Industry Digest: Trek's Direct to Consumer Box, Low Salaries, Sea Otter & More

Oct 19, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  

What's going on in the cycling industry this month? Industry Digest is a peek behind the curtain and showcases articles from our sister site, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. In each installment, you might find patents, mergers, financial reports and industry gossip.

Patent Watch: Trek, Canyon and others patent bike boxes for the Direct to Consumer market
By: Alan Coté / B.R.A.I.N

A box designed for consumers is precisely what Trek has targeted in a recent patent application, Bicycle Packaging System. The Detailed Description section of the patent filing is surprisingly clear (unlike the broad language common in patent descriptions) about this: “Described herein are methods and systems for packaging bicycles that are to be directly delivered to end users. The proposed packaging systems are designed to be user friendly, and do not require the user to lift the bicycle frame or other bicycle components out the top of the box.”

On Oct. 11, the consumer site published an article about Trek's patent application. Trek Bicycle responded to that article on WheelBased's Instagram account, saying, "Here's some background information that might be helpful. This is a bike box that we have been shipping in China for around three years. We use this box in China so we’re able to provide access to Trek products across a huge region with a smaller retail presence for a market with 1.4 billion people. It’s helped us get our products to remote areas where in some places there is little to no bicycle retail. We’re not currently planning on expanding its use beyond China."

A version of this article ran in the Oct. 1 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

(Read more.)

Vittoria to double tire production with new carbon-neutral facility
By: Press Release

The Vittoria Group will invest $20 million into building the world's first carbon-neutral bicycle tire facility that will open at the end of next year.

Vittoria's tire production capacity will double at the Lion Tyres Thailand factory in the Bang Pu industrial district, which will employ 400 additional workers. The Lion Tyres Thailand factory premises also will grow to 560,000 square feet and be near the current headquarters. The facility is designed with sustainability in mind with solar panels, intelligent climate control, and increased use of biodegradable and recycled materials.

(Read more.)
Vittoria Tire Factory

Canyon CEO will step down at the end of the month
By: Press Release
Armin Landgraf will step down as Canyon Bicycles CEO at the end of the month, and Chief Financial Officer Winfried Rapp will assume the role on an interim basis.

Landgraf cited personal reasons for his resignation. He will remain a Canyon consultant until the end of the year.

(Read more.)
Inside Canyon

Sea Otter Classic: How things have changed
By: BRAIN Staff

On Thursday, BRAIN spoke with industry members on the opening day of the first in-person Sea Otter Classic held since April 2019.

We had a simple question: What's changed for you and the industry since the last time you were here?

(Read more.)

Labor of Love: Why salaries (and profits) are so darned low
By: Jay Townley // Ray Keener // Rick Vosper

I proposed partnering on a three-part series to Jay Townley and Rick Vosper after reading that the Bicycle Industry Employers Association guarantees a $32,000 a year job to mechanics who complete their training. Outside-the-industry folks were livid. "That's not even a living wage in most urban markets!"

Industry vets on the other hand seem resigned to the trade-off of doing fulfilling work, changing peoples' lives for the better, being immersed in the sport and the gear they love, while making less money than their high school friends and college roommates. To better understand the compensation dynamics at work, and maybe even find some solutions going forward, Jay will address the history below, Rick will explore the supply side in Part 2 on Thursday, and I will finish up with a look at retail in November.

(Part One, Part Two)

Congressman: Reduced e-bike tax credit 'frustrating' but a start
By: Dean Yobbi

Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) attended the Sea Otter Classic on Friday to count down the start of the e-bike race, but he also took time to recount the progress of the E-BIKE Act to establish a more affordable transportation option.

(Read more.)

The industry bids goodbye to Friedrichshafen
By: BRAIN Staff

On Saturday, Eurobike wrapped up its final show here at the Messe Friedrichshafen, counting a total of 18,770 trade visitors and 13,424 consumers. While the visitor count was down significantly from the most recent in-person Eurobike, held in 2019, show officials declared it “a big success.”

In 2022, the 30th edition of Eurobike will take place from Wednesday, July 13 to Sunday, July 17 in Frankfurt.

(Read more.)

Author Info:
jamessmurthwaite avatar

Member since Nov 14, 2018
1,770 articles

  • 99 4
 Bike mechanic, ski patroller, golf course maintenance etc. etc. are lifestyle jobs… I have worked at all those and they were fun jobs and had their perks of cheap gear and free use of facilities, and if you can make it work for you good on ya… Once I had a family I begrudgingly moved into a more lucrative industry
  • 17 1
 Same here, different set of jobs, but same gist. It’s a really tough call to move on. I’d love to see great mechanics get paid more but I’m not sure the market can support it. It’s always going to be a little bit for the love.
  • 17 55
flag peterguns FL (Oct 19, 2021 at 14:55) (Below Threshold)

Depends on what your priorities are.

One can still work in the bike industry and make a REAL good living.
  • 30 1
 smuggling cocaine?
  • 40 77
flag lkjk (Oct 19, 2021 at 15:11) (Below Threshold)
 Exactly, people do this because they love bikes, not for the $$.

You can look up pay scales for every job/industry/region/etc. Nowadays, it's dumb to complain about being underpaid or overpaid. You know what you're getting into, and the great thing is if you think the pay is too low, just do something else, or don't get into it in the first place.
  • 47 13
 @lkjk: What a magical reality you live in.
  • 23 74
flag lkjk (Oct 19, 2021 at 15:34) (Below Threshold)
 @typx: It's called America
  • 94 10
 @lkjk:@lkjk: lol, that's not how it works. I've been in the industry for almost 15 years, now run operations for a city program and still get paid under 40k. I'm at a point that I need to move on, but even applying for jobs with a near identical job description to what I currently do, it is exceedingly difficult to even get an interview. "Just get a better job" is an incredibly privileged short sighted understanding of how the world actually works.
  • 10 0
 @lyfcycles: after 6 years as a shop employee/manager to an awesome shop, sadly I also had to move on.
  • 60 1
 I was a ski guide until I had a family. What is the difference between a pro skier and a large pepperoni pizza?
The pizza can feed a family of four.
  • 5 0
 Same here. Really miss the bike industry however.
  • 14 8
 @lyfcycles: Not certain what part of the country you live in (I'm not trying to be a jerk but you did just treat that guy like an idiot for not having the same perspective as you), but where I live (Tennessee) you can get any job you want assuming you have at least a bachelor's degree. If not, you won't be making too much money but every retail store or car mechanic has "we're hiring" on the door and sign out front.
  • 11 5
 @Bikesbecauserunningsucks: I don't think you're being a jerk, but I also don't think I was being a jerk for pointing out that it isn't as simple as "just get a better job cause America." Admittedly, I don't have a bachelor's degree because I was originally planning on moving towards a job more so in the larger industry, but circumstances have changed and so have the plans. I live in a city with a 2% unemployment rate. My point was that even with a long work history including management of a city program, it can be hard to get an interview at a job that seems to run parallel even in a city that is basically at full employment.
  • 31 3
 Given the current shift of us valuing our time for what it is worth, it's time we demand from ski / bike and other similar industries fair compensation for our labor. Discounts don't support a family, it's time for them to actually sustain the lives of the employees loyal to these industries. There is no excuse for charging customers 100 an hour to only pass on 15 to employees. So what if shareholders and owners don't make as much money as before, I'll sleep a lot sounder when their laborers are treated with a liveable wage.
  • 13 1
 @Bikesbecauserunningsucks: also, at least a bachelor's degree is damn expensive. I dont know anything about you, but I can tell you that I started down that path and figured out pretty quickly that I was hemorrhaging money that would be hard to pay back even though I was in a stem field. I have friends with masters degrees that expect to die with student debt.
  • 1 0
 Golf course maintenance must be different in Canada. I did it as a kid and can say I was the only white person working there that wasn’t management. I was also only 1 or 2 of maybe 100 who actually golfed in the maintenance area. Now working a pro, cart barn stuff like is more in line with that idea.
  • 7 7
 @vtracer: Have you seen the accounting at a bike shop? Successful shops that have been around decades usually run around 3% profit margin. Paying more could simply put them in the red or force them to price themselves out of competition. 100hr is more a reflection of labor being one of their best chances to even have a positive bottom line, not greed.
  • 14 7
 @lyfcycles: I'm not suggesting most people can get a new job overnight, without investment of time/money/school/etc., but I've literally done that - started out making 30kish, switched careers/fields, went back to school. Made the conscious choice to choose a field with good $$/plentiful job outcomes, moderate school costs, and something i enjoyed.
So, no sympathy from me, the world works that way if you're willing to work that way.
  • 7 9
 @lkjk: I believe they call that self-efficacy, self-awareness, and grit...all components of social exchange theory...apparently none of which are know to most of those who troll this article. If only there were more positive role models like yourself on instagram....I am being serious, I am certain you are a great role model for people you aren't even aware of. It's a shame they don't teach that sort of stuff in grade school.
  • 15 2
 @lyfcycles: I mean this in no way to be adversarial, but some food for thought:

A check of your profile tells me you live in a city in the midwest, under 300k population. Since I, too, used to live in NE (Omaha), I have some insights into your circumstances. 1) Sub-40k/yr (we'll call it 38k since you didn't specify exactly), while not rolling in the dough, is *absolutely* on par for no college degree and living in Lincoln, NE. In fact, depending on your housing situation, and absent any student loan debt, actually a very reasonable salary I'd say. 2) The city population is under 300k. I know it is a matter of perspective, but Lincoln really is not a large town with sought after positions to be had at every turn. Add to it that you have no secondary education, and your largest skill set is 15 years of 'bike industry' experience, yeah man.. might be hard to get an interview, even with the relative low unemployment. And I say this having spent 8 years in various LBS myself, so I've been there. Personally, I'd consider myself *very* lucky to have a job running a city program--does that make you a city employee? If so, how is that health insurance? All the paid holidays?

