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How screwed up the bike shop business has become,

Old 06-21-21, 12:59 PM
  #126  
fuji105
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"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." This is something new?
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Old 06-21-21, 01:01 PM
  #127  
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Originally Posted by uber_Fred View Post
If you're riding a $5000.00 racing bike, it might make sense to pay a mechanic $100/hr to work on it. If you're riding a $700 commuter, it quickly makes no financial sense to spend that much money on repairs. And there aren't that many people riding around on $5000 racing bikes. It isn't a question of how much skill is involved, or how difficult those skills are to acquire. It's the same reason you can't find cobblers anymore. Anyone good enough to repair your shoes will quickly cost you more than the shoes themselves, except for very high end shoes. And there aren't enough Bruno Magli wearers out there to support the trade.
There are a lot of people riding inexpensive recreational bikes that think they should take their bike to the mechanic every year for a spring tuneup.

I would think a lot of people riding expensive racing bikes (without team support) are fairly in tune with their bikes, whether they choose to do the work or not themselves. Nothing on the bike is Rocket Science.
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Old 06-21-21, 01:02 PM
  #128  
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Originally Posted by fuji105 View Post
For bikes, yes. For cars, I have to disagree. While parts are more expensive these days, my 2007 Toyota truck has been more reliable than any car or truck I have purchased in the past, back to 1967. Back in those days my economics instructor told me that cars should be sold when 10 years old because studies had shown the repair costs made buying a new car better for the wallet. I don't think I looked under the hood of my Tacoma for the first 10 years.
Back in the 80s, everyone was predicting the end of shade tree mechanics.

And, a lot of people like to take their cars to the shop, but there are many people who do their own work with minimal tools.

All the computer systems are both a blessing and a curse. To a large extent, the computers will tell you what they think is wrong.
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Old 06-21-21, 01:04 PM
  #129  
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Originally Posted by CheGiantForLife View Post
The hooks above the shop floor are full of bikes on layaway.

What does this mean? They are being slowly paid for and once fully paid for, the buyer can take the bike?
That's what layaway means, yes.

It also means it looks like there's inventory when unless someone doesn't come through on payments, there isn't.
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Old 06-21-21, 01:36 PM
  #130  
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Diy

I've been to a LBS for mechanic service once in the past 18 years and many thousands of miles. I decided that biking was a hobby of mine and I would invest in making it work. I bought a bike stand, truing stand, and tools for about $235. I bought all the components to build a 15 pound road bike, and put it all together. Oh Yes, the most important part . . . . . I look for answers on YouTube if I have questions. All the information for bike building and maintenance is right there on You Tube.
I think it's kind of scary to ride a bike without knowing how to maintain it and fix problems. I'm not comfortable with having someone else do the work. I saved tons of money by doing the build and maintenance myself. Yes, it takes time. But, Hey It's my hobby. I'm willing to spend some time on my favorite machine(s)

My awesome 15 pound bike cost $2300 to build. Anything off-the-shelf would have been at least $5000.

Bad me. I did most of my shopping over the internet. I basically had to do this to find the lightweight components.

The biggest reason that I avoid the LBS is that 18 years ago I was not given the courtesy of express service on my bottombracket when my bike was my only means of transportation. I swore then to leave the LBS out of the loop. I do believe that my LBS has experienced and very competent mechanics. I just think I can do a better job for far less money because I'm not in a hurry when I'm maintaining my machine.
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Old 06-21-21, 01:47 PM
  #131  
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Originally Posted by gringomojado View Post
Back in the day, we fixed our own bikes, and cars. Neither was too complicated, and were more reliable!
gm
Back in the day...both cars and bikes WERE NOT more reliable than cars and bikes of today. Back in the day you'd be lucky to get 100,000 miles out of a car without spending major money on repairs.

Nowadays you can easily top over 100,000 miles on a car and only have spent money on gas, tires, oil changes and maybe brake replacement.

My current 2016 4runner has 94,000 miles on it. So far only oil changes and gas. Still have the original brakes.
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Old 06-21-21, 02:19 PM
  #132  
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
Back in the day...both cars and bikes WERE NOT more reliable than cars and bikes of today. Back in the day you'd be lucky to get 100,000 miles out of a car without spending major money on repairs.

Nowadays you can easily top over 100,000 miles on a car and only have spent money on gas, tires, oil changes and maybe brake replacement.

My current 2016 4runner has 94,000 miles on it. So far only oil changes and gas. Still have the original brakes.
Recently tossed out my timing light and dwell meter. But who didn't love replacing points and plugs yearly, setting timing, and sticking a screwdriver down the carb to keep the choke open when it flooded.
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Old 06-21-21, 04:22 PM
  #133  
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Yep

I can agree, and I do at times do a lot of my own stuff, although getting an appointment for something to be fixed now is amazing luck if you get it.

I've done lots of my own work, for decades, and recently have turned to help due to health & living arrangements with nowhere to work on my bicycle. I recommend grabbing a used textbook, and learning how to do it yourself to save cash anyways. That's more cash for more bicycle, lol. You can find the one below at thriftbboksdotcom for around 12.00. Its a pretty good detailed book on all the basics. Or, you can buy the Blue book, for a couple thousand dollars.

