One day in our bike shop & workshop

Emilie CalmettesEmilie Calmettes
Emilie Calmettes

As part of getting acquainted with Vapaus, you need to first identify, then understand all the different moving parts of our business. Most will just stop at “you guys sell bikes”, but it’s the core of my role in the company to understand what lies underneath, and all the processes we need to make it work.

One important piece of the puzzle is our bike workshop, currently located in the Tripla mall. 

When offering bike-related services, people often wonder about technicalities such as how to build their bike themselves when it arrives in a box (I’ve tried that once myself and did not quite succeed) or how to deal with possible issues. To mitigate those, Vapaus has settled down in Tripla where our expert mechanics are available daily to help bike enthusiasts. I spent a whole day during my first month in January learning about it and shadowing my colleagues Eeva and Steven in their work.

What does it look like?

Located in the biking center of Tripla on the 3rd floor, the facilities are divided in two main areas: the showroom and the workshop. 

In the showroom, we display precycled bicycles for sale or lease: for various reasons such as switching jobs or simply reaching the end of the leasing period, some of our bike beneficiaries decide to return their bike to us. When that happens, we clean it up, restore any parts that need fixing, and make it available again for its next owner. Most precycled bikes are good as new. It’s a great opportunity to make an even greener move whilst saving a little bit of money. In the showroom, we have a variety of bikes for all tastes and sizes (although mostly electric at this point), and new models are added every week.

The space is also used just like a bike store, meaning that you can purchase spare parts (even though those are currently hard to find globally) and accessories like a bell, a helmet or a new screw to tighten your fender.

Obviously we’re far from being in the high season when it comes to bike servicing, so my day in Tripla was not as eventful as it could have been during the summer.

The workshop is used for different things: fixing bikes of course - either those that are returned to us for good or those that need ad-hoc servicing. It’s possible to book a time, for example, to give your bike its yearly maintenance before the season starts. We also offer assembly services for new bikes (the aforementioned “coming in a box” dilemna) and keep them until they are either delivered to or picked up by their new rider. What takes the most space though is definitely the many different parts we keep in storage to make sure we’re always able to fix almost any bicycle that comes in.

A day in January

Obviously we’re far from being in the high season when it comes to bike servicing, so my day in Tripla was not as eventful as it could have been during the summer. Maybe I’ll have to go back then to witness whether the tales are true.

The shop opens at 10 on weekdays and our first customer came in around 10.25. They needed some service done on their bike, and after agreeing on a timeline and an approximate price, they left it with us in the workshop. We did also talk about Canada for quite a while.

Every day is different, or so I’m told, because every bike is different.

I keep saying “we”, but I must clarify that all the work there is done by Eeva and Steven, whose speciality is bike mechanics. I’ve watched Steven most of the day fixing things as simple as adding pedals (who knew that takes less than a minute?!) to real mysteries like leaking brakes that he ended up replacing altogether. Every day is different, or so I’m told, because every bike is different. Some come brand new already with existing defects that need to be sorted with the manufacturer or the partner shop it came from, some have just had a tough life.

Over the course of the day we saw a dozen customers in the shop, with around half coming to test out/purchase items, and the other half requesting maintenance services - but many enquiries also come via other channels like our online contact information throughout the day.

Above and beyond

I’ve also discovered as part of my one-day internship that we don’t just offer standard bike services and maintenance.  In the Tripla premises, our team is also managing the “Pyörähotelli”, the bike hotel, a subscription-based system for bikes to be stored safely. As part of the deal, one can also get a quick shower and use the clothes dryer if the Finnish weather has been pretty standard. 

As a French native used to the issue of bike theft and people considering biking anywhere to be a hassle, I found this to be a really cool idea: for sure, it makes it easier for those working in the building to commute.

If you want to come and visit before everyone else has the same idea, check our opening hours, book a service, and follow Mikko to find the shop in the Tripla mall!

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Firdonkatu 2 B 3008, 00520 Helsinki. Entrances on Pasilansilta and in the Mall of Tripla shopping centre. Bikes can be left for maintenance daily 06:00 - 23:00.

​Mon - Fri 10:00 - 18:00
Sat 10:00 - 16:00