If I'm being blunt, it puzzles me that you are under the impression that you have a marketable skill set outside the industry. How many of your QBP reps have college degrees? All mine did, across 3 bikes shops in 3 different states. I'm sure some don't, but unless you have an in somewhere, 9 times out of 10 the person with more than a high school education gets the spot. I spent many years of employment resenting that, but it is what it is. I went back and got my degree, and even though I ended up in a job not in my field of study, I was finding it to be *much* easier to get interviews, call-backs, etc. So while it may be super hard to even get interviews for the positions you want, you have to accept some of that may be due to your credentials.

I absolutely agree that it's not just as easy as 'well just get a different job'. That sort of advice really doesn't speak to the complexity of the situation, nor is it very helpful. On the other hand, I think it *is* helpful to understand that the cycling industry is essentially a dead-end profession. Very low ceiling for earning potential in the vast majority of positions AND not respected by anyone outside of the industry save for maybe other retail businesses. Too many people view bike shops as a 'goof off' job--I'm guessing you have reached this same conclusion, hence why you are exploring other avenues of employment. Hang in there! Absent a college degree, take every opportunity to improve your skill set or add a star to that resume you can. Covid has damped in-person events, but network any chance you get, make as many good impressions outside of the industry as you can. Someone hiring may take a chance on you. Good luck!
  • 3 0
 Yeah, I know so many great guys and competent bike mechanics who had to give up on the bike industry due to low wages, myself included.
  • 3 1
 @lyfcycles: maybe don't look at a job that's close to what you're doing now? You have management experience, leverage that to get a better job in a different industry. It can be as easy "getting a different job" if you're willing to do something you don't love. Sometimes working is showing up and making the best of it, even if it's in an industry you're not passionate about like cycling. If you get in with the right company they will help you pay for that bachelor's degree and then you're off to an even better job.
  • 7 3
 Everyone has choices. Want more money? Take on more Stress. Want less money? Take on less stress.
  • 6 0
 @coloradohaze: You left out the biggest dynamic tho.;(living above one's means, the rock star lifestyle) creates stress financially, regardless of what path is chosen.
  • 8 1
 @mikealive: So 30 years ago, I applied for a nifty job at an engineering company, saying I had completed my degree, which I hadn't. They didn't check, I got the job, worked my ass off, provided a ton of value and made a bunch of money, eventually taking a role in regional management. By the time they found out, they no longer cared. But, that story could never happen in today's world, I don't believe. Degree verification is gatekeeper step 1, which is sad because it doesn't in any way infer actual intelligence or potential, based on my experience at least. There were plenty of PhDs at the firm that couldn't even run the copy machine. But in hiring, it's the easiest thing to verify that gives you some indication that a potential hire is "legit" I suppose. Which sucks.

@lyfcycles: I'm not recommending this approach! But just sympathetic to this new reality. I was able to subvert the gate many years back and appreciate how key that was to my success.
  • 3 0
 @takeiteasyridehard: : All of what you say is true. And that's great if you're in your 20's or 30's. BUT, it's just not quite that simple for those of us well into our 40's and 50's. Most companies don't want to invest in someone just starting a brand new career move at our age. And. apparently having 10-15 years or more experience in a field, still doesn't justify better pay to a lot of employers.
  • 6 6
 @vtracer: It's so odd to me that people think 'well, you're charging a hundred an hour and only paying me $15, that's not fair'. Who's taking all the risk in that equation? Who has come up with the investment to start the company? Who is paying the taxes and overhead? I truly believe that too many people have never been involved in running a business, as evidenced by their naive understanding of how things actually work.

Please, by all means, start your own bike shop. Pay all of your employees what, $20/hr? Oh wait, you said 'liveable wage', so whatever arbitrary number that is in your employee's minds. Come back to the comment section in 5 years and let us all know how it goes. Thanks.
  • 2 1
 @lyfcycles: I dont think that's entirely fair to say. Maybe you are short sighted? Why are you looking for jobs that have an identical job description but expecting higher pay? Are there other jobs in your industry that pay more, and just require you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone? Do you have untapped skills that you think you could leverage in an interview to show that you have higher value? Can you take courses online, to earn a certification that shows potential employers your willingness to grow and improve?
I make good money now, but it took a lot of work. My dad told me that opportunities weren't going to just fall in my lap. So I reached out for them every chance I got. If I heard about a free or discounted course I could take, I took it. When my employer was looking for volunteers to do extra work, I raised my hand. I repeatedly put myself out there, over and over again. And now I make damn good money, and never even went to college. It had nothing to do with privilege and everything to do with perseverance.
  • 1 0
 I worked at a bike shop shop for a bit. Minimum wage with the promise of a bonus each month. The bonus turned worked out at 1 pence per hour, 1.5 cents if you are of a US persuasion!

I never went back into that shop to collect the "bonus" cheque. Alpine bikes in Stockbridge- I'm still bitter!

I went back to making coffee. This paid the same for 4 days work as the bike shop paid for 6 days a week.
  • 5 0
 @rallyimprezive: The job I was using as an example wasn't in the bike industry. It was an operations management job in a different industry that shared the same structure of responsibilities. I'm currently in school again on top of the job, I'm just annoyed that I need to spend the money I am currently spending to get a piece of paper that says I can do a job I already do.
  • 4 0
 @lyfcycles: Unfortunately gatekeepers (with degrees) believe having the piece of paper is the only possible way you could be qualified. It's complete nonsense. I watched it for 30 years at my company, as they'd cycle their way through a sea of worthless employees that had degrees, which really only certifies that they had paid a school for validation. Annoyed me endlessly.
  • 4 5
 @mikealive: yup, perhaps if you can't sustain the livelihoods of your employees, perhaps you're not a business worth staying afloat. Stop crying about being unable to exploit people for profit, cause you're not the one being f*cking exploited.
  • 2 0
 @mikealive: made 18-20 an hour depending on output while the shop charges 125 an hour or so including a 401k and benefits. its doable.
  • 2 0
 @lyfcycles: ahbok.
Well good for you for going back to school. I hope it pays off for you.
  • 1 0
 @lyfcycles: that was supposed to say “ah, ok”
Not sure what autocorrect was thinkin
  • 10 6
 @vtracer: Where does this idea come from that a business exists for the primary function of providing a paycheck for its employees? Can you track the root of this idea down? I'm fascinated by its ignorance and would like to look further into its source. I hear it parroted over and over again, as if it's an insightful or deep thing to say...

My invite still stands. YOU start your own business. Doesn't even have to be bikes or skiing, you can choose whatever. YOU pay at least 5 employees whatever you deem to be a 'liveable wage'. YOU take all the risk, make all the investment, etc. then come back and tell us how it goes. But you won't because it's easier to regurgitate daft Marxist dogma and tear down other people's hard work than it is to make the effort to do better yourself. It's a poisonous mindset, steeped in victimhood ("cause you're not the one being f*cking exploited."). You know nothing of the life I've lived man, don't lecture me that I'm not the one who is being exploited. I'm not your bogeyman. On that note, employment is a contract. Don't like the pay? Don't work the job. Want more pay? Become more valuable to your employer. Stuck because of low wages and high living costs? Get roommates, form a co-op, remain dedicated to your goals, and have patience.

