Hello, I'd Like A Service Kit For...

      A good part of my, or I should say Pam's day is spent sourcing parts. I am not talking about the usual everyday stuff but rather the one off wotnots and thingamabobs that are peculiar to certain brands or models.
      The two chief problem areas are;
1. Bushing kits for full suspension mtb's
2. Seal kits for older suspension forks.
      Believe me when I say there are plenty more components, even new ones, that getting spare parts for is akin to replacing a thrust unit on a space shuttle, which is probably why NASA quit flying them.
      Let's take a simple task of bushing replacement in a frame. Now when a company builds a full suspension mountain bike there will be at least two joints on it that will be required to pivot. No matter the design, something, somewhere is going to have to move up and down. This is not a big deal but whilst we need to have the movement up and down we do not want any from side to side and also, we want the pivot to be smooth and not grinding. To achieve both these aims bushing are used, either little brass units or nylon or a mixture of both on a machined bolt or link pin. The thing with bushings though, they wear out. That is where I come in. Simple you say and yes, it should be.
       A conversation with a bike companies parts department usually goes something like this;

Me;                 Hello my good man, I would like a bushing replacement kit for a "DillyWotsit 6000" please

Parts Guy;       Oooh, I'm sorry sir we stopped making those 2 years ago.

Me;                 But the bike is only 3 years old.

Parts Guy;       Like I said we stopped making them 2 years ago. We make the "DillyWotsit 9000" now.

Me;                 Cool, will the bushings on that fit the 6000?

Parts Guy;       Not a chance, but we can sell you the whole frame...

Me;                 Thank you for your time.

      And believe me it can be much more painful than that. We recently had a K2 mountain bike in for bushings, it took us two days to figure out who now owned the company before we could work out who to call. Only to be told that when they bought the company the spare parts inventory was zero. Not a few or some but squat. We made our own.
        It is not just companies that have been sold or swallowed up by others that we encounter problems, it seems that the norm these days is to faze out re-stocking spares on models that are four or more years old. They just assume by then that you will be buying a new bike. I would love to sell you a new ride every year and, some folks with the budget and a weakness for the new and shiny, do just that. But, I have a feeling that if you were told that your 3 grand race rig is toast for the lack of a 30 dollar service kit, you are going to be pissed, probably enough to switch brands. It amazes me that manufacturers do not see that. Hell, maybe they do.
        Another big ticket item on the bike that suffers from the same problem is, suspension forks. I will add a caveat here and exclude RockShox and Fox. Both these companies have bent over backwards to help me out over the years and I have never had to scrap a fork from these guys for the want of replacement parts. If only some of the others were more accommodating.
        So, there you have it, a little rant from the workshop. If there is anything you could take from this post it would be; If you are in the market for a full squishy mtb, look carefully at the linkage. If it is a weird intricate design, maybe stock up on a couple of bushing kits at the time of purchase.
Posted on August 5, 2012 .