When it comes to riding a bicycle there are really no small repair problems, because something minor can still mean walking a bike rather than riding it. Minneapolis cyclists Chad DeBaker and Alex Anderson saw these needs as an opportunity, rather than a problem, and created Bike Fixtation, a self-serve bicycle repair station, the first of which is located in the Uptown Transit Station near where they work in Minneapolis, MN.
The concept grew out of one of those small problems that are normally a quick fix—so long as the right tools and parts are available. “The idea has been rolling around for a few years, but the need really arose when we were at Chad’s bachelor part in summer 2009, which was a bar crawl on bikes,” Anderson told BikeRadar. “It was a Saturday night around 7 PM. Someone got a flat but no one had a patch kit or a tube in that size, and no bike shops were open at that time of night. We started thinking about how automobiles have lots of infrastructure and service stations available, but similar accommodations are not available for cyclists.”
As the pair was averse to having people pay for air, they decided that the kiosk could have an air compressor that’s free for use. Thus the idea turned into a concept, which transformed in an actual kiosk that now accepts cash or credit cards, and offers basic bike parts including tubes, tire kits and accessories ranging from lights to water bottles to some tools. Knowing that riders often look for food, the kiosk even is also filled with snacks and beverages for riders.
But the most popular item remains what inspired the creation of the Bike Fixtation.“Flats are the most common maintenance item required for bikes,” says Anderson. “So by no surprise, tubes are one of the most popular items.”
The vending machine offers tubes and other supplies, as well as a free air from a compressor
The Fixtation will also help riders who have bigger issues. Anderson and DeBaker opted to give people the option to do small repairs themselves and install the parts they bought from the kiosk, as well as not so small repairs that often need a work stand. To accommodate these repairs, the duo designed a special work stand which includes tethered tools, so riders in need can work on their bikes and get back to the ride.
At present there is just the one Bike Fixtation in Minneapolis, but they are currently looking to open a second location. Issues do remain such as the fact that the city isn’t exactly known for mild winters. “Although not as many people ride in the winter, there are still a fair number of winter commuters in the twin cities area,” DeBaker told BikeRadar. “Our bicycle trail system is very well maintained and plowed out very quickly after a snowfall for instance. Part of our goal is to always have the kiosk available so people can count on it. We admittedly would also like to see winter ridership increase with the help of bicycle support infrastructure like Bike Fixtation.”
So far local residents have been enthusiastic about the Bike Fixtation and more importantly respectful. “Vandalism has not been an issue for us,” says DeBaker. “One of our main goals when designing the kiosk was to make it extremely vandal resistant. We spent a great deal of time thinking through these possibilities and designing the potential out of the equipment. As far as tool theft goes, the tools are tethered with stainless steel aircraft cable. hile we do not recommend locking your valuable bike up with a similar cable lock, aircraft cable has been proven to be a sufficient deterrent for the inexpensive tools.”
This could just be the beginning as the Bike Fixtation has attracted interest, both near and far, says Anderson. “People have been very enthusiastic about Bike Fixtation and we have several prospective projects going in other cities around the US. The time is right for this concept.”