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  1. #1
    change is good
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    Are experienced mechanics becoming extinct?

    Retrieved my bike today and the brake line was routed through the arch and the shifter cable is tight on my head tube. Most employees are nice, but the level of training and attention to detail seem to be lacking.

    The aforementioned problems are easy for me to correct, but I'm a single parent and I work long hours. Previously working on my bikes gave me great pleasure, but now it is more of a chore to me. Fiscally it makes more sense to work in the office that work on my bikes. Many of my colleages feel the same. However, rejecting the work or returning the bike for correction is time consuming and becoming stranded more so. Used to work on my bikes years ago but a mechanic should be able to perform more effeciently and effectively in my opinion.

    It may simply be the bottom line. In my profession like others it seems production numbers and percieved quality are more important than doing the job right. The only reward is internal. Another veiw point is that the poor profit line in the bike industry has dictated the former. Internet competion, platform shocks, new gruppos, etc., probaly contribute to the overall problem.

    I'm not trying to slam bike mechanics as a whole and welcome their blunt opinion, but it seems there is one senior mechanic in many shops and a few newbies in training. Neither group is probaly paid what they are worth. It appears to me the head mechanic not only has do deal with training and complicated repairs but also has administrative responsibilities also.

    End result? Took the bike to another mechanic who will I know will do the job right. There is also play in the suspension linkage and the I9 hub and I'm confident he will correct the problems. Why didn't I do that in the first place? I just wanted to give the local, local bike shop a chance. Like I said earlier, they are nice guys.

  2. #2
    ravingbikefiend
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    If you look at what bike mechanics are paid you'll understand why the majority of them are younger and inexperienced as these are the guys / gals who are willing to work for the crappy pay most shops offer.

    This is not to say that many aren't really talented and skilled but in the long term it just won't pay the bills.

    I'd love to be a professional bike mechanic but I'm not 17 and have a home and a family to support so at 41, I''m apprenticing as a machinist and plan to start hand building bikes and components.

    I still work as a bike mechanic but instead, volunteer time at our community shop and at a children's charity where I also build bikes.

    That big shop is always looking for new mechanics as the turnover on mechs is incredible while a few of the smaller shops have had the same mechs working there for years.
    I ride with 65'er...he's a mountain goat....But then again, we need to throw him in the mud and pack his pockets with lead shot before a scale will read him. - Psycho Mike

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrDon
    Retrieved my bike today and the brake line was routed through the arch and the shifter cable is tight on my head tube. Most employees are nice, but the level of training and attention to detail seem to be lacking.

    The aforementioned problems are easy for me to correct, but I'm a single parent and I work long hours. Previously working on my bikes gave me great pleasure, but now it is more of a chore to me. Fiscally it makes more sense to work in the office that work on my bikes. Many of my colleages feel the same. However, rejecting the work or returning the bike for correction is time consuming and becoming stranded more so. Used to work on my bikes years ago but a mechanic should be able to perform more effeciently and effectively in my opinion.

    It may simply be the bottom line. In my profession like others it seems production numbers and percieved quality are more important than doing the job right. The only reward is internal. Another veiw point is that the poor profit line in the bike industry has dictated the former. Internet competion, platform shocks, new gruppos, etc., probaly contribute to the overall problem.

    I'm not trying to slam bike mechanics as a whole and welcome their blunt opinion, but it seems there is one senior mechanic in many shops and a few newbies in training. Neither group is probaly paid what they are worth. It appears to me the head mechanic not only has do deal with training and complicated repairs but also has administrative responsibilities also.

    End result? Took the bike to another mechanic who will I know will do the job right. There is also play in the suspension linkage and the I9 hub and I'm confident he will correct the problems. Why didn't I do that in the first place? I just wanted to give the local, local bike shop a chance. Like I said earlier, they are nice guys.

