Ask the trade: Is the bike industry charging enough for its service work?

Following quickly on from our questioning on how our panel arrives at their own shop pricing, this week CI.N asks simply, are front line workshops charging enough for their servicing. Read on for the opinions of five very different businesses…

Should the industry be charging more for its servicing?

Alan Shaw, Garage Bikes

Oh hell yes! We’ve been undercharging for years. We have a problem in the UK as most of the general public see bikes as just toys and certain segments of club riding think that we’re ripping them off because we’re “only doing what they can do in the garage at home”. I do think as an industry we mostly charge too little. But I think there’s an attitude of not wanting to blink first and being seen as “expensive”.

David Lucas, Bike Spanner 

Is there an industry standard? I don’t think so. For instance, we charge £80 for a winter service and it includes a lot of tasks. Another local workshop charges £20 and it’s little more than a gear tune and lube. So it’s hard to assess actual prices because most workshops don’t advertise their individual task prices.

What I have found is that poor mechanics tend to massively over charge for what they do, believing, incorrectly, that the simple jobs that can do are actually really hard and so warrant a high price. Whereas the highly skilled mechanics tend to undercharge. I believe because they have been doing the job for a long time many simply got used to low pay.

To answer your question, I’d say historically the industry used to massively undervalue it’s servicing, but now with so many new entrants over the last few years it’s hard to tell if this is still the case. I recently saw a price list for a new workshop start up. I know the individual involved has limited ability, but has been on a couple of courses and so has a few certificates. His pricing works out at about £50-60 an hour, which in my opinion is excessive.

Roman Magula, London Green Cycles

I think there is an unusually great scope of prices across London’s bike workshops which proves that there is demand and justification for both extremes, I’d consider that a healthy environment.

Neil Holman, George Halls Cycle Centre

Yes, we work on £20 per hour.

Our trouble is the sheds and supermarkets have made the bicycle so cheap it has lost its worth. If you go to a car garage you expect to pay £50 for the mechanic just to pop the bonnet. You get a washing machine guy out and again expect to pay £25 just for the privilege. If you quote the average person £75 for a bicycle repair the comment that comes back is “I can buy a new bike for that”.

Howard Wagstaff, Pedal and Spoke

I think it depends. Personally I think it’s very often quite expensive.