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.
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.