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#Trending in 2015: The Mobile Bike Shop

by Stacey Moses

Mobile bike shops are an important industry trend to watch in 2015, reported Fred Clements, the executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association, on Bicycle Retailer and Industry News earlier this year. Humbly, I admit that Commute By Bike predicted this trend many moons ago, when I first wrote about CycloMend in 2013 and Josh mentioned Beeline Bikes in 2014. However, since we wrote about these modest startups, what was then a great idea has transformed into a legitimate business model that is now being executed by experienced independent bicycle dealers and well-qualified mechanics all over the country.If you are not familiar with the concept of mobile bike shops, it is exactly what it sounds like – a bicycle repair shop on wheels (four wheels, typically, prepared to fix your two wheels). Most of the existing companies follow the same formula: you book an appointment online, they come to your home or office and perform the repairs, and your bike is refreshed and ready for you in no time. Some operations have more vehicles than others, and some are better stocked with replacement parts, but you get the idea.BeelineHomepageAccording to Scott Chapin, who is a bicycle industry risk specialist with Marsh & McLennan Agency, “since the overhead is super-low, it is pretty easy for these mechanics” to venture into the mobile bike shop business. “Many of these mechanics are purchasing a small enclosed trailer and/or cube van to do the work in. If the job is too complex, they will bring the bike ‘home’ or to their garage.”Now that you know what a mobile bike shop is, and how ahead of the times Commute By Bike is, let’s answer the more pressing question of who was more prophetic in his or her ‘ones to watch’ post: me or Josh?Sadly, it wasn’t me. Despite its initial success and expansion from DC to San Francisco, CycloMend is no longer around, and I did not receive a response when I reached out to the founder to learn what had gone wrong.Josh, however, hit the nail on the head when he listed Beeline Bikes as a startup with “the potential to be impactful in a way that really scales.” The San Francisco-based company now serves SF, the SF Peninsula, the South Bay, San Jose, and the Tri-Valley/Lamorinda areas of the East Bay, supports more than one hundred corporate partners, and is offering franchise opportunities in other markets. According to Beeline’s site, it doubled its fleet in 2014. And, perhaps most significantly, Beeline announced on July 22nd that it will receive significant financing from Backcountry.com, operator of CompetitiveCyclist.com, to continue its expansion ($2.6 million, to be exact).While there is still a place for brick-and-mortar shops (the mobile shop is a long way from being able to deliver the same selection of parts and accessories, let alone new bikes and apparel), the mobile bike shop is unlikely to be a passing fad. As consumers, we’ve grown accustomed to ordering everything online and same-day delivery is no longer a revolutionary concept – why should our bicycle service be any different? Do a quick online search. There’s a very good chance that you already have a mobile bike shop in your area.

 
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2 Responses to “#Trending in 2015: The Mobile Bike Shop”

  1. Erik Fetch says:

    Just to keep you informed. I started my mobile business in 1987. Article in may 1991 Bicycling mag “live the dream”. peter buhl was a 15 year customer of mine who I suggested the franchise idea to many years ago. He approached me first to join on but I declined. I think any good bike mechanic does not need the cost of a franchise fee and franchise rules to run a simple business like this. I have been selling a how to manual since the 1991 article which is now self published on amazon’s create a space for $29. As you stated there are many many mobile shops out there now and all solo non franchise owners. I decided to help free up the bike mechanic and not take franches fees from them.

  2. Kevin Love says:

    “Prophetic”? Mobile repair has been around as long as bicycles.

    Check out the classic Monty Python skit:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U01xasUtlvw

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