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The Wrenching Life(10 posts)

The Wrenching Lifebent_spoke
Apr 6, 2002 5:19 PM
I was curious to knonw what an average wrench makes starting out?

Also, how long does it take these guys to build a bike up from the frame up? Some guys seem quick & good, but others scare me with their moves around my their showing off or something...a possible accident waiting to happen.
re: The Wrenching Lifegtx
Apr 6, 2002 5:51 PM
wrenches usually start out building entry level new bikes out of the box--probably around $6-$7 an hour these days. By the time a mecahnic is dong tuneups, wheelbuilds, etc., probably in the $8-12 range, depending on experience, a bit more for service managers. Depends on where you live. Assuming the frame is prepped and the wheels built, it would take a good mechanic about an hour or so to build a road bike up from the frame with something straightforward like Ultegra (hard to tell, though--the shop's best mechanics who would build up the higher end stuff are usually in full view of the public and there are a lot of distractions). Bikes from the box are much faster--5 to 15 minutes for a good mechanic depending on the bike. There are only a handful of ways for a mechanic to actually damage a frame--cross thread a bb, overtighten a clamp-on front der, scratch the paint. Seen most of these things happen but it's pretty rare. I'd be more worried about taking your car to Jiffy Lube (just started changing the oil myself again after one too many incidents with those guys).
Dido on Qik Oil Change Placesjagiger
Apr 6, 2002 7:14 PM
It's an easy job, unless you screw up. I saw a kid get ready to rip off the hood of my Saab, which opens opposite of normal cars. I pounded on the glass booth of the waiting room to warn him & then spoke with him. His reply was "I knew that" ?!*. They also liked to take the key out without putting the car in reverse. (It cost us an ignition switch.) In all fairness they probably aren't trained much, so I'll do it myself. It's the only thing that I can do anyway.

FYI to foreign car owners: they'r probably are rounding out the head on your drain plug, as they don't tend to keep metric sizes. You may be surprised the next time you go under there to do it yourself.
5 to 15 minutes?surly357
Apr 7, 2002 1:12 PM
I'm sorry but 5 to 15 minutes on a new bike from a box would get you a sporting goods store "assembly" you wouldn't want to ride across the parking lot. Good assemblers realize they are building BICYCLES with the 30 day or whatever free service in mind, not just getting INVENTORY UNITS on the sales floor....Also realize doing piecework bike "assembly" is not the same as being a bike "mechanic". Jeez, I got a little worked up over that one, didn't I......
5 to 15 minutes?gtx
Apr 7, 2002 4:02 PM
I used ot be a service manageer for a big shop. We used to race each other on the $300 bikes. Under ten is pretty easy for a good mechanic--5 doable if you really push. Also, bikes come pretty well setup from Taiwan these days--much better than the French ten-speeds I learned on when I got my first shop job in 1985. Of course, the wheels get touched up on the bike and the hubs don't get adjusted, but everything is tight, adjusted and safe, the stem and seatpost properly greased. What really slows you down is all the packaging. Actually, with cheap hubs, I think it's best just to ride them a bit with the factory setting, then readjust at the 30 day tune up if the bike actually ever gets ridden and comes back to the shop. With the more expensive bikes, you take the time to put the wheels in the truing stand, adjust the hubs, check to make sure the cassette is tight, etc... Still, twenty minutes on those bikes is easy. In reality, you can't keep that kind of speed up all day long, your wrists start to hurt. And if you get paid by the hour, why kill yourself? But a decent builder can do 8-15 bikes a day, depending on the quality of the bike, no problem.
deserve better....surly357
Apr 7, 2002 5:47 PM
I understand guys 'racing' for fun, building 2 identical bikes at once, etc ,to relieve China/Taiwan low end boredom once in a while, but I really think even the purchaser of a "comfort bike" or a basic ATB deserves better. I've had a really tough time with "fast" assemblers over the last 2 decades. A busy Saturday is no time for me to do a 90 day tune up on a bike that hasn't even left the store yet! Properly adjusted hubs rarely need attention later in the warranty period on even the most basic shop quality bike. Ignoring them virtually guarantees ruined, unadjustable parts at the next tune up (1year later? 2? more?). You can adjust them now, or scrounge for parts and make a phone call upping your repair estimate later. Of course with the employee turnover most shops experience, few builders are forced to deal with the consequences of their own handiwork a couple seasons down the road! Why would we not adjust one of our customers new bikes to the same standard we would use when tuning a strangers used bike? NEVER ENOUGH TIME TO DO IT RIGHT, BUT ALWAYS ENOUGH TIME TO DO IT TWICE....
deserve better....gtx
Apr 7, 2002 7:05 PM
I think this is really more a question of how I interpreted the original question. And again, regarding cheap hubs, if you adjust them "right" in the shop on a new bike and they don't come back for readjustment or the 30 day tuneup, they will end up being too loose after break in--this is why I think they are set a bit tight from the factory. The biggest issue I found was bikes that came from builders that were unsafe--brakes set up so they'd rub the tires (more of an issue in the days of cantis) and stems bolts too loose. Bike shops don't pay much and it's hard to find good mechanics. But I stand by my statement that a good mechanic (rare perhaps) can do a very solid build on a $350 mtb in 15 minutes--and that would include checking the hubs, making sure the cassette was tight, ders and brakes setup, wheels true, everything tight and safe. That would not include paperwork, recycling boxes, talking to pretty girls, etc...
Apr 7, 2002 7:21 PM
Dang, your shop got pretty girls? Well, this was certainly more entertaining for me than "Campy vs Shimano" or "what size frame should I buy" ! (just like the bikes themselves, this is all just for fun!)
I've only seen them done that fast once,TJeanloz
Apr 8, 2002 4:24 AM
And that was at the Giant booth at Interbike, where they have an annual race to show off how well Giant pre-builds the bikes from the factory. I'd say that in our shop, the cheapest bikes took quite a bit of attention to get their garbage V-brakes to not squeal, and their bottom brackets to feel somewhat appealing. An hour was probably average, which includes a good test ride and a 5 minute check-over by both the service manager (for mechanical issues) and another 2 minute check-over by the sales manager (for cosmetic issues).

Full bike builds? I believe our mechanics record was 1hr 52 minutes, with prebuilt wheels and a Litespeed (which requires NO frame prep). Our best mechanic usually spent two work days building a top quality bike, granted, he spent a lot of his day answering customers' questions and checking the work of lesser men. It took forever, but his work was consistently perfect. Record and Dura-Ace tend to go together a little bit faster than lower groups, as everything typically works flawlessly out of the box.
I've only seen them done that fast once,gtx
Apr 8, 2002 6:47 AM
the fastest bikes I found (circa 1995) if I remember right were the Taiwan-built Trek 850s in the $350 range. 5-6 minutes was doable--only by two of us--but that's not a great build by any means. The domestic Treks took longer cause the cabling wasn't all in place, etc. I haven't put a Giant together since about 1990, but they were the first company that I noticed that really made it easy for the builder. I agree an hour may be pushing it for a full build but two hours seems kind of slow. I don't know, it's been 7-8 years, maybe my memory is off--gloryfying my not-so-illustrious past. ;)