How much should you pay for a bike repair in a London bike shop?

How much to fix a seized front derailleur?Whenever something goes wrong on a bike the typical course of action is as follows.

Step 1 – curse the cycling gods! Step 2 – Try to ignore the problem for as long as possible. Step 3 – give in and visit the nearest bike shop. You then find someone who looks knowledgeable and describe the problem. This invariably ends up being a test of the grasp of advanced English language as bike problems tend to be a little tough to describe. “The thingy at the front is making a weird grinding sound like grank grank when I pedal”.

This will cause the bike shop assistant to look at the bike and assess how dirty it is. This I always find a little strange considering I did not ask for an assessment of my bike cleanliness. I could ask any old stranger if that’s what I needed: “Excuse me sir how clean would you say my bike is on a scale of one to ten?”.

The bike shop assistant will then test out the bike, confirm it doesn’t work and tell you how much it costs.

At this point you either just go yes, hand it over and walk home in a miserable state or go home and think about it. In a miserable state.

How do you know if what they have quoted you is a good price?

Well, during a recent ride to Chichester my front derailleur seized and I decided this would be a good time to test out the different prices of London bike shops.

New shop down Theobald’s Road

The first was a new small bike shop that has just opened down Theobald’s Road.

I went in, described my problem, got my bike cleanliness assessment and was quoted a price. £10 for labour and £25 for the part. I could leave the bike there and then if I wanted.

Evans Cycles

The next day I found myself cycling around Canary Wharf and spotted an Evans. I cycled past it and then remembered I wanted to write this blog post. So I cycled back and asked how much the repair might be.

£25 for labour and £20 for the part. I would need to book it in for the repair.

On Your Bike, London Bridge

Later on I’m around London Bridge area and pop into an old favourite shop of mine On Your Bike. I ask an assistant who points me in the direction of the repair workshop. Inside there I find three people sitting around swirling on their chairs. It looks like fun. I interrupt their swirling and ask how much their repair would be. They bring out one of their mechanics who takes a look and then tells me it will be £25 for the labour and £25 for the part.

However, he also advices me I may be able to un-seize it by taking it off, giving it a good clean and spraying it with plenty of lubricant while working it side to side.

This is the only bike shop that gives me this bit of extra advice and I really appreciate it.

Cycle Surgery

I walk into the Cycle Surgery near Kings Cross and ask how much the repair will be. £20 – £25 for the part and £20 to £25 for the labour.

So let’s compare these:

New shop: £35 total
Evans: £45 total
On Your Bike: £50 total
Cycle Surgery: £40 to £50 total

The winner is..

The new shop down Theobald’s (I really should find out its name rather than calling it the new shop). Whilst there wasn’t a huge difference in prices it shows that it is worth shopping around. In particular smaller independent shops may be able to offer a better price. The added bonus is of course that you are supporting local businesses.

What am I going to do? I’m going to take the advice of the On Your Bike mechanic and try and fix it myself. Wish me luck!

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40 Responses to How much should you pay for a bike repair in a London bike shop?

  1. Bobby 24/02/2010 at 12:55 pm #

    A while back a friend of mine took her bike to Evans to repair a puncture. They said they could do it on the spot as it was quiet and they charged her for the cost of a new inner tube (say £5). They also then charged her something like £12/£13 for labour. When she questioned this, they response was that they have to charge for a minimum of 1 hours for labour. I’m sure that many people frequent bike shops for puncture repairs, and it seems like Evans are seriously taking the p*** with a policy like this. £18 is a hell of a lot to fix up a puncture – but if you’re in a fix and need it done there and then, as Evans is the closest option, they’ve got you over a barrel. Poor form, I say.

    • skidlid 27/09/2013 at 8:19 pm #

      Hey, last time I went into Evans with a puncture I bought the tube, fitted it myself in the shop, they lent me their pump, job done….even got offered a job as I fitted it quicker than some of their staff could do it (Evans – Fulham, thanks guys)…..like most things, don’t tar all with the same brush. There will be good & bad storys about the same shop/company no matter what you are dealing with.

