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Roula offers concierge service for upscale traveling cyclists

Published June 7, 2019

NEW YORK (BRAIN) — For cyclists who are cash rich but time poor, offers concierge-style bike rental services in business destination cities around the world.

The startup will deliver a high-end road bike to a hotel, office, or Airbnb, professionally tuned and adjusted. It also offers guided rides.

The service removes the hassle of traveling with a bike, and offers bikes of similar quality to the cyclist’s personal bike.

At its home operation in Manhattan, Roula operates a cafe and private-club style meeting spot in a trendy neighborhood on the West Side Highway Greenway, opposite Hudson Yards.

Roula has about 120 bikes available there, including what is billed as the largest fleet of Pinarello Dogmas on the East Coast. It also offers bikes from Giant, Liv, Brompton and Duetti (Ben Serotta’s new brand). Rentals start at $150 a day. Bike delivery and pick up is $100; guided tours start at $200.

Founder Mark Voysey was a marketing executive who took up cycling seven years ago after injuries forced him to quit rugby. When he flew to Los Angeles with his new Colnago, the airline broke a carbon wheel and he lacked the mechanical skills to deal with it. His bike case wouldn’t fit in his rental car.

Frustrated, he sold the bike bag and shipped the bike back to New York. “When I got back, I started Googling to see what options were out there. I didn’t find anything,” he said.

Voysey noted that most sports favored by travelers offer rental equipment — golf, tennis, skiing and snowboarding, and standup paddleboard retailers make 13-27% of their revenue from rentals, he said. But he said rental accounts for less than 1% of bike shop revenue.

Besides the New York club, Roula is working with upscale bike shops in several cities, including San Francisco and London, to offer bicycle concierge services arranged through its website.

Voysey said Roula offers value to cyclists, retailers, hotels, bike brands, and non-industry brands who would like to market to a desirable demographic. Since opening last summer, Roula has held events at its New York space for brands including Assos, Giant, and Lululemon, as well as two banks. Roula is working with nearby hotels that would like to offer its services as a guest amenity.

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