Bike labour, how much does your bike shop charge?

by BananaDrama   June 30, 2009  

Last year, on my 10 mile commute to work I was unlucky enough to get a double blow out after hitting a pot hole, at speed, in traffic. I pushed it to a bike shop (Cycle surgery, West Hampstead) for them to repair while I continued to work on public transport - 2 buses there then 2 buses back to the shop to collect my bike and get home. I was shocked that 2 inner tubes (£5 each) and fitting cost me £26 total. £8 per wheel to change an inner tube! I want to support bike shops but this is believe to be taking the piss.

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That is a nonsense. Fitting a tube takes what 5 minutes max so thats nearly 100 quid an hour for something I was able to do aged 10! ...not to mention the markup on the tubes.
I read somewhere that bike shops in London have month long waiting list for bike servicing. God only knows what a London bike shop hits a gullible commuter for a service.
I buy from the internet 19 times out of 20 - I'd like to find a good local shop that I could be loyal to but it just doesn't exist so I've invested in tools as I've gone along and become fairly proficient and despite the odd costly mistake would say I've saved a fortune.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
30th June 2009 - 20:26


In labour cost terms it's cheaper for the customer to have the mechanic pop a new tube in a punctured wheel than arse around mending an old one, and for the people that wander into a bike shop demanding their punctures mended there and then it's quicker too, also from the mechanics point of view they have better things to do with their time than mend punctures, something any self-respecting bike owner over the age of ten should be able to do themselves.

Work in a bike workshop for a day and you'll see how tedious and time-consuming people coming in "Just wanting a puncture mending.." can become.

In your specific case, I'm speculating that if you had enough time to resort to public transport you'd have had enough time to pop two new tubes in yourself (or maybe just the one, surely you carry a spare tube with you on your 20 mile daily commute?), thereby saving yourself the labour charge, and for paying to have your bike clutter up a workshop for the day.

posted by LesBianchi [16 posts]
30th June 2009 - 22:07


Annoyingly I left the house with no tools or spare tubes. This was the only puncture I got in 2 years of riding 200 miles per week through London and it happened to be both wheels. Indeed, I know how to repair a puncture, in fact I learned this long before I was 10 years old. And, although a very easy task to perform is still a very important one none the less and one necessary to get my bike back on the road. My beef is that I had been charged per wheel and not by the hour. It was booked in to the workshop in the normal way and they had as long as they required to do the job. If I needed brake pads replaced would they charge me per pad?
I am hoping that LesBianchi has never worked as a mechanic in a bike shop before if bikes in for repair are classed as clutter? Also, 99% of the jobs are what any self-respecting bike owner should be able to perform and are merely time consuming.

BananaDrama's picture

posted by BananaDrama [42 posts]
1st July 2009 - 11:54

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By coincidence just been leafing through the latest edition of BikeBiz, the bike industry's trade mag, and whaddaya know! There's a feature on workshop charges.

Turns out £8 per wheel + tube is not way out of line, especially for London - Swinnerton Cycles charges £10 per wheel and they, I think, are in Stoke - all of the bike shops Bikebiz spoke to charged by the wheel too. One shop in Ellesmere port included the price of the tube in the £8.50 charge. The best value was Jakes Bikes in Bristol who charged £4 per wheel + tube cost - they are a repairs only business.

A full service ranged from £50+ parts in the Highlands through to £120 + parts, and none of the shops were in London. Oh, and a lot of 'em will charge more if your bike is mucky on the basis that they've got to clean it to make it mendable in the first place - which seems fair enough.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
1st July 2009 - 17:31


BananaDrama - it is exactly because I have worked as a mechanic in a bike-shop that I would class a bike brought in for puncture repair as 'clutter' especially if it gets in the way of previously booked bikes, but as you've only just mentioned that your bike was booked into a spare space then all well and good.

I am still a bit confused as to why you couldn't have bought two new tubes and asked for the loan of a bike pump (most bike-shops will have a tatty pump that they can loan customers) and get your bike up-and-running there and then. You could have saved yourself a lot of time, money and bother.

What you're paying for here is the convenience of inconveniencing someone else, especially as it's a job you can do yourself but can't be bothered or have stupidly left the necessary equipment at home.

What price that?

posted by LesBianchi [16 posts]
1st July 2009 - 23:01

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LesBianchi - harsh....but ultimately fair.

I think I too would have bought a couple of tubes and mended them in the carpark. I've cadged many a tool from the workshop of many a bike shop, as long as you stay in sight they are usually quite happy, especially if you just bought something from them.

Complicating matters since 1965

DaSy's picture

posted by DaSy [688 posts]
2nd July 2009 - 9:38


It was an expensive lesson learned. I should have just bought the tools and fixed it myself (they weren't willing to lend me anything).

BananaDrama's picture

posted by BananaDrama [42 posts]
2nd July 2009 - 13:54


No wonder people were so happy when I serviced/repaired their bikes for FREE as Dr.Bike during bike week. I was exhausted from pumping up so many tyres!

It's not just about the size of your cog.

TRs Blurb n Blog's picture

posted by TRs Blurb n Blog [270 posts]
2nd July 2009 - 13:59

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For me as a customer it just seems short sighted - I'm guessing BananaDream wont be back to that shop in a hurry but if they'd just put a couple of quid on top of the price of the tubes or offered up front to lend him the tools then he'd be back for more profitable purchases in the future.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
2nd July 2009 - 15:03


Try BikeADE mobile repait service - they (Ade) cycles to you in London and have fairly decent repair rates although would agree that getting a thiurd party to repair a puncture is asking for it. see

posted by 5milestogo [4 posts]
8th July 2009 - 11:19


I was charged 96 quid for a new chain and lx 9 spd cassette Surprise , at the time I never knew how cheap you could get stuff from chain reaction and the likes. Now I do everything myself, I have built up a decent array of tools and enjoy keeping my bikes clean and running good.
I think some bike shops build up a sort of mystical aura around jobs, but in reality most things are ok to do at home. I've found great advice from youtube and Sheldon Brown's, and as I've two bikes now, the pressure to get my commute bike on the road for the next day is gone. Plus side to doing your own repairs is also that you feel more confident on longer rides, the breakdown fear is reduced.


pandeiro's picture

posted by pandeiro [19 posts]
26th July 2009 - 9:29


Couldn't agree more: the big plus for me for doing it yourself is not the cost, as you often have to buy tools for whatever it is you're fixing. It's just the fact that you make yourself more confident about how bikes work, and more useful out on a ride. I've lost count of the number of times i've adjusted someone's gears out on a ride, it's a 30 second job but the gratitude you get it's like you've rescued them from a burning building or something Smile

also, if there's one thing i've learned from all the bike diy over the years it's that having the right tool for the job is about eight billion times better than trying to bodge it with some pliers and the mallet from your camping box. I draw the line at a headset press though Nerd Nerd

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7805 posts]
26th July 2009 - 22:10