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Old 10-26-12, 11:11 PM   #1
Woofles
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For the female mechanics out there...

I know there's got to be more out there! I thought it might be nice to start a thread to introduce yourself, converse, vent, etc. I've been working as a mechanic for 3 years now and I've become well aware at how exceptional, lonely, gratifying, frustrating, etc. it can be working in an otherwise "manly" profession.

So maybe some questions to start off:

How old are you and where are you located?

How long have you been a mechanic?

Employed or a self-proclaimed grease monkey?

What level of mechanic would you place yourself at (i.e beginner, intermediate, advanced).

Are you a mountain biker, cyclist, or something in between?

What are your current rides?

Favorite part about being a mechanic?

Least Favorite part about being a mechanic?


Feel free to add questions you would like to ask too!


I guess I should start off by answering my own questions...
How old are you and where are you located? I'm 25 and located in the SF bay area.
How long have you been a mechanic? About 3 years.
Employed or a self-proclaimed grease monkey? Employed.
What level of mechanic would you place yourself at (i.e beginner, intermediate, advanced)? Advanced.
Are you a mountain biker, cyclist, or something in between? Both! I started off much more of a mountain biker but lately I have found a love for the wide open roads.
What are your current rides? I have a frakenbike Marin as my MTB. Honestly, it's a bit of a beater at this point. However, my new love is my Soma ES I built up recently.
Favorite part about being a mechanic, and not so favorite part? Being able to learn everything there is to know about something I am so passionate about has been absolutely awesome. Building up and repairing bikes is something I know I will never get bored of. I also love educating others, especially other women, on bike mechanics and showing them that being a female is by no means a handicap.
Least favorite part about being a mechanic I was very unaware until I started this job, but unfortunately there is still a surprising number of people that don't believe women can adequately understand mechanics. Honestly it use to piss me off quite a bit, and it still does but I've become more accustomed to it for the sake of not allowing their crappy attitude from dampening all the enjoyment I do get out of my job.

Last edited by Woofles; 10-27-12 at 02:38 AM.
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Old 10-27-12, 03:01 AM   #2
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unfortunately there is still a surprising number of people that don't believe women can adequately understand mechanics.
Technically-minded chicks are my favourite people
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Old 10-27-12, 08:45 AM   #3
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Paging BianchiGirl....
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Old 10-27-12, 09:35 AM   #4
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I'm 51 and I'm in Atlanta.
I've been employed as a mechanic for a little over a year. Paid to work on peoples bikes for about 5 years and been working on bikes since I was 8. I used to be in the news media, worked part time at a shop then things worked out for a full time gig.
I think I'm advanced, but I'm not afraid to admit I see new stuff all the time.
I'm a roadie, commuter, utility cyclist depending on my mood.
I have a surly LHT, a bamboo bike, A steel lugged Pinarello and a carbon Fuji.
My favorite part of being a mechanic is solving a puzzle and getting stuff to work right. Figuring out a solution is very rewarding.
My least favorite part is people who expect my expertise for nothing. It's just a bike, right?

When I quit my job in TV, I got a lot of grief about taking such a menial, blue collar, get-your-hands-dirty kind of job. I don't get the "women can't be mechanics because they don't understand such complicated things" from customers, except maybe from recent immigrants. I get more of the, "You're an adult, not a slacker, what are you doing this for?" To which I always answer, the Wright Brothers were bicycle mechanics-I think that's good company.
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Old 10-27-12, 11:00 AM   #5
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My preferred LBS is owned and operated by a woman:

