My days presently are split up three ways really. The PBMA is a huge priority so I spend a great deal of time fielding phone calls, firing off emails, building the website and working towards driving the organization into the future. Just to top all that off you can find me working at races throughout the year as a team mechanic or driving and jumping out of cars providing neutral service.
I got into cycling when I was 15. I haven't really looked back since then. I've raced competitively on and off-road. I've been in and out of shops since 1991. I've spent time working for Cannondale, USA Cycling and Specialized. I've done contract work for SRAM, Mavic and others. I've spent plenty of time on the road working for teams like Liquigas, Twenty16, Elita Pro, Webcor, Drapac the US and Canadian National teams as well as world neutral support at more races than I can actually remember. I spent about 6 years working outside the cycling industry with a fortune 500 company, I gained and entire new set of skills outside our industry.
The PBMA began as a conversation between myself and a handful of others, some of whom are on the Board of Directors and some who were simply interested in professionalizing our craft. Having been in the trenches (of all varieties) for many years I feel very strongly about mechanics and service. I know there are challenges ahead and I am personally prepared to fight them on behalf of the PBMA. For service the future is very bright. We as technicians have the opportunity to help the future of the cycling industry by bolstering our personal skills tool box.
Sometimes real life gets in the way of goals. We had intended to post some type of regular blog focused about life on the road. The problem is when you're on the road there isn't much time to peck out something meaningful and interesting. We resort to Twitter and Instagram for those quick flashes of what's going on.
I read the PBMA Facebook page and comment here and there. I check in on the Forum and see it's not as well used as intended. We built it because people asked for it. Some of those people don't even use it!
We put out a newsletter that has a lot of information about what's going on with the PBMA as well as some things that could help to bolster your business. It's discouraging to read that someone thinks we are doing all these top secret things... Some things are meant to be kept secret due to the sensitive nature of their development. Other things are openly discussed in the newsletters which you can go back and read if you've deleted those emails or marked them as spam.
What's been going on is about 50,000 miles of air travel in the first 6 months of the year (and thats only accounting for my travel). A mixture of meetings with important partners, working on valuable relationships for the PBMA and mechanics. Top that off with my desire to be able to feed and house myself I've worked a handful of races with a few more yet to come!
If you're on the fence about Interbike, I'd encourage you to come. Maybe it'll be the last time ever that you go to Vegas, maybe you've never been... what I know is that the PBMA has a lot to talk about including certification, training and education.
We've put a lot of time and effort into bringing a bunch of manufacturers together in three different parts of the country (again something that many asked for). We have spent countless hours working with partners to develop a logical certification system that accounts for prior knowledge. We've spent way too much time in an aluminum tube flying all over!
If you're wondering what the PBMA is doing, ask. Posting it on Facebook is a way to ask but probably won't get you an answer with any official element attached to it. There are almost 9,000 people in that group all with an opinion and idea. Our role is to look at the averages and strive to find something of value within that can suit and help all. Email us, find us at Interbike, or pop a letter in the mail. Facebook is convenient, I won't argue, if you're seeking a direct answer from the PBMA it's the worst. Email us or find us in person at the next event you'll attend.
The PBMA isn't hiding or conducing business in secret. We published our 2016 P&L which nobody else does. We have attended almost every cycling industry event that has occurred so far this year. If you follow our social media or Facebook business page it would be very easy for you to see, understand and know whom we spoke to and where we wend. We are here to be seen and talk with you. All 9 Board Members are here working hard on your behalf for a brighter, better and more profitable future.
We will see you next week at Interbike!
Well this is my my story.
I have a new roll in the industry!
I just recently stepped down from the service manager position at Turin to accept the position of head mechanic with US Paracycling. I will continue to work at Turin when I'm in town and available, primarily to take care of 20 years worth of regular customers who come in specifically to see me.
My main focus will be the national team, and development work with new athletes. I'll be on the road a bit (a lot), working at training camps, world cup races, and world championships. Standard race team mechanic stuff.
I got into cycling young, riding bmx until I was about 12, then discovering road riding and racing through some friends in the neighborhood. I raced road bikes as a junior and a cat 3 until college, when the college lifestyle got in the way. I started at the bike shop when I was 15 to support my cycling habit, and slowly realized that I was a better mechanic than racer.
I'm a part of the PBMA because I believe that it's time for bike mechanics to be considered true professionals, and because after 20-odd years of hiring bike mechanics I really want a way to filter out the bad and highlight those who are committed to the profession and are up to date with their knowledge and skills.
My vision of the industry's future is very much like the automobile industry, where large dealerships dominate the sales side of things with high volumes and low margins, and smaller shops are only successful if they excel at providing quality service.
Come say hi to Steve at the PBMA booth 3271 at Interbike this year.
The Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association is pleased to announce three regional workshops designed to bolster individual mechanics’ skills while growing their business acumen. The Denver, Portland, and Washington D.C. areas will each host a three-day workshop starting in November of this year and continuing through February 2018.
Each of the three PBMA Workshops will feature hands-on technical training from Campagnolo, DT Swiss, Full Speed Ahead, Magura, SRAM, SR Suntour and Stan’s No Tubes. The PBMA is also collaborating with several e-Bike technology companies to offer a broad overview of e-Bike mechanical training at each Workshop.
In addition to technical training, each workshop will also feature two presentations focusing on service-related growth, profitability, and efficiency. Park Tool Company, and Winged-Wheel Development will conduct these presentations.
“One of the goals with training needed to be beyond the basics of nuts and bolts. Service is an upward trend of profitability for many retail locations. The more we as a cycling community can do to bolster our service staff, the better off we will all be in the future” said PBMA President James Stanfill.
In addition, PeopleForBikes’ DRAFT Meetups will be coming to PMBA workshops beginning in 2017. Focused on stimulating innovation and growth the in the bike industry, DRAFT: PBMA will feature talks and announcements on the latest, cutting-edge ideas from the association, in addition to great beer and food.
Thanks to the generous support of additional workshop sponsors Park Tool Company, Abbey Bike Tools, BiciSupport, Feedback Sports, Pedros and Presta Cycle, the PBMA is able to offer four scholarships for each workshop with a focus on gender diversity, which will cover the recipients’ attendance and meals.
Costs to attend the workshops are in favor of PBMA members. Individual Mechanic Members save $100 off the cost of registration, and Shop Members save $125 per person when registering two or more participants. Registration is open to PBMA Mechanic and Shop Members only until July 1st.
Locations and Dates of PBMA Technical Workshops:
Denver, Colorado – November 7 to 9, 2017
Portland, Oregon – January 9 to 11, 2018
Ashburn, Virginia – February 6 to 8, 2018
Ric Hjertberg is a founding member of the PBMA and a current Board Member.
On what he does now:
After trying most categories of bicycle industry work, I’m back near where I began: a small, independent company focused on wheel building. All is summarized by my web site, wheelfanatyk.com. I live in a dream location, discuss my favorite subject with enthusiastic builders, and sell cool tools from companies as small as mine. Every year I’ve spent in the industry contributes to the satisfaction I enjoy these days. It doesn’t get better.
On why he loves bicycles:
A childhood in suburban California combined with an independent streak, met times of social change and environmentalism. No other work lets me live as fully, a scene of enlightened, generous folk who aim to have fun while changing the world. The longer I live, the more I learn this is very rare. For me, there’s no where else.
Why he's part of the PBMA:
From year one it was obvious mechanics have a huge, under appreciated role. We need to collaborate and advance this profession. The surprise is how long it’s taken, the good news how fast it is advancing.
On the future of bicycles:
2 wheel vehicles with minimal, or exclusively human, power are one of our greatest opportunities. The possibilities are unlimited. We seem evolved to utilize and enjoy this mobility. It’s here to stay but our landscape, technology, and customer is changing incredibly fast. The one constant, besides Newtonian physics, is the role of mechanics. On this we can depend!
In the world of cycling, I’m a race mechanic with Mavic SSC, SRAM NRS, and Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com. I’m also a mentor with Network for Advancing Athletes, which is a nonprofit organization that mentors and empowers women through sport. As a race mechanic, I work for Neutral Support at events all over the country. As a NAA mentor, I help plan and facilitate women’s clinics in coordination with major industry events like the Mike Nosco Memorial Ride in California.
Outside of cycling, the long-story-short version is: I’m a huge nerd.
Santa Claus brought me my first two-wheeler when I was about four years old, and I’ve been riding ever since. I graduated from Huffys to road bikes sometime around my freshman year of high school, and started working in a shop when I was 15. Somewhere along the line, someone told me “no, girls don’t do that” and I’ve been proving them wrong ever since.
In the ten(ish) years that I’ve been a race mechanic, I’ve been really fortunate to work with some of the most talented and least judgmental people in our industry. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. It’s important to me to do whatever I can to give back to this community that has given me so much, especially to do whatever I can to make cycling and cycling mechanics more accessible to women.
I’d like to see our industry overall be more encouraging of diversity. It seems pretty inclusive right now, but that’s after being in it for more than a decade; to a newbie, I think it’s still pretty intimidating and the barriers to entry are still really high. There’s a lot of awesome grass-roots stuff happening right now to get more people involved in cycling, but it’s going to take a lot of organizations (like PBMA) and industry leaders working together with each other and with the people on the front lines (athletes, mechanics, etc.) to really affect change for the entire industry.
