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    I am going to start a mobile ebike repair business.

    I think that I am buying this very long cargo van tomorrow. I will need to use it for a business in order to justify the expense.

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    Over the next 4-5 years, I will be attending UBI (http://www.bikeschool.com/) for all 54 days of their bicycle repair and frame welding classes (whereupon I will be living in this van with my bike), but this doesn't even begin to teach me about ebike electronics. Mira Costa College has an online electronics course (http://tci.miracosta.edu/courses-eng...ectronics.html). I guess I would take that after I finish at UBI. However, that electronics curriculum is not specific to ebikes.

    Currently, I work about 60 hours per week at UPS, but after two more years my hours will be down to about 45 hours per week on a swing or very early morning shift. After five more years, I can retire and do the ebike repair business full time or stay on and work 45 hrs/week and do the ebike repair business during the day. Working on ebikes is my dream job because I love turning wrenches and challenging myself.

    Do you guys have any thoughts about this? Some jobs would have to be "pick up and drop off" so that I could take it home and work on it. This is a very long term plan because I am currently not sufficiently adept at ebike repair. Am I making a terrible mistake? Maybe I should keep my day job until I am 65 years old and do the ebike repair only part time.
    Last edited by commuter ebikes; 11-20-2016, 08:16 PM.

    #2
    Originally posted by commuter ebikes View Post
    Do you guys have any thoughts about this?
    Yeah. Follow your passion. Taking classes is always a good thing for anyone. Master a skill. Custom eBikes....cool.

    What hits me the most here is that you are very ambitious and already working 60 hours a week and obviously have been with UPS for many years and close to retirement. You don't want to blow that in anyway.

    Having a skill like this would be great for retirement as you could set your own hours and charge a good rate for what you do. And I do think there is a future in eBikes.

    But what rings a bell the most, make sure you put investment into your body as well. Working so much and also taking classes, don't neglect your body. Get on the best diet you can and exercise routine also, and make it a priority. Seems that just working and classes it not the best for your body. You gotta find time for that, especially as you get older. Oh yeah, and get the sleep you need to stay healthy

    Comment


      #3
      I think that's a great plan. Follow your passion, slowly building skills and resources along the way, so you can transition at retirement. With the option to continue at UPS, you even have a safety net. Sounds perfect to me. I hope to do something similar for retirement. Use my growing collection of tools and skills to fix other people's toys. Take a payoff from my hobbies. I can't imagine a better arrangement.

      My only worry would be demand for your ebike dedicated service. I don't think there are many markets which could support a full-time roving ebike repair service, today. Looking several years ahead, I expect demand will grow a ton in the right areas. If you aren't in one of the hot spots, you might do better to transition into one if you decide you want to stop entirely at UPS. Watch the trends and see what regions grow their ebiker population the fastest.

      You could take that van to ebike competitions and gatherings, or weekend riding areas, and thus be in the thick of it. Follow the crowd.
      Fabrication is fun! Build something today. Show someone. Let them help. Inspire and share. Spread the desire.

      Comment


        #4
        I think you should do it. I think you could do it now. Those Bike classes will be nice but probably not necessary. Maybe you could drum up some part time business now and get your feet wet. Your current ebikes are a rolling advertisement and endorsement.

        One of the secrets to being a mechanic is to just do it. There is always a first time for any particular repair. You just have to have the confidence that you can fix anything. When I got out of college I taught school for one awful year and fell into overhauling air-cooled VW engines just to be making some money while I figured out what to do next. I blinked a couple of times got married, had a family, saw the girls grow up and it was kind of to late to do anything else because I am so good at what I was doing.

        When I was on my first dealer level job I wanted to learn transmissions but they never gave one to fix because I hadn't done any. How are you going to learn? The next job I applied for I lied and said I could fix anything so I learned how to fix anything after that. Don't worry about it just do it.

        Don't ever work for anyone as a mechanic!! I would be discouraging you now if you were not going to do it on your own. I have been able to fix anything I have bumped into my whole life,,,, except for toasters............the score is toasters 3 and calfee 0..............calfee........more to come on the subject.

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          #5
          As a successful business owner (not bike or mechanic related) for over 30 years may I make a few comments and suggestions.

