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How Much Money Does a Bike Mechanic Make? The Answer May Surprise You

How Much Money Does a Bike Mechanic Make? The Answer May Surprise You

Here's an interesting presentation from Donny Perry, the SBCU Global Development Manager at Specialized Bicycles. In it he discusses how much a bike mechanic earns on average in the United States, how their salary compares to other careers, and ends with the question "How can bike work be valued for more?"

It's a good discussion topic. We definitely appreciate all the hard work mechanics have put in wrenching on our rides over the years. What are your thoughts? Regardless, consider brightening your mechanic's day with a tip next time he does his magic. While they likely love what they do, they have to make a living too.

62 comments
  • radavis3

    4/16/2014 3:48 PM

    Bike mechanics certainly don't make nearly enough considering what they need to know. I worked in shops for about 7 years and was fortunate later in my career to make $15/hr.+ back in 1999 which at the time seemed like pretty good money. I actually went to UBI in Oregon to learn the trade, then eeked by on $6-7/hr for a couple years while I gained experience. My wheel building skills is really what got me the better money. If a mechanic wants to make better money, he/she needs to be worth that money, and should constantly be improving their skills. I, like whiplashingitis, think mechanics should be paid by the job. It keeps them motivated and working. Unfortunately, in my experience, many bike mechanics are lazy and just want to do enough to get by. They take their measly paycheck, their discounted parts and free swag and call it good. That's fine for a young single kid going to school, but not for someone who is trying to make a living/career out of it.

    I do think that shops should charge more to service higher end bikes. If people can afford to drop $8k on a bike, they can afford to pay $150 for a full tune. Unfortunately a lot of people think their bikes are less important than their cars and are not willing to spend the money to take care of them until they are broken, then they bitch about how much it costs to fix.

  • whiplashingitis

    2/12/2014 6:37 PM

    The bike shop should run like a car/automobile shop. Mechanics get paid per job, not per hour. Each job is estimated at a percentage of the customer paid price or converted to hours. The mechanic must work a total of 40 hours a week, but those are not hours spent at the shop. Those are job hours. So if he works 40 job hours in 30 hours, he is a good mechanic. If the company allows, he can work more and collect 50 job hours in the week and get paid for those 50 hours. This is how the "car shop" business model works and has been working for decades. This model has proven to increase efficiency and productivity. If quality suffers, the mechanic is replaced. plain and simple.

    However...this is always great for the business and mechanic during the season when there's a need, but not so great for the mechanic during the off season when people hibernate. RIDE ALL 4 SEASONS YOU LAZY BUMS!!!!!

  • Lapsus

    2/12/2014 2:18 PM

    The value of bike mechanics is often underestimated since many people think that they can repair a bike on their own. That is true for those wishing to invest time in order to learn to wrench their own bike and money in order to buy the proper tools. Still many people don't have enough time to do their own maintenance and others don't want to be bothered. More importantly sometimes one is faced with a problem that is too complex or too difficult for him to fix on his own. In these cases one needs a good experienced professional mechanic. While I believe that the average mechanic's sallary may not be too bad for junior mechanics learning their way it is too low for experienced mechanics.

    I'm not a mechanic myself but still I believe experienced mechanics deserve better pay.

  • armstrc1

    2/11/2014 3:42 PM

    I can't understand why no bike shops do call out stuff. If someone was to come to my work or house and do the service there i would pay twice what it costs at the bike shop, but I end up taking it in to the shop and then picking it up. Almost 2hrs out of my day, and when i get to the shop they tell me I need something else done and I should bring it in next week. Another 2 hrs wasted!

  • bturman

    2/11/2014 4:34 PM

    Plenty of shops do call customers to notify them about parts needed/recommendations as a common courtesy and good service. Perhaps you need to find a new one.

  • Lobes SD

    2/11/2014 4:54 PM

    In Southern California, we have a growing enterprise of Mobile Bike Mechs. I saw it start up on Craigslist, then some shops started offering to do house-calls, and eventually have seen Mobile-Only Mechanics.

  • Scrub

    2/11/2014 1:29 PM

    We have a topic here in which people will have many opinions with about bike shops, it's great to read your views and stories. Continue sharing your personal experiences whether it be as an (ex) employee or customer, but keep the bashing down. We all LOVE to ride bikes.. at least I do.