Here at the PBMA, we wanted to spend a little time with some open discussion and thoughtful ways to focus on the women we have in our industry, and see some of the whys and hows of where we have been, where we are, and where we are going… together, as a group of mechanics. So this week we are going to be featuring women and others in the industry, to better understand the diversity that makes our group of talented technicians unique, and further our profession for all.
When one walks into a bike shop, rarely do we see a female behind the service counter with dark grease staining her fingers and wrench in hand. This has indeed been the norm for decades, but we're seeing some changes happening, and honestly… we should all be grateful.
Women mechanics are beginning to take their places along side the men in shops all over the country, but it has been a long process, and the reasons are myriad as to why the service departments have been dominated by men for so long. It is of special interest to me, personally, as I am a boob-havin', vagina-totin' human being who happens to be very good with technical stuff despite the tradition that these features of my anatomy are not normally associated with such technical aptitude in many minds. Why is that? Anatomy shouldn't necessarily have anything to do with it, right? Well, right! It doesn't. Aptitude in bicycle mechanics is not gender influenced, but it most certainly can be perceived as such, as is evidenced by the women and agender folks we've heard from. I asked a few questions of some women working on the mechanic side of things in our industry, and the responses were very interesting, and not entirely unfamiliar. What follows here are some insights that may help us all understand the bias that some of us face, and be aware and sensitive to it.
I asked how long they had been working on bikes, how they learned, whether there were or continue to be other women in the circles of influence around them, if there were negative reactions or experiences and how they were dealt with, and if they expect to stay in the industry. Here's what I learned…
Of course there is plenty of variation in how long these women had been working on bikes, ranging from relatively new mechanics to over 20 years. The common thread seemed to be simply an interest, some from a very early age in life, some more recent, but these are people who love to ride bikes and once the interest took hold, it manifested into a desire to tinker and eventually get more serious with it as a professional. It shows that it's about passion!
As for how folks learned, some learned from their male partner, as I myself did… any mentor we had who was able to break away the intimidation and fear of doing something wrong is an incredible ally in our growth. It is often that initial hindrance that pushes women away, or anyone, really… we all fear failure and none of us wants to break things or mess them up. So whenever we, as mechanics, have an opportunity to lend a helping hand to a cyclist who wants to understand the technical aspects of a bicycle, we should take it, and not be a barrier to learning for anyone. I've worked with many mechanics who tended to hoard knowledge, unwilling to share it. There is a certain psychology there, which I think is very important to dissect, and it comes (as all bad human behavior does) from fear. When a mechanic is skilled and fears competition from other mechanics, they will keep tidbits of information to themselves to wield as ammunition for the moments when they can swoop into a situation and bear that knowledge like a social sword; "step aside… I know how to do this". This is done so that the importance, the place, the status of said mechanic is not questioned, and job security prevails. However, it is damaging to the social fabric of the service department, as it places stress not only on those who lack the knowledge with possible feelings of inferiority, but also places undue stresses on that almighty-important mechanic who may then feel overloaded with pressure to be the guru. Wouldn't it be better to have all people in the department feel valued and share the knowledge so that problems get tackled by all? Of course there will be those who have less and those who have more knowledge, but the knowledge itself is what should be the shared commodity when at all possible. Then the fear is reduced for all, and bad behavior is reduced for all.
Some of us were very lucky to have women mechanics in our lives as examples of the possibility. I had worked on bikes since I was a kiddo, but had never thought of the possibility of it as a profession until I met my first female mechanic. She worked at the shop I bought my first bike-shop bike at, after having just blown into town coming off a cross-country ride and decided to settle in for a spell. She became the head instructor at Barnett Bicycle Institute eventually, and continued to inspire me for years. If it wasn't for her, who knows what I would be doing, to be perfectly honest. Sometimes it's that one person who however subtly comes along and changes the wind in our sails just enough to veer us into a whole different direction… sometimes it takes a while to understand, and sometimes it is immediate. The point is, you never know how you might influence someone, so why not make it as positive as it can be when we come across these opportunities to share?
We have all had some horror stories or just plain unpleasant experiences as women behind the service counter or even when answering the phone. This is an all-too common thread among the women I interviewed, but for many it was from the customers, and not the fellow mechanics, where the negativity was felt. Often when I answered the phone with "hello, Jenny in service here", I'd get "yeah, can I talk to a mechanic?"… and I wonder, what part of me being in service not let you know I am a mechanic? And in as non-snarky a voice as possible, "yes, I am a mechanic, in the service department… what can I do for you?" "oh. okay, uh, sorry!" And usually the customer self-checks and proceeds on with their query and all is well. Or standing in the service department as a woman and having the customer (male and female!) look past the woman mechanic with a "yea, is there someone back there who can look at my bike"? But some women have found that despite their assertions of being knowledgeable, their work is questioned, they are treated differently, and all is not so well. It is these occasions where co-workers are often great to step in and offer that, in fact, she is the one who knows better and can help you… a few respondents were able to turn these occasions into some gratifying, team-building moments for the whole crew, as well as educational moments for the customer to realize that there are bright minds in more flavors than "man".
