(Russell) wrote in message
> Graduating from college? You're overqualified!
Then again if he has an English degree it might not be a bad gig. I don't mean to be hard on English
majors but I worked with a few working in bike shops in grad school still trying to find something
to do with their education. History can be a tough major to find a gig with if you don't want to
teach. I know one bike shop owner who got a history degree who went to law school and became a
lawyer then years later got out of law and opened another bike shop.
> Most people that want to start wrenching start as an assembler. The owner/manager/service manager
> or head technician will want to assess your mechanical aptitude, probably either by testing you
> with a simple assembly, or hiring you on a probationary basis.
We had a good system. We had new mechanics unbox the bikes, put them in the stand, grease everything
that needs to be greased, etc. and get as far as they can. On the other side an experienced mechanic
would finish the assembly and adjustments. When the experienced mechanic finished his bike he'd turn
the stand and finish up the bike the new mechanic was working on. This freed the experienced
mechanics of some of the tedium of assembling bikes and got the new mechanics working in close
proximity to the experienced ones to learn through osmosis.
> You'll also need to work efficiently...sometimes the job of building bikes, especially at a busy
> shop, can be quite intense. Heck, I need at least 30 bikes built this week myself...now that
> winter is over, customers are coming in in droves, and while I stocked up during the slow months,
> the bikes are going out now at an alarming rate!
I have to admit that I was always bored to tears assembling bikes. I had a lot more fun on tough
repairs where I had to use my knowledge and problem solving skills. Of course building up pro frames
from scratch was always fun but these often required a certain amount of problem solving to get
everything working right.
> To become a mechanic, you'll need all the above skills, plus a strong aptitude for problem
> solving. You need to know how _all_ the various components of a bike work, and how to easily
> diagnose why they don't. Organizational skill is a plus...sometimes you'll need to juggle a few
> projects all at once. You will need good communications skills too, because you will be speaking
> to customers about their bikes.
Every job should teach you something. I've seen some pretty bad businessmen in the bike industry. It
is amazing how resistant some people are to education. Working in a small business (like bike shops)
lets you touch every aspect of business: marketing, salesmanship, personel management, advertising,
paying taxes, etc. When you work in a larger business you are usually more specialized; you may
learn a lot about one particular area of business but you won't touch all aspects like you do when
you manage a small business.
> Lastly, as everyone else has already pointed out, don't expect to be paid much. As highly skilled
> as a bike mechanic needs to be, especially nowadays when bikes are getting ridiculously
> complicated, a bike is still a "toy" to most people, so the labor rates reflect that, which in
> turn affects the paycheck you'll get.
The labor rates do vary a lot. One shop I worked at near a university hardly broke even on repairs;
we almost saw it as a service to support the rest of the business. We simply couldn't charge college
students enough to make any real money with repairs and we had to compete with a retired guy a few
blocks away who ran a bike shop out of his garage. Luckily the rent was low and we didn't need to
sell that much stuff to keep the doors open. Another shop I worked at in an affluent area made most
of their money on repairs. We charged a lot but we also provided pick-up and delivery service which
was a conveninece a lot of people were willing to pay for.
ObBikeShopStory: A customer is upgrading some parts on his bike. The salesman writing the ticket
puts down the price of the parts and tells the customer how much it would cost to install each part.
The customer is getting irate because he seems to think that the price of the parts is high enough
that the labor should be included. He asks about another part and blurts out, "and I suppose you are
going to charge me to install that too!" The salesman asks the customer, "Sir, do you work for
free?" The customer replies that he is a professional and his time is worth something unlike the
bums and kids who work in bike shops. The salesman threw the guy out of the store after that.
ride with the wind.... Bruce
Bruce Jackson - Sr. Systems Programmer - DMSP, A M/A/R/C Group Company