http://www.chainreactioncycleryllc.com/

She worked as a mechanic for many years at an established shop that closed down several years ago, and started her own shop after that.
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Old 10-27-12, 12:46 PM   #6
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When I attended Barnett's school, the head instructor was female. Wasn't an issue for me, or any of my fellow students. Her skills and knowledge were deep.
She went on to do a column in Bicycling Magazine for a while. One of the better mechanics I've ever watched at work.
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Old 10-27-12, 12:58 PM   #7
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My co-mechanic is a woman. It is extremely frustrating when male customers ask me if she is "any good" or something like that. It hasn't happened many times, fortunately.
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Old 10-27-12, 01:15 PM   #8
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We have a female mechanic/salesperson in our shop... she just doesn't hang out here on BF. It's great to have her here. Also, our part time fit expert is also a woman. In most cases, there's no downside -- she's as good as any of us with most stuff, a star on the sales floor, and having a mixed sex staff helps at the retail level.
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Old 10-27-12, 01:31 PM   #9
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I ran a Bike Technician school for a few years and there was a definite difference in general between the men and women in the course. The biggest challenge with the women was lack of confidence. Often they knew the answer to a problem but did not believe in themselves. The biggest problem for the men was overconfidence, resulting in misdiagnosis and even broken parts!
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Old 10-27-12, 01:47 PM   #10
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Hands are Hands - Mechanic or Surgeon - Artist or Framer - We all need to recognize each others skills...
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Old 10-27-12, 02:02 PM   #11
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Hands are Hands - Mechanic or Surgeon - Artist or Framer - We all need to recognize each others skills...
True, but those hands are guided by the mind and the real skill is between the ears of whoever's hands you are paying to do the work. That knows no sex boundaries.
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Old 10-27-12, 03:06 PM   #12
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Hands are Hands - Mechanic or Surgeon - Artist or Framer - We all need to recognize each others skills...
Indeed - those who have not done mechanical or other "manual" work do not understand one is not "good with your hands" but rather with your brain. In addition to knowledge about ever-changing technology an expert bike mechanic applies skills and knowledge in logical troubleshooting, math, physics, chemistry, biomechanics and communication. Beyond that one needs to be a creative thinker, as there is always a problem that nobody has seen before and for which there is no standard fix.

As the old joke goes - it's $5.00 to tighten the part and $95.00 to know which one and how much.

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Old 10-27-12, 06:39 PM   #13
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It's great to hear about females doing mechanical (dirty) work. I am so tired of hearing about equal rights for women and then when there's something to be lifted or dirty, dangerous work; "can you guys do that". Start doing these jobs and equal pay / equal treatment will quickly follow.
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Old 10-27-12, 07:34 PM   #14
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Hello I am not currently employed as a Mechanic or shop employee but if I could do more than live paycheck to paycheck working in the business I would love to do it again.

How old are you and where are you located? My home is Camp Hill Pa but i travel frequently to So Jersey and as Professional driver I roam the country in general

How long have you been a mechanic? I guess I have been working on bikies since I was 16 or so, since we had to fix our own flats rather than go to the shop. I simply got tired of waiting for my brother so I did it myself.

Employed or a self-proclaimed grease monkey? Not currently employed as a mechanic

What level of mechanic would you place yourself at (i.e beginner, intermediate, advanced). I have not worked on any 'modern' bikes, that is bike newer than my '99 Bianchi w/ 9spd Campi but I consider myself an advanced mechanic since I know how to prep a frame, heat and bend a bent dropout, and with a bit of practice could likely start building wheels again.

Are you a mountain biker, cyclist, or something in between? Road more than mountain, infact my mountain bike has 700c wheels and No it is not a 'cross bike (though I do own one) nor a '29er.

What are your current rides? see my signature

Favorite part about being a mechanic? Helping someone solve a problema dn creating a work of art.

Least Favorite part about being a mechanic? Getting dirty and not having the right tool for the job

From '89 until '95 I worked at several shops in the greater Boston area and did everything from backroom builder, sales, stock, special order, custom builds, race team support (including driver) warehouse manager, service writer and sort of shop forewoman. I also did neutral support for a Pan Mass challenge ride a few times and once was drafted to ride in a support vehicle at Killington. I was almost invited to go to Greece witht he USCF juniors but lacked a USCF mechanic liscense. I still do most of own work except the frame prep I do not have the tools for.
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Old 10-27-12, 07:54 PM   #15
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Hello I am not currently employed as a Mechanic or shop employee but if I could do more than live paycheck to paycheck working in the business I would love to do it again.

How old are you and where are you located? My home is Camp Hill Pa but i travel frequently to So Jersey and as Professional driver I roam the country in general

How long have you been a mechanic? I guess I have been working on bikies since I was 16 or so, since we had to fix our own flats rather than go to the shop. I simply got tired of waiting for my brother so I did it myself.

Employed or a self-proclaimed grease monkey? Not currently employed as a mechanic

What level of mechanic would you place yourself at (i.e beginner, intermediate, advanced). I have not worked on any 'modern' bikes, that is bike newer than my '99 Bianchi w/ 9spd Campi but I consider myself an advanced mechanic since I know how to prep a frame, heat and bend a bent dropout, and with a bit of practice could likely start building wheels again.