I'm all for collective bargaining, co-ops, and employee-owned companies. All great. If that's what you're after, go work there. But don't come to the business I run and tell me that because YOU don't think I pay my people a 'liveable wage' (a purposefully vague phrase with goalposts that are ever shifting) that I shouldn't be allowed to operate. The absolute arrogance of such an assertion is staggering.
  • 2 1
 @kmg0: Did I read that correctly, $125 per HOUR? That's the highest for hourly rates at a bike shop I've seen yet. But hey, if the customers pay it and business is steady, so be it. That's awesome.

What does 'depending on output' mean? I take it that $18-20 is not a flat hourly wage and somehow commission based? What were the responsibilities for the position (sales only, wrench and sales, management, etc)? Were all the employees making that wage, and if so how many employees? Where was this shop located? Own the building or lease? Seasonal riding or year round? Lots of things factoring in here, I am genuinely curious about the circumstances.
  • 4 0
 @vtracer: A seasonal business with razor thin margins that is pitted against huge online retailers with immense buying power are not swindling their employees. It's a race to the bottom when it comes to price in this industry and everyone is coming in first. Won't be long until the big four are consumer direct, further exacerbating wage issues and labor shortages in this broken joke show known as the bike industry.
  • 6 6
 Complains about low wages but keeps voting with the Marxist....?
  • 3 0
 @likeittacky: Reminds you of Missy Giove running marijuana eh?
  • 5 0
> Where does this idea come from that a business exists for the primary function of providing a paycheck for its employees?

At least in USA, that's the rationale for giving significant preferential tax treatment to corporations: because they're "supporting the public good", a la hiring employees.

Corporations shouldn't have it both ways: paying such low wages their employees are on food stamps, yet *also* get to claim those employees on their taxes.
  • 1 0
 @EdgarDacanay: Or Myles Rockwell.

An incredible Historical story of a Lady that i once did work for, told me she was involved with the person that started Mountain Biking- In Crested Butte CO., before Fisher and Breeze laid claim to its inception.
We sat for over an hour as she told me several wild stories of this guy and how He started the mountain bike seen in CO. and how He was heavily involved in a drugs and crime. One in which stuck with me the most, is when at night she lay asleep and some hit men fired shots into their bedroom window.

I told her she should write a book about it; No BS !!
  • 1 0
 @taijidave: Corporations exist to provide goods and services, they are not welfare centers.

Companies pay the maximum of minimum wage or market rate for that type of work in that area.

Corporations can and do pay low wages for skills that aren't highly valued or are in extremely high supply. People should focus more on what they can do to become valued at a higher rate vs complaining about companies paying too little. If their skills were worth more, companies would have to pay more because there wouldn't be a large supply of people willing to work for low pay.
  • 1 0
 @taijidave: While I agree with your sentiment, I believe you may be conflating two points. A business' *primary* function is not to exist merely for providing a paycheck to its employees, regardless of the business. That's not what a business is in a capitalist system.

"Corporations shouldn't have it both ways: paying such low wages their employees are on food stamps, yet *also* get to claim those employees on their taxes." 100% agree. The Walmarts, Amazons, Ikeas, etc should not get the tax breaks or business incentives that they do while paying the wages that they pay. The cost of doing business should be on them--the extra 60 jobs a Walmart provides in a small town does not make up for the wealth extraction they cause in said town.

All that said, it's not exactly apples to apples. A 6 person accounting firm is not Walmart. An 8 person bike shop is not Amazon. Those businesses aren't getting payroll subsidies. They have work they want done and are willing to incur a cost to have it done in the form of wages. For every Walmart or Amazon, there are literally thousands of small businesses just barely getting by. I live in an area that has mandatory wage increases (Oregon). Four years ago you could hire someone at $10.25/hr, now that person costs the company $12.75, and will be $13.50 next July. That's anyone, regardless of experience. And people don't think this has a real impact on everyday local goods? Even pre-covid you could see these impacts, nearly every fast food place in town raised its prices. Our bike shop raised it's rates. You going to pay the high school kid that you have answer phones and change flats $13.50/hr? Or are you just not going to hire that kid? Cut hours of other employees? Or are you going to hike prices so you can continue to cover payroll? Not too many millionaire bike shop owners out there, let's be real here.. it's not like the owner can just 'cut their bonus' or whatever.

I don't mean to put words in your mouth--I'm not saying it is you that holds such stances. And I want to be clear here, I absolutely agree that, in the US at least, we are due for some major systemic changes. But dull takes like 'if you can't pay your employees a 'living wage' you shouldn't be in business then' just don't speak to the complexity of the problem. Forcing small business to pay people a certain wage just shifts spending habits online, to the Amazons, Chain Reaction, etc. and makes it less possible for small businesses (you know, half of a community) to exist.
  • 1 0
 Word. I keep living frugal-ish and banking what I can because as soon as kids are out of schooling I am "retiring" early and working at a golf course and/or bike shop.
  • 59 3
 $15.50 an hour for skilled labor is pitiful. Seems like 15/hr is the going rate for unskilled labor; judging by the now hiring adverts I see around town. I’d like to know whom does make money in bike industry. Clearly not the mechanics or racers. Bike brand overlords would be my bet. After all it why they exist.
  • 47 1
 This is the only comment getting it so far. So many people saying this is a great entry level position, not realizing that mechanics do a lot more than tighten stems. It's a very skilled position, and shop do need to retain employees in order to continue to turn profits. I need to do something else with my life. I'm 30 and this industry is destroying me.
  • 37 10
 Yup, and a good bike mechanic that overhauls shocks and builds wheels is every bit as skilled as an auto mechanic who makes twice if not three times as much.
  • 17 1
 This seems to be one of the few industries where salaries are actually decreasing
  • 14 0
 Not only is it skilled, not only is it low pay, but as the result of being one for ~10ish years (all the way up to getting my ms in eng, as a part time weekend job), I've accrued literally thousands in needed tools, classes, etc.

Would have been a lot more lucrative to flip burgers since I probably put 50% of what I earned back into the damn job!
  • 4 0
 @sherbet: In all honesty... tightening (a properly aligned) stem is probably up there with Reverb rebuilds.
  • 18 0
 I just left the industry after a decade wrenching and running service departments, and it was extremely lucky that I was able to use a personal connection to facilitate the jump. I never wanted to leave, ultimately the awful working conditions of the pandemic and the 'bike boom' and ensuing parts shortages drove me out of work.

It's a brutally sad state of affairs; it's true many LBS owners are between a rock and a hard place with regards to being able to afford to pay better wages. There's a very small cross section of those competent enough to get it right (which is really hard to do!) and will choose to pay workers a living wage. Even for 'savvy' shops making all the 'right' choices - running lean, prioritizing service, investing in retaining good workers, etc, this almost always requires a willingness to accept a firmly middle-class standard of living, ostensibly what everyone who works full time should deserve.

Unfortunately and predictably, most of the big 'successful' IBDs also fall under the category of having ownership that will choose to be exploitative of workers to earn top spots in that 3% profit category and be able to afford the lifestyles they feel entitled to as bosses who succeed at business. They'll throw their weight around local markets, compete ruthlessly with smaller shops, poach rising talent with the promise of a modest raise and bare bones benefits, grind them to the ground in toxic workplaces for a few years, fire them for having a bad attitude when the burnout and disillusionment sets in, and move on to the next. Of course, these are the big accounts that have hoovered up all the inventory during the 'bike boom' and are the only ones who have been in a position to line their pockets during this awful mess.

While those guys definitely suck, the real villains (and winners, unfortunately) are the big industry players who have been willing to aggressively compete in a consumer market gone haywire and have no qualms with sending OE overstock out the back door and generally playing ball with online retailers, pushing more vertical integration, and, of course, actively cannibalizing the brick and mortar retailers and service providers.

It's not getting better either - even the fringe benefits are disappearing. How many brands do you think will reinstate employee purchase programs when inventories rebound? If that ever happens, anyway...

And I haven't even TOUCHED on how awful customers treat workers. Lots of y'all are in these comments, and we see you. Yeah, it's 'just' bikes, that's why we can't have a living wage... try telling that to some jerk who is better than you because they *simply decided* to get a better job, who doesn't want to hear it'll be 4 weeks before they'll be able to play with their fancy toy. Somehow they can't seem to understand that a bike mechanic isn't also a factory or part of the supply chain, yet they're the smarty pants who deserves the big bucks... sure...
  • 10 3

Done both, professionally not even a remotely close skills comparison.
Bike mechanics are SO simple by comparison.

Electronics, combustion, HVAC, some chemistry/tribology, paint/detailing and and an insane amount of mechanical systems. on a car all jam packed into a tight space that's impossible to work on and seized in place by years of dirt and rust grease and rot.

There are some skilled and smart bike mechanics out there. But there just isn't enough complexity on bikes for me to agree with your above statement.

