The Handy Millennial has started to learn a new skill and picked up a new project: bike restoration.
This is, of course, loads of fun, because as you might know the Handy Millennial is really into mechanics. In fact, the Handy Millennial loves nothing more than to disassemble his brakes or to change his own oil. It’s an unbelievable sense of accomplishment!
Anyway, to the point, the Handy Millennial had a 40-year-old Schwinn Super Le Tour in his basement and decided it would be fun to learn how to restore bikes. One fun side-effect of this project is that you, my dear reader, may begin to learn more about bike restoration on this blog.
Why? Simple! Because it turns out that bikes are much less complex than cars, excite people just as much, and are really simple to work on! This seems like a great recipe for something to add to the Handy Millennial’s School of Life.
But more to the point of today’s post, about 5 minutes into the nascent restoration, the Handy Millennial realized it was time to Google!! Love me some Googlin’… Why? Because we literally have the world’s information at our fingertips. That is, if you know how to find it. And because there are lots of people jabbering on the internet (like your favorite (H) Millennial), it can be quite difficult to find a credible source for what you need.
How to Google is a 21st century skill!
But “how to google it” is a real world skill today, one that will get you hired, one that will help you improve your life, and one that will help you fix your finances! Unfortunately, and surprisingly, it’s a skill that many people lack. And you might think that only old people don’t know how to google. But you, my dear reader, are wrong.
The Handy Millennial has had lots of students, supposedly of the correct age to be tech savvy, who simply don’t know how to use the greatest resource we have ever had. Why? Well because, my dear reader, Googling is deceptively simple.
Remember what we used to have?
We had this:
For those of you actually young enough not to remember this, good for you… I wish I was in your cohort. Not only is learning the Dewey Decimal System a pain, people actually used to go to school for this!! For years!!!! Why? Because it felt like this!
So yeah you young’uns,… Enjoy! Now when the World Wide Web was invented, instead of trying to understand the card catalog, we got to do this:
Simple, right? Well, sure, if your goal is to find Facebook, or Google, or Twitter, or the news… But the real skill in Googling is when you learn something you didn’t know, and you do it while hopping topics. Can you do that? And I’m not talking about how big Kim Kardashian’s ring is either. Because my dear reader, Googling is a skill at its finest when you’re looking for something obscure. That’s when you really get to hone your Google sleuthing skills!
Why it’s hard to find obscure things
Now it’s actually pretty hard to find obscure information on the internet, because information on the internet is kind of organized like this:
It’s great if whatever you’re looking for is popular, but good luck if it’s on the fringe. This is actually sad because the internet was designed to share little-known information widely. Unfortunately, marketing and money are powerful forces.
So let’s show you a demonstration of how to Google for something obscure by giving you an example with the Handy Millennial’s new project – bike restoration.
Finding something obscure
So approximately 10 minutes into the bike restoration the Handy Millennial ran into a small problem. You see the Handy Millennial wanted to service his rear wheel bearings (if you don’t know what that is, stay tuned, more to come in a future post!), but it turned out that he couldn’t! Why? Well because this was in the way!
Hmm, okay. Question #1 – what is that?!?
How to Google it: Question 1: What are the gears on my bike called?
Aha!! We have a hit. Notice here that the first page hit is an advice article by REI. Great! Now remember, the Handy Millennial wants to fix his bike – not go down the rabbit hole of learning every gear (maybe later that night….). A quick skim shows us that the rear gears on the bike are called the “Cassette”!
Great, we have progress!
How to Google it: Question 2: Bike Cassette
Now clicking through the first link, the Handy Millennial discovers a nasty surprise: the bike cassette doesn’t actually look like what he has. But three results down is Amazon! Yay! And it looks like there are two types of bike gear thingies: cassettes and freewheels.
How to Google it: Question 3: What is a Bike Freewheel
Now, what is a freewheel? It looks like we can dive into Wikipedia here. Hmm, let’s not do that. Again, we want to fix our bike and maybe later we will focus on this. But right now this is a distraction. Looks like the next link down could be helpful.
And it is! The link tells us that the freewheel is basically the old method of making gears of the bike and the cassette is the new method. Well since we have a 40-year-old bike here, it’s safe to say that we need to remove the older, freewheel-type system.
How to Google it: Question 4: How to remove a freewheel
So first of all, absolutely do not look at links called “Remove Freewheel Without Remover Tool.” Why? Because this is your bike, you should do the job right. Second, it looks like we need a tool!
Take a break, IRL.
Aha! At this point the Hand Millennial thought he was done. So, rear bike wheel in hand, the Handy Millennial made off for the nearest bike store. Queue the “wamp, wamp, wamp” sound… because as you might have guessed, a 40-year-old bike won’t fit the tools in a modern store. (Side note: AHA moment, regarding the fact that this post could be written.)
Now this was a little disappointing since even the Handy Millennial can be impatient sometimes. The actual words by the bike mechanic were “You aren’t going to find that, this bike is vintage. We could do it for you for XXX dollars.” Hmph, challenge accepted.
How to Google it: Question 5: Schwinn Le Tour freewheel removal tool
So the Handy Millennial is well-versed in finding parts for ancient cars. Let’s see if he can find an appropriate tool online. Now, the last link in this picture looks right! How do I know? Well link #1 likely isn’t going to work because popular tools on Amazon are probably not vintage.
Link #2 was not helpful.
Link #3! Now this is what you need. A forum of enthusiasts who are talking about this problem! And it turned out that these helpful people also had a link to some obscure manufacturer that could sell me this tool for $4.95. Thanks ya’ll!!
About 5 days later, the Handy Millennial received this tool and can confirm that this is indeed correct!
What have we learned?
So it turns out that Google was indeed very helpful. However, Google was not helpful in the way that we would normally think about it. Google helped us to sequentially refine a vague idea into more and more accurate terminology. Once we narrowed down our search to the correct terms, Google allowed us to search more accurately for our task: removing an ancient bike freewheel.
And once we knew how to remove the freewheel, Google really shined by letting us look for an obscure tool that would have been very difficult to track down otherwise. Total project time: 5 days. In the old days? Forever.