Amber Pierce is no stranger to struggle and pushing through the pain. After 10 years of racing professionally, she’s learned to differentiate between the good and bad sorts of pain and, sadly, her Dirty Kanza wound up full of the latter. After a lengthy recovery, she recently was able to document how the race went […]
Cross is coming… …and we’re naturally looking forward to being a part of it. Speaking personally, cyclocross has always been my favorite discipline of bike racing. In my eyes, it’s the perfect combination of endurance, bike handling, explosiveness, and all-round athleticism. Road racing may be on top when it comes to aerobic capacity, downhill takes […]
A short while ago we posted a video on our YouTube channel showing the use of our 689/2BI Inner Bearing Puller. If you haven’t seen it, you can check that one out here. It seems logical that what comes out must go back in, so we made a follow-up video showing the use of our 1721 Universal Bearing Press. Check out the video below and if you have any questions please feel free to contact us.
A few weeks back, at NEMBAFest, we had daily challenges that people could participate in to win various prizes from Unior Bike Tools and our friends Maxxis Tires and Stan’s No Tubes. One of those challenges was a tire changing contest: the fastest to remove a tire and reinstall it won a Unior EURO17 multitool and a pair of Maxxis tires of their choice.
I’ll admit that my viewpoint towards cycling has definitely been skewed more towards the professional road & cyclocross racing side of things for the past decade or so. As such I’d forgotten that there are people out there that might just be getting started in this sport and haven’t really had the opportunity or training to learn some of the basics, such as changing tires. More than a few contestants really didn’t know how to use tire levers. So, in addition to running the contest, I spent a fair bit of the day educating folks on using tire levers.
Today I thought I’d make a quick little video to share that with the rest of the world since I’m sure there are others out there.
Check it out on our YouTube channel and below:
We just got a note from Win Allen about an event he worked recently that was a little different than most bike races: RAW, or Race Across the West. RAW is a qualifier for the Race Across America (RAAM) and covers the first 930 miles of the RAAM course. Read more about it below: Last month […]
Aevolo Cycling mechanic and Unior Ambassador Vince Gee spent an open block in his team’s schedule to go work his 13th Tour of California with Katusha. Always a contemplative man, he sent in this short reflection on the friendships made while making a living on the road.
Working the Amgen Tour of California has been so many things to me. A dream come true to be able to work a big international race in my home state. Even more so proud to have an occasional stage in my birth city of Sacramento. To have so many friends and family able to see what it is I actually do as a team mechanic is very special. Working with some of the top athletes in the world regardless of the sport is amazing to watch, not to mention the joy I get from doing a job I love.
But of course, it isn’t always glamorous, the life of a team mechanic. Regardless, I love it. I love my job. The days are long and the work is demanding both in volume and quality. All races I work require dedication, hard work and attention to detail. But the Amgen Tour of California is a World Tour race (World Tour teams are required to attend) so one must bring their A game regardless if it is a Rider, Director, Soigneur, or Mechanic. Everyone must be polished.
This is the 13th edition of the AToC and I have been blessed to have worked every edition since it’s inception in 2006. This year I am working with the Katusha team. Its star rider here is Marel Kittel, one of the best sprinters in the world. There are two mechanics here including me. Juan Lujan is a full-time mechanic with Katusha and I have known him for two decades. Almost my entire career as a team mechanic. We got to work together from 1999 to 2007 on US Postal and Discovery Channel, thus the call-up to be here as a part-timer. My full-time trade team, Aevolo, does not qualify for this race since we’re a Continental team. This leaves my calendar open for this race to work part-time with other teams.
One of the great things about this race, in particular, is to see friends from European teams I have not seen in years. This year I was able to catch up with a soigneur who is here with Trek/Segafredo. I only worked with him once, at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, Greece with the US National team. 13 years ago. So fun to catch up. With the job being very demanding, it is friends around the world that is one of the big rewards. Those are the special moments of being in the world of professional cycling.
We have a couple pretty strong beliefs regarding the sustainability and future livelihood of the brick and mortar bike shop. The bicycle market is undeniably in a transitional phase right now. Any shop that’s content to rest on its laurels and not change with the times is likely a shop that, unfortunately, will be closing its doors. The rise in service-only shops and mobile repair businesses both point to one thing: the future is in service. Shop viability is becoming more and more dependent on making your service department as efficient as possible.
Service vs. Sales
First, let’s talk about service vs. sales and service center efficiency. There’s an idea that says the future of the bike shop is going to be one that’s reliant on service for income rather than sales. That’s good news for us as we make the tools that are required to perform that service. But for a lot of bike shops, that’s going to require a change in approach to how they go about their business.
