Advice for career change, noob bike mechanic

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  • Hi all,

    As many of us may have had, during lock down my perspectives changed somewhat. I have been thinking about a career change over the last few years moving from the video industry to training in Bike maintenance / shop assistant type role.

    I'm looking for thoughts from shop owners/mechanics etc about how to invest in myself to follow this path. as an older career changer (37). I'm aware that banging out Cytech courses does not a junior mechanic make and that there is no replacement for experience as with most industries.

    With that in mind , would people say it is worth doing the the Part 1 Theory and Practical before trying to land a trainee / assistant role , or level 2 perhaps as well. Perhaps level 2 is better done after some experience gained in a workshop?

    Any help appreciated,


  • No experience myself, but having similar thoughts.

    If you're SE based, Balfe's Bikes seem to be actively open to people looking for a career change­rs/

  • I wouldn't bother with a level one before looking for work. If a workshop is open to someone without experience, I'd suggest going for that and then looking at the cytech 2 sometime a few years into it, just to have the paperwork. I think the course can be quite fun even if you're not taking much new info on.

  • this ^

  • Out of interest are you wanting to work in a shop and do the bike shop thing at low wage or want to work with bikes in some capacity?

  • Thanks for reply, yeah saw them advertising. I'm not that way at the moment but may or may not be making the move.

  • Thanks for the info

  • Initially happy to just learn about fixing and putting as many different bikes together. Ultimately my interests lie in tour cycling, with future personal tours in mind but also possibly venture into the support side for touring holidays etc. It's all a beta plan at the moment. Out if interest what are you referring to when saying "with bikes". Do you mean within sales, marketing etc?

  • Well I just mean bikes in general in terms of the field you’re working with. Bike shop seems the obvious and easy way to work with bikes but also hella low pay. Just wondering if you want to work on bikes or do something more lucrative but still with bikes.

  • do something more lucrative but still with bikes.

    Honest question- like what? I don’t personally know any pro team mechanics but I do know people from F1, and to a man they said the pay was acceptable but not high, especially with the stress/hours/experience required, and that working with F1 cars effectively counted as a job perk. I’d suspect cycling is similar?

  • I worked with pro team mechanics a while. Depending on field (road/mtb) it’s stressful, not that well paid in the grand scheme of things. Way less technical than expected, and there’s a lot of menial work to do.
    Lots of exciting place, things to do and all, but it’s not the amazing job it’s hyped up to be.
    I did push me away from wanting to be a pro mechanic.

  • Way less technical than expected

    That’s interesting. I guess they mostly need to do the basics routinely, reliably and as fast possible? Can’t imagine they’re rebuilding wheels or facing bottom brackets when they can just get new components. Would be cool to solve some of the bizarre challenges they get though, like adapting shoes for wider feet (example of bizarre not cool).

  • Why is bikeshop work so poorly paid?

  • You work as a mechanic for long enough you'll get plenty of bizarre challenges, not all of them cool.
    An older mechanic once told me "yo don't do this job for the money" and its stuck with me for the longest time. I've had pretty decent pay as a mechanic, and quite good pay as a workshop manager, but managing workshops wasn't the same as wrenching and as much as I love bike mechanics, it ain't the same job.

  • I think what you ride can play a part, and having shop discounts can allow a bike nerd to tinker that bit more.
    Do you ride mtb?
    Do you race?
    Most mechanics I've met have some sort of project/bike/tinkering stuff going on outside of work that's where the real quirky and bizarre stuff is going on. Having the job just facilitates this a bit more.

  • I’m thinking more along the lines of going self employed and doing it on your own terms.

    I did this for a number of years alongside my job and despite working not that many hours I was making the same as my full time salary doing a boring office job. I was buying secondhand bikes, getting them fully working and selling on. The other option would be to do servicing and repairs for other people. Or both. I rarely did servicing for others as it has a lot of associated issues where as the restoring type work is more controllable and I found it made more money.

    You need to be quite smart about how you work and efficient in order to make good money but it’s doable. You’re essentially doing the same as working in a bike shop only you have more flexibility and way more money coming in. Only downside if you’re not in to it is the self employment aspect and what goes with it.

  • My suspicion would be that the majority of customers aren’t regular cyclists or into bikes and want basic things fixing but don’t want to spend any money on their bikes.

    Once you start charging them for chains, cassettes etc, it eats into how much they are willing to pay for labour.

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Advice for career change, noob bike mechanic

Posted by Avatar for KibokoWill @KibokoWill