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So how does one become a bicycle mechanic?

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So how does one become a bicycle mechanic?

Old 11-22-15, 11:48 AM
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bike-izle
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So how does one become a bicycle mechanic?

I really like working on bikes and don't think this passion is gonna go away anytime soon.

What can a regular guy with no formal training do right now to get some sort of (paid) entry-level work? I'll probably take classes eventually.
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Old 11-22-15, 12:00 PM
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Well, trained bike shop mechanics make very little money. If were were to get hired with no training you'd probably have to work for free.
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Old 11-22-15, 12:17 PM
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You can always cruise around town on bulk trash day and pick up likely candidates for rebuilding and flipping. You might make as much as you would as someone's employee, and you'd be your own boss with your own schedule. Even the best 9-to-5 job can cease to be fun after a while. Something about the 9-to-5 part.
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Old 11-22-15, 12:23 PM
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Some bike shops may be looking for bike assemblers in the spring. Ask them now, to find out the possibilities. If you can get it in, and show promise, you may be able to move up and take on repairs.
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Old 11-22-15, 12:24 PM
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Keeping topical with current state of industry, the best way to make a [lucrative] career right now is become a mobile bike mechanic. Of course this requires some capital.

Many people who are bike wrenches started out by helping as shop labor before doing some wrenching, or were friends with the owner before getting hired on.

There are now certification courses for bike mechanics, but in the grand scheme of IBD's, few % shop mechanics are certified.

Last edited by Jamminatrix; 11-22-15 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 11-22-15, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Some bike shops may be looking for bike assemblers in the spring. Ask them now, to find out the possibilities. If you can get it in, and show promise, you may be able to move up and take on repairs.
+1. Thats how I got my first job as a mechanic.
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Old 11-22-15, 12:47 PM
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Acquire tools and work on bikes. The more the better. Volunteering at a bike repair co-op will get you there faster.

And read everything you can.

And see if you can get into a shop as a builder. Turn out builds that are ready to ride, and they'll be handing service to you in no time.
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Old 11-22-15, 12:48 PM
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Retire from a Job with a Pension, First .. then take the Bike school classes ..

One of My friends was a Fireman in Austin TX first.
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Old 11-22-15, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Retire from a Job with a Pension, First .. then take the Bike school classes ..

One of My friends was a Fireman in Austin TX first.
So true. I spend twenty years working in offices. I wasn't always happy, but I now see the value of retirement benefits.
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Old 11-22-15, 01:38 PM
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I repair guitars and play jazz guitar also for a living ( some of the time) and working on bikes is easier at least for me. Generally not as much can go wrong and less chance of messing up a really nice item. Fretting a $10000 Super 400 guitar requires much preparation and thought to avoid all kinds of problems. Bikes are not rocket science but a good mechanic can do things fast and make quick diagnosis of problems. They generally are under appreciated and under paid. The most important thing is to do a lot of reading and checking out videos and how to do things. I learned completely on my own and bought tools. I started by taking a wheel apart and rebuilding it then starting building my own wheels. I started truing all the neighbor kids cheap bikes and keeping mine in top shape. If you did this all in a shop it probably would not take a long time not sure exactly but not like even a 2 year degree for sure.

I can generally do almost anything on a bike except build a frame or do skilled frame repair. The difference between me and a pro is simply they will do it much faster and with less hassle. To make a analogy if you call me to a gig to play guitar I can sight read music if needed. Many guitarist cannot sight read so if you have to teach them the music they probably will manage the gig but with me I simply show up and read the chart. Buy a bike and take it apart and then put it back together, see what tools are needed, and proceed to learn. Buy a rim, hubs, calculated spoke length, build the wheel and take it to the LBS ask the mechanic what they think or another rider? Buy a new but inexpensive wheelset from some place like Bike Island for say $100 and then take it down to the parts, build the wheel back up.
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Old 11-22-15, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Retire from a Job with a Pension, First .. then take the Bike school classes ..

One of My friends was a Fireman in Austin TX first.
Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
1. Get a good job with benefits.

2. Work on bikes you find, buy and sell. Use the proceeds to fund tools and the experience to build your skills.

3. Get to know people at LBS and eventually turn it into a part time gig (assembling new bikes is a good example). Recently I pitched in at the LBS to assemble a fleet of bikes they sold to the local park district.

+1,000,000 to above. I retired early from a JOB that allows me now to do what I want, rather than what pays the rent.
Sage advice.

Actually, working for a non-profit or a bike share program may net you benefits eventually.

Beautiful spot, you can live in a van.
Bicycle Mechanic Needed In HI!
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Old 11-22-15, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Retire from a Job with a Pension, First .. then take the Bike school classes ..

One of My friends was a Fireman in Austin TX first.
Yeah, I'm retired from the military and do nothing but babysit my grandson at night. If there were a school near me I'd probably use my GI bill on it just for something to do. Thought about framebuilding classes also. The whole customer service part is what turns me off.
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Old 11-22-15, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by bike-izle View Post
I really like working on bikes and don't think this passion is gonna go away anytime soon.

