More Fun, Less Pay: Working in the Bike Industry

Where else are you going to meet people like these?

“What do you do?” It’s that stereotypically American question. Does what we do define us? Hell no! But aren’t we conditioned from the earliest age to identify our hopes, dreams and aspirations with a vocation? Mom told me I could be an astronaut or a fireman or the President of the United States if I wanted to. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Well, you’re grown up. What are you?

Whatever your occupation is, it is the thing to which you dedicate over 50% of the waking hours of adulthood. Many of us have gone to school and spent scads of borrowed dollars on studying whatever subject got us that first job. It’s the thing we decided to do, or fell into, or lucked upon, but it’s a big chunk of our lives that can satisfy or torment. Don’t we know that guy? The one who loves or hates his job with such passion, such earnestness that it inspires us to find true happiness in our own pursuits. Alas, I was the sad guy once. But that’s the past – I saw the writing on the wall and made a leap to the other side. It’s not all roses, but man it has its perks.

Sharing a brew with the man behind the movie Klunkerz: Billy Savage. If you haven’t seen it yet, get thee to Netflix post-haste.

Engineering pays well. Even so, the engineering I did made me want to drive the subcompact rental car I was forced to drive weekly into a ditch at high speed. So I made the best of it: I bought cool bikes and gear, spent my free time (and time I should have been working) reading forums, reviews, and other fine internet publications about bikes. When 5:00 came I was out like a shot to ride, wrench, and do anything but freakin’ engineering. But as I said at the beginning of the post our culture places emphasis on who you are by what you do. So I wanted to make a change. I loved bikes, why not get paid (much less) to make a career from them?

It don’t pay too well, but the view sure is nice

As told in an earlier true confession I lucked into my first job in the bike industry. What I didn’t mention is the pain. I took a substantial pay cut when I moved into the bike business. My favorite saying about that goes: “Do you know how to make a small fortune in the bike industry? Start with a large one.” Unfortunately it can be very true. Bike companies know us too well. We chafe at the 9 to 5 grind, the Dockers, the cube neighbor droning on about their cat’s adorable shenanigans. Dangle a no-dress-code-ever office environment and cheap bike parts in front of us and we go all to jelly in the salary negotiations. Now my boss’s boss wears shants and flip flops daily and lunchtime is spent shredding trails that are tended by a full time employee dedicated to keeping the berms sculpted.

So at the risk of laying out an epic brag, here’s what I love about working in the bike industry:

1. Exotic travel and a company card for karaoke nights in Taichung City

2. Employee pricing on everything

3. Vendors insisting that I try their latest and greatest carbon fiber doodads

4. An office with shower facilities

5. Desk-side bike storage

6. Fully equipped bike shop at your disposal

7. A cafeteria with subsidized healthy meal options

8. The opportunity to ride all over the world

9. Access to trade shows, those orgies of bad behavior and bike-overload

10. Most important: sharing my days with people who share my passions, made their own sacrifices, and consider themselves lucky every day to be doing something they truly love.

Are you ready to trade in your paycheck for the bike industry lifestyle? Tell us about your dream job in the comments section below!