There’s always going to be someone online selling a bike or an accessory at a cheaper price than what a traditional bike shop can afford to or is willing to. From my point of view here I don’t see an end to that. What’s always going to be required, though, is a knowledgeable mechanic prepared to assemble or repair that bike or install that accessory or component that was purchased online. If companies like Canyon, Wiggle, etc. go away it’s a matter of time before someone else comes in and takes their place.
What can’t be bought from those companies is the skills and knowledge to assemble that bike or install that component. As Jeff Rowe of the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association writes in Bicycle Retailer, “The difference between the IBDs that survive and those that do not can be seen in whether the above scenarios end as lost sales or SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES.”
Efficiency in Service
So, given that the future of the bike shop is one rooted in service, it makes sense to try to make the service department as efficient as possible. Even if a given shop owner thinks they can make it with a retail focus, the investment in creating a more efficient service center still can only reap rewards. Time is money, and time spent looking for tools or dealing with tools that don’t work as intended is lost money.
Due to our history in sectors other than bicycle tools we approach bike tool design with a unique perspective on what works and what doesn’t. Cycling is incredibly rooted in tradition and the idea of “well, that’s how we’ve always done it” — even if it’s not necessarily the best way. Take our Rear Triangle Spreader, for instance. Traditionally if a Dutch-style commuter bike came in for a rear tire service it meant 45 minutes of disassembling the drivetrain, chain case, fenders, and so on just to get to the tire. Not with our tools. Now it’s a 10-minute job, tops.
Professionalism & Appearances
Cycling loves to romanticize the musty old bike shop with the wizard in the back room performing magic and miracles in getting a bike to work just right. Shop mechanics also have a reputation for being grumpy and unapproachable (much as yours truly did). Industries much bigger than ours have changed customer expectations and the days of the cluttered bike shop with messy workbenches and staff wearing their favorite band’s t-shirt are slowly waning.
It’s not unheard of to find bikes costing upwards of $10,000. I can only speak for myself, but if I was in a position to drop that kind of cash on a bike I’d feel pretty uneasy bringing it to a shop with a messy, unorganized service area. “Image is everything,” they say. If a shop can’t keep its own space in order how sloppy are they going to be with my bike?
Apple figured this out a long time ago when they came up with the design of their Apple Stores. Looking around the store gives the end user the sense that the products are well thought out and deserving of the price premium. Auto dealers are another example. Take a look at the service department of any of the big name auto brands and you’ll find a clean, consistent, well-lit shop. A shop that gives the car owner the feeling that their car is going to be taken care of.
As a retailer and service provider, your product is ultimately yourself. First impressions count. Give a potential customer a great first impression with a shop that’s dialed and your odds of winning that sale have gone up dramatically.
Bike shops would do well to take a look at other service industries for an example of what works and what doesn’t, and then try to implement some of those ideas into their own shops. The idea that a service station at a bike shop is required to have all its tools hung on pegboard is an idea whose time has come and gone. Looking at the automotive sector we can see that for storage, organization, efficiency, and general tidiness the tool cabinet is the way to go. Show me an auto shop where the mechanic has all his tools hung up on a piece of pegboard…
Something as innocuous as the material the workbench is made of can even have an effect on the presentation of your service area. There’s a reason we spec our workbenches with stainless steel covered work tops. Grease, oil, brake fluid, suspension fluid, all of it can be wiped up with a rag and the end result is a fresh looking bench.
Moving on to shop organization, a common problem in multi-workstation service departments is tools all finding their way to one particular bench. We’ve solved that with our custom foam trays. Know at a glance if something’s missing. We can’t help you figure out where it’s gone, unfortunately.
Unior is in a position the other bike tool companies can only be envious of: we solved these issues a long time ago helping other industries be successful and we’re the only ones in the bicycle market that can offer a full, turn-key solution to help you make the most of your shop. Contact us today to help get your service department tuned up.
We’re adjusting pricing effective June 1.
It’s an unfortunate reality that the cost of steel has gone up and the US Dollar has fallen in relation to the Euro. When we got word of the increase a while back we loaded up on as much inventory we could at the old pricing to keep our tools at their current price level as long as possible, but that only served to delay the inevitable. Had it been one or the other we would have tried to absorb the increase, but both combined are creating just too big of a hit.
Effective June 1 there’ll be modest price increases across the board. Nothing major.
With that said, if you’ve been on the fence about finalizing your purchase, now’s the time to do so and save a few bucks!