Mobile Bike Repair Shops Challenge Local Stores

February 2, 2017

FaceMePLSFor many cyclists, the worst thing about owning a bike is getting it repaired. In the best case scenario, a person must buy a bulky, expensive rack for their car, load the bike, and then drive it to a local shop. If you don’t own a car, though, that means you’ll either need to grab a ride with a bike rack-owning friend or walk your wheels to the nearest repairman.

Or if you’re lucky enough to live near a Velofix franchise, you simply make a phone call and they come to you. This Canadian company operates on-the-go through vans equipped with all the tools needed to fix any bike. With over 80 operators in both the U.S. and Canada, Velofix helps franchisees purchase large vans and convert them into mobile bike repair shops. Along with convenience, the company also offers reasonable rates for repairs that can rival local stores’ prices. This presents major competition for smaller shops, which have struggled in recent years due to flat bike sales and a lack of presence on the Internet. In fact, 40 percent of bike shops have either closed or been consolidated by bigger chains since 2000.

Unlike buying books or clothes, purchasing a bike online can be a tricky process. Few companies sell directly through their sites, requiring instead that customers purchase a bike online and then go to a shop to pick it up. Not only do local stores earn little money from these deals, but also the bikes can often be the wrong size for the customer. That’s where Velofix has the advantage yet again. Like the repair side of the business, people can purchase bikes that the company will deliver directly to their doorsteps. Any necessary adjustments can then be easily done in the mobile repair van. Industry observers think this innovative business model could force many local stores to close in the coming years.


  1. Will mobile bike repair companies like Velofix replace local bike stores?
  2. Why is it so difficult to purchase a bike online?

Source: Jim Rendon, “Innovations Threaten the Neigborhood Bike Shop,” The New York Times, January 27, 2017. Photo by FaceMePLS.