India has high-end cycles, but do we have enough qualified mechanics? And if one is interested, how to become a high-end cycle mechanic? We ask Sanjay Mokal, one of the top 5 bicycle mechanics in India about his journey!
HELLO SANJAY, TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR JOURNEY PLEASE!
I started as a bicycle mechanic in Decathlon, Bangalore in 2008, went on to complete Level 5 of the Bicycle Maintenance course by Decathlon, in France. I have now opened a workshop of my own in Nasik, just for high-end cycles! In total, I have about 12 years of experience in bicycle maintenance.
When I was in Lille, France for training, I saw that cyclists were very well informed about their cycles. When they did need mechanics, it was for expert-level work. I saw their confidence, passion and how much pride they had in their work.
In India, we think a bicycle mechanic’s job is very simple. Looking at this I could see how in India we need to improve things – servicing, customer handling, tools.
In Nasik, I saw the same guy handling a Rs 1- 2 lakh cycle, and a Rs 5000 cycle. I saw we needed to segregate the cycles and their servicing. And so, I left my steady job to learn new technologies in cycling. Very few mechanics are ready to share their technical skills. Getting the proper tools is also difficult in India.
Ultimately, I started a bicycle workshop in Nasik – Passion Workshop, with 7 lac + tools. Earlier people went from Nasik to Mumbai for cycle servicing, now some cyclists come from Mumbai to Nasik.
WHICH CYCLISTS HAVE YOU SUPPORTED?
I have serviced Bharat Pannu’s cycle among others; Bharat Pannu has set a Guinness World Record by cycling the fastest from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in 2019. Also, I have serviced cycles for Neeta Narang, Anand Paranjpe, Jayant Patil, Chetan Agnihotri, Amar Miaji, Sundar Rajan, all endurance athletes participating in Ironman and such events.
I remember when I was supporting Bharat Pannu in Race Across Austria in 2017, the cassette came off. I repaired it in 10 – 15 minutes and after that, we saw no problem. He completed the ride successfully! I’m also happy to support Anil Warade, a senior citizen cyclist who has cycled from Nasik to Kankakumari and is now planning to do Nasik to Panipat.
WHO ARE THE OTHER TOP CYCLE MECHANICS IN INDIA CURRENTLY?
Talking of the top bicycle mechanics in the country, some 2, 3 people that come to mind; Riyaz from Trek Cycles, and one more rider cum bicycle mechanic in Guwahati – Rashmi Gogoi, a friend and student. She is doing very good work in bicycle mechanics in the North East. With our combined efforts, I hope to end the “chalta hai” attitude and lack of skills in the bicycle mechanic space.
HOW CAN ONE BECOME A HIGH-END CYCLE MECHANIC?
If you love to get your hands dirty with grease and grime and love to ride or do technical work then welcome to my workshop. You can do a 4 day course, and get the Basic Maintenance certification. You can then start your career as a trainee cycle mechanic in any cycling store. Or as a cyclist, just empower yourself with the knowledge and skills. With experience, you can become an expert!
As a mechanic you can expect about Rs 15000 as base salary, and go on to Rs 40000 plus, depending on your skills. (As of the year 2020).
Finally, my plan is to set up a fully-equipped world-class training school in India, where you can come and learn anything related to bicycles servicing, bike fit, and expensive tool handling. Perfection is the key to our work now!