â€œI hate broken bikes.â€ That was the straightforward way that CycloMend founder, Colin, began to explain why he started his Washington, DC-based company that pairs up mobile bike mechanics with cyclists in need. Benefiting both the owner of the busted bike as well as local mechanics looking for additional work (who are vetted by CycloMend before joining the team), CycloMendâ€™s goal is to improve the city â€œnot only by increasing ridership but also by connecting individuals with one another.â€
CycloMendâ€™s model seems simple â€“ use modern technology to streamline old-school house calls. Through an online booking page, customers provide CycloMend with information about their bikes, the issues and their service requests. A mechanic then gets in touch with each customer to discuss the repair needs, to confirm scheduling, and to be as prepared as possible for a single-visit repair (it’s not uncommon for customers to send photos for easier long-distance diagnosis). While CycloMend requires a minimum of four hours notice for a repair at this point (no emergency services available yet), Colin says that they have been able to accommodate all requests for service so far.
Of course, about 90% of the repair jobs are carried out by mechanics who arrive by bike (cycling to these urban locations makes logistical sense, and the mechanics are generally cycling enthusiasts themselves). However, commuting by bike as a mobile bike mechanic means that the techs do not have a full set of shop supplies and a vast selection of spare parts at their disposal. They do carry a selection of the more common tube sizes, brake cables and pads, and tools. For more specialized or complicated jobs, Colin still recommends visiting a local shop with a full tech center.
The trend of the traveling mechanic isnâ€™t unique to DC. Plenty of other cities support similar operations – some more advanced and professional than others. CycloMend, however, does emphasize friendly customer service and a lack of pretentiousnessÂ with its service, clearly making an effort in the company philosophy and marketing to be an approachable as well as an efficient service for people in need of bike repairs. While CycloMend may not be able to handle serious overhauls and jobs requiring bulky equipment, it is an excellent option for the less experienced cyclist in an urban area without a way to transport a disabled bicycle to the nearest shop.
Whatâ€™s next for CycloMend? Colin hopes to continue connecting local mechanics with local bicycle owners, and to expand the operation to other cities in near future.