Cowbell bike shop featured in image magazine business section. Written by Justine Kohr, this article talks about my idea of opening Cowbell mobile bike shop and servicing bikes at my clients convenience.
Friendly expert care at your doorstep
Cowbell Mobile Bike Shop
No time to plan your meals for the week? Don’t worry. You meal kit form Blue Apron is on its way. And that IKEA TV stand you bought that will be impossible to put together? TaskRabbit is coming to your house later this afternoon to assemble it. Guess what? The chariot is due for an oil change but your schedule is filled this week. Why not drop your keys with Zippity, the car-care startup founded by two Tuck alumni – this business comes right to your workplace!
Consumer – first companies that offer personal, convenient services at your home or your place of work are continuing to pop up around the country, and the Upper Valley too is benefiting from this make – your – life easier fever. Cowbell Mobile Bike Shop founded by longtime bike mechanic Todd Chewning of Lebanon, is the latest convenience brand to pop up in the UV.
“The Best Bike Mechanic Around”
Cowbell offers a number of services for the casual to expert cyclist: tune-ups, bike assembly and disassembly, wheel build and care, suspension and even ride support for group rides. But here’s the kicker: Todd meets customers right in their driveways and works directly out of his detailed cargo van.
The setup is a win – win. The benefits to the customer are obvious. A friendly, knowledgeable bike mechanic works on your bike in a location that’s most convenient for you – and he’s finished by the time you’ve mowed the front yard. And if your not around that day? Not to worry Todd can leave you an invoice and touch base later.
“Todd has a reputation for being the best bike mechanic around.” says Liz Pierce a Norwich, Vermont resident who is a repeat customer. “He comes to my house which is an unimaginable convenience. Last winter he disassembled my bike and shipped it to Florida, and a month later I shipped it to him in Vermont and he put it back together – all from the comfort of my home.You just can’t beat that.”
Doing What He Loves
For Todd, who fell in love with bikes the moment his training wheels came off, this business model affords him the ability to do what he enjoys with little overhead and the freedom to create his own schedule. It’s an idea he’s been kicking around for most of his career. “I started researching other brands out there offering this type of service, and I noticed that they were very expensive,” says Todd. “My family, especially my dad, really encouraged me to go for it. He told me, ‘Anything they can teach you, you already know. You should just do it yourself.”
Todd, who grew up outside Baltimore, began BMX racing when he was 13. He loved the high intensity of the sport and excelled at it. “I have about 100 trophies sitting in my parents’ attic right now,” he says with a laugh.
As a kid, he spent hours in his garage cleaning and tuning his bike before and after races. But it was his father, a mechanical engineer, who really taught him the ins and outs of mechanics. The two spent a lot of time in the garage working on motorcycles and cars – one time even completely overhauling a classic MGB together.
“He was my mentor; he taught me everything I know,” says Todd. “you used to be able to work on your own car or your own bike yourself. It’s a lot more technical now. Your need a specialized person to do that stuff. And people are too busy, so they hire someone to help them out, which is kind of good for me.”
Staying True to His Values
You could cal Todd a bike aficionado. Not only has he been riding since he was a kid, he’s worked on bikes professionally since the ’90’s. In 2005, he relocated to the Upper Valley with his wife Kim to accept a job as head of the bike department at Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) in West Lebanon where his sales and labor soared. Later, as head mechanic at the Bike Hub, a former bike shop in Norwich, Todd’s attention to detail, his honesty, and his friendly demeanor quickly gained him a reputation as a top bike mechanic in the Upper Valley, When the Bike Hub closed its doors in 2016, Todd took it as a sign to finally go out on his own.
His first year was admittedly tough, but the following year, 2017, was profitable. Now that he’s established his brand and a network of customers in the Upper Valley, he’s decided to expand his services north to the Burlington area.
In addition, Todd recently cofounded a racing team, Cowbell Racing with local cyclist Stephen Kohr to help engage Upper Valley cyclocross racers and get the word out about his brand. His Cowbell van can often be seen at road and cyclocross races across New England, where he offers his support to racers.
Besides expanding to Burlington, Todd also hopes to increase his visits to companies that offer wellness programs. He offers a corporate -rate discount and can come directly to a company’s lot. But whatever the next step is for Cowbell, he plans to stay true to the values he’s held since the very beginning: Be honest, Pay attention to detail. And just be kind.
“If someone brings their bike to me, I’m going to be honest about what the bike needs,” says Todd. “When it’s in my hands, from that point on it’s my bike, so I’m going to care for it like it’s my bike. I think people feel that.”
Cowbell Mobile Bike Shop