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Bike suggestions, make/model for rental fleet

Old 04-16-19, 09:50 PM
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Bike suggestions, make/model for rental fleet

I'm starting a mobile outfitters business offering bikes, boats and boards in Central MN. Starting out small and the bike portion will likely remain that way. Internet search is surprisingly sparse on the subject. My client base for bikes is middle age/up so looking for cruiser/upright, coaster brakes, single speed, fenders, chain guard, adjustable seat(quick release), and sprung seat or seat post. The riding will be almost exclusively paved rail trail. Does it exist?
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Old 04-16-19, 10:19 PM
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Coaster brakes. :0

Here are some ideas -
Priority Bikes: these have belt drives and 3 speeds though
https://www.prioritybicycles.com/pro...iorityclassic2
https://www.prioritybicycles.com/products/thecoast

Public: seen these as hotel fleet bikes and either Apple or Google has them too
https://publicbikes.com/collections/single-speeds

Linus:
https://www.linusbike.com/products/dutchi-1

Brooklyn:
https://www.brooklynbicycleco.com/co...ranklin-single
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Old 04-17-19, 03:16 AM
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may not be entirely what you are looking for but it fits most of your requirements:

van moof supplies bikes here to a chain of long stay hotels aimed at students called the student hotel. from what i've seen on their site they offer packages for companies. the ones used by the student hotel are single speed coaster brake bikes. They have USA based offices so a simple call or email should be easy enough.

https://www.vanmoof.com/en_us/company-bikes
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Old 04-17-19, 05:56 AM
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Why would you limit options with those specs? For example, there could be people who need more than one gear to ride comfortably. A range of gears us is also handy on windy days. As for your belief that the specs you listed are what appeals to your expected target demographic, I will simply SMH. I am 54 and would not he happy with what you describe.

There is a LBS in my 'hood that rents simple hybrids. You might want to consider that.
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Old 04-17-19, 08:56 AM
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We rented a bike for my wife a few years ago while visiting Niagara Falls. Here's what they currently have in their rental fleet:

https://www.zoomleisure.com/bike-rentals/bike-fleet

We rented a Trek Verve for her. It worked out fine for her during the short time we had it.
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Old 04-17-19, 09:18 AM
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Fantastic! Thanks for the suggestions, lots to chew on.
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Old 04-17-19, 09:32 AM
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I can see wanting the simplicity of a single speed coaster brake bike but some people that aren't regular cyclists may not be able to manage a single speed on even the slightest hills. I think I'd look at a bike with 2 or 3 gears for people that need it.
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Old 04-17-19, 11:23 AM
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The large bike rental fleets in San Francisco seem to be mainly regular inexpensive hybrids, with triple drivetrains and grip shifters, no particular maintenance-free features. What I think of as "Taiwan-standard" bikes, though probably now all made in China. The benefit is that they're all basically the same for the last 20 years even though the frame brands and small details are different.
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Old 04-17-19, 11:37 AM
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Talk to your local shops. For a bulk purchase of basic hybrid/cruisers, and if you let them put a shop sticker or even a small ad on the bikes and maybe your literature, they might work with you on price. Could be win/win.
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Old 04-17-19, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by 5teve View Post
Talk to your local shops. For a bulk purchase of basic hybrid/cruisers, and if you let them put a shop sticker or even a small ad on the bikes and maybe your literature, they might work with you on price. Could be win/win.

Might also be good to work with the shop on servicing the bikes on a regular basis, assuming OP doesn't want to become a PT bike mechanic.
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Old 04-17-19, 11:52 AM
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We have Sun Cruisers in the LBS rentals they have a fat tire model too .. ..
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Old 04-17-19, 04:15 PM
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Might snag some bike share bikes from an operator who is closing down or upgrading their fleet. Or maybe just become a (docked) bike share franchisee. Contact Trek's B-Cycle.

Last edited by tcs; 04-18-19 at 08:20 AM.
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Old 04-17-19, 04:34 PM
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Rugged Cycles Bikes | Rugged Cycles

Worksman https://www.worksmancycles.com/indbikes.html

Schwinn https://www.schwinnbikes.com/en/usa/...y-duti-s11head
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Old 04-17-19, 05:39 PM
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Here's what the Cleveland/Akron Ohio area Cuyahoga Valley Nat'l Park has for bike rental on the canal towpath system...

https://www.centurycycles.com/articl...ental-pg18.htm
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Old 04-18-19, 11:08 AM
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For your title, go to whatever Trek/Specialized/etc dealer you feel best workign with and order a dozen of their basic hybrids. Cruisers are fun if you are targeting non-cyclists in a short distance environment, but if I am renting a bike for an afternoon, I want something I can ride.

