Donut Honeys NSMB AndrewM.jpg
EDITORIAL | A Spring Service Story

5 Gifts For Your Bicycle Mechanic That Aren't Beer

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major (Unless Noted)
Date Jul 4, 2021

In Before The Rub

I know I need to be extra, extra, clear here that no one is telling anyone that they have to drop off presents for their local bike shop. I've been in this place before, too many times even, and no matter how cautious I am with my caveats there's always some solid-pyrite dick that craps his pants, pulls out a big glob of that's-not-loam, and proceeds to rub it all over the comments. Please, please, at least read my preamble before you rage.

A bicycle shop is a business that sells shiny things and services. It's not like there's some premium extra firm brake bleed option that you're just a secret handshake and a six-pack of craft brews away from achieving (or is there?). That's not how mechanical things work. Beer, baked goods, or fine deli treats probably won't 'buy' you a discount either. The lights, they must be kept on. The staff, they want to be paid. Go figure.


Even mechanics who don't keep a stash on hand would readily drop whatever they're doing to play LEGO at any time. You think the floor staff in the shop are paying extra attention to your kids because they're nice people? Maybe, but they're also making sure that your progeny didn't smuggle in any tiny plastic distractions."

If you have a great relationship with your local shop(s) that extends to you paying for work and them doing work, or you ordering a thing and them selling you a thing, that's awesome. I'm not trying to cheapen that in any way. Keeping your dollars local is, I think, a real commitment to your community - jobs, taxes, trail donations, taxes. And in my days working in shops, I've gotten along gangbusters with a flood of folks whose only compensation beyond paying the bill is sharing their stoke for riding, a thank you, and a smile, and that's the best.

And if you don't have a bike mechanic, someone you know personally, who's looking after your stuff, I get it. And if your shop never goes that extra mile you really appreciate that can't be quantified with money alone, I get it. If you do most of your own wrenching and you never drop in for some free advice or some help getting out of a jam of your own creation, I get it. If they never take the time to rob a broken derailleur for that pulley wheel you can't find anywhere or dig out a stashed replacement for that stupid proprietary bolt you lost, or say "you know, I might have one of those in my collection at home," or to pull over on the side of the trail when they see you and grab a spare spacer out of their pack to sort out your buddy with the loose headset, I get that too. Even if your bike mechanic is you, this could be a helpful guide when you're looking for a way, big or small, to say thank you for going the extra mile to making that riding experience amazing.

And also, though it makes my teeth hurt to have to point this out, the following is intended to be cheeky.

LEGO Minions

Bicycles are, in many ways, adult LEGO but that's only one part of the connection between the iconic Danish blocks and the person working on your bike. Did you know it's an absolutely proven fact that all bike mechanics love LEGO? Craig, the best mechanic I've ever worked with, has an epic collection. Jeff Bryson's shop always has a bucket hidden within easy reach. My friend Mandy is insane for LEGO Technics. I could keep typing all day.

Even mechanics who don't keep a stash on hand would readily drop whatever they're doing to play LEGO at any time. You think the floor staff in the shop are paying extra attention to your kids because they're nice people? Maybe, but they're also making sure that your progeny didn't smuggle in any tiny plastic distractions.

It's also, as I understand it, why major service centers have shipping receiving departments separate from the workshops. Imagine what would happen if SRAM mailed a 5000-piece Lego Star Destroyer to the Fox service center in the middle of the spring and the techs got their hands on it!

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Kevin, Stuart, and Bob take seconds to assemble and give your mechanic some sympathetic friends to complain to when they open the internal routing port of your frame and 2L of greasy sludge pours onto their shoes.

LEGO Minions are, on the other hand, a perfect gift to say thanks for straightening my derailleur hanger on my way to my ferry reservation, again. It shows you recognize that all (all!) bike mechanics love LEGO, they take only seconds to assemble, and now your mechanic will have some sympathetic friends at work when they're listening to a question about legacy SRAM compatibility and reach down to pick up that pivot bolt they just torched before hammering out. OUCH.

