Can you give us a little background on havebike?
I founded havebike in 2010, having left behind a career as a finance lawyer in the City of London. I was frustrated at the lack of bike shops in the business district and the lengthy waiting time associated with getting my bike serviced.
We started by operating pop-up style bicycle workshops inside large organisations based in the city. Employees could leave their bikes with us when they arrived for work, we’d service them whilst the employee was at work and be ready for when they left.
Very quickly, we also gained a reputation for supplying bicycles to the emergency services that were quality, fit for purpose and value for money. This led to us winning contracts with the London Metropolitan Police, City of London Police, London Ambulance Service, London Fire Brigade and St John Ambulance Service.
We’ve grown havebike to be Britain’s largest bike repair company and the industry leader in repairing and servicing road, mountain and e-bikes as well as urban and kids’ bikes.
Our convenient collect, repair and return model allows customers to choose from three different levels of service online and have their bike returned within 48-72 hours. havebike currently operates across all areas inside the M25 as well as select regions surrounding London, including all of Surrey.
We are also the industry leader in the supply and maintenance of fleet bicycles for the emergency services, including the police, ambulance and fire service.
What makes havebike unique? What does it offer that its competitors perhaps do not?
havebike is not a tech business, it’s a business that is driven by technology which helps us disrupt the traditional industry models and be a true innovator in the bicycle industry. Our customers love what we do and many competitors large and small try to imitate our service offering.
We were the first to offer collect and return bicycle servicing and the first to offer online booking for servicing. We were even the first (as far as we know) to offer golden hello bonus payments to new mechanics.
We’re also the only bicycle servicing company with a Shimano Service Centre accreditation in the UK and Europe, we attained this position through our mechanics’ high level of expertise across a range of bikes, our commitments to their professional development and our innovation in delivering bicycle service and repair.
As any brand in the cycling industry is, havebike is committed to helping use the power of the humble bicycle to help fight climate change. We service and repair EcoFleet’s cargo bikes, which are a vital tool in offering a carbon-neutral last-mile delivery service.
Many of the forward-thinking brands in the industry, especially the direct to market brands, really see how we can complement their business; we’re an approved Canyon service provider and Ribble’s authorised after-sales agent for the London area.
Something else that sets us apart is that we are a service business, not a retail business. We do not need to worry about a workshop taking over the sales floor. It also means our mechanics can focus on what they do best (and enjoy) – fix bikes instead of constant interruptions by the phone or a member of the shop floor staff asking the mechanic to do another PDI!
Tell us about your collect, repair and return model.
Using havebike’s online booking system, customers can book a repair or service on a convenient date when they would like their bike collected (and returned) from work or home. Daily collections are available from anywhere within our servicing area, seven days a week from 9am-6pm. This process also allows customers to tell our mechanics if there is something specific they would like doing to their bike.
The customer will receive confirmation of their booking with the collection and return dates and also nearer the time will also get more specified times of collection and return which is determined by our mapping and route planning software for route optimisation.
One of our professional drivers collects the bike in our eco-friendly long wheelbase vans with bespoke racking and protective covers so that we can carefully transport it to our state of the art workshop for inspection.
Every bike receives a 104 point roadworthiness check prior to the service so that we can advise the customer of any additional work that the bike may require. Once the service is complete, havebike returns the bike to the customer at their chosen address and date. havebike strives to return bikes back to our customers within 48-72 hours.
In a rather bizarre twist of fate, COVID-19 has provided a significant boost to the cycling industry. What impact has it had on havebike?
We’re taking the view that it has actually been a catalyst of the ‘cycling boom’ rather than the cause of it. Let’s not forget, even before COVID-19, Deloitte was already predicting a doubling of cycling numbers. We believe this boom is here to stay.
We’ve also seen how online businesses have thrived during COVID-19. As a company that is in effect an online bicycle service provider – customers book online, we collect, service and return their bicycle – we’ve also benefited from this ever-increasing consumer trend of online shopping.
And when lockdown meant we could no longer operate pop-up workshops in the office buildings in the city, we took the decision to expand our service offering to the commuters belt in the home counties and focus on our collect and return work.
Operating the collect and return model means we can operate a workshop that is not exposed to the public and which is operated with social distancing practices in place. That just leaves the delivery driver interaction with the customers. Our drivers wear full PPE (face masks and surgical gloves) and wipe the bike down with disinfectant whenever it is collected/returned to the customer.
What industry trends are exciting you at the moment?
We’re starting to see large scale adoption of fleet bicycles by some of the big logistics companies and grocery retailers. This should lead to some innovation in the fleet bicycle world, especially the cargo bikes where they need to be built in a more robust manner that is fit for purpose.
It’s also exciting to see greater adoption of e-bikes and the entry of the car manufacturers into the bicycle market with exciting designs and mass-market brand appeal (BMW, Harley Davidson and Triumph to name a few). This will continue to open up new markets and add to the growing number of people using bicycles.
This will be great for everyone in the cycle industry, not forgetting the social and economic benefits this will bring – I really hope that the sight of families and friends riding their bikes together on safe quiet roads breathing clean air during the first lockdown will become a normality in the future.