Less time in the car, more time on the bike. Sound like a familiar goal?
Even when it comes to maintenance, many of us cyclists lean the same way, and the closest we come to a car mechanic is dropping off our car for an oil change, or listening to Click and Clack on public radio. We might do all our own maintenance on our bikes, but when it comes to cars, if we own or lease one, most of us will leave the wrenching on our four-wheel computerized vehicles to the experts with proper diagnostics, the right tools, parts and labor warranties and liability insurance.
That’s just as well—many projects other than changing an air filter or wiper blades can be more complex than on a bicycle—and peace of mind and your time can’t be discounted. Yet for any home bicycle mechanic, your local auto parts store is still worth a visit, and today for our latest, Mechanical Monday installment, we’ve got a few favorite reasons why.
Make no mistake about it, an auto parts store can’t replace your local bicycle shop in its life-saving ability when you break a part the day before a race, and local bike shops need your support to be there when you need them the most. However, most bike shops aren’t stocked with all the items a home mechanic might need for a complicated project or pro setup. And while hardware stores carry some of these items, the selection is actually often more limited.
Sometimes it’s even a matter of convenience, as there’s more likely to be an auto parts store close by than a Home Depot, and there are more O’Reily, Napa or Advance Auto Parts locations than True Value or Ace Hardware franchises. And these stores tend to be open for extended hours, long after a bike shop has closed.
So roll up those sleeves, your roll-top backpack and your two wheels up to your local neighborhood auto parts store with some off our staff’s shopping suggestions below. You’ll be sure to get some staff attention in one way or another as the only grease monkey in lycra.
7 Reasons for Cyclists to Visit the Auto Parts Store:
Got a flat on your commuter but the glue is all dried up in the old patch kit? Cut your new brand new tubeless tire but find sealant won’t plug the hole? Your local auto parts store is often better equipped than your local bike store to help you will all your tire needs. While any good local bike shop has a patch kit waiting for you by the counter, finding a suitable tire patch, a tire plug or just a tube of patch glue is a rarer find.
Thankfully, car parts stores have big, cheap tubes of rubber cement made for patching tires to give your old patch kit new life. You’ll also find patches and plugs to repair most tubeless tire injuries not healed by sealant. Many of these tire plugs are made by the same companies that market to cyclists as well, only the installation tools are bigger. That’s better for home mechanic use, but not quite convenient for out on the gravel road or dirt trail.
Tear your tubeless tape? Ready to convert another set of wheels to be tube-free? The old default DIY tubeless rim tape, Gorilla Tape, is also an auto parts store staple, and should be available in multiple widths and roll lengths.
If you’re feeling especially lucky or lazy, pick up a can of Fix-A-Flat. You never know when it might come in handy for a car flat tire, and in a moment of desperation, your Tufo or Clement tubular. In such a moment years ago, we successfully used this product to seal up a leaking Tufo tubeless cyclocross tubular. Of course we can’t endorse such a tire repair, but YMMV, be warned it only held at low pressure, and you’ll need a Shraeder valve adaptor.
See the next slide for more reasons we find ourselves lurking around car parts stores.