  2. botogol 24/02/2010 at 12:59 pm #

    that poor shop! So, so close to getting some great publicity…… but you leave the name out!!!

    I will tell all my mate about this new cycling blog I read… can’t remember what it’s called.

  3. Damien Breen 24/02/2010 at 1:05 pm #

    I have to heartily recommend London Bicycle Repair, SE1. Will always be honest and up front about any repairs – whether they have the parts needed in stock, or if it could just need a clean and a spray of GT85 (as in the case of your front mech, above).

    After going there for a few years they show their appreciation of the custom by only charging me for parts, or sometimes just for labour. Last week they fixed a spoke and trued my rear wheel for the princely some of £10.

    As for assessing the cleanliness of your bike – you’d be amazed how many squeeks, clangs and strange noises can be cured by a good clean and a spray of the magic wand that is GT85.

  4. Damien Breen 24/02/2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Quick response to Bobby above – a couple of weeks ago I was caught out by a couple of punctures. Stopped in an Evans (the Kingston branch), bought new tube and asked if I could fix it in the shop and make use of their track pump. No problem whatsoever.

    I’m always amazed by the number of cyclists who can’t change a tube, and unfortunately shops seem to charge heftily for little repairs such as these.

    • skidlid 27/09/2013 at 8:24 pm #

      …yeah, and Evans Cycles even run course to teach you how to do it….in their shops using their equipment & you get a goodie bag & the return of your £10 deposit. I say, don’t knock um til you try um, if they get it wrong, give them a chance to correct it….then hang them out to dry….

  5. JonF 24/02/2010 at 4:18 pm #

    New shop is http://londonbicycleworkshop.com

  6. peterS 24/02/2010 at 4:48 pm #

    The quality of repairs can be very variable. A friend brought his bike back from a ‘service’ at Cavendish Cycles a while back and the derailer was so badly adjusted that it threw the chain off. Not as bad as a service I had once in Sydney where the rear wheel fell out of the dropouts when I picked it up to carry it…

    Personally I’m a fan of bikefix on Lambs Conduit Street – always very helpful.

    • TOM IN london 22/08/2010 at 1:31 pm #

      Bikefix? You must be joking. Bikefix was the first place where I experienced bike snobbery. There’s a guy in there who always seems very busy with something much more important than you. He won’t even look at you. And if you ask him anything his response is a pained look. I’ll never go there again.

      • Steve 20/05/2011 at 10:08 am #

        Hear hear. I used to go there, and they do a decent job, but by god they are dismissive. Discovering London Bicycle Repair and the contrast in attitude was like walking out from the shadows into bright sunlight.

  7. Filippo Negroni 24/02/2010 at 5:51 pm #

    My recommendation is to learn to repair the bike yourself.
    Although some parts might require some specialists tools, most repairs can be done at home at a fraction of the cost.

    I can fit a new front derailer in very little time, despite what most people will claim, and will be able to source the part online with next day delivery at less than the price paid in the shop.

    Most parts are nowadays cheaper to replace than repair. And if your part is so valuable that you must be able to repair it, you should know better than pop into a high street shop.

  8. wayne 24/02/2010 at 5:54 pm #

    Personally I have given up with on lbs. They either take the piss on repairs or insist that you book it in, often waiting days on end. I cannot recommend enough attending a local repair course (run by ctc) and getting a few tools as they pay for themselves in no time. You will prob. surprise yourself on how simple most things are.

  9. Ruth 24/02/2010 at 6:08 pm #

    Funny there was a blog post about bike repairs today…

    There is a guy called Bike Ade – http://www.bikeade.co.uk – and he is literally in my hallway right now fixing the puncture I found as I was leaving for work this morning.

    A couple of texts sent this morning and as I return from work the same day he is at my front door, ready to fix my puncture. Not only that, he’s tightened my chain which I haven’t got round to doing because I’d bought the wrong size spanners and fixed my back brake – brilliant!

    Great service, and £12 is well worth a puncture repair especially as he comes to wherever you are stuck. Great on a miserable rainy cold day like today. Have also have previously had both mine and my husband’s bike serviced, again at home (a Saturday no less!) and at considerably less than if we’d have gone to a shop.

