What else do you do for work?

I know that many framebuilders make money outside of selling bikes because, if we’re honest, it can be hard to make a living making and selling custom bikes. I’m curious what others here do to make pay the bills and while continuing to keep the flame lit so to speak. Maybe this is taboo I’ll out myself as a non-full time builder but that’s fine with me. I make bikes because I love to create and work with my hands and I love bikes simple as that. However, my main gig is working as a Special Education teacher working on vocational skills with young adults. I have worked in the public school system for the last 15 years in various teaching capacities. Though it can be a real headache at times I wouldn’t give it up, even if I could build full-time and make a comparable salary. I get a real sense of purpose teaching and helping others which is why I started teaching frame building classes years ago. Though making someone an amazing bike is rewarding it just doesn’t fill my cup so to speak. Okay, your turn…


I will join in.
I am not a full time builder. Building a bike frame was on my bucket list. I like it a will keep building as fun.
My full time gig is I am a sr system admin. Pays the bills. SO is a sped teacher also.


My main gig currently is as a designer in mining/oil & gas/renewables/infrastructure. Have been doing it for 30 years with a few interludes a long the way. Nine years ago I was seperated, diagnosed with lymphoma and without a job and homeless in the space of about 6 months. Once I got through treatment I went to work in a bike shop and took on my first customers frame.

I went back to drafting about a year later then back to a bike shop another year after that until lockdown and I wa slet go from the shop. I tried for about two years to survive as a fulltime builder but cost of doing business in Australia and such a small market to sell too made it very difficult. Poverty is not a fun way to live. I did a labouring job for 6 months 2021 and last year started back in the drawing office with small consultancy concentrating on the renewable space. Solar farms. Hydrogen production etc. I do about 30 hours a week there which gives me a bit more time to work at home on the bikes and actually get some riding in.

Currently I have no orders in the que. I think everyone is holding off given the economic climate and the uncertainty. It’s giving me some time to continue developing the enduro frame and start on the XC prototype. So good with the bad. One thing for sure is not having to rely on the bikes to pay rent is way less stressful. There is a big hole between having a normal job and building a few frames to having enough of a build list to do it full time. Especially when you live alone and there is no one around to help out. 24/7 effort.


I am currently building “full time” but not yet making a sustainable income. I’m fortunate to have a decent chunk of change saved from a decade of electrical engineering work, but was hoping to have more ongoing financial support from a relationship that unexpectedly ended a few months ago. We’ll see what the future holds, I might pick up something temporary for the summer.


I fix printers and photocopiers for a large japanese manufacturer. Been in the job for 10 years now, it’s pretty good and I work 4 days a week which keeps me sane and gives me time to mess around in the shed.

I started a business for my shed operations last year not for frame building but because I pick up the odd machining and fabrication jobs here and there. I figured I didn’t want the IRD snapping at my heels over unpaid tax so currently accumulating losses more than anything. One day I may sell a few frames but living in an island country of 5 million on the wrong side of the planet means it will never be viable as a means of living.


I only build frames for a hobby and curiosity.

I work 2 part time jobs. One for Scott in mostly gravity marketing but some product development and the other part of the time I’m head trail builder for 2 bike parks.


I’m a tattooer for 26 yrs and have my own shop for 13 yrs. Do that 4days a week, and 2 days in my workshop. I hope to combine both and make enough. .ideally is to have guys in my shop while I can work on frames


By day, I’m Training Products Product Manager for a large tech company’s technical training division. I started building in 2013 when I quit racing. I didn’t have time to train and also coach baseball and football for my son’s teams so, I quit racing and bought a torch and some tubes and went at it with guidance from a local building legend. I started a business as I donated a bunch of track bikes to our local velodrome. I wanted to turn it into more of a business at some point but I’m pretty busy with my day job and I really should get back to riding them instead of building them. I average a 2-3 framesets per year. My biggest year I produced 6 or 7. I probably make more money in repairs than selling framesets. I like working with metal, I like making stuff and I like bikes …sort of all goes together.


Currently I’m a Corporate Controller (accountant). I’ve been pretty fortunate to land at a sweet company with lots of flexibility and autonomy with my daily schedule, I’m in no rush to change things up. Maybe when the kids are a bit older I’ll try to scale back to part time and turn frames into a business.


