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The Trek Stop: A Qwik-e Mart for bikes?

Posted by on July 1st, 2008 at 4:11 pm

James Thomas of the Bicycle Design blog introduces us to the “Trek Stop”, a convenience store for bikers…

(Photos courtesy of James Thomas/Bicycle Design)

According to Thomas, this is a test unit that has been set up outside of a bike shop in Madison, Wisconsin (the nearest big city to Waterloo, home town of Trek Bicycles). Thomas writes that,

“…you can stop by anytime to put air in your tires or buy basic small items like a tube, patch kit, water bottle, energy bar, chain lube, etc, out of the vending machine.”

If this pilot project works, I could definitely see these coming to Portland; especially since we’re home to Bike Gallery, which is one of the largest Trek dealers in the world. Here’s another photo.

A little more web research turns up this photo on Flickr. The photographer writes that it was just installed yesterday (6/30) and from talking to a Trek designer on the scene, he reports that, “the notion is that these might be installed in various places around a city – not usually right next to a bike shop.”

This seems like it would be a no-brainer business move for Trek. They have the distribution channel in place (thousands of loyal dealers across the country), they can sell their Trek-branded products in the vending machine and it would also give them a nice bit of brand exposure.

The Trek Stops would also tap into what Trek’s bean counters are likely well aware of — that commuters and urban bikers are the hottest piece of the bike market right now.

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  • morgan July 1, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Great idea!
    Didn\’t Aaron\’s Bicycle Repair in Seattle have a vending machine installed out front of their store for tubes and such a few years ago?
    I think Bicycling or some other print rag did a write-up on it…

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 1, 2008 at 4:34 pm


    bike supplies vending machines are nothing new… but it\’s a lot different when Trek gets behind something.

    they have the cash flow and distribution channels to really make these things happen… that is, if they decide it\’s a good business move.

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  • maxadders July 1, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    This is a fabulous idea. I support this entirely.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 1, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    I agree with Jonathan, the use of vending machines for sundry bike parts is not uncommon…the Bikestation in Seattle has one operated by the Bike Alliance of Washington.

    Continental tires has low tech vending machines (think cigarette pack machines)for tubes outside of many bike shops in Germany…24/7 repairs.

    Trek\’s effort takes it one step further.

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  • M8Adam July 1, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Yeah. If I had an nickel for everytime I\’ve needed a tube past 6pm…

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  • Adam July 1, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    I love this idea. Can\’t wait to see if Portland gets some installed!

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  • Stripes July 1, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    One of these along the Springwater please!

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  • Zaphod July 1, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    I like it.

    But what they really need is a kind of \”on-star\” system with parts, supplements, water, and other essentials. It would somehow just *know* when I\’m cratering or need a tube. A friendly voice would automatically come on. I imagine it going something like this.

    \”Hello this is Trek. We noticed that you are going really slow yet your heart rate is high. Do you need some assistance?\”

    \”Umm ack {cough}, yeah I think I\’m low on caffeine and there\’s a big hill ahead. I don\’t think I have the legs…\”

    \”Sir, we\’re dispatching a mobile Trek/Stumptown Espresso Truck and a few domestiques to drag your sorry a.. I mean assist you. Help is on the way.\”

    \”Thank you\”

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  • Donald July 1, 2008 at 7:44 pm


    Colour me less than gruntled about this.

    Smacks of Starbuckism.

    My FNBS will still get all my business.

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  • felix July 1, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    But does it have strawberry milkshakes?

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  • Russell July 1, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Donald – while I definitely support supporting your FNBS (everyone please do), this is fantastic idea for when the FNBS is closed or just damn inconvenient to get to and all you need is one small, simple item. I\’ve been stuck down by PSU after class, 9:40pm, with a flat, no spare tube, and no pump (whoops). A vending system like this (especially if it could take debt/credit) would have saved my a– from a long trek home.

    Anyways, for those who really want to support FNBS, what about trying to get the Portland bike shops to form an independent corporation just try these things out. Each bike shop could provide a certain amount of seed money, which would translate into a share of the profits, to provide a few trial machines in Portland.

    Zaphod – Been there, wish that that system existed.

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  • IanO July 1, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    yeah, but when is Portland going to get one of these automated bicycle garages?

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  • mmann July 1, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    The PSU Bike co-op (SW 5th and Harrison) is about the same size as a vending machine and sells the same basics. But not 24 hrs/day.

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  • Fergus July 1, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    zaphop, thanks for the laugh!

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  • Funkenstein July 2, 2008 at 5:36 am

    aarons bike shop has had a vending machine outside their shop for a few years now- its been a success for him – its great to see Trek get behind this and support the idea – it could create a new infrastructure for commuting by bike- im all for it!!

