9 Tips Why You Should Buy Tip Beer for Your Bicycle Mechanic

What? You’re not buying beer as a tip for your bicycle mechanics? Well, that’s a faux pas big time. If you think about it, whether you’re an amateur or avid cyclist, your bike and your life is in literally their hands. So if they’re having a shit day and you come in and dump more shit on them, guess what? The quality of your bike repair may also be quite defecatory in nature. Or not, if they’re real pros. And if you’re taking your bike to the shop, you need them. I’m not talking about a keg a day, of course; you don’t want him/her to be drunk all the time, especially while working on your bike. The repairs could be half-assed and life-threatening. But if you’re not doing anything, you need to jump on board the beer wagon.

“No thanks, I don’t like tips” said exactly no one, ever. Someone gives me $5 bucks, I’m a happy dude! Are you one of those privileged yuppie fucks who’s in the camp of “Well, they have a job and they get paid, and if it’s not enough they should ask for a raise, and if I tip them then I have to tip everyone, and that’s madness”? Sorry, that crap don’t hold no truck with me. Peddle that weak sauce elsewhere and tip your damn mechanic. Beer or money or both — your choice.

This post is about beer tips, but a good argument could be made for tipping with cash money. Because if your mechanic is low on loot for rent, they would appreciate some greenbacks over the liquid bread. In an old post on tipping http://www.fatcyclist.com/2016/02/25/bike-mechanic-tipping-etiquette-for-dummies on the now archived but still hilarious and useful blog Fat Cyclist, good ol’ Fatty suggested tipping with cash. That lets the bike wrenchers choose what to spend it on; their own beverage, or something else.

Tip #1:  First be sure to check that your mechanic even drinks. Not all bike people are beer people. A Dude may partake on occasion, but usually doesn’t. If s/he is in recovery for drinking too much, find another way to appreciate them. A chunky ankle accessory under the socks could be your first clue. Or perhaps they’re Mormon, or Muslim, or Mennonite, or allergic to hops or something. Just ask, “Hey, are you into beer?” Or, ask a colleague.

Tip #2:  Everyone’s different, so be sensitive to that. You’ve established they consume adult beverages. Ask “What kind do you like?” Make a note of it in your phone or mentally and write it down later. So when it comes time to tip, you don’t have to ask again and tip them off that you’re about to give them, you know, a tip.My guy likes IPA’s, his #2 likes something else, and the retail guy up front doesn’t drink at all. He gets a gift card to the sandwich shop around the corner.

Tip #3:  Don’t expect that your occasional tip gets you whatever you want. Sure, you might get to the front of the line quicker if you need a small repair in a hurry. And maybe the mechanic will be nicer, explain more what’s going on with your bike, etc. But don’t expect it or take gratitude for weakness. You’re just one of many customers, and some of them probably gift some tip beer, too. Don’t get all high and mighty and do stay humble! Give it freely, with no strings attached.

Tip #4:  Do express gratitude for their service. It’s great to give them a beer, but what you’re really saying is “Thank you for keeping me safe on my bike.” So why not actually say that, or something akin to it, too? Life is short and especially with a global pandemic we’ve been reminded that mortality is a real thing. Giveyour mechanic some love and they will reciprocate. Sure, they’ll still razz you and make fun of your bike riding or what have you.

Tip #5:  Cyclist and bike mechanic relationships are real, so act like that it is and respect it. I’ve known my bike mechanic for going on 10 years now. I’ve been to his house a number of times. I’ve met his wife and kids, attended a holiday party, took care of his dogs and chickens, and yes, drunk some beer. Sometimes he’ll even read a blog and reply to a text. He knows things about me, my body, my life, and my biking that no one else does. Beer is a thank you, but respect is the key.

Tip #6:  Put some thought into the beer. Unless your guy or gal loves Lone Star, put some thought into what you’re buying. Usually that’s going to mean a craft beer, though not always. This time I got an assortment of a local brand for the manager and second mechanic. For the main guy, I got a six of an IPA from a local brewery that’s a few bucks more than your average American beer. I try to rotate and alternate flavors and brands, too.

