Detroit Moped Works will no longer perform repairs, restoration and customizations

After 6 years of running a business centered around our love repairing, restoring and customizing mopeds, it is now clear that those sorts of projects are best left to the DIY hobbyists, weekend warriors, and general tinkerers. Those services can be extremely fun and rewarding, but they are not a good foundation for a business. A full explanation of that dynamic can be found at this complementary blog post.

Alex working on his Puch Maxi Nostalgia in 2013. This moped was recently sold “as is.”

We are glad to have gotten so many mopeds out of dormancy and on the roads and we have learned a lot; but we will now be focusing our efforts on supporting the community through sales of new parts and accessories, “as is” project mopeds and parts, and eBikes.

However, we will still install parts purchased from Detroit Moped Works. What does this mean? If you buy tires and tubes from us, we will properly install them with the correct centering and tension. If you buy cables from us, we will install them with proper tension and lubrication. If you purchase grips from us, we will remove your old ones and install the new ones. If you buy shocks from us, we will install them with the correct spacers and washers. If you buy a chain from us, we will cut it to the correct length, and install it with the correct tension. You get the idea.

We will also continue to provide our “Full Tune Up Service” as well as our “Primary Service,” which is basically a half tune up. These services are a comprehensive set of straight forward line item services designed to cover all of the basics to get your bike running “the best that it can.” In many cases this will mean that when we are done, the bike will run well. But in many cases, “the best that it can” will still be running poorly due to other issues from 40 years of unknown history. In some cases, “the best the bike can run” still means it won’t run at all because of catastrophic issues that occurred in the 40 years of unknown history.

We simply can no longer support the repairs needed to make those old issues correct. As mentioned in the complementary blog post, they take SO MUCH TIME, and lose us SO MUCH MONEY. Beyond that, they prevent us from providing quick turnaround times on what could be fast parts installs and tune ups. They just bog down the business way too much. They are the reason that we do not answer the phone in the summer months. They are the reason that we had to suspend new builds and repairs this summer. They are reason that in past summers we have always worked with the front door shut and the blinds down. This year we didn’t even open the front facade.

The large scale repairs, mystery repairs, performance builds, and custom builds bog down the pace of the business, and frankly add a lot of stress for myself and our staff.  They keep us from providing the fast, friendly, and efficient small services. They also prevent us from being as available and accessible for our retail customers.

We hope that by shedding these cumbersome services we can actually assist many more two wheeled enthusiasts.

When I say two wheeled enthusiasts, I don’t just mean our primary customers, but also motorcycle and scooter enthusiasts who we can service through the sales of helmets, gloves, mirrors, lubricants, batteries, etc. Bicyclists can come to us for chains, cables, pedals, locks, etc. And as mentioned, electric bikes – specifically “moped style” eBikes – are gaining popularity. We are hoping that we can help folks get onto the new electric vehicles that we sell and that we can begin selling the parts and accessories as that new hobby grows.

Although I’m sure it will be a drag for folks who would like to come to us for the more extensive services, I believe that this move will help us to support more people in a more effect manner and in doing so, will allow the business to sustain operations.

All of that said, at the moment we do still have a backlog of repairs that we are trudging through, so for now we will continue to work on ecommerce and an “appointment only “ format, limiting communications to email and/or Facebook Messenger. We hope to be able to “open” again with something that resembles normal hours and customer service by mid-October, so just keep an eye on our social media and our blog for updates.

Thanks and be well.

Alex Samul, Owner
Detroit Moped Works

(Customer) Value in a Niche Market: Why a vintage moped repair shop is a dumb business idea

In the beginning…

My first mopeds: a Honda Urban Express and Puch Maxi. They took a full summer to tune up.

As a child in the 80’s and early 90’s I traveled to Europe, and each time I witnessed small step through motorcycles. I had no idea what I was seeing, but these rad looking mystery vehicles were burnt into my mind for life.

Fast forward to 2008: I was working next to a garage sale that had a pair of the toy motorcycles of my dreams. That day I came home and surprised my girlfriend with a red Puch Maxi moped and black Honda Urban Express noped. For a few years after, we enjoyed riding them doing the stock 25mph to and from Belle Isle or around downtown for a bite to eat… then one spring they would not start!

I was a pretty skilled fellow having worked a diverse number of jobs  and hobbies, completing a down to the studs restoration of a turn of the century farm house, and received a formal education from the University of Michigan… but I did not know how to turn a wrench. I called all of the scooter stores in metro Detroit as well as more than a few powersports stores around town for service, but not a single store would service my old moped. How could there be no way to pay to get this super cool toy fixed?! I was astonished.

By 2012 I learned that my good friend who worked on his own Triumph motorcycles had also worked for years as a bicycle mechanic. He also was a certified Volkswagen mechanic and used to wrench on and fly helicopters. I was certain that he could get my mopeds working quickly and with ease. I bought brand new 70cc cylinders, performance pipes, and larger carbs. Then he and I spent all summer getting the bikes assembled well enough to ride. (Knowing what I do now, they were not built nor tuned that great, but still they were “good enough” to ride.)

The early days: My girlfriend Holly and I learned a lot by riding and wrenching with other people in the moped community.

With our two peds a little quicker, we got involved with the local moped community and began learning moped maintenance and customization, but there were still some performance things that seemed intimidating / way beyond my skill set. Beyond that, I was working 60 hours per week at a well-paying salaried job, so I felt pretty comfortable paying what seemed like quite a bit at the time to get my mopeds worked on by someone with experience and knowledge. Again, I could find absolutely no one to do the performance moped work that I had in mind. I asked a few folks in the moped community who occasionally worked on mopeds for money but I could not get any of them to follow up on my requests. I asked around and discovered that there were many other folks also attempting to get moped work done who also could not get these folks to respond. (A situation that I now find myself on the other side of, and feel much more sympathy for.)

