Best Shop Prank?

Scary for me to think, but this story is probably from ~12 years ago. I worked as shop hand at a bike shop in Redmond, WA. In the shop, we had an ace mechanic named Val - this guy could fix anything. His handlebar mustache made him somehow seem even wiser. Val continues to dazzle folks with his wrenching skills - and he shares his experiences here from time to time with his comments.

Anyway, the store assistant manager was a bit of a blow-hard, and had a serious case of short-man’s disease. He was headed out on a biking vacation with his old riding buddies in California. He was talking a big game about how he’d upgraded to Cat3 and he was going to be making his buddies suffer with his new-found fitness. Of course, being the manager he used his position and had Val pack the bike for him.

Well, Val had proven time and again that he is, if nothing else, a clever man. Val dutifully packed the bike in the shop-owned bike box, but put special attention to packing the wheels. He unscrewed the air chamber of the shop Silca floor pump, and filled it…with water. He then carefully pumped the tubes full with the H20. The best part - Val didn’t tell a sole until the Manager had left town.

A week later, the manager gets back from his trip and told us of his little get-away. He said built up his bike, pumped up his tires to 100psi, and was ready to show his friends his new skills. Not so much. He said he was killing himself just to keep up with the group on the flats. When the road went up, he was really getting killed. As I remember him tell it - he didn’t figure out the gag until a couple hours into the first ride. Thanks for the laugh Val - that was impressive. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.


That is a good one.  One of my favorites is putting ball bearings in the seat tube, or for newer rims, in wheels.  Causes no harm but is annoying as hell.

Story sounds unlikely.

The assistant store manager pumped air on top of the water already in the tubes?

How could he not notice that the tires were heavier than normal?

This a-hole racer faked a mechanical to take a break and get back in, something, something with the wheel.

The neutral support didn’t much like a-hole racer and turned all of his aero spokes a 1/2 turn so they caught the wind instead of slicing through it.

Ah, yes, it all comes back to me….actually, it’s even better than you remember - the water went into the rear tube a good month before the vacation (rear only, because water in the front tire will affect the handling and be too noticeable).  The bike in question had been modified to the nth degree with every titanium widget available, in an effort to shave the last precious gram off, but this only had the effect of placing less stress on the wall hook in the Performance repair shop where it hung for months on end.  Every now and then Jeff (the asst. mgr. in question) would look at it and say “You know, I really should start riding that, or at least get it out of your way,” but it never moved, or got any miles.  One day I was working on some repairs, and the whole staff was standing around watching (slow day, about five salesmen hanging out in the repair area [remember J9?  she was cool]) when someone noticed it and said “Isn’t that Jeff’s bike still hanging there?”  “Yep,” I said, “watch this.”  I then proceeded to do the deed with the whole staff watching (Jeff, of course, was off).  When I had hung the bike back up, I looked at everyone and said “This didn’t happen, right?”  “What didn’t happen?” they said.  The bike hung there for another month until his vacation, when I watched him packing the bike and jumped in just before he removed the rear wheel.  “Here, let me give you a hand, Jeff,” as I pulled the rear wheel off and put it in the hard case.  I have no idea how he missed the extra weight when he reassembled it.  Maybe he got someone to help with that, too.  Good times.

That ti lite everything reminds me of those Ti bolt and washer kits from the 90s and how it was determined that the kit would be never offered again after one bike was outfitted to save a few ounces.

Something doesn’t add up.  Putting water in the pump barrel would prevent you from pushing the plunger down… Sure, people would be less likely to detect extra weight in the pump than the wheel, but it just wouldn’t work…

Sorry to contradict, RK, but it does work, and quite well.  Simply remove the plunger, fill the barrel with water, replace plunger, attach chuck to valve stem, and compress plunger.  The water in the pump winds up in the tube, and then more air is pumped in to produce pressure, so the tire functions normally.  Try it sometime…if you know of a deserving subject.

The fact that he didn’t notice the weight - can’t help you there.  Maybe the tubes weren’t full? 

As far as the pump not working - why not?  It’s a pump - it’ll pump whatever’s in the chamber.  An oil pump is exactly like an air pump (just beefier).  It might have taken a little more effort to push the more dense water than air, but it should have worked just fine.

Val - J9 was great.  I still see CraigD from time to time.  I miss having guys like Sherer around the Seattle scene.  He was such a great guy.  Good role model for a young kid. 

Then again, there was DaveB - who was not so much.

This does, in fact work. I did it to a co-worker a few years ago. Same deal, guy who never rode, talked big game, etc, etc.

You really don’t notice the weight all that much when just lifting the bike by the top tube. Remember, water doesn’t compress like air does, so only like one pump barrel’s worth of water goes in…it’s not that much, but enough to throw things off when rolling.

Another really nasty prank is dropping a hot dog into a seat tube…nasty

It does work, but I did it with a frame pump under water in a wash bin. I once stuffed a banana in a a**hole customers seat tube, I heard his riding group complain about him smelling horribly but a year later he still hadn’t found it.

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