What can a regular guy with no formal training do right now to get some sort of (paid) entry-level work? I'll probably take classes eventually.
This bike wrenching can be a great hobby but a poor profession.
You need tools, ability & a place to work. A large inheritance for an obscure deceased relative really helps.
Or be on the receiving end of a pension from some place you used to work.
If you have not already filled the slot, marry a doctor, dentist or attorney. Or an heiress.

When I got interested in bikes I bought some old second-hand books over the internet from Abe Books and Biblio.
All books less than $8 each. Amazing.

Check out your local bike shop.

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Old 11-22-15, 04:26 PM
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I just hung out at bike shops and talked bikes and kit. When there was a staffing shortage I got a job offer.
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Old 11-23-15, 08:54 AM
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For me, and I imagine for a lot of other people that are good with their hands and mechanical problem solving, actually working on bikes has made more sense than a million videos or books. I got a random job offer by just being a familiar face at my LBS and they knew I was both responsible and with a flexible schedule so when the time for help came, I got an offer. Most people start off far slower than I did, I was just self motivated and walked into a situation that needed someone to grab it by the horns. A lot of people start as flat repair mechanics or bike builders. Flipping bikes is something I do in my spare time for extra cash and has given me a lot of experience. One thing to think about, the spring is when most shops need help for the little things, but for a shop looking for someone to hire and train a higher level mechanic, they are going to be looking in the fall and winter when they actually have time to train them.

As far as how to actually land one of these jobs, knowing the lingo, looking the part, and being remarkable to your local shops is probably your biggest asset. When the person in charge starts thinking about needing extra help, be the person that they think about offering a gig to. I love working on bikes and I never dread going to work. It's often very hard for people to make a living of it but it's possible. It's probably impossible to live off of at first unless you have supplemental income or you have some unique situation. Being diverse and self motivated are all good traits. I'm the service manager with a degree in marketing so I design all of the marketing material and I also run the social media accounts and web site. When I first got hired, I knew a lot about bikes and the industry but not so much about wrenching so I tried everything I could to make myself irreplaceable. Always volunteering and making sacrifices in order to be accommodating.

It's a great job with awesome perks and a lot of people subscribe to the "bust your ass for the first half of your life so you can chill the second half" but for me, making this career work is not only making money doing it but managing money and your standard of living outside of it.
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Old 11-23-15, 09:12 AM
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Marry a professional in a career that makes much more , so you can survive long enough to gain the experience,
making so much less.
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Old 11-23-15, 10:31 AM
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Love this question, "How do I become a bike mechanic?" It reminds me of the old joke, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" "Practice, man, practice!"
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Old 11-23-15, 10:48 AM
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Doing repairs for a living is not the same kind of fun as refurbishing bike at home as a hobby and selling your refurbished bikes on Craigs List.
Many make the mistake of taking a enjoyable hobby and turning it into just another job. You would be better off delivering the mail or doing some other government job were you get benefits like health care and a pension..
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Old 11-23-15, 11:11 AM
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Getting Started as a Race Mechanic | ProMechanics
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Old 11-23-15, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by curbtender View Post
They have bike orientated schools? Other than framebuilding I can't see a reason why you'd need a school to learn to fix bikes...
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Old 11-23-15, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
They have bike orientated schools? Other than framebuilding I can't see a reason why you'd need a school to learn to fix bikes...
There's even a certification process; some shops are beginning to require them as a condition of hire...
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Old 11-23-15, 12:27 PM
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Start at age of 9 taking mechanical things apart. that was 1956 for me..
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Old 11-23-15, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by rmfnla View Post
There's even a certification process; some shops are beginning to require them as a condition of hire...
That's interesting. I can see why shops would do that but still. Fixing bikes is more of a "learning all of the tricks to do the stuff quickly" than book learning type of stuff.
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Old 11-23-15, 02:01 PM
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If you stop into enough bike shops, you'll find one that will take you in with whatever experience you have, even if it's very little. As others noted, the pay is abysmal. In fact, it's about the least you can earn for semi-skilled manual labor. You'll get at least as much joy from doing it as a hobby as doing it for money. I speak from experience.
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Old 11-23-15, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
They have bike orientated schools? Other than framebuilding I can't see a reason why you'd need a school to learn to fix bikes...

I must confess that I agree with you to some extent but I have seen some butchery from people who should have known better, unschooled and working in bike shops. Monkey see, monkey do: monkey understand S.F.A. I have even found bottom bracket bearings that were bone dry, or the wrong type - or installed backwards by utterly useless part-time mechanics in bike shops. I suspect that in many cases, these "summer job" positions are filled through nepotism rather than merit, experience or ability.

I must say from experience that for me a properly paid apprenticeship that entailed four years of schooling (metallurgy, strength of materials, blueprint reading, trade theory, machine shop practice, welding, lubrication theory), and over twenty years of working as a millwright and machinist (and a more than passing passion for vintage Italian motorcycles) were a fine preparation for becoming an amateur bike mechanic.

Its nice to understand why things are designed as they are and the difference between how things are and how they should be, and actually understand why and how bearings fail and be able to trace bearing and shaft failures to their source with some degree of accuracy.

Now I help teach a course on bicycle repair and maintenance at a local adult training centre and each of the young adults who takes the course come away from the course with a bicycle and a knowledge of the importance of proper maintenance.

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