It's also a solid reminder of their role in your life. After all, you're the super-villain - #SCOFFLAWS! - out shredding through the woods, flying through the air, dressed like Darth Vader performing Ziggy Stardust at the Superbowl and they're the Minions bolting on the replacement parts. But then, if you can't track down some Minions, don't stress. Any LEGO is a solid win in your mechanic's eyes.

For your own safety, if you're planning to drop by a little LEGO-related thank you during the busy season be certain to take it out of the packaging and preassemble it first. If the shop owner sees you dropping off a cardboard box with LEGO printed on it you're liable to get banned for life!

Doughnuts

Oh, magical doughnuts. They come in as many different shapes, sizes, and personalities as bike mechanics do. There are classic doughnuts, like those from my local, Harmony Donuts on Upper Lonsdale that go beautifully with a hand-crafted steel frame. There are full-on doughnuts like those from Honey's that pair well with a squeezed-in bearing overhaul on a big multi-pivot bike like a MegaTower or an Enduro.

There are sophisticated new age doughnuts like Lucky's that are "genuinely delicious" (and really, they are) but maybe trying to use slick marketing to fix something that isn't broken. Like a company choosing to spec bladed, direct pull, spokes on a sweet, carbon, Enduro wheelset. They're a nice remedy for that look your mechanic gives you when you neglected to share the details of said wheel configuration when they agreed over the phone to have a "quick" last-minute look at the very end of their day. And finally, there is always the gigantic I'm-going-to-hate-myself-in-an-hour-after-I-eat-all-of-these' box of Timbits-esque mini-doughnuts because let's face it, that poor sod behind the tools is a total glutton for sweet, sweet, punishment.

Doughnuts are a great way to say "I'm sorry about the state of my bicycle, I came straight from a ride" or "thank you for noticing my lock-on grips were deadly-loose when you were just installing a tire" or even "you were totally right: resetting the air pressure in my suspension every week is an amazing upgrade to my ride experience."

Really, they're the assorted deep fried gift for any occasion.

Donut Harmony NSMB AndrewM.jpg

The classic Harmony is poised like a handcrafted steel hardtail. Photo: Harmony

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The full-on Honey's takes the hits like a carbon MegaTower. Photo: Honey's

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The refined Lucky's lineup shifts gears like a fresh AXS drivetrain. Photo: Lucky's

RaceFace Torres Riding Shirt

I admit, when I first saw the Torres jersey I laughed. I smiled. I laughed some more. I mean, who writes this stuff:

" Let your personality shine on like a diamond in our new Torres Button Up riding shirt."

And yeah, I know, it's starting to get more than a bit pricey up in this list but can you really put a price on brightening the disposition of the bicycle mechanic doing so much to brighten yours? I mean, yes, yes, you can, and if that price is around 61 USD / 80 CAD then here's an option that I virtually guarantee no one else has picked up for them.

The same features that make it good for riding - "the performance fabric keeps things cool with subtle perforations for increased airflow. The flow continues on or off the bike with the fresh sublimated floral graphics, quality snap buttons, and stretch fabric." - also makes it perfect for turning wrenches in a confined space, while wearing a mask, in a heatwave!

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Grumpy, standoffish, bike mechanic. Pre-Torres.

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Happy, inviting, bike mechanic. Post-Torres.

I wear the Torres regularly, over a merino base layer, when spending the day working on bikes and it's really comfy and gets lots of comments. Some of them are even remotely funny. The same goes for cruising down to the park for some outdoor brews. I'm more of a subtle All-Day-Henley sort when it comes to mountain bike, but I figure the shirt is essential safety equipment on my commuter?

And who knows, your wrench is going to look like they're having so much fun doing that rush internal-routing cable replacement job they may actually start having fun too!

Safety Wire Pliers + Wire

Mechanics love, love tools. You'd love, love some properly installed, wired-up push-on grips. Here's a chance to sew the seeds for an endless crop of installations. I wired grips for years before getting a set of proper safety wire pliers and they're a positive joy to use. I wish I'd bought them a decade ago. Your favourite wrench will think of you every time they use them.

