I once took an overnight flight to Salt Lake City, then jumped in a rented minivan and got to Moab in time to hit the Slickrock Trail after lunch. Two hours, one broken derailleur and a few patches of skin later, I came to understand that “Slickrock” and “sleep-deprived” is a very dangerous combination.
At the end of the day, I stood in Rim Cyclery minutes before closing time with a new XT rear derailleur in my hand, dreading the prospect of installing it by headlamp, in a campsite, with minimal tools and no work stand. When he realized I planned to carry the derailleur out of the shop in a box, the surprised shop guy said, “You don’t want us to install it for you?”
When I explained that I was in a hurry because my brother and I were planning to ride the next morning, the guy told me I could swing by after breakfast and my bike would be ready. His tone indicated he was surprised that he had to explain this.
The next morning, I walked out of the shop with a belly full of breakfast burrito, and a bike that shifted like a dream all day long. It was a revelation to find a shop that would do a repair without keeping a bike for three days. I had been doing almost all of my own bike maintenance for years (and still am) because I was unwilling to leave my ride in one shop or another for days at a time.
When my brother busted a shifter and shredded a tire in Fruita during a morning ride a couple of years later, a shop mechanic repaired repaired his bike while we grabbed a sandwiches for lunch. We were back on the trail that afternoon.
Three-day waits for routine repairs just ain’t the way things work in places like Moab and Fruita. Those shops there know that customers are burning cash and vacation days to ride, not wait. Bikes have to roll in and out the door like they’re going through an Indy 500 pit stop, so mechanics learn to specialize in fast turnaround times.
I don't mean to bash bike shops—I have friends and relatives who work in them, and they're my all-time favorite stores—but I think it’s a shame that bicyclists everywhere can’t count on fast, in-and-out service that keeps them riding every day. It’s no fun for anyone to drop off a bike and know it’s going to sit in the back room for 72 hours before a 30-minute repair will be done.
Imagine telling the average American whose cable TV service has just gone dark, “Oh, we’ll get someone out there in three or four days.” Most people wouldn’t stand for it. Hell, if there were a big NASCAR race coming up, an enraged Billy Joe might get boozed up on Coors Light and park his Ford pickup in the cable company's lobby at 2 a.m..
I realize that shops in mountain bike towns generally deal with more customers who are pressed for time (and ride high-end bikes in generally good repair), while shops have to deal with things like kids’ bikes, long-neglected bikes, and the sales and tune-up rush that comes with spring. But wouldn’t it be great if you could drop in and get a new bottom bracket the same way you can stop and have your car’s oil changed while you wait?