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  1. #1
    Senior Member askrom's Avatar
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    Need good NYC mechanic who wouldn't blink an eye at my mail-ordered parts

    Can anyone recommend a gracious NYC establishment that fits the bill? I'm about to possibly buy some parts that I don't have tools to install myself (headset, BB, freewheel), otherwise I'd just do it.

    Or maybe I should just buy the tools, too?

  2. #2
    Senior Member capwater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by askrom
    Can anyone recommend a gracious NYC establishment that fits the bill? I'm about to possibly buy some parts that I don't have tools to install myself (headset, BB, freewheel), otherwise I'd just do it.

    Or maybe I should just buy the tools, too?
    John at Conrad's Bike Shop 25 Tudor City Pl, New York, 10017 - (212) 697-6966
    Gus at Bike Rennaisance 430 Columbus Ave, 724-2350

    Tell them you are a friend of Sue Cap and they'll take good care of you.

  3. #3
    My bike's better than me! neil0502's Avatar
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    ... and it rarely hurts to bring a 12-pack when endeavoring this sort of thing.

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    ...unless they're recovering AAs.

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    Senior Member Jameson's Avatar
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    .What is wrong with paying a shop, any shop, money to install parts? I'm giving you money to do it so what's the friggin' problem? If you cannot afford something at "A" place, but "B" internet place has it for half price wht should you do with out just because you did not purchase it from "A". Sorry but that is collossally STUPID. If I try to bargin or whine about the cost of installment then by all means smack me about the head. Why should I bring an alcoholic beverage to bribe them after I paid money???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  6. #6
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    Most bike shops make relatively little money on bike sales and have to make it on accessories, clothing, parts and labor. If you provide the parts, the normal labor charge won't be sufficient so they either get hostile or charge you a lot more to install them.

    If you want plumbing work done on your home, do you provide the pipe and fittings and then just pay the plumber to install them? Same thing.

  7. #7
    Senior Member peripatetic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jameson
    .What is wrong with paying a shop, any shop, money to install parts? I'm giving you money to do it so what's the friggin' problem? If you cannot afford something at "A" place, but "B" internet place has it for half price wht should you do with out just because you did not purchase it from "A". Sorry but that is collossally STUPID. If I try to bargin or whine about the cost of installment then by all means smack me about the head. Why should I bring an alcoholic beverage to bribe them after I paid money???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????


    You're not in New York City, right? Poster's question was probably more a practical one than anything else. Certain things in a city of 10million people for which trying to be philosophical about just won't work. Might as well ask why people can't stop littering the streets and the subways, why can't they wait until everyone gets off of a train before boarding, on and on. Lamentation leads only to frustration.

    To the OP: good luck; I'd take the recommendations of Capwater, who obviously knows people directly. No matter what, you are entering some potentially combustible situations...

  8. #8
    Senior Member Jameson's Avatar
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    Fair enough to the new york idea, sounds about right, to the other uh, I might if I had to. If a plumber wants to make a buck on the labor and i have the parts.... i see no problem. materials themselves are often not big money makers, instalation which should I need it I cheefully pay with no questions asked.

    wow i need to learn to spell, or maybe slow down

  9. #9
    Senior Member peripatetic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jameson

    wow i need to learn to spell, or maybe slow down



    Hey, don't be too hard on yourself. It looks like you're raising the typo to an art-form.

  10. #10
    Senior Member capwater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jameson
    Fair enough to the new york idea, sounds about right, to the other uh, I might if I had to. If a plumber wants to make a buck on the labor and i have the parts.... i see no problem. materials themselves are often not big money makers, instalation which should I need it I cheefully pay with no questions asked.

    wow i need to learn to spell, or maybe slow down
    As a plumber, more specifically an irrigation contractor, I have had people ask me to install parts they bought at Home Depot or Lowe's. Sometimes I do and sometimes I tell them I can put in a commercial/pro grade part for the same price. Markup on parts is minimal in bike shops, they make the big bucks (about 30%) on a complete bike, so the labor only shouldn't be a problem. If the shop gives ya grief, you might want to go elsewhere. My local independent wrench has no problem putting in a headsets (just press in the cups) that I got off the web.

