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  1. #1
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    Making a rental Fatty under $1000 (VIK feel free to add your 2 cents)

    So here is the deal. With the promise of selling my loud overpriced (always needing parts) ATV's. I get to buy as many fat bikes as I can with a $10,000 budget. So why rental? we put our eggs in one basket and bought a small hotel in a national park. (amazing how remodeling always needs money ) so little is left after home repairs, none for marketing...But hopefully a few fat bikes will stir some interest..

    back story done..

    So, making that 10g go as far as it can... Looked at fat sand terrain destroyer, pugs and even walmart.... eyes are bigger than the wallet. I can build a custom ATV, but a fat bike? Nope...mentally challenged going from gas and oil to green...back to the point

    Internal hub A8 (its a must....to many jobs to do. Cant be cleaning bikes everyday, let alone adjustments)

    Racks for the beer

    Mechanic disk (or maybe a coaster brakes....but beer + rental bike + coaster brake= really cool skids= mo money for tires

    did I forget to mention that our trails have two river crossings (yes we have liability release forms, kinda funny....if you cant swim please dont rent bike )

    Framebags are great for balance, but racks are great for backpacks and bungee cords (or beer)

    I have done a lot reading, the point to the post is I am at impasse with myself. Cant seem to pull the trigger without some feel good advice. I would consult the LBS but, since I am in Lithuania (wife is lithuanian ) and I speak barely passable lithuanian, and the term fat bikes gives the local dealer the deer in the headlight look, that option is out...

    If your ever in my neck of the woods....beer is on me

  2. #2
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    Small Business Loan ?

  3. #3
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    na, hard earned cash....with the promise of selling my toys. I convinced the boss (the wife) the sewer repair can wait

  4. #4
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    Tough budget, then ... Perhaps start with a few bikes, and build as the business needs grow.

    From an insurance perspective, I'm thinking buy them built, rather than building them ... Documentation will be easier.

    YMMV, and best of luck with this.

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    Thanks, my new world judo math says eight units is the magic number to make ROI make sense

  6. #6
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    I watched my Uncle grow a canoe rental from 20 canoes to 100 over a decade, while adding a few cabins as things grew.

    If the location is good, you'll get along fine.

    Get in good with the locals !!!
    That's the best thing I know about such things ... He threw a FREE beer & BBQ party and invited the closest town.
    Cost him a few pennies, but the recommendations made it worth the price.

  7. #7
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    I'd think that a dealer would be willing to give you some kind of volume discount.
    You mentioned Alfine 8 and coaster brake. Pretty sure you can't have both, but there's a 3-speed internal hub with coaster brake.

    Seems like a complete bike with all or most of what you want would be the way to go, as building up bikes from scratch is usually more expensive.

  8. #8
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    My buddy owns Arctic Cycles in Anchorage, AK. His money makers are his Pugslys.
    If Huffy made an airplane, would you fly in it?

  9. #9
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    the only internal gear stock fatbikes are the 907 tusken($2950), origin8 Crawler($1400??) that I know of.
    I guess Fat sand bikes makes an 8sp alfine bike, but it is not worth the money at $1300. it has walmart quality parts. better off getting a mongoose, and lowering the gearing.

    for beer guzzling renters, a low geared single speed may be the best answer. that way they can climb some hills and won't be able to go too fast,

  10. #10
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    I would be tempted to throw a 3 speed wide SA hub from Choppers US in the back of a Mongoose, give it some brakes and call it good.

    Oh and fab us some front and rear racks sturdy enough for the two-four.

  11. #11
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    Yeah, in this case I would look at building up either Pugsley's or 9:zero:7's because they can both be had with internal gearing. That said, I can't see them happening for $1k. For something that is rentable (i.e. you won't need to fix them all the damn time) the part spec should be a bit more sturdy than a barebones set up would get. I think sending a line to both Surly and 9:ZERO:7 inquiring about specific builds, noting where you are and the use you have in mind, might answer the question better.

    Fortunately, aside from tires and rims, the other parts would be standard so the LBS should be able to correct any customer undoings (assuming the LBS actually knows anything about bikes).