It seems that all these respondents were able to ride the waves of adversity with relative aplomb, and carry on with doing what they love… but we don't know how many have not, as they may be lost at sea or got out of the water altogether. But there are many men, too, who were not able to hack the stresses and pressure of being in the trenches at the bike shop. I've met many men over the years who didn't have much technical aptitude or natural mechanical ability, despite their desires to be good at it, and they are off doing things outside the bike industry. Bicycle mechanics, as we all know, is about detail orientation, patience, and problem solving, among many other factors. These qualities are not gendered, not by any means. There are not any particularly high amounts of strength required that cannot be overcome by leverage, and so any physical aspects of gender differences that might be argued are a completely, utterly moot point.
All of the folks interviewed said they want to stay in the industry. They are all passionate about what they do, and see their futures in it. It is a wonderful thing to see so many strong, able women in our industry, helping to shape it, grow it, and share themselves with others who want to be a part of it. May we continue to see many more, and hopefully the men will happily make room and encourage and support the women and non-men folks who want their rightful places in the shops all across the country, and world. We are all better for it.
The rest of this week we'll be looking at individual profiles from some ladies in out there in the world of bicycle mechanics. We're hoping you will find inspiration and understanding of the roles these women have and how the industry moves forward with these amazing women!
written by Jenny Kallista
1 April, 2017
PBMA PARTNERS WITH UCI TO CREATE TECHNICAL STANDARD FOR CABLE TIP INSTALLATION
In cooperation with the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association, the UCI has introduced the following standard for applying cable tips to bicycles:
Shift and brake cable tip to be secured to cable by a single crimp with a perpendicular crimp at precisely 90 degrees and dead center of the tip.
PBMA President James Stanfill said, "All these kooky letters and patterns are done. Professional mechanics do not have time to waste making crimps fancy, and there is no room in professional sport of support personnel's attempt at style or flair."
UCI Technical Director Gerhard Geld said, "in Europe, where cycling is very important, we have not made shapes or letters, always one crimp dead center, the PBMA pointed out still the inconsistency and we thank them for it. Now we have an amazing, great, standard and uniformity."
"I think, normally, until now, this is not possible." Geld added, often.
Example photos can be seen here:
The complete technical document here:
Some more about PBMA President - Elect Jeff Rowe, he's quite humble, but when you're wrong he isn't afraid to say so. If you're headed to the NAHBS in SLC next week, look for Jeff at the PBMA booth.
In his own words:
I oversee logistics for Focus Bicycles, including planning, import, brokerage, warehousing, distribution, warranty and tech support. I have overseen Marketing as well off-and-on since 2009.
With some challenges to working as an American in London in 1987, Bicycle Messenger was by far the most attractive available job. It didn't kill me - it made me stronger. Learning how to ride all day led to learning to ride fixed and racing track and later road. This is how it all got started for me
I've been around the industry in North America for 16 years. I have always thought that Professional Mechanics were undervalued, and listening to Brett Flemming speaking at QBP set me on a path to generally raise standards in the shops that I worked and to show that added value to our customers. It starts with careful service writing and billing and leads to better pay for Professional Mechanics.
I'm watching the same dynamics that everyone is, but I don't believe that the quality service of a Professional Bicycle Mechanic will fall from fashion or die with some moribund distribution and sales models.
This is an exciting time in our industry.
In her own words...
I am an events mechanic for DT Swiss, so that means I travel to races, festivals, bike tours, etc., where I let people try the wheels through our demo program, as well as repair any of our products on attendees' bikes. Most of what I attend are mountain bike events, but I also hit a few longer road tours. It's a lot of fun to see how much people enjoy trying the wheels, and of course I love to help people get their own equipment rolling again.
I got into mountain biking in 2000, through friends who ride. It's since become a major passion to develop my skills and to experience trails all over the country.
I'm part of the PBMA because I believe in helping other mechanics succeed, and raising the level of the industry as we all work together to do it. Even though we may approach things differently or have different career paths, we all share the goal of making bikes more fun, reliable and safe to ride. We might as well take advantage of the benefits of working together to make our industry more professional and profitable.
I am optimistic about our industry's future, since I think a lot of the success of bike shops (and thus many other aspects of the industry) will fall on the shoulders of skilled bike mechanics, who I know can carry the load. As shops redefine themselves around their service offerings and their community involvement, they can thrive during the changes occurring in the product sales model we've all become used to.
You'll hear more from Marty this year as she will be a regular contributor to Life on the Road, a monthly PBMA blog about the traveling circus of the cycling industry.
This page is a collective of articles relavant to consumers, enthusiasts and the whole of the cycling industry in general.