It is 8 o'clock in the morning on a picturesque autumn Saturday in the heart of Vancouver, Canada. Rays of sunlight gradually begin to peek through the early-morning fog blanketing the city. Suddenly the last fading green on the trees is interrupted by the bright red of an approaching vehicle: The strikingly colorful appearance of a Velofix Sprinter is an imposing sight!
When the rear doors of the bright red Sprinter open and its owner Boris Martin greets us happily, the first thing we see is the completely converted interior of the van. The doors close, but our mouths remain open: The walls are covered with every imaginable type of Allen key, pliers and spare parts – all carefully sorted. Every millimeter inside the Sprinter is used perfectly! Boris expertly fits my bike into the holder also mounted on the side, offers us a coffee and asks us to take a seat. We are in a mobile bicycle workshop from Velofix.
In October 2012 Davide Xausa, Chris Guillemet, Simon Whitfield and Boris Martin came up with the idea of the "Velofix" business model – a mobile bicycle workshop. Each of the four enthusiastic cyclists has years of business and competitive cycling experience. And the success proves their concept: Since beginning with only one Sprinter and a small team in January 2013, Velofix now has seven employees at the headquarters and 35 at franchise companies. Even the expansion into the USA worked out. Now you can also have your bicycle serviced and repaired wherever you want in Seattle, San Francisco or Portland. Orders are placed over the telephone or via the website. Customers can choose where they want their bike serviced. Whether at home, at the office or at a cycling competition: Velofix aims to save its customers time and let them spend more time on their bikes rather than waiting for them. In keeping with the company's philosophy: "Save Time. Ride More."
Yet the striking look is anything but unpleasant. The size of the vans is not a rarity in Canada and the engines ensure that they do their job quietly. The guys from Velofix truly appreciate the efficiency of the turbo diesel engines. Velofix uses the long version of the Sprinter with a super high roof as the foundation for their mobile workshops.
This lets the bicycle experts and their customers move comfortably in the interior. In addition to coffee and free wireless, customers can also watch television while their bicycle is being serviced. The windows in the roof let in the daylight when working and also provide us with a view of the rust red treetops along the avenue.
After only 45 minutes Boris is finished with my bike. In addition to servicing the gear mechanism he has also replaced the front wheel and renewed my brake pads. As a result we easily arrive on time for the opening of Stanley Park at 9 o'clock. The park connects the Lions Gate Bridge with West Vancouver and forms the first leg of today's tour. The experience of having my bike repaired by expert hands while losing almost no time at all creates a real Tour de France feeling the moment "my" Velofix Sprinter leaves.