  12. #12
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    I think your best bet is to get a few Walgooses; slime the tubes, lower the gearing and add porter racks.

  13. #13
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    Well...I dropped a line with QBP a while back. Suggested not worth to buy complete bike. Frame and Fork standard...IGH. Then....no more advise.

    I thought about the Walmart super saver special. $200 is just wow. But is that the way to introduce fatties into the market. The bigger picture is too rent for two seasons, sell at cost (or market demand) buy some more. Dont see that happening with Wallies fatty. You can only polish a turd so much.

    So lets assume, I can source a worthy frame ( at under $400 ???). But what about the rest?
    Maybe a single rear disk is enough, or skip the disk? go standard.

    So far QBP is down with some discounts on surly and salsa. (I have no clue on pricing yet...still working on that)

    but better deals might be ebay....for the rest

  14. #14
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    If you have access to a LBS that is pretty decent, you might be able to work out a discounted price, and a service contract on some Surly bikes. It would definitely be cheaper to stick with the derailleurs, but depending on the shop, they might give you some credit for the parts removed.

    If you could find somebody to help you keep the derailleur drivetrains in order, and maybe show you how to do a few of the more common repairs, I think it would work out as well as the IGH bikes.

    As far as the IGH bikes though, the origin8 is going to be the best value by far. It would probably be as durable and bombproof as a Pugsley with an IGH. And it is sold through regular Bike Shops, with the normal high markup, so there should be a bike shop somewhere that you can get a nice discount on 10 or so bikes.

    You might want to start with a smaller number of stock pugsleys and put off modifying them to IGH, or getting more of them till you know if the market is there, and the drivetrains on the first ones are starting to wear out.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by autodoctor911 View Post
    If you have access to a LBS that is pretty decent, you might be able to work out a discounted price, and a service contract on some Surly bikes. It would definitely be cheaper to stick with the derailleurs, but depending on the shop, they might give you some credit for the parts removed.

    If you could find somebody to help you keep the derailleur drivetrains in order, and maybe show you how to do a few of the more common repairs, I think it would work out as well as the IGH bikes.

    As far as the IGH bikes though, the origin8 is going to be the best value by far. It would probably be as durable and bombproof as a Pugsley with an IGH. And it is sold through regular Bike Shops, with the normal high markup, so there should be a bike shop somewhere that you can get a nice discount on 10 or so bikes.

    You might want to start with a smaller number of stock pugsleys and put off modifying them to IGH, or getting more of them till you know if the market is there, and the drivetrains on the first ones are starting to wear out.
    Since I am in Lithuania....local shops are out. They have some russian old school mentality that I should be happy that they exist, and privileged that I am able to buy from them. But you make sense with the Pugsley....and FYI....there is no fat bike dealer in all Eastern Europe. So i need to do it myself

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by TikiInn View Post
    So here is the deal. With the promise of selling my loud overpriced (always needing parts) ATV's. I get to buy as many fat bikes as I can with a $10,000 budget. So why rental? we put our eggs in one basket and bought a small hotel in a national park. (amazing how remodeling always needs money ) so little is left after home repairs, none for marketing...But hopefully a few fat bikes will stir some interest..

    back story done..

    So, making that 10g go as far as it can... Looked at fat sand terrain destroyer, pugs and even walmart.... eyes are bigger than the wallet. I can build a custom ATV, but a fat bike? Nope...mentally challenged going from gas and oil to green...back to the point

    Internal hub A8 (its a must....to many jobs to do. Cant be cleaning bikes everyday, let alone adjustments)

    Racks for the beer

    Mechanic disk (or maybe a coaster brakes....but beer + rental bike + coaster brake= really cool skids= mo money for tires

    did I forget to mention that our trails have two river crossings (yes we have liability release forms, kinda funny....if you cant swim please dont rent bike )

    Framebags are great for balance, but racks are great for backpacks and bungee cords (or beer)

    I have done a lot reading, the point to the post is I am at impasse with myself. Cant seem to pull the trigger without some feel good advice. I would consult the LBS but, since I am in Lithuania (wife is lithuanian ) and I speak barely passable lithuanian, and the term fat bikes gives the local dealer the deer in the headlight look, that option is out...

