to be or not to be...a bike mechanic - The Jockey Journal Board

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Old 12-17-2007, 04:42 PM   #1
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Default to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

I am considering starting wyotch this jan indaytona beach.Im sure there are a lot of mechanics on this board and I need to know if it is all right money and if it's worth going to school. All so if anyone has heard of or attended this school what do you think of it. I would like to spec in HD but Im looking for the money because some day it wuld be nice to have a shop and work for my self. Please leave your thoughts.
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Old 12-17-2007, 04:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

i am a broke mechanic/amature builder.... it's not glamerous, it aint like tv, and did i mention i'm broke.... but i love every minuete of it. working and ridin on motorbikes is one of the best things. dont do it for the money.... do it because motorbikes are a part of you. send me some money!
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Old 12-17-2007, 05:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

You should specialize in BMW if you want to make some real money, or crappy jap comfy cruisers. The baby boomers are coming on retirement and their gonna be riding/buying big cushy expensive crappy touring bikes.
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Old 12-17-2007, 05:37 PM   #4
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

Honestly, if you want to go to WyoTech, go for something in the car/truck field - either auto mechanics or autobody. Auto mechanics get payed quite a bit more than bike mechanics (at least up by me). If you go to school for cars, you'll get a good foundation for bikes, the rest you learn as you go. Get yourself a good paying job doing something you are interested in, but not something you enjoy as a hobby. As soon as you need to depend on your hobby turned profession to pay the bills, it stops being fun and becomes a JOB. At that point, what do you do to escape the tedium of your job? I'm speaking from my own experience, of course. I'm sure that there are guys who would disagree.
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Old 12-17-2007, 05:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

Hate to say this, but I currently have 4 buddies who went to WyoTech which one of them did the HD course. What they thought they would get paid versus what people were offering was two different things. All 4 went on to obtain degrees in other fields. Of course, like Rouser said, dont do for the money. My friends tried that route and none of them are in the fields they specalized in.
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Old 12-17-2007, 05:56 PM   #6
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

If you are going to go to a school for bikes fuck wyotech MMI is better. I went to AMI years ago before they sold out and, it was starting to get bad. i know plenty of people who go to Wyotech who come out not knowing a bike from their ass. MMI has Late and, early model harley and, if you are wanting to work in a dealership MMI has that Factory Cert. Do yourself a favor go to your local harley stealer and, ask how mabnt MMI graduates they have working for them and, howmany Wyotech students they have. I Do say it is all what you put in but, if the material they use to teach you with is inferior how can you go into the real world and, expect to make money? Check out MMI before you go the Wyotech route.
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Old 12-17-2007, 06:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

I went to MMI in AZ, was the best time of my life. I grad in 96. been working in H-D 11 years. And I love it. My dealer sends me back to school for update classes. They pay the bill. I will say money will be tight in the beginning. But in time you shoud(with side stuff) clear 40K year. I do and it seems ez. But im broke all the time cuz I cant stop buying biks. I need help. My 2 pennys.
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Old 12-17-2007, 06:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

I have 2 friends that graduated from MMI in AZ in the HD program. They each spent about 2-3 years working for HD dealers putting chrome parts on RUBs bikes and got screwed (made no money) at every dealer they worked at. Neither of them work on bikes anymore, one got a Structural Welding Cert and makes gates/fences or some shit and the other one works at an auto parts store.
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Old 12-17-2007, 06:28 PM   #9
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

i've always made decent money doing it, after the first 4 or 5 years or so of working in shitholes. like any other job...you take the good with the bad.
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Old 12-17-2007, 07:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

Quote:
Originally Posted by KnuckleBuster View Post
Honestly, if you want to go to WyoTech, go for something in the car/truck field - either auto mechanics or autobody. Auto mechanics get payed quite a bit more than bike mechanics (at least up by me). If you go to school for cars, you'll get a good foundation for bikes, the rest you learn as you go. Get yourself a good paying job doing something you are interested in, but not something you enjoy as a hobby. As soon as you need to depend on your hobby turned profession to pay the bills, it stops being fun and becomes a JOB. At that point, what do you do to escape the tedium of your job? I'm speaking from my own experience, of course. I'm sure that there are guys who would disagree.

While I am not a Motorcycle mechanic I am a Diesel Mechanic. And I would have to agree somewhat with KnuckleBuster. Some people dont want to be slaving away workin on shit at work only to come home and do it as well. There is a ton of work in the industrial industry i.e. Diesel, Construction Equip ETC. And the pay is decent. But one thing that you must know is they are expensive jobs. In addition to the tools I already owned Ive had to purchase about 2grand more when I started. Go to you favorite bike shop and ask the techs where they got there start. I would try to get a job as a janitor or parts guy and hang around with them and see what its all about and you might be able to weasle some OJT out of them. Whatever you decide just make an informed decision cause no one likes to work with someone and hear them bitch. Good Luck.

Chris
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Old 12-17-2007, 07:38 PM   #11
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

i graduated from AMI in feb of 2005. I was 30 and decided I needed to not wear a suit and tie anymore. I went in pretty green - didn't really know my ass from my elbow bike wise. Can't say I came out of there ready to fix every mechanical issue out there. In fact, AMI doesn't teach you all that much about diagnostics in general - how can they in 30 weeks or whatever? Guys on here have ben wrenching for that many YEARS, those are the guys to hang around.