I just knew that I could not be the only person out there with a decent disposable income and interest in mopeds. I was just certain that if someone could run a moped shop with professionalism, consistent hours, and good time lines, the business would take off. This blog is already long, so I’ll skip the part about how we started this shop but in 2014, with the help of the best local moped hobbyist mechanics, I started a shop and it turns out that I WAS RIGHT! With no advertising and just small social media presence, the business totally took off and demand was massive (and is still growing now).

Learning the hard way why no one else repairs vintage mopeds professionally

When Detroit Moped Works first opened in 2014, I did not expect what would happen next.

The super obvious thing that I naively and optimistically overlooked is that there must be some reason that no one else will do this work. It turns out the reason that no one else was fixing vintage mopeds for a living is that a vintage moped repair shop is a dumb business idea. As a younger person I thought I was the only genius that noticed this large and unfulfilled demand. I just knew that I had to find a way to get the repairs done efficiently and everyone would be happy. But the problem is… Mopeds.

Think about other “cool” old stuff that can be restored and sold. They all have many top dollar items that can sell for tens of thousands of dollars up to insane multi-million dollar items. Here are some old watches that sold between 2.5-11 Million dollars. An auction house sold these vintage guns for between 500K – 2 million dollars. And look at these bicycles valued between 45K  and 1 million dollars.  The lists of examples can go on and on. Here are some old motorcycles that sold between 385K  and 1 million dollars. But with vintage mopeds, these high dollar items don’t exist. There was one Puch Magnum that sold on bringatrailer.com for $4K and this was like crazy news in the moped community because we’ve all gotten this same bike in similar condition for under the $1,000 mark. As a professional shop selling completely restored mopeds with a warranty, $2,500 is pretty much the top of what the bikes we have been able to sell have gone for, and that would be the vehicle itself, plus over a thousand dollars in new / reproduced / performance parts, and a good week of labor making the bike prefect and warrantyable. Compare the $2,500 for the crem de la crem of mopeds, to the price tags you see with the other “cool old stuff,” and you can see why maybe no one else is restoring cool old mopeds.

Funny thing about many of those old motorcycles selling for prices up to a million dollars: they are basically the same as the mopeds that we work on. Seriously, the 1900-1930’s motorcycles are more or less the same technology as 1970’s mopeds. When working on those things, you have smaller two stroke motors, with no battery, many need to be push started, some even have pedals; but more importantly, you have years of unknown history, no Carfax, no diagnostic machine, nothing to help you. And, like mopeds, you have limited reproduction parts availability. Just like mopeds you basically just have to diagnose and restore / tune them by sound, smell, and feel… BUT when a customer spends 5K on repairs for an old motorcycle (or any cool old thing) and can re-sell it for 50K or 100K or more… heck, even if it only becomes worth $10K after, the person is glad to pay the bill because that expense is an investment that increases the tangible value. And frankly, those motorcycles probably don’t even need to run that well; they just need to be able to look cool in a collection or maybe fart around some vintage motorcycle show.

January, 2018: Within a short period of time, Detroit Moped Works was even staying busy (but not profitable) during the winter.

No one actually plans to ride their old motorcycle for transportation. A vintage moped shop, on the other hand, basically has to have and apply the same skill set BUT we can’t add the dollar value to the vehicles, so we can’t charge the appropriate dollar amount, and we have to do a way better job so that the bikes can actually be used consistently. See… mopeds are a dumb business idea for the skill set needed and that is why no one else was doing it!

It took quite a few years of losing money for me to fully recognize that, but I have and that is kind of why I’m writing this long winded blog. I’m hoping that other passionate hobbyist and entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting new business can read this and consider the real customer value of their ideas before giving their selves to their dreams. Obviously this is not just for moped enthusiasts; maybe you love kites, or RC cars, or harmonicas, or vintage kitchen appliances, or kayaks, or pet lizards or urban farming… whatever, it doesn’t really matter. My point is, before you dive into a passion based business, it’s probably a good idea to confirm the value of your products and services versus what they need to cost for the business to be viable.

I’m not sharing this somewhat private information in any kind of doom and gloom type of way. Even though from a business standpoint, repairing old mopeds has been dumb, the experience has been cool. I have become a really excellent and knowledgeable moped mechanic. Having worked on so many mopeds with so many problems that I would have not ever had the chance to see and/or fix any other way. I have made many customers happy and changed the lives of folks who are now passionate moped enthusiasts involved in a thriving social community. I have also learned a lot about running a small business. I have had the opportunity to get involved in the Detroit small business ecosystem, which is interesting too. The list of new skills and knowledge that I have gained is invaluable. I even have a blog on my website where I can share my small business history and insights – how cool is that? But I probably could have done the same with a business that made sense and was more profitable. C’est la vie!

Moped-specific frustrations (and numbers)

The big problems mostly come from the fact that, as mentioned, mopeds have years of unknown history, no Carfax, no diagnostic machine, nothing. You basically just have diagnose and restore / tune mopeds by sound, smell, and feel; it just is not easy. Oh, and there is no vocational training school for it, so there is no such thing as a trained and certified moped mechanic. Further, since there are basically no other shops doing this in North America (and definitely none locally), there is not an experienced talent pool to hire from. So even when I hired the best, most experienced, most passionate moped mechanics, they have only ever worked on their own personal 10 or 20 or 50 mopeds. That is a lot of vintage mopeds to have worked on, BUT that experience is relatively little in the grand scheme of things.

Stripping down parts for powdercoating is an expensive process.

We started the business charging $60/hour for service. Then we had to increase prices to $90 for the first hour and $60/hour for every hour after. Since Covid, we have even increased prices further to $120 for the first hour and $90. These prices seem like great money to keep the business viable but the problem is the “unexpected challenges” that are not billable.

