“I love the problem-solving aspect of being a mechanic. It uses your head as well as your hands. I find the focus of working on something very soothing.”
Meet AJ. AJ is a Mum of two studying bike servicing at Otago Polytechnic, it’s the only certified bike servicing course in New Zealand. She is currently working in our workshop and we managed to catch up inbetween busy bike checks to find out what it's like starting out as a bike mechanic and why she’s chosen to do it now.
“I have two children aged 6 and 7, and they are as proud as punch of their mum being a bicycle mechanic. They love to tell everyone they meet!”
“To me riding is an adventure, no matter where you go. And that's the beauty of bikes, they'll take you just about anywhere.”
Read more of AJ’s story and don’t forget, if you need a service, winter is the best time to book it in.
When did your love of bikes start?
I'm a fitness freak, so cycling was always part of my regime. Running came first, but every time I went out on my bike the thrill of freedom it gave me threatened to steal my heart. In 2020 I finally upgraded my old hybrid for a REAL road bike and that was it. I sold my soul to cycling with no regrets and never looked back! The day I got my new bike (Specialized of course), I remember looking at it for hours, and wondering to myself what all the parts were called, and how it all works. That was the day that I had my first thoughts about becoming a bicycle mechanic.
Do you love being on a bike as well as fixing them? What type of cycling are you into and why?
I'm into road cycling, first and last! I'll always be a roadie! I love going fast and pushing myself (speed and distance wise). One of my favourite places to ride is on the harbour cycle way. I love chasing down other cyclists and passing them. Sometimes we end up playing cat and mouse- it's all good fun though. My favourite bike (that I own) is the Specialized Tarmac SL7 Comp with Roval C38 carbon hoops. To me riding is an adventure, no matter where you go. And that's the beauty of bikes, they'll take you just about anywhere.
However, I have recently bought a mountain bike. It's a different experience from road riding, but that's what I was looking for. As a bicycle mechanic I want to have a full understanding and appreciation of all bikes and the experience they offer, to better understand what I'm working on and what customers want.
What made you want to be a bike Mechanic?
I love riding as much as repairing (and vice versa). I just love bikes!!! And if I'm honest it all stems back a little bit further, to when I was a kid. My brothers were into BMX racing, and there were always bike parts and ball bearings laying around the house.
I knew I wanted to return to work eventually (after being a stay at home mum for the last 7 years). I thought about how I could combine my passion for bikes with a career. The answer was obvious: a bicycle mechanic!
What do you love about being a bike Mechanic?
I love the problem-solving aspect of being a mechanic. It uses your head as well as your hands. I find the focus of working on something soothing. The most satisfying part of the job, and this never gets old, is starting with a broken bike, that for whatever reason doesn't go, then fixing it, and HEY PRESTO, it goes again! I love that feeling so much! And making someone's day, because their beloved bike has been fixed, and they can ride off into the sunset, ready for more adventures.
Do you think there are still less women who are bike mechanics and why?
Yeah, I'm the only female bike mechanic that I know of in Dunedin. I guess the perception is that it's dirty, man's work. But bikes are for EVERYONE. There was one other girl on the course and I think most years, there are usually 1 or 2 women. Hopefully that will change as there has never been a better time to be a bike mechanic! With the popularity of e-bikes taking off, and people turning to healthier and greener modes of transport, now is a good time to be in the industry. I think women just haven't seen or realised it's a career option for them too. I have two children aged 6 and 7, and they are as proud as punch of their mum being a bicycle mechanic. They love to tell everyone they meet!
What's your favourite job to do on a bike?
Test ride! Nah joking! I enjoy all areas of bicycle repair. The challenging and the easy. At the end of the day I'm learning something, I'm getting the job done, and hopefully making someone happy.