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  1. #1
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    Can you make a good living as a bike shop mechanic?

    Everytime I visit my parents, I wander into the bike shop in their little town. I've talked to the shop mechanic a few times and he's been wrenching there since he got out of college, for like 10 years. I never got personal and asked him how much he earned, but it made me wonder if it was possible to make a pretty good living as a mechanic? This guy seems to have a pretty good gig. He rides to work almost all the time, gets to wrench on some pretty cool bikes, talk bikes with customers, etc.

    Anybody a mechanic? Or know one that is? I realize you probably don't start out making much, but I wonder if you become a good mechanic after maybe 10 years in the biz, if you can make enough to live on?

    Just curious.

  2. #2
    i worship Mr T
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    define 'good'

    Quote Originally Posted by ajoc_prez
    Everytime I visit my parents, I wander into the bike shop in their little town. I've talked to the shop mechanic a few times and he's been wrenching there since he got out of college, for like 10 years. I never got personal and asked him how much he earned, but it made me wonder if it was possible to make a pretty good living as a mechanic? This guy seems to have a pretty good gig. He rides to work almost all the time, gets to wrench on some pretty cool bikes, talk bikes with customers, etc.

    Anybody a mechanic? Or know one that is? I realize you probably don't start out making much, but I wonder if you become a good mechanic after maybe 10 years in the biz, if you can make enough to live on?

    Just curious.
    no one gets rich in the bike industry.

    rt
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  3. #3
    ride like a girl
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    I'm a mechanic. it was supposed to be a three month in between thing. it's been two years now. rt is right, you have to define good. since i have a husband who makes good money, i can work for less money. i totally love it, and i'm very glad the 'real' job never worked out.
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  4. #4
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    Yes!!

    Quote Originally Posted by ajoc_prez
    Everytime I visit my parents, I wander into the bike shop in their little town. I've talked to the shop mechanic a few times and he's been wrenching there since he got out of college, for like 10 years. I never got personal and asked him how much he earned, but it made me wonder if it was possible to make a pretty good living as a mechanic? This guy seems to have a pretty good gig. He rides to work almost all the time, gets to wrench on some pretty cool bikes, talk bikes with customers, etc.

    Anybody a mechanic? Or know one that is? I realize you probably don't start out making much, but I wonder if you become a good mechanic after maybe 10 years in the biz, if you can make enough to live on?

    Just curious.
    Yes, you can make a good living as a bike mechanic. Of course, as little b and rt mentioened, it depends on what your definition of "good" is. For example, if your current standard of living debt requires that you have a job paying you $50,000 per year, then you won't make a "good" living as a bike mechanic.

    If on the other hand, you have no debt, you love bikes, like talking with people about bikes and you like talking to people who don't know a damn thing about bikes but profess to be experts, then you can make a "good" living as a bike mechanic.

    It's all relative. Some of my good friends are bike mechanics. They have university degrees and could make more money in a job outside the bike industry, but they're being paid to do what they love to do. Their living, in my opinion, is not only good, but great. They're getting paid to do what they love to do. Not many people can say that.

    It's all relative. A Bike Mechanic's salary depends on many things:

    - Experience (Lance's mechanic will make more than most, for example)
    - Geography (A shop in Mead's Ranch Kansas won't pay as much as in Fruita, CO)
    - Sales and Repair Volume (A higher volume shop will be able to afford more overhead)

    I'm sure there are other factors that I'm overlooking, but a Bike Mechanic should expect to make anywhere from $15,000 - $40,000 (including bonuses, sales comissions, proofit sharing etc. at a larger shop).

    Of course a salary doesn't equate to a "good" life. Another friend of mine is a NOLS instructor. He makes almost no salary, but his life is also great, IMO.

    Ken

  5. #5
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    Yes!!

    Quote Originally Posted by ajoc_prez
    Everytime I visit my parents, I wander into the bike shop in their little town. I've talked to the shop mechanic a few times and he's been wrenching there since he got out of college, for like 10 years. I never got personal and asked him how much he earned, but it made me wonder if it was possible to make a pretty good living as a mechanic? This guy seems to have a pretty good gig. He rides to work almost all the time, gets to wrench on some pretty cool bikes, talk bikes with customers, etc.

