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  1. #1
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    If my business is not "cost effective" for my lbs, should I go elsewhere ?

    I'd inquired at local shop about getting a job months ago, before the cycling season really started. At that time (April) and since then, the 'manager' sort of lead me on with non-committal responses. I have also seen 3-4 people come and go from April-August. This made me sort of upset in that I was apparently not even in the running, despite the high turnover. It seemed to me that this guy and his shop were glad to continue taking my money but were not being upfront about the (non) possibility of getting a job there. I asked the only mechanic of significant tenure what the deal was and expressed that I was a bit disappointed. I wanted to know why exactly there had been multiple 'new' hires, and some firings at a time I was lead to believe by the 'manager' that I might be able to get a small part-time job. He took that to mean I was 'out to get' the new people when what I meant was I'm qualified too, and what about me ? It's no wonder the bicycle industry has such a poor reputation for customer service. I had the opportunity to speak with the owner today. This person doesn't live here in Santa Fe apparently, and happened to be in town for a few days.

    I came to the shop today hoping to find him and have a candid but friendly discussion. I have been a regular at this shop for awhile now. He was a little snide which surprised me, making it very clear that I wouldn't be hired ever., regardless of what my qualifications are. He was 'sorry' that I had been strung along for months without getting a straight up honest yes or no. In the same breath, he said the shop loses money on me as a customer and that I am of little value to them despite being a regular. He made
    an obligatory nod toward egalitarianism and said that they want to help everyone, regardless of how much they spend. Sometimes the shop spends more time on
    some project of my mine than they really charge me for, but that is one of the perks of being a regular.
    I take my business there in particular despite the other 5-10 shops in town, so the favors go both ways.
    The other side of the coin to getting occasional free work done is the mistakes made. In other words, it's not all gravy for me. When I'm paying for
    something relatively standard and one of the mechanics there screws up it irks me. There have
    been a few times when I've had to bring a bike back to them to have a mistake fixed. Some were small like getting a tire the wrong direction when mounting it tubeless but others have been more serious.


    Last time I brought a bike back to have a mistake fixed, it was my rear brake which failed in the middle of a descent because it was not bled properly. It should have been done right the first time I dropped the bike off and paid them the full amount. No, I did not pay to have it re-bled. If that's what this arrogant shop owner refers to as losing money on me, perhaps his employees should do repairs correctly in the 1st place.



    I am not a master mechanic, but I do have a Professional Mechanics Certificate from United Bicycle Institute. I do most of my own work and could adapt to working in a shop pretty quickly. I am also a long time rider and know quality mechanical work when I see it. I worked for a nonprofit organization that ran a bicycle shop, among other things. I did get some shop experience but I split my time between that, a bicycle messenger service, and working for a publication. My point is that while I'm not on the level of an expert mechanic for a pro race team, I do know my way around a work bench and am familiar with most standard repair work. Having more shop experience without getting more shop experience isn't possible. It's a catch 22.

    I thought I was fairly well qualified and deserved a fair shake. I didn't get it, and was insulted by how caustic and terse the owner was on a personal level.

    Let's see, poor quality repair work followed by earnest efforts to do it right the 2nd time, a 'manager' who can't just say yes or no and why or why not, and a foolishly rude owner who will never consider hiring me despite my varied and legitimate actually, experience.

    Time to take my business somewhere else. My income is pretty meager but I saved enough, and used my credit card some, to spend about $4000 in the last year on a new bike, and parts for the other 7 of them.
    I know in Santa Fe that is probably a laughably small amount of money to devote to a hobby like mtn biking but for me it's significant. Less than $1000 probably was spent at this shop, for a good reason. They didn't really EARN the rest of that money mostly because of these weird inconsistencies. Not sure this can be reconciled, seems like it's time to move on.

    High turnover and thin margins are always management problems.

  2. #2
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    If my business is not "cost effective" for my lbs, should I go elsewhere ?

    So you're qualified to work on bikes but takes yours in to be worked on at the bike shop?

  3. #3
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    Ya, sometimes. Not sure there is anything wrong with that...


    Sometimes I just simply don't have the time. I would rather spend the free time I do have actually riding instead of working on my bike.

    I don't have a truing stand.
    I don't have a headset press.
    I don't have a bleed kit for my brakes.

    I haven't bled hydraulic brakes, but I do know how to true wheels. I am not a master mechanic, but I am not just some guy off the street either. Getting a pro certificate from UBI isn't easy.


    If I were given the opportunity to actually gain some shop experience I'd learn the things I don't know how to do fairly quickly.

  4. #4
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    maybe talk to these guys?

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenixbikes View Post
    Ya, sometimes. Not sure there is anything wrong with that...


    Sometimes I just simply don't have the time. I would rather spend the free time I do have actually riding instead of working on my bike.

    I don't have a truing stand.
    I don't have a headset press.
    I don't have a bleed kit for my brakes.

