Tuesday, November 03, 2009

For Want of A Piece

I've been taking a bicycle repair course (very empowering!) this fall, and so ordered a bicycle repair stand from Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC). Today, I finally decided to assemble it from the pieces in the kit.
It was a Velomann V2500, not the highest end stand, but not the cheapest they offered, either. The instructions were in multiple languages, very terse, and the parts list on the back of the instructions was in Italian only.
In any case, a veteran of many IKEA assembly efforts, I began with a mix of hope and fear. It took about an hour to get past the first page of the assembly (simply to attach two flanges to a tube); the problem was that the picture of some plastic devices was simply wrong, and also that there was a large number of very similar, but different enough for the right choice to matter, plastic pieces. After that things moved more smoothly, as I had re-learned about lock nuts, and had begun to understand how to parse the very strange illustrations.
And then the IKEA nightmare hit! The last two major pieces did not seem to look quite like what was in the picture. And in fact they did not - the last bit of assembly was to add the clamp that grips the bicycle - it consists of an upper half and a lower half. My kit contained two upper haves, and no lower half. This was not going to work.
Now MEC's apparent return policy is to require you to ship the product back for an exchange. I am not eager to do so, as I would have to undo my efforts of the last few hours (though that would be easier, and a re-assembly would go much faster too). In any case, I have asked whether I could just trade an upper half clamp for a lower half clamp (in their Italian names and Velomann part numbers, of course.)
I'll give IKEA credit - in the times I ran into similar problems they had a wide variety of replacement parts available, which were readily available at their outlets.
If MEC insists on their policy, I'll try Velomann too. But this was discouraging. After last night's class, I was getting very excited about the prospect of ripping my bicycles apart.


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