    If your ever in my neck of the woods....beer is on me
    The vibe through the grapevine is that fat bikes are coming from some of the big brands. That's gonna mean some cheaper prices.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Godlikedog View Post
    The vibe through the grapevine is that fat bikes are coming from some of the big brands. That's gonna mean some cheaper prices.
    Three days of google, and it all points to fat bikes will no longer be a niche market, but mainstream. Kona...Trek and even the guys with Ideal europe in poland are re-tooling...(only managed to get a sliver of info)

    The big question is who will drop pants first?

  18. #18
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    drop on-one a line, they are in your hemisphere...but that origin8 with the NuVinci would be very appealing to be...
    If Huffy made an airplane, would you fly in it?

  19. #19
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    I spoke with on-one. No flex in pricing...I thought too they would be the perfect choice, but their sales setup is manufacturer direct. And with On-One we have a supply demand issue. More demand than supply means 5 to 10% volume discount only. Plus, after sales? If I sell a few bikes after a season, I have residual income with customers.

    I need to drop origin8 a line, anybody with any experience with J&B importers? I looked for any mainstream EU distributors, but came up empty

  20. #20
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    A fatty rental fleet is an interesting idea. I'm happy to throw out some thoughts, but I have to say that the issues with a personal bike used hard and a rental bike may not be the same. So take these comments with a grain of salt.

    You've got three main objectives:

    - buy bikes you can afford
    - buy bikes people would want to rent
    - buy bikes that are robust enough to keep maintenance costs/efforts in check

    From a cost perspective you need to factor in the purchase cost and maintenance cost. So I would put together a budget for the two years you plan to rent these bikes and work out and estimate of both and come up with a bottomline you can live with. It's easy to blow your whole budget on the captial acquisition phase and then be left with unsuable bikes because you can't afford to maintain them.

    I would settle on a spec you can live with and buy 2-4 bikes to get things started. Then add bikes as you have money and you come across good deals. If you stick with 170mm or 135mm offset frames the parts will swap across. I'd have suggestions for where to look for deals in North America....I've got no idea what to suggest for Europe.

    Check out this low cost fat bike frame thread:

    My custom (budget) fatbike

    Maybe you can get these frames/forks and then source a build kit separately? The mark up on parts is pretty good so if you buy 4 build kits a shop should be able to give you a solid discount. Since you are running a business you can apply for an account with a distributor and get parts directly at wholesale cost.

    If you were building up some fat bikes for you and your lady and asked me about IGHs - specifically A8's I'd say that was a great idea. I'm not so sure it would be a great idea on rental bikes. You have to slightly ease up when shifting on an IGH. If you ride them frequently this is something you don't even think about as you ride. I'm not sure what would happen if a rental A8 got mashed ride after ride? I never submerge my Pugsley in water because I don't want to service the hubs and BB. With two river crossings near you I suspect you'd be opening up the A8 frequently to get the water out and lubricate it. It would also be hard to inspect an IGH at the end of the rental and observe damage.

    If your local terrain is SS freindly that may be the best way to go. If you need gears maybe a 1 x 9 setup would work. The trade off in tweaking derailleurs is that you can check the drivetrain at the end of rental easier and charge for damage as needed.

    I'm in Sedona AZ at the moment and my friend does MTB rentals. I'll ask him what his thoughts are on a rental fleet spec.

    My general business advice is start slow, hope for the best, but be ready for failure. If you buy 2 or 4 bikes you can afford and would like to ride you can go out riding with family and friends even if the rental business doesn't take off. If you find yourself renting out the bikes you have regularly you know it's a good idea to invest more $$. If it's a good idea starting modestly won't hurt and if it's a bad idea you'll be glad you didn't spend every penny on Day 1.