I couldn't find a pair locally in North Vancouver so ended up buying them local-ish, online from Gnarly Parts in Chilliwack. A quick Google search will set you up with plenty of options for your preferred purchasing methodology. I think a lot more mechanics would get joy out of a glue-and-wire grip job if they were pulling out a nifty tool to do it!

Wiring PushOn Grips NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

Fun to use.

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A pro looking wind.

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Doesn't that all-rubber grip look comfy?

The controls on most bikes these days can be removed without sliding off the grips, so why not ditch that hard plastic inner sleeve and get the full-thickness in squishy yet supportive rubber? There are some almost universally loved push-on winners like the Sensus Swayze or Chromag Wax so there's really limited risk involved in trying out push-ons.

Pricing varies all over the internet, my setup was about 40 CAD for a pair of pliers and a bail of wire. The Tusk pliers are very nicely made, fun, and very easy to use. I've already installed a half-dozen grips and I suspect they'll be in my toolbox forever.

Ablutions

Patrick deWitt's book Ablutions is wonderfully written, darkly-darkly funny, dirty and damaged, and at times pretty f***ing vicious. It's fully engaging from cover to cover and if you've cultivated an impenetrably black sense of humour, having survived working retail in any industry, this book will actually still reach out and tickle you. It is a take on below-rock-bottom though so be warned it's not for the faint of heart.

It's not a very long read, the first time I picked up my used copy was at Powell's Bookstore in Portland. I picked it up and proceeded to stand there reading it cover-to-cover with my mouth slightly agape. I've enjoyed reading and re-reading Patrick deWitt's other books as well but this is my favourite and I sit down with it at least once a year.

I really wasn't sure what to pull for a brief excerpt but this is tame and also, I think demonstrates deWitt's tone and rhythm without giving anything away:

"He is full of mystery and a looming evil but the strangest thing about Raymond is his choice of shoes. The first time you see them you burst out laughing and leave the room for fear you will offend him. Later you tell Raymond how much you like the shoes and ask if he would mind you sketching them (you are an amateur artist) and he makes a grand gesture of your request, loaning them to you on the spot and walking off into the night barefoot."

Absolutions Book NSMB AndrewM.jpg

Patrick deWitt's Ablutions is beautifully written and rough, and dirty, and ugly as... it's dark and darkly funny, or maybe that's sickly funny. Your bike mechanic will love it.

Cheers

For many people, a bike shop is just another business they deal with on a semi-regular basis like buying ginch, food, overpriced t-shirts, or having the oil changed in their car. Hopefully one that pays a living wage and donates to trail associations, but really as long as they have the right size of shoes and can straighten a bent rotor or derailleur hanger they're getting a few bucks tossed their way.

For others, a bicycle shop is a lot closer to being thought of in the same terms as a local pub or coffee shop than say a hardware store or car dealership. That is to say, you're in there almost every week and all the staff know your name. Some of them are DIY home mechanics paying for an education by working on their own bike by screwing stuff up (we've all been there), some of them are folks who ride all the time and want help keeping their rigs running, and I'm certain I'm not even scratching the surface with those two categories.

In either event, I'll be ostracized if I don't note that if you ever feel like saying thank you above-and-beyond paying the bill and passing on a recommendation to friends, beer or coffee will absolutely be appreciated. And if booze isn't the memorable cheers you're looking for, you now have a few of my ideas. I'd love to hear yours.

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Comments

velocipedestrian
+4 Andrew Major colemaneddie Matt Lee Tjaard Breeuwer
Velocipedestrian  - July 5, 2021, 3:28 a.m.

Those doughnuts look amazing. And as the only non-drinker in the shops I worked in, I would have been stoked to see them appear of a Friday afternoon.

Instead I generally watched my co-workers drink cheap beer delivered in response to my last minute bodging. Oh well.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 5, 2021, 4:18 a.m.

You are certainly not alone. The number of wrenches I know who don’t drink… sure it’s the thought that counts but then there’s also the other staff circling you like vultures because they know you’re not drinking that craft liquid. 

Don’t see much cheap beer on the shore these days. Most riders and mechanics aren’t beer snobs per-say… but actually they are.