For your text, what is your actual idea to rent? Just showing up at parks on a nice afternoon? Touristy downtown area? You don't seem to have a permanent location, are you focusing on event perhaps?
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Old 04-18-19, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
For your title, go to whatever Trek/Specialized/etc dealer you feel best workign with and order a dozen of their basic hybrids. Cruisers are fun if you are targeting non-cyclists in a short distance environment, but if I am renting a bike for an afternoon, I want something I can ride.

For your text, what is your actual idea to rent? Just showing up at parks on a nice afternoon? Touristy downtown area? You don't seem to have a permanent location, are you focusing on event perhaps?
I'd ask, what percentage of experienced and picky cyclists would rent from this kind of place at all.
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Old 04-18-19, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I'd ask, what percentage of experienced and picky cyclists would rent from this kind of place at all.
Depends on the business. If it were near a park where I was on vacation, I absolutely would and have.
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Old 04-18-19, 02:23 PM
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First off the guy is renting boats and boards/ What are they?

Are we talking inflatable kayaks, canoes, sailboats? Power boats/ And by boards does the OP mean surfboards (on a lake?" or tow-behind boards for powerboats or skateboards or what?

If he is at a hotel or lodge on a lake with a lot of active guests, overweight single-speeds will probably sit and rot. If it is wealthy businessmen renting powerboats and towing their kids on wake boards, electric bikes make more sense .... but he never mentions kids. If he is renting sail boats, that implies some knowledge of sailing, so these are not people unused to exertion ... but if he is renting canoes, he could be renting to pure novices ... the kind that make the news every now and then when they capsize and can't get organized to swim to shore. But again he specifies adults, middle-aged and up ....

I'd say, if the terrain is rough enough that sprung seat posts are a consideration, fat-tire rigid hybrids maybe with a single-ring and 7-8 gears in back might be good .... people can understand a gripshift pretty easily. But what range are you expecting? Are these people who are going to ride a few hours or a two-mile out-and-back, do you think? Are these people looking to cycle, or "Let's try the bicycles, why not?" who don't really want to sweat?

As for whether "serious" cyclists would rent them ... yeah, most of us wouldn't pay the extra money to air-ship our bikes, particularly on a vacation with our significant others (unless they ride too) but would probably like to get a ride in if it was convenient .... send the wife into town to raid the shops while the husband sees some scenery.

Even if I was driving, having my bike on a rack is a little iffy because it is vulnerable---unless I was going a a Cycling vacation, I wouldn't bring it (too much hassle guarding it at rest stops, lugging it around, storing it in hotels or friends' houses, just to do a couple hours' ride) but if all I could rent was a single-speed tank, I would probably pass. If I could get a "real" bike ....

So really, since I don't understand the business or the clientele .... the best bet might be to get six SS tanks and four hybrids and see which get used?

But there is another question ... are we talking six bikes, sixteen, or sixty? It seems the OP doesn't think many people will even want bikes ... so he might not even get that much of a deal on a batch. having a couple options might help, and I wouldn't think you could get a huge price break on 12 but not on six ... but who knows?
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Old 04-18-19, 05:12 PM
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I've definitely ridden slow bikes on vacations via hotel or other rental. While it is not the same as being on my bike, it is, for me, part of embracing the idea that vacation is different than regular life. It is fine to slow down, on a slow bike, and enjoy the scenery.

If I wanted to go further or faster, I'd seek out a shop that rents "specialty" bikes. Saving time with something maintenance free and reliable, and cheap makes a lot of sense to me as a business decision.
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Old 04-18-19, 07:47 PM
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Thanks again for the detailed responses. If you all have any interest, you can find a photo of my potential customer and the location of this little venture by searching Fishers Club Avon, MN. The lake is next to the Lake Wobegon Trail, a paved rail trail in Central MN. The trail extends over 100 miles but in my experience sees little use.

The lake is small and is in a small town so there is no tourist trade really, only regional visitors to the Fishers Club with a history going back to the 30s. And a secret walleye batter recipe.

