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The marketplace in the cycling industry is constantly changing, for better or for worse. We’ve come from dedicated shops to online retailers and most recently the mobile maintenance concept seems to be taking off. Now, Velotooler is utilizing the sharing economy idea to connect mechanics to riders needing a fix. It’s similar to ride share programs, but the kicker is the unique profile that tracks and stores maintenance and bike history that could increase resale value or theft protection.

Get the download past the break…

how_it_works_velotooler

Similar to other sharing based companies, Velotooler is a middle man connecting consumers with others that are able to share their abilities, in their case it’s cyclists with mechanics. The website offers features that stretch beyond bringing two people together, it provides maintenance tracking and bike information for the owners. It also gives buyers peace of mind when purchasing a bike proving it isn’t stolen, and that the bike was well maintained.

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For the consumer making an account includes entering a valid email and password followed by an e-mail verification. Next, simply enter your bike’s information including serial number, style, brand, model, color(s), size, etc., and you’ll have your ride’s info stored for future reference. Before requesting service, enter an address and a payment method. Finally when a service is requested, a mechanic has seven days to accept the job before the payment is returned (hopefully a rare occasion).

Mechanics have a few more hoops to jump through, but they’re all reasonable and quick…

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photo c. Velotooler

For mechanics of all ability, creating an account includes a short aptitude quiz and experience questions. There’s also a checklist of tools you own and  with an interview process that’s over a phone or Skype call. There’s not a comprehensive list of prices for specific services yet, but for mechanics you can expect to receive payment five days after a service. Customers are protected by a five-day refund policy if labor isn’t up to snuff and a cancellation period (fee may apply).

Velotooler does charge 10% to the consumer and 10% to the mechanic for providing the service. Being in the beta stage, performance of the website and attributes may change. Their mobile app is coming to the App store, and is in development for Google’s Play store. This will allow mechanics and consumers to create an account on their phone, and manage service requests and bike info on the go.

Velotooler.com

 

 

17 COMMENTS

  1. This is a terrible idea. If there’s one thing you learn from working at a bike shop it’s that people are never satisfied with the work. Not because the mechanics did bad work, but because they expect there 80’s rusted steel clunker to look and feel flawless for 60 dollars. I bet 40 percent of jobs on this app will request a refund for poor work.

  2. Although there is some promise with this app….anyone using it be warned. Someone on bicycle retailer bothered to go through their fine print and here is the catch. Any mechanic on this app is barely required to prove their expertise. In addition, velotooler takes no responsibility for damage or injury. If you are a mechanic who wants to use this app, if someone crashes and blames you, and you don’t have insurance to cover yourself you will lose everything. I guarantee there will be scam artists using this to make money on lawsuits. Velotooler is just in it to make a quick buck, its a techy version of finding a “bike mechanic” on craigslist.

    • Velotooler is still not really live yet, but they are promising to handle the insurance. As to the qualifications of the mechanic… the vetting process could be better. Of course, there are lots of people working in bike shops that I wouldn’t let touch my bike…

  3. nopenopenope as a mechanic of 10 years, Dave b and lukee are exactly right. This is all bad.

    Part of what makes me a ‘good’ mechanic is that i get to pick the services my customers need. I say they need new cables and housing everywhere, they say the bike feels brand new. Who gets to pick the services this way? The customer? The app? I don’t think anyone is going to be happy.

    Why does the mechanic have to come to the bike? I already have to use my own tools?

    Where are the rest of the parts coming from? When someone strips their crank, are they expected to source the new one on amazon? What happens when i get there and they have a square instead of an offset diamond because they didnt know what square taper means?

    Too many foreseeable issues to get past. Go to your LBS

    • (on my lunch “break”) in the time between these posts, I just advised a lady who came in with her ancient magna that the cost needed to make it safe FAR outweighs the value of the bike she just found in the trash. This interaction happens at least once a day at my shop, no exaggeration. How is that gonna go down on this app.

      Don’t tell me that’s not who the app is intended for, I know, but you know that’s all we’re going to get. People that know better know not to try something this stupid.

      • banxx – spot on. as a former mechanic you wouldn’t believe the nonsense we saw. one classic example was a guy who pulled a bike from his neighbors trash wanting to fix it up for his son. head mechanic gave an estimate (which was IIRC around $300 for a walmart special), he complained. continued to complain until he asked for the manager. tried to haggle with the manager, asking to only fix certain things. manager eventually had enough and told the guy “did you ever stop and think that maybe the bike was in the trash for a reason?”

  4. Is this for real? Is this an actual problem in need of a solution, sorry, an app?

    Do people actually have a problem finding someone that can service their bike???

    Should be interesting to see what prices will be charged for spare parts, work time, and last but not least transportation.

    From my experience you can always find a bike shop or repair shop in any city, throughout the world; and the benefit of a shop is that they usually have all their tools in one place together with at least the basic spare parts (patches, tubes, wires, cable housing, etc.). For a “traveling” repair person, he will need to carry around quite a big bag of tools and parts, not to mention some type of bike stand if he intends to stay in the job for more than a week or two (repairing bikes without bike stands easily kills your back).

    In addition to everything, this idea requires that the bike owners having a problem to properly understand and communicate what the problem is with their bikes; and once again from my experience; the people that correctly can identify, explain and communicate what’s wrong with a bike or bike part are usually also those that are capable of fixing the issues by themselves.

    Nice try, wish you good luck. 🙂

    • +1. Then there’s the typical problem of the 1099 economy which creates a race to the bottom on wages… all so a tech bro can take 10 percent of the transaction.

  5. Great idea, shops extract way too much surplus from mechanics because they can only make money from them 12 weeks of the year! Consumers save more money, mechanics make more money, seems only rational to ditch your LBS. The internet has lowered the cost of parts so consumers would incentivized to buy online rather than the bike shop, why not skilled labour too?

  6. I like the idea very much and understand that noncompetitive mechanics are whining. It’s the same story as overpriced taxi drivers versus Uber.

  7. So the mechanic comes to you… Assuming he’s hauling his entire toolbox around, what if he needs to true a wheel, or replace brake cables? Is he going to bleed your brakes on the sidewalk? At best this works for people with spare time and skills adjusting brakes and shifters. It seems economically unrealistic for a mechanic to invest so much in a properly equipped mobile repair vehicle, incl. spare parts, for the minuscule profits to be had.

    • Surprising yes and I’ve been doing it for nearly 10 years now. OK in the UK but it seems that I’m economically unrealistic driving around in a fully equipped mobile workshop with an array of tools & a range of over 1000 spares. Doing all those jobs you list and more. Going to customers at times and locations booked by them in advance. Providing a convenient and reliable service, I must be mad. Maybe that’s why my customer database has just passed 1100 customers and grows weekly. That said, I wouldn’t use this App even if it was available here and now.

      • You’re not mad, you’re just dealing with a completely different population density. The area I could reasonably be expected to cover on a regular basis in the US would have about one quarter the average population density of England. That’s including multiple states that have very different work laws and tax rates. If I intended to make serious income from this, legally, I would have to file numerous estimated tax payment forms (1040s) to the federal government and multiple states quarterly. I’m sure that Velotooler will be filing their 1099s so wouldn’t expect to get out of paying taxes.
        If you live in a large metropolitan area or just a very densely populated area, this could put some extra money in your pocket, but fixing bikes isn’t getting paid to drive your own car from point A to point B or subletting your apartment/house.

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