Reply

Nelson1111
+1 Andrew Major Derek Baker Greg Bly
Just Askin  - July 10, 2021, 3:53 p.m.

Same here, my mechanic doesn't drink - and I only learned that after years of dropping off beer that everyone else was drinking.  And I'm not saying donuts aren't nice (again my mechanic wouldn't eat one), but what's wrong with a cash tip?  Would you leave donuts as a tip for your waiter?  It seems we tip everyone these days, and it starts at 15% for serving up a coffee or beer.  With the min wage in Canada at $15, most mechanics aren't making much more.  Think abotu the skills a good mechanic has, and things they catch that prevent you stuck on the side of the trail with a mechanical.  Further, think about it - when you need a rush - I'll bet they remember a good tipper.  Tipping is about service - if you've got a good mechanic why aren't we tipping in cash like we do for all other service providers?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 11, 2021, 6:59 a.m.

I can’t argue with any of your points and certainly minimum wage has been creeping up faster than shop wages.

Reply

Nelson1111
0
Just Askin  - July 10, 2021, 3:53 p.m.

Same here, my mechanic doesn't drink - and I only learned that after years of dropping off beer that everyone else was drinking.  And I'm not saying donuts aren't nice (again my mechanic wouldn't eat one), but what's wrong with a cash tip?  Would you leave donuts as a tip for your waiter?  It seems we tip everyone these days, and it starts at 15% for serving up a coffee or beer.  With the min wage in Canada at $15, most mechanics aren't making much more.  Think abotu the skills a good mechanic has, and things they catch that prevent you stuck on the side of the trail with a mechanical.  Further, think about it - when you need a rush - I'll bet they remember a good tipper.  Tipping is about service - if you've got a good mechanic why aren't we tipping in cash like we do for all other service providers?

Reply

Bikeryder85
+3 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman Matt Lee
Bikeryder85  - July 5, 2021, 5:09 a.m.

I agree with this, I worked in a dry shop, so it was understood to not bring beer, I was never good enough to get a gift anyway though, lol...the shop I worked in, however, were full of coffee snobs, and man do I love some good coffee! The owner would regularly get some, the doughnuts would have went great with whatever he had brewing in the back!

Great series of articles Andrew!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - July 5, 2021, 7:12 a.m.

I’ve been in lots of shops with coffee snobs but I’ve never heard of a dry shop. I’m beyond intrigued. Something the owner put in place? Decided by staff? If you prefer you can always drop me a message instead of replying here (if it’s a sensitive topic). 

And yeah, a Harmony Doughnut and good, strong coffee is a solid win.

Reply

Bikeryder85
+2 Andrew Major nothingfuture
Bikeryder85  - July 6, 2021, 2:44 a.m.

Hey Andrew, the community here is very small so I PM'd you on the off chance someone doesn't want it aired out here.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2021, 7:10 a.m.

Really appreciate the message/conversation; Thank You.

Reply

AlanB
+1 Andrew Major
AlanB  - July 7, 2021, 10:36 p.m.

I've heard that many espresso machine techs are former bike wrenches. I get it. Both jobs are driven by passion.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - July 8, 2021, 7:18 p.m.

I've actually met two espresso techs that, while never having worked in a shop, were very competent happy home bicycle mechanics. And I've only met two espresso techs so that's 100%!

Reply

AverageAdventurer
+5 Andrew Major cornedbeef Bikeryder85 Pete Roggeman Tjaard Breeuwer
AverageAdventurer  - July 5, 2021, 6:50 a.m.

Solid article; while I've never said no to beer I often found myself running out to grab a cinnamon bun or craft soda to include the dry guys in post work festivities. 

With that said; a handwritten card always made even the most bitter mechanics day. While they may not say much about it at the time you'll find it a few years later in their garage.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Derek Baker
Andrew Major  - July 5, 2021, 7:15 a.m.

Cheers! I’m impressed by your empathy. I know a fair few dry shop folks and they generally get the stick when it comes to those extra little thanks for their effort. 

Notes from kids are the best.