Some examples of why this is a bummer:

Let’s say that it takes a mechanic 10 hours of troubleshooting / swapping parts / riding / listening / repeating to diagnose a small precise 5 minute fix. Billing straight time 10 hours labor is $930. Billing straight time for the 5 minute fix is $10. That is a huge discrepancy. We then will bill you, the customer something like $120 for one “first hour” of repair time. You have now paid 12X as much as you should have for the 5 minute repair BUT we lost out on $810 that we would have made charging straight labor. This is a total bummer for you the customer, for your commission based mechanic who could have earned 50% of $930 for the day but instead worked for $6/hour for those 10 hours, and for the shop which also made only $6/hour for those 10 hours, which does not cover our hourly overhead to stay in business. This happens to a mechanic once or twice per month. Even with the best moped mechanics I know of, it just happens.

Next example: let’s say that someone commissions a custom build for $2,500. Seems like pretty primo money for a moped; it is the top of what we find that people are willing to pay. Most folks want to spend in the $700-$1,400 range. You might assume that on a $2,500 moped we made good money, right? But, consider that when a hobbyist does a sweet custom build, it “took 2 years” or was a “winter project” or it was a constant evolving build over years. Obviously those are not years of labor, but probably 80 hours, maybe 120 hours of actual labor over the course of the build. But we have to do work that quality or better in a fraction of the time. Let’s say that on that $2,500 build the moped itself cost $200, I spend $400 to get the bike professionally sand blasted and powder coated, then I spend $900 on parts. So I’ve now invested $1,500 into the $2,500 bike. That leaves $1,000 for me to split 50/50 with the mechanic. So we each get $500; Seems okay BUT remember that the mechanic now has a $500 budget to try to do the work that it would take a hobbyist 80-120 hours. So maybe the mechanic crushes it, had no problems, and knocks the build out in 40 hours. $500 for a 40 hour week is *fine* but it’s not the pay that a professional tradesman doing work that no one else can do deserves. After paying the mechanic I have now spent $2K on the $2,500 bike. By some kind of business logic, I should double my money invested, so I should turn my $2K invested in the build into $4K, but instead I turn it into $2,500 – far short of my goal. Further, $500 that the shop makes off of that repair does not cover the other general overhead of the shop for that week.

A freshly powdercoated Puch Maxi being reassembled for a custom build.

Another way to look at it is that, if we did one repair and charged our labor rates straight up, 40 hours comes out to $3,630. If I doubled my $1,500 materials investment, that would be $3K. This would mean that if the custom moped build was billed the way that one would bill for the same skill set and the same monetary investment in a motorcycle, the bike should cost $6,630, maybe more if market value on the specific vehicle was more. Essentially, by choosing to work on mopeds we have put ourselves in a position where we have to undervalue our investment and labor hours by $4,130, if not more, to meet “value based pricing.” And that is with a top of the line / top of the price bracket moped.

Each mechanic gets caught on one of these large custom builds per month, maybe more in the winter. So all of a sudden, we are in this situation where we are we are charging premium prices for premium service on cool interesting vehicles and we have huge demand. BUT because we are doing so on vintage mopeds as opposed to some other more valuable cool vintage product, we are actually losing. It’s very strange.

I could go on, but I’ll limit it to three anecdotes. Occasionally a moped repair goes “smoothly,” and we actually complete a repair “successfully.” We have 1-3 hours of straight labor. We charge straight rates, everything seems as it should. BUT, again, MOPEDS… Mopeds are great and will run FOREVER *with constant maintenance,* but they require that maintenance. When mopeds were brand new 40 years ago, they came with a little tool kit and a little book that basically said, “Here kid, figure your toy motorcycle out,” because they constantly need tinkering and adjusting. So due to the nature of mopeds, we may have a successfully executed and tested repair, call the customer for pick up, and at pick up the bike won’t start, just from sitting. Why? Because mopeds. So now I spend an hour doing an on-the-spot repair and/or adjustment to send the bike home. That one hour repair bid and charged successfully at one hour is now a two hour repair and our labor rate just got cut in half. Or, that three hour repair bid is completed, tested for a half hour, and charged successfully, but the customer takes it home and it just fails on their first ride. They bring it back for warranty work that takes us 5.5 hours to diagnose a small 5 minute repair. We now have only charged 3 hours for what, after the warranty, actually took us 9 labor hours. Because of the nature of mopeds, the time it takes to fix them and the prices people are willing to spend on them… it just kills us.

The other part(s) about mopeds

We order a lot of parts for the shop but they aren’t always the right fit.

Not only do we have the aforementioned problems due to moped diagnostic work being a difficult and specific skill AND the fact that mopeds will never hit the resale value to justify the labors costs that it should take to get them running, BUT there are also major problems with the parts. The new parts are almost never “bolt and go.” Our buddy Travis Tutorial made a video addressing this problem with moped parts. I speculate that the reason has to do with the value in mopeds. Since people will only spend so much on mopeds, the parts are made the best that they can be made within the conceivable budget for the parts. Ports on cylinder kits need to be filed and cleaned to be run. Exhausts need to be heated, bent, drilled, or brackets made to fit. Some parts need to have powder coat sanded off to fit. Some parts need to be re-tapped to fit. Carbs need to have floats adjusted before use to work. Cables need to be shortened and knarped to fit. Many assemblies will need to be disassembled and re-assembled with Loc-tite to hold up. Parts will need to be shaved down and/or spaced out to line up correctly. And, and, and. After years of doing this on thousands of mopeds, that knowledge is a skill set that we have, but it is also a skill set that is not really understood by the customers and is not really billable. Like, if a customer buys a $10 part and we charge $10 for the 5 minutes that it takes to install it, everything seems fair. But if it took us a half hour to modify the part so that it was ready for the 5 minute install, straight labor would be $70. Most customers are not interested in paying $70 labor to have us install a $10 aftermarket part, so much like the previously mentioned repairs, we charge something like $20 total labor. The customer is typically still not thrilled about spending $20 to install a cheap $10 part. We are typically not thrilled about losing $50 of what we should get on straight labor charges.

