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5 ways to make your bike shop more successful

I hear that some shops are struggling, and I’m trying to understand it myself. But here are 5 things that to me, seem like they can help make your bike shop more successful.

It’s not so much about racing anymore.

In the past and still, very often our best and high dollar customers are the race crowd. Bicycle racing does promote the sport, push innovation and drive sales. It’s kind of the whole point for our and other industries too.

Lets just not forget that we are changing the world and part of becoming a more bike-friendly world is we need to embrace the weird and wonderful bikes that our new customers want to test ride. With those bikes come a new group of people that may be put off by the race scene. What percentage of the population in your city races bikes? I bet is just a small part of it. We need to welcome the remainder of the population.

Own the issues and be transparent.

This is an ongoing customer service issue in every industry. be open and honest, tell them what you are going to do, try to do it, if you run into issues, keep the customer in the loop. whether it’s positive or negative. In the long run, it will be appreciated, and respected.

Embrace E-bikes.

E-bikes are here, they’re awesome and the sales are growing in leaps and bounds at the moment. E-bikes are part of getting that other part of your population in your store and most importantly on a bike and outside. It’s not cheating, it’s another form of transportation that isn’t about competition, itas about access and expansion of cycling for everyone. I mention this every time someone gives that “oh I’d never need that, I’m too good for that” response to e-bikes. More on e-bikes in a related post here.

Talk to your customers.

Be the person that listens and asks questions and validates their concerns and interests. call them on the phone, follow up after the sale, and service. Send thank you and holiday cards. This is important: Not every contact needs to be a marketing ploy. Honest Communication is appreciated and it keeps your awesome shop in their thoughts.

Follow up after the sale and service.

Prep for service during the sale because modern high-end bikes need skilled routine maintenance. Let’s start the education form the beginning and knock it out of the park with fast and expert service with a smile. Call them 60 days after they take the bike home and see if they have any questions or need any accessories. Invite them to a ride or to a how-to class. Let them know you have their backs and best interests in mind.

Don’t shun the do it yourself and online purchase crowd.

They may not know it yet but they need you and your vast experience and honest yet gentle assessment of their needs. You need them too. ask my auto mechanic, D.I.Y folks may not start in your shop but they end up spending money there. They need you as much as you need them. treat them with respect and as interns, they want to learn and don’t want to feel bad for trying it themselves.

Go forth, make your customers love you and never forget to have fun.


Humans 101

Humans 101
Welcome to the planet, a few things you might want to know:
If the news supports your opposition it’s a lie.
If the news supports your side it’s a lie.
If a politician is talking it’s a lie.
If a newscaster is talking it’s a lie.
If there is “big news”, a “scandal”, or a “crisis” it’s a lie to cover up something much much worse.
If something seems corrupt, it is, way more so than you could imagine.
It’s all a bunch of lies to keep you outraged.
When you’re angry or scared your ability to think clearly goes away, making you easy to fool and control.
Your brain lies to you about what you think you know.
As if the manufactured life struggles, stadium sports, and a million channels weren’t enough to shut most of us up.
Aren’t you supposed to have checked off the next box on your life list by now? but.
That shade of eyeshadow on this week’s celebrity of choice is totally the most important thing to fight about.
It’s okay though, you’re just gonna scroll by and ignore this anyway.
It’s not happening to you, it not real.
You may now return to your regularly scheduled mind-numbing distractions.

a Rant Poem by Chris Hoffman


You only lose what you cling to. An experiment.

Meditation of the day. “You only lose what you cling to” – The Buddha

I’ve been struggling with letting go of my things. Because some time ago when I pulled the parachute on the Corporate life. I Made a choice to make the switch from the western idea of “keeping up with the Joneses” to fully embracing what I’d been contemplating for quite a while. I’ve always considered myself a different kind of thinker and have read many different religious, philosophical and Buddhist texts. I had long tried to question myself and my motivations. I question my judgment and thoughts for many good reasons. People don’t do this enough. This is why if I’m asked what I believe in? My answer is Buddism and Science. Because Introspective questioning makes them go together quite well. but that’s for another post.

