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Old 09-04-07, 01:47 PM   #1
Vieja Cabra
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LBS Service Prices

What do you pay to have wheels trued?

In the past I have paid $6.50 per wheel at the closest LBS to my house, which is about 40 miles away.

Last spring I put a new set of wheels on my '94 520 Trek. They are XT hubs, Mavic 317 rims, and I had about 700 miles on them. The back wheel had gotten out of kilter, so I tried to straighten it but couldn't get it just right. I dont' have a truing stand, but was was just trying to straighten the wheels on the bike.

My son was home for the weekend and he agreed to take the wheels back to a Dallas LBS near his home, since I will be seeing him next week. This would save me a trip. I sent the front wheel along also, just to have the spoke tension checked. He called last night and said the LBS will charge $20 per wheel to true and straighten them.

I feel like I've been robbed. At this price I can definitely afford a good truing stand and tools to match.
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Old 09-04-07, 02:02 PM   #2
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If its only a slight wobble- Then do it in the frame- Set the brakes up so they nearly touch the rim to find where the kink is and Work from there. I have a trueing stand and only use it for really bad wheels.

The awkward Kinks to get out are where the wheel has gone Oval. Lots of adjusting and slackening on lots of spokes and then the retension. I don't have a spoke tension tool so wheels Like this Go to the LBS.
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Old 09-04-07, 02:15 PM   #3
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Just a retensioning of the spokes to true it was fairly cheap at REi, but to retrue side to side and also to make sure the rim was round was $35.
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Old 09-04-07, 03:06 PM   #4
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This seems to be (as it is entirely labor) one of those prices that hits all over the spectrum. $6.50 seems cheap, $20 is not unreasonable for a good job. It may also vary depending on your being a good customer of that shop.

I build and sell a very limited # of wheels per year and I do not consider myself a world class wheel builder but if I give a max effort your going to get more that $20 of my time on each wheel. $6.50 would hardly seem to cover the profit margin on 30 minutes of mechanic time.
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Old 09-04-07, 03:21 PM   #5
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Brings up an interesting idea, that being how much do you all think a fair hourly rate for bike wrenching is? That would be all inclusive, includes tools, shop, insurance, training everything.
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Old 09-04-07, 03:24 PM   #6
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If they do a decent job, $20 is more than reasonable.
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Old 09-04-07, 04:02 PM   #7
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Brings up an interesting idea, that being how much do you all think a fair hourly rate for bike wrenching is? That would be all inclusive, includes tools, shop, insurance, training everything.
Lets start at $30 for arguments sake, based on quality mechanics getting $20hr in a large shop. To make this wage the mechanics must be quick and good. They may contract some jobs such as bike assembly or wheel building on a consignment basis to slower mechanics that cannot keep up with a shops work rate needs.
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Old 09-04-07, 04:26 PM   #8
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A good bike mechanic at just any LBS can make $40K/yr? I didn't know that. I suspected they could make more if they have a regional reputation and service race bikes.

I also suspected that a mechanic at a small town LBS made much less, maybe more like $20-$25K.
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Old 09-04-07, 04:32 PM   #9
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For comparison purposes, here are the rates from some shops (note that the hourly labor rate is as high as $60/hr):

http://www.shawscycles.com/services.html

http://www.wheelworks.com/repair.htm

http://www.bikejimthorpe.com/servicerates.php3
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Old 09-04-07, 06:11 PM   #10
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"COMPONENT CONSULTATION SERVICE$50.00 per hourNo one bike shop can offer everything in the cornucopia of cycling. By request we offer this service to allow our customers draw on our extensive experience in component selection. You will be offered informed opinions on reliability, function, repairability, design features and use of the better cycling products available on the market." I love this one. I'll offer the same over the net for $30/hr.

But as I recall, this is the salesman's job in the first place.
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Old 09-04-07, 06:17 PM   #11
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Consultation Services are free here in the 50+ forum.

Only downside is that you will get about 8-12 different recommendations.
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Old 09-04-07, 06:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by howsteepisit View Post
Brings up an interesting idea, that being how much do you all think a fair hourly rate for bike wrenching is? That would be all inclusive, includes tools, shop, insurance, training everything.
I manage a group of men in a service industry. We're mobile, which changes the equation a bit, but for new customers on a regular contract, we are at $65.00 per hour, for a stranger who just calls us and wants us to show up, solve his problem and then go away, $75.00 per hour. We also have a two hour minimum charge to show up. Bike shop labor rates for a mechanic who knows his stuff should IMHO be in the same neighborhood. One thing I learned a long time ago is that I do not want to be doing business with anyone who is not making reasonable money doing what he does. Neither party is happy in those kind of deals, you seldom get good quality work, and the person doing it resents doing what he does for such a low price.
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Old 09-04-07, 06:52 PM   #13
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Well, I thought that I might freak people out at $20 hr for good bike mechanics but it would appear that rates may go higher than that. The shops that are being quoted here for hourly rates would have to be good indeed at those prices. I am not quite friendly enough with the shop owners that I know to have actual hard facts at hand, just hints and clues.

