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Thread: My quandry

  1. #1
    Friend of Jimmy K naisme's Avatar
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    My quandry

    I had a laugh at the mail box this morning. Rapid Oil Change sent me a reminder to change the oil on my van. I checked the miles, I haven't driven it in 3 months. It is a new debate for me when I get up and look out at my parking space behind the apartment building, there sits this green van, that I haven't driven since mid June, 3 months since it broke down. I thought I could fix it, but the way they make cars today, that's out of the question, so I have to have it fixed, or do I?
    It would be nice to get it running and sell the damn thing, but I've also thought of winter, and I've thought of starting a business using it next summer, a bike mechanic station on four wheels. Give me a call I'll meet you and either we'll get it fixed on the spot or haul it to the shop of your choice. Haven't worked all the kinks yet, and the idea of high gas prices, well I've thought of doing the same thing with a couple of my bikes, fill my panniers with tubes and tools, and hit the bike paths. Oh and carry other essentials, like water/gatorade and Powerbars. I could get hooked up on the bike stuff through a friend with a shop, who could also do the repairs. He doesn't need the biz, he's too busy as it is.
    I know I'm not crazy, as the recent influx of bikers proves that higher gas prices people hit the trails, and our good senator Oberstar got us some Pork for the bike trails in MN, as a way of proving: "If the good folks of MN can get out and ride in extreme temps and survive, the rest of this good country can too." (Pork, the other white meat). (Hmm, would I give up bike path system throughout the state, so money could be deverted to federal monies as New Orleans prepares to rebuild?)
    I guess the quandry is that I've lived with this things sitting for three months just fine. Why do I need it? I went a year car free before I got this monster, it was a great deal at work, an employee auction on a used vehicle that blue books at 3-4 grand, I got for 600.00. Okay, that's not counting the insurance, the gas, the titling and all the other crap that goes with the vehicle. I just sent in a payment for insurance on this vehicle. It's driving me crazy.
    "I will remain the stranger who came from a faraway land." Lance Armstrong

    "The more you drive, the less intelligent you become." Miller "Repo Man"

  2. #2
    Senior Member Thor29's Avatar
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    The bike repair biz in general is less than lucrative. Running a mobile bike repair business is pretty tricky - lots of people have tried it, few have succeeded. The big thing, as it is with most new businesses is marketing. At least with a shop people will ride, drive, or walk by and see the location. I tried running my own little mobile bike repair business once. I used an Xtracycle rig (see www.xtracycle.com) so that I could carry a bicycle repair stand and lots of tools but not have any gas, insurance, or registration to deal with. The problem with that setup is that you are limited in what parts you can carry and more often than not, the customer has no idea what kind of bike they have or what components are on it. Which makes it quite hard to anticipate exactly what you'll need to bring. A van with a well thought out stock of parts would be better and you can get there faster, but of course the overhead will be much higher. I did manage to get some business solely by having a website, however, the search engines changed their algorithms so that the most relevant sites do not come up first. For instance, if your business was located in Portland and was called "Bob's Mobile Bicycle Repair Service" and someone typed "Portland Bicycle Repair" into a search engine, it used to be that you'd have a fairly high chance of coming up first. Now you'd be buried way below a bunch of irrelevant garbage since the most important thing is now how many sites link to yours rather than how directly it matches the inquiry.

    Regardless, if you want to use the van for a repair service, be prepared to spend tons of money on advertising, spare parts, and painting a nice big logo on it. Also, commit to the thing full time and have lots of money saved up so that you could last quite a few months without any income. If you are willing to do that, then you have a small chance of success. Otherwise, sell the van and buy more bikes.

  3. #3
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    A trailer for your bike would replace your van for most errands, and could carry your entire mobile bike shop as well.

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    Senior Member mpop's Avatar
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    Your story sounds almost like mine, back in Oct of 2004 my car died, I though maybe I could repair it myself, well untill I found out the parts would be about $700 and the car was only worth $600 and some of the things I found wrong with it I would not be able to do (add more to the cost of repair) I finally junked the car in Apr of 2005, I have had many people try to convince me that I need to get a new car, but I don't think I do. Where I work gives every one free PT passes, and I am now just figuring out the PT system so I can go places that I could not go before. There is only one place I can not get just yet (any one in the Pittsburgh area know any busses that go up to Settlers cabin?) But other then that using a combo of PT and bikes I can get most places I want to go to. The only thing is I can not take bike on 95%+ of the busses.
    Michael P. O'Connor
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  5. #5
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Have you considered a folding bike?

