Mark Purdy has been
a professional bike mechanic for twenty years.
He isn't marking time before returning to school,
he doesn't race, he has no screenplay under his workbench, he just
wants to wrench.
In a high-end shop like Cadence, reputation is
everything, and the reputation of the head mechanic
is perhaps most important of all. Before opening last
year, Cadence had an exhaustive search for a head mechanic,
and they ended up bringing Mark from Wheel and Sprocket, a large
shop in Milwaukee.
In the short time he has been in NYC he has become known as a top
tier mechanic. We asked him a few questions about his career and even got
an interesting job offer to pass on to our readers:
NYVC: How did you start in this business?
MP: I have been riding bikes since I was a kid, I started
riding seriously since I was 14. I remember my dad came
into my room looking for my older brother to go for a ride. I said,
I dunno where he is but I can go, he said you couldn't keep up-- and
that was it, I was hooked on cycling and knew this was how I wanted to
make a living. I learned there is not much you can do in the
cycling business, clearly I wasn't going to make money as a pro
rider (I wasn’t nearly fast enough) so I began working in a bike shop.
If you work in bike shops you will end up wearing many hats, I sold
bikes for a while but it was too much time standing around doing nothing, not
for me. I had a lot more fun helping someone else who is a better athlete ride
their bike better, that's rewarding to me.
NYVC:What does it take to be good at this job?
MP:The first thing you have to have to be a good mechanic is concern; I can
train a monkey to adjust the barrel on a derailleur and make it shift properly, but you cant teach
someone how to care. To find someone who wants to dedicate their life
to adjusting this little knob to get rid of a noise, well that's a
pretty hard thing to find in a person.
NYVC: How can you tell if a mechanic is good?
MP: Without giving away too many secrets, its a matter of
the fine details, all good mechanics have a way of walking up to a bike and
inspecting to to tell if the last guy to touch it knew what they where doing.
Things like are the cables end, are all 4, cut to the same length? Is the
finishing tape on the handlebar wrapped around 30 times covering 4 inches of
handle bar or is it precisely done?
NYVC: What's the biggest difference between working at a shop like Cadence where you work on pro bikes to
working at a regular bike shop where you would see all kinds of bikes?
MP: The biggest difference is the amount of time we
have to get the job done. I certainly mean no disrespect to a trek 820 Mountain
bike, but it's no big deal for that customer to be without his Trek 820 for a
week to 10 days. The bikes that we work on here, we you know you can't be
without your bike for long, you'd miss training or an important race. Even
right now at the height of the season; if you bring your bike to us
the maximum it would be here is two days, usually well have it
back within 24 hours.
NYVC: What new product has changed the industry in the past year?
MP: Sram has had a huge influence on
the component industry, I'm not saying its better than Campy or
Shimano, we all have our opinions, but that they have influence on
what their competitors paid attention to.
Sram's attention to ergonomics has had a profound effect on 2009
Dura-ace and Campy.
NYVC: What's the deal with the Cadence "Jedi
Robe" look you mechanics are rocking?
MP: Actually it does remind us that we are not like every
other bike shop, we are not Joe's Bikeorama on the corner, there is
nothing wrong with Joe's Bikeorama, they service an important need, but so do
we. Every mechanic in every bike shop you walk into is wearing the same
dark blue button-down work shirt. We have no intention of being like
every other bike shop in the country. And every time I wipe
the grease of a chain on my robe, I'm reminded we are special
NYVC: What do you look for in a mechanic?
MP: First off you have to have the same love of bikes and dedication
that everyone in this company has. you must be dedicated towards doing
the job right, so that our customers don't have mechanical failures
that prevent them from succeeding in their quest, a bicycle
related mechanical failure should never be the reason you
don't succeed in your race or event.
We are actually looking for someone right
now, we have two experienced mechanics we would be happy to take on
another one or even an eager inexperienced mechanic who is interested
to learn the ropes. i can teach anyone how to be a good mechanic, but
they need to be dedicated to the cause.
NYVC: What's the best thing about your job?
MP: I play with really cool toys all day and every couple of weeks
they give me a paycheck, it's a great job.
If you are interested in working as a mechanic contact
Mark Purdy (firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212 226 4400)