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As mechanics, are we ept?

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As mechanics, are we ept?

Old 03-14-22, 02:43 PM
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Im pretty bad

I trust myself with pretty simple things , and do some "bike build" projects here and there, ---- but the way i usually try to "build" a bike is by starting off with a quite usable and good condition donor bike and stripping it to outfit a frameset that to me is more interesting --- its exhausting trying to source individual components unless its the "touch" items (bars, seat, stem etc. ) Then i go with what works best for me if im going to be riding it

When it comes to things like facing bearing surfaces, cleaning up a bottom bracket shell, or even giving a final tune to a 9 speed bike or above, i take it to my local shop
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Old 03-14-22, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Bobjackson
Professional mechanic= solving other people's problems + working at production speed + constantly being asked "why" and BTW bring your own tools.

Been there done that : one summer. That was Ace Cycle World, Honda dealer Chicago years ago.

Anyhow all Nuts and Bolts. I enjoy working on my bicycles, riding them even more! Old school Campagnolo, mechanical poetry
Hey, I think I remember that Honda shop! On Clark Street, around Pratt or Touhy?
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Old 03-14-22, 05:23 PM
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I'm competent but very slow. I only like to work on my own bikes because I know who to blame if it isn't working perfectly, and I accept the blame. I do work on my wife's bikes, but try to go for a ride with her first time if there's anything significant I've done. I have adjusted friend's crappy shifting on the road but that's about it. No desire to work on anyone else's bikes. I tried doing that at my offices ("bring in your bike, I'll get them ready for spring"). Never again. The **** that people ride. They don't want to hear they need a new chain, cassette, tires, cables, shifters, whatever.
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Old 03-14-22, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan
Hey, I think I remember that Honda shop! On Clark Street, around Pratt or Touhy?

Here you go re: Ace Cycle World:🏍

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Old 03-14-22, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Bobjackson
Here you go re: Ace Cycle World:🏍

Wow, thanks! I remember that Western Avenue shop, I worked in a glass and trim shop a mile or two north of it, on Western, for a college summer. I was not ept for anything with cars or motorized bikes, but decent at handling my own road bike. I rode a yellow Vespa for a little while then changed up to a Suzuki GT 550 two-stroke triple. Nice ride, gas thirsty but with a responsive throttle, but not such good handling. I had a friend with a Ducati, and it was steady as a rock where my GT550 wandered and danced a bit.
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Old 03-14-22, 08:04 PM
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When I'm working for myself, I pay myself with beer.
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Old 03-14-22, 08:25 PM
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Short answer: No.

Long answer: Hell no.
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Old 03-15-22, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by bboy314
Something to consider for anyone wondering why their local shop mechanics aren’t more experienced… you get what you pay for.
In my case, you'd get a bike that is in top mechanical condition.... a year later.
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Old 03-16-22, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by branko_76
A few years ago I went to a local bike shop to get parts for my 1974 Raleigh Grand Prix restoration, cables, chain, tires, etc. The owner of the shop asked if I was a mechanic, I said no but that I had been restoring bikes for over 30 years. He then asked if I wanted a job in his shop. I don't need a job but was curious how much he would pay, he said $11.00 per hour under the table. I thanked him and said I'd think about it. At the time I was amused but slightly offended, but reading the above post made me realize that $11.00 for someone like me is a pretty good deal. I make much less than that meticulously restoring vintage bikes that I find and resell.
I had just got a call that I wasn't expecting, a guy I meet a few times while working at the bike shop wanted to know if I would work for him, he owns a Bike Rental place in the same town, offered me a $100 cash a day lol. Told him no but he said he would get back to me at a later date to see if I'd changed my mind.
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Old 03-16-22, 10:01 PM
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next week marks my 10th anniversary as a "pro" mechanic. the first six years were spent in a grimey, two man operation LBS cutting my teeth on '80s roadies and '90s rigid mountain bikes, at the same time clamoring for anything older than me and european. we didn't tend to see a lot of that kind of stuff in my little indiana town. I developed an affinity for campy stuff, but moreso those quirky little english 3 speed hubs. I'd built a reputation amongst the few collectors in town so I got handy with the old stuff. I used to get laughs in disbelief from customers when I'd tell them our labor rate was $60 an hour. "$60 for a BIKE?"

fast forward to now, working as a 'production tech' for a certain well known four letter brand, multiple $500+ workorders in a day doesn't even warrant a raised eyebrow. numbers are the name of the game. labor dollars per hours worked, timer on each job. most days it feels more like a bike store than a bike shop. but on those odd days when anything vaguely italian sounding or "one of those old bikes with the gears inside the wheel" shows up, it gets sent straight to me. sometimes I take a little longer than I should, a couple extra passes of polish on a bearing race here or there, but I feel like I have something to prove, or at least be the exception. be the one big name store somebody can walk into and get the right 26x1 3/8" tire the first time
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Old 03-17-22, 02:30 AM
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I sure hope you guys all are! Y'all are 90% of the way I figure out how to fix these damn machines!
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Old 03-17-22, 03:29 AM
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Originally Posted by SoccerBallXan
I sure hope you guys all are! Y'all are 90% of the way I figure out how to fix these damn machines!
I might have some bad news for you.

