Friday, November 30, 2012

Bicycles To Ease 'Sandy' Transportation Woes

We received an important email this week from Bevan Harris, our Giant Bicycles rep, whose territory encompasses greater New York City and all of Long Island, including the metropolitan area devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

Bevan's email was a plea for help. The world's largest bicycle manufacturer has donated a large quantity of new bicycles to be distributed as transportation relief to people most affected by the storm. 

Bevan was seeking help assembling 100 Revel 2 mountain bikes that were delivered to the Recycle-A-Bicycle warehouse in Long Island City, in the borough of Queens, and next to the East River. .

By the end of the day, we informed Bevan that we would be there, on his designated day at his designated time, with our truck and three bicycle mechanics, assembly stands, tools and support equipment.

We will keep you informed on this worthy project as it progresses.

-- Mr. Pump

Stockpiling Hurricane Losses On Long Island

BikemanforU reported an unusual sight recently on the way with his family to a high school football game at Stonybrook University on Long Island, about 30 miles east of Manhattan.

Driving west on the Long Island Expressway, he noticed a remarkable number of small, independent wrecker trucks headed in the opposite direction, away from the city.

These flatbed tow trucks were overflowing with cars. Some even had two on the flatbed with another vehicle towed behind.

Knowing fully well that we were on the fringes of the severely damaged area of Hurricane Sandy a month earlier, family members began calling out, "There is another one." "Look at all of them."

We turned off shortly afterward for the university's Sea Wolf Stadium, only to watch our own Westhampton Beach Hurricanes lose 37-7 against the Sayville High School Golden Flashes. The irony of our mascot's name was not lost upon us.

Though unusual for BMFU to be traveling the expressway two days in a row, the very next day he drove with me to a late day appointment even closer to Manhattan. I began to see the same scenario of small wreckers, each with several cars in tow, heading east in the same direction as the day before.

We began to hypothesize that insurance companies were preparing for some sort of mass salvage effort. According to news reports, storm-damaged vehicles are being stockpiled by the thousands.

Local and national news coverage continues on relief and clean-up around Manhattan, Staten Island, and the western tip of Long Island. As I sat down to check my email the next morning, that storm-ravaged region seemed to be at a cold, dark, standstill. Until one email, dated 11pm the night before, caught my attention.

-- Mr. Pump

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Getting Our Feet Wet In The Stream of Live

Among the best rewards of being in the bike business is dealing with customers that fall into several great categories -- fun, function, commuting, and exercise.  All are healthy categories that attract good people. By good, I mean people who are fun and satisfying to work with or ride a bike together. 

Our concentration of product offerings for maximum customer satisfaction  has been focused in the direction of recreational cycling for the last 35 years because that category of bicycle rider has been our primary customer in our brick-and-mortar shop.

However, we haven’t been in a cocoon all that time.  Our expansion into the internet opened a whole new world to us! 

Rather than list a catalog filled with products on 60,000 pages, we're deepening  our relationship with the biking enthusiast and his or her family - with emphasis not only on accessories and how to use them, but also how to make your own repairs. I hope you agree our YouTube videos attest to that fact.

Listening to your needs and answering your many questions is the customer relationship that we cultivate. What does this have to do with 'Getting Our feet wet?'  

The BikemanforU and his crew have jumped head and feet into a prototype test of streaming video on younow.com.  

This new live spontaneous, extemporaneous broadcast video show takes people from all around the world and puts them into web cam categories based on their interests. They can either talk, perform, or instruct interactively with the viewer.

We have more futuristic ideas coming to continue our goal of including you as a partner in our hometown bicycle shop show.

Stay tuned

--Mr. Pump

PS You've been good, so please apply the coupon code holidayreward to save 15% when you order parts and accessories with BikemanforU .

Monday, November 26, 2012

Reviving The Impromptu Bike Rental

Extemporaneously - Performed or uttered on the spur of the moment-usually without clearly known causes or relationships, as defined in Mirriam Webster's online dictionary.
We rented bikes at our brick-and-mortar shop for more than thirty years. Three years ago, however, we discontinued our popular rental program when liability insurance became cost prohibitive. 
That's over now. Our insurance agent has found an economical solution for us, so we'll be ordering our bike for spring rentals once again.
What a headache!

Our rentals in previous years used a 21-speed hybrid bike in various sizes and frames for men and women. Simple enough, yet we often questioned our sanity.