    I live in E1, but apparently he covers all Zones 1 -4!

  10. Andreas 24/02/2010 at 6:30 pm #

    @JonF huge thanks for dropping in the name of that shop! I didn’t know if they would have an online presence yet.
    @Botogol, fantastic comment had me laughing.

    @Bobby puncture repairs must be like cash cows for these shops with a 99% profit margin on them! Good point from Damien that puncture repair is pretty simple and think its something most people should try and figure out. Of course if you have the money to spend on it then be guest.

    @Damien, agreed a good clean fixes all. Thanks for recommending Bicycle Repair in SE1 I’ll visit them for a bit of a wheel truing.
    @PeterS – sounds like a nightmare scenario. Chain flying off is never good and potentially quite dangerous. Thanks for recommendation of BikeFix. Maybe I should compile some kind of best bike shops in London list?

    @Filippo that is my plan. After all a new derailleur comes with an instruction manual for how to install it! Just need to split the chain which is fine as I have quick release.

    @Wayne – not all lbs are bad, some are worth a visit
    @Ruth – sounds like an impressive service. There are a couple of these call out guys in London. Again this would make another good blog post writing about them.

  11. Ruth 24/02/2010 at 6:40 pm #

    @Andreas – Ade is very good, and great value for money. I got flyered by someone else offering a similar service recently in the City on my way home (on bike) but they were advertising £19.00 for a puncture repair, which I think is far too high a price!

  12. dsss 24/02/2010 at 7:52 pm #

    I can also recommend London Bicylce Repair Shop, Hatfields off The Cut near Borough Tube. They’ve always fixed same day and prices are reasonable. Only problem was when they cleaned the bike. After years of trying to get a distressed look, (ie not worth nicking), it now looks almost desireable. I beliebe they have also just announced a pick-up, (by cargo bike) service.

  13. wari 25/02/2010 at 7:10 am #

    Puncture repair in Singapore? $2-$3 (about £1). Really guys, how can you pay that much for something you can do in 5-10 minutes? Granted you need to have the tools in the first place.

    Heck, one premium bike tube here costs $12, if I asked the guys in the shop to fix it for me with a new tube, the charge would be $12 and nothing more, including the new tube. Baffled.

    • TOM IN london 22/08/2010 at 1:34 pm #

      If like me you live in a tiny flat and have nowhere to stand a bike and work on it, plus if you’re getting on a bit and jobs that used to be easy are now really hard, that’s when you need someone to repair a puncture for you. So if these Bike Aid people come to your home and you have no outside space and it’s raining, what do they do?

  14. tim 25/02/2010 at 9:55 am #

    or give these guys a call http://www.cycledelik.com never disappointed with the service or the value offered

  15. Andreas 25/02/2010 at 10:27 am #

    I’ve been recommended cycledelik before and they I’ve only heard positive things about them

  16. Lucy 26/02/2010 at 7:16 pm #

    The London Bicycle Workshop is on the corner of Theobald’s/Gray’s Inn Roads. Not sure if that’s the one you mean but I’m well impressed so far! I will go out of my way to go there again.

  17. Knit Nurse 27/02/2010 at 12:19 am #

    Not everyone has the inclination to learn to do their own repairs, but I would suggest that being able to change an inner tube/tyre and replace brake blocks is a good minimum to aim for will save you a lot of money. A friend told me she was charged £15 just to put a new inner tube on (although I think that included the cost of the inner tube – all of about 99p at cost price I suppose!) which totally shocked me!

  18. Kenny 27/02/2010 at 11:32 pm #

    The best value is to pay the tuition cost of you local community college and take a bike repair class, then invest the $ in a good set of tools and a basic bike stand. Not only will you have fun repairing your own bike but you’ll have loads of new mates who want you to repair their rides for the cost of a few pints :-)

    • Andreas 28/02/2010 at 9:12 am #

      Very true! When I first learnt some stuff I was instantly the goto person. Couldn’t always help but when I did it felt good!

