Are mobile bike shops the future?

By Jeffrey Stern

You’ve seen them around town, at events across the country and with their own Instagram accounts complementing their nomadic lifestyle and serving as a business development tool. It’s a trend that goes hand in hand with the direction our society is heading towards. When we want things these days, we want it now. Whether it be information from the web, a phone number, the address of the nearest coffee shop during a road-trip or anything in-between. We live in a world that encourages timely dissemination of information and just getting shit done as quickly as possible.

What does that mean for bike shops? Well, they’re hitting the road. From Beeline Bikes to Velofix to the Bike Doctor, shops on wheels are becoming popular, and it makes sense.

In the world of I want it all and I want it now, who has time to put their bike in their car, or even worse, ride their bike, into their local bike shop to have something fixed or looked at? I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes I’m lazy about bike maintenance I can’t do properly or have the right tools to complete at home. I put it off like the overgrown weeds in my backyard. It’s easy to procrastinate getting my bikes fixed properly and more often than not, my list of tasks each day seems to roll over into the next day, an endless cycle of time suck I can never seem to escape. Even though I can find solutions to problems faster than ever in today’s day and age, I can never get everything done.

Now, thanks to these mobile bike shops, when I have an unresolvable issue, I can schedule a certified mechanic to show up at my place of work, home or probably even any random place I can drop a pin on Google Maps, to meet up and solve the problem right then and there.

You might be thinking, what’s the catch? Won’t it cost you an arm and a leg? Actually, and quite surprisingly, it doesn’t. I’ve found most of these mobile shops repair rates to be quite comparable, if not less, than traditional brick and mortar stores. Probably because their overhead is a little less, be it that the square footage they have to manage is substantially less and they’re trying to do one thing, and only one thing really well.

What do these mobile shops mean for your favorite shop in town? If you live anywhere but a major metropolitan area or city where most of these mobile shops are popping up, likely not much. That being said, companies like Velofix are growing fast; they are the largest fleet of mobile bike shops across North America, serving 24 states and four provinces to our friends in the north. However, for the most part, they are concentrated where a lot of people and bike customers live.

But if you live in say, the San Francisco Bay Area, where no less than a half-dozen of these mobile sprinter vans exists, it gives you options. Time savings, convenience and possibly a way to squeeze more time out of your day rather than making an extra trip to your LBS.

What these mobile shops don’t offer are the ability to carrying a wide variety of brands of parts and pieces that might be specific to your bike or even the ability to fit you into their ever-busier schedules. In the future, if demand outweighs supply of these mobile repair units, you might be forced to schedule repairs days or even a week in advance. This could potentially defeat the purpose of getting a quick fix before your post-work ride. I doubt these mobile shops have yet to experience too much work overload…yet. Ultimately, the more players in the bike maintenance market the better for you, the consumer; lower prices and fast service to keep you on the road year round, no matter how busy your life’s schedule gets.

Have you tried a mobile bike shop recently? What was your experience like? Would you use them again? Let us know in the comments.



Beeline Bikes bringing mobile bike shops to more cities

Everyone is busy these days, and making time to get a bike tuned up isn’t easy. Often, having your bike serviced first requires you find a shop that will work on your particular model, and then having to leave the bike for days or weeks while it’s waiting for its turn. The Beeline model instead brings the bike shop to wherever you are, saving you time and hassle.

Each Beeline Bikes truck is a fully-equipped bike shop on wheels that can deliver service, parts and even brand-new bikes wherever you need them. You make an appointment online or over the phone, and they come to meet you. They take care of anything from fixing a flat tire ($9.99) to a full service tune-up ($79.99). The minimum service charge is $29.99. More advanced needs may require a Pro Service, whereby they pick up your bike and return it 2-3 days later.

The Beeline trucks also stock all kinds of parts and accessories, so if you want to add new grips or switch out your saddle, they can do that too. If you have multiple bikes that need service Beeline can cover them all in one convenient house call.

The service also partners with leading bike-friendly employers in the San Francisco area to provide on-site bike shop services at work.

Based out of San Carlos, California, Beeline Bikes was founded by Pete Buhl, a longtime cyclist and Silicon Valley veteran who has worked in technology and operations, and Andy Jeffrey, who has experience with inventory and supply chain management. While it still maintains a brick-and-mortar store in San Carlos, in the past two years Beeline has grown to include six mobile bike repair shops in the Bay Area supporting more than 100 companies.

Now the company is expanding into other markets through franchising. Instead of being owned by a central office, each Beeline repair service is its own independent franchise. This means the mechanics have more control over their hours, scheduling and overhead. Right now Beeline is considering opening operations in Portland, Los Angeles, Denver and other cities, but anyone interested in potentially becoming a franchisee can learn more at the Beeline Bikes website.


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