So you’re on the hunt for a job. Maybe you’ve just left school and are looking for your first job. Maybe you’ve been around the block and feel like a change. Working in a bike shop sounds like a good proposition, and it could be easy money. Let’s see how your expectations stack up with reality!
It’ll be fun!
You bet. There’s something to be said for working in an industry where everyone is super passionate about what they do. I can’t think of too many work-places where everyone loves their job like bike industry employees do.
Most of my best friends are my colleagues, and even though we’re at work, we all love it, because we all love bikes! One of my roommates once asked me how I can spend all day looking at and working on bikes, go ride bikes after work, and then look at bikes on the internet when I get home. I didn’t know what to say. It’s hard to hate your job when your job is what you love.
It’ll be easy!
Now this isn’t always true. Some days it can be tough. The bike industry is seasonal, so it can get quiet in the colder months for sure. There’s always something to do though, and if you’re quiet on the customer front, there’s inventory to do, ordering stock, goods inwards, cleaning etc., but let’s be honest, you can afford to take your time a little over the winter.
However, if you work in a shop that’s really worth working in, summer is hard work. Expect to be dealing with customers all day every day, especially on the weekends. Also, forget about taking regular weekends off. If you’re a mechanic you’re going to be spending all day every day working on bikes for at least half the year, and they’ll be coming thick and fast, especially if you live in an area with good riding.
But you know what, it’s alright when you love bikes.
Killer bike deals
You better believe it. Folks in the bike industry look after their own, and many brands will give you a healthy percentage off wholesale on a brand new bike and sometimes components. Since working in bike shops, my bike quiver has gotten considerably sweeter for very little outlay.
In addition to getting sweet hook-ups, you’ll also be the first to hear about cool new bikes and gear, and you’ll probably be able to get test-rides and orders placed before anybody else can get their hands on the goods.
I always heard that if you work in a bike shop, you’ll never have money but you’ll have a sick bike, and that rings true.
Bike mechanics make a fortune
Well, not really. Unfortunately it’s not a super-lucrative job and in many resorts you’ll make minimum wage or just above. If you work in a good shop, it’s possible to make a good wage, but you’ll never be loaded.
You can however save a ton of money as a mechanic. You never have to pay anyone to fix your bike and service parts cost considerably less. Often you can get by with a minimal toolkit too because you can use the shop at work. I save thousands of dollars a year on servicing my bike by doing it myself after work, and can often re-use or re-purpose old parts that customers give us.
Bike shop culture
People seem to have this image of bike shops being pretty loose, shotgunning beers after work, always shredding trails and having a good time. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t know how to have fun. I’m lucky enough to work at a shop in North Vancouver (Steed Cycles) that throws killer parties for its customers and staff.
We get out riding as a group at least once a week and usually a bunch of other times in between. We see our customers on the trail and we all love bikes. The culture here and on the the North Shore is infectious and I love it. If you want to work at a shop for the bike culture, you’re doing it for the right reason.
It’ll be worth it
Working in a shop is one of the best decisions I ever made. I get to work on sweet bikes every day, have some great friends with the same passions as me and ride regularly. Working in a shop usually means you’re close to the best trail networks and while not the best paying, it can also be a great springboard into something better within the bike industry. Being a good bike mechanic is a valued skill, and I’ve managed to find work wherever I choose to live, which is a great thing to be able to do.
In short, if you love bikes more than anything else and your life tends to revolve around riding, working in a bike shop could be the best thing you ever did!
Originally hailing from the UK, Sam has been an avid mountain biker for over a decade and a shop wrench for almost half of that, Sam has worked and ridden all over the world in some dream destinations including New Zealand and Australia. Living and working in North Vancouver, BC, Sam wrenches for Steed Cycles and Rocky Mountain, and writes for Steed and Singletracks. Somehow he also finds time to ride his bike a few times a week in between all of that!