I think that these small modifications to parts are all part of the experience for a DIY moped hobbyist. It extends the time that folks get to spend getting their hands dirty and increases the intimacy with the vehicle while keeping parts affordable. It’s pretty okay in that regard, but for us, it makes the moped repair business a dumb idea.

In conclusion

Mopeds are great. They are cool looking, fun to ride, interesting to learn about, rewarding to repair (as a hobbyist) and come with a great community for events and group rides. They just make for a pretty dumb business to operate.

Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts and understand our business. Be well.

Alex Samul, Owner
Detroit Moped Works

 

 

August 2020: Project bikes for sale

Detroit Moped Works has always felt confident profiting from our wonderful work, selling refurbished or rebuilt mopeds that we could stand behind and sell with a warranty.  

As a matter of principle, Detroit Moped Works has always been opposed to “flipping” mopeds, or making money off of selling non-running mopeds, project mopeds, parts mopeds, and/or “as is” mopeds. 

That said, due to what the media refers to as “these strange times” we are not able to get bikes built for sale this season. Further, we are repeatedly seeing “as is” mopeds selling on the peer to peer market for 2-3 times what we consider “Normal Market Rate.” For these two reasons we have decided to get some projects out of our shop and in the hands of folks who can hopefully get more bikes on the road.

Most of these mopeds will be priced above what we consider “normal market rate,’ but below the high prices we are seeing as the “new normal.” In the time honored tradition of “flipping,” we will be giving the most brief description possible, not promising anything of the individual vehicles, but promising you that you will have a wonderful time working on and learning about your new toy motorcycle! Or maybe it just sits as wonderful decor in your Man Cave or She Shed. Once you buy it, it is out of our hands and yours to enjoy!  

 

View our selection of available “as is” project bikes here!

New builds and repairs suspended through July 2020

Detroit Moped Works is suspending accepting new repair and/or build clients until AT LEAST the end of the month.

We appreciate all of the support and business coming in through the “appointment only” format that we have adopted since the rise of Covid-19. Fortunately / unfortunately, the large amount of patronage means that currently we have 58 active build and/or repair projects to complete with super limited staff and parts availability. We simply cannot fit any more projects in the door until we can get some of these projects cleared out.


For the 58 of you who are waiting patiently for your projects to be completed and returned to you, rest assured that the reason that you hear from us infrequently is because we are concentrating our time and efforts on completing the actual work to get your projects back to you.


For those of you with pending correspondences, please know that we are working on getting the current projects processed through to free up space to take in your projects. We have your correspondences and, once we have available slots for more work, we will follow up accordingly.


We are still taking parts and accessories orders for curbside pickup through our Facebook page.  If you are in need of any retail, feel free to schedule a shopping appointment on our page or contact us through Facebook Messenger and our front desk manager, Brooke, will follow up.


Thanks for all of the work and all of the patience.


Be Safe – Alex
Owner,
Detroit Moped Works
July 20, 2020

Detroit Moped Works Summer 2020 Buying Guide

Detroit Moped Works is out of mopeds that are ready for sale, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.

 

As of today (June 16th, 2020) we are sold out of every moped that we built over the winter to sell in the spring / early summer. We do not have an “inventory.” This means that there is nothing for us to post online and nothing for us to “email you a list.”  Sorry!

If there is no moped inventory,” you ask, “how is there a buying guide?

Good question! Just because we don’t have any good, restored mopeds ready to sell to you with a warranty, it does not mean that there are not mopeds all over the place waiting for you. Here are some options:

 

We are mostly a repair shop, so you can buy a moped on the peer to peer market and bring the bikes to us to get it perfect.

Websites like Facebook Marketplace are good resources for buying mopeds.
    • Facebook Marketplace seems to be the main place to buy mopeds these days. It is good because you can see your seller and there is some sense of accountability. It also draws from many of the local based or moped brand-specific Facebook groups. Feel free to search out and join some of those groups to get involved with mopeds. Websites like craigslist, OfferUp, and letgo also have bikes for sale. eBay is a weird one because things never tend to go for “market rate;” mopeds either sell for way below their value OR people get excited and over pay, but go ahead and give it a try. Maybe you’ll get the great deal!
    • We previously wrote a blog about moped values from the sellers prospective. The same basic principles are in play as a buyer. Keep this in mind when shopping for a moped. It’s always a drag when folks max out their budget overpaying for mopeds, then come to us and discover that they need costly repairs to get their bike on the road.
    • If the moped you buy can be ridden, your repair bill and/or turnaround times on our repairs will be much less. Seriously, even if a bike sputters and farts 15 feet down the street then dies, that will still allow us to provide a better diagnosis upon drop off and, in most situations, means that your bike can be fixed cheaper and sent home faster than if the bike won’t start at all before coming in.
    • Here is some info on our current situation / turn around time for repairs – https://detroitmopedworks.com/june-2020-update/

 

Tell us what you are looking for and we can pair you with a moped. Occasionally, we take bikes in on trade that can be quickly turned around and/or we sell our personal mopeds. If any of these bikes match what you are looking for, we can pair you with them. We also have loads of absolute junk mopeds that could be built for you. Seriously. Bikes that are ugly, missing parts, and not even close to running. WE DO NOT SELL THESE JUNK MOPEDS “AS IS,” but we would be glad to negotiate a build for you and get the bike into the work queue as described in the June 2020 update above.

    • Submit a moped match request form. Tell us your target budget and target speed along with your favorite/least favorite brands, colors, features, etc. If possible, attach photos of some of your favorite mopeds so that we can really understand what you are looking for. Then we can bid a build for you.
    • If we agree on a build, we will take ½ down, complete the build, then take the second half payment upon completion.
      • A “basic” moped build with these items replaced will *typically* be around $1,000 and will have a turnaround time in line with our standard repairs, maybe even faster :
          • New tires

            New tubes

            New fuel petcock

            New fuel line

            New fuel filter

            New NGK spark plug

            Working headlight

            Working tail light

            Working kill switch

            Full tank of premium gas with Amsoil Saber synthetic two stroke oil

            New full synthetic transmission fluid

      • Our moped graveyard of parts is a diverse collection that can help bring your new moped to life.

