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Industry Ticker: Velofix mobile bike shop now open for business in Portland

Posted by on January 14th, 2016 at 8:36 am

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The mobile bike shop wars are heating up.

Velofix, a Vancouver, B.C.-based company that launched in 2013, is now open for business in Portland.

Back in June we reported that another mobile bike shop company Beeline Bikes was looking for a Portland outlet. They’re still looking. Beeline Marketing Director Peter Small shared with us last week that they’re hoping to have their first Portland shop up and running before this spring.

Meanwhile, Velofix says their first van in Portland has been open for business since January 11th. Customers can book appointments on-line then sit back and wait for the big red van to show up. Will these bike shops on wheels disrupt Portland’s existing bike shop biz? That remains to be seen.

Check out the Velofix press release below for more info:

Mobile Bike Service Comes to Portland

Portland, OR The typical bicycle repair scenario goes like this: find your bike rack, install it on your car, load your bike up, drive it to your local bike shop, check it in and watch it get wheeled into the black hole that is the back room for up to two weeks. For some, this system simply doesn’t work.

As of January 11, cyclists have a more convenient option for bike repair with Velofix mobile bicycle repair service. Customers simply book an appointment online at Velofix.com and the van comes to their home or office, offering on-site service or pickup/drop-off options. The van houses a full service bike repair shop equipped for all levels of service, from installing chains to hydraulic brake bleeds.

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Velofix’s Portland franchise is owned and operated by co-founders Bill Fuller and Brandon Bruins and head mechanic Brian Link. Link boasts over 15 years of bicycle fitting and service experience at major Trek retailers in Portland and Virginia. Bruins and Fuller are lifetime cyclists with over 10 years of Portland bike shop management experience.

Velofix was founded in Vancouver, B.C. by University of Portland graduate David Xausa, triathlete and marathoner Chris Guillemet, and mechanic and three-time Canadian national track champion Boris Martin. Velofix launched its first Mercedes Sprinter van in January 2013. It has since expanded to over 30 vans in over 20 markets.

For more information contact Brandon Bruins via brandon@velofix.com.

Want more local bike industry news? Check out our ticker archives. If you have a tip or would like to see your news posted in this column, please drop us a line.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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VTRCKath YouellHello, Kittyrain watersJeff Bernards Recent comment authors
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Beth
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A mobile bike service opens while another brick-and-mortar shop closes. It’s all reflective of the rising cost of rent in Portland, the increasing difficulty of making a profit in the low-paying bicycle industry, and the fact that it’s easier to run a smalller, more streamlined business with fewer employees than to keep a large shop with lots of employees afloat in this economy.
This trajectory makes a lot of sense, and perhaps paves the way for a thinning of the herd of brick-and-mortar bike businesses over the next few years. That also makes a lot of sense, since having nearly 70 shops in Portland does not make sense to me. There’s healthy competition, and then there’s superfluous competition. I believe the success of mobile businesses will help to predict the longer-term health of the industry as a whole. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out over the next year or three.

Hello, Kitty
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Hello, Kitty

While I am not a natural customer of this service (I live near a great shop), I have used a similar service for car repairs in the past. It is a model that can work really well in some situations. For example, if I broke a chain on my way to work, it might be easier to call this service than to get my bike home and into my shop the next day (or next weekend).

I don’t love the fact that it’s a gasoline-powered shop, but there is potential for this to fill in the gaps in the service continuum by occupying a new niche.

Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

And for the owners of Beeline and Velofix [or other mobile repairers]..don’t forget the opportunity to service downtown Vancouver (WA)…as we have cyclists here but we lost our last downtown bike shop this fall – it had very strong repair service business demand.

(Perhaps set up a weekly pop up repair presence at one of the local coffee shops near the Columbia Street (I-5) bike lane…and then social media it.

dan
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dan

There is a simple irony of the Portland biking community embracing a motor vehicle based convenience. How will it work in the denser neighborhoods w/o street side parking?

Captain Karma
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I would take my broken down bike on a bus or max or taxi van and go to my regular shop. I know them.

Granpa
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Granpa

I have called mobile bike repair to come to my office to deal with repairs on my coworker’s bikes. Many cyclists don’t do their own repair work, and let stuff slide until they are on unsafe bikes. I like my shop, but I want everyone on the road to be safe.

AJL
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AJL

Mobile Bicycle Rescue in Seattle is a successful example of this model. They started out small, with a couple sites (they park at different days at different businesses throughout the city). I used them because it was great to be able to drop off my bike in the morning, then pick it up before I left work right at my building…or a short jaunt and I could meet up w/them a different day. The bike shop hours/locations are not always convenient for everyone and same-day service is not always guaranteed.

Now MBR has a storefront too – and lucky for me it’s conveniently located on my ride home; their model hasn’t made my relationship with a bike mechanic any less involved. In fact, they likely see me and my bikes more often because of the convenience.

Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

A better Portlandia business model would be to outfit a streetcar that ran in circles on the east and west tram tracks every 10 minutes – that could pick up bikes to repair or sell a spare tube. (UPS used to have private streetcars that made deliveries.)

B. Carfree
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B. Carfree

I suppose there could be rare times when this service would make sense. However, I never would have imagined that people would drive their bikes to bike shops to be repaired (ghost riding, simple carrying, a cart or just plain walking have always worked well for me), nor would I have believed that people would drive their bikes places to ride them, so no surprise that I didn’t see this coming.

Jeff Bernards
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Jeff Bernards

I was in Bristol England recently and a van was set-up at the train station, not driving around to each appointment. People left their bikes, took the train to work and picked it up on the way home. fixed. I actually talked to the guy for a long time about the business model. I’m not sure it would work in Portland, but maybe some day.

rain waters
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rain waters

Wrong.

Kath Youell
Guest

Does no one here know about Holy Spokes? Started out mobile, expanded to brick & mortar, still has mobile. Right on Division and I’ve seen their Rolling Wrench truck parked on Clinton. My husband has been in there a couple of times and says they’re nice people.

http://www.holyspokespdx.com/mobile-service/