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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

How much should a Canadian Bicycle Mechanic be charging for repairs?

If you're new to being a bicycle mechanic and you're not sure what you should be charging here is a quick guide:

$60 per hour + the cost of parts.

Seriously. That is how much you should be charging if you are running your own bike shop. That price margin allows you to make a decent living and still be able to pay the rent on your workspace, keep the electricity running, pay your bills, etc.

Anything less than that and you had better be operating out of your garage or basement, because otherwise you won't be able to afford rent.

Also if you live in any of the cities where rent is more expensive (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver) then expect to be charging slightly more than $60/hour, but you will likely have several junior bicycle mechanics at your shop working for $20+ per hour (if you're paying them a fair wage) or minimum wage if you're a cheap jerk.

Below is a list of tasks, plus the time required to complete them, plus what you should be charging for the service:

TASKTIMECOST
Level 1 tune-up1.6$96.00
build rear wheel1.12$67.00
install new fork1$60.00
brake system tune-up1$60.00
replace headset0.67$40.00
major wheel truing0.6$36.00
replace one piece crankset0.55$33.00
overhaul rear hub0.52$31.00
overhaul fr. Hub0.47$28.00
adjust single brake0.37$22.00
bleed hydraulic brake0.3$18.00
adj. front indexing derailleur0.3$18.00
install sealed B.B.0.28$17.00
adj. rear indexing derailleur0.27$16.00
replace square taper crank arms0.25$15.00
tape road handlebar0.25$15.00
install tire/tube w. wheel removal0.23$14.00
minor wheel truing0.22$13.00
Intall mtb. stem0.17$10.00
Adjust loose-ball bottom bracket0.12$7.00
replace freewheel/cassette0.12$7.00
size and/or install chain0.07$4.00

 

Which basically brings us back to the concept that the best way to make money as a bicycle mechanic is to own your own bike shop.

That way you make money every time you sell a bicycle.

You make money every time you repair a bicycle.

You make money every time one of your junior mechanics repairs a bicycle.

Working for someone else ("the boss man") may sound great when you're 19 years old and you think working at a bike shop is a great idea, but when you're 30 or 40 years old and you have a spouse and kids to feed then you need to be making more than $20 per hour. $20 per hour is peanuts. $20 per hour means you live in a tiny apartment, aren't married, have no kids, no savings for the future and no retirement plan.

Some people say they just love fixing bicycles, but a clap on the back and a sense of satisfaction doesn't pay your dentist bills (or any other bills).

Speaking for myself I got professionally trained as a bicycle mechanic (thanks to Smokey from the Quadra Bicycle Mechanic School), got my BTAC certification and all that... I spent years fixing and repairing bicycles, buying old bicycles, fixing them (and painting them), and selling them for a profit.

And I was okay. But eventually I reached a point where I realized I needed to either open a bicycle shop of my own or I needed to switch careers to something else and start a different business.

I ended up switching businesses and starting my own business which I've been doing for 11+ years now. A business where I charge a lot more per hour and make more than just "rent money".

I credit Smokey with turning my life around, because it was the bicycle mechanic training I received from him that opened my eyes to the fact that I could be doing other things with my life than just doing office work / data entry for less than $20 per hour (which is what I was doing prior to taking the bicycle mechanic course).

So my message today is as follows:

Don't undervalue yourself and your abilities.

Charge a fair rate that means you still make a living, not just rent money.

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Charles Moffat is equal parts bicycle mechanic, cyclist, painter, sculptor, fantasy writer, poet, website designer and pun maker. For more details see charlesmoffat.com.

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