        A complete custom build with fresh powder coat, replacing nearly everything that can possibly be replaced with new parts, and a performance motor would typically be $2,000-$3,000 depending on the model and how specific your build parameters are. These builds can take months to complete depending on turn around times from our powder coat vendor, upholstery vendor, custom decal fabrication times, parts availability delays due to Covid-19, and just the time it take to build a complete bike from scratch.

      • MOST builds will fall in between with many new parts, but not all. These bikes have some performance parts, but not the fastest. These builds will have a turnaround in line with our standard repairs, maybe a bit slower.

 

We have a limited supply of “moped style” electric bicycles, but as is the case with all E-Bikes, there is a delay/shortage due to manufacturing halts and import restrictions. Click here to check out our current E-Bike inventory and/or put a deposit on an E-Bike from an upcoming shipment.

 

August 2020 update: We are selling off some of our project/parts mopeds for the first time in Detroit Moped Works’ history! Click here for more information.

 

No more new mopeds?

Unfortunately, there are no new Tomos mopeds (or any other two stroke pedal style mopeds). We continue to get many messages about new mopeds and recently wrote a blog post to explain what’s going on. Learn more about it here.

 

I hope this information is helpful. We look forward to aiding you on your quest for a *new to you* moped.

Stay safe,

Alex Samul, owner
Detroit Moped Works

There are NO MORE NEW MOPEDS!?!

No more new mopeds?

Unfortunately, after being in business since the 1950’s, Tomos Slovenia filed for Bankruptcy in December of 2018. There were rumors that Tomos would “emerge from bankruptcy stronger than ever,” so we kept the listings for the new Sprint (which came in black or chrome) and Racing TT on our website. (Plus, they brought us some decent web traffic!)

But sadly, at this point it seems that that will not be the case…  and with the end of Tomos, there are officially no more true “new” mopeds in production.

NOW WHAT!?!?!

If you really want a 2017-2018 style Tomos, you can proceed with the following options:

  • For a 2017-2018 “Sprint,” purchase a 2005 or newer Tomos step-through moped from the peer to peer marketplace (Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, etc.) and restore it (or have us restore it!). From 2005 through bankruptcy all Tomos mopeds had the modernized a55 motor and upgraded suspension. If you replace the decals, headlights, and wear items, you pretty much have a 2017-2018 Tomos.
  • For a 2017-2018 “Racing TT,” your best bet is to purchase either a Tomos Arrow R or Tomos Streetmate R. The Racing TT was basically the “love child” of these two unique mopeds. They would be your closest options. From there, you can just restore it by replacing the wear items or have us do it for you.
  • If you want a new Tomos moped and style is not important, you can check out these mopeds that are being made in the US with the remaining production parts from when Tomos shut down.
  • If you mainly like the wheels, forks, and the idea of “NEW,” the guys from Tomos America are also making these E-Bikes with left over parts from Tomos.

If you just want something new from us, you can check out our selection of E-Bikes. Although they do not have the speed of a true moped, they are great looking, user friendly, and have less rules about who can use them, where they can be ridden, etc. Electric really is the future!

If you do not want to move into the future, but simply want to have a “like new” piece of history, you can commission us to complete a full restoration OR customization. You can bring us a project and/or have us source the body for you.  Depending on the starting condition of the moped, level of restoration desired, and target speed, you can anticipate spending something in the $2,000-$3,000 range regardless of whether we source the body or you do. With this we basically re-coat, rebuild, or replace EVERYTHING, so it is best to start with a real “barn find.” For complete ground up restorations, we typically recommend starting with a Puch, Motobecane, Vespa Ciao, or Honda Hobbit. These are the bikes with BY FAR the most parts being reproduced. These bikes will allow you to have nearly every component replaced with new for “relatively affordably.”

Hopefully this information is helpful in your quest for a new moped!

June 2020 update

As a quick heads up, currently our turnaround times for correspondences are up to two weeks and our turnaround times on actual repairs are about 4-6 weeks, sometimes more on large jobs and/or jobs with many unexpected challenges. When you work on vehicles with 40 years of unknown history, no “Carfax,” and no diagnosis machines, unexpected challenges are not too uncommon!

 

Besides the unexpected challenges with mopeds themselves, we also are working with the following challenges of the “Post Coronavirus” world:

  • Import restrictions and supply chain disruptions making getting parts into the country more difficult.
  • Domestic shipping delays making getting parts that are already in the country to us slower.
  • Job market changes making staffing more difficult.

 

What our challenges mean for you, the customer:

  • To be fair to the folks who have been waiting patiently for repairs and/or correspondences pending, we will not be “opening” to the public in a conventional manner with normal hours until we are back to previous time lines. (Typical time lines under normal circumstances are 48 hour turnaround on correspondences and 2-4 weeks on repairs.)
  • We will be diligently monitoring our emails and our Facebook messages.  We are not monitoring our telephone/voicemail or the messaging systems associated with the various other social media platforms, like Google+, Yelp, Instagram, etc.  We simply do not have the staff to monitor all of those platforms while providing quality service.
  • Ideally, we will be taking payments online in advance of drop off and/or in person with a contactless reader.
  • Please arrive with some kind of mask and maintain six feet of distance during the inspection and intake process.
  • If you are OK with all of that and would like to get into our work queue while we are “closed,” we will still be taking repairs in via curbside pickup on an appointment only basis.We will be accepting appointments Monday—Friday, 11am—5pm.  You can book appointments with our new workshop software at the following link:
    • https://my.workshopsoftware.com/bookings.html#!/DetroitMopedWorks?token=x2hc2w
    • While our new workshop software is awesome and will definitely help us speed up turnaround times on both repairs and correspondences, the booking fields are limited. Please fill out all of your personal and vehicle information. In the notes section, please include the following:
      • Time of day that you would like for your appointment
      • Current condition of the vehicle (Does it run? How fast? Does it stop? Do the accessories work? How are the brakes / shocks / other mechanical?)
      • Which wear items do you want replaced (Tires, tubes, grips, pedals, chains?)
      • Are there any custom modifications that you have in mind?
      • If you are looking for performance work, what is your speed goal?
      • Anything else you really do or don’t want changed?
      • What is your budgetary goal?
      • Once a bid is approved and deposit is taken, we will schedule the appointment.
  • Please do not show up without an appointment. This includes shopping for mopeds, parts or accessories.