Auto mechanics are grossly underpaid compared to other trades as well.
Not referring to the guy changing brakes and oil all day, but the ones getting the diagnostic jobs.

Bottom line appreciate good mechanics they are skilled and underpaid. So much so that the good ones are almost impossible to find as they were smart enough to do something else.
  • 5 0
 @Mikevdv: I think a key point you're missing is that it's not hard to be a bike mechanic, but it is hard to be a GOOD bike mechanic. There's a major difference between the kid you hire right out of high school who fixes flats and adjusts derailleurs and the grizzled veteran who's been doing this for 20+ years and knows his or her way around almost every bike brand in the industry. Another often overlooked fact is that bike mechanics are literally handed the reins to a customer's safety every time they work on a bike. A small mess-up can cause a recurring problem, a major mess-up can cause injury or even death.
  • 2 0
 Back in the olden days, right after I retired my horse, I had been in the bike biz as a shop rat mechanic from age 14 to 24. 2 years here, 3 years there, etc, etc, i search of money. Attended 15+ training seminars for certifications. Was the sole builder of bikes and wheels for our shop track, road and mountain bike teams. Have taken apart and rebuilt nearly any complex component on a bike and it worked after, every time. By 1995, it still only paid $7.25 an hour. I had to move on. Now that I'm older, hate the work I do. If I can find a bike shop job, maybe $17 an hour. And believe me when I say, I am a far better mechanic today then 25 years ago. My last frame up build, had to turn the ferral adjuster one notch. Touched up the wheels months later with a few 1/4 turns. Sad there is no money in it. Some shop is missing out on the skilled.
  • 1 0
 @whambat: however people are more prepared to pay to fix their car. Took my car into BMW. £135 for one hour diagnostics. That was followed by a bill large enough to buy a really decent bike. It was then covered by BMW due to a recall.

Good luck extracting that for an hour diagnostics for a bike!
  • 1 0
 @tall-martin: I’m not going to disagree with you there. People are fine spending money on auto repairs and the cars are built now so it’s hard to work on without proper equipment. I’ve heard from friends in the business that the dealerships are pushing back on the move to electric cars because they hardly need maintenance and it’s easy when they do. The dealerships (like bike shops) make most of their money from service. No oil changes and regenerative braking that doesn’t wear brake pads takes a lot of service away. Although, I’m sure BMW will find away to make service still expensive, lol.
  • 1 0
 @curiousincident: EP will come roaring back the moment they are overstocked. Just like 2016/17
  • 48 2
 Many bike shop owners and or managers are their own enemy when it comes to not being able to offer better pay. Lots of bike shops just LOVE to do stuff for free. Lifetime free basic tune ups, pedal install or removal, grip install or removal, pedal cleat installation, saddle installation, fitting the bike, repair clinics..........not to mention discounts. NICA, Good guy/girl, loyal customer, price match......This stuff adds up over time. It's great to offer it but the shops are paying somebody to do that stuff. Then there's staff roles. Many shops are simply overstaffed. Paying more crew less money rather than paying less crew more money. You'd be surprised how many shops have employees who can't perform basic repairs, fix a flat or help a customer identify which chainring ofset will fit their superboost crank. Maybe these employees are cashiers, or buyers or bookeepers. It seems that many shops have 2 to 5 employees who really get it done and perform most of the work and generate most of the sales. Scale back and pay the really good ones more. Close the shop 2 days (if they aren't already) a week and keep reasonable hours so you don't have to run multiple shifts. Sometimes these decisions are an inconvenience to the customers for sure, but if your employees aren't happy that isn't good either. Lastly, good old inventory. Purchase smart, and offer the savings to the staff if possible. Just some of my thoughts from running and owning bike shops for the last 30 years.
  • 6 21
flag tmwjr777 FL (Oct 19, 2021 at 14:27) (Below Threshold)
 Everything you said is true. BUT..... If shops charge 60-80 bucks and hour and start charging a minimum of one hour for every little service they perform. Guess what? Now us average working Joe's can't afford the bike shop anymore. We'll all be forced to buy expensive tools and learn every aspect of bike mechanics. And believe it or not, some of us don't enjoy working on our bikes as it is. It's a necessary evil to not be dollared to death constantly. So, just like how buying parts cheaper online is killing the bike shop industry. Raising rates for service will be the final nail in the coffin. Mark my words.
  • 13 0
 @tmwjr777: For sure. Shops need to keep the rates realistic. Jut don't do it for free. Every market is different with what a shop can charge. It helps to keep labor prices down if the mechanics are fast and efficient.
  • 6 3
 I am big on charging for everything, it is to the point I am charging a buck for valve caps, they are coming to me for product and my time is valuable so they will be charged accordingly. I have been working in shops for 10 years now and I can think of everyone that has worked under me and I can think of maybe 3 people I would like to work with me. Pay is junk regardless and I am struggling, I am getting jaded at this point and hoping by next year to fully transfer away from the bike world.
  • 12 2
 You’ll find shops are setup like this in Korea and Japan. It’s typically the owner with one mechanic, and both know how to do everything. Hours are when people can actually go; example Tuesday-Saturday from 11-7. Service is usually you on the spot unless parts were needed, and big jobs only a few days. It’s difficult to sympathize with US shops, knowing how inefficient and arrogant they can be. Maybe some form of mobile mechanic is the future?
  • 10 1
 With 23 years in MTB retail, I have a suggestion: Tip jar. If someone charged me $1 for a valve cap I'd feel "nickel and dimed." If someone did a great job and went the extra mile to give me a valve cap I'd feel loved. $5 minimum in the tip jar. Also, a well paid staff adds to the stoke level. I recall a shop in whistler (the Giant dealer) where the friendly mechanics were overwhelmed, but made a solid effort to rebuild my cooked Hope caliper after hours. The next day when I came to pick up my bike I brought 4 shop-branded shirts to the register with me as a way to support the shop. The cashier must have been the Owner's kid, because he was an absolute a*shole. Total prick. I put allll the merchandise back, and gave the shop $50 cash (they didn't even have a tip jar!).
  • 5 0
 If your a good mechanic and want to make enough money to support yourself and a family get an airco cert and fix HVAC systems and refrigerators.
  • 4 0
 Thumbs up for this controbution. I took over my dad's shop 4 years ago, coming from a corporate job. Finding the balance between being profitable, paying good wages and delivering great customer service is a huge challenge (as in every business). Having and finding great team members, people who live for riding bikes, is key, and I find that having the right people who are interested in what they do gets the job done better and quicker, and makes customers happy. Happy customers are returning customers and that's the most important thing.
Btw, we don't charge for putting air in your tires or for valve caps...keeping it reasonable keeps customers reasonable Smile
  • 52 15
 Dude: bikes are too damn expensive!!

Same dude; I can't believe these guys only make $32k a year, they need to get payed more!
  • 39 3
 Those ideas are not totally contradictory. The people setting prices on complete bikes are not (generally) the same people paying the mechanics in your LBS.
  • 8 15
flag hitmansam FL (Oct 19, 2021 at 13:43) (Below Threshold)
 You're missing massive profits out of your equation
  • 39 0
 Don't confuse the manufacturer with the LBS. LBS have likely not seen increased MSRP profits.
  • 11 0
 @ultimatist: the bike shops are squeezed by the same processes as the mechanics. Just to a lesser extent.
  • 12 2
 @ultimatist: Yep. Your LBS is making jack on bikes(minues lower end volume models). Service and accessories are where the $$ is.
  • 4 14
flag RadBartTaylor (Oct 19, 2021 at 15:16) (Below Threshold)
 @ultimatist: I don't think I am confused - there are margins on all bikes (OH&P), based on what I've seen approx 40-45% on bikes from dealer cost to sales floor. Bike sales may be a minor portion of the overall margins of the store vs parts & accessories, but wages up eats into those margins that bike shops can't afford (unfortunately).
  • 5 37
flag wobblegoblin (Oct 19, 2021 at 15:26) (Below Threshold)
 I think bikes are too expensive, and I think you’re a loser if you work in a bike shop after college.
  • 5 5
 @freeinpg: Assembling and selling a bike takes a relatively fixed amount of time (labor). With roughly the same percentage margin on a cheap bike as on a fancy one (I've seen the invoices and the retail prices), a shop tends to make a better chunk of change on a fancy bike than an entry-level one. This is why some shops refuse to sell the lowest models--not worth the trouble. Although this may be short-sighted if you can make a repeat customer whose next bike is a better model.

And yes, margins do tend to be better on service and accessories. But that doesn't change the fact that the margin on a $5000 bike is good for business.
  • 21 1
 @RadBartTaylor: No brand I've seen (I worked at two bike shops) have ever had margins in the 40% range. 30%-35% is more like it. The margins on bikes are horrible, not to mention the labour required to build them, costs to store them (warehouses, storage units, etc), and sales staff to sell then. The margins become smaller the more you think about the big picture.