Reply

tavaset
+8 Andrew Major cornedbeef grcgrc Pete Roggeman Zowsch Konrad Tjaard Breeuwer Derek Baker
tavaset  - July 5, 2021, 8:42 a.m.

I was just dropping in to same the same thing. Whenever my kid's bike goes to the shop he draws/writes a card to thank the service tech for helping him out. And he comes up with me to pick the bike up so he can say thank you in person. Showing kids that it's important to appreciate the labour of others has always been important to me.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 Pete Roggeman Tjaard Breeuwer Derek Baker
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2021, 7:22 a.m.

Cheers! This is lovely and amazing. I also think it's really important. Since my wee one was very little I've made the effort to get her to talk to the people that sell her/us things, and fix our things, and etc. Communicating with strangers is such an important life skill. 

The cards are next level too!

-

We get quite a few tween/teen kids through the door whose parent(s) are just hanging in the car waiting. Some browse, some have a nervous question, the odd one gets comfortable enough after a few visits to have chat even.

I don't know if it's the epic screen time or some isolating factor but kids don't seem to be as good at talking to adults as they were even a decade ago. I have had some great interactions though. I think my favourite was a teen who rode his bike across to North Vancouver to pick his fork up at SuspensionWerx because his parents couldn't drive him on the day it was done:

"hey, I'm not old enough to buy beer but I really appreciate that I can ride this weekend so I just grabbed everything my dad had in his fridge, put it in my backpack, and rode across town with it, so it might be shaken and warm"

I wrote a little 'tears in the rain' style monolog about it if you're interested.

Reply

metagreywacke
+3 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman Derek Baker
metagreywacke  - July 5, 2021, 1:55 p.m.

Ooh yeah, the shop I wrenched at for a while had some cards hanging in corners that go back at least a decade. Clients probably didn't see them, but they stayed up forever.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 5, 2021, 1:59 p.m.

That’s cool! That stuff matters.

Reply

MTBrent
+2 Beau Miller Andrew Major
MTBrent  - July 5, 2021, 9:34 a.m.

On a side note, what’s the feedback on those Chromag Wax grips?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 5, 2021, 1:55 p.m.

I think they’re great but prefer the Swayze, my wife is very happy with them so far. I have friends who prefer them over the Swayze and vice-versa but don’t know of a single person who dislikes either.

Reply

WalrusRider
+1 Andrew Major
WalrusRider  - July 6, 2021, 10:03 a.m.

Are the wax or Swayze grips thicker than something such as the Renthal push-ons? I love the grip of the Renthal Ultra tacky but I have decent-sized hands and they were very thin. My hands would start hurting from the grips having such a small circumference. It started to feel like I was gripping a bare bar after a while.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2021, 10:06 a.m.

The Swayze feels a bit thicker than the Renthal and the Wax feels a bit thicker than the Swayze. If you're looking for real thick meats for your hand heels then WolfTooth's grip line may be worth a browse.

If you're close to the right fit, you can sleeve rubber push-on grips over a wrap of electrical tape to get a bit of extra girth.

Reply

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - July 5, 2021, 2:32 p.m.

I can't speak for Andrew but they're my favorite grips by far. Safety wire pliers are an absolute godsend as well!  NB - I've not actually tried the Swayze - perhaps I ought to branch out a bit...

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 khai
Andrew Major  - July 5, 2021, 2:46 p.m.

You have to try the Swayze! And the Renthal Ultra Tacky! Only once you’ve tried the three best regular grips on the market can you truly know the power of choice. Hahahaha

Reply

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - July 5, 2021, 2:52 p.m.

Looks like I need to go shopping...

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 5, 2021, 6:31 p.m.

Hahahaha. That’s me, pumping up the bike industry one pair of push-on grips at a time!

Reply

Lornholio
+1 Andrew Major
Lornholio  - July 6, 2021, 4:08 a.m.

Sensus wore out twice as quick for me. I’m sticking to classic mushroom style. Usually Longnecks but DMR Sect are great too and come with a smaller flange so no need to trim.

