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Old 10-28-2011, 06:49 PM   #1
Smart Shark
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Moto mechanic trade school in Houston?

Title pretty much says it all... I'm looking for a school where I can get certified as a motorcycle mechanic, but I want to stay in Houston. Any suggestions?

EDIT: obviously, title was supposed to say moto. Damned iPhone.
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Old 10-28-2011, 07:06 PM   #2
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nope. there are none that im aware of
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Riding a Duc is kind of like, you may get a cramp in your wrist, but you keep on trucking because it feels so good.
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Old 10-28-2011, 07:45 PM   #3
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. That's ridiculous.
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:23 PM   #4
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Yep but what can ya do
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:51 PM   #5
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i know at least one guy that did the untrained idiots automotive program and still got himself a job at a bike dealer.
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:11 PM   #6
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i know at least one guy that did the untrained idiots automotive program and still got himself a job at a bike dealer.
sounds like a certain bike shop off 1960
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:11 PM   #7
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here is what worked for me:


step #1:
i got my start working at cycle queer, then stubbs in the parts deptartment. always worked on my own bikes with whatever tools i had. helped out the neighbors with their bikes, etc...learned a lot of stuff working the parts department. kept buying tools..eventually had too many to keep in bags and small boxes. bought a modest cabinet...like 13 drawer or so...

step #2:
service departments have a couple of entry level positions. i got hired for this at mancuso: first one is called "assembly/prep/make-ready," etc. its pretty entry level, but you will need your own tools. having a cabinet goes a long way towards your credibility to do the job...youll do a lot of airing tires, gassing up fueltanks, doing safety checks of new bikes (horn, signals, brakes...etc all work) all that is pretty lame and get old, but someone has to do it. the COOL part, is you will uncrate bikes and do a little wrenching to get them put together. front wheel, bars, windscreens, other accesories, and battery, etc...the bike is allready 90-95% together in the crate. then the SUPER COOL part. you get to test ride it! you may also be given some basic service work, oil changes, tires changes...

at some point you will get handed some crappy repair order for an old junky falling apart POS that no one else wants to do...congrats...your a mechanic.

the other entry level job is "porter", which basicly means "". its a lot of cleaning up, and taking out trash and detailing bikes. some porters are able to save up for tools, and eventually make it to the assembly/make ready job.

but there you go...i never went to any school. after being at mancuso for a while, i found a higher paying job at a small shop. its hard work. you can make some really awesome money sometimes...you can be sitting in a shop not getting paid anything waiting for some work to come in so you can pay bills. most older mechanics i talk to honestly wish theyd done something else with their lives (even though they do enjoy the work). its tough on your body, can lead to back problems, etc...there are other downsides.

but hey if you want to go for it...good luck man!

oh one more tip. dont buy snap-on. ill get mega flamed for saying it, but its not worth the extra dough, and its a lot easier to get craftsman and you take tools to any sears for replacement, and not have to wait for the dodgy guy in the truck to take care of you.

if you really decide on snap-on anyways...lol...go to shops and buy it there. a lot of times its broken but you might be able to get the truck guy to warranty it for you. i never had any problems with my craftsman stuff. snap on believers get hurt at the idea they wasted hundred, or more like thousands.
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Old 10-28-2011, 10:02 PM   #8
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Dont waste your money with school. All that shows is you can read a book. Most good techs grew up wrenching. Being a bike tech isnt all that great of a life style. I been turning wrenches for 8 years and make more money pulling work off of craigslist and people on bike forums.
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Old 10-28-2011, 10:12 PM   #9
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Yeah... I honestly would rather work on bikes for people on te forum an riding friends. Problem is I don't currently have much mechanical knowledge on motorcycles.
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Old 10-28-2011, 11:02 PM   #10
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If you want to learn go work on come to my house
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Old 10-28-2011, 11:03 PM   #11
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stupid phone. I meant to not go.
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Old 10-28-2011, 11:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smart Shark View Post
Problem is I don't currently have much mechanical knowledge on motorcycles.
like i said working in parts is a good way to learn. all the fiches for the bikes are broken down into sub systems, you learn the basics of each one, and then how they all work together. do that and youll have a good understanding. doing shipping/recieving for a dealer is an entry level way to get your foot in the door and get some time in front of the fiche with a coworker, who...hopefully will take you under their wing and teach you some .

