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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

House Calls 
for Bicycles: Mechanic Provides 
Mobile Repair Service

Mar 31, 2016 03:11PM ● By Sheila Julson

Chris Keidel

Milwaukee’s cycling culture has grown rapidly over the last decade, with people of all ages and backgrounds using bikes for recreation, commuting and errands. To help keep local cyclists on the move, certified bicycle mechanic Chris Keidel launched Mobile Bike Werx, bringing tune-up and repair services directly to his customers.

Keidel remembers always having a passion for cycling. He grew up in Milwaukee and Chicago, and like many children, he used his bike for transportation to school and recreational riding. “While in high school, I got my first real racing bike. Since then I’ve been hooked,” he says. “I ride every single day.”

After living in Nevada, California and Texas, Keidel returned to Milwaukee, where he worked for Quad/Graphics for 16 years. Then he decided to make a career change. “There comes a point in life when you make a decision to follow your heart,” he says.

So he headed to Portland, Oregon, to train at the United Bicycle Institute, where he became an accredited bicycle mechanic in August 2015. That same month, he formed Mobile Bike Werx, based in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood, serving customers within an approximately 50-mile radius.

Through Mobile Bike Werx, Keidel works on all types of bicycles, providing tune-up packages; changing and repairing tires and brakes; servicing the drive train; and installing accessories such as child carriers and kickstands.

Keidel got the idea to start a mobile bike service when he noticed that heavy-duty cargo bikes (designed with a box or platform for carrying loads) could be cumbersome to bring in for repair. “That put a little bird in my head that said if I bring the shop to them, then people don’t have to worry about transporting a heavy bike,” he says. “My service is also less expensive, since I don’t have the overhead of a brick-and-mortar shop.”

He says Mobile Bike Werx is unique in that no other bike shop offers the convenience of on-site repair, and he promises a fast turnaround. “If I come to your home or office and all that’s needed is a basic tune-up, I’ll have it done in about an hour,” he says. “If you take your bike to a shop, you could be waiting two to three weeks to get it back, because in spring, most bike shops are busy. My service is like a house call for bikes.”

With cycling becoming more popular in Wisconsin— especially with the rising popularity of fat tire bikes, designed to ride through snow, mud and sand—Keidel anticipates a busy season. He works with a wholesale distributor that supplies fat tire bike accessories, and he recently completed a race series for local retailer Wheel & Sprocket. “I have a fat tire bike and I ride it all the time,” he says, reaffirming that cycling is a functional sport that can be enjoyed during all seasons.

Although his main focus is getting his new business established, Keidel is also committed to promoting bike safety. Having noticed that many children don’t wear bike helmets, he plans to hold events dedicated to helmet education. He’ll perform basic safety tune-ups and adjustments on kids’ bikes for free when offering a bike safety class. He will also volunteer his mechanic services for group rides and races.

Keidel says the best part of his job is engaging with people. “When I’m out there fixing or tuning up a bicycle, customers are more than welcome to watch what I do, and learn,” he says. “I want people to become educated about their bikes and ride more, and not just for recreation. Bikes are something that you can use every day, which in turn will get some cars off the streets. This will reduce air and noise pollution, provide less congestion and lower healthcare costs.”

For more information about Mobile Bike Werx, call 414-915-9686 or visit MobileBikeWerx.com.

Sheila Julson is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer and  regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.

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