I keep meaning to buy safety wire pliers and always say “next grip change I’ll get some”. New bike build next week and I still don’t have any. Next grip change I’ll get some.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2021, 7:28 a.m.

Definitely do not try the Renthal Ultra Tacky then! They cut the life of the Sensus in half. It's funny, I mean the Sensus grips do wear down pretty quick but I don't think they're any worse than lock-ons I've used (in terms of usable life - not just holding on to the hard plastic inner sleeve as some folks do) so I always think of them as a great value but the rubber is softer/thinner than the Wax so in that regard the Wax certainly lasts much longer. 

I was exactly the same. Now that I have Safety Wire Pliers though I kick myself for not jumping on that float sooner.

Shoreloamer
+5 Andrew Major metagreywacke cornedbeef Pete Roggeman Matt Lee
Greg Bly  - July 5, 2021, 10:04 a.m.

Bike shops are one of the last places where people who own the business listen and really want to help. 

They are a much appreciated community service. 

Many times I've needed an esoteric part for my vintage steeds that I still ride , abuse , break and keep maintaining. 

How much I ask ? Oh it's junk you can have it.  I always say. You don't make money that way and throw them a five or ten spot. That money doesn't really make a huge dent. 

It's my way of saying . You support me and my bike then I support you and your family. 

My hats off to all bike shop owners and employee s . 

Don't forget trail builders. Digger has a passion for donuts I believe.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Greg Bly Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - July 5, 2021, 1:58 p.m.

Hahahaha. I can confirm, I’ve stood next to Digger at a wet, wet and cold, cold trail day, many years back, when OnTop Bike Shop brought the mini-donut machine.

Reply

Hollytron
+10 metagreywacke Mammal Drew Anderson cornedbeef grcgrc Lu Kz Pete Roggeman Andrew Major Matt Lee Tjaard Breeuwer
Hollytron  - July 5, 2021, 1:07 p.m.

Cash money tip is always is the best. Also the most easily shared with the rest of the team. The shop that I work at does this and we usually just get a huge meal or throw some kind of party with the pooled cash. 

Also no one ever wants a weed tip, save yr nuggs.

Reply

Jotegir
+3 Andrew Major Matt Lee Tjaard Breeuwer
Lu Kz  - July 6, 2021, 6:46 a.m.

I'm not really one to smoke, but the wrenches at my shop would always complain that the weed tips were lousy home grown stuff that was dry and sub-par. They were always much happier when one of their old-guy long term customers dropped off a whopping big bag of wethers originals! Cash was of course always nice.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Lu Kz Greg Bly
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2021, 7:33 a.m.

Cash is a tip, not a gift so no argument that it's great but maybe conveys a different sentiment? Actually, I guess beer is often thought of as a tip too, though that's rarely where my mind goes when someone drops a case off. I usually associate tips more as being a social expectation than a genuine thank you.

Reply

Jotegir
+3 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer Greg Bly
Lu Kz  - July 6, 2021, 7:51 a.m.

It certainly feels different. When someone gives us some cash as a thank you or tip or whatever, we appreciate it certainly, but we probably don't remember. But the customer who drops off a home made cake, knife to cut it with, as well as plates and forks to be picked up with his bike? Yeah, we still talk about that guy even though he moved away several years ago.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Greg Bly
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2021, 8:16 a.m.

Exactly what I mean to say, thanks!

Reply

datboyPAP
+2 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer
Drew Anderson  - July 5, 2021, 4:41 p.m.

As a long time shop employee these are all cute and fun ideas but nothing beats cash (though that article is obviously less interesting to read). LEGO and beer don't pay the bills. I hope it doesn't come across as callous or rude but after reading several articles of this type over the years it seems to go unspoken.

Cards and heartfelt thanks for saving your ride/trip/ass are savored and appreciated but next time you want to drop by with your favorite Belgian Tripel, save the trip to the store and just kick us the 10 bucks.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Lu Kz
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2021, 7:39 a.m.