 

I know that this is a lot to take in, but we are doing our best to be efficient and transparent with these unprecedented challenges. Hopefully this all makes sense and we will be able to help you out.

We’ll be waiting to hear from you. Thanks a ton and stay safe!

Alex Samul
Owner, Detroit Moped Works

June 8, 2020

Quarantine Update

Quarantine Update

Hello from “behind the scenes!”

Just wanted to check in with everyone and share some thoughts about the moped shop during this period of quarantine that certainly allows for lots of reflection. I made the tough decision to abide by a firm closure during the initial stay-at-home period. That means that all staff have been laid off and I have not been accepting new inventory or service requests. Yes, I am aware that we could have probably continued to operate in some capacity without legal consequence. I realize that other small businesses have been doing this and I do not fault them. Economic fear is a powerful and real motivator. It is not that I do not share these fears — I own a low-margin seasonal business, I live on these fears even when there is not a pandemic! — but I believe that the uncertainty and level of contagiousness of this still-not-understood virus is more frightening and more important at this time. I don’t want to facilitate any non-essential contact and, realistically, the customization, restoration, and performance enhancements of 40 year old mopeds is not essential right now.

The latest state mandate (4/24) says that bicycle repair shops can begin to open to the public. We have decided that we will not…yet. Our small, open floor plan and high level of personal contact workplace doesn’t engender a safe environment for me and my staff, some of whom have and/or live with individuals with conditions that put them at “high risk.” Furthermore, we are not convinced that this decision will not result in a spike in infections, and are deciding to “stay-at-home” so as to not contribute to that possibility.

This is certainly not an easy decision to make and I hope that our customers can understand and respect our caution.

We are working behind the scenes to develop safe protocols for service and retail for when we do reopen. Even at that point, business will not be “as-usual.” I am currently working on improved online presence and official appointment only / curbside service protocol so that we can operate in some capacity until this virus is better under control and we can feel safe.

Trust me, each and every time I turn away business it breaks my heart a little bit. But I have to do what I think is right — and right isn’t always perfect, it’s just the best we can do.

Thanks for understanding and when we do feel safe to reopen, trust me, I will be shouting it from the hilltops!

A few quick notes:

  • If you have a bike already in here for repairs, don’t fret; we will complete your repairs and get the bike in your hands at the first possible opportunity.
  • If you have sent the shop an email, Facebook message, Instagram message, text message, Google+ message, etc – I am not ignoring you. I am systematically responding to all messages (which there are tons of) and I will continue to do so until we have staff in to help.
  • We are not currently monitoring our phone system.
  • Filling out the contact form through our website OR sending a message through our Facebook page are the two best ways to contact me at this time.
    • We are working on developing an online system for repair tickets and custom builds in preparation for a curbside drop off / pick up format which will streamline processes, but for now reaching out through the website or Facebook will put you in the front of the queue.

I appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm and eagerness to patronize our business and everyone’s contribution to the GoFundMe, but most importantly everyone’s understanding and patience as I work to try to reply to each and every correspondence while planning for what the future at Detroit Moped Works will look like.

In good health,

Alex Samul

Owner, Detroit Moped Works

April 27, 2020

A little help for our staff

Detroit Moped Works has started a GoFundMe fundraiser to raise money to go directly to our mechanics. You can donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/a-little-help-for-our-staff.

As a seasonal business, we spend all winter building bikes and living on debt, reliant on a massive March and April to dig us out of debt and propel us into the busy summer season of repairs.  With the current pandemic, that will not happen this year.

As a shop, we can begin to liquidate assets; but with no repair work (and the state’s mandatory shut down), our commission based mechanics are without income.

All money donated will go directly to subsidize the living expenses of our mechanics.

As there are a lot of people in need, we have set a modest goal; but we could use a lot more.

Every little bit helps. Thanks a ton and stay safe.

Detroit Moped Works: CLOSED

March 27, 2020

In compliance with Michigan’s “Stay Home” order and to protect our customers, staff, and the public health, DETROIT MOPED WORKS IS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

The Covid-19 coronavirus is spreading faster in Detroit than nearly anywhere in the United States and we want to do our part to stop the spread.

We have mopeds available for sale that can be purchased online and kept in our shop until the lockdown is lifted. If you’re buying a moped for essential transportation, please contact us so we can help you.

Be sure to FOLLOW both our Facebook and Instagram pages for updates.

For inquiries, use our contact page, email sales@detroitmopedworks.com, or message our Facebook page.

Thank you for your continued support and stay safe!

What is my moped worth?

What is my moped worth?

We receive daily phone calls and emails from people asking what they should sell their vintage mopeds for and/or if we want to buy their mopeds. Here are some generalizations about moped values. (There are always going to be exceptions… but yours probably is not one.)

Click a topic below to jump to that point in the page.