  • Beachfreack7

    2/11/2014 12:30 PM

    As a full time mechanic in a place that has year round bike commuting and 13 bike shops (davis, ca) I would say that we mechanics are underpaid. The reason we should be paid more is the same reason any skilled worker gets paid more, we do the job better and faster than some jamoke in his garage looking at youtube, and if there is a real problem we see it. Any one can adjust a derailleur, but when you cant get it dialed and you dont know why who do you ask? a bike mechanic, because they are the ones who do it day in and day out, and point out that yes your hanger is just slightly off and it needs to be straightened, or your hub is blown out and its not shifting because of the 4mm of play in your freehub body.
    I think the biggest problem is that most people think "its just a bike". Yes, it is a bike and your average person can do a lot of the work on it. But its also a precision machine (yes even the box store bikes) and it requires maintenance just like anything else. Do you just drive your car until it falls apart and then say "oh, its just a car"? do you always change your own oil? or your own tires? do you replace your own head gaskets? Even if you know how and have done it before you probably still take it to a repair shop or oil change place because they do it faster, they check the rest of your car, and there is some measure of responsibility on the part of the shop (and for bigger repairs actual warranty).
    When you get a flat fixed at a bike shop, the mechanic doesn't just throw a new tube in your tire and call it a day, we go though and check your hubs, your BB, headset, chain, wheels, and give you advice on what to do next with your bike (or at least they should be doing that) because we care about your riding experience. We want you to walk out the door with a bike that should keep rolling down the road and if its not in good condition we tell you want needs to be fixed. This goes for all bikes, from the $90 magna all the way to the $18k Venge McLaren. It doesn't matter what bike you are on, you are on it and we mechanics want to do everything we can to keep you out riding and having a great time.
    The problem at this point for shops is the internet, most people say they only buy online and scoff at the bike shops for being so pricy. This idea that bike shops are screwing the customer is crazy. The annoying part (for a shop employee) is the rider that comes in and picks our brain about bikes, and then when we try to sell them something says "woah, why is that so expensive? i can get that online for *insert wholesale price* on *insert website*" and walks out annoyed that we aren't just giving away product. This is getting worse and worse and will eventually be the downfall of the bicycle retail shop. Fortunately companies like Shimano are working to combat the ridiculous internet pricing so we can keep the doors open and keep helping people who don't respect what we do (yet come in and want us to do it, but grudgingly).
    In summary Mechanics are paid poorly because the general conception about us is something like this "Bike shop mechanics largely do work that any normal person of average intelligence and a 3rd grade reading level can do in their garage with simple tools." - his dudeness. The other side is the wild undercutting of brick and mortar shops by the internet, how can we pay mechanics what they deserve when people are upset that we sell product to them at more than wholesale? there is not much money in a bike shop and what little there is comes from relatively small markups (especially if you look at the clothing and fashion industry) and labor, and since people seem to think that a bike shop is different than any other retail environment (do you bitch and moan when you go buy stuff at the super market or wallmart? they mark everything up too). I think if we ever get over this and start treating Bike mechanics with the same respect as you would a carpenter, jeweler, auto mechanic, or welder, or any of the rest of the "skilled job" market, than we will get paid more. Unfortunately it doesn't look like that is going to change soon, so i will stop ranting and go back to fixing your bikes with all the skill and quality i can muster from my 10 years as a mechanic, and still get paid less than i should.
    end rant

  • his dudeness

    2/11/2014 4:16 PM

    Look beachfreack, maybe you didn't get the whole point. The point is that a bike mechanic chooses this profession for the love of the bicycle, not for the ability to buy a house or a fast car. If you're jaded and bitter about the take home cash you have then it's as simple as either A- owning your own shop or B- starting a new career path. But as a simple bike mechanic you will never be rich, wealthy, or even "comfortable" by any standards... You will always rent a room or share rent in an apartment. You will always work up to 6 days a week and have the most random days off. You will always cover your skin with cancer causing chemicals every day. You will always be slowly dwindling your hands away to carpal tunnel syndrome. If you're just now having this revelation and you don't like it then quite simply put, get out of the game and leave it for the big boys. Or, take your game to the next level and be a better mechanic than 99% of everyone out there and get yourself on a pro road team. There you'll work 10x as much, make twice as much money, and have less of a social life than you do now. Cost/benefit analysis says that you whine to much to be a success at that.

    As I had said earlier, I've started a bike shop from nothing but a patch of concrete on the floor within the walls of one of the top 3 bike companies in the world. As the head wrench (the only wrench), I serviced about 4-5 bikes a day where every simple tube change and derailleur adjustment came with a complete overhaul and restoring the bike to showroom condition all for free. Factor that onto servicing and detailing a massive loaner fleet, teaching mechanic classes, and doing everything a normal bike shop would do with a full staff only with one person handling everything. Annual trips to Sea Otter, product launches, interbike, and other special events, deadlines like 4 weeks to build 500 bikes in rideable condition. And then there were magazine builds, bikes that had to be beyond perfect for an editor to give your companies bike a favorable review. And with all that, I can't say I got paid much more than the statistical data shows. But I can also say that for making a little more than you I easily tripled your workload and I loved every minute of it. It's the bike industry man. It's fun! I got to ride every day and be around incredibly passionate people. THAT'S why you do the job!

