Mobile bike repair service essential during pandemic
Ed Hall, owner of Mr. Ed’s Mobile Bike Repair, considered an essential business, is continuing to visit clients.
JODI SPIEGEL ARTHUR
Ed Hall has had to adapt.
The former professional bicycle racer and bicycle store operator started a mobile bike repair business just before the novel coronavirus pandemic forced Pennsylvanians to stay at home.
“I got really busy the week before everything hit,” he said. “I’ve seen a downturn in business … but I’m still keeping busy,” he added. “I just had to change the way I do things.”
Hall’s business – Mr. Ed’s Mobile Bike Repair – is considered essential by the state of Pennsylvania, since bicycles are a mode of transportation. He opened his business, servicing bicycles within a 20-mile radius of Quakertown in Pennsylvania only, part time on Jan. 1, and went full time on March 1.
Hall visits clients at their homes or places of employment, providing the business owner gives permission, and performs tune-ups and repairs of all kinds to people-powered bicycles and major models of electric bicycles.
“My business model, other than having to be more sanitary, hasn’t changed,” he said. “I come out to them, clean their bike with Lysol and then isopropyl alcohol, do the job and spray it down again and then clean my tools.
“There’s not really an alternative,” Hall added.
Mr. Ed’s Mobile Bike Repair books appointments both online and by phone.
Hall markets his fledgling business on his website and on social media, including postings on local Facebook neighborhood garage-sale forums. “That’s been the one where people are finding me the most,” he said. “If I post something, I usually get phone calls within a day or two.”
Hall also parks his truck at trailheads when he goes riding, or at least he did when trails were still open, and other riders have taken note of the Mr. Ed’s logos, prompting calls for service, Hall said. He said he is prohibited from actually selling on park property.
“That’s been more lucrative to me than I expected,” Hall said of business from trail users who have seen his truck. “What I’ve seen is such an uptick in usage” of bike trails, Hall said, adding he has seen more children riding bikes and playing outside in general than he’s seen in years.
“That’s something positive,” he said. “I’m hoping we as a society come out of this thing on the others side better – that people are out with their families again, having dinner again.”
Hall said he had planned to also market his business by going to area businesses and gyms to let people know what he has to offer, but he’s had to put that on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 52-year-old began racing bikes at age 12 and continued doing so until he was in his late 30s, five of those years at a pro elite level for which he said he had a sponsor but was not paid. He ran a bike store for 27 years, and then sold cars for two years before deciding to go into business for himself.
“I saw this opportunity with the mobile bike (repair) business that nobody in the area was doing,” Hall said. “It seemed like a great way to service the community.”
Mr. Ed’s Mobile Bike Repair is available seven days a week, including evenings, covering a 20-mile radius around Quakertown that includes Doylestown, reaches to the Delaware River, as well as to Skippack in Montgomery County and most of Lehigh and Northampton counties in the Lehigh Valley.
“I’ll come to you on your schedule,” Hall said. “With 30 years experience working on bikes, there isn’t much I haven’t seen.”
Hall keeps items including tires, brake pads, chains and inner tubes on his truck.
He said he is insured in Pennsylvania, and his insurance allows him to work on bikes on private property in Pennsylvania, such as homes – or businesses with the business owners’ permission.
He said his insurance also allows him to work on bikes that owners bring over from New Jersey, to a friend’s house in Pennsylvania, or to work, with the business owner’s permission.
To perform work in New Jersey, Hall said, he would need to become a New Jersey business, collect New Jersey state taxes and have insurance there. “It’s totally legal to have someone from New Jersey bring their bike to Pennsylvania for work,” he said.
For information, or to book an appointment, visit mredsmobilebikerepair.com/ or call 215-527-3291.