    People still view bicycles as toys. The level of skill required to be a top notch mechanic these days is pretty high but people refuse to pay for that skill therefore you get 17 yo's making $8.00 hour phucking up your bike. Bad mechanic work is ultimatley the consumers fault because as a rule they refuse to pay for quality.
    "Do not touch the trim"

  4. #4
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    I've also noticed at quite a few LBS's, mechanics also double as floor-sales & customer-service help. On many occasions, I've seen a mechanic balls-deep in a build or tune-up get pulled to help answer questions or work the sales floor. On top of this, the huge variety of bike systems & designs makes it very hard to keep up with current technology & techniques in maintaining them.
    Master-mechs are supposed to be able to keep on top of these things and disseminate the information down to the less experienced guys, but often, the head mechanics at LBS's have the same problems as the other guys turning wrenches, only more is expected of them.... thus they have even less time to train and learn about new bike goodies.
    As a mechanic (vehicle) myself, I know it's very distracting to be diverted in the middle of a job, and it's hard to remember where things were left off at. As an example, when I had my Nomad built by my LBS in Germany, I had an E.13 DRS installed. The mechanic doing the build was in the process of putting on the bash ring, and got called away to help with a priority repair. When he came back, he doubled the torque on the bolts, and cracked the E.13 bash-guard. I was there at the time, he apologized profusely, explained his mistake, and proceeded to pull his own E.13 ring off his Specialized to swap out with mine. I didn't let him do that, and settled for some cool lock-on grips while using the OEM Holzfeller bash-guard instead.
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  5. #5
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    Thats actually pretty cool there Bombardier, a guy who is willing to admit his mistake and compensate you for it. I recently discovered that the threads on my caliper mounts on my fork were stripped and instead of using a proper re-thread the screw was glued in with 5 minute Epoxy! I'm not sure where it happened as I hadn't removed the caliper from the fork in the last year and the bike has been in about 4 shops for work that may have required removing it, all I know is I've been riding around on a brake caliper that has only had one effective mount for god knows how long.

    I do feel bad for some of the guys who work at the shops though. I know a couple idiots but I know alot more good guys, unfortunately as you guys pointed out they don't get paid much, and since I'm a college student I don't have alot of opportunity to tip them. It's tough enough for a guy with my income to afford the gear to maintain my bike let alone the labor the shop charges. I'm sorry to say that I've pretty much converted to buying my parts online and working on my bike myself, which is fun, but I loved having the relationship with a good bike shop.

  6. #6
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    Yes

    Mechanics are becoming extinct. Pesticides in the ecosystem are making their eggshells thin, and almost none are currently surviving to hatching, let alone adulthood.
    We all get it in the end.

  7. #7
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    Yep. Mechanics in general are becoming extinct. I work on diesel operated refrigeration equipment and it is next to impossible to even train someone to do my job let alon hire someone who can jump right in. And believe me, these things are not rocket science. (although our rocket science is looking a little weak, lately!) Often, repair technicians need to troubleshoot or diagnose then repair a problem. In general our school systems no longer encourage, never mind foster independent thought. Schooling is now all about barfing back whatever someone wants to hear or whatever the book says. "sorry, couldn't fix the problem... couldn't find the answer in the service book... you're screwed"

    I started thinking much more sensibly and critically when I quit college and went to work with my hands.

    Red

  8. #8
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    Alive and well

    This mechanic is alive and well doing work for friends out of his garage. 1 full time and 1 part time job meant no more time to wrench at the LBS. So now I do work for some loyal customers and all my friends. The 6 packs are stacking up fast!
    luck favors the prepared.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bombardier
    I've also noticed at quite a few LBS's, mechanics also double as floor-sales & customer-service help. On many occasions, I've seen a mechanic balls-deep in a build or tune-up get pulled to help answer questions or work the sales floor. On top of this, the huge variety of bike systems & designs makes it very hard to keep up with current technology & techniques in maintaining them.
    Master-mechs are supposed to be able to keep on top of these things and disseminate the information down to the less experienced guys, but often, the head mechanics at LBS's have the same problems as the other guys turning wrenches, only more is expected of them.... thus they have even less time to train and learn about new bike goodies.
    As a mechanic (vehicle) myself, I know it's very distracting to be diverted in the middle of a job, and it's hard to remember where things were left off at. As an example, when I had my Nomad built by my LBS in Germany, I had an E.13 DRS installed. The mechanic doing the build was in the process of putting on the bash ring, and got called away to help with a priority repair. When he came back, he doubled the torque on the bolts, and cracked the E.13 bash-guard. I was there at the time, he apologized profusely, explained his mistake, and proceeded to pull his own E.13 ring off his Specialized to swap out with mine. I didn't let him do that, and settled for some cool lock-on grips while using the OEM Holzfeller bash-guard instead.
    I would feel sooooo bad for that guy. I've been in such situation where I've had to shell out of my own pocket to fix a mistake that shouldn't have happened. It didn't matter too much for me. My bad, I fixed it. But for someone to go to such length as to replace a part they broke by accident with something of their own. I'd feel like such a jerk if I ever let that happen.