    So, While you're on your high horse, calm down and I'll step off of mine too. I knew I was underpaid but I still did it. Just like you know you're underpaid but you still do it. Now I'm out of the bike industry I make gobs of money for doing less work, but as passionate I am about the work I do now, I still miss working in a shop. You guys have one of the greatest jobs in the world man! You get to solve people's problems and stoke them out for their weekend ride. You get to buy all of your product for a massive discount which more than offsets the pay discrepancy. You probably ride your bike to work occasionally which means you save on gas. You probably rent a room or share an apt. which means you're not mowing the lawns or painting the house or replacing the hot water heater when it blows up at 2 am. You have minimal, if no, major attachments in life and therefore have the ability to pick up and move anywhere in the world you want and get a job VERY easily due to your skilled hands. I find it absolutely ridiculous that you feel you should get paid as much as a welder/carpenter/jeweler/auto mechanic when you and I both know that they do far more labor intensive and intricate work than a bike mechanic ever will. Yes a McLaren Venge costs $18k, but how many labor hours does it take to fully strip and rebuild it as opposed to fully stripping and rebuilding a $18k car? My record was about an hour, and I know that no car can be fully stripped and rebuilt in that time. Your chosen career is incredibly easy to learn and master, and emerging technologies only make it easier to work on bikes whereas with cars for example, things only get more complex for an auto mechanic. So stop blowing smoke up my a$$, you haven't encountered anything more difficult or challenging than any other full time real world mechanic out there. If you really think you don't get paid appropriately, talk to your shop owner about what his take home is. Talk to him about the net profit of the shop after taxes, paying for things to sell, paying for upkeep, paying for the staffing. Maybe that'll make it a little more clear as to why you get paid what you do. And if you don't like it, find another shop that'll pay more, open your own shop, or get out of the industry. Do it because you love it man! If you don't love it anymore or feel like you're getting cheated then don't let the door hit you where the good lord split you.

  • Brian62

    2/22/2014 2:17 PM

    "it's just a bike".
    Well, it is just a bike! at least until it gets above 2k range, then it is an expensive bike. Even that can be skewed depending on your $$$ relevance. Anyway, my dad still thinks it is just riding a bike, he has no freaking idea why I paid to take lessons for just riding a bike. The common public perception will never change. Mechanics are valued by anybody who uses them to adjust and fix their bikes, and they are the ones who determine the $$$ value by those mechanics, and hence how much the mechanics earn at that shop. There are many professions that are over valued and charge outrageous prices(plumbers for example), but most those things you can not buy over the internet. It has been my opinion that the shop portion of a bike shop is critical for the survival of the shop to do well. Nothing wrong with joeshmo doing his own wrenching, when he needs more technical skills he will take to shop and pay that person to do it.

  • his dudeness

    2/11/2014 10:22 AM

    Bike shop mechanics largely do work that any normal person of average intelligence and a 3rd grade reading level can do in their garage with simple tools. With youtube, owners manuals, and lots of other resources it is easy to learn how to do what a bike mechanic does, but the general public doesn’t care to learn and/or get their fingers dirty. As others have commented, a car mechanic gets paid much more because he/she is doing much more complex work. To elaborate on that briefly though, how can a shop/mechanic make much more of a profit on a tube change? A tube roughly is $8.00, the labor charge is generally a standard $10.00, and any decent mechanic can do the job in 5 minutes. It's not like a shop can charge $28 for an $18 job and claim that the tube changes they do are better than the competition... A tube change is just that. The same thing goes with derailleurs. 5-10 minutes of work for $10-20, now this one does require more skill but once again a derailleur adjustment is pretty easy for 10 local shops to do essentially mirror images of work quality and therefore it is hard for a shop to increase the labor charge to gain more profit or claim that their adjustment is really any better.

    Secondly, major bike companies are actually hurting the pockets of bike shops and mechanics by producing pre-built wheel systems and proprietary suspension components. With wheels, there's no wheel building charge and no labor for the mechanic to do aside from a cassette and tire install. The mechanic either never learns a valuable skill, or loses the skill through performing it less often which in the end devalues the mechanic. And with some wheel systems and most proprietary suspension systems the manufacturer demands that any and all servicing must be performed by the manufacturer. I find it hard to believe that a BRAIN shock can't be serviced by an intelligent person with the right training and the right tools in a local shop. But manufacturers see differently and once again, skills either go unlearned or get dulled from lack of use and the mechanic is devalued.

