Visitors to Halle 14 are greeted by rows of colourful helmets. The walls are adorned with bikes that have passed muster – ready for their next adventure! Packed snug in their boxes, returned woom bikes await the skilled hands of Bojan and his team, who will get them in shape for the new season. These used bikes are in huge demand...
Bojan, you were the first employee at woom. How did you end up here, and what's happened since?
I met Christian and Marcus by chance, and at the time they had already designed the finished product. At first, when I heard the word startup, was a bit sceptical. But, pretty quickly, I was a believer and totally on board. At first, my main task was assembling the bicycles from the supplied components. I'm a perfectionist, and from day one I've been putting the bikes through their paces. And I'm still doing that today – every year I put hundreds of bikes on the test bench and tune them up for their next owner.
What are these bikes that you're fixing up?
Most of them are bikes from the upCYCLING program – that means their previous owners outgrew them and they were sent back by upCYCLING members. But our display models also get full tune up service before they leave our hall. They could be bikes that were exhibited and sometimes test-driven at trade fairs, but they also include bikes used in photo or video shoots.
What are some typical repairs?
With the upCYCLING bikes, for instance, the child may have had so much fun with the bike that I just keep the frame and replace everything else. But there are also bikes that come back like new, with just a few very small scratches on the paint.
The main goal of the repairs is to make sure that these bicycles are in perfect condition in terms of safety. To ensure that they're safe, I'll change the headset, the bottom bracket or the hubs, for instance. Appearance is of secondary importance – on used bikes, small scratches and damage to the paint just comes with the territory, of course.
Suppose I wanted to buy a bike from you, what would I do? How would I get in touch with you?
The best way is to contact me by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out if there is currently a suitable bike that meets your search criteria. I try to answer all e-mails as soon as possible! A lot of customers already know exactly what bike size their child needs. If you're not sure, just send me your child's height, information about his or her riding ability and possibly the inseam length. It is also important to mention whether the child has a colour preference. At that point I'll check to see if a suitable bike is available and send an offer by e-mail with photos. In the pictures, I also specifically highlight any scratches so that customers know exactly what they're getting. The offer is valid for 24 hours because, as I already mentioned, the waiting list is long. To confirm the offer, all I need is the delivery address and a telephone number.
To be on the safe side, parents can drop by Halle 14 with their child for a test ride on the bike. All you have to do is make an appointment with me.
How long is the wait for one of these bikes?
It's difficult to estimate because on the one hand I don't have a fixed number of bicycles and can only offer those that are returned. On the other hand, demand is very high, and we've already got lots of interested dads, aunts and grandpas on the list. As soon as a desired bicycle is available, I offer it immediately to the people waiting for it. The best thing to do is to check back from time to time.
Do you ship the bikes, too?
Yes, in Austria and Germany. The bikes – just like our new woom bikes – are shipped securely packed in a cardboard box and are ready to ride with minimal assembly. And if the bike doesn't meet expectations or doesn't fit the child, the customer can return it within 30 days free of charge. In that case, I'll exchange the bike for a different one.
Are the reconditioned bikes cheaper to buy than new woom bikes?
Yes, a used bike is of course slightly cheaper than a brand new one. But the price depends on whether the bike was sent back to us through the upCYCLING programme or if it was used at a trade fair or was a model in a photo shoot. The latter have been test-ridden a few times at most and have only minimal traces of use, if any. This means that the exhibition models are slightly more expensive than upCYCLING bikes, which have already had many adventures with kids. We also offer a twelve-month warranty on all reconditioned bikes.
What do parents need to keep in mind before setting off on their first bike ride with their children?
The most important thing is to make sure that children can't injure themselves on the bike. So parents should always check the brakes before the tour. Two functioning brakes are absolutely essential and also required by law. Another thing is to check whether the axles are securely tightened. The tyres definitely need some air – it's extremely practical that our woom bikes are equipped with car valves, so-called Schrader valves. This way, the tyres can be easily inflated at any petrol station. By the way, the air pressure depends on where the child usually rides – on asphalt the wheels run better with more pressure, but on gravel and trails less air is more comfortable. You should also take a close look at the bottom bracket and the gears. But I advise anyone who's not so familiar with this to bring the bike to a professional.
Before we wrap up, do you have any tips on what tools to bring along whenever you go on a ride?
Absolutely, a multi-tool – it's perfect for doing minor repairs on the road.
Thanks for the entertaining interview, Bojan!