You would also have to infer from these quotes that not all shops have many of these super mechanics working for them. This may have some bearing on the wide range of opinions we hear in this forum about the skill level of the infamous LBS.
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Old 09-04-07, 07:43 PM   #14
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I had my wheels done in Houston for $11 a piece, last month.
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Old 09-04-07, 08:24 PM   #15
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I thought the normal rate was about a buck two eighty.
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Old 09-04-07, 08:39 PM   #16
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Consultation Services are free here in the 50+ forum.

.
And of course, here, the services MIGHT BE WORTH WHAT YOU PAID FOR THEM.
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Old 09-04-07, 08:48 PM   #17
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I manage a group of men in a service industry. We're mobile, which changes the equation a bit, but for new customers on a regular contract, we are at $65.00 per hour, for a stranger who just calls us and wants us to show up, solve his problem and then go away, $75.00 per hour. We also have a two hour minimum charge to show up. Bike shop labor rates for a mechanic who knows his stuff should IMHO be in the same neighborhood. One thing I learned a long time ago is that I do not want to be doing business with anyone who is not making reasonable money doing what he does. Neither party is happy in those kind of deals, you seldom get good quality work, and the person doing it resents doing what he does for such a low price.

I don't think your bike shop would stay open for very long around here.
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Old 09-04-07, 09:37 PM   #18
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If they do a decent job, $20 is more than reasonable.
and what does a new set of wheels cost?
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Old 09-04-07, 10:45 PM   #19
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I thought the normal rate was about a buck two eighty.
Isn't "Buck 2 Eighty" a band or something?
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Old 09-05-07, 05:28 AM   #20
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It is all about the level of expertise and the market. I run a 60 person professional services shop for software and our standard rates are $187/hr for on-site time and $175/hr for off-site work. Typical non specialized software services run from $70-$120/hr. This is for project management, business analysis and software architects.

My LBS charges $35 for a tune up and $15/wheel for truing.
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Old 09-05-07, 06:32 AM   #21
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I don't think your bike shop would stay open for very long around here.
Maybe that's why I'm not in the bike shop business. And it also might have something to do with why a good bike shop seems to be a rare gem, you can't find and keep good help without paying them well. If all you want is a bike shop with someone working there who can't find anything better, that's your choice but it's not mine.

To my thinking, a decent living wage in our area starts at around $15.00 per hour. That's an annual salary of $31,800. When you add in insurance and FICA, FUTA, SUTA and a 401 K you've upped your direct salary costs to about 2 x your base salary. That's $30.00 per hour in man power costs alone. When you add in the other costs of doing business, (building rent or own, grounds maintenance, tools, training, inventory, inventory shrinkage, general liability insurance, accountants, attorneys, local business taxes, state income taxes, so on, so on and so forth) it adds up fast.
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Old 09-05-07, 08:06 AM   #22
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Maybe that's why I'm not in the bike shop business. And it also might have something to do with why a good bike shop seems to be a rare gem, you can't find and keep good help without paying them well. If all you want is a bike shop with someone working there who can't find anything better, that's your choice but it's not mine.
Fulfilled professional wrenches and wealthy clientel is a geat model for those who can pull it off. But out here in the trenches, not a lot of people can afford such luxuries. I guess it's that 2 Americas thing I hear about.
I guess I owe myself quite a chunk of change for all the hours I've spent working on my own bikes.

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Old 09-05-07, 08:21 AM   #23
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If you go for the $20 cost, that is $2 labor and $18 for the knowledge to know how to do it.
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Old 09-05-07, 10:25 AM   #24
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Sometimes I think hourly rates are one of those things that uphold the wisdom of my tag line: "Reality is hopelessly inaccurate."

$65/hr is not too much is the mechanic can save me big bucks by fixing something that no else knows how to fix (e.g., the alum insert in a carbon bottom bracket breaking free).

$10/hr is too much if the mechanic is dividing his or her time between your bike, answering the phone, having a cup of coffee, waiting on other customers, and isn't very skilled.

In the LBS that I use most frequently, the realtionship is such that I often get a reduced rate, or don't get charged anything for some things, simply because they know I'm gonna be back with money to spend. I suspect it's hard to build this kind of relationship with someone in one of the "chain" shops.
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Old 09-05-07, 11:14 PM   #25
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Region has a lot to do with prices. The identical job in NYC is going to cost a lot more than in Montana.
A mechanic may quote you a higher price for a job, expecting a worse case scenario and then lower his price if things go smoothly. Wheel truing can be one of those type jobs.
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