    One thing to consider of course is for a shop to give a mechanic commission on any small parts he/she sells. Some shops do this, Mike’s Bikes being a perfect example. While the hourly pay rate is what it is, if you sell lots of tubes, housing, derailleurs, handlebar tape, saddles, etc. then you get a bigger commission check. But I think this can only really successfully exist in larger chain stores that can afford this practice. A single location shop where the owner is putting $65,000 in his own pocket at the end of the year is going to have a hard time doing this. And at the same time, those single location shops would be appropriate in paying their mechanics a lower wage since it fits in proportionally with what the owner/sales staff pay would be and the stores profit margin is. And contrary to what some think, the mechanic isn’t the one that keeps the lights on and the doors open in a bike shop. Think about the grand poobah service, the one with a full overhaul of everything involved for around $200… That takes roughly 1.5 hours to complete at a cost of labor hours, in that time a good salesman just sold a $100 jacket, a $250 helmet, a $80 pair of shorts, a $75 dollar camelbak, and another has sold a $200 light system and a $70 jersey with the shop’s logo on it. Who just made more? Granted this situation happens rarely, but all us mechanics know that weekends is where service areas largely don’t schedule service and take walk-ins instead… Or focus on the OTD sales checks (for which you essentially aren’t making any money on). While on weekends the sales staff generates 90% of the stores profit.

    Lastly, please consider that mechanics in major companies (including demo drivers) generally get paid about the same (or less even!) to do much more than twice the workload of a regular shop mechanic, so why shouldn't they get paid more too? When I worked for a major bicycle manufacturer I created a one man bike shop. I had retail space, mechanic space, worked on employees bikes for free, taught mechanics classes, had a loaner fleet of 100+ road and mountain bikes that had to be showroom clean and in rock and roll shape all the time, took care of the budget and all of the supplies ordering, and was probably the only entity within the company that generated a profit inside the company. I did the work of 2-3 people (as apparent by the 3 that replaced me when I left) but I didn't get paid much more than what those statistics show. I was a store owner/sales manager/head mechanic all in one which means proportionally I got paid a lot less than what the statistical data shows. Now, I'm not saying this as a means to complain or be jaded... I had the best job there. I got my hands dirty all day, solved problems, helped fix marketing dept. and event emergencies, helped people, got to be creative, I travelled when I wanted to, and I could listen to whatever music I wanted as loud as I wanted without needing headphones. I didn't have to dress up like a hipster or attend meetings where my opinions didn't matter. Lastly, people came to me to hang out and chat about how hard their days were and how their jobs sucked. So while I didn't get paid so well, I had many other perks of the job. Now please don’t mistake what I did as being a race mechanic… Those guys DO get paid a lot more and for good reason.

    Now maybe major bicycle manufacturers should pay their mechanics a more appropriate wage and brag about it to the shops they sell to... Maybe that'll instigate change from the top down and shops will give their mechanics a dollar or two an hour raise or a share of commissions. Maybe bike mechanics should unionize and strike for better pay. But then again maybe bike mechanics are perfectly happy being the most loved scumbags of the shop. Maybe they value dirty hands and Van Halen over more money. Maybe they prefer the self-fulfillment gained from breaking their previous time in pro building an internally routed DI2 TT bike over being able to afford Lagunitas IPA over PBR. Maybe they value the $50 bottle of scotch as a tip for doing exceptional work with a quick turnaround from the lifelong customer of the shop over being able to afford to buy the bottle himself. Maybe the bike mechanic has realized that he'll never be rich so it pays to do what you love and be poor vs. do what you hate for a big paycheck. And maybe the bike mechanics who whine and complain about it should read the writing on the wall and understand that if they don’t want to make a sacrifice to do what they love then they should sacrifice what they love to make more money.

  • Amsterdam

    2/11/2014 9:39 AM

    The cost of the tune up is not the problem. The problem is the cost of a new bike, or more specifically, the margins a shop makes on a new bike sale, especially after you factor in the cost to build the bike, which takes time because the bikes that come from the manufactures are generally terrible; they need at least an hours worth of work setting hubs, truing wheels, greasing threads. Now this is not a lot considering that a mechanic costs between $10-15 per hour. But if you think about the $150-200 worth of repairs they could have been doing with their time, it adds up. Don't forget the years worth of free service that is included with a new bike, and remember how much money a mechanic is missing out on while spending free service time on one of those new bikes. (Yes, those $8000 bikes turn a bigger profit, but that sure is a lot of money to have tied up. I’m referring to an average after the cheap bikes which loose money are calculated)

    At the last shop that I was working here in Toronto Canada, I was getting paid $12 per hour as the head mechanic. I had over a dozen years experience. My raise after a two months working for them was $1. I took note of the amount of money I was bringing in for the shop. It was over $1000 per day. That is $30000 per month. That is much more than the shop was paying me per year of work. I quit. Then found a job managing a store for $15.

    The flaw is that the workshop funds the the store... The mechanic is paying the wages of all the sales guys out front who sell bikes with margins that are near zero. It always is a piss off to watch the group of them all laughing and building ball bearing blowguns while I was up to my elbows in grease... My salary is generally less than their salary.

