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Huckin' trails
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Discussion Starter #1
Today I went to all the shops within a 50km radius of my house to drop in resume for bike mechanic position. I was surprised at how much low inventory each owner was complaining they had but at also how nice most of them were. Gosh last shop I worked at bunch of old Italian dudes screaming at each other's, new manager was a young prick, head mechanic was a total lunatic pot head, other employees where not reliable, the young guy on the floor was swamped by customers every weekends and me I was convinced that how every bike shop was run haha

Gosh I don't miss that, but I enjoy working on bikes despite making not even half as much as my other job. So hopefully I will get to spend my weekends working in a nice shop with nice coworkers without drugs and screaming every 10 minutes.

I'm spending too much time on the couch lately.
 

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Fart smeller
Tell us what parts you're using.
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Huckin' trails
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)


Thanks but commute may take more than a day each way :)


None of the shop I went to were actually advertising that they're hiring, but 3 of them were interested in hiring a mechanic as soon as business picks up, which shouldn't be long up here on the bc coast. They're more concerned about the lack of inventory to sell than the usual repairs/tune-up. One of them told me he had over $100k of canceled bikes order from the manufacturer's side, and his floor was already half empty. He spends most of his day sitting around the shop waiting for a client needing service rather than being able to sell new bikes. That has to be pretty scary as a business owner.
 

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All of the bike shops around here are so backed up on service that many of them will not work on your bike unless it was purchased from that particular store. Also once it's at the shop it can take a couple of days to weeks for even the most simple repairs and service.

Sent from my moto g(7) supra using Tapatalk
 

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Fart smeller
Tell us what parts you're using.
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All of the bike shops around here are so backed up on service that many of them will not work on your bike unless it was purchased from that particular store. Also once it's at the shop it can take a couple of days to weeks for even the most simple repairs and service.

Sent from my moto g(7) supra using Tapatalk
Yep, same here. In a city of over 400,000, we have one bike shop. One. And you can bet they are swamped, as you say, even the simplest repair can take weeks.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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All of the bike shops around here are so backed up on service that many of them will not work on your bike unless it was purchased from that particular store. Also once it's at the shop it can take a couple of days to weeks for even the most simple repairs and service.

Sent from my moto g(7) supra using Tapatalk
We were like that here last summer. Not so bad now. I just got my fork rebuilt at one of the shops in town. I made an appointment for about a week out, dropped it off on Tues, and had it back on Thurs.

But yeah, inventory on lower priced bikes is still kinda bad. Also with random parts. Just waited a couple months for a 2x10 GRX crankset for my gravel bike (nobody on the internet had them, either). I already have some spare service parts for other stuff, but I'm thinking I should be ordering a 12spd Shimano chain before I absolutely need it, too.
 

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Out spokin'
In cog? Neato!
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Yep, same here. In a city of over 400,000, we have one bike shop. One. And you can bet they are swamped, as you say, even the simplest repair can take weeks.
Sounds like a great time to open a competing shop. Considering current market conditions, your new shop could go out of business almost immediately, saving a lot of money compared to doing it the traditional way... lingering for decades.
=sParty
 

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You should consider some sort of mobile service through a shop. A new trend coming from the auto industry and unheard of in the bike hobby industry. Doing something like that in the Bay Area would be amazing
 

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You should consider some sort of mobile service through a shop. A new trend coming from the auto industry and unheard of in the bike hobby industry. Doing something like that in the Bay Area would be amazing
There is at least one national 'franchise' that works across Canada/USA for mobile repairs, and there are a handful of other individually owned ones cropping up. The problem was that when it began to take off 4-5 years ago, major distributors wouldn't sell to someone without a brick-and-mortar location. Kind of made it difficult to make a living, including outlaying for a $40-50,000 van/toolset, only to be told you can't make any profit off of parts/accessories. That's a lot of flat tire/tune up labor for one person to make up before they break even.

They've since changed their stance, but the damage was already done.

The Bay Area, and a handful of larger cities make it possible to run such a business, but it is not sustainable in a wide swath of the country, since you would need to charge a huge premium over a regular shop to make it profitable.
 

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Fart smeller
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Rippin da fAt
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You should consider some sort of mobile service through a shop. A new trend coming from the auto industry and unheard of in the bike hobby industry. Doing something like that in the Bay Area would be amazing
Bicycle Serve Center has been doing the StepVan service center since the '90's...
 

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Huckin' trails
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Discussion Starter #14
I would just do it out of your home on the side :) Advertise on Facebook and such.
I'd do that if I was still in Montreal where I have a proper working space and all my tools/stand/supplies, but right now I'm in a motorhome 5000km from there and I have limited storage space. I would make a killing in Montreal right now tho, as there's a huge commuting community even in the winter (I admin a 12k member fb group on winter cycling in Montreal), just pick up customers bike with car, fix it at home and drop it back, with a small travel fee and decent shop rate.

What I am geared for here however is doing marine electrical at $50/hour, but that's been pretty slow in the winter.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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There is at least one national 'franchise' that works across Canada/USA for mobile repairs, and there are a handful of other individually owned ones cropping up. The problem was that when it began to take off 4-5 years ago, major distributors wouldn't sell to someone without a brick-and-mortar location. Kind of made it difficult to make a living, including outlaying for a $40-50,000 van/toolset, only to be told you can't make any profit off of parts/accessories. That's a lot of flat tire/tune up labor for one person to make up before they break even.

