaced with Shimano replacements (shift and brakes)
– Frame completely cleaned and detailed
– Service completed in eight hours
Given most of my bikes are either track or old commuters and wouldn’t really benefit from such detailing, I decided to bring in the bike I’ve ridden most of the year, my Cannondale Super6 road bike. It only has about 3000km on it since I just bought it last August and didn’t actually start riding it again until February. The bike could mostly benefit from a cleaning and new derailleur cables.
When I approached the MEC service centre about bringing my bike in, the lad there informed me that he’d need to look at it prior to making the appointment. I was happy to go get it from home since I live nearby and drop it off. He said from the start that although “it says 8-hours, it may be 2 days since our master mechanic is the only one who can do the work. I have a second road bike so I wasn’t concerned but since the idea seems to be that you’re paying a premium for a fast completion, it seemed that they were already failing on one count. Still, I had heard first-hand from at least two bike shops that they were booking 2-weeks in advance so 2-days seemed great all the same.
The master mechanic, who seemed a cross between Axel Rose and Mick Jagger, was welcoming and polite and came to greet me at the service entrance. He invited me into the back shop, put my bike on a stand and described the service. We looked over my bike together. Given I take fairly good care of my bikes and my bike was essentially 4-months old, I could tell this was going to be an easy job. The Service includes loose but no cartridge bearings, which my bike has so that was out of the top. My wheels were—as far as I could tell—still true. Both the brake pads and brake cables were fine. I absolutely love my bar tape so I told him not to touch it. That left replacing derailleur cables and housing as well as cleaning and detailing the frame.
Think about that for a second: I was about to pay over $300 for new derailleur cables, housing and a cleaning. He admitted that they were swamped with service requests and that I should check back in a couple of days.
I swung by MEC two—maybe three—days later and my bike as the groovy young woman told me, “hadn’t been touched. It’s safely stored in the back, though!” It had taken her a good while to actually find it. I wasn’t concerned. I can appreciate that bike shops are nearly all overwhelmed at this time of year and in the back of my mind, I knew this service would be reimbursed and, most importantly, I was re-acquainting myself with my other road bike. After all, I was told up front that my bike wouldn’t be done in 8-hours and that there was only one guy to do the work so it only follows that when he’s off, my bike won’t get done!
I got a call from the MEC service centre a week later. My bike was finished. I happily collected it and ghost rode it home while riding my commuter. My bike was cleaned, detailed and polished as promised. There were new cables (and assumedly housing) and my shifting, which was a mess going in, was back in good order. As the cables stretch, I’m free to go in for a follow-up tuning. Just yesterday, I rode this bike seriously for the first time since I collected it. The bike has looked so good on the wall, I haven’t wanted to get it dirty!
In conclusion, if you have an older bike that hasn’t seen attention in a few years, MEC’s Bike Service is solid. The Premium Bike Service (PBS), however, is a questionable offering, which I think misses its mark. I imagine PBS is aimed at cyclists dropping their bikes off prior to work. That said, I can also imagine that a cyclist who wants his/her bike back in 8-hours is also a cyclist that cares for their equipment such that this service isn’t worth the money. Moreover, I don’t know how MEC could anticipate the needs of every type of bike that came in for this service. What if they don’t have the parts? What happens when the one guy doing the servicing is sick or off work for a few days?
I don’t know what one pays for this same service at other stores but at this time of year, you’re likely going to have to wait 2-weeks or longer. MEC’s Master Mechanic did a masterful job—even if he didn’t have to do much to my bike.