    The mechanic is a good man for owning up, and you're a good man for not allowing him to go so far.

  10. #10
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    It still baffles me that people pay someone else to fix their own bikes.

  11. #11
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    Believe it or not...there are some folks who have nearly no mechanical skills or abilities whatsoever and rely on other people to fix their stuff.

    I volunteer in a community shop where we expect people to get involved in their own bike repairs and tune ups and I'd say maost people have some aptitude, some are truly gifted, and some shouldn't be allowed to touch a wrench.
    I ride with 65'er...he's a mountain goat....But then again, we need to throw him in the mud and pack his pockets with lead shot before a scale will read him. - Psycho Mike

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
    Believe it or not...there are some folks who have nearly no mechanical skills or abilities whatsoever and rely on other people to fix their stuff.
    I worked as a service manager for a recreational vehicle store for 6 years. I helped fix hydraulic jacks, furnaces, water heaters, plumbing, floors, electrical systems, installed satellite dishes....whatever.

    Fixing my own bike baffles me...
    I have no idea why. It's awfully frustrating but I'll get it.
    Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. #13
    i also unicycle
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    Quote Originally Posted by wookie
    It still baffles me that people pay someone else to fix their own bikes.

    as a shop monkey(mostly sales), you know what our most popular thing from our service department is? fixing a flat tire. 90% of the population either doesn't want to, assumes it's way too hard, or has in aptitude. sure nearly everyone could learn to fix a flat but most don't. occasionally we get people who tried to change the flat, failed, ruined a tube and now need us to install one correctly. worst part(for us, best part for them) is that if they bring in just a wheel, we do it on the stop, no labor charges, just a tube ($5). if they have the whole bike we do it sometimes while they wait or sometimes overnight and charge $7 in labor.
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  14. #14
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    I do real minor stuff on my bikes

    but I let my shop do all the rest. I can build houses, have all the tools and experience to do that, but every time I try to go the next step on my bike repairs there's always one more tool to buy, then the experience with that procedure to do it right. I'm very lucky in that I found a bike mechanic at a local shop who always does everything I ask him to correctly each time. I've got the bucks to pay this guy to do the job right and he backs up his work. That way I can spend my time on my business.
    Who's in charge, the thinker or the thought?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rivet
    People still view bicycles as toys.
    Really?

    My bike doesn't help me pay my mortgage or make me money of any kind.

    Foolish I am, thinking it is a toy.

    Compared to most mechanical devices, bikes are simple mechanical toys (oh no, I said it). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work on a bike. If it did, they would be called rockets.

    Bikes are like snap-together model kits (unless you build a wheel, or bleed a brake)--just buy the parts and stick them together. Is it really that hard?

    I think mountain bikes are easier to work on than ever. Gone are the days of the threaded headtube and having to have a perfectly trued wheel to make the brakes work well. However, now it seems shocks are the problem. They are getting harder to work on without sending to the manufacturer.

  16. #16
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    What a great topic, as a shop owner I could go on and on about the problem's finding and keeping good help. My#1 suggestion will probably never happen in my life time but I bet it would go a long way in getting quality mechanic's.
    1) Require mechanics to have ALL of their own tool's just like auto mechanic's! Most shop's invest $20K+ in tools (minimum). For a wrench to have their own tools means they are commited to their trade.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcharrette
    What a great topic, as a shop owner I could go on and on about the problem's finding and keeping good help. My#1 suggestion will probably never happen in my life time but I bet it would go a long way in getting quality mechanic's.
    1) Require mechanics to have ALL of their own tool's just like auto mechanic's! Most shop's invest $20K+ in tools (minimum). For a wrench to have their own tools means they are commited to their trade.
    We are three mech at our shop and we all have our own tools.

