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How screwed up the bike shop business has become,

Old 06-17-21, 12:27 PM
  #76  
Bald Paul
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Originally Posted by Mark Dominck View Post
You got me there Paul, not much point in lifting the hood on these new cars. However I'm living in the past with down tube shifters and drive a 65 f350 truck and I like it that way. I'm amazed at how things have changed in the last 20 yrs.
When I quit racing crits, I sold my Raleigh 531 steel frame with Dura-Ace components and 700cX19 tires (with latex tubes) and downtube shifters. I kick myself to this day for doing so.
Still wish I had my 1963 VW Bug, too, but a drunk in a Buick Electra 225 had other plans for that.
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Old 06-18-21, 10:17 AM
  #77  
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The ones that have survived in socal, Rock n Road (five or so locations), Jax (seven or so locations) and the Path (two locations) pay their employees a living wage (and therefore are able to retain them) and, IMO, charge fairly for service (while having plenty of work for the techs). IMO, anybody who thinks this is a bad business model (evident intuitively here) needs to take a course in Economics!

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Old 06-18-21, 10:48 AM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
The GM of my office has a di2 hydraulic disc road bike. He could spend a couple hours learning how to bleed brakes, buy tools, then spend a couple hours working on the whole process- or he could pay a shop to do it since its a rarely needed service. He could spend a couple hours learning how to set up di2 and customize everything- or he could pay a shop to do it since at his level its a set it and forget it service.
Lets not get into wheel maintenance/repair.

A caveman couldnt do any of those services, to be clear. It seems like you are intentionally trying to insult bike mechanics.

Sometimes people value money over time while others value time over money. Neither is right or wrong.
And many are just damned lazy and/or ignorant….to become self sufficient. IMO the vast majority, don’t make a conscious/fiscal decision to pay to have their bike fixed….they just don’t know how…and it doesn’t dawn on them to even google the subject
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Old 06-18-21, 11:43 AM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by GBK233 View Post
And many are just damned lazy and/or ignorant….to become self sufficient. IMO the vast majority, don’t make a conscious/fiscal decision to pay to have their bike fixed….they just don’t know how…and it doesn’t dawn on them to even google the subject
Thats quite the assumption you make.

You have no idea if people make a conscious decision to put their bike in the shop rather than try to fix it. You have no idea if people think 'maybe I could learn' before they decide to bring their bike in for service.

I dont know why you see this as a negative- we live in a complex society where we trade goods and services all the time. People pay money for someone else to do their taxes when they could just learn tax law and do it themselves. People pay money for someone else to cook food when they could just learn French cooking and do it themselves. People pay money for someone else to install a dishwashers when they could just watch a ton of youtube videos and figure out the instruction manual and do it themselves.

But all the above takes time and money. Perhaps people dont want to spend that time and money on learning and struggling to master skills. That should be OK.
It should especially be OK when it comes to a hobby- this is all just a hobby. My goodness. Why denigrate an entire group of people for not wanting to spend their free time having to learn and perfect maintenance just to enjoy a hobby?
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Old 06-18-21, 12:03 PM
  #80  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Thats quite the assumption you make.

You have no idea if people make a conscious decision to put their bike in the shop rather than try to fix it. You have no idea if people think 'maybe I could learn' before they decide to bring their bike in for service.

I dont know why you see this as a negative- we live in a complex society where we trade goods and services all the time. People pay money for someone else to do their taxes when they could just learn tax law and do it themselves. People pay money for someone else to cook food when they could just learn French cooking and do it themselves. People pay money for someone else to install a dishwashers when they could just watch a ton of youtube videos and figure out the instruction manual and do it themselves.

But all the above takes time and money. Perhaps people dont want to spend that time and money on learning and struggling to master skills. That should be OK.
It should especially be OK when it comes to a hobby- this is all just a hobby. My goodness. Why denigrate an entire group of people for not wanting to spend their free time having to learn and perfect maintenance just to enjoy a hobby?
Amen!

I am one of those people who would rather spend my time learning and doing things other than working on my bikes. I love to cook and do a lot, yet I know educated, well off people who can barely boil water. I don't look down on them or think they are lazy or ignorant. My bikes generally do not require constant/frequent maintenance/work beyond what little I can do myself. Why spend the time and money on tools and learning how to perform more complicated repairs when I can simply ride to a LBS, leave my bike, make the short walk to work and pick the bike up at the end of the day? My time has a value just like money.

