AHN SHOWS THE WAY

He of­fers hands-on main­te­nance and re­pair clin­ics

Cycling Plus (Malaysia) - - THE HUB -

is­dom is not a prod­uct of school­ing but of the life­long at­tempt to ac­quire it.”

This may not be Albert Ein­stein’s fa­mous quote that com­pares life to rid­ing a bi­cy­cle, but in­stead talks of his burn­ing de­sire and con­stant quest to seek knowl­edge.

For cy­clists, it should ring es­pe­cially true. There are al­ways new tech­nolo­gies and prod­ucts that we get ex­cited over, but how many of us can grasp the ba­sic me­chan­ics of the bi­cy­cle?

Know­ing how to change your tubes and tyres is one thing, but be­ing able to fix prob­lems by your­self is a valu­able skill that all cy­clists should have. You could head to the near­est bike shop or your favourite me­chanic, but what if you’re 50km from the near­est town, on a long solo ride? What if you’re tour­ing in for­eign lands where no one un­der­stands your lan­guage and you have no means to com­mu­ni­cate in­tri­cate bike prob­lems?

In these in­stances, it be­comes more ap­par­ent than ever that some ba­sic know how is nec­es­sary, and un­der­stand­ing of your own bike. One of the places you can do this is at The Way Bi­cy­cle Lab in Pu­tra­jaya. As a Cer­ti­fied Park Tool School, the place of­fers hands-on main­te­nance and re­pair clin­ics. It uses cur­ricu­lum and ma­te­ri­als from the BBB-3 Big Blue Book of Bi­cy­cle Re­pair, which acts as the out­line for each clinic.

The place is run by South Korean Jerome Ahn, a Cer­ti­fied pro­fes­sional bi­cy­cle wheel builder by UBI & DT Swiss, and a Cer­ti­fied pro­fes­sional sus­pen­sion tech­ni­cian by United Bi­cy­cle In­sti­tute(ubi) in Port­land, USA.

He opened the busi­ness fu­elled by a de­sire to set up his own bike kitchen, where rid­ers can trou­bleshoot issues and re­pair their own bikes. I paid him a visit re­cently, and dis­cov­ered that the unas­sum­ing, soft spo­ken man has many other im­pres­sive cre­den­tials un­der his belt.

“I’ve also taken a pro­fes­sional me­chanic pro­gramme at Bike Academy in Korea, the most well-known bi­cy­cle in­sti­tute there. I got a deep un­der­stand­ing of the broader as­pect of bi­cy­cles. For ex­am­ple, shift­ing trou­ble is not only from shifters.

“It could be from the hanger, BB and hub, spac­ers or frames,” Ahn ex­plains. While this knowl­edge was suf­fi­cient for fix­ing bi­cy­cles, he wanted to learn more. “I wanted to know more pro­fes­sion­ally about wheel build­ing and sus­pen­sions. So I took the ad­vanced me­chanic

”Wcourse at United Bi­cy­cle In­sti­tute, one of the world’s best. Then I took ex­ams to get these cer­tifi­cates. It was a lit­tle bit stress­ful but worth it.”

As part of his ser­vices, Ahn also runs a pro­fes­sional tools rental ser­vice. “Most peo­ple are sur­prised to see we have lots of tools when they visit us. We’ve got 5 pro­fes­sional tool sets for full over­haul ser­vices, wheel build­ing tools, bear­ing ser­vice tools, hy­draulic brake ser­vice tools, sus­pen­sion forks tools and many more,” he says, ges­tur­ing around the shop.

“We also have tools to ser­vice high-end prod­ucts such as Chrisk­ing and DT Swiss hub. And tools for me­chanic ser­vices, thread­ing, ream­ing and fac­ing.”

It’s cer­tainly an im­pres­sive list, and al­lows those sign­ing up for the clin­ics to re­ally get their hands dirty. Jerome ad­mits, the search for the per­fect in­stru­ments took a bit of time. “I com­pared more than 10 bi­cy­cle tool mak­ers and chose tools for the best us­abil­ity and func­tion­al­ity. The Park Tool school par­tic­i­pants have so far been sat­is­fied with these dif­fer­ent pro­fes­sional tools and cus­tomers who use our ser­vices trust that we work prop­erly with the right equip­ment.”

But that isn’t all on Ahn’s list of things to do. He’s long har­boured a de­sire to build his own frames, tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the an­nual North Amer­ica Hand­made Bi­cy­cle Show.

“When I saw the beau­ti­ful hand­made bi­cy­cles on the in­ter­net, I wanted to try it too,” Ahn re­mem­bers. He de­voured ‘The Paterek man­ual’, a leg­endary book for frame builders world­wide, writ­ten by Tim Paterek, who rec­om­mended two frame builders in the United States. “So I learned from one of them - Steve Garn, who has built bi­cy­cles and mo­tor­cy­cle frames more than over 40 years. He is one of the gu­rus of frame build­ing. The frames he built has had sev­eral na­tional cham­pi­ons and records. When I met him, I was amazed. He could ground and weld bi­cy­cle tub­ings in a sec­ond. Learn­ing from him was a great time for me.”

But he doesn’t just plan to be your av­er­age frame builder. “I’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested in mini ve­los (small and por­ta­ble bi­cy­cles) and ran­don­neur­ing or tour­ing bi­cy­cles. Maybe put a mo­tor on it too. Then next, I’m go­ing to build frames with ti­ta­nium tub­ing. Ti­ta­nium it­self is good ma­te­rial but you need very care­ful weld­ing con­di­tions.

“It should not be con­tam­i­nated by any other ma­te­rial when it is ground and should be shielded from the air in and out of tub­ings when it is welded. I’m now build­ing test prod­ucts and pro­to­type de­signs.” So far he has no date on when these will be on of­fer, be­yond a tar­get of some­time in the third quar­ter of the year.

The Way Bi­cy­cle Lab is avail­able for walk-in visi­tors if they are open, but is not open full time dur­ing nor­mal of­fice hours. Ahn ad­vises any­one in­ter­ested to call ahead or make an ap­point­ment be­fore­hand. For more in­for­ma­tion log on to https://www.face­book.com/the­way­bi­cy­cle.lab/ or https://www.the­way­bi­cy­cle.com.

“We’ve got 5 pro­fes­sional tool sets for full over­haul ser­vices, wheel build­ing tools, bear­ing ser­vice tools, hy­draulic brake ser­vice tools, sus­pen­sion forks tools and many more.”

1 Bi­cy­cles set up for the next bike clinic. 2 Jerome Ahn giv­ing a tour of his premises. 3 An­other wall of tools at the shop.

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