VELOFIX Bike Tune Gets Pez!
Save time. Ride more. The Velofix bike tune slogan says it all, and they delivered when I booked them for a visit to PEZ HQ to tune-up one of my favorite bikes just in time for winter riding season. Fast, convenient, and good quality work made a solid first impression.
Man that was fast. At first I didn’t recognize the red Sprinter van parked in my driveway – until I remembered I’d booked Velofix for a 10AM service call. I was even more impressed when just 90 minutes later Matt the mechanic was done my bike was and running like new – ready to ride.
The timing in early October was perfect, as I’d been wanting to get my Lynskey Helix back on the road. I’m ashamed to admit this, but in the interest of credible journalism I’ll disclose that I’d let the bike hang on the wall for a season after the chain seized last winter – the victim of being ridden hard and put away wet (to use one of my dad’s old sayings…).
I’d been aiming to get the bike fully tuned, and had it in my mind to book an appointment at my local shop. Then I met VeloFix owner Chris Guillemet at Interbike and got a quick tour of their fully equipped van (ie: mobile bike service shop), and it was a no brainer seeing how much more convenient it’d be to have the bike shop come to me.
To quantify that convenience, I did some simple math. It takes me say 20 minutes to get my bike organized and loaded for a trip to the shop. Drive time to the shop is 15-20 minutes x both directions. Add in some hang around time at the shop (15-30 mins), and the fact that a winter tune-up like I needed would mean leaving the bike there for at least a day, and I’m well invested in getting this job done. That’s also why this bike had hung neglected in my garage for the past few months.
The vans are all custom built to Velofix spec by one supplier in the US, so every ‘shop’ looks the same. I liked the built in sink for scrubbing parts clean.
In case you haven’t heard of Velofix – they’re probably the fastest growing “bike-shop” in North America. And I use that phrase in every sense of our modern web-based economy, because even though they started out as a mobile bike repair service just about three years ago, they discovered that clients often need and want to stock up on bits of bike gear right from the visiting Velofix van. The trucks have evolved from ‘just’ a rolling service shop, to arriving with a pretty good stock of parts and accessories for the bike (tires, tubes, drive train parts – and just about everything else you might want can be pre-ordered so they show up with everything you need (wheels, even a bike if you choose their full build service). I wouldn’t be surprised if they start offering more items like clothing and riding apparel soon.
So I signed up for their “Yellow Jersey” tune-up on their website – listed for $89 plus tax and parts, and then ended up adding a few a la carte services as we got into the job. It’s a pretty detailed tune-up that takes about 90 minutes. But based on how long it takes me to do the work, it’s about the same amount of time as if I took the bike into my local shop – minus the overnight stay and next day pickup (assuming my shop could do the work by tomorrow.)
That 90 minutes didn’t seem long enough to me – but when Matt got rolling, I actually had to run to fetch some spare parts of my own just to keep up with him. The compact and private workspace allows the VeloFix mechanic to work uninterrupted on the job at hand. All the tools he needs are within arms’ reach and there are no other mechanics sharing the space or using the tools – so focus is 100% on the bike in the van.
I liked that as part of their one-one service motto – they’re pretty flexible too. I had a laundry list of bits and parts I wanted to swap out and overhaul on the bike – and Matt was totally chill with my adding in a few tasks that weren’t specifically covered on the website menu. That makes even more sense since most bike tunes are anything but routine – so as a customer, I want whoever’s looking after my baby to listen to my needs and help me sort em out.
Here’s what Matt did in less than 90 minutes:
• replaced the chain
• totally cleaned the drive train
• fully wiped down bike and frame
• removed crankset and hand scrubbed it clean
• swapped cassettes for a new wheel set
• adjusted brakes to fit new wheels
• adjusted and retuned the shifting
• retaped my handlebars
• mounted fenders
I was impressed by how fast Matt worked. I figured I’d throw Matt a couple curves by getting him to swap out a few parts for me – I gave him a different wheelset that needed the 11-speed replaced with a 10-speed cassette.
Then I gave him a different set of cranks to replace what was on the bike – only to discover after a few minutes of crank-pulling and cleaning that he didn’t have a tool to fit the obscure crankset bolt pattern of the old out-of-production spinners on the bike. So after a bit if back and forth the originals went back on.
As a franchised business model, Velofix got a nice boost from exposure on the tv show Dragon’s Den, when they pitched and secured a $300,000 investment from Canadian franchise mogul Jim Treliving. They’ve now signed up 73 franchises across North America and are planning to open in Europe and Australia soon (finding one near you is as easy as putting in your zip code on the website). Their success and growth has given them some hefty buying power with major suppliers, and it not only makes good business sense for them, but is a huge convenience for customers to pick up a few more items for your bike while the mechanic is working on it.
Another bonus of the Velofix model is that much like Uber, Velofix partners really want to be in the bike business. One thing you’d be hard pressed to find here is a disgruntled shop employee working on your bike. Their model is built on delivering fast, efficient, and top quality service, and there’s no better way to get that than from an owner/ operator who directly benefits from turning every first time customer into a repeat customer.
Their fast growth has been fueled by word of mouth from satisfied customers – who usually tell their buddies on the next ride about what the experience was like, which thanks to Velofix doing a great job, usually turns into more customers. (Probably like I’m doing now.)
The Velofix truck is pretty slick. The newest iteration on display at Interbike was a fully equipped Mercedes Sprinter van, decked out with a full array of the tools of the trade. These tools don’t take up the entire van, so Velofix wisely uses the extra space to stock common parts and accessories that riders typically need as part of the bike tune-up scope of services.
They also make a lot of sense in the new world of bicycle retail – where more and more riders are buying bikes online, but still need a mechanic to build it up. Velofix makes perfect sense to fill this need too. Think about it – you buy your new ride online – it arrives to you in a standard bike box – you call Velofix to do the build – the box goes into the Velofix van at your home or office, and a short while later, out rolls your brand new bike – ready to ride.
Booking a service is easy – it can be done online through their website – on your desktop, tablet or mobile device.
Overall I was really impressed. I’ll admit I was probably a bit drunk on the thought of riding my custom Lynskey Helix again after a long time apart, but if you haven’t tried Velofix yet – you likely will in the near future, and my guess is you’ll be glad you did.
Note: As part of the full disclosure on this one, I’d agreed to review my experience with Velofix, and they picked up the tab for the visit.
• See more info at VELOFIX.com
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