    Except those expensive one, facing tools, truing stand, headset press, etc

    Has a mech i would rather work with my tools then with someone else tools.

  18. #18
    Rolling
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcharrette
    What a great topic, as a shop owner I could go on and on about the problem's finding and keeping good help. My#1 suggestion will probably never happen in my life time but I bet it would go a long way in getting quality mechanic's.
    1) Require mechanics to have ALL of their own tool's just like auto mechanic's! Most shop's invest $20K+ in tools (minimum). For a wrench to have their own tools means they are commited to their trade.
    You mean they are committed to their hobby.

  19. #19
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    Its also (I think) analagous to cars. Years ago, I'd work on my own bikes all the time. This of course was driven by the fact that I had more time than money, and most repairs were within my grasp.

    Now, there's no way I'm taking apart a Fox 32 or attempt to bleed a multi piston hydraulic brake. I think bikes have gotten technologically advanced that now a lot of repairs require a qualified professional and specific tools.

    Having all that said, there's some young'uns in the shops these days, still coming up. I see it, and I encourage my local shop's owner to let duder work on my bike so that he can build his expertise.

  20. #20
    Rolling
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    Quote Originally Posted by xcguy
    but I let my shop do all the rest. I can build houses, have all the tools and experience to do that, but every time I try to go the next step on my bike repairs there's always one more tool to buy, then the experience with that procedure to do it right. I'm very lucky in that I found a bike mechanic at a local shop who always does everything I ask him to correctly each time. I've got the bucks to pay this guy to do the job right and he backs up his work. That way I can spend my time on my business.
    I guess you have to have the joy of the challenge of it. I found that usually, buying that tool costs nearly as much as getting the mechanic to do it. So you break even and count your time as fun.

    Next time, you gain the advantage of saving the money for your fun.

    But bottom line, if you don't enjoy working on a bike, then by all means get a mechanic to do it.

    But here is an important thing to look at. Many problems on bikes occur that can be fixed in 5 minutes in your garage. An out of true rim that is causing problems. Creaky crank. Jammed shifter cable. Knowing how to fix these things is important because they can happen on the trail and even when you discover them at home, you have to take the bike in and wait.

    I think knowing how to fix a bike really saves time and money in the long run--and gets you far on the trail.

    But of course I come from the philosophy that mountain biking is a total experience. The whole zen thing comes into play. I like being in touch with my bike.

  21. #21
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    I always carry my bike tool-set wih me... and it's saved me from having to give up on a ride more than a few times. I've had to replace a bottom bracket at the trailhead, tighten my chainguide boomerang, and various other sundry repairs. However, if it's something that isn't a pressing issue, and I've got the $$$, I'll take my bike to my LBS for them fix. Though I can fix most things that could happen to my bike, it's one of my ways of supporting the local bike scene and economy.
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  22. #22
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    I absolutely loved wrenching.

    It absolutely will not pay the bills.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by lidarman

    My bike doesn't help me pay my mortgage or make me money of any kind.

    Neither do the myriad asinine motorcycles, four-wheelers, motorboats, and RVs owned by many people help them pay their mortgage or make them money of any kind. Yet, remarkably enough, the mechanics that work on those vehicles are- generally speaking- much more competent than the average LBS mechanic.

    Your reductionism is just silly.

    jb

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by lidarman

    My bike doesn't help me pay my mortgage or make me money of any kind.
    Last time I figured it out, I was saving $133 a week in not having to buy gas, just by riding to work every day & errands to the corner store.

    That extra cash definitely helps, so my bike indirectly helps pay the bills.
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  25. #25
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    Sometimes you just don't have a choice.

    Economically for me, it was much cheaper to learn to work on my bike than take it to the LBS. Being 17 and not having a job (my parents say academics is too important, they might be right) I don't have any money to pay the LBS. One shop wanted to charge me 60 bucks for a new chain, drivetrain overhaul and handlebar recentering. 60 bucks is almost 20% what my bike cost. It took me 20 dollars in tools and two hours to solve the problem. I know its good to support the LBS, but for me, working on my own bikes is much more friendly on my wallet. Its actually gotten to a point where people I ride with take their bikes over to my house to have me fix them. By becoming your own mechanic, you do put in a lot of time and effort (which for some people I understand can't be spent), but yo reward yourself with new skills and a sense of accomplishment. BTW, what's the best way to find a job in a bike shop?
    The mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart

  26. #26
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    I am not extinct, it is just very hard to pay the bills on a bike mechanics salary. That is a shame, because I love working in a bike shop. I've done it off and on for 20 years.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by lidarman
    Knowing how to fix these things is important because they can happen on the trail
    In fact, that's where I do all my routine maintenence! (I carry a lot of stuff in my Cbak)

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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingkahuna
    I absolutely loved wrenching.