When I made that choice I was fully ready to let go of all attachments to our greedy and selfish society and walk the earth so to speak. When my kids were on their own of course.

Well, they’re now on their own and I have made a leap away from any safety of my home and things. I’m away from the familiar. I now stand on the edge of truely letting all my things go and I have hesitated. I know I will get past it. This should be very soon I hope.

I struggle with getting the most of the things I am letting go or simply sending them away to benefit others with no gain to me. striking the balance is what I’m meditating on lately.

I feel like I’ve made great progress with this in regard to career and social status. To the point of feeling sorry, on occasion, for those that dwell on such things as the shiny new car and bigger house with more stuff in it.

It’s my stuff that is causing my frustrations currently. It all needs to go.

On letting go of our perceived status

Do we need all that crap that we think is so important? NO.

Do we need to make more money than our neighbors? NO.

Do we need all the extra payments that make us have to work for all that extra income? NO.

Why do I feel this way? Because anything you covet can be lost. It’s true freedom to have nothing to lose.

“You only lose what you cling to” – The Buddha

I know I can get a job doing what I choose pretty much anywhere. I am multi-talented and somewhat autodidactic, so I fear no change or challenges.

This is sometimes misread by others as apathetic and even as hostility. Bosses and colleges seem to doubt it or feel I can’t be counted on in a year or two. That an employee that isn’t afraid to quit is a liability, or maybe I’ve just lost my mind.

To this, I try to respond with a reassuring, “If we both still find our relationship or arrangement satisfying it isn’t a concern, I’ll be here, but if we see signs that we or the arrangements are no longer mutually compatible it would suggest that I should seek challenges elsewhere. I have no attachment to feelings of sorrow about this and will look back on the time with pleasant feelings. Do I want our situation to go on? Yes, for as long as possible. ” For me, this is a true feeling of freedom and openness. Nothing more. It’s wonderful to openly discuss what others often hide.

“This makes me your most honest employee because I want to be here but I don’t need to be here. Is honesty what you want?” – (me) Chris Hoffman

This freedom I feel to ask questions some are afraid to ask, to speak my mind, to talk to that elephant in the room directly, to ask academic questions for the sake of open discussion. To speak to all with transparency and honesty. I love it. I have no need to consider the repercussions of losing a job as I’m sure I can get another pretty quickly,

I’m happier now at a third of the pay I used to receive than I ever was before. Not that more $ would hurt, but it comes with the ability to buy ourselves distractions that only add complexity to our lives.


5 things to consider when you’re struggling with something and feel stuck.

We all go through rough spots now and again, and I’ve certainly had my share of ups and downs. So I thought I would share the things I remind myself of when I’m paying my dues so to speak. Here’s 5 things to consider when you’re struggling with something and feel stuck.

  1. We may not be able to control a situation, but we are in charge of our reaction to the situation. this is key because our brains turn off when we get frustrated or angry. so staying calm will aid in making better decisions.
  2. We’ve been through rougher things than this, and still made it. The situation is tough, but so are we. In fact we are tougher. Don’t let your self doubt get the best of you. You got this.
  3. I ask myself “What do I need to learn to solve this?” or “What do I need to to learn from this?” This is a way to get ourselves back on the solution seeking mindset and continue the progress forward. Regardless of our ego’s we should get comfortable with the fact that we don’t know everything, even in our field of expertise. Challenges are opportunities to learn and become better or more educated about ourselves.
  4. Meditate on it. I ride my bike. do what you do to be at peace with yourself. Quiet your mind and have some alone time. Once you have had some mental silence you can get back to it. What is that next one thing that can move this along.
  5. Keep moving forward. even a small break to take a breath and collect yourself. Then Continue the forward movement. Take one step at a time and do the next right thing.

You got this, keep moving, You’ll look back on this and and be glad you made it through later.

Go Kick some Butt!


Inexpensive online bike components and how to install them.

Most Bikers know how to get inexpensive bike components online for less. Sometimes less than the local shop buys them. There’s a lot confusion and a little panic in the industry about it.

I see parts online at a lower cost than Most shops can get wholesale. There are some suppliers that are really hurting the shops ability to sell parts at a reasonable price to you. It’s a common point of conversation in the bike industry. Unfortunately it has caused what I hope is a small percentage of shop folks, to be a little salty about it.