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Old 03-17-22, 03:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
I'm not ept much less quick but my labor is free.
In some cases the free part of this equation is really critical to making a job viable. There are a lot of things in the realm of C&V bikes that if you had to pay shop prices, or even what the shop pays their mechanics, would be complete project killers. This summer I overhauled an old Takara -- stripped it down to bare metal and painted it, de-rusted a lot of parts, cleaned and regreased everything, even disassembled an old entry-level plastic saddle so I could sand and paint the rails to make it usable. I didn't even track the time I put into this thing, I'm thinking at least 50 hours. I spent about $95 on parts, and at the end of it I had a beautiful $100 bike. Even accepting, as many of us do, that restoring an old bike is a labor of love that we're willing to lose money on, having to pay anything at all for labor turns a rusty old bike into a rusty old pile of maybe recycled metal.

Today I spent around an hour changing the Crank Brothers cleats on a pair of shoes. I had let them go too long and the metal around the screw head had folded in. I had to take a dremel to it to get the hex wrench to fit. A local shop might have gotten it done in half an hour and charged me $50. Or they might have directed me to their selection of new shoes. I had the same problem with another pair of shoes last year and I didn't figure out how to get the hex wrench to fit. That time I ended up grinding the entire head off the screws and had to replace the cleat nuts on the shoes. I probably spent four hours on that. I'm learning, I think. I may be ept someday.
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Old 03-17-22, 12:32 PM
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I put myself though college wrenching in shops in Northern and Southern California in the late 1980s, early 1990s. I like vintage road bikes, and handle most repairs by myself.

My son got a new Giant mountain bike, with hydraulic disc brakes. I won't touch 'em. Even the rear derailleur intimidates me!
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Old 03-19-22, 10:11 AM
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Old 03-20-22, 06:03 AM
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Originally Posted by plonz
We hobbyists tend to do time-consuming things like diagnose the root cause and weekend test rides to see if something’s worked vs. just change out parts. Think about a drive line clunk where you needed to rebuild the freewheel and add some shim thickness to fix (talking C&V of course). A shop may simply install a new freewheel and chain, adjust the bottom bracket and tell you to ride it for a while to see if it’s fixed. Both scenarios fix the bike but the latter is quicker and frees up the mechanic to work on the next bike. As a hobbyist, I’m not required to operate that way but am still a competent mechanic.
This is pretty close to where I'm at on this. When I do a little work on the side fixing bikes for friends or their friends, I usually just get the bike from them and say it will take me a few days. Would a LBS spend three days periodically soaking a 35 year-old shifter with solvent to get it going again? No way, and if I was charging these people an hourly rate like a shop would, I would often be getting paid more than their bike is worth. But I get some sense of victory out of bringing old parts back to life, and it's fun to play bike shop mechanic sometimes without all the real world pressures.

The assembling kids bike comments on this thread I can also relate to. Just did that for a friend of a friend who dropped off two Kent bikes ordered online earlier this year. I've assembled new bikes out-of-the-box before, but I was a little taken aback at just how much responsibility it places on a Walmart, Dick's, or Target employee to get it right, because these bikes were far from rideable as they were shipped.