    It absolutely will not pay the bills.
    Ding ding ding!

    As an 18 year old working in the local shop as a wrench / sales guy for the summer, I get to see how it all works! I know the other 18 year old had no skills what so ever. I enjoy it, the money isn't great by far, but it's an awesome environment (at this shop any way).

    I have this job because the manager saw potential in me (I was doing most of my own work). He's been there for 7 years now, and our mechanic who recently got moved to another store has been with the company 20+ years!
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  29. #29
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    bike & bills

    Funny.You could say my bike(bikes) pay the bills.Period.Well, for the last 15 years.My wife drives.You could say I own 2/3 of that car.I drive it once in a while.I do all my own bike wrenching.Built 5 from the frame up.Have a shop chase the BB threads.There are probably more good bike mechanics in Portland than any where on earth.Check the bike commuting stats.They(mechanics) don't get paid enough I'm sure.On the other hand the cost of a "tune-up" is crazy.
    As a matter of fact,I quit a 20 dollar an hour job and didn't work at all for a year and a half!
    In a couple years we will be debt free.I will ride my bike till I retire.Then I can look back and think of all the MONEY I saved.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by lidarman
    Really?

    My bike doesn't help me pay my mortgage or make me money of any kind.

    Foolish I am, thinking it is a toy.

    Compared to most mechanical devices, bikes are simple mechanical toys (oh no, I said it). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work on a bike. If it did, they would be called rockets.

    Bikes are like snap-together model kits (unless you build a wheel, or bleed a brake)--just buy the parts and stick them together. Is it really that hard?

    I think mountain bikes are easier to work on than ever. Gone are the days of the threaded headtube and having to have a perfectly trued wheel to make the brakes work well. However, now it seems shocks are the problem. They are getting harder to work on without sending to the manufacturer.

    i thought the exact same thing before I started working in a bike shop. Bicycle mechanics is a very difficult trade. Those who say it's easy are crappy mechanics. I was a total newbie when I started working in a shop. It took about a year to be comfortable working a customer bike by myself. Then I got into building wheels from scratch, rebuilding hydro brakes, overhauling hubs.....it's meticulous work with little room for error.

    You can do a shitty job as a bike mechanic and still pass for one......but there are very few who are true mechanics and it's a trade that takes years to perfect.

    Just don't say what you said above to any experienced shop guy......its simply not cool and disrespectful
    Last edited by VTSession; 4 Weeks Ago at 11:19 AM.

  31. #31
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    I wanted to learn and already consider myself a 3-4 banana (out of 5) mechanic in just a few months. I could completely rebuild my bike currently other than some more intricate parts like rebuilding a fork. I did however learn about Todd Coleman at Uinta Bicycles in Kamas Utah who is possibly the best bike mechanic I have ever met. He literally does everything, does it painstakingly slow and patient and 100% correct all for the love of the bikes and people. Money is second and bikes come first. And he undercharges. Literally the best bike mechanic I have ever met. And he's also a ventana dealer too which is sort of cool..

  32. #32
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    I have been a shop bike mechanic on and off for about fifteen years and i love it but the trouble is once you are in the trade it is very difficult to do anything else.I am out of work at the moment and bike shops are thin on the ground,the shops near me do not have a vacancy and to be honest i cannot see myself doing anything else in life now at the age of 38.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcharrette
    What a great topic, as a shop owner I could go on and on about the problem's finding and keeping good help. My#1 suggestion will probably never happen in my life time but I bet it would go a long way in getting quality mechanic's.
    1) Require mechanics to have ALL of their own tool's just like auto mechanic's! Most shop's invest $20K+ in tools (minimum). For a wrench to have their own tools means they are commited to their trade.