What I also think he misses is the fact that someone like a 2nd year grad student who lives in a third floor walkup efficiency and barely has time for a shower ain't got the time, space or resources to become an adroit mechanic. One reason shops in my city, which is home to at least three major universities, tend to do well.
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Old 06-18-21, 12:05 PM
  #81  
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Not to mention that many people earn so much that bike maintenance is infeasible unless they enjoy it. When my children were growing up and money was scarce I built my own wheels. Now, they're grown and if I need something, it'll be farmed out.
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Old 06-18-21, 12:16 PM
  #82  
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I think I fall in the pay the mechanic crowd. Yeah I can still do the basic stuff, even figure out more but at my age I’ve earned the ability to pay for the convenience and to just enjoy the hobby. I have a good local shop, no problem whatsoever paying them and supporting local business here.
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Old 06-18-21, 12:32 PM
  #83  
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Originally Posted by MrWasabi View Post
I think I fall in the pay the mechanic crowd. Yeah I can still do the basic stuff, even figure out more but at my age I’ve earned the ability to pay for the convenience and to just enjoy the hobby. I have a good local shop, no problem whatsoever paying them and supporting local business here.
I have done a number of tours far from home over the years. I even use shops at both ends to professionally box my bike for shipping. Why? Because I take the box to the shop before the trip. It is boxed very well, and the shop takes the bike around the corner and drops it off at a FedEx/Kinko's store for pickup. At the start of the tour, the shop I have shipped it to has it assembled, tunes and ready to go for me after I arrive after a long day of travel that required me to wake up at 3 am. (The sop also holds the box for me for free.) When I finish a hard two weeks riding in the mountains, I take the bike back to the shop for boxing and shipping and relax with a beer before my 5:30 am flight the next morning. It's my vacation. I want to enjoy it as much as possible. I am willing to part with a couple of hundred extra dollars to make that happen.
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Old 06-18-21, 12:52 PM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by GBK233 View Post
And many are just damned lazy and/or ignorant….to become self sufficient. IMO the vast majority, don’t make a conscious/fiscal decision to pay to have their bike fixed….they just don’t know how…and it doesn’t dawn on them to even google the subject
I love the idea that because somebody doesn’t want to do their own bike maintenance they’re just lazy and spending time on Facebook and Instagram. that’s the definition of old man yelling at cloud. lol

I do 90+% of my own bike maintenance. Generally speaking my bikes require very little maintenance. But if I can’t sort out an issue or it’s just taking me too long to sort it out I just let the experts take care of it quickly.

For example, my rear shifting was wonky. Wouldn’t go into biggest rear cog. Tried everything. Figured something is off with the cable that I can’t sort out. Sure enough. Took it to shop. They replaced cable as it was sticking somewhere. Cost me $15. If I did that myself I’d have to get the part and spend way more time routing that internal cable.

another example. I don’t know that I’ve ever needed a wheel trued. I don’t need to learn that skill for something that happens so infrequently. I certainly don’t need to buy a truing stand. If it happened frequently that’s a different story.
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Old 06-18-21, 01:01 PM
  #85  
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Reading the OP, I get the impression that your pov is skewed by a locale that is not typical vis a vis cost of living. I live in a major metropolitan area, where the median cost of a single family home is about $250K, not $1M. There are several long established bike shops in my area that are thriving now more than ever, and have a stable repair shop with experienced mechanics. I don't know what they pay their mechanics, but the senior ones own homes and nice cars, so I guess they are not starving. I rarely patronize them anymore, not because I don't wish to pay their rates, but because I am now retired with plenty of spare time and am nearly 100% self-sufficient in maintaining, repairing and building my bikes.
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Old 06-18-21, 01:08 PM
  #86  
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I like doing work myself, but, when I get frustrated with something I can't get, I don't have a problem taking it to the shop. I almost always get the bill when they fix it and think, "wow, if I'd paid that little and had them to do that from the start, I would have saved several hours of frustration and cursing." I need to learn to recognize my limitations and take it to the shop sooner.
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Old 06-18-21, 01:38 PM
  #87  
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Economics gets turned upside-down when the cost of replacement drops down to near the cost of repair.

So, say you have a line of $100 bicycles in your shop. Then have a customer that comes in and asks how much it is to have the shop replace two tires, true the wheels as needed, and do a general tuneup.

The economics for paying shop labor to do anything more than a minor repair on a $100 to $200 bicycle just aren't there.

Of course not all the bikes fall in that range, and and many of us are riding $1000 to $5000 bicycles. But, sometimes it is hard to explain to a non-bicycle person the benefits of a $5000 bicycle over a $100 bicycle (other than looking cool when one gets on the bike wearing spandex that is worth more than the lay person's bike).

Then, of course, everything in this world is about cost plus. So, the shop buys a tire for $10 and marks it up 100% to $20, or buys it for $20 and marks it up 100% to $40.

That works well in the case of a monopoly, but breaks down with competition. Another shop realizes that rather than a 100% markup, they can do a 50% markup, and sell 3x as many, with more profit. And, now the 100% markup shop gets stuck with unsold product on their shelves. Suddenly you get a shop that figures out they can mark up those same tires by 20%, and sell 10x as many with better advertising.

