The Paceline Podcast #7

The Paceline Podcast #7

The Paceline entertains its first listener response. It’s a topic we covered about riding with the one you love. An email to the show offers a perspective that the hosts simply did not have.

Patrick is back from the North American Handmade Bicycle Show where he spent the weekend judging and drooling over some fabulous pieces of work.

We take on the topic of tipping your bike mechanic. Fatty has outlined just how much  to tip. His system is experience based and does not involve beer.

Cycling’s lingo gets a once over. Fatty, Patrick and Michael highlight and delete the words they have had enough of. Paceline listeners get it on this too.

More gear head news. The cassette war is heating up between Shimano and SRAM. The 650b wheel size for gravel bikes gets a big push from a company that has a long history in dirt.


Show Links

More advice on riding with your boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband or partner. It may mean going your separate ways temporarily.

Tipping a bike mechanic. The how-to-guide from Fatty.

WTB’s 650b gravel entry

Evelyn Stevens sets the hour record

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  1. Rick

    Great job guys,

    I’ve worked as a mechanic in Chicago, Little Rock and Memphis and I’ve never met a wrench that wouldn’t appreciate a tip. Patrick, You might be happy to know that Memphians were the best tippers.

  2. Jim

    Since I do most of my own mechanical work, when I do use a shop, I want them to charge me what it is worth, including reasonable markup for parts and advice, etc. Turnover seems to be high in the service dept so for my infrequent visits to the service dept, tipping has little value. I would have more respect for this industry if they would charge enough to cover a living wage for the mechanics and have a more reasonable turnaround time for service.

  3. Perry

    I want to know what Car mechanics you guys use. Most of the car mechanics I have dealt with (dealers especially) are the farthest thing from ‘skilled labor’. They know how to plug in the scanning computer and read the text that pops up. The number of mechanics that can trouble shoot anything that doesn’t show up on the screen is dwindling fast.

    Having said that the tools to work on cars have gotten silly expensive, thus preventing the shade tree mechanic from doing anything past an oil change.

  4. Dan

    I disagree with tipping for anything other than the “above and beyond” tier of service. I don’t like the idea that a 20 percent tip over and above the shop labor charge becomes the norm and then, if I don’t tip, I’m seen as a cheap dirtbag. I don’t want to have to always factor in the cost of the tip over and above the listed/quoted price. The restaurant industry in the US has already painted themselves into this corner. Charge me the appropriate labor rate for the technical complexity, skills and time required for the work that I’m having done and pay the mechanic an appropriate wage for his/her time, training, technical skills, and contribution. DO NOT try to make a tip on top of that the norm where if I don’t tip that I’m ripping off the mechanic.

  5. shiggy

    The Compass Swithback Hill 650Bx48 has been available since last summer. Great tire. The Extralight version is just 400g, and tubeless compatible.

    I designed and built a steel frameset around this tire. LOTS of clearance with (aluminum) fenders, a proper 48mm chainline for the 135mm hub with 44/30 rings. Can even fit a 26x57mm tire in the fork with room to spare using a Nova cyclocross crown.

    WTB does have a list of compatible frames for their tire, and it includes at least one that was designed for the Compass 48mm tire.

  6. Shugg McGraw

    Agree that “doper” had become desensitized but disagree that “cheater” is any better as that will become desensitized in turn. What needs to be done is for any reference to a convicted doper to be prefaced by a less common descriptor. For example: “Dope fiend Alberto Contador will be racing Paris Nice. National Spanish disgrace Contador said that he was looking forward to taking part in the Race to the Sun. The convicted drugs fraudster added that he was hoping to win the title.” You get the idea.

  7. mechaNICK

    As someone who who’s worked in the bike shops for some time now, whose significant other works in the food industry, tipping gives me an interesting headache. In the realm of fine dining and higher-end casual food, tipping is starting to disappear. Do we want to emulate what the restaurant industry already understands is bad policy? Tipping in the restaurant industry has perpetuated low wages, which is offset for waitstaff (usually) by tips, but doesn’t necessarily allow the kitchen staff to be compensated adequately. In worse cases it allows for bad management, knowing that under-performing employees won’t be financially compensated much by the business, falsely justifying sloppy hiring and staff training. This ultimately results in disappointing customer experiences – something that many consumers have experienced in the bike industry.

    As bike shop owners and managers, we struggle with the same challenges that restaurants have to consider when trying to give adequate compensation without tips. In order to pay our employees more, we need to do at least one of three things: cut fixed costs, increase efficiency, or increase average margins. Cutting fixed costs can mean a whole lot of things (that we’ve probably considered) but at a certain point the shop moves to such an undesirable neighborhood that it negatively impacts customers’ desire to visit. Increasing efficiency is great if you can retain employees, but if we’re struggling to pay more than $22k/yr that can be more easily said than done. Increasing the margin may be the easiest to implement, but in this age of internet/on-demand shopping we don’t want to be perceived as price-gouging on product. Raising the margin on labor is difficult to do without colluding with other shops in the area, but in general shop labor isn’t usually where shops are bleeding margin.

    This leads me to a thought I’ve been ruminating about for some time, one that isn’t likely to make me popular with some shop owners. As brand catalogs have swelled, and overseas manufacturing has caused lead-times to do the same (oversimplification, I know); shops have been forced to make purchasing decisions further in advance and warehouse more product for longer in order to “play the game.” This ties up cash flow, not to mention floor space; worse, from a consumer perspective it makes navigating a new bike purchase a more confusing endeavor. Interesting to note that new bikes sales are flat… Some brands have called for action to make the decision to purchase a new bike more convenient, even going as far as to allow direct-to-consumer sales. The general policy is to give the nearest (or selected) dealer a reduced margin on the sale, with the expectation that this dealer will set the bike up properly, service the bike, and provide warranty support for the brand. Unlike many American bike dealers, I don’t think this means the sky is falling.

    This new model is going to come with a lot of growing pains, both for the bike brands and independent shops. Brands are going to realize that being able to sell directly to consumers means that they will need to have those models in stock (now, not in a couple of months). They will no longer be able to count on shops warehousing their merchandise for them, as the new, lower, margins will no longer support this model. As a result, I predict that brand catalogs will consolidate somewhat, making for an easier buying experience for the consumer and fewer models to warehouse for the brand. The upshot for shops is that we will be able to do what we do best – service – without having to pay for so much storage space. This creates more of an opportunity for smaller, local, repair- and service-focused shops. Unfortunately, I fear that a lot of existing shops will not adapt fast enough and be forced to shutter.

    How does this all relate to tipping? The local bike shops that survive this shake-up will be in a much better financial position. Our three goals from the second paragraph will be easier to accomplish. Without the need to keep as many bikes on hand, we can cut costs by renting smaller spaces. Because less of the business will be focused on new bike sales, more of the shop’s gross income will be higher-margin service and repairs. If all goes well, the first two factors will allow shops to pay their best employees more, boosting retention and increasing efficiency. In the end, we’ll be able to pay our staff a good wage and it won’t have anything to do with tipping. In the meantime… you guys are on your own, I don’t have the answer!

  8. Les.B.

    Under the topic of Cycling LIngo, I move to delete the word “Fred”.
    Not just the word itself, but the notion that cyclists engage in this middle-schoolesque type of social behavior, where “What I like to do is extremely cool, what you do is uncool.”

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