With today’s busy lifestyles, we are all looking for ways to save time. There’s a host of products/services available delivered right to our homes or offices. A few common ones come to mind, including: groceries/fresh ingredient meals, car window or tire replacement, dry cleaning, lawn mower/snow blower services. Add a mobile bike shop to the list.
Earlier this year, I received an invite to the Chicago North Shore Velofix franchise launch party. The concept of a bike shop coming to my home, office or event was intriguing. So I went and had a look.
I met Phil Sandler, the franchise owner/operator for the area. Before starting the franchise, he had recently been forced out of a 10-year job as an accounting manager after the company he worked for went out of business. As he looked for a new opportunity, he decided to follow his passion. After coming across an article on Velofix in a cycling magazine, he pursued a franchise and opened it in late 2016.
Velofix has the largest fleet of mobile bike shops in North America, with over 90 franchises. Here’s how it works: You book an appointment using the Velofix website, pick the service required, and pick the day/time for the appointment. Then, a licensed mechanic arrives in a fully tricked out Mercedes Benz Sprinter van to provide the service(s) requested.
Types of services
All Velofix mechanics must be certified. Phil Sandler completed his certified technician course at United Bicycle Institute (UBI). At the time of my interview, Phil was headed to Canada for his fitting certification at Bike Fit.
Velofix offers all the same services your local bike shop provides: from 3 levels of tune-ups to a la carte services (tire change, handlebar wrap, computer setup, etc). Pricing varies depending on geographic area, but the company website makes it easy to look up. Just enter your ZIP or postal code and view the prices online. For the Chicago North Shore franchise, prices range from $69 for a basic tune-up to $189 for a full overhaul and tune-up (parts not included).
They also do roadside repairs for a minimum fee plus any parts/labor. How busy they are will determine how quickly they can respond to your distress call.
Bike sales and fit services
In addition to servicing your bike, Velofix provides bike sales and bike fittings. Currently, they offer 16 brands of bikes for sale, with additional brands being added. You can buy the bike, have it shipped to the Velofix near you, and they’ll assemble it, deliver it to you and provide a fitting.
Events or Travel
If you want to ship your bike, Velofix will pack your bike and ship it (some locations provide box rental). If there’s a Velofix franchise in the city where you are going, the bike can be shipped to the local Velofix for assembly and delivered to you ready to ride.
Traveling and don’t want to take your bike? Currently, the Kona, Hawaii, Velofix provides rental service. Velofix will drop off and pick up at the location of your choice. Rentals come with a flat repairkit (multi-tool, patches and tire levers). They also have helmets and several sets of pedals; however, they recommend you bring your own. (Check the site for other possible rental locations.)
Velofix also supports a number of bike events in their franchisee’s communities, from charity rides to gran fondos, fun/leisurely sporting events and triathlons. Even for a group and/or corporate team ride, Velofix can provide ride support, from helping with mechanical issues to nutrition and hydration support.
The Velofix van is stocked with a variety of items you’d find in a brick-and-mortar shop. On board, they have helmets, sunglasses, nutrition (GU and Clif), pedals and more.
Enjoy a Coffee and Wifi
All Velofix Bike Shops are equipped with coffee machines and free WIFI. So you can get some work done on your laptop or sit with the mechanic and sip a coffee while they work on your bike. Maybe learn some quick bike maintenance tips, too.
Hours of operation
Phil runs his mobile shop seven days a week from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. And if you are familiar with the Chicagoland area, his North Shore territory includes Evanston along the lake north to Lake Bluff and west out to Barrington. There are a lot of high-income neighborhoods in this area, and along with that comes a lot of high-end bikes.
There are a number of apps available to request a bike mechanic to come to your home or work. Also, some mechanics have set up shop in their homes. But in either case they are not truly a mobile bike shop like Velofix.
To see if there’s a Velofix location in your area and check out pricing, go to www.Velofix.com and enter your ZIP code. Share your Velofix experiences in the Comments section below.
Note: At the time of writing this article, I have not tried Velofix services and am unable to provide first-hand experience. You can always check YELP or fellow riders for ratings of your local Velofix or most brick-and-mortar bike shops.
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women's cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri's full bio or visit her web site sunflowersandpedals.com.