  11. #11
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Unless you are buying parts that the LBS cannot normally get (unlikely) then why not pay the few extra bucks to buy the parts from them? You already plan to pay them to install the parts. Why be so cheap?

    The tools required for the freewheel and BB are not very expensive. I would buy those and do that job myself. Headset tools are kind of pricey, though there are ways to do it with makeshift tools if you're handy. Otherwise, just buy the headset from the LBS and pay them to install it.

  12. #12
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    Bikeworks recently built a wheel for me even tho i did'nt buy the spokes,hub, and rim from them. I highly recommend there service.

  13. #13
    Senior Member peripatetic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    Unless you are buying parts that the LBS cannot normally get (unlikely) then why not pay the few extra bucks to buy the parts from them? You already plan to pay them to install the parts. Why be so cheap?

    The tools required for the freewheel and BB are not very expensive. I would buy those and do that job myself. Headset tools are kind of pricey, though there are ways to do it with makeshift tools if you're handy. Otherwise, just buy the headset from the LBS and pay them to install it.



    I'm going to have to chime in on this one, too. With all due respect, you obviously have no idea how high prices here in NYC are. You go into a shop for minor--I mean minor--parts, and you will come out missing that 40 dollars you took out of the ATM just a few hours before. It's okay if you buy a bigger part and the shop installs the part for you at minimal charge, but usually, you pay a heavy markup and high sales tax on top of that.*

    The poster's not really being "cheap," as you describe it, more like economical. I don't think anyone who rides a bike and swaps out parts often in the city who doesn't have a high-paying finance job buys the majority of their parts from LBSes here. They either go with Nashbar, or scrounging on eBay or Craigslist.

    In this town, no matter what your interest, you absolutely have to watch your pocketbook assiduously. One of the main reasons that many people I know in this city learn to do their own bike work stems from the high cost in both money and time that taking it to a shop exacts.

    *These rules apply even more to tools. One can seriously save when ordering their tools online.


  14. #14
    bhh
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    There is another issue here as well and that is most LBS' in this city don't have crap in-stock! TODAY, no less, I went to 3 different shops looking to buy a new helmet. My request were simple, I want to try on a Bell Ghisallo & Sweep and a Giro Pneumo and buy the one that fit best. First shop had a Ghisallo, second shop had a Sweep and the 3rd shop had none of them (in my size), and none of them had one in the color I wanted. What did I do, I came home and ordered the Sweep online as I liked the fit. Flame away. I did it not to save $10 bucks but I was tired of trecking all over town and I wasn't going to go BACK to the second shop, have them order it, and go back God know's when to pick it up when I can have it delivered to my door Thursday morning. Still would have like to try on a Pneumo but what's a guy to do?

    EDIT: I got so worked up I forgot to make my original point to the OP. If you are reasonably good with your hands, get the tools. I ended up buying the tools I needed to complete my build (integrated headset though) as I just got fed up with the LBS around here. It is really amazing how simple everything is once the veil of mystery gets lifted. Park Tools is great reference and there are a couple good books out there too (I have Zinn). Having the tools also makes you want to use them which means your bike will function well and you can spend the winter doing one helluva tune-up/overhall. Oh, and look out for Sydney on the mechanics forum
    Last edited by bhh; 09-20-05 at 10:02 PM.

  15. #15
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peripatetic


    I'm going to have to chime in on this one, too. With all due respect, you obviously have no idea how high prices here in NYC are. You go into a shop for minor--I mean minor--parts, and you will come out missing that 40 dollars you took out of the ATM just a few hours before. It's okay if you buy a bigger part and the shop installs the part for you at minimal charge, but usually, you pay a heavy markup and high sales tax on top of that.*

    The poster's not really being "cheap," as you describe it, more like economical. I don't think anyone who rides a bike and swaps out parts often in the city who doesn't have a high-paying finance job buys the majority of their parts from LBSes here. They either go with Nashbar, or scrounging on eBay or Craigslist.