    I haven't bled hydraulic brakes, but I do know how to true wheels. I am not a master mechanic, but I am not just some guy off the street either. Getting a pro certificate from UBI isn't easy.


    If I were given the opportunity to actually gain some shop experience I'd learn the things I don't know how to do fairly quickly.
    Keep trying at differnt shops. It sounds like you really want to be a bike mech, just keep at it and dont spend money at a shop thibking it will influance their decion

  6. #6
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    And what kind of 'projects' are you doing that make your bike more difficult repair.


    Heres my advice. Stop going to that shop not cuse the shop is bad but because you burned bridges.

    Buy ALL the tools you need to start working on your own bike and friends bikes. Start trying to build up your own wheels. Get really good at bleeding brakes. And start learning how to service forks

  7. #7
    I ride with tools
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenixbikes View Post
    I..........

    ...... problems.
    tl;dr

    Cliff's Notes version?

  8. #8
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    Bleed kits are not much money, probably less than it costs to have it done at a shop - and probably takes less time than driving there and back. I can see having a tire mounted in reverse being an issue if you don't have a compressor though, that might irk me, but it can an honest mistake too.

    Other than tubeless installation and brake bleeding, what else are they "fixing"? If he's bold enough to let you know he's losing on you, I'd go somewhere else.

    keep trying other shops, there are many out there...
    Airborne Flight Crew

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  9. #9
    > /dev/null 2&>1
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    Re: If my business is not "cost effective" for my lbs, should I go elsewhere ?

    I agree here with other posters, the main issue is probably that you rely on them for basic work. Having them install headset cups because you don't have a press is one thing, the $ of the tool is the barrier to you doing it, not the skill. But having them bleed your brakes is another matter. It costs more to pay for a bleed than to buy the kit, so in his mind its a skills gap for you, not a cost prohibitive tool that you don't own. You can true your wheels using two zip ties lightly touching each rim as guides. You can use a $2 co2 cartridge to install a tubeless without a compressor. Its all about perception - So he probably sees you primarily as a customer, not a professional mechanic. Good mechanics (bikes, cars, computers, anything) are ingenuitive, self taught tinkerers who can learn new technologies quickly on their own and routinely need to find creative fixes without the perfect tool or the manual, and don't like to rely on others if avoidable. The certification is usually just the tip of the iceberg.

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  10. #10
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    Fuglio,
    learning to bleed brakes and service forks is a good idea, thanks. I bled one set of brakes, once, years ago. It would be nifty to run through it with someone who really knows the procedure well.

    Are most forks serviced in shops these days or sent back to the manufacturer ?

    Most the essential skills I have, like wheel building for instance, are things I learned a long time ago.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenixbikes View Post
    Fuglio,
    learning to bleed brakes and service forks is a good idea, thanks. I bled one set of brakes, once, years ago. It would be nifty to run through it with someone who really knows the procedure well.

    Are most forks serviced in shops these days or sent back to the manufacturer ?

    Most the essential skills I have, le wheel building for instance, are things I learned a long time ago.
    Good shops fix things themselves. How much do you think your stock would raise if you told a shop your fixing things they are paying to get fixed.
    Or that a shop can sell more custom wheels cause you learned how to build a kick ass wheel.

    Ddprocter nailed it. If your not the curious tibkerer maybe you wont be the best mechanic.


    Also them having scene your bike they lnow how much attention to detail you have.

    No bike shop woupd ever hire me after seeing my bikes.

  12. #12
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    Smile

    My bikes are set up with attention to detail, but the drivetrains on them are so unusual that might a sticking for whatever reason. Just because I customize the heck out of my own bikes it's not a given that I'd change customer bikes from stock setups. especially without being asked to do so.

    One of the things that was really drilled into us at United Bicycle Institute is the need for clear communication and good customer service.

    Maybe this will be a learning experience for the manager in that he might realize being upfront right off the bat is ALWAYS the best way to go.

    ddprocter, I hear what you are saying about a skills gap. I true my own wheels unless they are really bad, but I don't let them get that way. In my perception, I'm not all that far from being a fully capable mechanic. Instead of being some guy off the street, I am a UBI graduate with a mind for tinkering. I did some frame/component design in college, did a couple of machine shop internships (one for Control Tech). Pretty much all of my bikes are customized to some degree, like my 24" wheel bmx cruiser which is now a b6er (27.5" front/26" rear) with an 8 speed transmission.

    I am almost always working on some kind of modification project like turning 18t nine speed cogs into granny gears for a couple cranksets or attaching 34t cogs to 40t chainrings as a cheap alternative to SRAM's new 42t top cog, or Action Tec's 39t titanium cog.

    While I was not mechanically inclined as a youth but I have become that way in part due to pure passion for the sport. I am lifelong cyclist and always will be, regardless of whether my job has to do with bicycles.

