It's mostly because we get paid bullshit.

Seriously, do you have any idea how annoying it is to get bitched at about the cost of a tune up when you don't make shit?

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   Been doing the "job that sucks but helps pay the bills" and the "job that makes me happy but pay is lousy" for two years now. I've found more and more that I am adjusting my lifestyle to the income from the "happy" job, so that the "job that makes me miserable" can be a distant memory. Yes, it's a grind, but it works for now and won't be forever.

   I know everyones situation is different, but minimizing my lifestyle has been the best thing I've done in years. I ride a lot more, cook more and see more of the city(especially the free shit). :D 

notoriousDUG said:

Because we should all work two full time jobs...

I don't want to work in IT, I want to work on bikes but would like to be paid decently for doing it.  I don't want or expect to make the kind of money many other jobs make but I would like to get compensation at least on the level of what the average grocery store cashier makes...

Julie Hochstadter said:

Maybe time to go to school for IT... then you could end up doing both. Mechanic at times and a good paying job other times. 

I understand what you are saying; I am complaining less about my pay. I choose to do this knowing the pay is poor for non-monetary reasons; but that does not mean I would not like to make more.

My issue/point is that it is a job that pays very poorly, especially when you consider that is is a skilled trade.  I think it's amazing how dismissive the average rider is of mechanics.

Duppie said:

It's not what I think you should be paid. It's what the market is willing to pay you. Since you have little leeway to influence what the market pays you as a bike mechanic (or most jobs for that matter), and often the only way to earn more money is to change jobs, complaining about your pay without willing to change your job makes you look grumpy

That is what IITWI was saying, I think ;)


notoriousDUG said:

Let me ask you this: Do you really believe that a bicycle mechanic is a position so devoid of skill it should pay down at the 'working in fast food' end of the spectrum?

Bikes aren't exactly as complex as a car but it still takes a certain level of skill and knowledge to fix them well; you don't think that deserves decent compensation?



in it to win it 8.0 mi said:

"Seriously, do you have any idea how annoying it is to get bitched at about the cost of a tune up when you don't make shit?"

No, I don't.  I chose a profession where I make above shit.  

If you choose to remain in a profession that has a certain pay scale that you cannot influence then you will remain grumpy.  Hard to believe there is only one profession that fits your contentment profile.

I would say working in "fast food" does require some skill if you intend to do a good job & actually give a $hit about service. I would think bike owners pay so little because they have a low profit margin? I know bike shops have the least mark up on the actually bikes.

As an average rider, I am dismissive of certain mechanics: The ones that are clueless, talk to down to me, or try to upsell me.

But the ones that I keep going back to are all around great men and women. Maybe that is why I keep going back to them.

notoriousDUG said:

I understand what you are saying; I am complaining less about my pay. I choose to do this knowing the pay is poor for non-monetary reasons; but that does not mean I would not like to make more.

My issue/point is that it is a job that pays very poorly, especially when you consider that is is a skilled trade.  I think it's amazing how dismissive the average rider is of mechanics.

Duppie said:

It's not what I think you should be paid. It's what the market is willing to pay you. Since you have little leeway to influence what the market pays you as a bike mechanic (or most jobs for that matter), and often the only way to earn more money is to change jobs, complaining about your pay without willing to change your job makes you look grumpy

That is what IITWI was saying, I think ;)


notoriousDUG said:

Let me ask you this: Do you really believe that a bicycle mechanic is a position so devoid of skill it should pay down at the 'working in fast food' end of the spectrum?

Bikes aren't exactly as complex as a car but it still takes a certain level of skill and knowledge to fix them well; you don't think that deserves decent compensation?



in it to win it 8.0 mi said:

"Seriously, do you have any idea how annoying it is to get bitched at about the cost of a tune up when you don't make shit?"

No, I don't.  I chose a profession where I make above shit.  

If you choose to remain in a profession that has a certain pay scale that you cannot influence then you will remain grumpy.  Hard to believe there is only one profession that fits your contentment profile.

I would not consider you the average rider.

The pay situation is the reason there are so many clueless mechanics out there.

I also think that people really need to give shops a break on the 'upsell' thing unless it is something really insane or useless to the customer.  Shops are there to make money and the people who work there want the shop to make more so they can, hopefully, share in the wealth.