The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance and Repair : For Road and Mountain Bikes

by Todd Downs

Book Overview

The fully revised and updated sixth edition of the best-selling guide to bike maintenance from the world's leading authority on cycling Whether they own the latest model or a classic with thousands of miles on it, beginner and experienced cyclists alike need a guide that will help them get their bikes out of the shop faster and keep them on the road longer. For more than 20 years, The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance & Repair by Todd Downs has done just that. With troubleshooting sections to quickly identify and correct common problems, 450 photographs and 40 drawings to clarify all the step-by-step directions so even the complete neophyte can get repairs right the first time, and Web sites and phone numbers of bicycle and parts manufacturers, this is truly the ultimate bicycle repair and maintenance manual. Now better than ever, the newest edition contains the latest information on component kits and carbon fork specifications. Read Les
Language:English
ISBN:160529487X
ISBN13:9781605294872
Release Date:September 2010
Publisherotter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Length:416 Pages
Weight:2.45 lbs.
Dimensions:1.3" x 8.5" x 11.0"

Last edited by cacher; 06-21-21 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 06-21-21, 04:24 PM
  #134  
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I have one of those, and I find it easier to just turn my bike upside down and use it as a wheel holder.
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Old 06-21-21, 04:29 PM
  #135  
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Originally Posted by fooferdoggie View Post
need to move to portland we have lots f shops and lots of decent mechanics.
Maine is nice, I wouldn't mind it there.
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Old 06-21-21, 04:39 PM
  #136  
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Not everyone lives in an area that the median house cost a million dollars. But a good bike mechanic is worth every dime he makes. Sadly far too many cyclist know almost nothing about the mechanics of their bikes.
I've no more interest in screwing around with my bike than with my air conditioner, car or toaster; I practiced one trade already, and retired from it. When I want something fixed or adjusted I pay, and willingly. And I'd pay more if necessary for bike mechanics to make a better living.
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Old 06-21-21, 04:41 PM
  #137  
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Originally Posted by Reflector Guy View Post
Whereabouts are we referring to here?
Based on the terms "TechLand" and "million dollars homes" my guess is near, or not far from, my neighborhood...Silicon Valley...SF Bay Area. And he's saying something I've been observing for a number of years.

When I 1st arrived in '76, 1 year later I bought my 1st home...a very average 3B 2 bath 1 level in south San Jose for $45K. 1 year after that I moved to OR and sold it for 50% more than what I paid. Thought I had done great (bought a home in OR located west of Portland and was abt ~50% bigger for same price with a view of Mt. Hood). I returned 6 years later and the house I previously sold in San Jose was now worth ~3x what I sold it for. But wait...there's more...

A number of years later I got into SF Bay area real estate again. Bought a townhome further up the peninsula (abt 15 mins. south of Palo Alto). It cost more than the home I owned in OR was worth (kept it as a rental for a number of years) and have lived there since. While the townhome is over 2,000 sq' ft., the only land I own is what is directly underneath of it, abt 2,400 sq. ft. (and I think that's even overstating it a bit). Today those townhomes are selling for $1.5M (as in million). Want a house in the same city? Add another million to that. Want to be near Apple or Stanford Univ.....don't even ask.

Kids are graduating college and retuning home only to have to move back in with the parents or get a house with 3-4 housemates (roommates, maybe?

So, yeah, commercial rents are prob'ly outrageous because residential rents are ridiculous. If you don't own real estate now, you either have to hope for a very nice inheritance or pray that you own pre-IPO stock in a company that will go public (unicorn, hopefully).

And what's my point? Businesses with low margin returns have to hire at low costs just to break even. Even then, survival prospects are gloomy. Undereducated labor, or those with degrees that don't fit the valley profile are going to have to come up with creative ways to have a life (not just live) if he/she want to remain in the valley. Don't even ask about trying to have a family and be able to get the things you want.

tl:dr - It can be (and is) brutal here for some bizzes and people

There used to be 2 or 3 Performance Bike stores within reach for me. They disappeared before the pandemic (bought by another company and now there's only 1 or 2 stores about 4 hours from me).

