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bicycle mechanics.....question.........(10 posts)

bicycle mechanics.....question.........got2ryd
Nov 21, 2001 4:42 AM
for you mechanics working in shops or for teams as a career, did you attend a school and become certified? can you make a living doing this and survive? i am considering the barnett bicycle institute. does anyone have any feedback on them? any other good schools out there? or, are there other ways to get work in the bicycle world and make a living? thanks for your help and insight. --sean
re: bicycle mechanics.....question.........Bicycle Bill
Nov 21, 2001 6:25 AM
You cannot make a good living in a bike shop. Top mechanics bring home $10-15 an hour,10 being more the norm.

Barnett trains technicnally proficiant mechanics, but shops need a profitable mechanic. One who can diagnose a problem and fix it quickly, this only comes with experience.

My advice; before you invest the time and money at Barnnett take a part time job at a busy shop and kiss up to the top wrench. Yuo'll learn as much from him and it will only cost you a six-pack.

By the way, I'm in my 25th year as a shop mechanic, have only a meager savings account, a jolopy of a car, and no real job security or great retirement plan. But I sure do have some nice bikes! What are your priorities?
Perception meets reality,TJeanloz
Nov 21, 2001 8:14 AM
It is true that most bicycle mechanics will not earn more than $20/hour. Most head mechanics, at busy shops, will be in the ~$15 range. This isn't necessarily not a 'good living'. Certainly it's not Doctor or Lawyer money, but it's a reasonable income to live on. I never knew anybody who was in the bike business for the money.

Per the original question, I agree, Barnett, UBI et. al. provide a good technical foundation- but it is not enough to train a good mechanic. The trouble is the focus- at Barnett they teach you all about how to overhaul 8 speed Campy hubs (which are a real pain to OH), but they don't tell you enough about one peice bottom brackets and cranks that come on Huffys. In the traditional bike shop training program, a trainee spends a lot of time (~2 seasons) before they can be considered a competant mechanic. Bicycle mechanics is something you learn by doing, and two weeks of school cannot begin to replace two seasons in the pits.
agree with all of the above...gtx
Nov 21, 2001 10:26 AM
'cept I never heard of anyone making $20 an hour in a bike shop, unless they were the shop manager and were getting a bonus of some kind. At least a few years ago, most service managers topped out at around $12 or so.
$20/hourTJeanloz
Nov 21, 2001 10:54 AM
$20 an hour happens, but it isn't the going rate. Head mechanics/service managers with a lot (10+ years) of tenure at a busy shop generally approach this wage. Most bicycle mechanics are more likely in the $9-$14/hr range.
$20/hourgtx
Nov 21, 2001 11:27 AM
I recently got laid off in the tech field and was considering going back to bike shops. I had moved and have no shop connections. The local shop was willing to hire me at $10 (10 years shop experience). I'm sure I would be able to get up to $12-14 again pretty quick (I was being paid $13 when I last worked in a shop in 1995), and more if I was working as a manager. They were starting people on the floor at about $7, probably about the same for bike builders. This is West Coast. I decided to take some low-level office work instead for a bit more pay--it's more mellow, you can read a book, web surf and take a long lunch without anyone noticing. Hoping the economy picks up next year...

One thing that impressed me while I was at the shop was the number of people coming in with problems with their spendy pre-built wheels, and the steady refrain "we don't have parts for that." Seems like mechanics now have to be up on all the latest cr@p--know how to order what from whom so they can replace or warranty the broken part--as apposed to actually knowing how to fix stuff. Not saying we should go back to the days of Nuovo Record, but it is a different experience now.
Perception meets reality,cioccman
Nov 21, 2001 10:58 AM
A *reasonable income to live on*? Not here that's for sure! Perhaps in North Dakota.
Try it sometime,TJeanloz
Nov 21, 2001 11:11 AM
Living modestly isn't as hard as people think it is. I lived in Boulder, CO on the $10/hour I made. It wasn't living large, but I never went hungry.
and don't forget, no car needed. subtract...Js Haiku Shop
Nov 21, 2001 11:19 AM
* gas
* tune-ups
* oil
* tires
* insurance

from your monthly expenses. most of the bike shop guys i've talked with ride to work, year-round.

then again, there's the tale of my close relative who got a job at a clothing discount (knock-off) store to supplement her summer income. didn't take into account her weakness: she's a clothes horse. spent more with her discount than she made weekly working there.
re: bicycle mechanics.....question.........TheMaxx
Nov 21, 2001 2:59 PM
I learned by talking someone into hiring me at a tiny shop, the kind of place where everyone is there only because they love bikes. I worked for a few days for free, so the owner could teach me a few things and see if I was any good. I learn mechanical things quickly, so it was easy for me.
The two guys I learned from came from opposite backgrounds. One had worked in a shop since he was a kid and had gone to UBI. The other was totally self taught and probably the smartest mechanic and best wheel builder I know. Both of them were great mechs, and I got learn from each of their backgrounds.