I’m independant since last september. I quit my previous job that didn’t allow me to build frames/ make things as much as I needed too.
For now frame sales are very spare, I know where I need to put energy to increase sales but I rather spend time in the shop😅

I do various fabrication job to make ends meet, welding, woodworking, CAD, … Even some construction work for a friend. Right now I’m building powdercoat oven V2 and will offer that service localy and learning CNC machining.
I’m lucky enough my shop doesnt cost me anything and I’ve got access to a big machine shop


Thanks everyone for sharing. I think it’s really interesting that each of our backgrounds are coming from different sectors of the workforce, we’re not very homogenous in that respect. It’s funny how something as simple as the bicycle brings us all together. I’m sure if we met at a bike trade show we could all talk for hours but if we met say at a (insert your job here) convention we might not have much to talk about :rofl:


I’ve been doing wzrd full time for the past year, mostly just making it by the skin of my teeth.

The rising cost of living on the island has removed that skin, and I’m going back to my previous job 1-2 days a week for a bit of buffer. That job being working in the bike shop. When I was working in shops full time it was usually in a service writing / service management roll but now being part time I’ll just turn some wrenches and fight the warranty pile.


I’m a contract software engineer for my previous full time employer. During my initial stint with them I was very fortunate to wind up on a small team which supported a legacy product. As the years went by, the team got smaller and now its just myself and one other engineer that know the inner workings of this product.

Without being too specific, I maintain the software that manages a certain blue box store’s automated grocery distribution centers/network. I wouldn’t recommend buying produce/meat from said retailer…


I build part-time. I had been pursuing doing framebuilding full time (while still offering tune ups / wheel builds / suspension tuning) but I took a month off in December so I could sit down and prioritize.

I decided I’d prefer to cut out all the client stuff and just focus on building for myself and friends. If I were to pursue full-time, I would 100% buy a vertical mill and a lathe and mimic the model based business that Neuhaus and Sklar does. Some of my bikes are getting complex and I don’t think my body could handle hand filing / hand reaming / facing all the time.

My partner works in health care and in Canada it seems like our public health care is being sold off for short-term profits. We’re getting nervous that her position will change in a few years, so I went back to school for programming.

Before my programming stuff I was managing bike shops and doing suspension tech / wheel building stuff on the side and in the shop. A few years ago I got my mechanic skills to the highest point I think you can. Proficient wheel builder, proficient suspension tech, and a string of head mechanic / managerial roles. I gave my shop an ultimatum, increase my pay (I was at $18/h…) or I leave them for the summer to work for my friend’s shop for a raise with less duties, and then do my programming school. They refused, and offered me 20 cents.

The experience really messed up my self-confidence. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t valued there. They sung my praises alllllllll the time. I built and serviced every high end bike and would routinely work on an assortment of bikes in a single day that were worth more than my entire yearly pay. I worked for years to become proficient at all those things that most mechanics don’t touch at all. I even completed a professional certificate.

So, now I’m in programming school, making more money on EI than in that shop, and just build for fun. My stress level has gone down, but I’m still recovering from the experience. I can recognize that this happens to people all the time and that my privilege has hidden me from that experience where others get it all the time.


There is always a value equation. At some point, that shop didn’t need a mechanic as good as $18 per hour. I don’t need a car as good as a Mercedes. Be proud that you outgrew the shop!


Perhaps my comment lacks context. This is the biggest bike shop in Eastern Canada, with one of the only suspension tuning shops in the province, with regular customers spending over $200,000 a year there. I think they can afford it, and considering 90% of their bikes start at $5,000+, even a $20/h mechanic is peanuts.

Compared to other shops in the area, they underpay by about $2/h, but I think this is an industry problem itself. I just had a framebuilding student who makes $40/h as a motorcycle mechanic lol.


Bike shops operate on pretty thin margins. Know how to make $1m in the bike business? Start with $2m. :rofl: :rofl:


I’m a mechanical engineer by trade, used to work for a simulation software company until a few years ago, then did a bit of a sabbatical, touring europe in an old “breaking bad”-style camper van and now working part time for a company that does certification for railway equipment/rail cars/locomotives while trying to make my way as a part time frame builder. It doesn’t necessarily have to generate a sustainable income, I can make ends meet with the engineering job alone. I’m probably too bad of a marketing/salesman to make it successfull enough to quit the engineering job, but let’s see :wink:


I’m hoping that the “else” part of the work equation becomes frame building in the future as I have yet to build a frame and I am currently building and acquiring jigs & frame building tools. I use a local makerspace called Synergy Mill here in Greenville, SC in order to make it work since I don’t have shop space. It’s great because it has a milling machine, lathe, TIG & MIG welders, tools, etc. along with storage space for all this stuff I’m accumulating.

I work full time (+) as a structural engineer designing and structural modeling of industrial facilities and distribution centers. Between work, spending time with wife/dog, and actually riding my bike I probably average about 4-6 hours per week working on frame building related stuff. It’s slow going, but in order to afford this expensive hobby (and hopefully future “beer money” business) it is what it is.


My brother lives in Greer and I will be down that way next week

1 Like