And the manufacturers like these high volume shops, and give them further discounts, as well as shipping discounts, and that 100% markup shop finds it harder and harder to compete.

With more competition, the cutrate shop finds new channels, bypassing the middle man, purchasing factory direct, and suddenly their markup is -10%. So, the $10 tire is now sold for $9. The 100% markup shop still is selling it for $20, and crying foul because their supplier sells it to them for more than the discount shop sells to the retail customers.
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Old 06-18-21, 01:45 PM
  #88  
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There was a funky thread recently about a guy somewhere in S.E. Asia who had a rear derailleur blow up on him. So, he bought a NEW replacement for $2.25.

It just makes one think a little bit...
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Old 06-18-21, 02:26 PM
  #89  
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Originally Posted by CheGiantForLife View Post
Had to buy a used part and install it myself. Makes me realize how screwed up the bike shop business has become, especially combined with the fuggled economics of the TechLand area. All of the good mechanics I knew have quit and moved somewhere else, because it's simply too expensive to live here on the $15-20/hr a bike mechanic makes. Even a top mechanic with 20 years' experience probably doesn't make more than $25/hr, otherwise the economics of the shop don't work. You can't live on that when the median home sale price is $1 million.

Now, shops are mostly staffed with high school or college age kids who live with their parents and only know how to assemble new bikes, and have no exposure to older parts or how to work on anything that the shop doesn't sell. It's more like a car dealership service department model, except that bikes don't have warranties, so they do little follow-up work on complex problems.

The last good mechanic I knew owned his own franchised mobile bike shop business, called Velofix. He sold it and took a job at Boeing. I learned this from the replacement Velofix guy, whom I had to call because the rear wheel on my road bike was out of true. I don't have a truing stand to deal with that, so a mechanic had to do it for me.

I've been thinking about this seeming paradox lately: when the cost of living in an area goes up dramatically, the quality of life goes down, even for the people most able to afford it. I wonder if an economist has done a more rigorous analysis of this effect, but it's something I've observed in several places. TechLand is just the most extreme case.

The bike shop example is one. Lots of bike shops have closed, because they can't afford the rent anymore. The ones that survive focus only on selling the most popular brands in large volume (want a Specialized? There are about 30 shops around here that all sell the same Spesh bikes. Want a BMC? There are two shops, and one recently downsized to a space half as big as they previously had.) Landlord is going to rent to whoever can pay the most, and that usually means a corporate brand like a Walgreens rather than a private small business.
I lived in DTLA for many years and I was fortunate to have a bike shop that was within walking distance from my place. It's called El Maestro's. Hopefully it's still open. They were super cool and didn't give me grief for not having an expensive bike. I would've worked on bikes myself but my hole in the wall studio wasn't big enough to accomodate that. I moved out of there in 2018, and I am able to work on bikes now. I enjoy it...for the most part, with the exception of dealing with old school bottom brackets, and !@#$%^& seized threaded stems and forks. Tools are a huge upfront investment, but they should last for a while.

Have you considered, learning how to wrench on bikes? They are fairly simple machines (a lot simpler than fixing a car,) along with the fact that you have forums like this, and YT has a wealth of information on how to fix bikes. RJ the Bike Guy has taught me just about everything I need to know when it comes to wrenching on bikes.

When one door closes, another one or perhaps many more doors open up. BTW Walgreens is shutting down stores in states like California, due to rampant shoplifting. Maybe those property owners will be more flexible when it comes to the rent for a space.

Good luck.
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Old 06-18-21, 02:29 PM
  #90  
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
At lease they have a clean bathroom and water bottle refill station.
Those kids at least, know how to do something right!
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Old 06-18-21, 02:33 PM
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I got an entry level truing stand for about a $140 USD. I already trued two wheels. I couldn't afford the professional stand, which was over $300.
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Old 06-18-21, 02:38 PM
  #92  
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There was a pair of recent threads about Harris Cyclery that apparently went out of business because the bike business was too busy.

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Old 06-18-21, 03:42 PM
  #93  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
There was a pair of recent threads about Harris Cyclery that apparently went out of business because the bike business was too busy.

Oh, boy, that's sad. I've bought some really obscure stuff from them like radius washers for adapting brake calipers to curved fork crowns and seat stay bridges.
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Old 06-19-21, 05:36 AM
  #94  
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"Lawyers, doctors, bike mechanics..... One of these is not like the others."