    Good luck!...
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  21. #21
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    Great advice from vikb. I think the SS suggestion makes a lot of sense unless your area is hilly. You might also consider Surly Knard 29" tires for the fatbikes since they can fit on much cheaper and easily serviceable rims/wheels.
    Last edited by fos'l; 04-16-2013 at 03:56 PM.

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    Dude you are the bomb we dont have too much hills, might be slow going in some sandy areas. but overall....maybe not a bad idea...1x9 might be better given the high end nature of the bikes themselves.

    So what's the thought on brake setup?

    I will be back on the phone with QBP today, regarding a custom kit. they are interested in the rental setup. Maybe another niche market.

    Vikb, I know from reading your blogs, your a straight shooter when it comes to reviews, you really think IGH seals won't hold up to submersion?
    You have done some brutal riding. Your bike before strip and shine looks like my ATV's now.

    I am a bit on the extreme side...that said...our customers may decide that a river crossing is not their cup of tea. I hate it when I make the exception the rule.

    No thoughts on a SS diminishing the overall experience?

    Got a buddy in CA, offered buy 20 of the wally fats, set and forget. sell when the paint chips.. But, thats not a good way to start a micro business. Thats like drinking a bottle of jack, thinking you're going to wake up with cinderella

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by fos'l View Post
    Great advice from vikb. I think the SS suggestion makes a lot of sense unless you're area is hilly. You might also consider Surly Knard 29" tires for the fatbikes since they can fit on marginally wider, much cheaper, and easily serviceable rims/wheels.
    thanks for the tip...i wrote that one down

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by autodoctor911 View Post
    the only internal gear stock fatbikes are the 907 tusken($2950), origin8 Crawler($1400??) that I know of.
    I guess Fat sand bikes makes an 8sp alfine bike, but it is not worth the money at $1300. it has walmart quality parts. better off getting a mongoose, and lowering the gearing.

    for beer guzzling renters, a low geared single speed may be the best answer. that way they can climb some hills and won't be able to go too fast,
    just got off the phone with origin8...didnt even want to talk about export of any units to me. Correct me if I am wrong...isnt 8 bikes on par with stocking bike shops? geeze

  25. #25
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    Maybe I should take a picture of my ATV lifts and tools, throw up a neon sign thats say bike shop.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by TikiInn View Post
    So what's the thought on brake setup?
    I'd go with 2 mechanical disc brakes unless your area is dead flat. The first time somebody gets hurt with a coaster brake failure you won't regret some modest brakes.

    Quote Originally Posted by TikiInn View Post
    Vikb, I know from reading your blogs, your a straight shooter when it comes to reviews, you really think IGH seals won't hold up to submersion?
    I would say zero chance. I read a sad tour report from a guy that was crossing Asia. He crossed a river and submereged his Rohloff. A couple days later it was party over while he waited for a new IGH.

    Look at what it takes to waterproof a camera or other UW product. The seals on an IGH are nowhere near that level. They are good at keeping rain/spashed water and dirt out.

    IGHs are awesome in a lot of ways, but I wouldn't submerge one I didn't want to open up and maintain.

    Quote Originally Posted by TikiInn View Post
    No thoughts on a SS diminishing the overall experience?
    I think 1 x 9 or 3 x 9 would be better, but it comes down to costs vs. potential income.

    I would build a comprehensive spreadsheet with all the factors represented and do some wargaming. Run a bunch of worst case scenarios and see what happens to the numbers. If your business model can surive the worst cases you should be good. If it can't than you have to do whatever it takes to mitigate the critical paths to failure. If that doesn't look possible don't start the business.

    It's really important to run some simulations and look at your cash flow to make sure you can run the business from the start until a point where your income is likely to at least cover operating costs. A lot of small businesses buy the equipment/store/unvetoriy, but they don't have enough cash reserves to operate for the 6 months to a year+ that they need to so they build their income stream to a sustainable level.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

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    I would say zero chance. I read a sad tour report from a guy that was crossing Asia. He crossed a river and submereged his Rohloff. A couple days later it was party over while he waited for a new IGH.