They've since changed their stance, but the damage was already done.

The Bay Area, and a handful of larger cities make it possible to run such a business, but it is not sustainable in a wide swath of the country, since you would need to charge a huge premium over a regular shop to make it profitable.
I know a guy who opened up a franchise of that company several years ago. He never said why, but he didn't do that for very long. Wouldn't be surprised if this was part of the reason (or maybe a major or the whole reason) why.

I know other people who ran boutique shops out of their homes and were having trouble for awhile with distributors refusing to work with them for the same reason. They must have found ways to deal with that, because they're still doing it and another friend started doing this in a different part of the same city a few years ago.
 

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beater
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Our LBS expects to have very low bike inventory this year, but they’re ramping up for a huge service season. They’re anticipating demand for parts and so are we. I have a spare chain, bottom bracket, derailleur, brake pads, and tires for each of our bikes.
 

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I know a guy who opened up a franchise of that company several years ago. He never said why, but he didn't do that for very long. Wouldn't be surprised if this was part of the reason (or maybe a major or the whole reason) why.

I know other people who ran boutique shops out of their homes and were having trouble for awhile with distributors refusing to work with them for the same reason. They must have found ways to deal with that, because they're still doing it and another friend started doing this in a different part of the same city a few years ago.
Certain distributors would work with you, but you would either have gaps in inventory/have to have multiple accounts to get everything sorted (also: where do you draw the line? 15 different kinds of cleats?). IIRC, the whole lure of the franchise, other than having someone set you up with what you needed to actually work, was that you could actually get parts through them. I remember reading articles about it in Bicycle Retailer years ago, thinking that the start-up costs were astronomical [can't recall, but prices in the $200k?]...and thinking it would be quite unlikely you'd actually recoup your investment (nb: not a cheap area--bicycle labor rates between 60-90/hour, auto techs easily double).

For that matter, to get competitive pricing on Shimano (and at the time, SRAM) stuff compared to what you could buy from overseas, you had to be a mid-level buyer. That's a lot of scratch for one person doing repairs; for what it's worth, I seriously doubt that either big S was looking out for their dealer's best interests...they were probably looking out for their NA regional company interests.
 

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If you are looking to live in Kamloops every bike shop is hiring. Experience mechanic around $22/hr is the rate I hear.

As for inventory it appears that long established bike shops that placed their orders early have a lot of inventory. Although that inventory is disappearing quickly. One of our local shops had a January that was triple of normal.
 

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Huckin' trails
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Discussion Starter #19
If you are looking to live in Kamloops every bike shop is hiring. Experience mechanic around $22/hr is the rate I hear.

As for inventory it appears that long established bike shops that placed their orders early have a lot of inventory. Although that inventory is disappearing quickly. One of our local shops had a January that was triple of normal.
That's interesting to know that some shops have up their wages. A few years ago $18/hour was the max you could hope for for a life long mechanic.

Bike shop owner on Vancouver island told me 12spd GX chain not before Christmas. Other one who deals GT bikes said nothing coming in for months instead of the 50 bikes he ordered last year.

Obviously some bigger shops may have better luck since they usually rotate inventory on a higher rate thus having more orders on a daily basis and bigger stockpile too.

I wouldn't mind getting paid $20/h, but there was no discussion about wages yet with any shops I've visited. I'm thinking they're gonna offer something around $14/h to $18/h. I used to get $15/h back when I was part time in 2014. I haven't worked for anything less than $20/h since 2016. Now I'm at $50/h but self employed without benefit.

But honestly, money is better than no money and as much as I love sleeping in everyday, I could do with some extra cash and social interaction.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Certain distributors would work with you, but you would either have gaps in inventory/have to have multiple accounts to get everything sorted (also: where do you draw the line? 15 different kinds of cleats?). IIRC, the whole lure of the franchise, other than having someone set you up with what you needed to actually work, was that you could actually get parts through them. I remember reading articles about it in Bicycle Retailer years ago, thinking that the start-up costs were astronomical [can't recall, but prices in the $200k?]...and thinking it would be quite unlikely you'd actually recoup your investment (nb: not a cheap area--bicycle labor rates between 60-90/hour, auto techs easily double).

For that matter, to get competitive pricing on Shimano (and at the time, SRAM) stuff compared to what you could buy from overseas, you had to be a mid-level buyer. That's a lot of scratch for one person doing repairs; for what it's worth, I seriously doubt that either big S was looking out for their dealer's best interests...they were probably looking out for their NA regional company interests.
I think the main distributor giving the people I know who started the boutique shop at their house trouble was QBP. Their primary model to start with was high end fits (the guy was the only guy I knew in the area offering mtb-specific pro fits for years when he was working for someone else), but they slowly started branching out. His wife used to run a business that organized races, but she sold that off to focus on the shop and put time into learning to wrench. Nowadays they actually do sales, too, and carry Orbea. I don't know if they work with QBP now, but I imagine that they've at least found a way to get around it. I think they were pretty early with this sort of business model, so they occasionally get interviewed by larger publications over their experience. I dunno if QBP has changed the way they handle shops like theirs since I first learned of their challenges. They're just very casual acquaintances of mine, so I don't hear much from them.

The guy I know who started up his own boutique shop most recently only does service as far as I know. I worked with him at a shop for a few years where he was one of the wrenches before we both moved on from there. I've not heard him say anything about distributor trouble, so I'm not sure how he handles parts.
 
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