When you say upsell do you mean steering you to a nicer product or trying to sell you something you don't need?  When people come in to buy a new tire unless they indicate they are buying soley on price I am going to steer them to a nicer puncture resistant tire.  If somebody is a regular commuter I am going to steer them to a nicer wheel so they get more life out of it.  If a customers bar tape is crappy I'm going to ask/recommend they replace it if they are already getting work done, etc... Is it bad to do that?

Now, am I going to sell a part or service that is not needed?  No, that isn't an upsell that is a rip off.

Duppie said:

As an average rider, I am dismissive of certain mechanics: The ones that are clueless, talk to down to me, or try to upsell me.

But the ones that I keep going back to are all around great men and women. Maybe that is why I keep going back to them.

notoriousDUG said:

I understand what you are saying; I am complaining less about my pay. I choose to do this knowing the pay is poor for non-monetary reasons; but that does not mean I would not like to make more.

My issue/point is that it is a job that pays very poorly, especially when you consider that is is a skilled trade.  I think it's amazing how dismissive the average rider is of mechanics.

Duppie said:

It's not what I think you should be paid. It's what the market is willing to pay you. Since you have little leeway to influence what the market pays you as a bike mechanic (or most jobs for that matter), and often the only way to earn more money is to change jobs, complaining about your pay without willing to change your job makes you look grumpy

That is what IITWI was saying, I think ;)


notoriousDUG said:

Let me ask you this: Do you really believe that a bicycle mechanic is a position so devoid of skill it should pay down at the 'working in fast food' end of the spectrum?

Bikes aren't exactly as complex as a car but it still takes a certain level of skill and knowledge to fix them well; you don't think that deserves decent compensation?



in it to win it 8.0 mi said:

"Seriously, do you have any idea how annoying it is to get bitched at about the cost of a tune up when you don't make shit?"

No, I don't.  I chose a profession where I make above shit.  

If you choose to remain in a profession that has a certain pay scale that you cannot influence then you will remain grumpy.  Hard to believe there is only one profession that fits your contentment profile.

notoriousDUG said:

'But life lessons and friends aside do you really think you are fairly compensated for your work when you consider the knowledge and skill you have?  Friendship and good feeling is great but it doesn't pay the rent or buy a new bike.'

Well, I do pay the rent every month.  I have a stable of bikes that I built up myself and am constantly thinking of the next addition to the herd.  I have a job where I actually feel like I'm respected and make a difference.

One more time:  I'm quite happy.  I'm not 'Always Grumpy'.  I'd like to have more money, but who really doesn't?  Working in a bike shop has given me a better understanding of what is probably my favorite thing in the world: riding my bike.  How it works, how I interact with it, how to fix anything on it that goes wrong, and even other very very fast people to ride with. 

I might not be in this industry forever.  But I'm sure I'll look back on my time in this shop with fondness, and definitely without any regrets.  I like where I'm at right now.  If you're really not gonna begrudge me that, man, that's really your problem and not mine.

Some mechanics are better than others.

I've long believed that if a shop assembled a crew of outstanding mechanics---each and every one, not just one whiz who oversees some less experienced/less talented mechanics---marketed them specifically as expert wrenches with specialties in racing and commuter setups and offered online booking that provided a reasonable expectation of when work would be finished (assuming scope of work doesn't change mid-job), they could easily charge significantly higher prices than the great majority of shops.  And I think they'd clean up.

(Properly staffed, I also think that such a shop able to develop a reputation as having the best wrenches in the city could also do very well in terms of new bicycle sales).

I don't know all the ins-and-outs of bike shops or the repair desks within shops, so it's possible I'm overlooking something that wouldn't allow this to work.  But I suspect there's a market for a premium repair shop with impeccable customer service and that when someone puts it all together and offers such, it will be very successful.  And hopefully they'll do the right thing and pay their mechanics well above the norm.

When I was a mechanic, I was NEVER grumpy.  Now I'm at a corporate, soul-sucking job in the suburbs (that I have to DRIVE to!) that pays the bills and (slightly) more, but I'm pretty much always grumpy.

It's the classic case that has been done in Hollywood movies tons of times over:

Somebody has a job they hate that pays big bucks.  Then they have a life-changing epiphany where they realize they'd be happier doing something else, quit the corporate job, and end up building birdhouses in their garage or something.

Everyone chooses for themselves what takes precedence: money or happiness.  Some decide that money can buy happiness and go that route.

I'm taking my own path.  I'll work at my current job long enough to pay off my debts and get a good nugget saved up, then I'll move onto something I really love once I can afford to take a pay cut.  But life usually has a way of intervening, so who's to say in the coming years if my plan will end up being changed by outside circumstances.  Best laid plans and all that.