    I good news you just saved me $250 per unit, plus repairs. So based on my Judo math $250x8 units =2000 savings. That means if you ever decide to come up to Lithuania, you can crash at our hotel freeeeee. and drink my beer, ride our fat bikes, and use the kayaks. The BBQ will be your duties tikiinn.com

  28. #28
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    Just concentrating on wheels and tires which are so expensive and will be damaged by your renters.

    Pugsley uses lower cost 135mm hubs, available locally. Perhaps build your own wheels so you can also maintain them and replace.

    Weinmann have some wide rims
    Weinmann Metal Products Co., LTD

    Weinmann Metal Products Co., LTD

    Which tyres would be cheapest? Possibly On One ?

    Single speed Pugsley, tough frame, re-spray each winter, good re-sale value keeping net costs low.

    Brian

  29. #29
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    Hi,
    just wondering if anyone has suggested Ison/Billys in the Uk yet ?

    Ison Distribution

    Billys BMX, Skate and Bike Shop: : Index

    Ison are Surly Distributors and Billy's is their main shop front.

    I know a few Russian guys have had Pugs/Moonies shipped from them.

    Might be worth a call

    Good Luck

    Dr FG .
    A Fatback'd Lefty for who life IS a Beach

  30. #30
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    I think stock Pugsleys is probably the way to go. They're built to be pretty solid out of the box, super capable and they look fun all dressed up in red and yellow. To reduce maintenance a little, you could make them 1x9, maybe sell the front derailleur parts, but aren't the stock front shifter friction anyhow? That pretty much negates any front derailleur maintenance.

    As others have mentioned, SS might be an option too. It depends on your terrain, and to some degree your customer base. Are we talking about vacationers renting a couple fat-tired bikes to go tool around or is there all sorts of single track? If it's the former, people may not mind the SS at all. Gear them nice and low, maybe no one will care that they aren't going fast enough if that's not the objective. Keep a few cog sizes around so you can tune the ratio to the individual. If you went this route, you could definitely recoup some funds by selling drivetrain stuff.

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    I was thinking on the SS route. Could put a different size on the front . which bike has the same size front and rear hub? Cant seem to remember

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    Quote Originally Posted by TikiInn View Post
    I was thinking on the SS route. Could put a different size on the front . which bike has the same size front and rear hub? Cant seem to remember
    Pugsley. Get the offset 135 fork if buying the frame set. Seems the complete bike includes this fork and a SS hub in the front.
    My bike was originally set up with 2 different SS cogs on each end. I have since switched to 1x9 but the front still has the SS freewheel.


    My thoughts are if your area is flat, like beach riding a SS would be a good solution. But if there are many hills, and especially if there are mountains then most customers are going to want gears.

    Once you have enough inventory you could always have some of both and rent the geared bikes for an upcharge but I would imagine a SS in hilly terrain would be a frustrating experience for most people.

    Craig

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by TikiInn View Post
    That means if you ever decide to come up to Lithuania, you can crash at our hotel freeeeee. and drink my beer, ride our fat bikes, and use the kayaks. The BBQ will be your duties tikiinn.com
    I'd love to make it to Europe again. My only trouble is the place I live is at peak awesome the same time yours is so it's hard for me to leave during the summer and come winter I'm thinking about places far south with beaches.... But who knows! I'd certainly take you up on a fat bike tour of your area.

    Chatted with my friend and one thing he does that seems to work for him is he rents only high end MTBs [Ibis Mojo HD]. They are the most expensive rentals in town. That keeps away the bargin hunters and total newbies. He gets a premium per rental and because he runs top end gear to a higher skill level of rider their is less maintenace/damage. He also prefers the interaction with those riders than folks who want the cheapest rental to bomb around on for a couple hours.