  19. Dan 04/03/2010 at 11:32 am #

    The Guys at the London Bicycle Workshop are great. what a nice shop, knowledgable an dprices are great too. will definately go back there!!!

  20. Phips73 04/03/2010 at 1:05 pm #

    You were so close to Condor Cycles on Grays Inn Road, one of the oldest bike shops in London. Why didn’t you give them a spin? Not sure of the prices but have always been helpful when it comes to lending tools and track pump when i’ve had a puncture

  21. Lu 04/03/2010 at 9:20 pm #

    Condor Cycles on Gray’s Inn Road, are very knowledgeable and really very helpful. They have also let me use their tools on many occasions, and even offered to help FOC every now and then. Not sure what they’d charge for a puncture as I fix these myself, but is not the cheapest!

  22. Andy 16/09/2010 at 10:24 am #

    Mobile Cycle Service have been looking after my family bikes for the last 3 years and done a great job every time!

  23. steve 11/04/2011 at 9:28 pm #

    I was shocked at the prices of servicing and a lack of qualified mechanics in shops so I set up my own mobile mechanic service in Portsmouth (I’m fully insured and Cytech certificated), I also teach basic mechanics and run a community bike recycling project offering free basic repairs.
    The good news is I’ve done no advertising yet I’m always busy and I am proud to say that I have got more people cycling then most of the the shops in the city. I think Mobile mechanics are the way forward and if you get a good one stick with them :)

  24. bike shop croydon 11/08/2011 at 11:03 am #

    I’ve been recommended cycledelik before and they I’ve only heard positive things about them

  25. Jordi 27/04/2012 at 12:26 pm #

    I’ve had no complaints about Bikeworks http://www.bikeworks.org.uk/ they used to be next to Victoria Park, now moved to Cambridge Heath Rd, I went to have the bottom bracket adjusted and it was cheap and quick.

  26. helkav 07/12/2012 at 5:01 pm #

    I don’t get the reasoning of people thinking £12/£13 per hour is expensive for labour. If you think that this has to include a trained mechanic (presumably), shop floor rental and tools, I think this is a good price. If a good job is done I would be happy with that. I actually don’t see how they can afford to pay a decent wage out of it. They must be paying min wage. Ask yourself would you be able to run a shop in London and only charge that per hour. I don’t have a bike shop myself but I can’t see how you could survive charging less than that

  27. helkav 07/12/2012 at 5:02 pm #

    hey, how did my pic get put up against my comment? this is google’s doing isn’t it?

    • Andreas 08/12/2012 at 11:06 am #

      Hey helkav – this is through Gravatar: https://en.gravatar.com/

      • helkav 08/12/2012 at 1:40 pm #

        ah d’oh! that was a LONG time ago I set that up! thanks Andreas I guess it’s not google (this time!)

  28. don 28/01/2013 at 12:55 pm #

    I get my bike serviced at home by london cycle medic and have always been happy. Same price as a shop, but they come to my house.

  29. Mikey 05/03/2013 at 8:19 pm #

    Interesting article, people don’t often shop around for repair costs compared to when they buy a new bike, I think typically it’s better to take your bike to somewhere that you know will do a good job(referrals, google reviews), as the cheapest won’t be the best!

  30. John 21/01/2014 at 12:41 pm #

    You’ll find a comparison of puncture repair prices for most London bike shops here

    http://www.flatyre.co.uk

    Enjoy!

  31. Ashwin 22/11/2014 at 3:06 pm #

    Bike repair and maintenance is a cartel job in the UK – keep prices uniformly high by portraying bicycling as a middle class activity. Either that or there aren’t enough entrepreneurs in this sector. I for one am sick of going to these bicycle shops that are determined to start off at £25-£30 but try their best to bloat up your bill to £50 or more.

    Where are the bicycle handymen that can pop down to your house (or workplace) and do the work at handyman prices? If I can get ironing, cleaning, gardening, plumbing, moving services on this basis, why can’t I get basic bicycle work done like this?

    • Ashwin 22/11/2014 at 3:11 pm #

      What bicycle repair needs to bring the prices down is the Eastern Europeans getting in on the act.

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