    I've worn 6-7 hats in the bicycle industry during my working years. A number of years ago I was up to my ears in bicycles all day, every day. I was not turning wrenches but pushing paper. Because my livelihood had to do with the bike industry, I ended up riding my bike far less. I became 50 lbs overweight and depressed. When I went back to doing something else for a living my enthusiasm for the sport itself resurfaced, I lost the extra 50 lbs, and enjoyed the simple joy of just riding again.

    Because I enjoy tinkering with things so much, I think I could handle shop work. I'm not sure I'd get burned out on just riding because I think wrenching is probably less high-stress than pushing paper. I'm one of the most creative and mechanically inclined people to come in there, but that is probably my undoing.

    Here are some pics of a new experiment on my filet-brazed custom, which was made for me in 1998. The rear shifter is on the left, and vice versa. The remote shifter is not exactly needed but I like being able to shift from the bar-end, especially out of the saddle. The inner set of bar-ends is something I am going to try for awhile. I like the added torque and the extra hand position. I can grab them and still reach the levers with my outer 2 fingers. I have big hands so it works fairly well. Compact cranks (AC), Chainrings are 19/29/46.
    The 19t granny is a prototype chainring that works like a charm.


    Guess I'm just too weird to be trusted with customer bikes or something....








    Some of my bikes are vintage, some are more modern 2007/2012. My bikes are either rigid frame/rigid fork or full suspension.

  13. #13
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    Nice bike , Bill does great work ,always been a fan of his bikes
    2013 Ellsworth Carbon Evolve XT
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    Bike Shop Employee

  14. #14
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    Bill made a couple custom frames for me, both of which are still going today and just as much fun now as they were in the late 90's . If you ever come across a 19.5" Stevenson Psychosis
    suspension bike let me know! I've only seen one other frame in Santa Fe built by Bill. I lived in the northwest and watched him work.

    On this one I asked him to do some different things like a beefy gusset and down tube, 3 water bottle mounts,
    and a compliant rear triangle. Glad I did.

    This pic's from awhile back. Was running a dropper post and a pair of bar-end brake levers. They were pretty effective (no I wasn't trusting my life with them on sketchy descents) but they got in the way a bit if my hands were on the grips. I need a set of longer (3 finger ?) levers if I'm going to try those things again. Had a carbon riser bar on there, recently switched to a 25+ inch titanium flat bar with about 10 degrees of back sweep.
    It's just as comfortable, and lighter.

    The cranks in this pic are Cooks Brothers E-Type, 58/94. The CB spider that came with them was 58/110 which seemed odd. I like to run a smaller middle ring than 33 or 34t. So I modified a Cannondale spider and the connection between it and the
    crank arm is really solid. The rings on this one are 18/29/44.

    Funny I guess the tinkering thing really got me thinking. It's almost an addiction for me.


  15. #15
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    I want to see a picture of the 40 tooth chain ring attached to a 34tooth rear cog

  16. #16
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    If my business is not "cost effective" for my lbs, should I go elsewhere ?

    If you rode that bike to the shop, no wonder he wouldn't hire you. That shifter and seat post are ridiculous
    I'm sick of all the Irish stereotypes, as soon as I finish this beer I"m punching someone

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfgiantsfan View Post
    If you rode that bike to the shop, no wonder he wouldn't hire you. That shifter and seat post are ridiculous
    he puts a 18 tooth front chain ring on and then another homemade 40tooth rear cog

    and brings it into the shop for his free tune up

  18. #18
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    Re: If my business is not "cost effective" for my lbs, should I go elsewhere ?

    Ever thought of offering to intern for free for a while to get some shop experience? I mean ever since those crazies in Santa fe passed that ridiculous minimum wage, maybe its hard to take on legitimate employees. You don't know what the pay agreement was with the new faces you saw, all you saw was new faces. I have a shop that is somewhat specialized in what we do and ton of people come asking for work and I can usually tell off the bat that they will likely cost me more money than they will make me. Offering to work for free might be your way to get a foot in the door.

  19. #19
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    What exactly is ridiculous about that seat post ? I have long legs, it's a dropper post...

    The///Man, not a bad idea, and one I hadn't thought of. Thank you!

  20. #20
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    Actually the last 'free' work they did was to bleed a hydraulic brake again because they didn't do it right the 1st time, and the brake failed on me in the middle of a descent. Those guys never do drivetrain work for me, because I don't need their help on that.
    I've got it jerry-rigged just fine.

    Here's a couple pics of the 34/40t combo.




  21. #21
    Airborne Flight Crew
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    Chain tensioner on QR - that frame has horizontal droputs?
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  22. #22
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    Ya, couldn't get the wheel to stay in place over rough terrain. What you are looking at is a 24" wheel bmx cruiser frame that
    was converted to 27.5" front/26" rear. The frame has horizontal dropouts.

  23. #23
    Airborne Flight Crew
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    Ah, gotcha.
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  24. #24
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    How do you bleed cable rim brakes?

  25. #25
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    Tee hee. First, you have to fray the cable a bit, and then cut the sh!t out of yourself somehow. Can't be hard..

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