Bird Mechanic Review: What It’s Like to Fix Bird Scooters

If your city has Bird scooters, you’ve probably seen people out and about on them. Perhaps you’ve even seen some damaged scooters – but have you ever wondered who repairs them? They’re called ‘Bird Mechanics’ and today, reader Chris T. is going to share how you can get started as a Bird Mechanic, what they do, and how much they are paid.

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If you’re interested in working for Bird, then you might also be interested in driving for some of the other best gig jobs such as the best food delivery jobs.

Become a Bird Mechanic

As the dockless scooter craze continues to gain momentum, it’s impossible to drive more than a few blocks without seeing them here in Los Angeles, particularly on the westside. If you’re already taken a few rides, you’ve probably come across a few that are unrideable, either because of visible damage or some internal issue.

So who’s fixing these scooters? As Harry has covered, Bird uses the independent contractor system in to keep their scooters charged each day, known as Bird Chargers. And they actually use this same system to ensure they are maintaining the scooters with their teams of Bird Mechanics. Here’s an overview of what it’s like to be a Bird Mechanic.

Bird scooter mechanic
Bird scooter mechanic

I made my splash into the “side-gig” industry as a Bird Charger this past Spring. I figured at $5 each, it would be a great way to earn some extra beer money. After about a week, Bird had reached out to see if I’d like to become a mechanic. I’m a fairly handy guy, so I thought, “why not?”… I was frustrated with the hoarders and was never able to grab more than a few $5 scooters a night, so doing some repairs at $20 per scooter seemed great (They’ve since lowered that rate to $15).

Getting Started as a Mechanic

I had a brief call with a representative from Bird, they had me review some how-to videos online (see below) and answer questions after, which took a couple hours. A few days later, my starter kit arrived and they switched me over from Charger to Mechanic mode (you’re not allowed to have both modes). The starter kit included a few tools (Allen wrenches, tire lever, air pump) and replacement parts (inner tubes, tires, stickers).

Tip: The tools they supply aren’t the best. I had better quality tools to begin with, including a hand-held power air compressor which makes things a lot easier. Picked up a small tool bag from Amazon.

Related article: essential gear for scooter mechanics

How Can You Tell if a Bird is Damaged?

Bird uses a single app for riders, Chargers, and mechanics. If you’re a Charger/mechanic, you’re able to toggle over to Charger-mode or Mechanic-mode to see an alternate map and options. Mechanic mode will show a map of birds in need of repair, along with a task list of Birds in your possession.

We’re only able to capture and repair Birds that have been marked in the system. I’ve come across damaged birds when I’m out, but there’s nothing I can do unless it has been marked in the system.

What Types of Repairs Are You Doing?

The types of repairs you will do as a Bird Mechanic depend. When I see it on the map, I have no idea what’s wrong with it. I must figure it out by inspecting it. Most common issues are flat tires, broken kickstands, brake levers, loose neck/handlebars, or adjusting the brakes.

Once you’ve scanned and captured the Bird, you can unlock and ride it to see what the problems are (if it’s not already visually apparent). The Bird code is now in your “Tasks” section and will stay there until you go through the repair process and release in a nearby nest.

What If I Can’t Fix the Broken Bird?

If a Bird has more severe damage such as cut cords, broken neck, etc. we are asked to bring it in to a designated drop-off location. Originally, they paid $20 whether you could fix it or if you drop it off. I assume there were some who abused this and would just drop off everything without trying to fix.

Now you’re only compensated $5 for this instead of the standard $15. This may have resulted in many mechanics opting to just move on or release them rather than bring them in, as it’s hardly worth it unless you live close to the designated drop-off location or have several to drop off.

Some Birds will be marked for transport to facility only and will be paid $10, which is likely a way to get some of the severely damaged ones off the street. After all, if you drive by something like this, you may not even stop.

Where Do You Get Parts?

As mentioned, they give you some basics in the starter kit, but you can simply request additional parts to be shipped out to you from the Support Chat. After a while, you’ll get a feel for what you need and keep a supply on hand (fenders, bells, brake lever, kickstand, inner tubes, etc).

Pro Tip: You can always go to the drop-off facility and pull parts. Or, when you’re dropping off a severely damaged one, you can strip salvageable parts that you can use for other repairs later.

How Does Being a Bird Mechanic Compare to Being a Bird Charger?

For starters, hoarders aren’t really an issue in our world. We can also drop them off at anytime between 4am-5pm. Originally, we could also release them anywhere or where we found them, but they’ve recently changed this to require us to also drop them off in designated nests.

There’s obviously still the competition factor, as there are fewer available. The map can be misleading, and the Birds are often not there. We’ll look on the details, and if it was last located 3 days ago, it’s probably not there. If you can’t find a Bird that’s supposed to be there, you can tap ‘Mark it Missing’ to alert Bird so they can identify and locate or replace the missing Bird.

In fact, depending on the area, they typically get scooped up in 20 min or less. There’s nothing more frustrating than racing 10 blocks only to arrive and find someone else loading your scooter into their car. With that said, unlike some of the stories I’ve heard on the Charger side, I’ve found most other mechanics to be courteous and friendly.

In terms of payout, it depends on the day and amount of time you’re putting in. I typically try to do 5-10/day, which works out to $75-$150. I know people who do it full time and are fixing 20+ a day.

On select weekends, Bird offers bonuses, like an extra $50 for repairing 10 in a day. If you’re lucky enough to come across many quick fixes, it can seem like easy money. If you’ve got to change 10 flat tires, it can get very exhausting.

Related article: essential gear for scooter mechanics

How Do I Sign Up to Become a Bird Mechanic?

You can sign up to become a Bird Mechanic here, where you’ll enter basic information and be contacted if Bird is onboarding new Mechanics in your area. Bird has said they are slowing down the onboarding. I assume they brought on a bunch of mechanics, then slowly weeded out the bad apples.

For example, if the Birds you repair are continually marked damaged again, they’ll likely suspend your account. They may try to shift simple responsibilities like tightening of the handlebars or replacing stickers over to the Chargers’ plates, thus limiting the number of simple fixes they were paying Mechanics. They’ve begun sending Allen wrenches out to Chargers. They’ll also look at demand, and slowly lower the payout as they have already until they find a happy equilibrium.

How Do I Become a Lime Mechanic?

To my knowledge, they don’t have Lime mechanics. Lime uses the Ninebot ES2 scooters. Bird has some of these models also. They tend to be either very simple repairs (screw tightening) or electronic troubles that require specialized repair technicians.

Final Thoughts on Being a Bird Mechanic

The rise of these dockless scooters is exciting, as they have the potential to cut down on carbon footprint and traffic congestion. Fixing Bird scooters can be fun and lucrative (for now) if you enjoy working with your hands.

If you decide to become a Bird mechanic, I simply ask that you understand the responsibility that comes with it. If you’re not handy, or don’t have the patience to do the job right, please stick to Charging. I’ve personally come across several instances where corners were cut, or mistakes were made and it’s scary. Remember, riders get on these scooters with the expectation that they are safe and well maintained. If someone hops on and takes off without realizing the brakes aren’t working, it can be disastrous. There are lives are quite literally in your hands.

Bird Mechanic Forum

Join our forum, where Bird Chargers and Mechanics ask questions and share advice, tips, and tricks. Click here to join the forum.

Additional Links

Readers, have you considered becoming a Bird Mechanic or are you interested in becoming one?

Chris has been serving as a Bird mechanic for the past few months in the West Los Angeles area.

-Harry @ RSG

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