Here’s the thing, you may be able to get bike parts online at a better price, but getting those components installed correctly and truly working properly can be a challenge for the average cyclist.

broken bike chain

If your local shop is on there game, they should welcome you and be glad you chose them to install the parts for you. Qualified shops will have a labor charge that’s designed to help cover there expenses. Qualified shops have certified mechanics that make it fast and easy to make them work correctly. They have the right tools, and they have done the job hundreds of times. They know you can get that part for less then they can, and would probably do the same if it was their car, computer, or appliance.

Let’s all just be honest with ourselves, we want a deal, and we want to save money. Things often look easier than they are and we will need to seek professionals. We know it, they know it. Let’s all just own it and stop acting like its an assault on our personal ethics to seek help or install a part that we didn’t make a margin on.

We are all just people who need our stuff to work, and want to enjoy our bikes.

Go to your local bike shop, have an honest conversation and get to know each other. If they treat you like you are robbing them, maybe the other shop in town is the one to talk to.


5 things you should know about Electric Bikes

E bikes are showing up everywhere, and as an electronics hobbyist and robotics coach that Loves Bicycling. I see E bikes as an evolution of the bicycle that can bring more people to the bike shop. More people on bikes means more healthy people. Healthy people outside are happy people. Happy people make a better world.

It’s Not cheating. If you wouldn’t be riding otherwise or you might give up if it takes too long to see progress in your health or riding you should be on an E bike. If you want to commute but your just a little too far away to make it reasonable to do frequently, an Ebike could cut your commute in half.

It’s affordable. cost of ownership on an E bike is similar to a regular bike. effectively cost of charging is the same as a laptop. you can save money by commuting to work. we can do the math in another post Here. You also will spend less on healthcare long term by becoming more healthy. Not spending money on parking and filling your gas tank is another money saving bonus.

It’s getting better. Ebikes are improving every year, the number of people on bikes is growing. the pressure for better bike infrastructure is also growing, making it even easier to get out on your bike.

It’s good for you. weather you are young and fit or in need of moving more. biking is a safe low impact way to get fit. Pedal assist e bikes which is what most reputable bike shops will sell, require your pedaling to provide added power to your pedal stroke. so your still getting exercise on an ebike. inactivity is a primary reason for onset of most of our top health problems. The assistance encourages you to ride more and longer.

Its FUN! with out fail every E bike test rider returns with a big smile on their face. Pedal assist ebikes are so much fun. they just boost your abilities and allow you to go more often and for longer rides, while not feeling like you just did a major work out. but you’re getting one…

Go to your local bike shop, test ride an E bike. You’ll come back with a great big grin on your face and you won’t regret it!


How to look Sexy in a Bicycle Helmet

Its time to talk about an important Question, Can you look sexy in a bike helmet?

Well, you cant be sexy if your dead.  So Yes, you can be sexy in a bicycle helmet.  🙂
The facts are 67% of people who have died do to a cycling accident were not wearing a helmet. Wearing a Helmet reduces head injuries by 88%. So if you don’t want to die or deal with a head injury you should be wearing a helmet every time you ride. Many Bicycle industry Professionals are of the opinion that it might be a sign of a head injury to not wear a helmet.

Here’s the key points for choosing a Bicycle helmet.
1. Price doesn’t effect the governmental safety standard requirements, that said make sure your helmet has one of CPSC, ASTM, ANSI, or SNELL certifications stickers in it. The only safety feature that can be bought is MIPS, it exceeds the safety standards so they can charge more for it. What is MIPS? MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection. Simply, MIPS helps when there is a twisting type impact and can help reduce injuries better under those circumstances. most good helmet models have a with and without MIPS options, that range from $15-$25 more for the with MIPS option. See the links below for more information.