    Anybody a mechanic? Or know one that is? I realize you probably don't start out making much, but I wonder if you become a good mechanic after maybe 10 years in the biz, if you can make enough to live on?

    Just curious.

    Yes, you can make a good living as a bike mechanic. Of course, as little b and rt mentioened, it depends on what your definition of "good" is. For example, if your current standard of living debt requires that you have a job paying you $50,000 per year, then you won't make a "good" living as a bike mechanic.

    If on the other hand, you have no debt, you love bikes, like talking with people about bikes and you like talking to people who don't know a damn thing about bikes but profess to be experts, then you can make a "good" living as a bike mechanic.

    It's all relative. Some of my good friends are bike mechanics. They have university degrees and could make more money in a job outside the bike industry, but they're being paid to do what they love to do. Their living, in my opinion, is not only good, but great. They're getting paid to do what they love to do. Not many people can say that.

    It's all relative. A Bike Mechanic's salary depends on many things:

    - Experience (Lance's mechanic will make more than most, for example)
    - Geography (A shop in Mead's Ranch Kansas won't pay as much as in Fruita, CO)
    - Sales and Repair Volume (A higher volume shop will be able to afford more overhead)

    I'm sure there are other factors that I'm overlooking, but a Bike Mechanic should expect to make anywhere from $15,000 - $40,000 (including bonuses, sales comissions, proofit sharing etc. at a larger shop).

    Of course a salary doesn't equate to a "good" life. Another friend of mine is a NOLS instructor. He makes almost no salary, but his life is also great, IMO.

    Ken

  6. #6
    KgB
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    A good living has very little to do with money

    So yes you can make a good living,quite possibly a great living if bikes are your passion.
    Keep your debts and spending low and you'll be fine.
    I've been inside too long.

  7. #7
    Ride what you want!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajoc_prez
    He rides to work almost all the time, gets to wrench on some pretty cool bikes, talk bikes with customers, etc.

    Just curious.
    You get to wrench on some cool bikes, you also get to wrench on a lot of crap bikes too. Nothing like getting an old department store bike and having the owner ask you to get it to shift right.

    If I owned a bike shop, I'd charge more to work on cheap bikes. They're just harder to work on.

    george
    Trogs: Too Tough for Carbon Fiber

  8. #8
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    Great idea!

    Quote Originally Posted by george_da_trog
    You get to wrench on some cool bikes, you also get to wrench on a lot of crap bikes too. Nothing like getting an old department store bike and having the owner ask you to get it to shift right.

    If I owned a bike shop, I'd charge more to work on cheap bikes. They're just harder to work on.

    george

    Brilliant! Call it a "POS Premium"

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by gofarther
    Brilliant! Call it a "POS Premium"
    LOL I stopped by my lbs where a riding buddy of mine works. He was installing new bb baerings and doing a tune up on a 16 inch department store bike that had the training wheels removed. The repair ticket was probably 1/2 the price of the 39 dollar bike. He said he had been working on turds all day long.

  10. #10
    Start slow and taper off
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    What Ken in KC wrote is definitely on track

    though like every job the variables are endless. I spent almost 16 years as a shop mechanic (though like many mechanics, you are very much a part of the sales department), starting at age 14. The last 3 years was hell, though I only realized it after I left the field. Find the right shop, with the right owner, and you will have what could be the best job for a bike lover. The wrong shop, though, the wrong owner, and you can find yourself hating the job, your customers, and eventually biking. And only speaking from personal experience, despite having put myself through college and finding myself with a decent paycheck, it's taken me 2 years of being out of the industry to get back to really enjoy cycling.

    Would I ever work in a shop again? With the right boss, for the right money, with the right atmosphere, damn right.

  11. #11
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    Sure, you can make some great money.

    After doing the math in my head, I quit my job with the brokerage firm to go to work at my LBS. I just bought a great house in the hills with an in ground pool and a 4 car garage to store my modest classic sports car collection. The owner lets me off almost when ever I want, which is way cool because in a month I am traveling to New Zealand with my girl friend and her sorerity sisters to do a little MTBing. And you are right about working on all the great bikes. Sure, occasionally you have someone bring in a real peice of crap toystore bike. But I find that most of the people who own those kind of bikes tend to work on their bikes on their own. It only makes sense, right? I mean they are too cheap to buy a real bike, so they are certainly not going to pay me to tune their crusty derailer or patch a flat.