Not to mention any bike that goes through the season ends up needing to be discounted, so now we're talking 15-20%.
  • 2 4
 @Ryan2949: granted I've never worked in a bike shop, but our team did get pro-deals "at cost", which was ~40ish % relative to MSRP....the higher priced models were more, lower priced ones less.

I'm not sure if we are saying the same thing or not, I know they suck, lots of OH&P hence my original post....with slim margins already....paying mechanics more cut into the overall financials of the shop, so the shop is less profitable or they can sell for higher than MSRP which is not viable...
  • 5 0
 @RadBartTaylor: I got lucky with my shop, I have monthly bonus, benefits, etc. But the last shop I worked at didn't have any of that. I'm sure 99% of the shops don't have what I get. Super lucky to be where I am.
  • 6 0
 @RadBartTaylor: Typically pro-deal is a little under a shop's wholesale actually. So you were probably paying less for that bike than the shop was if they wanted to sell it.
  • 6 0
40-45%…..Damn that would be nice.
  • 3 0
 40-45% is the best LOL I've had all week Big Grin . Even when hitting the highest dollar preseason commitment for our orders, we never saw 40% margin. I think the *best* we ever saw was a potential 38% on a MASSIVE preorder...and that is only 'potential' because that is assuming you sell through your entire order at full price, which pre-covid never happened.

I get your original point though. People want a good wrench to make more than $16/hr, but scoff when their repair order comes out to $120 for 2 hours work+supplies.
  • 1 1
 @mikealive: I am talking "markup"...not "margin", e.g. $1000 deal for a $1400 bike vs a margin cslc of 28% (400/1400)....

but that's the point, it's gotta come outta somewhere!
  • 11 0
 You really started something cool and sadly, bigger websites saw that and were quick to jump on the idea. So much easier to take an idea from a smaller website than to come up with something original...
  • 8 0
 crazy you're getting downvoted so much. The follow up post you had on treks box was very interesting too and not even mentioned here.
  • 9 0
 do you have Venmo, @WheelBased? I'd like to send you five bucks.
  • 7 0
 at least they gave you credit this time!
  • 3 0
 This blog is tickling my engineering patent loving brain
  • 5 0
 If you have to patent a box so that someone doesn't have to lift the bike out of the box - you have to wonder... should those people even be riding a bike? And this is why bikes cost so much - even direct to consumer. What a waste.
  • 30 3
 Man... I feel for the mechanics, but at least they're doing something they love.... I live in a town of only about 150,000 people. My closest city is Phoenix about an hour away, but cost of living is about the same honestly. I make a little under 40k a year. With your average home here priced at over 400k, I struggle to make it here on what I make, let alone 32k. Reality is nowadays, unless you live in the middle of nowhere, and probably someplace, let's say "less than desirable"... Good luck surviving off of anything less than 40-50 a year! Especially if you live alone!! Meanwhile... The world's elite are making tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars a year and don't feel the need to give us working folks anything beyond what they feel obligated to. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Sad state of the world for "average working Joe" nowadays.
  • 45 0
 2 dudes have as much wealth as like 1/3 of the globe, sounds like a healthy, totally sustainable system.
  • 34 0
 @OCSunDevil: They need that money though. How else would they get to travel to space?
  • 10 0
 @OCSunDevil: The crazy thing is they are just getting started too….
  • 18 0
 @OCSunDevil: "10% of the wealthiest American owns 89% of stocks and mutual funds in the US"
  • 3 15
flag TheR FL (Oct 19, 2021 at 14:24) (Below Threshold)
 @OCSunDevil: How did they get it, though? Did they go through the wealth distribution line A few more time than the rest of us?
  • 13 2
 Apparently, with the extra money Bezos made since the pandemic started, he could have given every single employee at Amazon a six figure bonus. Instead, he went into space for about ten minutes.
  • 11 1
 @TheR: Yes, in the form of corporate welfare.
  • 1 13
flag TheR FL (Oct 19, 2021 at 17:52) (Below Threshold)
 @Burningbird: Well, go get you some corporate welfare.
  • 11 1
 @TheR: naw, I'll pay my share of taxes and invest in my local community. Thanks tho
  • 6 8
 @Burningbird: Well then who cares, right? If you got yours… Just curious, what’s worse in your eyes? The corporations that take the money, or the government that takes your money and gives it to these corporations?
  • 4 0
 @TheR: The problem is just that, both. It’s been clear that the lines between industry and government have been completely blurred. Big oil, big pharma, big auto, big sugar etc, hire the politicians that helped them to “serve” on their board later on. It’s become so indistinguishable that it’s reached the definition of fascism. Some people think that they can fix it all with MORE government, which is wild. Politicians should be forced to wear the logo of everyone that funds them.
  • 2 3
 @CuyunaHTmn: Yeah, that’s kind of my point. A lot of these people who are outraged at companies taking corporate welfare would be the same ones pushing for more government control and regulation,” and socialism, without realizing the problem is the government taking money from their pockets in the first place and giving it to these companies.
  • 6 0
 @TheR: you have described a corporatocracy not socialism.
  • 1 1
 @Burningbird: There are varying degrees of socialism, a corporatocracy being on one end, communism being on the extreme other end. But what else would you call it when the government takes your money in the form of taxes and then gives it to a company to prop it up.

Interesting that no one has answers my initial question — what is worse, the company that takes the money, or the government that takes your money and gives it to these companies?
  • 1 1
 @Burningbird: So is regular welfare socialism, but corporate welfare is not?
  • 2 0
 @TheR: It is pretty ridiculous when you think about it. They get us on income tax on our earnings. Turn around and give a bunch of our tax money to these corporations. And tax us on everything we spend our money on on top of all that. (sales tax, property tax, etc)... Anyone who hasn't figured out that the system has been manipulated to benefit the rich cooperate heads and our politicians must be completely oblivious to what's going the last few decades.
  • 6 0
 @TheR: I thought @CuyunaHTmn answered our question pretty well. You create a false dichotomy by assuming one has to be worse than the other when both are bad and neither are the result of democratic socialism or progressive policies. Upset about corporate influence in politics? Support candidates and policies that attempt to eliminate it instead of painting it as more government and regulation. You are chasing you own tail
  • 3 0
 @TheR: It depends on your definition of "regular welfare" but if you are including things such like healthcare, paid family leave, etc, then yes.
  • 2 2
 @Burningbird: If the government is taking money out of your pocket and giving it to an entity that hasn’t earned it, whether that entity is an individual or a corporation, that’s welfare, and in either case, it’s a form of socialism. Corporate socialism might not be your preferred brand of socialism, but it’s socialism.

I’m not sure how you can’t say the government isn’t the worse party in this scenario, because it’s the source of it all. If the government wasn’t there to feed the beast, it wouldn’t be a problem.

Personally, I’d prefer as little as either form of socialism as possible. So I’d prefer to vote for a candidate who’s going to take as little of my or your money as possible, because the less money the government has, the less it can mismanage and abuse it at my expense.
  • 4 0
 @TheR: We will just have to agree to disagree.. Good thing we have bikes and other interests that are less divisive. May your next ride be an awesome one!
  • 1 1
 @Burningbird: All good, man. See you out there.
  • 6 1
 @TheR: That’s the exact mindset that has caused out of control market inflation. The “socialism” boogey man will not come and starve you out. Years of propaganda from corporations and republicans are your talking points here. The idea that everyone is on their own is the most selfish idea that ruins everything. Regulation doesn’t mean more government, it means being responsible. The biggest problems in our country come from corporate socialism from the same people that push “less government”.

The government has basically a couple jobs, to help keep people safe and healthy. Neither of which is done with cronie capitalism, or out of control free markets. What you end up with is over 700,000 people dead within about 12 months, with the corporations making record profits. All
while adding $7.8 trillion to the debt to be paid for by the middle class. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. Our previous administration proved that time and time again. Still people don’t listen. Free markets don’t solve humanitarian issues, they can create them if they are not regulated enough.
  • 2 2
 @dualsuspensiondave: Everything you said there makes my point. We are 7.8 trillion in debt because of government mismanagement of the funds they took from you and me — whether it went to social or corporate programs. Why would you want more of your money going to them to mismanage?