Most of our rental customers don't own a bicycle and may not have even ridden a bike since childhood. But, hey, they're on vacation in 'The Hamptons.' It’s a cloudy non-beach day; 'lets rent a bike.'

Carrying out an idea drawn from youthful memory can be an exhilirating experience. First come the excited phone calls. Vacationers arrive aglow with anticipation. Let the fun begin! 

They eagerly drink in the sight of shiny new bicycles. We're super busy in summer, so there's plenty of time to examine potential rides.  By the time we turn to the next customer, the promise of excitment is palpable.

Personalized attention is a thrill in itself because when you're a customer, it really is all about you. For a high-powered escapee from Manhattan, being measured and outfitted with just the right bike and helmet is often half the fun. And they get to ride, too? Not so fast.

Bicycles today are not like those ridden by the boy or girl of yesteryear. This realization usually sets in when our now grown-up customer holds the handlebars or sits on the seat.

This next stage in the rental process frequently entails patiently answering a lot of time-consuming questions. It's also when we wonder if we're nuts to rent bikes.
'What are all these levers for?'
(Me) 'Shifters.'
Customer pushes. 
'Nothing happens.'
'When do you shift? Oh, let me try it.'
'There aren't any brakes.'
'Look! I can pedal backwards.'
'Oh, I can't touch my feet to the ground.'

And on and on, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, when the season officially ends and the rental bikes are sold.

As we reinvigorate our rental program after a reluctant hiatus, the prospect is giving us new energy, as well. The fleet of bikes we're ordering may help us address those same questions in a new and enjoyable way.

Trust Me, It's Fun

Being a resort community bike shop, I imagine there’s many differences between us and a traditional bike shop. We're crammed into a small outdoor and indoor space. Add a vacationing crowd wanting to stuff every imaginable sports activity into a short weekend, and we end up with mass organized bedlam.
Its been in BikemanforU's mind for quite some time to capture the scene on live video, you guessed it, extemporaneously.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Let'em See You Coming...and Going!

We received a monthly catalog supplement today from one of our major suppliers. Seven of its 50 pages were filled with bicycle lights. 
On a separate note, our representative for Serfas, one of our favorite makers of bicycle accessories, has indicated to us that bike lights are one of their key growth categories, too. 
We're not surprised. As more people start riding a bike, they're becoming hip to the idea that drivers need to see you in daylight hours as well as at night.
A headlight and taillight with strong flashing or pulsing modes are must-have bike accessories, whether you're a short hop commuter running errands, out for a neighborhood cruise, or cycling every day in traffic.
I have some additional thoughts…stay tuned


Monday, November 19, 2012

Are 29ers Legitimate Yet?

A  26" Mountain Bike
From their onset in the 1970s, all legitimate mountain bikes and all-terrain bikes have had a 26-inch wheel, fitted with tires that range in width from 1.75 to 2.125  and even beyond, depending upon the frame configuaration, up to three inches wide. 

About three years ago, we began to hear about and see what the bicycle retail industry labeled a "29er" mountain bike. 
This gave the impression that the wheel size was 29 inches in diameter opposed to the traditional 26-inch mountain or ATB bike.
When you look at a 29er, the bike jumps out at you. The whole bicycle looks huge when compared to a traditional 26-inch MTB. 

The truth being a 29er is a 700c wheel size with an ISO measurement of 622 -- the same bead seat diameter as a road bike and most hybrids. 

While hybrids and 29ers share the same ISO number, most 29er tires are too wide to fit inside a hybrid fork. One exception is the 700x40 tire, which fits both.

Meanwhile, the traditional mountain bike wheel ISO is 559 -- the same ISO number that 26" cruiser bike wheels share. That, however is another story.
Send us pictures of your 29er. Is this for real or just another fad? Let us know your opinion.

 --Mr. Pump

P.S. We have tested the 29er, just around the lot, and they seem phenomenal.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Summer Customer's Insightful Remark

Mr. Pump and BikemanforU

When you say New York to people in our internet metropolis, the first mental reference may be to visualize Manhattan, huge city that it is. However, there are suburban, rural, and large farmland areas in throughout our large state.

Our brick-and-mortar store is located in Westhampton Beach, about 75 miles east of NYC, on Long Island, which, by the way, really is an island. 

Our population is roughly 1,800 year-round residents. That number increases five- to 8-fold between Memorial and Labor days. The increase is due to summer people, the majority coming from NYC, enjoying their second homes during the warm vacation months. 