    Fixing a bicycle is easy. What is there to it? Anyone can jump on youtube and figure it out... spending an hour and a half adjusting the derailleur only to have the chain fall off the top and bend or break those spokes... but how do you get the cassette off to put a new spoke in that wheel???

    A good bike mechanic is about speed. Can you change a flat in under 5min? Or adjust a rear derailleur in 45 seconds? And fix a headset so that it stays fixed? Being a good bike mechanic is about the tools. Can you use the tool? Do you know what it is for? Did you know there is a specific tool for that job? Did you know that you don't have to bend a chain back and forth to get rid of the tight spot? There is tool for that; it is on the chain breaker.

    It snows in Canada, it rains in Canada, the winters suck... I’m sure that much of the states is in the same situation. Half of the year the shops make money, the other half of the year shops hope they make money. We get laid off in the winters, we are not paid a premium during the summers... A senior mechanic is easily 2x faster than a junior mechanic, but only gets $2 more per hour... The shops can’t pay the mechanics commission because they are funding the rest of the store. Mechanics are hauling ass during the summers to keep the store above ground in the winter. The problem is that selling bikes doesn’t turn a profit, fixing them does.

  • whiplashingitis

    2/12/2014 6:21 PM

    Your comment about speed is only half correct. Yes, you can change your flat in under 5 min. But you are not racing in a shop. You are working. Working means taking no risks, and having the highest of quality. If I saw a mechanic fix my flat in less than 10 minutes I would never go back. There are a ton of things to check, first and foremost the cause. This one thing alone can take over 10 minutes. The worst buisness model involves the risk of having an unsatisfied customer who will not return. If I found that there was a slow leak after they had replaced the tube and I had to go back the next day, I would be livid.

  • Amsterdam

    2/12/2014 8:37 PM

    I agree that quality of work is more important than time spent on the job. I would be lived too if the flat wasnt fixed properly. But more time spent on a job doesn't indicate better quality, it only means more time. Uncertainty is times biggest consumer while working on bikes. Naturally some jobs will take longer. If it needs more time that's fine. Generally most flats I come across don't take longer, and that includes sourcing the cause and a full tire inspection where I fold the tire exposing all depris hiding that will cause the next flat. After thousands of flat changes it is easy to spot the cause.

  • bturman

    2/11/2014 4:42 PM

    Perhaps a "pay per job" model would be a solution? Essentially commission for the mechanics? Obviously there would need to be some quality control in place to prevent sloppy jobs.

  • Amsterdam

    2/12/2014 8:47 AM

    The hard part about a paid per job is that the mechanics who suffer most from the wage are the best ones. An entry level mech is not worth much at a shop; they are an investment, and shouldn't expect more than they are getting. But the head mechs who are 2-3 times faster are only getting a few dollars more an hour. The best ones also spend much of their time troubleshooting for the beginner mechanics. A commission, unless it was based off the total workshop sales, would actually hurt the shop. Because knowledge is speed one knowledgable mech in a workshop with five rookies would be substantially faster than five rookies on their own. This adds a multiplier to the head mechanics value. I think you would find the good mechanics ignoring the less knowledgable guys to increase their commissions. But the ripple effect would cause the whole shop to slow down drastically because of it.

    I think the big problem is that the best guys are not getting paid for how good they are. There seems to be a limit in pay after a certain level. If you only change one thing, and pay the best guys a decent wage, not even great, just decent, you would see a huge overall improvement in the productivity of the shop as a whole. There would be something to work for as an apprentice, there would be motivation to get better, and move up. There wouldn't be a shortage of mechanics because they wouldn't quit after they find out they will never make money doing the job.

    It has always been frustrating that a shop will bill customer $60 per hour and pay the mech between $10-15. It is not so bad when you only do $30-60 worth of work an hour, but when you get good and can do $100-200 an hour the ratio becomes insulting.

  • whiplashingitis

    2/12/2014 6:27 PM

    Again, I think your half correct. The "car shop" model only works if you actually work. Working does not involve teaching other employees how to do their job. That is what job training is for. If you do not know how to do the job, then you shouldn't take it on and should leave it for someone else. You can "shadow" your coworker when they are doing the job, but you will not be paid to do it. That is the "car shop" model and it has worked for decades.

    You can't pay your head mechanic twice what the lowest mechanic makes. In retail this does not work. He is ONE guy. He cannot work twice as fast or grow two more arms. Yes, he will have much more knowledge and do a better quality and fast job, but again he is only one person. The shop has a limited budget and they can't blow it all on one guy.

  • Nicholast

    2/11/2014 9:35 AM

    Generally speaking, if you want to get paid well financially do one of three things: do a job no one else can do, do a job no one else wants to do, or make decisions about money. It's that simple. The more of those attributes you combine, the better you are paid. People seem to love to hate upper management of big companies and their pay, but those are jobs few can do, few want to do, and they make direct decisions about money. The inverse is also true, which this slide decks reflects. Just about everyone into bikes wants to work in the bike industry, most of those people can do it and many of them can do it well, and in the case of bike mechanics, they make no decisions about money. Of course they are not financially paid well. That's not a flawed system, that's reality. But as others have pointed out below, there are other non-monetary perks associated with the bike industry that counterbalance the lack of pay.