Some docs and all mechanics use their deductive reasoning skills, knowledge of mechanics of the machine they are working on, and their hands to diagnose and fix it. Lawyers are the standout in this crowd. All three take at least 4 years of specialized training to become somewhat masterful in their field of expertise. All three have schools available to earn "degrees" or more aptly described as "certification" they can do the basics of the job. Because medicine and law are highly regulated the docs and lawyers have a lot of schooling to take on, but that schooling in no way makes them competent, just like a bike mechanic, motorcycle mechanic, carpenter or any other skilled worker.
The point is, I became an expert in law when I ordered some forms online and used their guidance to fill them out and am now my assets are protected. Why pay an average lawyer 250 bucks an hour for his service? I also became a qualified doctor when I stitched up a deep cut with thread and it is healed nicely. Why pay the doctor 300 bucks for such service when I can do it myself? In fact it usually is a PA that does the actual work.
In the same way the average Joe becomes a bike mechanic expert watching utube videos. Why pay 100 bucks and hour for his service? My hope is these examples show how silly society has become when valuing services based on school debt, perceived value, or some other thing.
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Old 06-19-21, 05:51 AM
  #95  
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
"Lawyers, doctors, bike mechanics..... One of these is not like the others."

Some docs and all mechanics use their deductive reasoning skills, knowledge of mechanics of the machine they are working on, and their hands to diagnose and fix it. Lawyers are the standout in this crowd. All three take at least 4 years of specialized training to become somewhat masterful in their field of expertise. All three have schools available to earn "degrees" or more aptly described as "certification" they can do the basics of the job. Because medicine and law are highly regulated the docs and lawyers have a lot of schooling to take on, but that schooling in no way makes them competent, just like a bike mechanic, motorcycle mechanic, carpenter or any other skilled worker.
The point is, I became an expert in law when I ordered some forms online and used their guidance to fill them out and am now my assets are protected. Why pay an average lawyer 250 bucks an hour for his service? I also became a qualified doctor when I stitched up a deep cut with thread and it is healed nicely. Why pay the doctor 300 bucks for such service when I can do it myself? In fact it usually is a PA that does the actual work.
In the same way the average Joe becomes a bike mechanic expert watching utube videos. Why pay 100 bucks and hour for his service? My hope is these examples show how silly society has become when valuing services based on school debt, perceived value, or some other thing.
I make a good living charging for professional services (we’re technology consultants).

Likewise, we value the work our lawyers and accountants do for us. And I value the work my local bike mechanic does for me when I can’t figure something out (or can’t be bothered).
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Old 06-19-21, 06:45 AM
  #96  
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BTW, hope those "tight" individuals never go to a sandwich shop. $10 - $12 for $2 worth of ingredients and requires two or three minutes to assemble, which translates to $200 - $300 per hour. Bottom line: if it's worth it, fine and vice versa. Also, my son and I are having lunch at the park tomorrow with Ike's sandwiches!
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Old 06-19-21, 07:01 AM
  #97  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
There was a pair of recent threads about Harris Cyclery that apparently went out of business because the bike business was too busy.
I haven't read any of those stories, but that can't be why they went out of business. I imagine it's more because they are not getting enough stock to pay the rent. Bike shops are anything but busy because there is nothing to sell. Repairs make most shops profitable, but you have to have new bikes and accessories to sell.
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Old 06-19-21, 07:11 AM
  #98  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
There was a pair of recent threads about Harris Cyclery that apparently went out of business because the bike business was too busy.

What do you mean it was too busy? There were disruptions in the supply chain, chains of stores and stores affiliated with manufacturers get bikes first, and small independent shops have a hard time getting bikes. Without bikes to sell, they weren't able to get in enough new customers to keep the lights on with all the associated accessory purchases and service appointments that those new customers would have generated. Lots of us buying some small, obscure thing from them over the internet that probably cost more in employee time to find, package and ship than it generated in profit (selling a couple bolts at a time isn't good for business in itself, but, if it generates larger orders in the future may be an acceptable cost), didn't really help with the overhead.
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Old 06-19-21, 07:24 AM
  #99  
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
What do you mean it was too busy?
I went and looked at one of the threads and I was right, they went under because they couldn't make enough money to pay the rent. Yeah, the industry was very busy for a couple of months last year and then the supply chain failure caught up to them and it has been very sparse since then. I don't know any retail business that can keep going comfortably with nothing to sell, and the bike industry is very dependent on the spring/summer selling season. This is going to result in a lot of closed shops. Either because they were barely hanging on or they have large rents to pay.

This information is out there. Someone that is attuned to the bike industry even a little knows it. I am surprised a year on that anyone that has posted 1000 times on this forum could be surprised about it.
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Old 06-19-21, 07:58 AM
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Cpn_Dunsel
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Repairs make most shops profitable, but you have to have new bikes and accessories to sell.

Bingo ! Kewpie doll awarded.

The industry is going through a reset right now as manufacturers look to consolidate the brick and mortars. REI keeps getting lots of bikes to sell (Salsa, Cannondale) and the local LBS that sell those brands are being left in the lurch. Corporate stores are getting bikes from Giant, Trek, Specialized and the local independents are not.

There is absolutely a play being made by the manufacturers here and it is not good for consumers or independent business owners in the bike industry.
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