Took my bike to Tala maket today with James, my colleague from work. The tires go flat slowly when I leave it, so every time I want to use it I have to pump them up. My pump is about the size of a reasonably powerful man’s cigar: enough to give your intern a agood time, but not much cop for inflating the chubby tyres on your mountain bike. I was whinging about this to James when he pointed to the main join in the frame of my bike (its an odd design with a sort of inverted ‘T’ shape frame with a stupid big shock-absorber spring in the middle) and said “it’s going to break!”…
I didn’t feel like riding it myself after I’d seen the big crack. We pushed our bikes to the market in the rain and talked about bycicle fundi. Turns out I was over-charged big time for the work I have had done on the bike so far. “Skin Tax” one of the other volunteers calls it.
We switched bikes and walked to James’s bycicle fundi of choice. Before long we were standing by watching the welding fundy doing his gas-powered magic on the frame. Apparently, though, he didn’t fall for the bike swapping trick and tried to charge James three times the price for the work. When the welding was done the bycicle fundi sorted out my slow-leaking valves, and tightened the back wheel as well as replacing the cables on the frame that he had to move before th welding.
The total cost of all this work was one quarter of what I paid on my first visit to a bycicle repair man in Tala. Won’t be going back there again.