    Doing something you love > getting paid well to do something you hate.

  • prestondh

    2/11/2014 8:33 AM

    As a former bike mechanic and I still wrench on my own bike and someone who went through graduate school for business, I can tell you why. There is not much of a specialization in being a bike mechanic, most anyone can do it with enough time spent training. The same with a janitor or any other job that does not require specialization and this is why it pays so little because their are almost no qualifications to being able to be a bike mechanic and the job pool is virtually unlimited outside of willing participants. I love wrenching on my bikes and even at a lower pay than what I make now I could easily see myself taking a mechanic job simply because you cannot put a price on happiness that a job brings.

  • Danimal5-0

    2/11/2014 8:10 AM

    In my 8 years as a mechanic in Oregon, I've been earning a wage lower than most of my classmates from college. However, many of them have been cooped up behind desks and working in industries they have no personal ties too. I have been absorbing knowledge and making contacts in the industry I love in hopes that one day, I can put all that knowledge to work in a position with higher earning potential. Where a degree comes into play is when opportunity comes, you can pool your knowledge and experiences together for something greater.

    Its also really fun chasing creaks for the freaky roadies, tuning suspension for the clueless weekend warriors, learning about the new shit from the tech rep who knows just a little bit more than everyone else, getting showered with fluid when pressure builds up and then releases unexpectedly. I could go on...

  • Lobes SD

    2/11/2014 8:00 AM

    I'm a mechanic in CA, and last year I made $26,400 which was just enough to cover all of my cost of living expenses, etc. However it wasn't necessarily ample enough to put into a real savings or IRA account which would be nice, I mean, bike mechanics need to think of the future just as much as the rest of the world. The MAIN thing that isn't really taken into consideration is the value and amount of products that mechanics get for free or at wholesale from shop distributors. I probably saved around $3.000 on parts last year from freebies or wholesales. And lastly. TIP YOUR BIKE MECHANICS!!!!! It's as simple as $3 for a coffee (which we need), or as generous as you want to be. You'll shell out $10 on a $50 meal, but you'll stiff your mechanic who just fixed your primary source of exercise or transportation. Please be a little more gratuitous folks, we GREATLY appreciate it, and next time, your mechanic will remember the tip and take care of you a little more.

  • Shishka

    2/11/2014 4:37 AM

    Ya this is the sad truth. I was a head mechanic for a hot minute and busted my ass creating a customer base of satisfied loyal riders from all backgrounds. The shop owner took notice and ended up doing nothing? So I did nothing and quit. The fact is most bike shops would rather hire an illegal immigrant and pay them under the table then keep a real veteran rider/mechanic on they might have to actually pay for. From a riders perspective who do you want working on your bike- that you depend on for safety and fun? I have my own shop in my house now and will almost never even walk into a bike shop. Buying your own tools is the best way to go, and there are soo many ways to learn how to wrench correctly. Supporting your local shop sometimes means your supporting illegal workers. Meet your mechanic and find out before you go there and get repairs.

  • Jose_Sanchez

    2/11/2014 6:45 AM

    Shishka I call BS I have never been to a bike shop that has an illegal immigrant working as a bike mechanic or any other position in the shop. So to say that "most" bike shops do that is completely BS. My wife works at a local bike shop and everyone in there is legal, however, no one has a college degree. I have driven across the country twice and visited well over 100 bike shops in over 20 states and have never seen an illegal immigrant working at a shop, you want to see illegal immigrants go to a Chinese buffet. Bottom line is bike mechanics are not valued mainly because the occupation does not require any type of certification. In the slides they did forget to mention that mechanics get bikes, frames and equipment at cost and if you know anything about bike retail you know that is a pretty big chuck of change.

  • Shishka

    2/11/2014 9:36 AM

    Have you ever heard of a little town called New York City? Might have seen it in the news. There are more bike shops in manhattan alone then your whole state of floriduh. I've been to every shop in the Entire city, all 5 boroughs. If you no speaky english and get paid under the table because of your illegal immigrant status then guess what, your an illegal worker in that shop. Seems like a simple concept but tough for some to grasp I guess. Personally I would like to launch all the immigrants into orbit but thats why I'm not President right lol, lucky for them. If you come here the right way and work there's no problem. Our debt and medical system issues revolve around illegals getting federal subsidies. Then working off the books at your local bike shop. Welcome to the USA.