    In this town, no matter what your interest, you absolutely have to watch your pocketbook assiduously. One of the main reasons that many people I know in this city learn to do their own bike work stems from the high cost in both money and time that taking it to a shop exacts.

    *These rules apply even more to tools. One can seriously save when ordering their tools online.

    Sooooooooo true. When I had a bent RD hanger and mangled RD on my (steel) Lemond I went to a LBS to have them fix it. I had a feeling I'd need a new RD but I was too worried about the frame being toast to really think about it. They put on a new RD and charged twice as much as the online price for the part (105 RD if you're wondering). They had a captive audience and they knew it. I ponied-up because I was so happy to have my bike saved, but it still stings.

    OTOH, in my neighborhood I've found a great one-man shop where I'm happy to pay-up a bit because the guy always does me a solid when I need something done quickly (and he does good work -- ask Ubie here on BF, I took him there recently). I wouldn't be surprised if the guy would do the work the OP wants (PM for more).
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
    I do not want to be associated with the kind of riders that come through my neck of the woods on weekends, dressed in superhero costumes
    Do they wear capes?
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    http://www.cycopaths.net/

  16. #16
    Senior Member askrom's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the tips, folks. The NYC residents have it right - these local shops are really expensive for parts, and not only do they rarely have much in stock (no room!), but they also often won't order them, either.

    Another thing you pay for at a bike shop is expertise when picking parts and the help they give you when going through the sales process. If I go online and order a freewheel for my old bike, it's up to ME to know whether or not it will fit the bike, and it's up to me to do the research to find out. I wouldn't, for example, bring my bike to a shop, ask them what kind of freewheel would fit and other technical questions, examine the hardware in the store, then go back home and order it online. But if I do the research to find out what I want, if I take the risk of buying the part, if it's way cheaper online, and if the store quotes me a price I'm willing to pay for the installation labor, then it's all good.

  17. #17
    pnj
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    don't be fooled into thinking that just because someone works at a shop, they have a clue about what they are talking about.

    I would suggest buying the tools and doing the work yourself.

    a bottom bracket tool should be under 10 bucks.
    a freewheel tool (i'm guessing you mean cassette tool/chain whip) can be made with old chain or you can purchase one. no idea on price. keep in mind, you don't need the tool to put the gears on the rear hub, just to take it off.
    a headset tool can be made for very cheap, they seem expensive to purchase.
    a big nut/bolt and some nice big washers and you've got a headset tool....
    4130

  18. #18
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    for those unaware of NYC prices here is a quick example of some quotes for recent repairs (all shops will remain unnamed):

    chase & face BB cup: $60 (headset: $40)
    press in headset: $50
    adjust derailleurs (note, this does not include installation): $55, including installation $65...
    new chain installation (does not include price of chain): $20
    Change a flat tire (tube not included): $15
    true wheels: $35

    I laughed when I heard the mechanic at the store tell the customer that it would be $20 labor to replace his snapped chain (plus of coruse $30 for the chain itself)

    If they are going to charge me $15 to change my flat tube out for a new one, that price better include talcum powder in the tire, and a tube with a gold stem!!! Changing a flat is like a 5 min job (or less!) for any mechanic worth his salt, that translates to $180/hr labor, pretty outrageous if you ask me. I have never paid bike shop prices (compared cost of labor to buying tool needed, usually tool pays for itself in two visits...still have to get a chasing, and facing tool, made my own headset press, have accumulated quite a collection over the past 4 years, even got my own truing stand to build wheels in (yeah right, like i'm going to pay someone $ to have all the wheelbuilding fun!!!)

  19. #19
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    Changing a flat is like a 5 min job (or less!) for any mechanic worth his salt, that translates to $180/hr labor, pretty outrageous if you ask me.

    The mechanic doesn't get anywhere near that much. Consider the shop's costs to operate in NYC. Rent, taxes, inventory costs, salaries, utilities, etc. NY is a dreadfully expensive place to operate any business. A bike shop with its low turnover and limited clientele is a marginal operation even at those prices.

    yeah right, like I'm going to pay someone $ to have all the wheelbuilding fun

    It isn't fun if it isn't your wheel and you have to have it done by a deadline with lots of other things waiting for your attention too.