You don’t have to convince me — I figured out a long time ago that neither party has my interest as a middle class person in their hearts. So F them both. And if you ever think our debt will shrink, you are sadly mistaken. We are screwed and it’s never going to happen.
  • 2 1
 @dualsuspensiondave: Each head of the hydra is a corporation but the beast itself is the government. There is no voting with our money when it comes to Government. The socialism boogeyman will in fact quite literally starve its people as seen throughout history. Megacorps will bribe legislators to keep its competitors at bay. These corporate baddies that you speak of entrench themselves through government in order to become more resilient to natural market adversity. For every decent job the government does, two other jobs will end up worse than simple inaction
  • 24 0
 Imagine if every brand at the grocery store had their own patented way to unscrew their containers.
  • 6 0
 Have you tried to open a jar of pickles? I would guess that industry has a patent on those jars.
  • 1 2
 They only don't because they ALL buy from the same company (Ball Corp).
Do bikes do this perfectly? Of course not. Are they better than the equivalent motorcycle, auto, powersports products? Absolutely.
  • 14 0
 But our lid is 10% stiffer and 5% lighter
  • 12 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: wait until next year when the 148mm lid comes out and doesn’t fit your 142mm jar
  • 2 0
 @DizzyNinja: damn you buy a lot of pickles
  • 1 0
 @JoeHelvoigt: The jars very possibly were patented, but even if so, that patent protection almost certainly expired a long time ago.

The lucrative patents are probably now in reducing the cost of manufacture of the jars.
  • 3 0
 The problem is big pickle squeezing out out our little guys
  • 13 1
 Doing a lot of passion based jobs which don't directly translate to sales results means getting paid badly. Look at the salaries people get for working in museums (kind of my field, which pays like shit considering the work it takes to get there) or community projects or any number of other fields. If you don't make money for someone, and there is queue of other people who would do the job for the same money or less, or you do it simply because you care, then you make crap money.
  • 7 0
 I work in your industry here, and I second that. There’s any number of trust fund kids willing to walk right over you for the ‘opportunity’ to work in this high prestige, super low wage industry. It’s vicious.
  • 6 2
 I don't disagree, but most LBS mechanics (and staff in general) are putting money in their boss's pocket and they are still on tiny pay-checks, so even making money for someone can mean that you make crap money yourself
  • 7 0
 @bravefart: I got out of museums and cultural sector in general to work in a bike shop. Now I work in neither. Horrible sectors
  • 4 0
 @browner: can’t blame you
  • 2 1
 @mackay66: Good chance the boss is losing money at the end of the day.
Anyone who started a bike shop to get rich needs their headset adjusted.
Anyone who works in a bike shop passed 30 years old needs to set their sights a bit higher if they expect to retire at 65.
  • 1 0
 @mackay66: Plenty of people wanting to work on bikes and will do it for a pittance. Also, bike shops run on a knife edge, the margins on bikes themselves are tiny.
  • 4 0
 @DDoc: my boss was certainly not losing money during the covid boom... didn't stop him paying us a pittance
  • 2 0
 @redrook: completely agree, the best part of working in the industry is that you're doing something you love. Nonetheless, the money is often awful
  • 4 1
 @DDoc: That's the point, they shouldn't have to set their sights "higher". It's that devaluing attitude towards certain jobs which has got us here in the first place.
Many shop owners will own another business too, but even if not, bike shops are doing very well nowadays. Plus the business can buy the car etc. so they get to have a new Transporter to the tune of £60K without having to pay for it personally.
  • 20 11
 $32k is pretty close to the median personal income in the US. Depending on where you live, that might be a great starting salary. Other places.. not so much
  • 19 1
 it sounds alright, until you factor in that most bike shops are going to be in larger urban areas with significantly higher cost of living. Where I grew up you could get by just fine on $32K/year. that's pretty much impossible in larger cities, and not much above minimum wage (assuming 40 hour work weeks all year)
  • 6 1
 @sammybikes916: yeah, that isn't gonna be easy in a city. in the woods where i grew up, you'd be doing just fine. my local shop is in a place where a 2 bedroom condo is $2-3k a month, so $32k isn't gonna do much good. it is most definitely not urban but resort towns see similar housing costs to some urban areas.
  • 6 0
 Median income in the US seems to be listed at either $34kish or $54kish

I’m in the UK and mechanic wages here are not good- I think it was bikebiz who did the survey with most ‘senior mechanics’ taking less than £25k - not sure how that compares to US salary.

How a mechanic in London survives on a £25-£35k salary is beyond me unless house sharing etc.
  • 23 0
 I can get $32k per year at Target. Costco also pays significantly more than that to their regular employees. That's a laughable wage.
  • 4 0
 @justanotherusername: the higher figure is probably median household income, not median personal income. either way, making that amount in a city is probably going to mean a tight budget.
  • 15 1
 That's true, but it's worth mentioning that the median personal income in the US has been stagnant or dropping in the US since 1970, and that's using estimates of inflation that often times don't incorporate big expenses like college debt, food, gas, and sometimes housing.
  • 1 0
 @twonsarelli: It’s as bad as getting a figure in the UK - this site suggests $44k median and $66k average for US salary.

I think UK average is approx £30k, would be interesting to see how that compares with US salary.
  • 2 0
 @justanotherusername: the UK is different... Im friends with a flight attendant and she was getting 45k a year which was decent. the cost of living in the uk has skyrocketed recently though and wages havent kept up. this is a common them for most parts of the world at this time.
  • 5 0
 @justanotherusername: 66,000 USD a year?!? I SERIOUSLY doubt that's the average US income. Average "household income"? Maybe... Still seems a bit high to me.
  • 4 0
 @justanotherusername: i just looked a wiki, which says "The U.S. Census Bureau lists the annual real median personal income at $35,977 in 2019 with a base year of 2019" - so that is what i based my original statement on. maybe it jumped significantly in 2020 and 2021, although that site you listed seems to be making conclusions about 2021 already.
  • 4 0
 @tmwjr777: it seems reasonable that the average would be significantly higher than median. one high income earner can bring up many low income earners. lots of numbers, who knows for sure
  • 1 0
  • 5 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: don't worry bro, inflation is transitory.
  • 2 1
 @tmwjr777: hey I SERIOUSLY didn’t make it up - I just looked on some websites that told me this - like the website I listed above - I did list average and median.

@twonsarelli: - yea as I say it may be miles off, median and average income are different obviously, and median makes more sense to use.

@makripper: she must have been some flight attendant, there are pilots earning less. Yea as I say I’m from / live in the UK, just about everything is rocketing up in price right now, but I suppose it is in most of the world (we have an extra cherry on top called Brexit too)
  • 2 0
 @nickfranko: There is a billboard near me for a Walmart distribution center that is starting people at $26/hour. This distribution center is in an area that has high unemployment, another discussion but at least that is a better wage but no one is running there for these jobs.
  • 2 0
 @Tormy:I'd bet, the Walmart DC's in most of the US, probably start at closer to $16/hr than $26 though
  • 1 0
 @twonsarelli: This is true. What I'd like to see, is the median income of US residents, excluding states like WA, CA and NY. I'd bet we'd see a more "realistic" number then. Probably around 40-45k a year. And honestly... If you have any type of skillset what so ever. Anything under about 42,000/yr is sickening.
  • 9 1
 I guess I don't understand...the barrier for most people ordering bikes directly from the manufacturer is lifting it out of the box?
  • 4 0
 I guess bikes are complicated after all
  • 6 0
 It’s crazy that I clicked on this article because the most worrisome headline to me was the trek investing in better direct to consumer boxing and then I read 1287349 comments below of people complaining about bike shop lifestyle….. how close are we to your LBS being a just mechanic and his tools?
I’ve seen a scary trend of people not being able to get what they need at their LBS due to distributors lack of inventory and turning to the probikekit’s of the online world. When people are forced to do that for long enough they just stop trying at the LBS…
  • 3 0
 The mechanics generally stink anyway. i just got a new stumpjumper and the grips were not pushed on all the way or even tight, the derailleur was not set properly and the tires were not inflated to a safe pressure.
  • 5 0
 @DDoc: That's because most competent mechanics usually leave the bike industry to work in more lucrative jobs. Your new bike was probably assembled by a high school kid.
  • 5 0
 Real question, I work in consulting and charging out talent at 3 to 3.5 wages is pretty standard in my industry. I'm currently happy to pay my bike mechanic $75 per hour for a lowers service, etc. It seems like all the shops are pretty booked out in my neck of the woods for service. All I hear about on Pinkbike is how LBSs can't make ends meet. If good mechanics are making sub $20 per hour, what gives? Can someone circle this square for me?
  • 5 0
 Right, so a quick look around the web and I per hour labor rates between $40 and $70. So a third of that is somewhere between $13 and $20/hour. What is weird is that shops often have a fixed priced menu, meaning they are being nice if a job takes a bit longer. It is interesting to me that suspension service businesses/factory service charge the full weight of the work. Dirt Labs is charging anywhere around $200 for shock service, for instance. I think the LBS could and should raise prices. I've worked in Environmental Consulting which is dealing with the problem that many services are being commodified driving down revenues and I have been arguing its professional services and that the industry needs to be raising prices as industry. LBS perhaps should reframe the value of the service. As more brands go DTC that will happen anyway.
  • 1 2
 Pinkbike lives in a vacuum. A very echo-y one. They may feel they are the majority, they most certainly are not.
  • 2 0
 @polarflux: Interesting. I think you're right. I understand there are overhead costs, just like any other industry, but if I can hire 6 mechanics at $20 ish / hour and bill them out $70, that's pushing $900k per year gross business just in service. I am genuinely curious, because the math says someone is making money but the internet will tell you that LBS is a break even service to the community and DTC is destroying the industry.
  • 9 0
 supply. supply. supply. supply. supply. supply.
  • 23 0
 I demand you back that up.
  • 5 0
 A chain of coherent thought. The issues are clear.
  • 2 4
 If prices fluctuate with supply and demand, what equilibrium do you suppose it oscillates around? Necessary labour time, look it up. You might learn something
  • 4 1
 @hitmansam: Fun. parties. you.
  • 1 0
 @mi-bike: I live for the party, comrade
  • 6 1
 So, which of the big brands will be the first to go DTC? Think it will be Trek? They already seem to not care about their retailers with the number of acquisitions they are doing these days!
  • 9 2
 Tax credits for layzee-bikes? Why not tax credits for the cheaper greener option??
  • 6 0
 The irony of this being posted on PB where everyone complains about bike/part prices at the LBS and the suggestion to buy online.
  • 4 0
 Wrenched on bikes for 13 years in top bike shops on two continents: in short - it gets you f*ck all. Insanely stressful, non-liveable pay and you're threated like sh*t. My advice to young mechanics: it's a dead end job, don't waste your time on it, go do a trade school and get a proper degree: it's free. Yes, you've heard me correct, free: pay about 950$ for a year of training up front; get it back in full after passing each year exam, plus completion grants and tax write-offs on top of that. Finishing last year of a Cabinet Maker program: couldn't be happier. Pay is good, benefits, much less stressful, no grease in sight. Last thing: if you're ok as a bike mechanic - you will pass this program with ease. But, this is just my experience...
  • 3 0
 There is a job listing for $20-$45 an hour (+travel, per diems, benefits) in the PB Buy Sell, for building bike parks, pump tracks and trails.