why blow money on a school to half learn , when you can learn it for real and get paid to do it?

another HUGE asset that i wish id taken advantage of more when i worked at the dealerships...factory training modules. almost like online courses, but simpler in some ways...yet sometimes more relevant since they come directly from the factory...

its usually a collection of DVD's or downloadable videos, or chapters. then you can take simple tests and be certified in whatever brand/level depending on which ones you do.
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Old 10-28-2011, 11:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris24 View Post
here is what worked for me:


step #1:
i got my start working at cycle queer, then stubbs in the parts deptartment. always worked on my own bikes with whatever tools i had. helped out the neighbors with their bikes, etc...learned a lot of stuff working the parts department. kept buying tools..eventually had too many to keep in bags and small boxes. bought a modest cabinet...like 13 drawer or so...

step #2:
service departments have a couple of entry level positions. i got hired for this at mancuso: first one is called "assembly/prep/make-ready," etc. its pretty entry level, but you will need your own tools. having a cabinet goes a long way towards your credibility to do the job...youll do a lot of airing tires, gassing up fueltanks, doing safety checks of new bikes (horn, signals, brakes...etc all work) all that is pretty lame and get old, but someone has to do it. the COOL part, is you will uncrate bikes and do a little wrenching to get them put together. front wheel, bars, windscreens, other accesories, and battery, etc...the bike is allready 90-95% together in the crate. then the SUPER COOL part. you get to test ride it! you may also be given some basic service work, oil changes, tires changes...

at some point you will get handed some crappy repair order for an old junky falling apart POS that no one else wants to do...congrats...your a mechanic.

the other entry level job is "porter", which basicly means "". its a lot of cleaning up, and taking out trash and detailing bikes. some porters are able to save up for tools, and eventually make it to the assembly/make ready job.

but there you go...i never went to any school. after being at mancuso for a while, i found a higher paying job at a small shop. its hard work. you can make some really awesome money sometimes...you can be sitting in a shop not getting paid anything waiting for some work to come in so you can pay bills. most older mechanics i talk to honestly wish theyd done something else with their lives (even though they do enjoy the work). its tough on your body, can lead to back problems, etc...there are other downsides.

but hey if you want to go for it...good luck man!

oh one more tip. dont buy snap-on. ill get mega flamed for saying it, but its not worth the extra dough, and its a lot easier to get craftsman and you take tools to any sears for replacement, and not have to wait for the dodgy guy in the truck to take care of you.

if you really decide on snap-on anyways...lol...go to shops and buy it there. a lot of times its broken but you might be able to get the truck guy to warranty it for you. i never had any problems with my craftsman stuff. snap on believers get hurt at the idea they wasted hundred, or more like thousands.
Is there good money to be made working in those parts departments, though?

Quote:
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If you want to learn go work on come to my house
Are you saying come to your house to learn how to work on ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris24 View Post
like i said working in parts is a good way to learn. all the fiches for the bikes are broken down into sub systems, you learn the basics of each one, and then how they all work together. do that and youll have a good understanding. doing shipping/recieving for a dealer is an entry level way to get your foot in the door and get some time in front of the fiche with a coworker, who...hopefully will take you under their wing and teach you some .

why blow money on a school to half learn , when you can learn it for real and get paid to do it?

another HUGE asset that i wish id taken advantage of more when i worked at the dealerships...factory training modules. almost like online courses, but simpler in some ways...yet sometimes more relevant since they come directly from the factory...

its usually a collection of DVD's or downloadable videos, or chapters. then you can take simple tests and be certified in whatever brand/level depending on which ones you do.
Kobalt tools, from Lowe's, are also guaranteed for a lifetime.
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Hmmm the prodigal 250 rider returns...
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Old 10-29-2011, 12:15 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Is there good money to be made working in those parts departments, though?
Are you saying come to your house to learn how to work on ?
Kobalt tools, from Lowe's, are also guaranteed for a lifetime.
from their wiki's

kobalts tools: introduced in 1998
craftsman tools: introduced in 1927

other than that i dont know anything about kobalt, or how good their customer service is when it comes to replacements. if they do it like sears, where you walk in with a broken one, and walk out with a new one, then it might be allright. id rather go with the company thats been around since before i was born. im willing to bet prices are about the same.
but get what you like. most of my stuff is craftsman, but i will get odd specialty tools from northern tools or harbor freight now and then,

protip: if you are trying to go to a store to exchange tools under warranty...DONT wear your mechanics shirt from work. they may give you "not for professional use" grief. however DO wear it when you go in to buy . some places will give you discounts because they want your shops business.