    I've worked in three different shops over the last 10 years, the best one required the mechanics to have all their own tools. The older more experienced guys shared their headset presses, facing tools, other more expensive infrequently used tools with the younger guys and it worked great.

    They also made it such that the mechanics were mechanics, and did very little sales, with the exception of Saturdays when there was one guy assigned to be the mechanic for the day, doing flats and quick walk in jobs, and everyone else was on sales. We did no schedule service work on Saturdays. If we were slow, the mechanics would pick away at next weeks work.

    Sorry to go a bit off topic.

    I do think professional mechanics are going extinct. I was one. I left because I couldn't make ends meet. I do it part time now because I love the work.

    And it is the same for all professional mechanic type people in any industry. It's not rocket science, but it is a learned skill to be able to problem solve, and we just aren't teaching it anymore.
    Disclaimer: I fix bikes for a living.

  34. #34
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    Are experienced mechanics becoming extinct?

    Do I win the old thread resurrection award? 11 years...

    Last time I posted in here, I had
    Gotten out of full time wrenching. I went back to it in 2011 as the service manager at a bigger shop. Left again 2 years later because retail hours were wreaking havoc on my family life. My kids are a little older now and my wife couldn’t stand the grumpy guy I was while working a job I hated so I returned to full time wrenching again this past April. I still think professional mechanics are a dying breed, but I’m happy to be back at it 20 years after I started.




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  35. #35
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    I was hired by a bike shop owner on a trial basis because I came in asking for a stem for a coworkers kid’s stingray bike. I was then an unmarried aircraft mechanic between jobs and was about to start college with help from the GI bill. The bike shop was closer than the airport, and paid about the same. I stayed at the bike shop until graduation and then some.

    I do miss the nice campy toolkit. And my bike friends.

  36. #36
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    You would think given the thread topic and time of thread start until now, 2007–2018. Good mechanics not only would be a dying breed but they’d be extinct by now. They must have been put on the endangered species list and populations brought back up to stable.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  37. #37
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    Bike mechanics, yeah they still exist but how many are good? That's the question.

    I don't know about the US but in the UK bike mechanics are not very well paid. This creates a fundamental problem in that people who might be well suited to fixing bikes can usually find a more profitable way of employing their skill set. So you tend to end up with a lot of not hugely bright people fixing bikes.

    What can you do? Do you want to pay more for your bike work? Not here they don't.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Bike mechanics, yeah they still exist but how many are good? That's the question.

    I don't know about the US but in the UK bike mechanics are not very well paid. This creates a fundamental problem in that people who might be well suited to fixing bikes can usually find a more profitable way of employing their skill set. So you tend to end up with a lot of not hugely bright people fixing bikes.

    What can you do? Do you want to pay more for your bike work? Not here they don't.
    Same problem in the US.

    I would say that most of the people I meet who are doing service work in a shop are bright, but it's not a permanent gig for them. It's usually a stepping stone of some sort, to get through school, or build experience before moving to industry, or something like that.

  39. #39
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    2007 seems like yesterday. {sigh}

    Anyway the problem is self-perpetuating. When I started cycling 50ish years ago (yikes!) I didn't know much about bicycles so I took my bike to the shop. But I had to wait for my bike to be repaired. And sometimes when it came back, it wasn't fixed right.

    I started looking at the thing and realized it's all right there, right in front of me, not like an internal combustion engine or something. Look -- pull this lever, it moves a cable that moves that thing.

    So I started figuring it out and working on my own bikes. No more bad mechanics plus I learned stuff about my bikes. Bought my own tools. Figured stuff out.

    Why would I take my bike to a shop? I only do that when I can't figure it out or need a headset pressed in or something else I can't do myself.

    Which leads to the self-perpetuating part. As long as people take their bikes to underpaid shop employees who lack the time or experience to do things right, those bike owners will get soured on the experience and take up wrenching their own equipment. Which is another customer lost to the bike shop, which is less revenue to the bike shop, which perpetuates low wages... ad infinitum.
    =sParty

    P.S. I know some excellent bicycle mechanics & ride bikes with them often.
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  40. #40
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    IMO, I don't see this as an issue with LBS' mechanics. You could say the same for the chef at a $$$ restaurant who botches your dinner, or a tailor at Mens Wearhouse (Suit store) who forgets to hem your new suit's cuffs or botches other alterations, or the bar tender who pours you the incorrect drink. All are fallible. Ultimately its up to the customer to either decide to accept the shoddy workmanship/mistake or request that it be made right.

