Starting a bike servicing business

Questions about bike hire abroad and everything light bike related. No off-topic chat please

Moderator: Moderator Team

ShadesofTi
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:19 pm

by ShadesofTi

Hi all,

My first topic on here.

I'm unemployed due to COVID-19 and I'd like to start my own road bike servicing business. I don't have any mechanic qualifications but I've been tinkering for about 20 years and have done a lot of servicing jobs for friends. I've built many bikes and I'm passionate about the sport. I hope to get initilal customers through my cycling club and build on that.

I was just wondering if there are any mechanics (or just anyone) here that have advice to share?

I'll offer up to a full strip down and rebuild, everything regreased and tuned. Some minor repair jobs (wheel truing, seat and steerer tube cutting, recabling, Di2 upgrading et. al.).

I'll register a limited company, get the relevant insurance, have all the tools, offer pickup and dropoff in London. Road bikes exclusively for now and a high touch service.

I'd love your input.

Thanks in advance
Brad

by Weenie


Karvalo
Posts: 1265
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:40 pm

by Karvalo

Demand is unreal right now so there's no better time to dive in (except for earlier this summer).

Main thing to think about really is if you have all the tools you need for all standards, and competence on stuff you don't own. Like can you do a great bleed on SRAM as well as Shimano. Then do you want to stock any parts and consumables, and if so what and how much.

velov
Posts: 291
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:09 am

by velov

Have you thought about approaching bike shops in London? I'm sure a lot of them would be working overtime to keep up with demand.

ghostinthemachine
Posts: 187
Joined: Thu May 07, 2015 9:18 pm

by ghostinthemachine

Might struggle with liability insurance without any qualifications at all.
Shops would be a better starting place.

ShadesofTi
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:19 pm

by ShadesofTi

Thanks all, it's much appreciated.

The liability insurance might be a bit tricky you're right, I'll have to investigate. In terms of qualifications, are there any you would recommend? After 20 years playing with road bikes I've built up quite a good knowledge on how to service. I always want to be aware of potential pitfalls (recently for example I had an aluminium BB sleeve rotate in the carbon frame as I was trying to remove the threaded BB).

I'll be utilising a few already happy customers to back myself for business and get my feet off the ground.

Any other input is welcomed.

TobinHatesYou
Posts: 6621
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

Would you be comfortable drilling out a seized bolt or cutting away at a seized seatpost? What about retapping threads, filing down components, or working with really old random standard like French stems/headsets.

ShadesofTi
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:19 pm

by ShadesofTi

That's a good question. It would have to be on a case by case basis but unlikely I'll drill and retap. I'll focus on road bikes only and the pricing would reflect that. for example the club i'm in has several hundred members most of which ride regularly. I'd like to take bikes on where they've maybe had a summer of racing and they need a strip down and rebuild.

I'd refust anything that looks like it could be trouble at first. But then as I grow in experience and confidence I'll take more tricky stuff on.

User avatar
jekyll man
Posts: 1464
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:23 am
Location: Pack filler

by jekyll man

Ghost in the machine posted the most relevant part regarding liability insurance and no qualifications.
Would you take your pride and joy to someone with no minimum recognised working standards?

It might suprise you, but most shops bills are paid for by bread and butter work on "cheap and nasty" bso's. You're going to have to be prepared for working on junk, doing the basics- i think a lot start out with an idealistic thought of how its going to be.
Likewise, stocking stuff you like, isnt necessarily what sells.
Official cafe stop tester

AJS914
Posts: 4344
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:52 pm

by AJS914

You can build any kind of business that you want and target any kind of customers you want. Put the word out to your club and see how much interest you get. I've known mechanics that did side work out of their garage for club members. It was word of mouth only.

Maybe there is a certification course you can take to seal your knowledge with something official?

Look at Velofix's web site for ideas. They are a mobile franchise service in the US. They show up in a truck and do the work on the spot. They charge by the hour.