2. Fit, get the fit right, and if you can’t get a helmet to fit, try another.
The front of the helmet should be no more than 1 or 2 fingers above your eye brows and should fit with minimal movement from left to right or front to back. I usually say, “it should feel like it will stay on your head well with out the chin strap clipped, but it should be clipped”.
The straps should form a V that goes behind and below your ear, the tip of the V should be just in front of your ear, and the clip should allow no more than 1 to 2 fingers to be inserted below your chin. The videos are very helpful for seeing how it should look.
It should be comfortable. probably not like that first image below…

3. When to replace a helmet.
If you crash, replace your helmet. If you Drop it on a hard surface, Replace Your helmet.
If there is any visible damage or discoloration of the foam, Replace the helmet.
After a major impact the foam of your helmet weakens. Even if you can’t see cracks or dents in the helmet, it can cause your helmet to break apart if you crash.
If there’s any doubt, Replace the helmet.
Before you buy a new helmet, check with your helmet’s manufacturer. Some companies have a crash replacement program or may replace the helmet for less than the cost of a new one.

4. Other considerations like Look, Weight, Airflow, lights, Cameras, Visors etc. These things are what your buying when you spend more on a helmet. everyone has their preferences on these add-on options. Who am I to tell you what you want. Just know your helmet should match you riding type and style. most people will tell you that visors are for Mountain biking and non visors are for road, but do what you want, your already a sexy beast, You just do you.

Links and videos:

Videos for those that learn visually.

Basic Information

Helmet type compairisons

Safety Standards info:


1 week – week 3 update…

Here’s an update on the progress of my transition from an IT Office to the part time bike shop life.  Things are going great at the shop. Things are coming back to me pretty quickly and I’m having a blast learning new things and fixing bikes, getting to know the regulars and all the new technology that has been added to bicycles in the last 15 years.  By the end of week 1, I completed the “Trek Ninja” Certification and was given a few nice very gifts from Trek for doing so. I’ll review those soon.

This week was really busy,  I managed to finish off the remaining sessions for a “Trek Road Scholar” and “Trek Dirt Scientist” Diplomas and 2 Shimano S-T.E.C. certifications for “Wheel and Hub” and the Electric “S.T.E.P.S. Drivetrain”. I also started working on the “Mountain drivetrain” classes too. after the remaining 170 Shimano modules and the remaining 100 or so Trek modules I’ll start the Specialized, Thule, Ascend, Pearl Izumi, QBP, Saris classes and certifications, the goal being to get as many bike industry related certs under my belt quickly so I can focus on other parts of my “midlife crisis plan“.

I took a ride on the rail trial last week because the temp was a balmy 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it was the maiden voyage for my new Cannondale Caadx 105 Cyclocross bike, it’s really peppy and quick. The trail was wet and dirty so it was a good ride for the bike.  I may not need a hard-tail Mountain bike any more (Ha Ha!)

every time

Week 3 is almost over and things are great, I’ve ordered a bunch of tools to restock my tool box and I’ve been drooling over which bike I’ll get with the special Ninja Discount.  and shopping for the rims and hubs I’ll be using on the wheels I’m building for my bike.

Send me your comments or email me your suggestions for a set of road hubs and rims you think I should use on my wheelset build.

I’ll be making another update soon.  Keep spinning, and Enjoy the ride!

Enso Wheel


My Midlife Crisis a change for the better

The Journey Begins.   How I’m Changing my Life for the better. 

In 2011 I weighed 265 lbs, my diabetes was completely out of control and I was unhappy and unfulfilled in my life, the many years of loosing myself to what seemed like the most important of priorities and 2 train-wreck marriages, causing loss of passion for biking, and life in general had taken their toll on me.  A counselor asked me why I was carrying on in this state.

I didn’t know. I didn’t know me, I didn’t know what i wanted. So i made a change of mind set, that lead to a plan. I had to think about what I loved, what I want, and what I needed.  I had to eliminate the things impacting our lives negatively for myself and the ones I love.

Having a lot more time to do what my kids and I wanted to do like building robots, hiking, biking, tinkering with electronics and home automation projects, getting into the office more and having a lot more fun, as well as focusing more on the struggles my special needs sons were having. Diving more into work than it deserved. I was still struggling in a large way with stress, my weight, diabetes, and maintaining a steady and consistent exercise program.