cycle queer isnt going to pay you . its like the fast food joint of MC retail. dealerships pay differently. definatly more. keep in mind parts counter is retail sales, and is generally partially commision based. last counter i worked at paid me 600 a month salary, plus 3% of my sales in commision. the commision would work out to about 1000-1600 a month. winter sucks. once you get good...you can sell people whatever they need/want, they come in with cash, leave with they like....the only limiting factor is how much business they have walking into the door for you to sell to. bigger, or i should say busier dealerships have higher earning potentials.

porters tend to have pretty low pay, as they are doing mostly busy work. they are usually the first to get fired in layoffs as they are "non-essential".
assembly/prep pays anywhere from 10-15 hourly depending on where you go. some places will let assembly guys get a small amount of flat rate commision labor as well. just depends on the shop.
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Old 10-29-2011, 12:49 AM   #15
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Quote:
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from their wiki's

kobalts tools: introduced in 1998
craftsman tools: introduced in 1927

other than that i dont know anything about kobalt, or how good their customer service is when it comes to replacements. if they do it like sears, where you walk in with a broken one, and walk out with a new one, then it might be allright. id rather go with the company thats been around since before i was born. im willing to bet prices are about the same.
I honestly have no preference. Although I might go with Kobalt, as I can get it for a discount, since my dad works at Lowe's. He says you walk in with a broken tool and walk out with a new one, every time, no questions asked. Seems nice.
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Hmmm the prodigal 250 rider returns...
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Old 10-29-2011, 11:47 AM   #16
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I say go to school. I went to Wyotech 4 years ago out in Daytona Beach. After that I got a job fresh out of school with one of the most prestigious Ducati dealers in the US, I have worked for 2 other shops since then and I make more money every year. I have also learned that if you can sell, you will make much more money selling bikes than working on them and you still get to see and ride the bikes you love everyday. It does take experience to make money in this business. If you don't know what you are doing, you are losing shops money and they won't want you around long. I worked my off at school 8 hours a day 5 days a week. I would say 5% (educated guess) of the people who went to that school are still in the motorcycle industry. You will not become rich working on bikes. Especially in this economy. The best shops to start out in are small shops to gain your experience. If you are in a big shop, the older techs will run circles around you and are most likely not to help you out if you need help with a diagnosis or a fix. You are costing them money pulling them away from jobs. If you can start in a small shop on a salary basis, you are doing great. I love where I am at today though, I work with the coolest bikes on this planet IMO. If you really want to do it, go to school. You don't learn how to diagnose electrical problems or learn how to build a motor that will run by working in the parts dept. That route will take way too long to be at where you want to be. The best thing the school does for you is teach you not just the mechanics but the theory as well and why parts fail, it's not just replace this broken part. If you don't know what caused that part to fail or how to prevent the failure you will fail as a tech because you will have too many comebacks addressing the same problems.
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Old 10-29-2011, 07:25 PM   #17
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dad works at lowes? hooks you up? go with that! LOL. no questions asked.

i cant argue with what snoogy said, that is definatly another route to go.

working on the very expensive brands like ducati, aprillia....will definatley make you more money. should be common sense. ducati dealers might send you to italy for tech training classes...how cool is that?!!??!

ill also say you CAN make FREAKING awesome money wrenching...IF you know a couple things, and are the right kind of person:

dealerships charge like $80 an hour. if you can be independant, drum up your own business...be a mobile mechanic, or have a suitable place for people to bring their work to you...you can make crazy money undercutting the dealer, $40 or $60 an hour. more risk involved, you float or sink based on your own strengths or weaknesses. liability is on you.

i would recomend working at shops and dealers to learn some of the ropes before you go it alone...but doubling your income by going solo is definatly doable. again IF you have what it takes to wear all the hats involved in running a business.

