Tips for getting into the bike industry?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Tips for getting into the bike industry?

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    • #227233

      Alright. So I have a decent well paying drafting/designing job at a fabrication shop that I need to keep in order to maintain my home (debt). But seriously, I hate my job. It’s awful, the office politics suck, I feel woefully under-appreciated, and I don’t have much in the way of outs right now since it’s mandatory to keep my current income.

      I long for the bike industry. I live in Northern Utah and the bike culture sucked me in so much that I seriously can’t get enough of it. It’s where my heart wants to be, and while it’s a long shot, I wonder how I could find myself in the bike industry? I have drafting/design skills, but probably not the kind that bike engineers demand. Other than that I have some experience with project management. I need to consider my wife as well, so I can’t just sell everything we own and live in a van by the river while selling bikes.

      Is there any way to get into it without going homeless, divorced, or just working at a bike shop making minimum wage?

    • #227264

      What kind of design skills do you have? Like graphic design? Industrial design? Bike companies need those positions.

      There is some bike industry in and around Northern Utah: ENVE, QBP, etc., but many/most companies are HQ’d somewhere in California. The front range of Colorado is another hotbed basically from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. If you really want it, you may have to relocate.

    • #227288

      I have background in 3D drafting using solidworks. I do a lot in fabrication and machine shops.


      Good to know there are a few places close-ish by. I was going to stop by my local bike shop this weekend and see if those guys have any pointers.

      • #227320

        I’ve often wondered this very question myself.  Good luck and I’ll make sure to check back on this post if anyone has any more info to offer.

    • #227342

      I have to ask: what’s your motivation for wanting to get into the bike industry, exactly?

      In your original post, you said: “But seriously, I hate my job. It’s awful, the office politics suck, I feel woefully under-appreciated, and I don’t have much in the way of outs right now since it’s mandatory to keep my current income.”

      You could still very well end up with bad office politics, feeling under-appreciated, and have even fewer ways to get out if you enter the mountain bike industry.

      Final thought for now: if it really is mandatory for you to keep your current income, the bike industry is probably a bad move. Generally speaking, since you’re looking at an industry that every mountain biker seems to want to work, you’ll generally be paid less for a position in the mountain bike industry VS the same job in a broader industry.

      None of this is to say you CAN’T get into the industry–you definitely can. And maybe you should. But I encourage you to analyze your motivations. Don’t expect that the grass will automatically be greener on this side of the fence just because your job is slightly related to bicycles.

    • #227343

      How good a rider are you, and how well do you know the area trails? You could start a trail guide part time business.

    • #227387

      Greg is right. I think your work environment is caustic. The respite you get on your bike has you imagining that the industry must be better. It might attract a lot of people who love bikes, but they may not be good leaders/managers. There could be similar problems. You could wind up in a similarly caustic situation. The product love might help, but organizational behavior issues can be found across all industries.

      I’m convinced if you had the right group of people, who treat each other well, most of us could tolerate cleaning elephant’s cages for a living. Douche bag leadership can create a horrible job even with tasks that are not horrible. Incompetent leadership has the same effect eventually.

      Enjoy riding your bike. Look into career options. Do not make a move without understanding what the root cause of your discontent. You will just go from one bad place to another.

    • #227389

      Hard for most of us to imagine walking away from any well-paying job, but we have to assume it’s that bad and you’ve talked to your company’s leadership about these issues.

      Consider also broadening your focus to the outdoor industry in general to give you more options.

      Getting into an industry you may not be familiar with (at the level you describe which suits your skills), you may consider shadowing or volunteering if that’s possible. There’s probably a few obstacles to get there, but this gives you firsthand look at what the job is and is something you could add to a resumé.

      Are you able to moonlight or freelance? Are your skills readily transferable that you cold be hired out occasionally until you build a relationship with a company?

      Greg’s point is very insightful…. who says working for X bike company will automatically foster a non-hostile work environment?

    • #227396

      Here ya go. Denver. You’re welcome.

      • #227451

        I dont think its as easy as just moving to Denver, although that would be nice and Denver is a sick place.  I think its like anything, there isnt a magic pill to take one day where you will automatically be in the bike industry making 6 figures a year at the flip of a switch.  In college I worked part time at a bike shop.    I think  small moves like this are the best bet.  IE working at a bike shop part time, riding with a bike club, talking on forums (like this….).  Once you get involved in the industry you simply have more opportunities which lead to more door opening.

        Good luck with it!

    • #227464

      Life is way to short to be in a job you hate. If this is your passion send out the resumes. See where it goes. Dont look back or hesitate if you get an offer. Good Luck. Im a 54 year old and as I look back on my life there are times I had the opportunity but not the courage. Just do it.

    • #227472

      Thanks for all of the responses on this as I really appreciate the feedback.

      So when I wrote the original post. It was a pretty bad work day, hence the general tone. I was ready to quit by the end of that day.

      I would love to be part of something I am passionate about, but I have given it thought since starting this particular forum thread.

      I understand that every business and industry has its short comings and issues. Especially with office politics and working environments. I’m also looking into other opportunities, not just in the bike industry. I’m mostly after a place where I feel valued as a human being and a simple ‘thanks’ for a job well done or for staying late to get that last drawing to the shop floor. I don’t want to work for my current company anymore. The whole experience has been soured and doesn’t appear to have any chance of improvement. Bikes have always brought me happiness so I feel that’s where I want to be. It’s the perfect scenario in my head, but I have absolutely no clue if it’s something that I would enjoy. Again, it all depends on the office culture.

      For me, I feel that the timing isn’t in my favor here. I realized now I should have been working in a bike shop when I was in school most likely. It’s all about building a network and being in with the crowd. Just like any other industry, talent is only half the equation, it also comes down to who you know. A well established company isn’t going to take a risk on a designer when they don’t know how capable they are. People often find themselves at the bottom chain and slowly work their way up.

      On the flip side here, I have come up with a way to get involved that doesn’t involve quitting your day job (even though I’m still looking for a good one). I’m finding out how to get involved with my local trail community for building and design here. It’s not going to pay the bills, but it certainly will help fulfill what I am most passionate about.

      • #227581

        If you asked me 10 years ago where I would be today, this would not have been my answer.  The future is unpredictable but it’s yours to mold.  Good luck with it.  Let us know how you progress.

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