Employment in the bike industry in Australia?

Discussion in 'Australia and New Zealand' started by mds2076, May 22, 2007.

  1. mds2076

    mds2076 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Considering a career change and have been wondering how easy it is to get into employment working with bikes. I have a mechanical background and enjoy the servicing of them. Just wondering if there's any demand for this sort of work and how easy is it to get into. Any experiences? Is it something worthwhile pursuing?
     
    Tags:


  2. existence

    existence New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2006
    Messages:
    1,187
    Likes Received:
    0
    There is a guy in Melbourne who is a 'freelance' bike mechanic. I dont know how many of them there are but I personally think its a concept that will work well in future.

    A lot of retail is happening online and overseas. This has been predominately in smaller parts and components for bikes however increasingly its becoming frames/forks and groupsets.

    Then there is also a whole raft of dudes setting up to sell complete bikes online in Australia. They all think they are going to do very well out of it. Some will, some wont. None of them have properly invested in their websites to date. Cell bikes look after the arse end of the market and will do ok but the most logical winner in this area will be excelpro (a freight company/bike & component distributor/now retailing online direct). You also have the likes of PBK and Torpedo7 shaping up from overseas. Roshea (cycling forums member) will probably know more about a few of the other players in this area.

    A freelance mechanic also does not need to hold large stock levels as we have this absurd situation in this industry where consumers can purchase below wholesale prices offshore. They excerise this right regularly.

    I think there will be an ever increasing proportion of bikes not purchased through traditional bike stores. They obviously still need servicing. Presently you can take your bike back to a retail outlet to get serviced but often wait up to a week to get work done (as they look after bikes they sell first and foremost).

    I think there is a solid market for independant, freelance bike mechanics in Australia going forward. (I know the guy I deal with picks up a lot of work at events etc which isnt a bad way to see parts of the world either.) If you did go down this path then the smart move would be to do a deal with the likes Cell Bikes/Excelpro etc who sell online and whose customers will need a 'workshop' for servicing.

    Thats just my opinion. I am almost certainly wrong. However some people like the idea of freelance bike mechanics and I am one of them.
     
  3. neon

    neon New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think there is now Certificate IV in bicycle repair. Some worth looking into.

    Existence bring up good point about 'freelance' bike mechanic. Have a bike mechanic independent of shop would be great idea. Just look at car mechanics, not all work for manufactures dealership.
     
  4. Thylacine

    Thylacine Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    3,709
    Likes Received:
    18
    Didn't realise we had a bike industry in Australia. :rolleyes:
     
  5. j.r.hawkins

    j.r.hawkins New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    0
    Why is this? I recently exercised this 'right', buying in some Hayes discs and mounts from the US, and rest of the hydro brake hardware from Honkers for well less than half retail... including freight.

    Is somebody making an obscene profit or do we have just too many layers in the distribution chain here?
     
  6. Thylacine

    Thylacine Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    3,709
    Likes Received:
    18
    Three reasons

    1) Yes, too many layers in the distribution channel.

    2) Australian market is so small and so dispersed that to be viable, AU wholesalers have to put 30% + markup on anything to make it worthwhile. Low Volume high prices, or high volume low prices. Pick one.

    3) Because we're so small and so far away, we don't apply for volume discounting like the big overseas mailorder houses do. While they approach a manufacturer and say "We want to buy 50% of your entire aftermarket 2008 production run, what price can you give us?", by comparrison, the AU wholesaler rings up and say "Can I have 20 of those?"
     
  7. j.r.hawkins

    j.r.hawkins New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    0
    Three questions: what itch are you trying to scratch? How will you find enough people with the itch? Will they pay to be scratched?

    The problem with this career choice is the low barriers to entry (or perceived barriers to entry). It's not rocket science, and for less than $60 you buy a tool kit that will do most jobs. Your primary competition is people like me: Mr DIY.

    There are however plenty of mechanically multi-thumbed people who will pay for small jobs and problems to be fixed, but the issue is how do you go about drawing thems to you so that you can derive a sustainable income?

    Perhaps if you establish yourself as a maintenance whiz at the ultra-premium end of the market looking after guys with $7-10k road bikes who need regular maintenance. That will help put you in a space where people are perhaps less price conscious and you'd be more likley to get repeat business. The risk are: this is a small market and you are competing with established bike shops.

    So rather than risk shooting your foot off (financially speaking) by jumping off the deep end and dropping your current income stream and going full-time, perhaps try your hand working for a bike store. You could quietly accumulate a contacts and make your mistakes on someone else's time. And if it doesn't work out, you won't drown in a sea of red ink.
     
  8. Thylacine

    Thylacine Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    3,709
    Likes Received:
    18
    You think a full bike toolkit costs 60 bucks?

    Try closer to two grand, and there's no way in hell a guy with a 10k roadbike is going to pay some guy with a set of allen keys and a pedal wrench top dollar to even look at their bike.

    If you want to be a pro wrench, I can't see how you could possibly do it without having had done it for the AIS or a Pro Team or been in the industry for a decade, nor without a salubrious workshop with polished wood floors and an espresso machine.
     
  9. existence

    existence New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2006
    Messages:
    1,187
    Likes Received:
    0
    +1. Also +1 (hawko) on the whole go work for someone else while you suss out any business model.

    When you stand in front of a seriously experienced bike mechanic and watch him do his stuff it is pretty impressive. Freelance mechanics (with requisite experience) will win hands down in the future in the eyes of blokes with top end bikes (like me). Bike shops I've frequented so far have had one quality (semi) mechanic and then 3 or 4 guys basically learning on the job (sometimes with no knowledge of Campy at all...). Who works on my bike? I dont know. Not good enough!