We affectionately refer to them as weekend warriors. Families stay out of the city while the wage earner commutes weekdays. Our b&m customers are recreational leisure cyclists, typically riding a hybrid bike. 

During a chat the other day with one of our NYC customers, we began to reminisce about the end of the summer. He mentioned how much the BikemanforU and the staff are appreciated in our community. 

I also indicated to our customer that the BMFU and I are pretty close to each other. He replied, "I can tell by looking in your eyes."

-- Mr. Pump

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Back To Normal After Super Storm Sandy

I believe Super Storm Sandy is the proper terminology recited by the weather officials. When SSS made landfall just south of us onto the coast of New Jersey earlier this month, winds at 75 mph qualified it as a hurricane. However, the tidal surge with severe flooding is what caused the real damage. Lives were lost and property destroyed.
Now, a little more than two weeks later, parts of western  Long Island, New Jersey, and Staten Island are still without power,  not to say anything about the scores and scores of homes and businesses that no longer exist to even need power.
We were extremely fortunate. Our people are safe, and we lost electricity and internet service for just two days. We have caught up with our internet shipments and are back to normal. Gasoline rationing, a modest inconvenience, ended this week.
We were surprised and our spirits lifted by the many emails from customers and YouTube viewers from around the world, who reached out to us with concern for our safety. We're very appreciative to count our valued customers as friends. Thank you so much.
People continually inspire us. As we move forward post-SSS, we're looking for innovative ways to be your local bike shop online.
Our creative artist BikemanforU is developing ways for us to stream our Show episodes, so that our viewers can take part in the action as it happens live on the internet. 
We're looking at two live-stream websites, one is free and the other wants a fair amount of money each month. Either way, our favorite producer, director, and host is so enthused by the prospects that he let down his hair. The result is this little video.
It's also the enthusiasm of our customers and viewers that led us to move foward with the launch of our first product, a 27x1 1/4 wheel, designed and developed by our staff because You Asked For It. Stay tuned.
PS, if you haven't seen the BikemanforU Show, by all means, please have a look
-- Mr. Pump

Will Hollywood Come Calling?

While Steven Spielberg has yet to reach out and touch us, we thought you might enjoy BikemanforU's latest handiwork in the editing room. Truth be told, we're excited about the first product to bear our name. 
Mr. Pump will be giving us the skinny soon. Or, mosey over to our channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/BikemanforU That's where we give a lot of t-shirts away. Subscribe, comment, or rate this video for a chance to win a prize.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Making Friends Around The World

One of the funnest things that BikemanforU has created, over nearly three years, is the fact that our internet presence lets us interact with not just people, but people who have become internet friends, countless acquaintances from all over the world.  
Pictures, videos, and comments keep pouring into our open arms.  We try to respond to as many as we can. 

Baconsoda, a YouTuber in Ireland, is among our new 'net friends. Click the arrow to watch "Shed Treasure," his video response to our series on "How To Beat $4 Gas."

One question that continues to be repeated - What about international shipping? Right now, we're doing everything manually. People email us for a shipping quote and we process their international order through PayPal. That works, however, we'd like to do better and we would love to have it happen yesterday.

Our IT department is comprised of our own people - Pamalu, BikemanforU, and Sonofa. We have yet to hire an outside person or company.

I’m trying desperately to just keep up with them and learn. They have done an outstanding job, first creating our eBay store, our website, and our YouTube channel with many of hundreds of videos, a Google partnership ad presence, facebook, twitter, etc.

Getting back to international shipping- IT’S COMING!!!! Stay tuned

--Mr. Pump

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mr. Pump Adds Blogging To His Chore List

As I opened my computer on Thursday morning at my desk and hit the on button, I thought about what Pamela said the other day to me: “My job at BikemanforU is like being a farmer, my first chore is to take care of our customer service questions.”
Well, I tried to hurry through my chores: #1 checking the bank statement for checks collected overnight, re-ordering bicycle parts, tires, tools, and cycling accessories. The rush to get through my chores was important because at 11 am our management group had an exciting meeting planned.

With fall and winter fast approaching and our brick-and-mortar slowing down to less than a crawl, we all have great plans and ideas for our web-based business.  Little did I know that Pam (BikemanforU affectionately call her Pamalu or Pamaluski) had plans for me, also.
“Take over our blog-log," she said.
Blog log, schmog log. Little did I know we at the BikemanforU had a blog, or even what the beep a blog was.

Well, guess what? Ready or not  - here we come. I hope you all will help me out because, for goodness sake, I sure do need it.

-Mr. Pump