A SCOTTISH entrepreneur is trying to turn the cycling industry on its head with a start-up that puts convenience at the heart of its services.

Simon Bone found he had always struggled to find time to get to the bike shop, mostly because they were only opened during normal hours.

That left only weekends and holidays – the very time he wanted to be out and about on his bike.

Loading article content

The restricted opening hours coupled with a growing demand for bike servicing resulted in longer waiting times, leaving him without his wheels for, on some occasions, weeks at a time.

His response was the launch of BikeUp – an online platform that allows cyclists to book their machines for collection, remote servicing and delivery.

“It’s a very traditional model of delivery,” said Bone. “Finding the time to get the bike to the shop for that much needed service can be difficult, especially when you are juggling family and work commitments.

“I want to support my local bike shop – and so does almost every other cyclist I talk to – but it’s really hard to do so when the shops aren’t open when I’m free.”

Bone decided to build a better service through the use of technology and, last year, he got together with Glasgow-based development agency Digital Impact, where he started to plan, design and eventually build BikeUp.

Its fully automated website allows customers to book a convenient time and location for their bikes to be collected, and BikeUp’s drivers and professional bike mechanics do the rest.

Payment is made through a secure online service, but only once the servicing work has been started.

When the service is complete, BikeUp delivers the bike back to the customer’s home or work at a convenient time.

Bone said he was delighted with the initial response to BikeUp.

“We launched BikeUp at the Scottish Cycling, Running and Outdoor Pursuits Show earlier this year and the response was amazing,” he said.

“I had cyclist after cyclist telling me they had experienced the same problem as me. That was when I knew that the cycling community wanted BikeUp.”

Since its launch, Bone has continued to grow the business, buoyed by outstanding repeat business, corporate contracts in Glasgow and word-of-mouth referrals.

And he sees huge opportunities for future growth: “Cycling participation in the UK has exploded in recent years, and we only expect this to increase due to government initiatives such as the Cycle to Work scheme and cycling infrastructure investment.”

However, he said this was just the start. He is currently working on a plan to scale the business by packaging BikeUp as a platform that local bike shops and mechanics can use to augment their existing services, similar to sharing-economy businesses such as Deliveroo and Laundrapp.

“We don’t consider existing bike shops to be our competitors,” he said.

“We’ve developed a digital platform and logistics operation that existing bike shops and independent mechanics can utilise in order to grow their customer base.

“And the great thing is, customers benefit from the convenience whilst continuing to support their local bike shop.”