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:
Proper Protection, Preservation and Prevention
Whether it’s to protect against toxic chemicals, preserve a recent manicure or prevent bloody knuckles, car mechanics have the same needs as a bicycle mechanic, albeit at least double the exposure thanks to double the wheels.
Thankfully any auto parts store has a plethora of protection options available, from heavy duty, durable Mechanix gloves to big boxes of disposable latex or nitrile gloves.
While both Mechanix gloves and disposable ones are useful, and we’re all for eliminating waste when possible, the big box of disposable gloves can be invaluable. We prefer nitrile over latex—they slide on easier, won’t trigger latex allergies and seem to be a bit more puncture resistant. Perhaps most important, nitrile gloves often come in black, making you look less like a doctor and less likely to cause loved ones to cringe on sight.
A box of these gloves (and a mechanic’s apron while you’re at it) will undoubtedly come in handy even when not working on your bike, and could become standard operating equipment when cleaning the bathroom, removing unwanted pests or even working on your car. Imagine that.