That said, I don't regret my decision at all. I learned a ton. What you put is in what you get back. I had 2 industry jobs at $10 an hour. As people will attest, it is VERY difficult to make a living on $10/hr - esp up here in Boston. So I sold some bikes and decided to just do it as a hobby. If it ever develops into something more then I will be ecstatic. Until I feel confident enough to work on people's bikes, I am happy to have the knowledge I do and work on my own builds.

I learned a tremendous amount about the actual parts, how they work together, some simple diagnostic tests, etc etc. Combining that with a few builds has given me a fairly decent knowledge compared to a lot of the people who have to pay to put grips on. BUT it is stilla matter of practicing the skills and there is a world of difference between being the glorified parts-changer that AMI will develop you as (and I on't say that as a bad thing as that is a LOT of what the guys I know at dealerships do and they enjoy it) versus a real seasoned mechanic with seriosu diagnostic skills. That takes time and experience - but ya gotta start somewhere!
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Old 12-17-2007, 08:58 PM   #12
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

FWIW, I talked to a young guy the other day that had graduated from MMI recently. He said he couldn't get a job wrenching in our area that paid enough to keep his family from starving. He had factory certification for HD and BMW as well as the Jap stuff, and was making more money installing harwood floors than he could working in a shop. I would have liked to have him work for me, but I'm not even making enough money to pay myself right now.
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Old 12-17-2007, 09:27 PM   #13
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

I'd go the Automotive machine route. That way your not dicking around changing pipes and handlebars or chasing some weird gremlin. Just boring, honeing, milling, balancing, etc. But if you do go the MMI route, take the vintage courses, Not enough guys with experience working of old stuff. That's the way you';; be able to go into business for yourself. but then, what do I know?......
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Old 12-17-2007, 09:48 PM   #14
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

Hotsos thinks you should aim toward the retiring babyboomers.

Forget it. Most of them aren't going to be doing enough repair work to keep you alive. The babyboomers on this forum grew up in a motor generation and can mostly take care of their own bikes -- they may not be awesome with Linux or Ruby on Rails, but they can keep a gas or diesel engine going. The others are going to take their bike into the dealer, and you might as well have any 9-5 job as working for one of them.

Right now the world is turning up-side-down, so if you're interested in being a bike mechanic do it. Just don't think it's going to be forever. Be nimble, be quick and have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift.

Everything you learn you use all your life, so follow your spirit.

(I'm kinda a hippie still.)
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Old 12-17-2007, 09:48 PM   #15
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

I learned everything I know "shade tree" style - Through owning several different cars over the years and not having enough money to pay someone else to fix'em - the basic engine knowledge transfers to bikes. - and as stated, Diagnostics is the most important mechanics tool....

I've worked a gig as a motorcycle mechanic - tiny paychecks as mentioned, and a majority of what you do there is tire, spark plug, and oil changes... and the "can you make my 70's bike all easy turn key and go - like a modern jap bike" and the "don't go over $100 fixing it" dipshits - but when it comes down to actual mechanics - my diagnostics ability gave me the edge over the other previous bike "mechanic" I replaced at that shop - and my fearlessness of working on a bike without a manual...

The shop eventually got to where the raise they promised me basically turned into a pay cut - paying me the equivalent of $200 a month to continue working there - so I packed my tools and split - went back to being an electrician/ low volt controls guy... and just fixing others bikes (by word of mouth) now and then for spare cash...

I have to say, I entirely enjoyed working there... Even the oil change bikes merited a "test ride" - and nothing beats getting paid to ride bikes... - and the fellow "scootards" I worked with were a hoot - but if you're married and can't live off beer and cigarettes alone - then my suggestion is to get into Aeronautical mechanics - those guys who fix helicopters and jets make bank!
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Old 12-17-2007, 09:50 PM   #16
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

do it only for the money!...otherwise, how boring would it be to work on today's shitty plastic rubber bolton cumputorized epa efi tamper proof digital clamshell ulgy ass uninspiring slabs for bikes those rubs want so badly that it's all the moco's can churn out ?.....same goes with cars too.
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Old 12-17-2007, 09:59 PM   #17
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

I got my training in the NAVY as a boiler tech first then went on to nuke school....now after I got out I got on with the post office fixing mail processing machines. If I lived somewhere cheaper than SF bay area I would probably be feeling pretty good about 56K/year plus bennies. Anyway,I work nites and spend some of my daytime doing what I want (mostly building cars and the occasional bike) I can't imagine spending 40K to get an education that will pay 10 bucks an hour...I would probably go to trade school to be a plumber or electrician first. Maybe even a water treatment plant operator...they start around 55K /year out here. good luck.
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:16 AM   #18
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

Yeah, Brewsir's right about the cost versus pay. You might also want to think about HVAC (where you'll learn the electrical stuff that scares so many people) or Welding (you could have a side business welding frames or making hardtails).
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Old 12-18-2007, 08:04 AM   #19
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

I too will have to reiterate what some others have said: Don't make a hobby a career. You'll end up hating it. I've always been handy with computers but after 12 years in the industry, the last thing I want to do when I get home is work on mine or somebody else's. I imagine it would be the same for being a mechanic.
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Old 12-18-2007, 08:39 AM   #20
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Default Re: to be or not to be...a bike mechanic

dealerships LOVE to hire MMI students.but they dont pay shit..you need to start in one though to cut your teeth..the aftermarket has fuel injection now and you need to learn all you can..oh also the pay sucks it
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