Tip #6:  Sometimes, you’ve gotta tip the manager, too. Make sure beer tipping is cool at the store. If not, make other arrangements. If the policy doesn’t forbid it, or it does but the manager’s cool with it, toss him a 6-pack once in a while, too.

Tip #7:  Delivery is important. I got it cold and made sure it would stay that way because I know there’s a shop fridge. He wasn’t in the shop so I also made sure the manager would label it and get it to my man. I took a picture, so he knows what it is and that if any are missing, it’s his co-workers, not I. If he’s in the shop when I come by (after calling ahead), I put it in a bag that isn’t see-through to not irritate the other workers I may not have included this time. Don’t make a big production out of it, but just say, “Hey, I got you a little something to thank you for all your hard work on my bike.” Don’t wait until you need help in a hurry to tip, either. Do it when there’s no time pressure.

Tip #8:  Always remember it’s just beer.  You’ve still gotta pay the bill. Don’t expect that your little gift of liquid gold will bring down your price. If you feel the urge to haggle, don’t. Sure, you did something thoughtful, but they don’t owe you anything because of it. If they don’t seem appreciative, or it doesn’t get you any faster service especially during a critical breakdown with your bike, you may not be doing it right. Just ask, politely, and go with what they say.

And last but not least: 

Tip #9:  How often depends on how much you depends on a lot of factors. Give your bike mechanic tip beer on the regular, but not too little, and not too often. If you’re in the shop every week with another problem, you don’t have to bring beer every time. Unless of course you can afford it and want to, it probably won’t be rejected. But just once at the winter holidays is not enough either. I haven’t met too many unscrupulous mechanics, but there may be some out there that will only do a good job on your bike if you bring tip beer. You have to consider your budget, but the timing is subjective. Think about the last time you brought tip beer, and if you can’t remember when it was or what kind or what was going on with your bike, it’s probably time to repeat your tip.

Twisted X Brewery’s 1092 Pale Ale

In the end, tip beer for your bike mechanic may seem like a simple thing that won’t do any good. Some might consider it a hassle and not even bother. But a tip is a way to lubricate the wheels of social interaction, so that is a good thing. When your butt and life are on the line due to a bad bike repair because you were not nice to your mechanic, the onus is upon you to be nice. So do that and not only may you have a new friend for life, but more importantly, you can ease on down the road with confidence knowing your mechanic has your back, because you had theirs. Beer, it’s not just for supper. Bringing people together since 7,000 B.C.

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9 thoughts on “9 Tips Why You Should Buy Tip Beer for Your Bicycle Mechanic

  1. As to your observation about beer vs money, those of us of a certain age recall the wisdom of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers: “Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I come at this from a different perspective and culture. I work in retail sales and consider my role to be similar to the bike mechanic (but mechanically much less skilled!). It’s a crowded sector and competitive. My job is to provide an excellent level of service at all times, to make the customer feel special, make them want to come back to my store and especially come back to me. This is achieved by building a relationship with the customer, establishing their needs and matching my products/services to those needs while making a decent profit for my employer. If I don’t then the customer will go elsewhere.

    My favourite reward is when someone comes in and asks for me by name from a recommendation from a friend or family member I’ve served before. It means I’ve done my job especially well.

    The most common reward is a sincere thank you, a big smile and the now forbidden handshake. That tells me I’ve done a good job.

    Ireland isn’t a tipping culture and my reward to my mechanic is the same as what I expect and enjoy. For exceptional service or consistently good service I’ll also always try to make my satisfaction known to an employer or superior. I’ll also give personal recommendations for specific members of staff. I wouldn’t dream of tipping a bike mechanic in any way. I guess it’s a cultural difference but I don’t get the beer for your mechanic school of thought at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fldefintiely a cultural duffernce. Though I’ve heard they have beer in Ireland, I’m not sure Beers and bikes go together here for a lot of people. Also, many people in the service sector are paid either minimum wage or sometimes even less (waiters get $2.19 US plus tips). So it’s expected in many sectors. Unions and living wages are rare and national health is non existent. So while you can.get away without a tip here, at least the mechanics I know appreciate it. I see no harm in it, well except that it is alcohol. Anyway, when in Rome, or Dublin, or Austin…

      Liked by 1 person

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