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Ice Toolz
Due to the general lack of interest a lot of bike shops seem to have for subletting work from other shops, I'm thinking about investing in headset reaming, crown race facing & BB thread chasing & facing tools.
A lot of $ for little use, but lots of shops who do it want to install the headsets & bottom brackets as well. "I don't do work for other shops so they can just mark up the price & claim the work as their own" is what I've heard...
How does the Ice Toolz brand stack up against the others?
Regards, George
A glance at Amazon seems to appear that most of their tools mentioned are comparably priced to Park's, but I don't know the quality or reliability. I've never used them.

I'm a bit confused. Are you complaining that bike shops won't do work for other bike shops? If so, why are you complaining? They are competitors. As competitors, they can and do try to undercut prices for the advantage of getting more business (and lowering overall prices as well). If they "worked" together, then they could be accused of setting prices, which is illegal here in the U.S. (monopolistic).

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I've been in the automotive business for 37 years. There's competition between shops, yes, but also cooperation.

Example: I'm an independent shop owner working on a Mercedes that needs an air conditioning evaporator. It's a big job. I can do it, but the local dealer is much more experienced than me. I sublet the job to him, he's happy to get the work, I'm happy to get it done without tying me up for 3 days or so, the owner is happy to get his car back fixed.

Example: Customer buys a carbon frame set and takes it to the LBS for bottom bracket and headset work. LBS owner cops an attitude because the customer bought the frame elsewhere, and wants to assemble the bike himself. LBS takes 3-4 weeks to get around to it, and afterwards the owner has to take the bike somewhere else to get a couple things sorted out that were done poorly.

Sorry, I see a lot of example #2 in my neck of the woods. Maybe I'm naive....

I didn't mean to turn this into a discussion about business policy, it's just an observation. Too many shops seem to be interested in getting the whole pie, rather than being happy to get just a piece of it.

Regards, George
Yeah, I know how the auto repair industry works. My first job out of high school was with an auto parts store (40 years ago or so). Similarities to a bike shop would be outsourcing work due to high-dollar tools required for specific jobs. The biggest difference though is that people will be more likely to spend money for car repairs than bicycle repairs, it's more of a necessity in the eyes of most consumers. In-elasticity of demand in economics terms.

I doubt all bike shops are as obstinate as your experience, but I would start going with the shop that is capable of doing ALL the work properly.

There is another external factor that likely has a lot to do with that bike shop's attitude, the current economy.

I have seen a large percentage of bike shops going out of business in the last year (elasticity of demand again). So they are going to try and protect their business as best as they can, while keeping operating costs as low as possible. The owners that "cop an attitude" with their customers will be going out business faster than the others. Smile

I'm not confused now, thanks. Smile

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We're pretty much in agreement. I wish I didn't have to spend the money on high-dollar, occasional use tools in order to deliver good customer service.

I can't help thinking that many LBS's would do better with a more positive customer service attitude. I don't know what it's like in your world, but many people who I talk to complain about poor customer service. If they're not coming into the shop with an open wallet and lots of bucks to spend, many shops treat them poorly.
A friend of mine takes a very high dollar frame to a shop to get some work done, and the owner asks "Where'd you get that Chinese piece of junk?" Not, in my opinion, a good way to win over a new customer!

My opinion: If I buy the tools, I'll be happy to sublet for other small shops. Instead of doing 2 or 3 "chase & face" jobs a year, I'll pay the tool off faster doing 5 or 6 extras as "sublets", & it's good business for BOTH of us.
With all the "big box" stores out there flooding the market with bicycles and shoddy service, business should be good for small, customer-oriented shops.

Regards, George
Things are equally bad here as well. I stopped by a bike shop about a year ago looking to see what saddles he had for sale. I mentioned that the saddle he offered was priced almost as high as the Schwinn I bought from Craigslist. He is about my age so neither one of us were embarrassed about verbally expressing our true feelings to each other. One of his first statements was something about my junk bicycle from Craigslist. My side of the argument boiled down to something about paying inflated prices for equally valued products. Guess who won the argument?

Needless to say really, I won't go back and he lost a customer forever.

A more enterprising shop I know had a whole box full of used and NOS saddles they had replaced with new, for sale at reasonable prices, like $5 or so. They will certainly outlast the first guy.

Junkyard Tools rescued from the junkyard!
Do bicycle mechanics charge a similar amount to other tradesmen in the US?

Here in the UK, a carpenter, plumber, motor mechanic will charge £30.00 per hour and upwards. I've always fixed my own bikes, so I've no idea what the going rate is, but I imagine that if a bicycle mechanic charged a similar amount, when it gets to around 3 hours, his bill will be more than some people originally paid for the bicycle.

OK, you and I know, that a sub £100.00 or $100.00 bicycle is pretty useless, but the buyers of lower cost bicycles are just the sort of inexperienced cyclists that are most likely to need someone else to perform even the most basic of repairs or services, some of which can still be pretty fiddly and time consuming. In fact, working on cheaper, lower quality bicycles, is probably more difficult than better ones.

In any case, I wondered whether the number of super cheap bicycles had lowered their perceived value in the eyes of some consumers to the point that they are considered almost disposable. It would seem ridiculous spending 50 or 60 pounds or dollars to fix a 100 £/$ bicycle.

Even with dearer bicycles, the parts are much dearer to buy aftermarket than they are as part of a whole bicycle. There seem to be quite a few pricing oddities. For example, why is it nearly always cheaper to buy a ready made wheel than the components to make it yourself, and why is it cheaper to buy a new chainset than replace the chainrings?

Maybe strayed a little off topic there, sorry. Smile
(08-02-2010, 07:49 PM)xerxes Wrote:  Do bicycle mechanics charge a similar amount to other tradesmen in the US? . . . In any case, I wondered whether the number of super cheap bicycles had lowered their perceived value in the eyes of some consumers to the point that they are considered almost disposable. It would seem ridiculous spending 50 or 60 pounds or dollars to fix a 100 £/$ bicycle.

I don't know what bike shops charge for repairs. Never needed them. As far as bike values and disposable, in my opinion, the vast majority of people are unwilling to pay much more than $150 for a bicycle whether new or used. Bike enthusiasts are a different story and a much smaller group. I have been keeping track of data from Craigslist for classic road bikes. The median price offered is around $150 and the average price is around $210 for the Kansas City area. The dept store bikes I'm sure sell many more bikes than specialty bike shops typically charging 3 or 4 times as much.

And then when someone decides to sell their used dept store bike, usually around $25 and up, there are those of us like Bill and myself who are willing to buy them as long as we see that it is profitable to repair ourselves. When someone offers a free bike on Craigslist it is gone in less than a few hours.

The game changer in all this will be the future price of gasoline/petrol. Smile

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