When the COVID-19 stay-at-home order was relaxed in late April, Bob Hammond was finally able to launch his dream business, Common Bond Mobile Bike Shop, which serves bicyclists anywhere throughout the Greater Grand Rapids area.
“I think a mobile bike shop provides a convenience that other shops don’t. It’s about being able to come to the customer,” Hammond says. “People value their free time and usually base their riding times around that. If they don’t have to spend an hour picking up their bike after work, that gives them an extra hour to ride, or an hour less to get home to their families.”
Hammond has been working in bicycle shops since 1998, starting as an assembler. By 2000, he considered working on bikes his career choice, not just a job. Along the way, he not only learned everything about repairing bikes, but also how to run the business aspects of his chosen profession.
“Having over 20 years of experience in this industry, I’ve seen and worked on a lot of different bikes. I’m also able to build up bikes, piece by piece, hand build wheels, provide full tune-ups, and do everything in between,” Hammond says. “There’s not much, [bike] repair related, that I haven’t worked on. For the most part, a bike is a bike. They’re all pretty similar as far as function is concerned.”
Hammond has certifications from SRAM, Shimano, and the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association, where he also keeps up with the latest advances in the industry through continuing education during the off season. He does all repairs right in the shop he has installed in the back of his van — everything from assembly and tune-ups by appointment to emergency breakdowns on the road. He travels to clients’ workplaces, their homes, or the bike trail.
“I can meet you at the local trails and tune your suspension on site,” Hammond says. “It’s difficult to tune it properly at most shops because you need to do that on the actual trail, test it on the actual terrain you’re riding. Suspension is very important with off-road trails. It helps with traction and performance.”
The Common Bond Mobile Bike shop inventory includes brake and shift cables, spokes, tubes, tires, chains, and brake pads. Hammond orders other parts as needed and is able to complete the service within two to three days— basically no longer than it would take a brick and mortar bike shop. The Mobile Bike Shop will travel north to Rockford, south to Middleville, east to Lowell, and west to Jenison.
Hammond can make repairs on-site at his clients’ homes, workplaces, or on the road wherever they have a break-down. The mobile bike shop in the back of his van has the tools and equipment he needs.
“I should be able to get to and from most of these areas within a half hour so I can be as efficient as possible yet cover a large area,” he says. “I’ve also thought about scheduling repairs in certain areas on a particular day to keep drive times lower. It depends on workload, but I should be able to cover a lot of area.”
Hammond also plans on hosting mobile clinics for cyclists who want to learn how to do basic repairs on their own, especially for situations that arise on the road or the trail.
“People should ride bikes for many reasons — health, exercise, mental health, enjoyment,” Hammond concludes. “I ride bikes to turn my brain off. If I go out for a ride, it allows me to shut my brain off from normal everyday distractions for an hour or more and focus on just riding bikes. It still gives me the same amount of joy as when I was a kid. It’s freeing. It reminds me of a time when I could jump on my bike and forget about everything else.”
Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor
Photos courtesy Common Bond Mobile Bike Repair