  • prestondh

    2/11/2014 9:43 AM

    why even bring such a moronic comment that has absolutely no bearing on this discussion other than "illegal immigrants" work on bikes too? pfft the state of our youth in this country never ceases to disappoint me. And for Jose to even fall into that trap of a comment you stated probably took offense because illegal immigrants are associated with mexicans is actually kinda funny.

  • Jose_Sanchez

    2/11/2014 10:55 AM

    Shishka please check your spelling, you're embarrassing yourself. I'm an illegal immigrant and have better spelling than you.

  • responsiblepirate

    2/11/2014 1:45 AM

    This might sound a little harsh, but why would a job that most people would love to do, is not super skilled, requires little education and would never require working unsociable hours be high payed?
    I was a bike mechanic for 6 years up until last august and not once did i think i deserved more money, i was doing something i loved and the pay was just a bonus.

  • jumpman2334

    2/11/2014 3:18 PM

    i dont agree with the 'love to do' part, but i agree with pretty much everything else (although i know that no one else is going to agree). being a bike mechanic really isnt that hard or challenging.. i dont think this is a job that someone should be getting paid a lot of money for.. there are readily available professional grade tools, and with some common sense, you could do literally everything that a mechanic could do in your own home. its not a highly specialized job that requires schooling, unlike other types of 'mechanic' jobs (diesel mech comes to mind right now)

    now, another reason why i dont feel bad for mechanics getting paid is because they get their parts for so cheap. yeah, its not a fair reason to say why bike mechanics shouldnt get paid that much, but its a huge benefit. You have no idea how much time i spend trying to find good deals on the net, while you guys get to sit in your shop and look at a catalog and pick whatever the hell you want cause you can get it 70% off MSRP.

    if you want a nice high paying job, stay in school kids.

  • Amsterdam

    2/11/2014 4:09 PM

    70% off parts is a gross overstatement and a poor reason for low salaries. As someone who has been in charge of hiring a mechanic, I can say that there not many good ones. A backyard mechanic is nothing close to a pro. It take most mechanics a solid four years before they are anywhere close to being at the level needed to run a workshop. That's the problem... These mechanics are only making a couple bucks more than the beginers. They fix the mistakes, train, troubleshoot... Everything is on their shoulders. The mechanic is the shops backbone. Without one there is nothing.
    I don't think a bike mechanic should be paid outrageous sums, but one thing is for certain: the wage they do get is not enough. Most receptionists I know make between $16-18 an hour. House painters make double what a mechanic makes. dipping a brush into paint sound easy enough, but any good painter will tell you it is hard to find a good one. Mechanics top out at about $15. Those three extra dollars would change the game for bike shops. The mechanics would stick around. There wouldn't be the shortage of mechanics like there is. It is a job with a high demand, and not enough people who can do the work.

  • jumpman2334

    2/11/2014 4:24 PM

    thats why i said, ' its not a fair reason to say why bike mechanics shouldnt get paid that much, but its a huge benefit'. and 50-70% off msrp is what i was told from all my buds who work at shops, rather one agrees or not, it is a HUGE benefit to be able to build custom bikes for half off.. I cant stress that enough. anywho, building and repairing a bike really isnt that hard as long as you have common sense and a good mechanical background. and if you have the right (bike-specific) tools, its even easier.

    painting is expensive because its hard work, (can be) dangerous, and no one wants to do it.. being a bike mechanic isnt any of those three. most of the time i walk into a shop, i see atleast a couple of mechanics usually sitting or dickin around, and one or two working. im not saying they dont do anything all day, but i really dont think that warrants a 25+ dollar an hour job..

  • Amsterdam

    2/11/2014 5:26 PM

    The only guys I know who really get to take advantage of the max 50% discount are the kids who still live at home with their parents. The rest can't afford to buy bikes or parts because they don't have any disposable income. I know I can't. It helps when replacing a tire or chain, those necessary items that wear out.

    The big issue is making a statement about the difficulty of a job you haven't had experience. Yes, working on a bike is relatively simple, but in a shop setting it is crucial that you know exactly what is wrong at all times. You don't have time to check tutorials on the Internet. Speed is where the money is. Can you build a wheel in 25 minutes while answering phone calls and troubleshooting the newbie mechanics problems? This is the whole issue, any good mechanic will tell you that there is much more skill involved in the job than is given credit. 30 minutes setting up a derailleur is way too long. Can you do it in 3 minutes? Every time? Can you tell a person what is wrong with their bike by the sound they describe to you over the phone?

    If it is such an easy skill, why then is it so hard to find a good mechanic who is fast enough, consistent enough to work in a shop with paying customers?

    The shop I manage and am the head mechanic at gets a stack of applicants each season. We are lucky if one of them is an independent mechanic.