          I've visited a number of bike shops around the country & without exception they're repair dept's always have plenty of work. Keep in mind these shops have been located in biking areas and had a fixed location. So the business is there for you, you just need to figure out how to tap into it without a store front. Biking is growing with no end in sight and ebikes appear to be catching on. Most bikers don't have the time, skills or tools to do they're own wrenching.

          While technical competence is important most new businesses fail due to lack of business experience and/or funding. It doesn't sound like the latter is an issue for you initially but unless you have experience in business you may wish to research that. You don't need formal education for this but reading a few good books and/or online info may go a long ways if you want to make this more than just a part time, hit or miss gig.

          At least to start I wouldn't corner myself into ebike specific only, but if that is your passion don't allow standard bike repair to become a black hole either. Do both to start but never lose sight of your true goal.

          Finally, I agree with calfee20. Technical competence in bike repair is important so the classes are probably the fastest way to achieve that. The electrical & battery knowledge can probably be self learned like the business expertise. Just remember who & where your customers are what THEY want/need and you'll do great.



          Comment


            #6
            I did buy the van. It has a lot of interior room. I will be able to haul all four of my very large ebikes at the same time. I will be following my passion. Ebikes are a really fun and challenging hobby.

            I will be able to get a handle on the mechanical aspect of ebike repair, but I will have to work really hard at the electronics aspect of it, especially troubleshooting.

            Comment


              #7
              If you already know the technology, then you might be able to extend a hobby/interest into a business, but an investment in bike mechanic training sounds like overkill to me.

              It's just a bicycle. Get the right tools and a book, and watch youtube to learn bike mechanics. Fix a few bikes. Add derailleurs to a single speed bike. Change out a fork. Build a wheel.

              On the other hand, I would take the local college class. A good understanding of electric circuits is essential to understanding motors, controllers, and batteries, and one class doesn't look overly expensive,

              But after reading some of your posts on high power controllers, it seems to me you already know more than most folks.






              Comment


                #8
                1. Buy an assortment of Sondors fat bikes Pink, Blue, Black, White, etc
                2. Assemble them properly with the correct grease, tire liners, etc.
                3. Fill the van up with Sondors upgrades (batteries, seats, no flat tubes, etc)
                4. Sell the Sondors bikes complete turnkey ready to ride experience with your professional installation service for a markup
                5. Offer support and service from your van after the sale.
                6. You can be that Sondors guy who will get the bikes fixed since fat bikes are heavy to carry or transport to a bicycle store, and many bike stores will not service.
                7. Inexpensive Business Cards
                8. Sell your pimped ready to ride Sondors assembled dream machines on Craigslist
                9. Join Sondors Facebook Groups, be the "Guy" that will travel and fix someone's bike.
                10. Join the LunaCycle army - put lunacycle stickers on your van, and fix or install BBSHD or Cyclone Stuff.
                11. Name the van "BBSHD BUS" a nod to the adult entertainment industry..


                There is this guy in NYC flipped 23 Sondors so far - lol
                Last edited by osmaster; 11-22-2016, 09:11 AM.

                Comment


                • g725s
                  g725s commented
                  Editing a comment
                  along these lines...you could use your van possibly with a trailer, and use it as a base to rent electric bikes at special events, or places like down at the harbor on the weekends. This would give you plenty of repair opportunity while at the same time incoming cash flow.

                #9
                I think its a great idea. In a few years ebikes are going to be in many more households. Plus just like me, many people dont like getting screwed by store prices and they'd prefer to have someone come to them or pickup and drop off their bike.

                I have a Dodge Promaster just like that. I got tons of ideas about modifying it on the Dodge Promaster Forum

                Good luck

                Comment


                  #10
                  Hats off to you Eric for following your dream and having what seems like a solid plan!! I have seen a lot of great advice to you from the forum members here. The only thing I can add is to take it easy, don't sweat the small stuff and above all hold firm to your convictions. You have been an inspiration to me the short time I have been involved in this ever growing phenomenon I have come to love. Godspeed and hope you nothing but success. On a side note, I have been studying that Lyen Mark 1 controller I received from you,makes me want to pick up on my computer classes I left in midstream 10 years ago. Keep up the good work.

                  Comment


                    #11
                    Hi Commuter ebikes....

                    i think i can give you some good advice...i will limit it to 10 items....

                    1. Take the bike mechanic course....education is golden

                    2. Buy the Van....... good money spent....

                    3. spend the money to get the van vinyl wrapped.....