I don't think that's callous; it depends on the circumstance but as I mentioned in my reply to Lu Kz above, I think of cash as a tip - more of a social expectation than a gift given as a genuine thank you - and certainly there is not a culture of tipping when it comes to the person working on your bike v. other services. Though I suppose many people consider the beer they drop off to be a 'tip' as well so I'm probably just being naive/romantic. As you say, it certainly makes for a more interesting article (I hope). 

Certainly, there have been times in my life, shops that I've worked at, where a cash bumper from a customer could make a big difference to my week but they're so few and far between in the bike world it's hardly something you can count on - certainly not at any store I've worked at.

Reply

IslandLife
+1 Lu Kz
IslandLife  - July 5, 2021, 4:52 p.m.

Porno mag and one of those Dairy Queen silver dollars?  Or am I still living in 1996...

Reply

Jotegir
+2 Andrew Major IslandLife
Lu Kz  - July 6, 2021, 6:43 a.m.

Our shop manager is also still living in 1996 and I think this tip would make him extremely happy.

Reply

andy-eunson
+3 Andrew Major Lu Kz Matt Lee
Andy Eunson  - July 5, 2021, 6:10 p.m.

There was this one time, in June, on a Saturday, when buddy comes in with a pair of wheels that needed a true. “Could these be done today? Shop goes silent. A case of a dozen beer is pushed forward on the floor by the customers foot. “I’ll ask the head mechanic”. I said. Asked the head mechanic who wore his glasses at the end of his nose to see. “Are you daft?” he says. I reveal the case of beer. Moment of silence. “3 o’clock OK?

At times we would indicate that the bakery two doors down from West Point had delicious coffee rings. And there was a cookie shop across the street. Food and beer greased our wheels when I worked at West Point in the early 80s.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 Lu Kz Andy Eunson Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2021, 7:42 a.m.

If I'm being honest (rather than attempting to be entertaining) I don't think that much has changed really. At any shop that's servicing bikes that people want to ride NOW, there is going to be friction and lubrication.

Reply

Jotegir
+4 Andrew Major Matt Lee Andy Eunson Tjaard Breeuwer
Lu Kz  - July 6, 2021, 7:59 a.m.

A "friend" of the owner (not really a personal friend but more of a name dropper every time "oh I talked to Steve before I came down and he said XXXX...") is on our shitlist for telling me that if we got his bike done next day before his race he'd bring us beer. He picks the bike up at open the next morning, won't make eye contact with me (I'm helping another customer at the time, sales that day) and leaves. No beer. 

You're still on the shitlist, wherever you are, guy.

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AndrewMajor
+3 Lu Kz Andy Eunson Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2021, 8:08 a.m.

HAHAHA, I have a buddy who, it turns out, stiffed a shop once after making some bold promises related to getting a bunch of work done right before a trip (he totally blanked). A few years later I was there hanging out for work, drinking a beer that someone had dropped off, and they're talking about this legendary guy who f***ed them over before a trip after they all stayed late getting him running, and who still comes in, and just all the factors added up and I knew it was him. 

I hummed and hawed but in the end, I found some way to tell him and the look on his face was amazing. Zero excuses or anything - he just knew in the moment he'd done f***ed up. In the end, he had a sort of bemused moment where he decided it was either show up with interest or never darken their door again and he did the right thing.

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AndrewMajor
+3 Pete Roggeman Lu Kz Matt Lee
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2021, 8:14 a.m.

Also, if I owned a shop on the North Shore - not saying I have what it takes to start/own/run a successful bike shop, so this isn't intended as advice for anyone else on how to do things - it would celebrate cheekiness (again, it might not make any money) and up near the front door there would be a big sign that would say something like:

__________

All Customers Treated Equally:

We Don't Care Who You Are.

We Don't Care Who You Think You Are.

We Don't Care How Much Money You Have.

&, We Don't Care If You Know Wade Simmons.

__________

I just feel like there are too many folks who need to hear that / see that when they come into a shop and don't.

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pete@nsmb.com
+2 Andrew Major Lu Kz
Pete Roggeman  - July 6, 2021, 9 a.m.

Imagine what Wade would say when he walks through the door to make a sales call?

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AndrewMajor
+1 Lu Kz
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2021, 9:16 a.m.

