If Los Angeles can have a burrito vending machine, it’s only logical that Brooklyn should have one for bike parts. The creator of the latter is Bikestock, the brainchild of two city cyclists that launched last Halloween. Bikestock now has a gleaming blue installation in Bushwick, right in the middle of the bars, galleries, and a Clinton-approved eatery off the Morgan L train stop.
“The inner tubes are selling really well,” says Bikestock co-founder Matthew von Ohlen. “We also sell a lot of water, and a lot of Red Bull on the weekends, lights, and locks.”
Von Ohlen and his business partner, Joseph Huba, were inspired to build a quick, no-frills fix-up station for bikes after trading cycling mishap stories while employed together at a restaurant in Greenpoint. After getting a flat under the Manhattan Bridge–and having a bus driver laugh at him when he tried to bring his deflated bike on board–von Ohlen remembered that environmental activists Times Up! had once installed a bike part vending machine at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge.
“I did a little bit more digging, and found that there’s somebody in Minneapolis who’s spearheading this movement into this new paradigm of bike shops,” von Ohlen says, pointing to the work of Bike Fixtation’s Chad DeBaker and Alex Anderson. “It’s a little disruptive to the traditional bike shop model, but when you have a machine that’s 24 hours, it’s really aimed at solving simple problems quickly.”
In this small, but integral, way, Bikestock aims to support New York City’s growing cyclist culture. Von Ohlen and Huba haven’t yet broken even after funding the first vending machine out of pocket, but they’re hoping to expand to two new locations in Q2 and launch a series of workshops that teach cyclists basic fixing how-to. Von Ohlen and Huba are even receiving interest from some indoor locations, like office spaces where most employees ride to work (they won’t reveal the names of these businesses yet).
“We know that we’re happier and healthier when we ride our bikes in New York City,” Von Ohlen says. “It’s not as defeating as taking a train ride and being packed in like sardines, and it’s at least as fast as the bus, and cheaper. This is part of a bigger vision that we’d like to see have a really dramatic impact on people in New York City and the quality of life that they live.”