perfect example, andy at metric, i worked for him for a short time, and his life story is pretty damned impressive. he is quirky, but a super cool guy...a good example if you want to get into the business.
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Old 10-29-2011, 07:37 PM   #18
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Who is Andy at Metric?
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:21 PM   #19
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Metric motorcycles is a shop in the memorial/heights area. Andy is awesome....if he doesnt have a part available...he'll probably just make it. NO one else does that. he came from south africa if i remember right? built a very succesful shop with a good reputation from a few tools and a lot determination. id recommend swinging by there for an oil change or tires sometime.
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:57 AM   #20
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Like he said, don't buy Snap-On tools, especially when starting out unless you got a really compelling reason. (Like the Snap-On trucks stops by all the time and you get good deals) I got 35$ (a piece) Snap-On wrenches and I got 8$ a piece Craftsman wrenches. It takes forever to get a Snap-On driver to get you a replacement or repaired tool half the time. It's just as easy to replacement tools at Sears, but they cost less. If you need a special tool you'll use all the time that Sears doesn't carry go with Snap-On second. If you're only going to use it once or twice, go with Harborfreight or Northern Tool.

Cobalt and Husky stuff is disposable usually. I only buy it sometimes for back ups.

Matco and Cornwell stuff is good too, but trucks are rare sometimes.

Here's the deal: if you already know how to work on a bike. You can probably get a job doing it if you know your stuff.

If you don't, do a lot of research, and practice on your own bike. Maybe take an online course in it. Maybe move some place where you can take a hands on class.

However, you can get hands on experience just working under a master mechanic helping out, which you will be doing whether you take a class or not. Most businesses won't allow somebody who has never worked on a vehicle in real world conditions, to perform work solo. School training or no school training, the sad fact is that those schools just don't provide the trust in skill that many businesses require.

If you want to go to school just to get a certification for being a motorcycle mechanic: don't bother. As far as I know there is no sanctioning body that certifies motorcycle mechanics nationally.

If you had an ASE certification and knew how to work on cars, than that's probably more beneficial than any motorcycle repair class. If anyone still values the ASE anymore, than that shows you have knowledge in mechanical systems. Cars are more complicated (more cylinders, more wheels), generally have more advanced technology (direct injection versus throttle body, auto trannys), and require more specialized tools (cam positioning tools, advanced on-board diagnostic readers) than motorcycles. That's not saying that motorcycles are not more dangerous if you get it wrong but cars are probably more difficult to work on as a whole.

The things that a automotive training wont get you for motorcycls, but it probably easily acquired knowledge:
The ability to service and replace chains: easy to learn.
The ability to replace wheel bearings on a bike(much different from cars): easy to learn.
The ability to build and true spoke wheels: moderate to learn.
The ability to service and tune motorcycle forks. harder to learn [imo].
The knowledge about bike clutches and stators. Moderate to learn.

Most everything else is the same.
Braking systems are similar. Bikes are a bit easier unless there is ABS or Traction control, then it's about the same in difficulty.
The Manual Transmissions are a little different, but the repair is not shockingly off.
Electrical system is much simpler in a bike.
Computer systems are much less standardized in bikes, but if you have the right scanner, it's similar for diagnostics.
Drive trains in bikes can be shaft, belt, or chain. Some can be complicated, but generally less difficult to work on than cars.
Bike suspension can need fine tuning and the ability to see fine details. In cars its just brutal work.

Most of this stuff doesn't matter. Most shops would rather replace parts than rebuild them, it's almost to the point where it's cheaper and easier to put a good used engine in a bike, than it is to rebuild a mechanically abused one. You would still want to know forks, wheels, and clutches though.

90% of running and not crashed bikes probably either got a wheel out of whack (if it's a spoked dirt bike or cruiser), a worn clutch, or leaky forks for basic wear and tear repairs.


Cars and Bikes are generally repaired the same way: a mechanic will use his basic knowledge on internal combustion engines and how the system as a whole is supposed to work as a whole to diagnose the problem with the vehicle. The mechanic will then perform the repair and/or replace the damaged parts using a digital (no one with modern facilities uses paper anymore) service manual as a supplement to make sure all tolerances are followed.
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