Are you a mountain biker, cyclist, or something in between? Road more than mountain, infact my mountain bike has 700c wheels and No it is not a 'cross bike (though I do own one) nor a '29er.

What are your current rides? see my signature

Favorite part about being a mechanic? Helping someone solve a problema dn creating a work of art.

Least Favorite part about being a mechanic? Getting dirty and not having the right tool for the job

From '89 until '95 I worked at several shops in the greater Boston area and did everything from backroom builder, sales, stock, special order, custom builds, race team support (including driver) warehouse manager, service writer and sort of shop forewoman. I also did neutral support for a Pan Mass challenge ride a few times and once was drafted to ride in a support vehicle at Killington. I was almost invited to go to Greece witht he USCF juniors but lacked a USCF mechanic liscense. I still do most of own work except the frame prep I do not have the tools for.
Noticed how you dodged part A of question 1.
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Old 10-27-12, 08:23 PM   #16
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There are a lot of women mechanics here. Not sure where you got the idea that it is gender dominant.
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Old 10-27-12, 10:32 PM   #17
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There are a lot of women mechanics here. Not sure where you got the idea that it is gender dominant.
Indeed. One of my favorite people (never mind mechanics) is Beth Hamon at Citybikes in Portland. Multi-talented, and knows her bike stuff.
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Old 10-27-12, 10:47 PM   #18
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Glad to see so many contributors to the thread. Keep it going! And Bianchigirl and Chop61, thanks for contributing too! I have to say that one of my favorite feeling about being a mechanic is when you finally figure out a puzzle and get something to work right - rewarding is definitely the best way to describe it. Chop61 - I absolutely must see a pic of this bamboo bike! Bianchigirl, I have to say one of the things I have never done is to heat a frame and realign the dropouts. Honestly, never heard of that being done actually. What exactly do you use to heat the frame/fork with that doesn't damage the paint?

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There are a lot of women mechanics here. Not sure where you got the idea that it is gender dominant.
It's a big reason of why I started this thread, was to have a place for all the female mechanics in here to converse, etc. I'm not aware of who on here fits this description, thus I created this thread. But I have to say, to claim that being a bike mechanic is not a male-predominant profession/hobby is a little silly. I'll leave it at that.
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Old 10-27-12, 10:55 PM   #19
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Indeed. One of my favorite people (never mind mechanics) is Beth Hamon at Citybikes in Portland. Multi-talented, and knows her bike stuff.
I recently visited Portland for vacation and is what I consider a little bit of heaven on earth, haha. I don't think I ever visited Citybikes, but I did come across a slew of other bike shops that I had to check out. I did visit one bike shop off of Alberta St. that had a ton of stuff in cheap/used bins. I wish my bike shop would support such a thing. What part of Portland is Citybikes located?

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Old 10-28-12, 12:37 AM   #20
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CityBikes is on SE Ankeney, there are two locations, one at SE 20th and one around SE 6th (not sure of the exact x-street). Really good shop.
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Old 08-15-13, 11:19 PM   #21
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How old are you and where are you located? I am 16 years old, and located in the Vancouver, BC area.

How long have you been a mechanic? I've worked my own bike and bikes for student use at my school for almost 3 years now. This is my first year as a paid mechanic.

Employed or a self-proclaimed grease monkey? employed, quite employed.

What level of mechanic would you place yourself at (i.e beginner, intermediate, advanced? I would place myself at intermediate.

Are you a mountain biker, cyclist, or something in between? cyclist/commuter

What are your current rides? daily to work, occasionally touring, or going for long, 2 or so hour rides. OH YOU MEANT BIKES! (i'm from canada, didn't quite catch the lingo there) I just have the one kona dew plus right now, thinking about saving up for something really nice in two or so years. i'm still a student after all!

Favorite part about being a mechanic? helping people choose the right bike... which is mostly part of my sales portion of the job. but i like teaching people about their own bikes, and just helping people understand bikes in general, and definitely learning new things. and thinking of new bike ideas, building my own bike or otherwise.

Least Favorite part about being a mechanic? obnoxious customers who think they can take a one hour course and know everything there is to know about bicycles. sorry, go to hell.

Are you the only girl in the shop?
yes, i'm the only female mechanic in the shop, i usually find myself helping other ladies with choosing out bikes and i also speak chinese so i'm able to assist in helping the mainly chinese speaking customers. There are other girls in the store but they're not in the bike department.