    If you do have newbie mechanics, or chefs, or bar tenders and you don't point this out, how will they ever learn? You can be cool about it. Maybe they'll fix your bike while you wait, maybe you'll have to come back in couple hours. Regardless, they now know. Most businesses are very accommodating if you give them a chance.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by bingemtbr View Post
    If you do have newbie mechanics, or chefs, or bar tenders and you don't point this out, how will they ever learn? You can be cool about it. Maybe they'll fix your bike while you wait, maybe you'll have to come back in couple hours. Regardless, they now know. Most businesses are very accommodating if you give them a chance.
    I know quite a lot of people who will never say a thing if someone in a service position screws up. It's kinda sad, really, and I ask them the same question - if you never tell them that they messed up, how will they ever get better?

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I know quite a lot of people who will never say a thing if someone in a service position screws up. It's kinda sad, really, and I ask them the same question - if you never tell them that they messed up, how will they ever get better?
    On the rare occasion I have a shop perform a repair, if the mechanic fails to do it right, I'll certainly say something. But like going to a doctor who misdiagnoses or removes the wrong limb, how will confidence & trust be restored?
    Time for a new doctor or in this case a new mechanic.
    =sParty
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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus View Post
    On the rare occasion I have a shop perform a repair, if the mechanic fails to do it right, I'll certainly say something. But like going to a doctor who misdiagnoses or removes the wrong limb, how will confidence & trust be restored?
    Time for a new doctor or in this case a new mechanic.
    =sParty
    Well, to be fair, a poorly tuned derailleur isn't anywhere close to the same level as a medical misdiagnosis.

    And I HAVE had a situation in my life where a doctor f*cked up big. And it wasn't even a doctor that I ever met. Just a guy looking at lab results because my own doctor was on a short vacation with his family.

    I'm a lot more willing to give a bike shop the benefit of the doubt when I bring a problem to their attention. It's how they handle things AFTER that, when I make the decision whether to continue spending money there.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Well, to be fair, a poorly tuned derailleur isn't anywhere close to the same level as a medical misdiagnosis.

    And I HAVE had a situation in my life where a doctor f*cked up big. And it wasn't even a doctor that I ever met. Just a guy looking at lab results because my own doctor was on a short vacation with his family.

    I'm a lot more willing to give a bike shop the benefit of the doubt when I bring a problem to their attention. It's how they handle things AFTER that, when I make the decision whether to continue spending money there.
    LOL yeah, I admit my analogy was a bit outrageous! Derailleurs and human limbs aren't exactly comparable, are they.
    =sParty
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  45. #45
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    I know of a couple professional mechanics who've been turning wrenches since the early '90's. One of whom traveled with several pro-teams for a decade+.

    He's static now and only travels with his wife. However, he is the area's BEST mechanic. Hands down--he's knows his trade and, more importantly, can speak with customers and is humble as can be. The trouble is no single LBS can afford to employ him full time. He currently splits his time between 2+ LBS. The shops are competitors and will have him in a few days each week. I'm loyal to one shop he wrenches at and have to admit, I have new found admiration for the other shops now due to their empathy/flexibility.

  46. #46
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    Binge! How’s it going?

    The reality for me is that I can only afford to be a full time bicycle mechanic because my wife makes three times what I do, has excellent benefits, and is okay with me not making more money.


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    It's the economics of the trade. People are willing to pay hundreds or thousands to have autos, RVs, and boats repaired because of their relative value.

    If a bike mechanic tells someone their bike is going to cost $1k to fix, that person is likely to just buy a new bike. If bike shops can't charge enough, that means mechanics can't get paid enough.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpdemello View Post
    It's the economics of the trade. People are willing to pay hundreds or thousands to have autos, RVs, and boats repaired because of their relative value.

