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How Long Should A Professional Bike Tech Spend On A Tune-up

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How Long Should A Professional Bike Tech Spend On A Tune-up

Old 03-17-21, 01:44 PM
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d_dutchison
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How Long Should A Professional Bike Tech Spend On A Tune-up

This question is aimed at my fellow working professional bike techs and managers, though Im sure the answers would be of interest to any new mechanics entering the field.

What constitutes a tune-up in your shop, and most importantly, what is considered an acceptable average time to spend on it - the basic details of the work and the expected time it takes on average?

I have my own answer of course, but do not want to share them immediately until Ive gotten a few replies at least. I ask because I believe that my new manager has unrealistic expectations in this regard... but maybe Im just lazy. Either way, I dont want to influence the answers.

For those who take the time to answer, thankyou.
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Old 03-17-21, 02:12 PM
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15 minutes, if the bike is in really good shape (probably brought in by an obsessive customer). Make sure tires and chain are good, brakes are working well, shifting is good, BB is good, headset is good. Wipe everything down, lube chain and pivots, wipe it again, have a Coke, tell the boss you were in the storeroom looking to see if you had matching bar tape, charge half an hour.

A couple hours if it's been run into the dirt, and the customer expects it to be like new when (s)he gets it back. Probably include a half hour to get the customer on the phone to OK parts replacement.
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Old 03-17-21, 02:22 PM
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You know the only opinion that matters is that of your boss. Hope the job works out for you.
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Old 03-17-21, 02:35 PM
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I'm far from a professional but I have a good friend who owns a bike shop. Watching him over the years I'd say he does the basics in about 30 mins and for a full tune up he completes them in about 1 hour. If it is something majorly wrong 2 hours or less. He lets me use a spare spot in his shop sometimes to let me repair my own stuff and he always tells me I'm too slow . But he's right especially when it comes to cleaning wheel bearings. You can be too nitpicky/perfectionist.
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Old 03-17-21, 02:43 PM
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Last place I worked had a 'Basic Tune up' which was adjustments and a bit of cleaning, and a 'Full Tune Up' in which most of the drivetrain was stripped from the bike and cleaned in a parts washer.
Basic Tune up probably took between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the bike's condition; 'full' tune up was 1 hour to 1.5 hours. Sometimes for the full tune up, if parts were heavily covered in schmutz, the bike would be stripped and some parts would be left to soak in degreaser and another bike was started.
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Old 03-17-21, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by cbrstar View Post
....... and he always tells me I'm too slow . But he's right especially when it comes to cleaning wheel bearings. You can be too nitpicky/perfectionist.
It simply takes too much time to clean AND INSPECT bearings vs simply replacing with new. Why gouge the customer with excessive labor charges for a low skill level task? You should have better things to do to make money for the shop.
You can also tell the customer you put in NEW instead of the OLD bearings.
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Old 03-17-21, 02:47 PM
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Depends on the bicycle.

If it came in with no known issues, concerns, no heavy dirt/grease/grime build up, & just wanted a general tune up.

Lets use a TREK FX 4 Carbon for a General Tune-Up, which can include, yet not limited to:
Visual check to common areas of the frame & fork.
Lubricate mechanicals & sliding components & friction areas.
Check tires for wear & comb over the tires to remove foreign debris that may cause a puncture.
Check the brake system for acceptable wear, tolerances, & they function safely within range.
Check wheels for any obvious concerns [loose spokes, damage to valve stem, missing parts]
Test ride or at minimum test stand exercise the bicycle ensuring shifting, braking, moving parts function as needed during operation & to uncover anything unusual before handing over the work order.

Approx 1.5hr for a clean bicycle that has no known issues once the bicycle is handed off to the tech. If the Tech has to interface with the customer, the time allotment goes up automatically another 0.5hr. If it's dirty, add another 1.0hr.
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Old 03-17-21, 02:52 PM
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Totally depends. A basic tune on a bike in good shape...maybe 30mins. A full tune on a mtb that includes servicing fork/shock, bleeding brakes/replacing pads, new cassette/chain/ring, and throw in an internal shift cable/housing...maybe 3 hours? Depends how dirty it is.
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Old 03-17-21, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
It simply takes too much time to clean AND INSPECT bearings vs simply replacing with new. Why gouge the customer with excessive labor charges for a low skill level task? You should have better things to do to make money for the shop.
You can also tell the customer you put in NEW instead of the OLD bearings.
For cup-and-cone bearings I agree and personally I just discard bearing balls and install new ones every time I overhaul a bike. Even good ones are cheap if bought in quantities of 100 or more and it's not worth cleaning them.
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Old 03-17-21, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
It simply takes too much time to clean AND INSPECT bearings vs simply replacing with new. Why gouge the customer with excessive labor charges for a low skill level task? You should have better things to do to make money for the shop.
You can also tell the customer you put in NEW instead of the OLD bearings.
You're right and I'm sure if I was fixing a bike for him that would be the best course of action. But I'm actually fixing up my own stuff as I have a large collection of vintage bikes. He just helps me out and gives me some guidance every now and then.
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Old 03-17-21, 06:08 PM
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I'm relatively unfond of the term tune-up. Service should be appropriate to the needs of the rider and bike and should be charged fairly relative to the shop's labor rate. Any service package should be well defined for both mechanic and customer. In my experience, typically a "tune-up" without any other qualification means adjusting most everything on the bike and a basic, surface level cleaning. Typically I'll:

-Remove wheels, wipe them down, quick lateral true and and correct and serious spoke tension problems, adjust adjustable hubs.
-Wipe frame down and inspect.
-Adjust HS, BB preload if needed.
-Check der hanger alignment and correct of necessary.
-Wipe/lube chain.
-Adjust derailleurs.
-Adjust brakes.