  20. #20
    Senior Member peripatetic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider

    It isn't fun if it isn't your wheel and you have to have it done by a deadline with lots of other things waiting for your attention too.

    Funny you should mention deadline. Time is, of course, another important commodity in the cost-benefit analysis here, could probably be measured in dollar units.


  21. #21
    Senior Member capwater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphodbeeblebro
    for those unaware of NYC prices here is a quick example of some quotes for recent repairs (all shops will remain unnamed):

    chase & face BB cup: $60 (headset: $40)
    press in headset: $50
    adjust derailleurs (note, this does not include installation): $55, including installation $65...
    new chain installation (does not include price of chain): $20
    Change a flat tire (tube not included): $15
    Holy crap! Get Sen. Hitlary Clintax to form a committee to investigate. I recently paid $10 to have headset cups pressed in. Bad enough you have to deal with the Yankees blowing a 0-3 lead, but also to have thieves running your LBS!

  22. #22
    Senior Member rufvelo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider
    ...Consider the shop's costs to operate in NYC. Rent, taxes, inventory costs, salaries, utilities, etc. NY is a dreadfully expensive place to operate any business. ...
    This is the real culprit behind those surprisingly large labor charges. Shops often run a tight ship, faces losses and ultimately close. It sometimes doesn't even help therefore, if they're the best mechanics , smartest prices and most customer friendly in the area.

  23. #23
    bhh
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    You know, I was thinking about it and I bet a top notch mechanic in this city could eventually pull down $100,000+ per year (~$48 per hour) by finding enough clubs, teams, & good clients to stay busy full-time and simply billing $60 an hour for top quality work, hell maybe more even. Many people would happily pay that for reliable work from an individual they trusted and was reliable. Almost like marketing themselves as "personal" mechanics to many people. You wouldn't have inventory to deal with and the $12 an hour difference amounts to $25,000 a year which is enough to cover a small space large enough for a workshop, particularly in Williamsburg or someplace similar. They difficulty is staying "billable" full-time but that is the same for every upstart professional. At $60 an hour, a good mechanic would be also be very competitive if not better priced than most LBSes even. I don't know the bike business or anything but this is how many small businesses start out and I am beginning to simply doubt the traditional LBS model is an effective model in this city for talented mechanics to earn a descent living these days.

    Just thinking out loud...

  24. #24
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    I feel everyone's pain: those insane prices generally hold across the river in NJ too. As one who looks for a good price on parts and the does the work myself, I feel sorry for the unsuspecting. My neighbors, who are for the most part casual bike users, often see me in my gear and sometimes come over to ask questions about bikes, etc. One older gent, who has a mid level mtn. bike for rides with his granddaughter, asked me if a quoted $50 was a fair price to re-position his brake cables from above the handlebars to below (the bike had not been assembled properly). It looked like a 5-10 minute job. In talking, he also mentioned the $45 he paid for the plastic platform pedals he recently bought at the same shop. I told him to come by next time he had a problem.....

  25. #25
    Senior Member askrom's Avatar
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    I didn't intend this thread to be an opportunity to bash bike mechanics -- or New York City!

    We're all trying to make a living here in the good ol' USA, and I don't agree at all with insinuations that blue-collar hard working bike mechanics, or their small-business-owner bosses, are rapacious profiteers raking in the loot. And I certainly don't want to create the impression that an NYC bike shop is any different than any other in the USA. If I lived in Kansas, my question would have been no different.

    Prices are high here because ALL prices are high here -- rents, insurance, taxes, food, everything. Salaries in NYC are higher than the national average, too, and some of our other expenses are smaller than other Americans' in many ways (most of us don't use a whole lot of gasoline, for example). We're not thieves and fatcats at all -- in fact, we give far, far more to the federal government and the rest of the states than we take back.



    Finally, capwater, I can't believe I have to invoke Godwin's Law on you on a Bike Mechanics message board!

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