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    Senior Member mpop's Avatar
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    I don't want to spend any money if I don't have to.
    Michael P. O'Connor
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  7. #7
    Zee
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    Just Say No! (to gas) =0P Zee's Avatar
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    naisme, if you're handy with bikes, why not buy junkers and fix them up to sell? You can earn a mint on eBay that way. Even individual parts (like, from un-repairable bikes) can make money if someone's looking for them.

  8. #8
    Chicago Cyclist ViciousCycle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by naisme

    I guess the quandry is that I've lived with this things sitting for three months just fine. Why do I need it? I went a year car free before I got this monster, it was a great deal at work, an employee auction on a used vehicle that blue books at 3-4 grand, I got for 600.00.
    Donating to charity is a painless way to get rid of a non-fuctioning vehicle. Some charities accept used vehicles even if they are not in working conditions. They'll just haul it away and leave you a receipt. If you itemize your federal taxes, you can get up to a $499 deduction without filling out any additional paperwork other than the standard deduction form. Beyond $500, there's additional paperwork -- and beyond a certain amount claimed, you may need an appraisal.

    Do a search online and you can probably find a charity that will haul away your vehicle for you.

  9. #9
    Friend of Jimmy K naisme's Avatar
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    Okay, a friend who has the same van and the same problem told me what happened with my van, and why/how it has come to spewing coolant faster than I can put it in. It's a design flaw, and runs any where between $750 and a grand.
    So I look at the math, 103.00 per month for insurance, the gas issue, 1000.00 plus to repair it. and compared to what I make, uh why do I have this machine? If I sold a few of my bikes I might be able to afford the repair bill, but then I wouldn't have those bikes. Not that I need 14 bikes, two are my winter beaters, 1 is my wet weather bike, one is a single speed two are track frames, one my tourer/SUV, one a MTB and three fixer-uppers that I plan on selling, one's a road frame I want to build up, and finally there's my geared roadie. I doubt that I can get anything close to what I would need to repair the van.
    Just looking at some options.
    "I will remain the stranger who came from a faraway land." Lance Armstrong

    "The more you drive, the less intelligent you become." Miller "Repo Man"

  10. #10
    File Not Found Pampusik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by naisme
    Okay, a friend who has the same van and the same problem told me what happened with my van, and why/how it has come to spewing coolant faster than I can put it in. It's a design flaw, and runs any where between $750 and a grand.
    So I look at the math, 103.00 per month for insurance, the gas issue, 1000.00 plus to repair it. and compared to what I make, uh why do I have this machine? If I sold a few of my bikes I might be able to afford the repair bill, but then I wouldn't have those bikes. Not that I need 14 bikes, two are my winter beaters, 1 is my wet weather bike, one is a single speed two are track frames, one my tourer/SUV, one a MTB and three fixer-uppers that I plan on selling, one's a road frame I want to build up, and finally there's my geared roadie. I doubt that I can get anything close to what I would need to repair the van.
    Just looking at some options.
    If your van is beyond repair... but paid for... you should clear out the interior and use it as a storage locker for your bikes!

  11. #11
    Friend of Jimmy K naisme's Avatar
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    That is something that I hadn't thought about.
    "I will remain the stranger who came from a faraway land." Lance Armstrong

    "The more you drive, the less intelligent you become." Miller "Repo Man"

  12. #12
    Patrick Barber weed eater's Avatar
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    from this latecomer's perspective, it seems like you do need those bikes, and you don't need the van.

    I like the idea of using the van for storage if it can remain parked where it is legally without insurance/registration.

    I also second the notion of fixing up bikes and selling bikes/parts on eBay/CL. seems it'd be much more lucrative than mobile bike repair...and it'd keep you in spare parts.

    my partner and I had a van for a couple years. we bought it for a business, used it for the business, folded the business, and then there was a year where the only driving we did was moving the van from one side of the street to the other on street cleaning days. Then we sold it. Much better.

    remember you can always rent a car/truck/van if you need it for a road trip or a hauling job.

  13. #13
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    I have an idea for the mobile bike-repair biz:

    Use an Xtracycle with one of the bikesatwork trailers behind it!

    Although it would be a bit of an investment to get both of those things.
    Some awesome folks who are working to give Haitians the ability to manage their safety and their lives:
    Haiti Partners

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