This is probably about 45-60 minutes of efficient work. I like having service packages that are basically just dt/brake adjustments (20-30 min), tuneup+new cables, +bleed, etc.
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Old 03-17-21, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by cbrstar View Post
You're right and I'm sure if I was fixing a bike for him that would be the best course of action. But I'm actually fixing up my own stuff as I have a large collection of vintage bikes. He just helps me out and gives me some guidance every now and then.
The thread title states "Professional". If you work for a shop, your job is to make them $.
I'm so slow, the shop could pay me 1/2 minimum wage and struggle to justify me.
I do it as a hobby. I wouldn't want to turn a hobby into an occupation. You ruin a hobby.
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Old 03-17-21, 06:18 PM
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Remember, a bike that fails after a pro tuneup means an angry customer and a potential lawsuit.

Our basic tuneups included
  • Wipe-down of frame, wheels, and component with a damp rag; secondary inspection is made at this time.
  • Wheels are removed, inspected for wear and damage, hubs adjusted, rims trued
  • Drivetrain: chain and cogs inspected, cassette is flossed if necessary; crankset, and bottom bracket inspected; cranks are removed and BB adjusted if necessary; chain is wiped and lubed; freehub checked
  • Brakes; pads inspected and aligned, calipers centered, cables inspected and adjusted; levers inspected; minor disc rotor alignment if needed
  • Shifting; derailleurs, shifters, and cables inspected; alignment of front derailleur checked and fixed if needed; if rear is visibly out of alignment (looks bad, chain drops, cage hits spokes, etc.) or shifting is inconsistent, rear derailleur is removed and hanger is aligned, then limit screws and b-screws readjusted, then cable tension adjusted
  • Headset adjusted if necessary
  • Safety check: all components and accessories securely fastened, especially handlebar, stem, saddle, pedals, and handlebar controls; bar tape or grips checked
  • Test ride
Depending on the bike, this usually takes 30-55 minutes. Depending on the slack in the charge, labor for parts replacement may be extra.

Basically, our services were adjustments, where nothing comes off the bike, basic, where wheels come off the bike, level 2, where wheels plus drivetrain come off the bike and get washed, and level 3 which is a frame-off restoration.
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Old 03-17-21, 06:40 PM
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Been wrenching since 1982 either full time or part time. Currently I am wrenching full time as my final farewell to the working world. Basic tune ups that cover adjustments takes me 45 minutes on average. The only time I have spent only 30 minutes on a basic tune up is a new bike tune up. My method is well rehearsed and never varies as I find it is the most efficient way to go about a tune up. A full tune up that includes repack of hubs and headset along with a drive train clean is a 2-3 hour process. Every shop I know of usually undercharges for this service .
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Old 03-17-21, 06:57 PM
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My 40 year old shop manual says it should take 1.1 hours to do a tune up. That is one hour and six minutes and it should be do-able by any proficient mechanic, even with the newer bike components. Overhauls will be at 4.5 hours minimum with the newer bikes. Smiles, MH
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Old 03-17-21, 07:06 PM
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We had 3 levels. Approx 30/50/75 minutes.
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Old 03-17-21, 07:36 PM
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Generally a proper tune up will take around 45 minutes assuming you are adjust brakes, derailleurs, truing wheels, wiping down the frame, lubricating everything and test riding it after finished to make sure everything is right. Though it could take more a less depending on person. Those who rush through stuff generally have more bikes coming back. It is not a race and if you are racing you are racing to the bottom. Do the job right and keep customers happy and more importantly SAFE!
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Old 03-18-21, 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
The thread title states "Professional". If you work for a shop, your job is to make them $.
I'm so slow, the shop could pay me 1/2 minimum wage and struggle to justify me.
I do it as a hobby. I wouldn't want to turn a hobby into an occupation. You ruin a hobby.
That's the difference. Anyone with some decent hand to eye coordination and manual dexterity can fix a bike and do a great job. But a Professional does it quickly and accurately the first time.

I was a Professional Watchmaker. Before my accident I could do a complete service in a hour, to two hours for a complicated movement. But even then I was still trying to save time because I was constantly backed up.
When you fix something all day every day you build up muscle memory and eventually speed up.
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Old 03-18-21, 01:16 AM
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Thanks everyone for the responses, they tend to fall in line with my thoughts which are an average of 45 min to an hour, 30 min as a best case and 2 hrs in the worst. Of course it varies widely with the kind of service offered. Most places form a good average so that the 15 min. tune-ups subsidize the 2 hr. ones.