    So in conclusion, my advice to you is to drop out of school, max out your credit cards at will, open up a savings account to store all the phat dollars you will be making, and enter the very propserous career path of bicycle wrenching.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Berryman
    Sure, you can make some great money.

    After doing the math in my head, I quit my job with the brokerage firm to go to work at my LBS. I just bought a great house in the hills with an in ground pool and a 4 car garage to store my modest classic sports car collection. The owner lets me off almost when ever I want, which is way cool because in a month I am traveling to New Zealand with my girl friend and her sorerity sisters to do a little MTBing. And you are right about working on all the great bikes. Sure, occasionally you have someone bring in a real peice of crap toystore bike. But I find that most of the people who own those kind of bikes tend to work on their bikes on their own. It only makes sense, right? I mean they are too cheap to buy a real bike, so they are certainly not going to pay me to tune their crusty derailer or patch a flat.

    So in conclusion, my advice to you is to drop out of school, max out your credit cards at will, open up a savings account to store all the phat dollars you will be making, and enter the very propserous career path of bicycle wrenching.
    Heh. Too funny. Who said sarcasm was a dying art?

  13. #13
    KRN
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    well....

    I know what the bike mech makes where I bought mine at & no its not alot at al I do belive it does depend where you live at out west & you'll make more then you will here in the east UNLESS you live say in Asheville,NC here in SC after taxes say 22,500 or so but if your marrided & she make good or decent money what more could you ask for!

  14. #14
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    As said before, "good living" is very relative. That said, from experience I would say its nice to work on bikes, talk about bikes and deal with something you love all day, but I certainly do not make enough money to provide for much else than bare necessities. Good boss and good shop is key, but they are few and far between.
    My experience is that to make the bike mechanic thing work best (same goes for ski-tech) you are best served by living in a 'resort town' that caters to people who travel there to have fun and ride bikes (or ski). Living in a regular old urban environment makes it tougher to live, quality of life is diminished and you will likely end up working in a 'family shop' that is barely scratching by, and the bread and butter repairs are POS's.
    Working in Moab I rarely worked on a bike worth less than $1200, and people there are on vacation and want to ride and are willing to throw down bling to get good parts installed quick and well. The shops do alright in the high seasons and treat their emps well. The quality of life there (and in Tahoe, Mammoth, Crested Butte, Breck, etc.) is off the hook if playing outside with good people is your thing and its easier to live life making peanuts when you can roll out your door every day into terrain that people work 60hr weeks all year to travel to for 1 week.
    The whole 'making more money out west' theory present here doesn't really hold too much water IMHO since its all peanuts more or less (unless you are managing, then you might be eating cashews); the benefit being that out west there are more of the 'destination resorts towns' where you can justify your dirtbag extistence at little more easily by looking out your front door, appreciating the view and breathing deeply.
    After all this, making a good living for the rest of your life as a bike mech. is highly unlikely, but fun to make a go of before or as you buckle down. As with anything, there are obviously exceptions to this, but many who are in for the long haul either end up opening a shop or getting into the industry. I have met others of course, but they also have a spouse who is working a good job that can really help pay the bills.
    My advice: Move to a mtn town, find a cougar/sugar momma, and proceed thusly....
    I really identify with you...SO MUCH.

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by gofarther
    Brilliant! Call it a "POS Premium"
    We often do charge more on POS bikes. They take longer to work on and are just harder to get going right typically. The other tax that is sometimes imposed is the "internet bike tax". This is when a customer brings in their bike of completely random mismatched parts they bought off ebay and want us to get their cantilever levers with tektro v brakes to work with their sram 8spd gripshift shifters and deore 8spd rear derailleur with the xt front derailleur and raceface turbines... you get the idea... random, random parts, usually the customer tries to put it together themselves and can't "quite get it" to work... ugh...
    bike dude, velocity employee (this is my personal account)

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by neveride
    And only speaking from personal experience, despite having put myself through college and finding myself with a decent paycheck, it's taken me 2 years of being out of the industry to get back to really enjoy cycling.

    Would I ever work in a shop again? With the right boss, for the right money, with the right atmosphere, damn right.
    You got lucky. I wanted to build and design bikes but after one summer at one shop I didn't ride a bike for close to five years.

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