My original intention was to just offer surfski rentals and lessons, but it mushroomed into adding the bikes and boards (SUPs), and canoes to round out the boats. I might even add rowboats in the mix if I stay in business.

As for my decision to pursue the specs that I have, jade408 has got it about right. I really don't want to be a "bike rental shop" and I don't want to be a bike mechanic servicing a fleet of thirty bikes. I imagine a customer to take a sunset spin down the trail for a few miles for nostalgia rather than a workout. And any kind of bike is better at outrunning MN mosquitoes than walking.

As for being mobile, I have identified three other locations on the trail next to a lake that also does not have any kind of recreational opportunities. Its like the old fashioned book mobile for water sports.

Lastly, this is also simply a side gig for my kids to run during the summer while in high school, (if that doesn't happen I just won't be in business very long) If I'm not violating T&Cs, follow along on my Facebook, Lake Wobegon Outfitters. Thanks again, and as Garrison Keillor, the author and creator of the Lake Wobegon story says, "Be well, do good work, and keep in touch"
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Old 04-18-19, 09:28 PM
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I don't think anyone has mentioned frame sizes for your fleet yet. So maybe you want to look for a bike that can quickly and easily be fitted (approximately) to a wide range of sizes. You don't want to lose a rental because you don't have a frame to fit the customer in front of you. Problem is, I only know definitely of one bike that can do that, and it's very expensive (WorkCycles GR8). Maybe a small-wheel design like a folder can do that.

You say the path is a rail-trail; I think a 3-speed hub gear can handle that. They're pretty easy on maintenance, and hard to accidentally break. I also think they should have good chain-guards and decent fenders. If I were doing this, I'd also equip every bike with a basket (hint: sell snacks--and offer a deposit-type bribe for the return of empty drink bottles).
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Old 04-19-19, 07:04 AM
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I don't know the current market, so no suggestions on bike models to fit your specs. However, I have run a rental fleet (40-50 bikes), so here are a few suggestions:

1) Buy quality up front and you will reap savings on maintenance and repairs.
2) Think carefully about the range of sizes you will want.
3) Simpler bikes require less maintenance. If you really have flat terrain and low winds, single-speeds are great; otherwise look for an internally-geared hub.
4) Think about having loaner locks and helmets, since your customers won't bring those.
5) Kickstands are essential, chainguards pretty important, fenders and baskets are nice.
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Old 04-19-19, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
I don't know the current market, so no suggestions on bike models to fit your specs. However, I have run a rental fleet (40-50 bikes), so here are a few suggestions:
yeah, so what? I stayed in a Holiday Inn. What do You know? ( )

Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
1) Buy quality up front and you will reap savings on maintenance and repairs.
2) Think carefully about the range of sizes you will want.
3) Simpler bikes require less maintenance. If you really have flat terrain and low winds, single-speeds are great; otherwise look for an internally-geared hub.
Only a crazy person would think this makes sense ... well, at least This crazy person does. IGH seems the best bet for maintenance and ease of operation.
Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
4) Think about having loaner locks and helmets, since your customers won't bring those.
Great suggestion.
Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
5) Kickstands are essential, chainguards pretty important, fenders and baskets are nice.
Yup.

The original version of this mentioned adding baskets, selling snacks and charging bottle deposits (I assume for disposable bottles, so water and juice bottles didn't litter the trail).... which I also thought were very good ideas.
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Old 04-19-19, 07:35 AM
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If you are distributing around town, then look at the "bike share" systems.

If you are renting from a shop, then you have the option of giving different customers different bikes. Road bikes, Gravel bikes, MTBs, cruisers, etc.

Are you purchasing your stock retail, or do you have access to wholesale pricing?

If you're stuck with paying retail, then I'd encourage you to look at what is forsale as used bikes. You can likely save half the cost to 3/4 the cost of new bikes by buying used. And, you'll get a variety. You can even fix up the bikes and sell some (refundable rentals).

Custom paint with your shop logo?
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Old 04-19-19, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by rollagain View Post
So maybe you want to look for a bike that can quickly and easily be fitted (approximately) to a wide range of sizes. You don't want to lose a rental because you don't have a frame to fit the customer in front of you. Problem is, I only know definitely of one bike that can do that, and it's very expensive (WorkCycles GR8).
The worldwide generic bike share design seems to cover the bulk of customers acceptably.
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