So what exactly is a mobile bike business? It seems to me that a mobile bike business has a different kind of flair and purpose than say a bike delivery service. Though the two are very closely related, a mobile bike business is a store, a restaurant, a cafe, what-have-you on wheels. Whereas a bike delivery service typically focuses on bringing goods to a customer, a mobile bike business would more likely arrive a designated location and then wait for the customer to come to it. The differences are not really terribly important, the important fact is that both types of cycling service are replacing services that are typically accomplished with a motor vehicle.
I decided to do a little searching on the Interwebs to see what I could find in the way of mobile bike businesses. Not surprisingly, most of the mobile bike-based businesses that I found are based in none other than Portland, Oregon. Here is a short rundown of some of the mobile bike businesses I found.
Mobile Coffee Shops
Cafe Velo was the subject of one of the articles that inspired me to write this post. Cafe Velo is Portland’s first bakfiets-based business. A bakfiets is a cargo bike with a large box in front for carrying goods. Cafe Velo’s creator – Rick Wilson – in his article on BikePortland.org, emphasizes the necessity of keeping things simple when establishing a mobile bike business. He recommends sticking to one service – in his case serving coffee – in order to maintain high quality. See photos of the bike and the business on Flickr.
In the Winston-Salem area, a few entrepreneurs decided to make use of the cultural connections between cycling and coffee drinking by adding a coffee shop on wheels to an already existing group of business.
And perhaps my favorite thus far is the BikeCaffe, which was originally founded in the U.K. The BikeCaffe is a mobile coffee shop much like the ones mentioned above, but if you are curious about the experience of running one yourself, the BikeCaffe has franchise opportunities available for the ambitious, bike-riding, coffee-drinkers out there!
Just as coffee and bikes go nicely together, so do beer and bikes!
Once again, those Oregonians are leading the charge in mobile bike businesses. In the morning you can have your coffee from a mobile cafe, and in the afternoon/ evening, you can have some brew – and a slice of pizza – from a Hopworkfiets. Metrofiets, a box bike builder in the Portland area, built the bike for the Hopworks Urban Brewery. The bike has everything from a stereo to space for two kegs to an ice-chest to a pizza rack! Check out photos of the amazing Hopworkfiets on Flickr.
Of course, most people have seen or heard of the famous and fantastic Bierfiets or bike bar. Though slightly different from a mobile bike business, as it is usually rented out by a group of people, it has the same effect of creating a similar atmosphere to a mobile bike pub (ie. getting some sort of service by bicycle).
Bike Vending Carts
Moving on from beverages, it is also quite common to find mobile bike businesses that cater to your hungry belly. Bike vending carts are quite common in the downtown areas of large cities, where the vendor can set up a location for the day. Bike vending carts can be found as trailers that attach to the back of your bicycle, or they might be three-wheeled cargo trikes, or even two-wheeled long-john style bikes with a box attached to the front (much like a bakfiets).
Portlanders aren’t the only ones running mobile bike businesses, and in fact, such businesses are much more common in Europe, especially bike friendly cities like Copenhagen or Amsterdam. This post on Copenhagenize.com has photos of an assortment of three-wheeled bike vendors who sell sushi, ice cream, vegetarian food, and other food items.
An ice cream vendor bike from WorkManCycle.
Mobile Bike Shop
And what about your bike repair service needs? Well those are covered by mobile bike businesses as well.
In Portland, the North Portland Mobile Bike Shop can make house calls to help you repair your broken bike. The shop’s owner – Dennis Kelly – makes house calls to people who are too busy or too intimidated to go into a regular bike shop. He pulls as many tools as possible with his cargo bike and though he focuses on just one region in Portland, he will ride to most any place in the city.
But wait, it gets better, well sort of. AAA will now make roadside assistan
ce calls to cyclists who have membership in some states. Now this is pretty cool, and it’s a bit like a mobile bike business, but unfortunately I don’t see anything about AAA employees riding out to members who call for assistance. Anyways, it deserves some mention for being a mobile bike business (though not a human-powered one).
Other Mobile Shops
Mobile bike businesses don’t stop at food, beverages, or bike repair, anything can be sold by bike as the photo below demonstrates. The possibilities are endless!
Photo from LetItBeChina
Lastly, in Nicaragua, where many people use mobile call shops to make national and international calls, some entreprenuers have created a mobile call shop called Pedaled Phone Calls (Llamadas Pedaleadas), which also generates energy from riding and can be used to charge cell-phones. More info at BikeHacks.com.
What have I missed? Do you own a mobile bike business or do you frequent one? Let us know and send us some photos!