                    4. spend the money on a good designer to help you with the design on that vinyl wrap. and always spend money on a designer no matter what..... dont forget design :) ..... feed the artist :)

                    5. if you can quit the job at ups.....if you have a family i think its tougher....if you dont have a wife and kids to support just do it. Its nice to gamble...but not if you have big responsibilities like wife and kids.

                    6. The ebike repair business is a gold mine....i know very few ebike sales shops that know good ebike repair.....everyone is in need...also building conversion kits for people....gold mine....

                    7. make sure you learn battery repair...enough to where you can rebuild a pack....or build a pack from scratch.....i would count that as more important than bicycle maintenance school....and nobody can teach it to you but youtube and the internets...so its cheap :)

                    8. bike mechanics are a dime a dozen..... good ebike repair guys are very rare. Its more than a dream that you have...its a very good business plan.

                    9. many small bike shops and ebike shops will pay big for training on how to repair this shit.....you can always divert to training....charge big for training...most ebike dealers deserver to pay big since they over charge big..... for training your time should be worth 150 an hour.

                    10. Dont forget the website...build a website....and blog about your adventure on starting this new business.

                    11. i dont know why but i will tell you this..... when i was at berkley some little korean man gave me this advice and it stuck.... he said dont worry about the money it will always come.... just do what you love.....then everything else will follow...... i hated that advice for so long since i used it as an excuse to base my businesses on things i loved such as ebikes and chess...... i give you that advice because i think its what you want to hear..... but its more sound advice to do the shit that every body else hates....like plumbing or accounting or lawyering.

                    Comment


                    #12
                    I think the training is necessary if you're going to do work on bikes as well as ebikes, which as others have said, depending on your local ebike saturation, could be necessary. Unlike many of the ebikes I see and the bikes people often use for conversions here, modern bikes are more complicated. It's not brain surgery obviously, but theres a ton of standards now and variations in BB's, headsets, cable routings, brake systems, hub widths and on and on. I've done all my own work on my bikes for 25 years and just like cars, the complexity increases year by year. My point is if you pick up someones $7K wunderbike for an overhaul, you need to know you have the specialized tools and knowledge to fix any issue you uncover before the deadline.

                    I've seen people attempt it here over the years with mixed success. I think becoming an ebike specialist and especially offering training to bike shops is a great idea, at the very least, you could pick up sub contracting work that way.

                    Obviously, like any business idea, I'd suggest working up a business plan for your different scenarios and see what you have to do to make the numbers work. If a bike shop bills out at $X/hr, how many hours do you need to bill to cover Y expenses.

                    Comment


                      #13
                      Thanks to everybody for all the helpful input.

                      The van loan is for six years, and the UBI program will take me five years. If I can cram my electronics training into the next six years, then I could be up and running six years from now. I have to stay at UPS for five more years in order to get my full pension. So I will do all that concurrently with my nose to the grindstone.

                      I am going to limit my scope to repair of ebikes and standard bikes. There are plenty of bike mechanics around here, but I have only found one ebike repair guy in my county, and he is very good. I am fifty years old, and he is ten years older than me.

                      He let me watch him work on my bikes. I would spend entire days there watching him and assisting him. It was a lot of making wiring diagrams, running data cables, prepping connectors, soldering, and testing Halls. It is clearly aggravating, but I like that because it is challenging. The grand finale of a successful test drive always makes it worth it, but getting there always takes longer than you think. I always paid him time and materials so that he didn't have to rush. Maybe I should ask him if I could be his helpful, gracious intern.

                      He spends a lot of time building and repairing batteries, and he is a master troubleshooter.
                      Last edited by commuter ebikes; 11-23-2016, 12:27 PM.

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                        #14
                        Calfee"When I got out of college I taught school for one awful year and fell into overhauling air-cooled VW engines just to be making some money while I figured out what to do next. "

                        I wish you lived by me so you could teach me how to fix my VW:)





                        Comment


                          #15
                          Originally posted by John46 View Post
                          Calfee"When I got out of college I taught school for one awful year and fell into overhauling air-cooled VW engines just to be making some money while I figured out what to do next. "

                          I wish you lived by me so you could teach me how to fix my VW:)




                          A VW is one of the most straight forward cars ever made. What is wrong with yours?

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