One answer I got elsewhere that I liked was that a shop should earn at least 1 dollar a minute for a mechanics work time.

Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
You know the only opinion that matters is that of your boss. Hope the job works out for you.
.. I do. Thanks, I'll see how it goes.
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Old 03-18-21, 08:17 AM
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Lots of places define tune up and costs on their websites.
https://www.benscycle.com/shop-labor

https://www.rei.com/stores/brookfield/bike-shop

https://www.wheelandsprocket.com/abo...nance-pg66.htm
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Old 03-18-21, 10:03 AM
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There is no one answer to this question. There is no industry accepted/standard "tune up". Every bike has it's own issues and areas of greater or lesser needs. Yesterday's work showed this quite well. I did tune ups on two bikes with vastly different job times, note neither job was (or could be) done without distractions, other shop responsibilities and such.

The first job was on a few years old hybrid (Trek FX2) that saw frequent use. The bike was covered in salt and grime, worn chain and brake pads, upper der pivot (B knuckle) frozen tight and the usual wear and tear of a bike that isn't well cared for but used nearly daily. this job took about 4ish hours. Granted it's scope was beyond the usual tune up (and we did charge extra) the service writer didn't pick up on the bad pads and der pivot not working, but this missing condition during the assessment at drop off is fairly common even though we do a good job at service write ups (better then most shops do). Now during this time I took in a few more repairs and had half my lunch (the other half never got eaten)

Job two was a 3 year old Terry in really nice condition. Clean and no wear or other issues. This job took about 1 hour and that time also included a few service write ups (it was the end of the day, customers were getting out of their work).

Every shop I have worked in has had their version of various jobs they called "tune ups". Some only allow for barrel adjustments, don't drop wheels or pull freewheels to access hub bearings, don't clean or wipe off the bike and don't test ride after (or before the work, if called for). Other shops followed the Barnett School guidelines, have included a pre and post test ride, the post service test done by an other person to avoid self delusion. There's a BIG difference, a HUGE range of actual expectations from the boss (as well as the customers, I've found cheap prices generally collect low expectations).

Some within our industry has tried before to create some common standards. The Barnett's Service Manual was the best example of this (from the mid/late 1980s). Currently there's a movement to establish certifications for wrenches which will include some standard job expectations. Andy (who's desk top computer is in it's repair shop and this is the first lap topped posting done since. he hates the lap top keyboard/pad and was trying to not log in on this different computer but this thread called out for some reality).
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Old 03-18-21, 11:57 AM
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I'm also in Vancouver, though that shouldn't affect the time required : )

45-75 minutes, including a test ride, invoicing, and writing doiwn all the bolt torque settings on the invoice. As I work by myself, there is nobody to check my work; consequently, I record all torque settings immediately after torquing the bolts. It serves as self-check and also as a liabilty defence.

If it's a fairly new bike, could be 30 minutes, had one yesterday.

OTOH, had a customer request a "tuneup" on a BSO that had a knocking hub,m a bent derailleur hanger, and four broken spokes (chain went into the DS spokes...). Removing cassette revealed the other 4 spokes also about to break...

I also hate the word "tuneup". We should train our customers to only use "service".

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Old 03-18-21, 02:46 PM
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With some of the comment logged here by "bike mechanics" is the reason I do my own tune ups and cleanings in the spring for the riding season.
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Old 03-18-21, 02:55 PM
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Tune up? Up to 3 days of time expended. Usually the cheapest customers are the ones whose bikes are the hardest to work on and feature the most complex problems. Customers whose bikes bristle with superfluous accessories such as GPS systems, radios, multiple computers, double riser stems, weird drivetrains etc. are a nightmare to work on. In general, the lighter the bike, the easier the work.

I once made the mistake of offering a 'tune-up' to a pal in exchange for beer. It turns out every bolt and adjuster on the damn bike was corroded tight, which precluded any kind of derailleur adjustment, brake adjustment etc. Plus the hubs were crunchy and the shifter and brake housings were corroded from the inside so that braking and shifting were minimally functional. Plus wobbly wheels. Of course the spoke nipples were all corroded tight, so that any attempt at truing involved destructively removing the nipples with vice grips. Removing the brake calipers was a special task that progressively involved noxious penetrating fluids, heat, open flame and ultimately drilling.

So this whole 'tune-up' took 3 days, including down time for penetrating fluids to (mostly unsuccessfully) work.
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Old 03-18-21, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
The thread title states "Professional". If you work for a shop, your job is to make them $.
I'm so slow, the shop could pay me 1/2 minimum wage and struggle to justify me.
I do it as a hobby. I wouldn't want to turn a hobby into an occupation. You ruin a hobby.
Discussed just that a few days ago with a colleague. Sure - it's not the same when it's work. And there always are some less-nice days. But, for me at least, it's still quite enjoyable, most of the time, making a living by doing what I'd do even if I never needed any money.

Regarding the work-time: I've got nothing to add to what Andrew R Stewart wrote - as is usually the case.
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