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  • Brad July 2, 2008 at 7:58 am

    This could be to bike commuting what the service station was to driving. Driving in this country exploded when cars became affordable to the masses and fuel was cheap and very easy to find. Then when convenience stores were added…

    This is a great idea.

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  • Grimm July 2, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Why has it taken this long to start this? Genius.
    I could see one of these being in place like on the west side of the Hawthorne or along any other route with high commuting numbers.

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  • ambrown July 2, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Imagine 25 of these machines on the biggest bicycle commuting corridors throughout the city – Hawthorne bridge, Springwater, Steel bridge, Ankeny, etc etc. Then, get the locations of these tune-up machines on Portland\’s latest iteration of a bicycle map, whenever the next one is commissioned. The tune up vendors could even collaborate with the city of Portland and get their information on the wayfinding signs. Perhaps the vending machine\’s screen could even give instructions to help a novice change a tire.

    The possibilities are endless!

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  • miguelaron July 2, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Sure, vending machines are nothing new, but how could you not like this idea?

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  • nick July 2, 2008 at 9:23 am

    I see some value to this, but at the same time, I kinda like it that there are consequences to our lack of planning in regards to a patch kit, spare tubes and frame pump. 🙂

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  • Laura July 2, 2008 at 9:59 am

    I love Zaphod\’s idea!
    Better yet, join the Trek Stop to a nouveau old-school automat
    like the one mentioned on portlandfoodanddrink ( and we\’re set!

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  • woogie July 2, 2008 at 10:21 am

    I doubt that these will be owned by the corporation.

    Most likely they will be sold or leased to the dealer who will be responsible for keeping them stocked and therefore would get the profits from the sales.

    It\’s basically an extension of the LBS.

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  • fact checker July 2, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    One factual correction, Jonathan. The home town of Trek Bicycles is Waterloo, Wis., not Madison.

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  • Tomascosauce July 3, 2008 at 6:29 am

    Now this, I like. Yes, yes…support the local shops as much as possible. I won\’t be going out of my way to get bike parts from this machine if I can help it, just as I would never buy \”food\” from a vending machine. However, when a vending machine is your only option at the moment, swallow your pride and take what you can get.

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  • Matthew Denton July 3, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    What we really need in this city is a 24 hour bike shop. Buying a tube is one thing, (and I do carry spares, although I end up giving them to people with flat tires more often than I end up use them myself,) but you also need some tire irons to get the tube in too, and most people without a spare tube also don\’t have tire irons with them. But what about chains, (and a chain tool) or spokes or cables or whatever? A good 24 hour bike shop in the CEID or downtown would probably make money once the word got out…

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  • leftcoaster July 3, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Oh hell yes!

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  • torrilin July 9, 2008 at 5:42 am

    Guess I should swing by Machinery Row this week. Ugh. I guess it\’s the best available sample of a \”normal\” bike shop location, but wow is it unpleasant to get there. Why couldn\’t they have used REI if they wanted normal?

    REI is out in the land of big box stores, but it\’s at a fairly bike friendly location. Machinery Row is downtown, and is notable for being the spot where one of the city bike paths dead ends… on a 45mph arterial.

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  • Funkenstein July 9, 2008 at 6:06 am

    REI is not a Trek Dealer. Duh!

    Besides- have you seen how much bike traffic goes by machinery row? no one would see it in \’mall-land\’

    im pretty sure that machine is meant to be on a path or trail head- not right at the dealer.

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  • Dogsbody July 9, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    The idea is an excellent one imho.
    I agree with Brad:
    July 2nd, 2008 07:58

    This could be to bike commuting what the service station was to driving. Driving in this country exploded when cars became affordable to the masses and fuel was cheap and very easy to find. Then when convenience stores were added…

    This is a great idea.
    -It\’s the MASSES that we need to get rolling here; and ideas like the vending machine are just the kind of thing that would help (coupled with visibility/convenience/location planning) get more people out and pedalling…

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  • David July 10, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    I live 2 blocks away from this place and I didn\’t know this! The great thing about its location is that it\’s located right near a convergence of a bunch of bicycle paths, so it actually may be useful. I\’ll check it out tomorrow and put in my two cents.

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  • HMATIME July 14, 2008 at 7:15 am

    Re. Dogsbody

    You are spot on – and that is the entire idea behind this initiative – to build an infrastructure beyond just paths/trails to encourage cycling. With all all of the positive responses this should happen sooner than later!

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  • Ima Greenie - EarthMoment July 24, 2008 at 8:35 am

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