Velofix_mobile-bike-shop-in-a-van_fleet-group-members

We’ve reported on the rise of mobile bike shops before with the Beeline vans running around San Francisco. But going at it for a good bit longer, Vélofix has the largest fleet of mobile shops operating across Canada and the US, with expansion out of North America near on the horizon. They already have 26 mobile shops up and running, with another 10 operators on board and expected to be on the road in early 2016. Roll past the break for a closer look at how they bring that local shop experience to you…


From talking with a number of industry insiders at the tradeshows this year, it’s become apparent that the concept of the mobile bike shop is poised for major growth in the next year or so. Maintaining a shopfront and keeping staff has always been hard on the small shop, and once you do the math, all of a sudden building out a sweet Sprinter van doesn’t look so expensive. With the expertise of Vélofix who have been doing it since 2012, hard-working franchise mechanics can bring premium service right to us cyclists either at our home or work.

Vélofix’s CEO and c0-founder Chris Guillemet tells us he has seen that riders “are seeking a new and better way to have all of their cycling needs serviced… demand is overwhelming”. And so Vélofix is expanding as fast as they can connect with motivated and qualified mechanics to run the vans.

Velofix_mobile-bike-shop-in-a-van_van Velofix_mobile-bike-shop-in-a-van_open-back_l

Vélofix gets each franchise owner set up in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van, outfitted better than many brick-and-mortar shops with a full pro Park Tool setup, a point of sale system, and their own online booking and payment system, and sets them loose on a new market. And to keep that local shop feeling each mobile shop van comes equipped with an espresso machine, a television, and high-speed wifi to keep you occupied while your mechanic finishes the last bits.

To book an appointment, cyclists just go online, enter your zip code, and are connected in real-time to the local mobile shop operator’s availability where you can set what time suits you. Then your friendly neighborhood bicycle mechanic comes to your door and gets your bike back on the road or trail again.

Velofix_mobile-bike-shop-in-a-van_Boris-working_l Velofix_mobile-bike-shop-in-a-van_bike-in-stand

Vélofix works on a franchise basis with each bike-shop-in-a-van being run by an independent operator. Their network with 17 vans operating in Canada, now covers every major Canadian market from Victoria to Montreal. In the US, Vélofix has mobile shops covering Seattle, Spokane, Portland, San Francisco, Denver, Boulder, Santa Monica, Pasadena, San Diego, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Salt Lake, Dallas, and even Kona, HI. They tells us that they plan to have 75 shops in the works by the end of 2016. Vélofix is even in talks to expand with vans covering Australian and UK market in the next year.

Velofix_mobile-bike-shop-in-a-van_founders

Like the smaller Beeline Bikes mobile shops operating mostly in and around the Bay Area, Vélofix is always looking to grow their brand through more franchises run by passionate, high-quality mechanics. If you or a friend are a motivated mechanic and don’t see your area already covered, get in touch with them and see what it takes to get out on the road.

Velofix.com

15 COMMENTS

  1. Makes perfect sense, if your bike isn’t functioning and you don’t drive a suitable vehicle getting a service is difficult to say the least.

  2. As if traditional bike shops don’t have enough competition already. I figure Velofix concentrates in metro areas that are already serviced by regular shops. They would be most helpful in rural areas where riders would have to travel 20-30 miles at least for service, but that probably isn’t their business model.

  3. @mudrock: maybe if LBS would actually have good service and a positive experience, then they wouldn’t have to worry about Velofix as a competitor. I have never had what I would consider a ‘great’ experience. When I take my BMW in, that’s a great experience.

  4. Almost zero impact on the general public. Most people will go to that shop they pass on the way home. I see Velofix as a race day service.

