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bike mechanic salary range in SF, CA area

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bike mechanic salary range in SF, CA area

Old 08-23-21, 11:01 PM
  #26  
afm199
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Like I said, there may be four shops in the Bay Area, where I have lived since 1973, that actually pay over $50k. If you're good, and I mean good, you could probably get a job at one. And yes, if there are two of you making $50k, you can live in SF. And no, you won't be living in a place where it is a "nice neighborhood."

That's why I moved to Oakland.
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Old 08-24-21, 09:11 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
seems like shops are hiring; at least the ones i frequent tend to have "experienced mechanic wanted," or "reduced hours due to not having enough experienced mechanics" or "sorry we can only work on bikes we sold due to not having enough experienced mechanics!"

i see current postings for $55k, which jives with various online sources like glassdoor and comparably. a couple each making $54k can absolutely live in san francisco - that's around the median household income (112k) and around the median household size (2.3.) all the BS about it being impossible to live in san francisco on $$$,$$$ is based on unrealistic expectations for a young person's urban lifestyle, like buying a house or condo, sending kids to private schools, eating at atelier crenn and shopping at epicurean trader, having a car, etc etc.

I'm sorry, but there is no way in hell the 'average' bicycle mechanic in SF makes $54k. Not a chance.
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Old 08-24-21, 10:43 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
I'm sorry, but there is no way in hell the 'average' bicycle mechanic in SF makes $54k. Not a chance.
Because bike shops that hire through GlassDoor are the highest paying shops.
I'd bet most LBS mechanics aren't on salary either.
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Old 08-24-21, 12:15 PM
  #29  
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Normally Glassdoor under lists compensation for Bay Area positions, but I think this might be one case where selection bias is making it over-report.
I don't want to discourage anyone from following their passion, but I personally opted for a different professional job and volunteer as time allows at the local bike co-op. The delta in income more than covers the lack of pro-deal access.
I'll bet being a bike mechanic in SF is a lot like being a ski instructor in Vail, CO. Lots of people want to do it to barely cover the cost of living there, so wages don't increase. At least bike mechanic is a lot less seasonal in SF than ski instructor in Vail.
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Old 08-24-21, 12:27 PM
  #30  
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Glassdoor must be flawed. It shows auto mechanic the same as a bike mechanic. The tools and skills is 10x more for the same pay.


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Old 08-25-21, 01:54 AM
  #31  
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^
I wouldn’t guarantee that. Auto mechanics often get awful pay, especially considering that they typically have to provide their own rather expensive tools.
Machinists in many places ( actually it as bad in SFBay) have it pretty bad as well, although at least they get their tools provided by their employer in many cases.
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Old 08-25-21, 06:49 AM
  #32  
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When I worked at a couple of shops, there was usually one head mechanic who could do just about everything from fitting a customer to lacing wheels. Then there were usually one or two guys who could take on most typical projects - repacking headsets and old BBs as part of full tune ups, for example.

Everyone else, me included, were generally relegated to very work-a-day jobs like fixing flats, adjusting derailleurs and brakes, and assembling entry level mountain bikes and hybrids. We rarely got to put together the 'nice' stuff. Back in the day, I got maybe $1-3 above minimum wage (high school/college seasonal work), and I expect this level of shop monkey is still looking at that level of pay, which today is probably about $10-15, mainly because there's a ready supply of kids who are likely in it for the shop discounts on the QBP catalog.

The other side of it is demand: a lot of customers expect entry level work to have entry level prices. For example, a lot of people with BSOs will balk at $20-30 to get a tube changed (heck, they paid $150 for the whole thing!), which is how much a shop would have to charge if the guy doing it is making $30/hr ($3 COGS, 10 mins to pull tube, 3 minutes to check out, + profit margin). And really, most people who have something nicer than a BSO will probably know how to do something like this themselves. Short version is that you'll have a lot of low-dollar, low margin work, and not a lot of high margin stuff like full tune ups or wheel truing.

Even if the head mechanic were able to clear $60k/year, that's really tight in the Bay Area - I'd expect a pretty long drive (or ride) to be able to get to work.

Adding to all of this is that bike shops are severely lacking in the highest margin product these days - bikes themselves. If there's nothing to sell, you may not be able to keep extra shop hands busy.
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Old 08-25-21, 07:14 AM
  #33  
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I had a cycling friend who worked as a mechanic out there, he lived out of his ford econoline parked behind the shop and cleaned up in the shop's shower.
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Old 08-25-21, 04:38 PM
  #34  
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According to the store manager I spoke with, even management positions at one of the larger bike store chains in the Bay Area only pay $20 to $25.
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Old 08-25-21, 05:14 PM
  #35  
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Thanks for the helpful replies, everybody!

Originally Posted by Vintage Schwinn View Post
You should consider setting your sights higher...
I'll be heading back to Japan to resume running my bike tour business as soon as inbound tourism can resume. In the meantime, a low-level job in which I'll do lots of wrenching on a wide variety of bikes may be the most valuable way to use my time as it'll give me experience that'll contribute to the smooth running of my own business.

I have a comfortable, spacious refrigerator box in which to sleep behind a bush on Mt Diablo, and there are small caves nearby in which I can curl up in the unlikely event of rain. Although the box/cave rent is higher than I anticipated, it's still somewhat manageable, so cost of living isn't much of a concern during this hopefully-brief period in the smoky Bay.
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Old 08-25-21, 10:04 PM
  #36  
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"How do you make a small fortune in the bike industry?
Start with a large one."

You're generally not going to make piles of money working at a shop, but you can get by for sure. Right before I got into the auto industry, which was back in 2013, I had an interview at a local bike shop to work as a mechanic. I knew the owner, my brother had worked there before as had a friend, so that may have affected the income offer, but it would have started out at $12 an hour. Remember, this is 2013 and the California minimum wage was $8. Not terrible money at the time for several years of at home wrenching skills. I lived in Santa Rosa at the time which, while not as expensive as SF, isn't far behind and is on par with much of the housing in the East Bay.

Now, my brother is a professional mechanic, went to UBI (United Bicycle Institute) and got all the certifications 15 years ago, been in the industry ever since. Always worked up here in the North Bay. I think the most he made was a few years ago working for the Trek store and that was in the high teens, so maybe $18 per hour tops. Comes out to just shy of 40 grand a year. He's also worked at a bunch of local bike shops, all of them paid a bit less.

Anyways, this is a guy with a solid resume, can do anything and has plenty of good references who are local and well known. And he's making maybe 40 grand a year. 3 years of experience won't get you much, but at least you can get minimum wage, which in California is $14 an hour with many cities higher, Santa Rosa, for instance, is $15.20.
If it's full time work with benefits, you'll get by if you rent just a room and not a whole apartment to yourself.

You might try looking in Marin county, specifically Mill Valley, Sausalito, Tiburon/Belvedere cities. They all have shops and the people who live there are WEALTHY. We're talking people who won't bat an eye at dropping 5 figures on a brand new bicycle. So, the shops can pull in decent money, which at least hopefully means a shop that won't go out of business. It also means people who have more money than they know what to do with, so why do the maintenance themselves when they can just pay a shop to do it. So, more consistent work. Marin is also a wildly popular cycling area with Mount Tam in particular being a hot spot for mountain biking, so there's a high concentration of not only expensive bikes but just bikes in general, all of them needing maintenance.

TL;DR, 3 years experience can get you a job, though don't expect $20 an hour. Housing is affordable if you rent just a room in a larger house with roommates. Marin county is where all the cyclists with money are at, follow the money.
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