Feel free to add questions you would like to ask too!
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Old 08-16-13, 01:21 AM   #22
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How old are you and where are you located?
None of yer business and I'm in PA, near Scranton.

How long have you been a mechanic?
Well, for what it is worth as the oldest sister and the child of a single working mom I had to do all the stuff with bikes growing up for myself and siblings. Now that I've taken up with it again I plan to learn much more then the basics.

Employed or a self-proclaimed grease monkey? Self I guess. What level of mechanic would you place yourself at (i.e beginner, intermediate, advanced).
Very much a beginner. This status is partly why I joined this forum. You can learn a lot from books and youtube... but sometimes it is so nice to be able to ask point blank the generally (in my case anyways) so obvious it's funny questions instead of putzing around for hours trying to work around something.

Are you a mountain biker, cyclist, or something in between?
Neither. I ride in town both for pleasure/health and for actual transportation.

What are your current rides?
My bike is a 94 Schwinn cruiser 'supreme'. It has lovely fat tires, a seat that goes sproing under me and six whole speeds. I'd like to fix up a Schwinn World Tourist for myself. My fiance has a road bike that he's modded a bit to sit mostly upright on which may be seen as a blasphemy here. I think he just needs a different kind of bike.

Favorite part about being a mechanic?
I've always enjoyed fixing things. And taking them apart. And hopefully getting them back together.

Least Favorite part about being a mechanic?
I'm not sure I qualify for this title yet really... and I tend to lose bolts and nuts. Or the one tool I need.
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Old 08-17-13, 03:59 PM   #23
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Least favorite part about being a mechanic I was very unaware until I started this job, but unfortunately there is still a surprising number of people that don't believe women can adequately understand mechanics. Honestly it use to piss me off quite a bit, and it still does but I've become more accustomed to it for the sake of not allowing their crappy attitude from dampening all the enjoyment I do get out of my job.
So, I am not a mechanic, I am a computer technician, but I get this all the time. The best part is when they want to work with one of the guys, and the guy that ends up helping them is a noob right out of training, and I have been doing it for 7 years. They will tell the customer that, and the customer still prefers to work with them. ugh.
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Old 08-17-13, 10:00 PM   #24
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How old are you and where are you located?
I am 25 and live in MI.

How long have you been a mechanic?
Does a few weeks count?

Employed or a self-proclaimed grease monkey?
Self-proclaimed grease monkey. Although, living in a 230 sq ft studio apartment makes it difficult to work on my bikes, unless they are at my parent's house.

What level mechanic would you place yourself at (i.e. beginner, intermediate, advanced)?
Beginner. It has always been the running joke in my house that I got the "brains" in the family, as I am a whole-hearted academic, and not much for tools and such, but I am learning! I owned horses for 11 years, and worked with tools around the barn and such, but that doesn't really count.

Are you a mountain biker, cyclist, or something in between?
I began commuting (as much as possible with my CP) by bike last year, and just recently have taken up MTBing, having bought myself an MTB off of CL(which, coincidentally, is the bike I am doing some work to right now). Howevr, whenever I go into a bike shop(which, as it turns out, is way too often, according to my pocket book, that is), I find myself lusting after, and asking questions about the new MTBs that they have on the floor.

What are your current rides?
A 2012 Schwinn Voyageur 7 (her name is Lola). A late 80's/maybe early 90's unknown make MTB (his name is Lanny - he is Lola's husband) I bought off of CL that is great shape mechanical wise, but needs a little cosmetic work. I would love to strip him down, and re-paint him. Although, my Dad, who is mechaniclly inclined being that he is an electrician, is afraid we might now be able to get him back together again, kinda like Humpty Dumpty.

Favorite part about being a mechanic
Learning how my bike works while learning to fix it myself I have noticed instills a nice sense of acomplishment when the job is complete. Plus, having worked with horses since I was 2 years old, I have a penchant for enjoying getting dirty.

Least Favorite part about being a mechanic?
When it is assumed that just because I am a female that I cannot do the job. Being a whole-hearted feminist, this irritates me to no end. If I want to do it, am willing to learn, and am physically capable, then get out of my way I'll do it myself. My Dad has a tendency to act like this, although, I think it also has something to do with my being the baby in a family of all girls, too.

Last edited by LiteraryChic; 08-17-13 at 10:05 PM.
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