Dug, you said, "I don't want to work in IT, I want to work on bikes but would like to be paid decently for doing it.  I don't want or expect to make the kind of money many other jobs make but I would like to get compensation at least on the level of what the average grocery store cashier makes..."

I hear you.  I understand your frustration. But you have pretty much described what a lot of us feel when we have a day job that pays the rent and do something else - write, paint, act, sing, ride a bike, fix a bike, whatever, because it is what we need to do.  To some extent you describe fixing bikes as your art. I like what I do in my day job but its not the same as the things I might do outside of work. Sometimes I get jealous of people who actually make a living at their art or their passion. It aint easy. You certainly have transferable skills but perhaps do not have transferable desire. You have to figure that one out.

Why does a bike mechanic make X and a stock trader make y?  My wife, a writer, asks those same questions substituting her x for yours all the time. It may be the only person making money is the one who employs the writer or the mechanic. That being said I know owning a local bicycle shop is no piece of cake either. With money being scarce often a "thank you" or being treated right was what we hope for. I take it that lately some customers have not been so appreciative. I try to appreciate people who do things I cannot do or who can do in 15 minutes that which would take me all afternoon and can do it better too. 

Attitude feeds attitude. If you resent your job and are feeling down, that can rub off on the customers and there can be a vicious circle of bad.  Good idea venting here.  We appreciate what you and all your brothers and sisters do. Thank you. Now spread the good kharma back at the shop. The guy or gal next in line while you patiently let the fool regurgitate about the cost of a tuneup, just may be the person you want to talk to. What goes around...

As long as you have my ear my one annoyance about some shops is when the mechanic tells you that its time to replace your bike as they look down their nose at your machine.  I was ready to pay money for the tuneup and they wanted to talk me out of wasting it. Of course it was one of those elitist Walter Mitty racing  shops, but I digress.


Nick,

I have a library of books when/if you decide to make the move.  Two of my current favorites are The $100 StartUp (has a bike on the front cover, see below) and Finding Your Own Northern Star.

Nick G said:

When I was a mechanic, I was NEVER grumpy.  Now I'm at a corporate, soul-sucking job in the suburbs (that I have to DRIVE to!) that pays the bills and (slightly) more, but I'm pretty much always grumpy.

It's the classic case that has been done in Hollywood movies tons of times over:

Somebody has a job they hate that pays big bucks.  Then they have a life-changing epiphany where they realize they'd be happier doing something else, quit the corporate job, and end up building birdhouses in their garage or something.

Everyone chooses for themselves what takes precedence: money or happiness.  Some decide that money can buy happiness and go that route.

I'm taking my own path.  I'll work at my current job long enough to pay off my debts and get a good nugget saved up, then I'll move onto something I really love once I can afford to take a pay cut.  But life usually has a way of intervening, so who's to say in the coming years if my plan will end up being changed by outside circumstances.  Best laid plans and all that.

I personally think its pretty appealing that a bike mechanic would make so little.  I see no problem paying more for a service if it means that the person providing that labor gets paid a decent wage.  

It is BS that someone working as a cashier makes more than a bike mechanic.  I've been a cashier and worked plenty of costumer service jobs while I was in school, they require very little skill or knowledge even at a company that focused on being able to provide excellent costumer service. 

I don't think Doug is unhappy doing what he is doing, he's simply pointing out that it can be frustrating for a costumer to rant about an $80 tune up being overpriced to a mechanic providing the service who has to take on a 2nd job to cover the bills.  

Also for those who don't know Doug has other employable skill sets that he doesn't utilize because he did make a choice to be a mechanic and is actually quite content in his cheap lifestyle.

Yes he made a choice to be working as a mechanic but that doesn't mean that we as a cycling community shouldn't be considering paying more to have work done at a shop where the employees are good mechanics and well paid for their ability. 

Any thoughts on what riders can do about this, besides complain less?

My go-to mechanics seem to be pretty competent, as far as I can tell. They don't have a tip jar, though. I visit them regularly, though not so regularly that they recognize me (apparently). More tune-ups and adjustments? More chain and gear cleanings? (I suppose if I brought my bike in every time I should re-do my chain, in this weather, I'd see them a lot more.) It's a Kozy's, so I can always buy things, though at this point I'm pretty set on retail items. What else can I do? Picket?

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