Not a single inbox enquiry from PB users in a month. Does anyone want a job? Come dig!
  • 1 0
 I didn’t know that section of buy sell even existed till right now haha. Looks like a pretty sweet gig for the Canadians though.
  • 19 17
 The inherent problem with the low pay for bike mechanics is that bikes are too damn simple. That being said, there are serious complexities now with servicing suspensions so there may be some hope. Otherwise, most decently avid cyclists that I know can sort out a bike given enough time and some simple tools, so its lost on me why someone would pay tuition to go bike mechanic school when its the sort of thing you can learn on the job pretty quickly. Perhaps if you need to learn how to build a wheel? That seems like something you could learn during a weekend workshop. On the issue of bike simplicity, I'm hoping bike stay simple. I hear from a friend who works at a Trek store that there are increasingly more proprietary tool required for E-bike assembly and service. I don't really want to see the bike business following Apple or John Deere in limiting customers/property owners right to repair. That would be disastrous for bikes, but it also seems to be a part of the modern MBA playbook for creating business motes. Maybe as e-bikes become motorcycles lite mechanic pay will bump up, that might now be too bad for industry bike mechanics.
  • 28 10
 Hahaha mate have you even seen a GX derailleur? Seriously though, bikes are complicated, not as much as a car, but how many times have you taken your car in for a complete rebuild from the frame up, then taken it racing on the very next day? Mechanics deserve better pay, the number of jobs we have to "fix" for dumbass home-handymen!
  • 19 1
 @cheezario: I think he is speaking generally. Simplicity aside, most people, outside of "high end" markets, are bringing you $200 bikes to fix. The parts are simple and if the bike is too clapped, you sell them a new one.

Not all mechanics get to work on tons of $6000 rigs
  • 8 11
 Since bikes are so simple, I am assuming you never bring your bike in to get it repaired because you can fix this simple little thing that you throw your leg over every weekend.
  • 5 3
 I don’t think complexity has anything to do with it.

It’s a super easy and fun job so a lot of people want to do it - driving the cost down.
  • 7 1
 Yep...bikes are simple mechanical devices for the most part. There's no question about that. They've historically been mostly designed for ease of maintenance as well, so that doesn't help.
  • 18 0

Dream: working on 6k rigs
Reality 1: Row after row of under $500 bikes from the box stores in the shop to fix crap parts installed wrong at said stores.
Reality 2: Afternoon of changing tubes and 10yrs old bald tires
Reality 3: Explaining why it will cost $150 to fix the bike that hasn't been to a shop in 10 years
  • 2 2
 @JoeHelvoigt: Yes? The only thing I ever had done in a bike shop was fitting a crown race and it was free because I was buying one at the same time and the guy was fitting another one for another customer anyway...

Otherwise I've rebuilt my bike from the ground up and even made some homemade tools because who the f*ck is stupid enough to buy a headset removal tool when a pipe does the trick and a headset press when a long bolt and some washers do the same job?
  • 2 1
 @JoeHelvoigt: You're right, only work I don't own the tools for (headsets and rear shock rebuilds). Otherwise, I do my own work.
  • 5 0
 I wont take my bike anywhere but the most high end shop around me (Worldwide Cyclery) because other shops always fck it up
  • 2 2
 @MatLax00: and sometimes the "mechanic" installs an angleset at a 90 degree angle. True story. No thanks.
  • 2 1
 Bingo. Except suspension and wheels, you can do anything with basic shop tools and YouTube. Why would I pay someone $60+ an hour to fix what is essentially basic stuff?
  • 2 0
 @cheezario: ya how many people do what job just described? Answer: not enough to support an industry.
  • 2 1
 @pink505: Oh god, the tears of laughter.. this is bike shop life 95% of the time, too real!
  • 3 0
 Bikes are relatively simple but people are scared to work on them. I have an engineer friend that will bleed the brakes on his old porsche but brings his bike to me to fix a flat. ;P
  • 1 1
 @trialsracer: Exactly, and when they get a quote of $500 to resurrect their $200 bike they scoff.
  • 3 0
 @mariomtblt: The issue here is that because the pay is so low, good mechanics are hard to find. Most are not certified, not even a Park Tool School course. Because I was decent, I ended up in a high-level brand's showcase store, but I was still being paid peanuts and could only just cover my rent. You can bet that once I got offered something better with more $$$ I was outta there!
  • 2 0
 @DDoc: Time for a reality check...porche mechanic $$$$ you $. Porsche=love, bike= not worth the time to watch a YouTube video. Tell that shithead to fix their own bike.
  • 1 0
 @cheezario: aye get paid my man
  • 12 10
 You what the difference between a pizza and a bike mechanic is?

Your can feed a family of four with a pizza!

Seriously, 32k? That’s McD’s income and no one expects you to get it right. On the opposite side, it’s a bike, not a hard thing to work on. So, not surprising it doesn’t pay more.
  • 7 7
 Have you ever had your hands on a campangolo eps system? I doubt. Have you tried to do a full build from the frame up? I doubt.
  • 4 4
 @saso: I have six bikes in my cellar and I built them all from the frame up. None have EPS but one has Di2. It's really not uncommon to do all your own wrenching.
  • 8 1
 I don't expect my local shop to get it right either... ha ha
  • 8 5
 @saso: No on eps, yes many of full build from the frame up. Pretty easy shit and I personally find in enjoyable.