  • Joe_Graney

    2/10/2014 11:33 PM

    this is cool, thanks for sharing Donny. I think Brandon's caption is good food for thought too: "consider brightening your mechanic's day with a tip next time he does his magic". You think nothing of throwing 20% at a crappy waiter because its expected, do the same for your favorite wrench. Remember those guys work the weekend days that you're out riding, and they don't come up with the pricing of parts or labor.

  • pre4runner

    2/10/2014 10:38 PM

    After browsing through and reading some comments I have a few things to address.

    My back ground is 12 years working in shops being the lead wrench. I make more then the average and most of my mechanics do also.

    There is no standard for a tune-up, from shop to shop you get different services and pay different prices. We charge hourly and tune-ups end up being $50-$100 plus parts. This is fair for inexpensive bikes and high end bikes. In general an inexpensive bike will get the same tune up as any other bike from any other shop. The mechanics ability to diagnose and sell the customer what they need to have an enjoyable experience is what will keep the doors open and customers coming back. Recommending tires, grips and accessories are good things to help commuters enjoy their bikes. Suspension service on expensive bikes is a solid add on. Checking bearings in suspension bikes is another.

    As for mechanics themselves, you have bike mechanics, good mechanics and bike gurus. Also don't forget the grommets in training. I have 5 guru's on my staff, one good mechanic and a mechanic plus me. Typically from my experience the home mechanics that can take care of most of their bike needs are only as good as my mechanic or maybe as good as a good mechanic. What seperates them from a Guru is that they may be able to work on their bike and friends bikes but they do not have the years of experience on thousands of bikes, hundreds of suspension and different problems to draw from.

    Also mechanics have a hard time charging what their time is worth.

  • kd233009

    2/10/2014 10:00 PM

    I am a bike mechanic, $8000 bikes are in general, are easy to fix. It is unnecessary to charge more than 80 bucks for a tune up on that bike because you could work on it all day long and charge 1000 bucks but at the end of the day its only going to get marginally better than a 2 hour tune up. At the other end of the spectrum, you could polish a terd of a bike all day long and it won't shift a lick better. Said terd owner is going to be really happy he spend 100 bucks and his bike doesn't shift any better than when he dropped it off. That's why bike mechanics are supposed to be honest. Tell the customer that they need new parts and need to invest, or tell them the 8000 dollar bike doesn't need anything. Just because someone bought an $8000 bike from you does not mean that you are now allowed to rape them on labor. And good luck trying to sell a tune up to a person for 80 bucks that doesn't actually care about their clunker. It comes down willingness to pay, and honesty. Just me personally, I don't know about other mechanics out there, but I would way rather wrench on bikes, get a baller discount on parts and bikes, and not have to flip burgers and pay full price for what I love. Tack on a couple extra k's a year to our income just from what we save from bike related expenses. PS, it's seasonal, I work 4 hours a week in the winter, my salary obviously reflects that. I could be a janitor year round, but I choose not to. If we were not happy with our pay then we would not do it, we'd be janitors. It's not so bad.

  • TEAMROBOT

    2/10/2014 9:34 PM

    Yeah, because LBS owners are making soooooo much money.

    No one makes real money in the bike industry. A lot of people make a living, and some people who are really really really good at what they do make decent money, but anyone in the bike industry who's even reasonably good at their job could be making 100% more in any almost other segment of the economy. People work in the bike industry because they love bikes, and they're willing to deal with a lot of shit to do what they love. Pay reflects that.

  • Daniel_Layton

    2/10/2014 8:23 PM

    This economic reality is why I went to grad school and don't work as a mechanic anymore. Wages is the intersection of supply and demand, and there are a lot of pieces that go into that beyond the skill or difficulty of work performed. There definitely is more skill involved in being a mechanic than all the other jobs mentioned, but that is only a small part of the picture. Why sometimes higher skill might equal higher wages is because that difficulty creates a barrier to entry and restricts supply, not many people have the skills to be molecular engineers, but other things restrict supply also, like doing crappy work. The kind of work that janitors and fast food workers do. In the end it might be a more highly skilled job but a lot of people want to do it (like me) and that creates a huge supply. You could restrict supply by introducing some much needed certification which might also boost demand as people gain more confidence that the wrench down the street knows what he is doing, but since the skill barrier isn't that high those people will probably just learn to do it themselves. And of course the other side is demand, which is low. People that have high end bikes are probably enthusiasts and will learn to wrench for the fun of it. People with low end bikes typically fall into 2 categories in my experience. Either they aren't that invested in biking and will just ride them into the ground and buy another cheap disposable bike, a la Magna for example (why spend 100 bucks on a tune up when you get a new one for almost that), or if they are invested in their low end bike its because they are poorer, their bike is their only means of transport etc, and when i are that poor (like bike mechanic poor) you don't have the money to pay more for a bike tuneup. High supply and low demand equals low wages. If you want bike mechanics wages to go up, 1) create a barrier to entry by requiring certification and 2) stop selling cheap disposable bikes.