    I want freelance and I want to know the bloke personally and I want to see him work on it and I want quality work done.

    Blokes with multiple $10k bikes pay the required fee for their upkeep. Period.
     
  10. Hitchy

    Hitchy New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2004
    Messages:
    1,876
    Likes Received:
    0
    There's no money to be made working on bikes in Oz...the main reason is every second bike shop has a 'wannabe' pro who's not in it for the money....more to have the flexibility of hours so they can ride & earn a few bucks without having to get a 'real' job. The only ones making any seroius money in the whole bike industry in Oz are the distributors...& that's cos they put such a huge markup on stuff compared to what is available overseas. Which is why businesses like PBK, parker, prendas, et al are doing so well. Save yourself years of grief & $$$$ & look elsewhere for a job!
     
  11. GT1965

    GT1965 New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2007
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree whole heartedly, I had an apprentice work on my SID World Cup forks and totally Fncked them up and I had to pay to get them serviced again. That in itself would be a great thread about a bike store in Melbourne that is no longer trading. Getting hands on experience is one thing but when you're learning a trade isn't there supposed to be some-one qualified overseeing? There was when I was a chippie.
     
  12. j.r.hawkins

    j.r.hawkins New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    0
    Nope. You've missed the point.

    I'm talking about guys who, like some of the guys above, have had a gutful of sloppy LBS mechanics (in my experience BS mechanics) and would rather feel safer and look after themselves. It's the DIY guy who is the biggest competitor to the pro wrench, in that we can easily look after ourselves.

    Of course guys with multiple $10K+ bikes will pay for quality of service. But realistically, what percentage of the market is that? Seems like a micro market to me, and what you can charge rate-wise is very limited. You have the problem of finding enough customers to provide you with a living, and then getting them to travel to come see you. The cards are stacked in favour of hte bike shop.

    But if it's really what you want to do...

    I'd still suggest going to work for a bike shop. Learn the trade. Learn to SELL. Find a lazy owner who is happy for you to give them more and more free time by taking over the running of the shop. Then start your own shop. I have a thought that if you sell enough bikes you're a long way toward getting that steady customer base for mechanical work.
     
  13. caferacerwanabe

    caferacerwanabe New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    0
    You could always move to WA , retail is desperately understaffed at present with shops & especially the hospitality industry crying out for workers . The downside is the boom here has pushed up rentals dramatically so a relative with a spare room would be good.

    Also...a 4th reason to add to thylacine....

    The bike industry overseas is awash with components that should have been used on factory assembly lines. This product called OEM equipment is supplied by the manufacturers to bike companies at greatly reduced prices but a percentage finds its way onto the open market hence all the kit in plastic bags on Ebay from China etc. A consumer can buy what they want but a retailer here in Oz cannot by law purchase some brands like Shimano from overseas. A retailer in the UK for example could buy his product from the local supplier at elevated prices or a company in Spain , Belgium or anywhere else in the EEC at a cheaper rate.
     
  14. anth

    anth New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't think he was saying that you can expect to go into business as a bike mechanic with just $60 worth of tools. If you have the time and interest though the equipment needed to work on your own bike won't cost a lot. And thats the point, a lot of us don't need a mechanic, and in fact would prefer to do our own maintenance.

    I've spent more than that on tools, but still not a huge amount. I'm sure that a pro would be able to do this sort of work faster than me, but add in the time taken to drop the bike off and pick it up again and that advantage disappears.

    As for the original question, I've never been involved in the industry so can't comment on what employment/business opportunities are like.

    A little off topic: my wife and I went shopping for a bike for her recently. We'd found a bike she liked apart from the saddle, so we had a look at the women's saddles they had on display then I asked one of the shop employees if she could try the bike with this other saddle. He said that he'd have to get the-other-guy* to change it, so I asked if I could borrow a hex key and do it myself, he said "sure" and gestured towards the workshop. I made a few other adjustments while I was at it, and we ended up buying the bike. I'm not complaining about the service, they were busy and we got what we wanted, it just seemed a little odd.

    *he used a name but I've forgotten it
     
  15. cyclaire.com.au

    cyclaire.com.au New Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would say it depends on what you want to do and how enthusiastic you are in wanting to do something...

    There is always an opportunity in what you want to do if YOU have the drive.

    Keep in touch

    Richard
     
  16. j.r.hawkins

    j.r.hawkins New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would say it's a lot like swimming.

    You can swim with the current or you can swim against the current. You'll cover a lot more distance with for the blood sweat and tears you invest if the current (ie, the market) is travelling with you than if you have to swim against it.

    I could be completely wrong about the prospects in this market, and it would be nice if I were. I guess what I'd really like to say is make sure the current is favourable before you jump in, and even then make sure you keep your flotation device until you can see the right results.

    Sorry if I seem unduly negative. I've just seen too many people shoot their foot off by quitting their job to go into an unproven business venture, or one with the wrong team, or one that didn't suit their skillset, and end up with a permanent limp.
     
  17. artemidorus

    artemidorus New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Messages:
    2,307
    Likes Received:
    0
    Do they teach medicine in English of the standard that you are displaying?
     
  18. Garyh_GONP07

    Garyh_GONP07 New Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2007
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    0
    大概教用中文保存時間和費用! :D
     
  19. artemidorus

    artemidorus New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Messages:
    2,307
    Likes Received:
    0
    Care to translate?
     
  20. Garyh_GONP07

    Garyh_GONP07 New Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2007
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    0
    "They probably teach in Chinese to save time and expense!"
     
Loading...
Loading...