Start-Up Brings Bike-Repair Kiosks to Minneapolis

Just off Minneapolis' bike highway, Midtown Greenway, local start-up Bike Fixtation has installed a self-service kiosk, complete with bike parts, tools, and snacks.

The idea spawned from Chad DeBaker's bachelor party bike tour around Minneapolis a couple of years ago. Late at night, one of the bikers in DeBaker's group got a flat tire, and no nearby bike shops were open. “That's when we thought there really needs to be more support for bicyclists,” DeBaker recalls. And Bike Fixtation was born.

DeBaker and co-founder Alex Anderson set up a self-service kiosk last month in the Uptown Transit Station on Hennepin Avenue, directly above Midtown Greenway, a 5.5 mile former railroad corridor that is now a major bike route.

The kiosk, open from 6 a.m. to midnight, 365 days a year, includes a vending machine that sells biking basics, such as inner tubes, patch kits, and lights, as well as sunscreen, snacks, and drinks. The kiosk also has a repair stand that is free to use, equipped with a tire inflator and tools such as wrenches and screwdrivers to make minor adjustments to a bicycle.

DeBaker says there is no extra “convenience charge” for the products in the vending machine. “[They] have prices similar to what one would find at a bike shop,” he says. “A new bike tube, for example, is under $5 per tube.”

DeBaker and Anderson are now scouting for a second location, with the Uptown Wedge Community coop just south of Franklin and Lyndale Avenues being a strong contender. Bike Fixtation is also looking at the possibility of franchising; the company would manufacture and supply products required for businesses and organizations to set up their own kiosks.

Minneapolis has been known as one of the most biker-friendly cities in the country. The city earned a gold-level “Bicycle Friendly Community” designation from the League of American Bicyclists earlier this year. The league, dedicated to promoting bicycling for fun, fitness, and transportation, gives awards to cities that have made measurable efforts to integrate bicyclists into the community. Minneapolis earned the highest award from the league for efforts such as investments in bike lanes, bicycling safety education, and encouragement programs, such as the year-old bike sharing program, Nice Ride.