Non-running mopeds are worth $100 USD
Running mopeds sell pretty quickly for $200-300 USD
Running mopeds sell less quickly for $500+ USD
The “right buyer” may give you up to $800
The value of modified mopeds
The value of our mopeds (why our mopeds cost so much)

 

NON-RUNNING MOPEDS ARE WORTH $100 USD

  • If it can’t be ridden down the road, there is no way to tell what the moped needs. These bikes typically have 40 years of unknown history. Riding them allows you to hear and feel the bike’s functionality. If it cannot be ridden, it cannot be properly diagnosed. There are a lot of costly and/or time consuming repairs that may be needed on a moped so most people will not bet more than $100 on that gamble.
    • If the seller says it “just needs a carb clean” or “just needs a spark plug,” they are lying. If they have the ability to accurately diagnose that, they would have the ability to do those things and double or triple the value of their moped.
  • This price is very standard on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Moped Army, garage sales, scrap yards, etc. We do our best to both buy and sell at “market rate.” Since we typically buy non-running mopeds for the standard $100 market rate and it would be wrong of us to sell non-running mopeds for more than $100, we just don’t sell non-running mopeds. We restore them and add value before selling!
  • There are always exceptions, like:
    • Top tank mopeds (the ones that look like little motorcycles) usually sell for a bit more.
    • If the buyer REALLY REALLY wants a specific moped (See “RIGHT BUYER” info below).
    • If we are low on inventory and you have a super common moped that will be cheap for us to restore.
    • If your non-running moped has some weird specific part that someone really needs.
    • The upper end of what someone will pay for a non-running moped is $200-$300.
    • These scenarios are not common.

 

 

RUNNING MOPEDS SELL PRETTY QUICKLY FOR $200-$300 USD

  • If it can be ridden down the road, someone who does not care too much about the individual unit will pay this much and you will sell it in less than a week. It may be to a person looking for cheap transportation, someone looking for an “easy” restoration project, a moped hobbyist (hoarder), or us!
  • This price is very standard on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Moped Army, garage sales, scrap yards, etc.

 

 

RUNING MOPEDS SELL LESS QUICKLY FOR $500 USD +

  • There are a lot of moped hobbyists, collectors, hoarders, and flippers scouring the standard peer to peer market (Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Moped Army, garage sales, scrap tards, etc.) ready to jump on those sub $300 mopeds.
    • Please note that we as a shop only purchase mopeds that are brought into our store. We do not go after the peer to peer market at all; we leave that open to you guys and gals. We want you to purchase project bikes so that you can come to us for parts and/or repairs!
  • People who are looking for $300 transportation but keep getting beat out on the sub $300 deals will often pay up to $500 for running mopeds.
    • As a seller, if you are “not in a hurry” to sell, maybe hold out for $500. Your buyer will come around in about a month or two.
    • As a buyer, this is an OK price. It’s not a great deal, BUT if a $500 moped is in your budget, if you like it, if you have fun on a test ride, and if you don’t want to mess around trying to be the first one to the best peer to peer deal, go for it!
  • We have hundreds of mopeds between our facilities, so we are not the buyer who just really wants a moped and has got beaten out on all of the cheap deals. We are not going to buy a typical moped for anywhere near $500 (sorry!).

 

 

THE “RIGHT BUYER” MAY GIVE YOU UP TO $800+++?!?!

  • NOTE: This is not normal in the peer to peer market but there are always exceptions.
    • You’ll need to find the right person. This buyer is typically someone who had the exact same moped as a kid. The same year, the same color, all of that. Maybe they were using that moped to get to their sweetie’s house for their first kiss. Maybe they used it to get to their first job which taught them the work ethic that made them wealthy today. Maybe they didn’t have a moped at all and they were jealous of the neighbor kid, so now is their time to have that perfect example of the model they didn’t get as a kid.
    • A moped hobbyist may also have some weird obsession with a specific rare-sub model of a moped or something and be willing to pay more than the moped is “worth.” Even as a shop that currently has hundreds of mopeds in our shop and has had thousands pass through our shop, there are about a half dozen mopeds that we have never seen and would pay $1,000+++ for our personal collection. If a moped is so rare and desirable that we hold a moped as mythological, you probably don’t have it… but it sure would be cool if you did!
  • As a seller, to get these prices in the peer to peer market, you’ll need to have a really really nice bike and it may take you a few years to find that perfect buyer BUT when you do find them they’ll be appreciative that you took the time to list the bike and maintained the listing long enough for them to stumble across it.
  • As a buyer, IF YOU REALLY WANT IT, BUY IT AND DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT PAYING EXTRA FOR WHAT YOU REALLY WANT. Seriously, “worth” is objective so if it is in your budget & you really want it, go for it!

 

 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ THE VALUE OF MODIFIED MOPEDS ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • A modified moped may have $500 OR $1,000 or $1,500+++ worth of performance parts on it, so how does this affect value?
    • If a person did a bad job installing the parts and the bike does not run right OR is not safe OR is too powerful and will destroy itself soon OR just looks ugly now OR all of those things, the bike is probably worth WAY less than it was worth before all of the money and time was spent on parts and time was spent on labor.
    • BUT there are some really wonderful, caring, careful, intelligent, artistic moped builders out there who have invested lots of time & money learning mopeds and building specific bikes. When these people sell mopeds, OF COURSE it is fair and “worth it” to pay them a price that is equal to the value of the moped before modification PLUS the value of parts invested PLUS the value of their time for the work they have done to the moped.
  • As a shop, we do not generally buy modified bikes because we warranty all of our work and if we did not do the work ourselves, we cannot warranty someone else’s work – even if they are an exceptional builder.

