A Minnesota company unchains bikers from the service shop ecosystem.
By Patrick Stephenson
Imagine this. You’re out on a bicycle ride and, horror of horrors, you hear the telltale gush of air from your tire’s tube. KKSSHHHHH. But on this ride, you aren’t prepared for a flat. You left the tubes, levers, and air pump at home. And you’re on the path alone, without a friend for rescue. With Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero” assaulting your brain pan, you could walk and walk until public transit saves you, or hope a kind passerby stops to help, or find the nearest bike shop and submit yourself. But wait. Imagine gleaming ahead of you like an oasis in the Arabian Desert is a vending machine. Brimming with bike tools and gear aplenty, it contains everything you need. It’s not a mirage—it’s Bike Fixtation.
Founded in 2010 by Minneapolitans Alex Anderson and Chad DeBaker, Bike Fixtation designs and manufactures public work stands, pumps, and high-security, self-service vending machines that are available for extended hours—up to 24 hours a day. Anderson and DeBaker created Fixtation because of a situation exactly like the one described before. One evening in 2010, out for a late-night pub-crawl, a friend got a flat. The friend didn’t have a tube. There weren’t any bike shops open. They were S.O.L.
“Then,” as Fixtation’s communications officer Andy Lambert describes it, “the light bulb went off. What if there was a vending machine that was open to the public 24/7 that sold inner tubes, lights, patch kits, and other small bicycle-related necessities for common emergencies? It was a practical solution for a very real-world problem, especially in a bike-friendly place like Minneapolis.” By 2011, Fixtation had two vending machines in Minneapolis-—one at the Uptown Transit Station and another at the Lake Street LRT station.
Thanks to co-founder DeBaker’s deft engineering skills, those soon were complemented by public work stands and stationary bike pumps for a full-service experience. Buy the tools, then put them to good use. The company’s full product mix now includes three versions of manual public use bike pumps, an electric bike pump, the public work stand, and high-security vending machines, with more products coming this summer. “We like that our product mix is equally spread out over total sales,” says Lambert, “because we feel that all three categories are equally important to the public at large.”
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