Velo Cult raises some eyebrows with 24-hour tuneup guarantee

Velo Cult raises some eyebrows with 24-hour tuneup guarantee

Many Velo Cult repairs already happen late.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Velo Cult, the two-year-old bike shop, bar and bike-culture hub in Portland’s Hollywood neighborhood, is attracting some attention in the local repair scene for an unusual campaign announced this month: guaranteed walk-in tuneups within 24 hours, all year long.

“If you bring your bike in on any weekday we will have it done and ready to be picked up the next day at the same time,” owner Sky Boyer wrote on the shop’s website Jan. 1.

“I tell people who aren’t really into the bike world, and they’re like, oh, it’s cool,” Boyer said in an interview Wednesday about the deal, which will apply only to basic tuneups that don’t require out-of-stock parts. “And then I talk to people who are in the bike world and they’re like, how are you doing that?”

According to Boyer, the shop is doing it by leveraging the unusual characteristics of a business that also happens to have 10,000 square feet of operating space and 12 hours of staff time each day.

“Square footage for mechanic stations, repair stations, long hours, we just happen to have all the ingredients for it,” Boyer said. “We could get 60 repairs a day or 10 repairs a day. We’re not really sure.”

Boyer said he’ll “probably be tripling my mechanic staff in the next three months,” including a roster of people he can call up to help when there’s a surge in demand for basic repairs.

“I could imagine we’re going to have 100, 150 bikes stored in here at a time,” he said. “If I have to work all night and then do time and a half with my employees, we’re all willing to do that. We’ve had that conversation.”

Basic tuneups will cost $75, which Boyer said is the same that they did last year. There’s no extra fee for the immediate turnaround.

One key to the offer is that the shop will conduct an in-person assessment of each bike when it’s dropped off. If a bike requires more than a basic tuneup, a mechanic will be able to inform the customer then.

Boyer said the offer was inspired by his new service manager, who previously worked at a shop in Pennsylvania that had a similar policy.

“I’ve always wanted to do it, but now I have mechanics capable of doing it, we’re going to go for it,” Boyer said.

Other local bike shop repair specialists, many of whom were aware of the offer, were polite but expressed caution about the offer.

“I’ll be curious to see how that goes,” said Justin Tutor of Crank, located at Southeast 27th and Ash.

Tutor noted that Crank has a somewhat similar policy: it can schedule 24-hour tuneup turnarounds in advance rather than on a walk-in basis.

And Kiel Johnson of Go By Bike Shop, a smaller operation that also operates the OHSU bike valet in the South Waterfront, said he currently guarantees basic tuneups within six hours, before a commuter gets off of work.

“And if we don’t have the right part, I will pedal over to Crank in the middle of the day and buy it retail,” Johnson said.

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