Hahahaha, oh, I have!

All the love for Wade, he just gets name dropped more than any other three Shore legends put together.

andy-eunson
+1 Andrew Major
Andy Eunson  - July 7, 2021, 9:03 a.m.

Some places in the world, like Moab, have shops that are open all night to do repairs overnight. In tourist Mecca’s it’s very different because travellers only bring basic tools if any. I always thought that in the thick of riding season this overnight service made sense.

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khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - July 7, 2021, 9:09 a.m.

You can get work done overnight in Whistler

AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - July 8, 2021, 7:16 p.m.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 8, 2021, 7:16 p.m.

We looked at running a night shift once in a shop I worked at in North Vancouver. It came from looking at the $/sqft and how you do more work without taking on a bigger lease. It's really inefficient to run a 10-6 business but it also comes down to staffing for more hours in the current labour market.

grcgrc
+1 Andrew Major
grcgrc  - July 5, 2021, 8:56 p.m.

Other trinkets for your favourite mechanic are little tools they may not have or have not gotten around to purchasing yet. Brought in a couple of extra EVT nipple loading tools for my favourite mechanics. They were stoked to receive them.

I have also brought in T's with cool logos from stores I check out while travelling.

p.s. For grips Wolftooth Fat Paws & Fat Paw Maxis are my current go-tos. Fit my fat hands nicely.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - July 6, 2021, 7:43 a.m.

Things like those EVT nipple loaders are exactly the cool kind of stuff folks don't buy for themselves but cherish as a gift. Great one!

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Lornholio
+5 Lu Kz Andrew Major Matt Lee grcgrc Tjaard Breeuwer
Lornholio  - July 6, 2021, 3:55 a.m.

Former ski shop worker here. At my first two shops we had more beer sitting around than we knew what to do with between December-April.  A couple of times I was asked to take some extra home for friends just to make space. Home baking was always the best, and meant more to us than cash.

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AndrewMajor
+3 Lu Kz grcgrc Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2021, 7:45 a.m.

The culture of beer-jobs in a ski shop is way more ingrained/expected than any bike shop I've seen. I couldn't believe it! The jockeying (and bumping) for position in the queue is much more blatant where the bike shop generally won't bump anyone for beer so it comes down to whether they can squeeze you in or someone will stay late.

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bart
+1 Andrew Major
bart  - July 8, 2021, 8:08 a.m.

I've been lucky enough to have had Honey's shipped overnight to me and could not have been happier!  Also the time I had Schwartz's Smoked meat with a loaf of Rye Bread and a bottle of Mustard delivered was plain Epic!  The most recent tip was a really super nice bottle of Olive Oil.  The thought that went behind these will be remembered for much longer than beer.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - July 8, 2021, 7:13 p.m.

Honey's shipped overnight! That's epic.

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eyemantra
+1 Andrew Major
eyemantra  - July 9, 2021, 11:11 p.m.

I agree with this,  I loved reading your post. 

Great series of articles Andrew

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - July 13, 2021, 9:46 a.m.

Cheers!

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - July 13, 2021, 9:46 a.m.

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ridestuff
+1 Andrew Major
Derek Baker  - July 12, 2021, 7:46 p.m.

Doughnuts got me my first bike shop job! I was so nervous and excited (also a spazz lol!), my dad said bring'em a fresh dozen to say hello. But make sure you show up early, so the service team gets first dibs. Worked like a charm.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - July 13, 2021, 9:47 a.m.

That's a great story. Thanks for sharing! Are you still working in shops?

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Bushpilot
+1 Andrew Major
Bushpilot  - July 18, 2021, 7:34 p.m.

Those safety wire pliers are amazing!  Thank you! I ordered some from Gnarly after reading this and just wired my Renthal grips.  Took 1/100 the time it used to take me to do it by hand.  Worth every penny.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - July 18, 2021, 9:51 p.m.

Time saver and the wind is absolutely better than anything I managed by hand.

Cheers, glad you like them.

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Bushpilot
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Bushpilot  - July 18, 2021, 7:34 p.m.

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