Last edited by stephr1; 06-22-21 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 06-21-21, 07:09 PM
  #138  
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2 years ago, got some decent new Mavic wheels, as I had destroyed the previous set...(rims were getting thin)...any shifting gears got really bad, recently, needed new cables...and while out riding the chain went off the cassette and got stuck between it and the wheel (never even heard of that happening). Twice this happened. I take to bike store, and I got this message from LBS: "You're looking for a Mavic small part, a Ksyrium Drive-Side Spoke Retaining Ring, part number M40467. It isn't made anymore, but I did find an eBay seller with some: https://www.ebay.com/itm/31320145764...kAAOSwRr1fTFqr
I'd get two."
they couldn't buy it themselves...but a part for a wheel that was new two years ago oought to be available without jumping through hoops.
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Old 06-21-21, 07:11 PM
  #139  
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I've got no interest in learning how to repair bikes being the most utterly simple things (yeah, i can change a tube). I hate to put it this way, but I really have better things to do. I don't wanna fix my car or my guitars and amps either.
My time is best spent elsewhere.
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Old 06-21-21, 09:48 PM
  #140  
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My current road bike has a BB86 pressfit BB, pressfit hub bearings, a freehub mechanism I don't understand and a proprietary drop in headset in an oddball size. It has an electronic drivetrain with hydraulic disc brakes, fully integrated cabling, a wedge-based seatpost clamp system clamping a proprietary-shaped carbon seatpost and tubeless tires on carbon rims. The spoke count is 16/20 and the spokes are run at very high tension on hidden nipples. The front end is 100% integrated, 100% carbon, has proprietary everything and all bolts are hidden. This is not a bike for a home mechanic. I built my first race bike from a bare frame in 1990 and have done many builds since. I've built several wheelsets from parts and I can re-cable a bike with my eyes closed. I know how to work on bikes. I'm comfortable working on tubeless tires (after a couple of years of practice), but otherwise I'm barely feel comfortable adjusting the saddle height on this bike. I will say it has been 100% problem free after ~12K miles so I'm pretty satisfied with the engineering. However, when something inevitably goes wrong I'm sure as hell bringing it to the shop.
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Old 06-22-21, 06:44 AM
  #141  
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Once again, let's keep this thread from being locked or moved to P&R.
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Old 06-22-21, 08:17 AM
  #142  
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You guys getting a bit carried away with the political comments, you think? Bad idea.
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Old 06-22-21, 12:48 PM
  #143  
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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.

Harris was a great shop, with tough-to-find parts and knowledgeable staff, but running a brick and morter shop in a suburb of Boston with a median home value in excess of 1 million must have made it incredibly challenging to stay profitable.

The shop was in a prime location and I'm sure the lease/rent was sky high.
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Old 06-22-21, 03:04 PM
  #144  
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Originally Posted by MassCommuter View Post
The shop was in a prime location and I'm sure the lease/rent was sky high.
I'm surprised there are so many businesses with decades long leases.

I'm a little independent here, but I would have tried as hard as possible to buy the business location long ago. My brother has been building a small business. And, bought a chunk of bare land near a new shopping center/movie theater that was being put in. Not right next to it, but close enough that the business development was quickly spilling over to his area. And now that will be his for the rest of his life, and it is possible his children would want it in the future.

Of course transferring assets from parents to children isn't without issues.

And, then there is the question of working every day of one's life when one is sitting on a pot of gold.
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Old 06-22-21, 10:52 PM
  #145  
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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.

If you are a bike mechanic for 20-plus years, god help you. Bike mechanics are not highly skilled, there is no genuine training or certification required for the job, and the cost of bicycle repair work does not justify paying bike mechanics much more than minimum wage. Most states regulate the cost of auto repairs, these run $70 per hour and up, and car mechanics get a large cut of that rate. But there is no standard for bicycle repair, and even if you paid a bike mechanic most of the labor charged in a repair, it still wouldn't be very much. You can learn enough on YouTube to do most repairs yourself, it's not rocket science.

Here in Tokyo a bike mechanic earns about 1300 yen per hour, which adds up to about $12 an hour. And the cost of living in Tokyo is likely a lot higher than where you live. But it is not hard to find repair shops who will repair your bike quickly and reasonably.
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Old 06-23-21, 05:42 AM
  #146  
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Originally Posted by 2old View Post
The economic "geniuses" who think a given hourly rate is too high probably don't realize the cost of operating a business, rent, insurance, 401K plans, medical insurance, vacation, worker's comp, etc (provided by many shops; if one place does it, they all need to or won't be competitive).
Originally Posted by 2old View Post
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!

Anyone who thinks a business plan that works in socal will work everywhere needs to understand that economics aren't that simple. Remember that for much of the country, bikes are a seasonal business, and that's just one factor that varies.
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Old 06-23-21, 07:43 AM
  #147  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Anyone who thinks a business plan that works in socal will work everywhere needs to understand that economics aren't that simple. Remember that for much of the country, bikes are a seasonal business, and that's just one factor that varies.
With the advent of fat bikes...bikes are now a year round business.
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Old 06-23-21, 08:29 AM
  #148  
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
With the advent of fat bikes...bikes are now a year round business.
Sort of, but winter biking is still a tiny fraction of summer around these parts. And I suspect the people fanatical enough about bikes to be riding in winter are also more likely to be doing their own wrenching.

I'm betting you've never been in a bike shop in NH in January. I have, it's very lonely.
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Old 06-23-21, 08:31 AM
  #149  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Anyone who thinks a business plan that works in socal will work everywhere needs to understand that economics aren't that simple. Remember that for much of the country, bikes are a seasonal business, and that's just one factor that varies.
Excellent point, and I was referring to my area where it doesn't seem (to me) as though $100 per hour is too high for service. My LBS has been busy in the 20 years of its existence. OTOH, I wonder whether any bike business model could survive in the Silicon Valley, but probably somebody figured out a system.
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Old 06-23-21, 08:33 AM
  #150  
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$100/hour for bike service? You are kidding right?
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