  5. Almost exclusively use Velofix for big jobs now. They come to you when it works for me instead of waiting a week to get in and only when its convenient for them. LBS can now focus on things like bike and gear sales because they’re rarely good at fixing things

  6. Hi, My name is Brian and I am the operator of the newest Velofix van in Portland OR. I’ve been a mechanic at high volume stores for the last 10 years. We’ve just outfitted our van and it is amazing. I have a much more complete shop setup then I ever expected from a mobile outfit. I don’t see us as much of a threat to your LBS. I love going to bike shops and I will continue to, but there are many folks out there who can’t or won’t because of the inconvenience of transporting and waiting on bike service. Give me a wave if you see me out there, I’ll always have my Trek 520 ready to roll for a mid day ride.

  7. Awesome service. I’ve been using Velofix for 3 years (early adopter). With 7 bikes between my wife and I, we can get 3 or 4 of them fully serviced in one visit, at home, while I’m at work. Imagine trying to get your bike shop to do that!

  8. Interesting, I would like to know how they work operating permits into certain municipalities and cities.what is the end of year prophet for francisee after all operating costs are talied?

  9. It is direct competition with the bike shops, but when is that a bad thing? Competition is good as it should mean better value and service for consumers. I’m all for supporting the LBS in your area but service experiences vary widely between shops. Velofix standardizes the support/delivery/metrics of the service experience and they have ultimate control over the product. Maybe bike shops should create the same type of service?

  10. Velofix is doing a very interesting thing. Mechanics rarely make good shop managers for the simple fact they are better at speaking to bikes than people. Thus in many shops there isn’t the opportunity for a lot of growth if you are a mechanic one day you might be the head mechanic, its still a pain though wrestling with the owners and managers to buy you what you need and give you the staffing that you need. Velofix offers those mechanics an opportunity to really shine buying what they need and getting to make the important decisions about how much work they do. For the customers that means there are some pretty sweet vans rolling around with some knowledgeable guys inside who do good work. Pretty win win bike shops still need to exist and both Velofix and the shops need to be cognisant of that. On top of all that Velofix provides race organizers with a perfect opportunity for really solid un-bonded tech support which is hard to get with the way some shops can be.

  11. I wish everyone involved the best of luck. But I don’t see this concept lasting very long. An existing shop with all its resources can easily duplicate this model without having to spend the $50+k to startup. If I were an LBS owner and Velofix came to my town, I would wait a season or two to see if it seems viable, then I’d get my own van (or use the one I already have, more likely) and start offering pick-up and delivery service. There is still the issue of “Quality of Service”, but that’s an easy fix if you decide you want to.

  12. I personally know someone who owns a van. He’s not the mech but just the owner and hires a mechanic to “run” the van. It’s barely profitable from what he quoted as 5 customers/week. Suffice to say I don’t see him still owning one of these Velofix vans after August next year. He’s not as hands on as he should be and that’s VERY crucial. There’s a Velofix guy @ my Tuesday night crit race and he’s popular amongst the riders (he also races with us).

    I did avail the service of one of these mobile bike shops before and had my bike built within 2 hours. While it was very convenient there was a high premium that you pay for the convenience.

    People like myself still choose to support my LBS. Having this “relation” to the guys at the shop is healthy for me. I’m not the most expert home mechanic out there and sometimes my LBS would do the most menial (for them) jobs for me at 0 cost. Also helps that I’m a good customer at the shop.

  13. I cannot recommend this place enough. Meet Boris in his van when a bunch of us were out on a ride one day. I booked an appointment and had him build up a bike for me one day. So cool they just show up at your house and do the work.
    imagine if you could get that sort of service for your car ? regardless Boris seems like a pro mechanic and he was a friendly enthusiastic guy. great craft and great customer service
    It was a little more than my LBS (120 compared to a quoted 80 at LBS) but I got to have it done that day and I just went back inside and played video games until he was done.
    This is in the vancouver bc area.
    seen these guys around at fondos and charity rides. havent used them since I can do minor stuff for my bikes and they are slightly more than LBS but I was pretty pleased and would recommend them.

  14. A friend of mine, who’s not a crack mechanic, and works a lot, so has limited time to get to the LBS, found Velofix very useful because they brought what was needed to him, on his schedule. I think it’s s great concept. Nothing at all preventing the LBS from doing this themselves, and probably cheaper too. I think it’s a great option.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.