DIY bicycle maintenance: time is money
How much of my time is worth spending fixing a broken thumb shifter? A week? That's how long it took Geoff Kuenning just to put his back together again. So let's see... £25 per hour x 7.5 hours x 5 days = £937.50. A new one is about £25 (my LBS offered to split a pair).
My thumb shifter jammed on a ride earlier this week. The one that shifts the rear mech, and my chain was stuck on the smallest sprocket. You're not scuppered of course. You can jury rig your rear mech to fix its position on the middle sprocket (notice the use of nautical expressions – it was raining hard at the time). I did not abandon ship but pressed on with the three gears available – the three chainrings – and got most of the way home.
Soon have this fixed, I thought. The thumb lever wasn't even trying to pull cable. It was locked solid. Anyway having removed the top, searched, read Geoff's page and then phoned my LBS ("yeah... it's a box of springs") I bought a new one and fitted it in less than five minutes. Just over £2 worth of my time. A bargain.
The £25. This is my current rate for doing something that is of no benefit to me. So, for example, if someone asked me to fix punctures (or mow their lawn) I will charge £25/hr. A few years ago it was less and in a few years it will doubtless be more. Time spent fixing is time not spent doing something I would choose to do: riding my bike, or even fixing my bike – and this is where it becomes complicated because some bike maintenance is fun and worth doing for its own sake. I'm quite happy to sit in the sunshine on a pleasant afternoon and polish my bike without thinking how much it 'cost'. Cleaning a bicycle chain, however, is only worth doing when it can be done quickly and with the minimum raw materials, otherwise it is more cost effective to buy new chains. Building bicycle wheels on the other hand is tremendous fun even if you save nothing. And so it goes on.
To return to the broken thumb shifter... I might strip it down in front of the TV one winter's night. Even if I can't put it back together I might learn something and I won't waste any valuable time. I had also thought of taking the opportunity to upgrade the drive train: better Deore XT thumb shifters, convert to 10 speed as Shimano is now 10-speed, new cassette, etc etc. It all made perfect sense but I resisted all that when I remembered how a few years ago a dripping tap led to a complete new kitchen right down to replacing the plaster.