By 2014 I was ready to check out of the rat race and purchased a foreclosure, made it livable and moved in, the first step had happened.  the biggest monthly bill is gone and I started enjoying Life a little more.

I need to get my spin back.  Back to the days when I was younger. After High school I trained as a bicycle mechanic at United Bicycle Institute in Ashland OR.,  those days and the days after were some of the fondest memories of my life, Biking in Ashland, and so many places in CA, MA and ME from the hills to the coast.  Biking was my meditation, I wasn’t “thin” fit back then, but I was putting in lots of miles, and I was so much happier. I’m fairly certain it was because i was moving more.  I would find my “happy gear” and spin for hours enjoying the peace, the views, and the zen of it all.

Today, through skipping meals, Increased water intake and almost completely dropping soda, and completely dropping sugar based drinks. I’m down to 185 lbs, my diabetes is under much better control. I’m still trying to get my spin back.  Due to the miles I’ll be putting in this summer I’ll need to actually eat properly, so I’m hoping to tap into all the knowledge from the old days when those miles weren’t as much of a challenge and the bounty of information and people at my fingertips. Please to send me your thoughts and advice.

I’ve been spending 6 to 8 hours a week with my bike on the trainer during the long, cold Maine winter, while watching training videos on Prime and listening to travel and geek podcasts.

I left my IT job and interviewed at a local bike shop last week.

You cant be sad on a bicycle. You just can’t.

the mobile device that charges you

This year is the year.  I’m signed up to do 180 miles in the Trek Across Maine (6/15-17/2018)  for the Maine Lung association and 100 M in the Tour de cure (6/10/2018) for the Maine Diabetes foundation .  If you could click those links and help me meet the goals for those and I would appreciate it.  I had set aside some earned time to donate but since I left my job it didn’t get applied, and now i actually might need it.  

Yesterday I was offered a Job at the bike shop.  I start tomorrow. 😀  This Journey is happening. I’m older, wiser, and even though I’m rusty and bike technology has changed significantly, I’m sure I’ll tap into all the things I learned at United Bicycle Institute  and the shops I worked at in the 90’s will come in handy.

I’ll put together a post of how the first week or two goes.   Please post questions and advice and stay tuned for the next leg of my and yes our <3  journey.


Bikes Make you feel awesome


Links from this post:
Try Prime Discounted Monthly Offering
Trek Across Maine 
Tour de cure
United Bicycle Institute
More about me

Enso Bike Wheel



Salvation for humanity – Ride a bike

If you don’t own or ride a bike You should watch this.  🙂 Bicycles are part of the path for the salvation of humanity- ride a bike and become part of the solution. 

Most of the health problems that we suffer from can be helped by riding a bike.  Those same health problems are aggravated by not riding a bike.  Get an ebike, get a used bike, borrow a friends bike, but you should get on a bike and get moving.  we are trying to save the world here.

Mark Makes some great points its worth a watch.

I ride because it makes me feel good and for all the reasons Mark mentions. ride a biketoday!

enso bike wheel - cycle in the zone
Enso bike wheel – cycle in the zone.


About Me

I’m Chris, a technology professional, Bicycle Mechanic, Robotics Coach, and More. I’ve been taking things apart, and breaking things and sometimes putting them back together, give or take a few parts, for at least 40 years. Among more colorful things, I’ve been called a “Jack of all trades” and a “Renaissance Man” what I can tell you for sure is, I’m certainly a master of none. But I’ll try anything once. OK, almost anything…

This site will attempt to chronicle my journey from stressed out IT professional to a more laid back bike mechanic and freelance IT tech.  I will work part time doing things I know I love to do, fixing and riding bicycles, and traveling. doing tech work and odd jobs to pick up any financial shortcomings.   If all goes well there might be affiliate and other monetization on this and my other sites.

I’ve Chosen to create a logo based on what cycling does for me.

I give you the Ensō Bike Wheel.Enso Bike Wheel

Ensō – Symbolizes a moment when the mind is free to simply let the body/spirit create. It symbolizes enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and the void, an “expression of the moment”. 

I’ve traded my cubical and keyboard for a helmet and a spoke wrench and I already feel 100% better.

Let the ride begin!