Bottom line: There would certainly be a learning curve in some areas working in a shop. But I think I could hold my own. I think the perfectionist, completist, tinkerer or whatever in me would be something I'd have to keep in check. Customer asks to replace brake cable, you replace the brake cable, nothing more, nothing less. I'd have trouble with that knowing, for example, that the wheel bearings were loose, or the chain was worn, and just sending the bike on its way, knowing there were 20 more service orders to complete.
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Old 03-20-22, 12:07 PM
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I spent 7 years (91-98) as a mechanic in bike shops spread from Colorado to California. By the end of that time I never wanted to work on someone else's bike again. I typically scout out bikes from this era as potential N+1 candidates; usually they can be had for quite affordable prices. I am a competent mechanic when it comes to repairs that relate to bikes of this era, but really any bikes that do not embrace super high tech "newness" are equally easy to wrench on. Example: a 2018 hybrid with indexed shifting, 3x9 gearing, and V-brakes (Or cantilevers) is no more difficult to fix than your run of the mill 1985 downtube shifter freewheel road bike. Throw in electronic shifting, 1x drivetrains, thru-axles and "boost" spacing and I'm lost, although I don't think that stuff will prove to be significantly different than the old stuff. Building a wheel on a boost spaced rear hub follows the same principles as for that 1985 downtube shifter, freewheel equipped road bike we all love so much.
As far as in a shop environment, well I don't know what its like nowadays but when I was wrenching, a tune-up consisted of cleaning the bike, adjusting bearings, truing wheels, adjusting brakes and shifting. But if the hub needed an overhaul, we'd just do it because it made truing the wheel easier and more accurate. If brake pads needed replacing, we'd just do it and pass the cost of the pads alone (not the install and adjust) on to the customer. Nine times out of ten the shop would just eat the cost of the additional labor. Sadly, all the shops I worked in are now gone, maybe because they ate the cost of those not inconsequential but not really big deal repairs we'd throw in gratis. I suspect most shops "back then" were similarly cavalier about those kind of things... Would I ever go back to working in a bike shop? No way. I like my bikes too much and I don't want to end up hating them like I did back then. I like being able to monkey around with them at my leisure and then walking away from it for a while. Can't really do that as a paid employee in a shop.
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Old 03-24-22, 04:23 PM
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I got (another) tiny Schwinn Homegrown for my wife and thought I would time the parts swap to see how long it takes me to build a bike. Granted I just swapping bars so putting on grips, mounting brake levers and shifters, running new cable, and clamping the bar would take a bit more time but here’s the tear down and build up of the bikes.


19:20 (minutes:seconds) to strip the bike

New frame

Old headset cups removed and new cups installed: 29:17

Had to chase threads

And discovered that the bike has a 73mm bottom bracket shell. 1:13 (hours:minutes)

Wheels on, cables run, everything adjusted, ready to ride. 2:07

Finished product

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Old 03-24-22, 04:51 PM
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I've converted a Domane 5.2 to triple, then back to double, then back to triple.
I've converted a Trek from a 3x10 hybrid to a 2x10 road bike (albeit with a very tall head tube)
I've created many bikes from parts. I've ridden a few that I wouldn't let my friends ride.

On the other hand,
I've blown tires off the rim with too much CO2.
I've pinched more flats into new tubes than I can count.
I've cut a few cable housings with the cable in it.
I've stripped threads on at least 5 different components.
I've had mixtes kick my butt (and am currently getting a whippin' from one).
I've railed against DA9100 and Ultegra R8000 cable routing, but also been conquered by almost every FD I've ever touched.
I've painted perfectly good frames. I've created decals to fit what I think some bike company should have done.

My latest gig is converting 650B to 700C and also the other way. I'm tire-size neutral.
If things come apart, I'm game. It's getting them back together.
I'll try about anything before asking advice or reading instructions.

I'm ept at time, inept at others.

I'm pseudoeptian.
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Old 03-24-22, 09:05 PM
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My coworker and I were just talking about this today. The kind of person that makes a very good bike mechanic is hard to attract and retain because they can usually make much more money anywhere else. There just aren't enough shops interested in long-term retention, and the counterargument that "at least the job is fun" isn't enough to make up for low pay.

I work for one of the smaller locations of a larger company in a decent area with very relaxed management and owners who value their employees. I make $17 an hour, have okay benefits, am a one-man service department and do my job well enough to run it with very little interference. I understand this is pretty atypical and I'm thankful for it. Every day I get to problem solve, work with my hands and learn new things. I want an interesting, low-stress occupation, and my personal overhead is low enough that I can live as a bike mechanic. I quit an automotive program in college because I could see it turning an enjoyable hobby into a stressful career.

What makes me very good at it is time/experience (five years at this point), working on a wide range of bikes in many environments (co-op, campus shop, dealerships), a general thirst for knowledge and some pretty high standards. A lot of it is muscle memory now, and unlike some other LBS mechanics I'll actually test ride your bike around the block to get everything right.

There's still so many areas I want to learn more about. I know what I don't know lol. Still need to build some wheels, would love to learn more about rebuilding suspensions, and framebuilding is on the bucket list.
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Old 03-25-22, 01:25 AM
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"Wash, I can tape those bars in 20 minutes."
"Sandy, I can tape those bars in 15 minutes."
"Wash, I can tape those bars in 10 minutes."
"Sandy, tape those bars."

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