    Not sure if any of that would work where you are, but thought I would pass it on.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  34. #34
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    The bike rentals business plan gets mixed a bit with the marketing of the hotel. I don't expect for the first two season to pull a profit per se. The best case scenario, is that we recover our capital investment, use the bikes as a marketing tool to attract more customers that fit our target market (25-40 active couples) We are trying to make people stay more than one day. So the theory, One day kayaks, One day Fat Bikes, One day rest with the BBQ...beer...skinny dipping....russian vodka...

    resale value is important...after two season its best to sell the bike close to cost or market demand, purchase new units...provide some after sales and service to the existings customers..whola!!! micro business started. Standard MTB, and even high end are available...winter and fatties will be completely new. but...most of our customers will be foreigners visiting Lithuania and looking to see the national park. And yes, I could get away with normal MTB...but where is the style in that?

    also, from a manufacturers perspective, what a great way to introduce a new product into a new market. try before you buy.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by c_m_shooter View Post
    I think your best bet is to get a few Walgooses; slime the tubes, lower the gearing and add porter racks.
    This.

    Replacing IGH and rear derailers will cost a fortune and put bikes out of commission.

    Unless you have a very sophisticated customer base, they will never even use a front brake. Or maybe even shouldn't be allowed to use a front brake. A sufficiently sophisticated rider will bring his own bike, anyway.

    Your place sounds like a lot of fun. I wish you all the best.

  36. #36
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    Set up Pugslys as a 2x1 (2 gears in front, 1 in back) with a simple chain tensioner (Misfit Psycles BONER Singlespeed Tensioner - PSYCLESTORE) then your bikes could have low-ish and medium-ish gears...minimal drivetrain maintenance too...Billy (Arctic Cycles - Home Page) has problems with many of his renters not understanding the tricks of proper shifting and has had many bikes come back with broken chains and/or broken cogs...also, he says BB-7's are the brake of choice as they are much easier to adjust.
    If Huffy made an airplane, would you fly in it?

  37. #37
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    Sounds like you might consider finding someone experienced with bicycles in your area that may want to help out with maintenance on the first fleet of rentals in his spare time, and may be interested in starting a bike shop at your hotel. If you become a QBP dealer, your costs would go down, and you could have some income from the sales if you are in an area where people might come to buy bikes.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by autodoctor911 View Post
    Sounds like you might consider finding someone experienced with bicycles in your area that may want to help out with maintenance on the first fleet of rentals in his spare time, and may be interested in starting a bike shop at your hotel. If you become a QBP dealer, your costs would go down, and you could have some income from the sales if you are in an area where people might come to buy bikes.
    I looked for someone who has experience, found none in my region...so now i have you guys

    I am working on the QBP part. hopefully all goes well

    seems I am going to owe a lot of beer by the time this is done

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by TikiInn View Post
    I looked for someone who has experience, found none in my region...so now i have you guys

    I am working on the QBP part. hopefully all goes well

    seems I am going to owe a lot of beer by the time this is done
    I was thinking of maybe a mechanic from the bike shop, or better a former employee from a bike shop that may be doing something else now.

    Of course, if most of the people like that don't speak English, and you don't speak their language it could be tough. Maybe there are some kind of cycling clubs, or organized races you could go to to try and meet someone.

  40. #40
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    one other suggestion:
    Maybe instead of calling it a rental, you could charge for a tour, or adventure package or whatever to save on any taxes or state fees involved with rentals.
    Or maybe taxes there are less formal than here. If it's like some developing countries, or even developed ones that are corrupt, it may be more of a shakedown, than a set code.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by autodoctor911 View Post
    one other suggestion:
    Maybe instead of calling it a rental, you could charge for a tour, or adventure package or whatever to save on any taxes or state fees involved with rentals.
    Or maybe taxes there are less formal than here. If it's like some developing countries, or even developed ones that are corrupt, it may be more of a shakedown, than a set code.
    It will be all cash baby...I will have the new judo math accounting in place. You think US taxes are bad? try europe with the VAT of 21% My total taxes are 0.63 cents on the dollar

    Good thing is I will roll everything into room rentals. Bikes are just for our customers in the beginning, along with our Kayaks.

    And corrupt is the nice way to put things, I have some other choice words to describe things.

    I have done some homework. I will start a new thread with a parts list, when time allows....need to actually do some home repair again before the season starts...roof is leaking again Tiles need replacing in the shower

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