Butcher
Shop Owner
Posts: 1144
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:58 am

by Butcher

I'm an automechanic now and I had 30 years working at dealerships before I left and started out on my own. Word of mouth only, free pick up and delivery, honest, and cheap. It took about a half a year to get enough work to keep me busy. I'm now booked 4-6 weeks in advance. Although I know I have clients that like the honest and cheap part, but I believe my biggest asset is that they are talking to the person that is working on their car [bike in your case]. That goes a long way in building a good relationship with a new client.

I suggest you keep you day job and work on your hobby until there is enough work to go solo. I suggest you tell new clients right up front, I'm a legal business and must collect taxes. Since you will be on your own, you will get stuff the larger shops will not want to do. You're clients will be on the low end once you get started [typically, you will take on any work just to get your name out]. Be quick to fire any client that does not value you. Work should be fun and challenging. It is for me because I will not work with someone that does not respect me.

Karvalo
Posts: 1265
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:40 pm

by Karvalo

ShadesofTi wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:20 am
That's a good question. It would have to be on a case by case basis but unlikely I'll drill and retap. I'll focus on road bikes only and the pricing would reflect that. for example the club i'm in has several hundred members most of which ride regularly. I'd like to take bikes on where they've maybe had a summer of racing and they need a strip down and rebuild.
If they've had a summer of racing they probably don't 'need' a rebuild. When they need a rebuild then you'll find out about all the awkward shit halfway through the job. You kinda need to be ready for that.

TobinHatesYou
Posts: 6621
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

AJS914 wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 1:39 pm
Look at Velofix's web site for ideas. They are a mobile franchise service in the US. They show up in a truck and do the work on the spot. They charge by the hour.

The very existence of Velofix makes it harder to go alone. The competing service called Beeline stopped doing the self-branded mobile shop thing over a year ago, instead providing the platform for independent bike shops to run their own vans. The two largest local shops here have their own fleet of vans.

ghostinthemachine
Posts: 187
Joined: Thu May 07, 2015 9:18 pm

by ghostinthemachine

ShadesofTi wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 9:24 am
In terms of qualifications, are there any you would recommend?
🤣😂 I'd recommend you avoid most of them like the plague.
I did the entirety of cytech (I think?) as it stood about 25 years ago. Also another one, organised by ACT, in the late 80s ish. Between the two of them, which cost someone else quite a bit of money and took several months to complete, there was probably about 16-24 hours of actual worth while work towards the certificate. The rest was just repetition. Actually learnt the square root of nothing. I'd already got about 15 years workshop/race mechanic/self build experience by then.

Did most of the existing Shimano tech stuff in the early/mid 90s when I was working for/riding with a team in Belgium, so mostly STIs and early 9 speed stuff IIRC, started the campag one doing a similar role (rider/mechanic) for another team, never got very far as they never switched to campag in the end.

Plus some Rock shox, Manitou and Fox stuff that I've been getting involved with as I've been going along since I started racing MTBs. Couple of proper courses, couple of things organised through shops/importers. To give you an idea of how out of date I am, the last one I did was for the original Di2. That's probably the only one that I've actually learnt anything significant that I couldn't simply work out from first principles and/or 30 seconds of googling. (I also do complicated engineering for a living.)

ShadesofTi
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:19 pm

by ShadesofTi

That's realy interested @ghostinthemachine. As all of my knowledge is experience based I imagine I'm going to encounter all types of unknown problems.

Di2 for example, I have built a few of my own bikes with various versions. I know the basics, but is there anything significant and useful you learnt on the course that you put into practice? If so any advice and also should I maybe do the Di2Cytech course?

by Weenie


ghostinthemachine
Posts: 187
Joined: Thu May 07, 2015 9:18 pm

by ghostinthemachine

It was pretty much "how to use the diagnostic tool" what the codes mean, stuff like that.
Never ever used it since, all the Di2 i've used has been plug and play witth an occasional update.

Post Reply