    If a bike mechanic tells someone their bike is going to cost $1k to fix, that person is likely to just buy a new bike. If bike shops can't charge enough, that means mechanics can't get paid enough.
    I just got quoted 700$ for a full suspension service, breaks, seatpost and tune up. Almost fell over. Back to learning the hard way.


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  49. #49
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    I needed some fork oil last month , went to 4-5 LBS around , nobody had any.
    They all told me that they don't "Do" forks anymore, they all ship them to manufacturer (Or bike companies) Too many models , too many tools to get , too many parts to keep in the inventory.

    Apart from the salary , there is also the multiplication of standards and products.
    A mechanic in a small shop wouldn't be able to keep up with all the different standards and product. Maybe in a very big shop .... even then.....



    I ended up ordering the oil online.
    "There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -FZ

  50. #50
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    I worked in bike shops for about six years. I was self-taught for many years before that, but I learned more in my first six months on the job than the previous 15 years of tinkering on my own bike. I only learned all that by making myself an apprentice, asking a lot of questions and making no assumptions about my own wisdom.

    I spent almost two years working at REI before leaving the field. REI follows techniques from the Barnett Bicycle Institute, and send all of their lead mechanics there for training. Because I worked under the supervision of the most anal-retentive, hawk-eyed person I have ever met, I learned more in my first six months as an REI tech than I had in the previous few years working full time at other shops, including two of the best Trek dealers in the country.

    I feel confident that I was an excellent mechanic. If I didn't know how to do something, I would consult my guru, the manufacturer, or the Bible (BBI DX manual, which we had readily available on the shop computer) to make sure I did the job right. I know from personal experience that most bike shops lack any sort of standard operating procedure. I have interviewed for mechanic positions at some of the shops in town that everyone says are "dialed" and found that their workspaces are messy, they don't have all the tools they need, and they have absolutely nothing that resembles a standard operating procedure for anything. I have turned down jobs because their shop was so lax, including allowing mechanics to pound beers while working and allowing brand new novices to work on expensive bikes with no supervision.

    A little over two years ago, I was offered a job in a field related to my college education. It didn't pay a whole lot more than working in a bike shop, but it did pay more. fast-forward 18 months, and I am making much more money (although it's still less than 40K) now than I could probably ever make as a metropolitan bicycle mechanic. As much as I loved working on bikes, I'd rather be able to afford to live in the same city as my job and have money for crazy luxuries like retirement and health care.

    Bike shops don't pay a lot. I think the good mechanics who stick with it are like starving artists who are willing to suffer more than I ever was for what they love to do. When you find a good one, treat them well.

    I find it strange that bicycle mechanics are not subject to any sort of standards or regulation. the person who gets paid next to nothing to cut my hair every other month has to have certification from the state to cut hair, but the person working on a bicycle that is ridden at high speeds in traffic can be a 15 year old kid with a screwdriver and no training whatsoever. there are some up and coming professional organizations for professional bicycle mechanics. see if your local shop has any members of PMBA before you drop off your bike. I would definitely be a member if I still worked in that field.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by fokof View Post
    I needed some fork oil last month , went to 4-5 LBS around , nobody had any.
    They all told me that they don't "Do" forks anymore, they all ship them to manufacturer (Or bike companies)
    I worked in Atlanta for a few years and we always shipped forks to Suspension Experts in Asheville, which seems to be no more. It's a shame that shops don't at least do wiper/ bath oil service, because that's easy and does not require very much equipment or special tools. after working on a few of my own forks and tearing down several Fox forks with the help of a Fox tech at a Park Tool tech summit and again with Jenny at ABI, I don't see what the big deal is. often, the store manager is not a mechanic and thinks that suspension work is more difficult than it really is.

  52. #52
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    I treasure my great bike mechanic. As I get older, it seems that my mechanical aptitude has really gone downhill and so I prefer to have him fix a lot of things.

    He's a really amazing mechanic and I'll usually give him a decent tip and/or beer.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  53. #53
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    You get what you pay for.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwnhlldav View Post
    Binge! How’s it going?

    The reality for me is that I can only afford to be a full time bicycle mechanic because my wife makes three times what I do, has excellent benefits, and is okay with me not making more money.


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    DHD, Awesomely. :-D. I try to keep up with you on the Instagrams but other than mtb message boards, I'm a social media luddite. :-)

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