Bicycle commuters face challenges and issues that are unique to their particular type of riding. Many bicycle commuters start out small, using a bike that they already have for short trips to work or the store. As the number of trips and miles tick up, the wear and tear on an already used bike can start to show. The day-in and day-out riding of the average cycle commuter can be a boon for your shop service department and for accessory sales. Anyone who has ridden a bike for transportation knows that regular maintenance is always a concern. And when your bike is the thing that gets you where you need to go, maintenance isn’t something that can be overlooked until “the next ride.”
A Clean Bike Is A Happy Bike
Every shop mechanic has had the experience of the customer bringing in a neglected bike with the intention of restoring it to its former glory in order to make it a more functional means of transportation. One of the easiest ways to help out your service area is to stress the importance of routine maintenance to new commuters. A clean bike is a happy bike, and there is a long list of companies that offer products to keep your customers’ bikes running smoothly and efficiently. The schedule for lubing chains and inspecting bearing systems and cables is elementary for the experienced wrench, but to the new bicycle commuter, this can be a mystery. Teaching your costumers some service basics will not only drive sales, but will also mean less hassle when the torments of the road cause the need for major repairs.
When the road does take its toll, it’s important that your customers are also outfitted to deal with any hiccups along the way. A flat tire, a broken chain, or a torn sidewall on a tire require roadside repairs when there’s no option to walk back to the car and drive home. Bicycle commuters will need to have the knowledge and tools to get themselves out of any jam, so robust multi-tools and tire repair kits are must-have tools that bike shops should be offering their commuter customers.
It’s not just the unforeseen calamities that take their toll. The daily abuse most commuting bikes endure causes wear to drivetrains, cables, and bearing systems that many fair-weather bikes don’t see. It’s common knowledge to any mechanic that chains and cassettes wear together and that replacing a chain before it’s too late can make a significant difference when it comes to replacement cost. Cables also suffer in bad weather and will need frequent replacement and attention while bearings indeed bear the brunt of wear when ridden through any type of weather day in and day out.
Comfort is Key
Don’t forget to educate your customers on the importance of comfort while commuting. Being uncomfortable is a major deterrent to commuting by bicycle, and inclement weather is where the right gear can truly make a difference. From the well-chosen clothing to keep them warm to fenders to keep them dry; and from Dynamo lights to illuminate their path to proper-fitting stems, seatposts, grips, and handlebars to keep them well aligned, keeping your customers comfy will help turn them into lifelong bicycle commuters and regular customers.
Build a Community of Commuters
Simply having the proper tools and equipment is only half the battle. Many shops across the country also give “basics” seminars for bicycle commuters that teach them the ins and outs of bicycle commuting, including roadside repair. While these classes give your commuting customers valuable knowledge, they also are a way to build community and earn the trust required for repeat business. You can even find programs such as the Park Tool School that are prepared and ready to give enthusiastic bicycle commuters the knowledge they’ll need on the road to avoid learning lessons the hard way.
That old phrase “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies to many things in life, and commuting by bike is one of them. Giving your customers that knowledge and guidance will provide them not only the confidence to make using their bikes a lasting daily habit, but will also keep them coming back to the shop whenever they’re in need of products, service, or expertise.