 

 

THE VALUE OF OUR MOPEDS (WHY OUR MOPEDS COST SO MUCH)

  • Simple Answer:
    • Everything that we sell has *AT MINIMUM* New tires, New tubes, New fuel petcock, New fuel line, New fuel filter, New NGK Spark Plug, Working headlight, Working tail light, Working kill switch, full tank of premium gas with Amsoil Saber full synthetic 2t oil, & new full synthetic transmission fluid; PLUS it has been polished up and it comes with a 60 DAY WARRANTY.
      • $700-$900 at our shop *typically* gets you a moped with our minimum restoration described above. Although it is more expensive than a $300-$500 CL moped; we feel the new parts, professional work, and peace of mind make our mopeds a better value for a rider. From there, the more time and money and parts we spend on the ped, the more speed and safety and looks you get.
      • $800-$1200 at our shop typically gets you a moped with the minimum stuff described above plus other wear items such as grips, chains, cables, shocks, pedals, seats, etc. replaced with new. Mopeds in this price range also typically have minor performance work done to them to get them in the 33-40mph speed.
      • $1200-$1700 at our shop typically gets you a moped that has everything above replaced AND some extensive motor work involving part to get the moped in the 38-48mph speed AND some modernized suspension and wheels to accommodate ether increased speed AND maybe even custom paint and/or powder coat and/or decals.
      • $1,700-$2,500+++ is not the norm for pricing or for mopeds. This is an exceptional moped at an exceptional price. At our shop means that we invested a TON of both time and money into the moped. When bikes at this price come up you can be assured that the moped will be as good looking and safe as a moped can be PLUS it will be as fast of a moped as we feel comfortable putting a customer on.
  • Complex Answer:
    • When you buy a moped from us, whether it be $700 OR $2,700, you are getting more than a professionally serviced moped with some fancy new parts. Honestly, if that’s all you were getting from us, it wouldn’t be that great of a deal.
      • Because each bike is unique, we work to pair you with the right moped for you. When you come into our store, you get the opportunity to explain your goals with regards to looks, budget, target speed, intended use, etc. From there we put you on a few different bikes that we think would work well for you for test rides. Once you know what you are looking for; we will make final adjustments for speed, comfort, and aesthetics so that the bike is really right for you.
    • After you take the moped home, we are your support system.
        • During the 60 day warranty period, something will probably go wrong… but that’s OK! These things are 40 years old with an unknown history. We are bringing them back to life for the first time in who knows how long. Even though we fix everything that is wrong with it, then test ride it 10-20 miles; then fix everything that goes wrong on the test rides, then put on 10-20 more test miles until we feel confident, we can’t know what will go wrong in 100 or 200 or 500 miles. For this reason, we want you to use the moped and shake out any additional problems that happen as it comes to life and we want to fix them under warranty. We typically find that once these problems that arise bringing the bike out of dormancy are corrected, these mopeds are good for a long time with minimum effort. We just need to get there together. You don’t get this support system with a peer to peer sale.
        • After the 60 days, we are here to complete your spring tune ups, performance upgrades, wear item replacements and more. All of these things will go faster (and cheaper) if we know the bike.
        • We are also available to our customers for parts and troubleshooting advice if our customers decide to take on the DIY experience.
        • For better or for worse, buying a moped from us means establishing a relationship with us;  We know, love and appreciate our customers. Without you, we wouldn’t be who we are.
  • OH YEAH – Also when you buy a moped from us you can use a credit card and you get 25% off all retail such as helmets, gloves, locks, apparel, etc. with your purchase.

Mopeds at the 2018 Old School Minibike Show

14th Annual Old School Minibike Show

Sunday, May 6, 2018
8:00am – 3:00pm
Royal Oak Farmer’s Market

For the second year, Detroit Moped Works will have a booth at the Old School Minibike Show at the Royal Oak Farmers Market. We will be selling mopeds, accessories, apparel and more.

The event starts at 8:00 am with vendors, a swap meet, food, and awards for various classes of vehicles (INCLUDING MOPEDS!). Full info about the event and showing your vehicle can be found at the event’s official Facebook page.

Gate entrance fee is $5. FREE ENTRY AT 1:00pm FOR ANYONE WHO RIDES IN ON A MOPED!

Royal Oak Farmers Market
316 E. 11 Mile Road
Royal Oak, MI 48067

 

Video Tutorial: Does my moped turn over? How to start a vintage two stroke moped

This is the first Detroit Moped Works video tutorial, with many more to come. We will be starting very basic and progress into more advanced topics. We believe that understanding HOW things work is crucial. We will focus on that to make your moped ownership and maintenance experience as fun and interesting as possible. This tutorial teaches you how to figure out if your moped “turns over” through demonstrating the various ways that vintage mopeds start.

 

 

This information will be helpful with the following mopeds:

• Mopeds with a Morini motor such as Pacer, Bianchi, Motomarina, etc.

• Mopeds with a Puch motor such as Maxi, Newport, Magnum, Series B, Korado, Austro Daimler, Dart, Sears Free Spirit, Murray, JCPenney Pinto OR JCPenney Swinger.

• Mopeds with a Minarelli motor such as a Cimatti, Motomarina, Testi, Aspes, Fantic, etc.

• Garelli

• Sachs

• Batavus

• Solo

• Trac

• Vespa Piaggio

• French mopeds like Motobecane and Peugeot

• Indian mopeds like Kinetic and Hero Majestic

• Honda Hobbit

• Suzuki FZ50 and FA50

• Honda Express, Express II, Urban Express

• Yamaha QT50, Chappy, Champ

• Tomos

• Solex

Our YouTube channel is in its infancy so we want YOU to let us know what you want to see. Moped tutorials, product reviews, moped culture shenanigans, visual tours of Detroit on mopeds, advice for small business owners; you tell us!

The more likes, shares, and comments we get, the more we’ll be driven to put out new content.

Detroit Moped Works is now on YouTube!

For a while now, we’ve had dreams of a YouTube channel, but kind of overthought it to the point where we never pulled the trigger.
We are currently in the process of applying to Retail Boot Camp at TechTown Detroit. Part of this application is a short video requirement: “Recommendations on what to include in your video: pitch your business, excite us about your vision. Upload video to YouTube and provide link.“
Sometimes that extra incentive is all you need to get things rolling, so we are using this as the catalyst to launch our channel. Pretty neat eh?!?!
Our YouTube channel is in its infancy so we want YOU to let us know what you want to see. Moped tutorials, product reviews, moped culture shenanigans, visual tours of Detroit on mopeds, advice for small business owners; you tell us!
The more likes, shares, and comments we get, the more we’ll be driven to put out new content.

Watch our first video below!