Any thing else you want to know snowflake?
  • 4 1
 @saso: If you think that's hard to do don't ever try your hand at fixing a car...
  • 9 1
 @MatLax00: With all due respect to hard working bike wrenches, the carburetors alone on my old Honda moto are more complicated than any bicycle in existence. It's a whole different level.
  • 6 4
 @Moonie2123: I'd like to see how many tries it would take you to replace the rebound needle on any rockshox rear shock. Or replace a bladder on a first Gen charger damper. Them itty bitty o rings are a bitch, and those bladders don't behave. While a carb has a lot of circuits, very few things are actually adjustable. Take some screws out, hose it with cleaner, replace a gasket or diaphram, put screws back, fire up, turn and listen. Maybe you're just deaf...I'll agree the engineering that went into motor stuff may have taken longer, but the wrench work isn't any harder.
  • 4 0
 @takeiteasyridehard: the average LBS can’t do those either tho.
  • 1 0
 @Moonie2123: random side note. I fixed a two stroke outboard carb with some o rings and a spring for a rockshox rear shock. Any that was easier than if I had put them in the rear shock.
  • 5 0
 @Moonie2123: Ever had to sync the carbs on a 4 cylinder? Razz

@takeiteasyridehard: Sure some carbs are simple and some bike parts are considered, I would still do anything on a bicycle before doing the valve job on my motorcycle again, it was a 10h job! Enough time to rebuild my bike from the ground up! Pointing out super specific examples of things that are complicated in the bike world (that one derailleur by Campagnolo, the bladder in that I've damper) isn't much of an argument when they're rare parts and absolutely all motorized vehicles have more complicated parts.
  • 1 0
 @MatLax00: Smile The moto I was referring to is actually 1985 VF500f... a V4! Haha ya those require an advanced degree in astrophysics lol. No joke for sure
  • 1 0
 @MatLax00: I see where you are coming from. Syncing 4 carbs or a valve job seems more daunting. But the bike parts I referenced are not race parts. Pretty much every rear shock has a rebound needle. Most people get new shocks if it gets the point they are a problem. But I guess my point is that both bike and moto worlds have similar technical challenges that require similar levels of skill to achieve a successful repair. Some take longer than others, and some require more expensive tools or manuals. But a true mechanic can fix anything if they have the right aptitude and ability to follow instructions. Some things take more practice to master. But I really feel that there are equally technical procedures on certain bike components as there are moto parts. His original argument was that moto parts are more complicated. That may be true in general. But mastering the most technical procedures on either a bike or a motor require the same skillset.
  • 5 0
 Lol salaried mechanics?! Yeah, right
95% of consumers 'can' fix their bikes, but do a pretty crummy job.
  • 2 0
 The two industry pay articles referenced are quite interesting. What I find fascinating is that even the big brands are smashing EBITDA numbers. Considering the profit margins for most bike shops AND suppliers being under 10% that doesn't leave a lot for big paydays. What I'd be interested in knowing is how many of the LBS out there have owners that pay themselves a salary before profit comes into the equation. If you're EBITDA is 5% and the shop does $1MM in revenue, the owner's "profit" is a whopping $50k. No one is burning Benjamins on that kind of profit. Also, based on the articles, looks like it's one more reason to hate Schwinns.
  • 1 0
 Where the heck is all that revenue going?
  • 2 0
 Just dug this up, min wage by province

Back in 1982, as a second year apprentice autobody mechanic, I was making $13.00/hr, straight time, but there was a bust in the economy coming, and things were starting to slow down, so shop owners decided that rather than layoffs, to put apprentices @ journeyman rate ($15.00/hr at that time), but FLAT RATE. Flat rate means, if there are 4 hours in the estimate to fix a box panel on a truck, and you do it in three, bonus for you! If you do it in five, sucks to be you! But in this instance, their end game was 1) not have to lay any one off. 2) Not have to pay anyone to stand around if there was no work. Sadly by that fall, things had gotten worse (economy wise), and there were layoffs....
Long story, but just trying to illustrate that I was making what is now minimum wage in my Province (Alberta) almost 40 years ago!! **and just an FYI, IIRC, shop rate was $35.00/hr And by the time you're a journeyman, your total investment in tools was probably on the far side of $15K in 1982 $$. (so easily $60K+ in todays $$) As an example of inflation, one of my body hammers I paid $27 for back then is now over $100 !!
Someones making $$ in the bike industry, but it's SAF not the guys on the tools in the LBS. The only way it could be worse for them is if THEY had to have their own wall of tools, because Park Tools is every bit as expensive as Snap-On stuff.......
  • 7 4
 Put all of the lazy, rich people that want to buy E bikes on REAL BICYCLES and we don't even need to waste our tax dollars paying Jimmy to regulate them!
  • 1 0
 The thing is that bike companies dosent want to pay for personal...thats all ...they sell everything ....more and more people come to the bike world and want better products ...spend more money on city Varna is a great example ..we are at the far EAST EU point and we are very poor ,but i start to see people with 10k bikes...why ? because people spend more money in to it ...and bikes become more and more expensive ....companies make even more money ...but they just dont want to pay for employees..

With that rate of Salaries you can come and take us, East EU guys to become your mechanics ,we will work for your gready souls! so Owners can buy lambos!
  • 1 0
 If you are going to look to your employer to pay you more for your skill you are barking up the wrong tree. If a mechanic is experienced and skilled enough to do all forms of bike work then maybe its time to market yourself and branch out on your own. Create your own small business, contract with local bike shops who dont want to pay benefits and overhead to a mechanic, with enough 'work' being generated you could even hire more mechanics and expand. The opportunity to make a great living is there for people that think outside of the box. Look at those mobile bike shops. That is the product of thinking outside the box and taking your future in your own hands.
  • 2 1
 When I read “offsets” I just see greenwashing without even trying to hide it.

Having participated in the carbon market as a farmer who sequesters carbon (allegedly) I can say it is all about making money for the middlemen and regulators and there is really no accountability or follow up to see if the required practices are actually being followed. Send in photos of your seeding machinery and acres. Here is your check. Never a soil test to see if organic carbon is rising, never a visit from anyone to even ask questions or look for answers.
  • 1 0
 I agree good mechanics get burned and aren't compensate at the rate of other skilled labor. But I always tip and Ive had a couple complete builds done. Ordered/bought parts and was able to grab a shop mechanic on his way to his car and offer him the job on the side. Which is shitty to do but it was what I thought was right given the shop near me. He did a great job and kept all the money.
  • 2 2
 Correct me if I’m wrong but did Trek just patent the way a direct to consumer bike is packaged!? 2021 you just keep getting more ridiculous. Maybe it’s super innovative....from my little digging (and engineering background, I’d say it was neat I guess) . Anyway maybe off my rocker, but think trek should focus its efforts on the bikes themselves....prob unpopular opinion.
  • 26 22
 Let’s go Brandon!
  • 13 2
 Yeah that redbull rampage run was insane
  • 4 3
 The trolling is strong in this one
  • 10 5
 I chant this every time I fill up at the gas station.
  • 2 1
 Free umbrellas for everyone!
  • 5 7
 @TheR: The federal government really doesn't have much of an effect on the price of oil and gas. Supply chains are complicated, blame the global economy for making a comeback.
  • 3 1
 @Azowehn0: They don’t directly dictate prices, but they do execute policies that can affect prices down the line.
  • 3 2
 @Azowehn0: Or they do when they tack on gas taxes. It’s why California’s gas costs almost a dollar more per gallon than it does in Iowa or Nebraska.
  • 7 11
flag scitrainer (Oct 19, 2021 at 20:22) (Below Threshold)
 @Azowehn0: They shut down pipelines, ban drilling, stop lease sales etc etc. Pre Joe F$#@ing Biden, the USA was energy independent for the first time in 50 years....soooo ya the Feds and State governments can do A LOT to raise gas prices and screw up the energy sector.
  • 3 5
 @Azowehn0: your hair Red and does your last name start with a "P"?..I seem to remember hearing that last sentence come out of that person's mouth...
  • 4 1
 @scitrainer: let’s go Brandon
  • 3 3
 @Azowehn0: think you might need to do a little more re-search.
  • 3 2
 @Azowehn0: Oil companies are subsidized in the USA by taxpayers smart guy. like 20 billion a year.

What's the first rule in fighting a war? break the supply chain.
yes the globalists are winning and you are cheering them on.
  • 5 3
 Unionisation in the bike industry are incredibly low. The low wages aren't a coincidence
  • 1 2
 I have few examples when hight paid mechanic just acknowledge- we will send it for service to manufacture, and not so well paid mechanic just acknowledged - come back in a week, i’ll do the magic; last one received gratitude tips to the best of my ability;
  • 2 3
 1st bike job - sales - $20hr - 18yrs old
2nd bike job - bike mechanic - $25 - 21yrs old
3rd bike job - Store manager of bike shop - 60K salary a year - 25yrs old
4th bike job - District manager of a major bike company - 100K salary a year. - 27yrs old

Bike industry was always good to me and helped me build my Resume to allow me to get to my current career path as a OPS Manager in the Manufacturing industry
  • 2 0
 Well arn't you f@#king special
  • 1 2
 Yeah man, I think a lot of these people just aren’t looking for better opportunity’s in the industry or trying to climb the bike shop ranks.
  • 1 1
 @Beaconbike: Dude get lost, Stop being a hater. F**King loser
  • 2 0
 @typerk87: oh, my bad
  • 2 0
 Some deep comments and real convos going on in this thread!
  • 1 0
 I would love to work on bikes all day. Reality is I work in a prison.
  • 1 0
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