Since 1995, Dero Bike Rack Co. has been positively contributing to the world of bike commuting. The company produces a host of bike parking solutions, including commercial racks and storage lockers as well as home storage products. However, I have mixed emotions about the new Fixit Public Bike Repair Stand that Dero has recently introduced.
Dero’s pitch for the Fixit begins by saying, “You are riding home from work when you notice your bike needs some adjusting. The bike shop is closed and out of your way, so now what? Fixit to the rescue!” The Fixit is a repair stand equipped with tools and a pump (secured to the stand with stainless steel cables and tamper-proof fasteners) that appears to be marketed to bicycle-friendly businesses or communities for installation next to bicycle parking, trailheads or other high-traffic areas.
At first glance, the Fixit seems like a great idea. Who wouldn’t want a fully-stocked work stand to appear when you run over a piece of glass on your way home from the office? But, after I thought about the concept for about thirty seconds, I had some questions. One concern is the potential for these stands to give commuters a false sense of security that leads to them being unprepared for the reality of riding any substantial distance – if there is a pump and repair stand next to your bicycle parking at the office, it still isn’t a spectacular idea to commute to work without the proper equipment to repair a flat should you get one during the actual ride to work. This issue most likely wouldn’t be a problem for veteran commuters, but if the idea is to encourage new commuters to rely on the Fixit for emergency repairs, that could be problematic.
Full disclosure: I have no idea what tools the Fixit includes in its repertoire. Currently, there is no list of specifics on the Dero site, but it does say that it includes “all of the tools necessary to perform basic repairs and maintenance, from changing a flat to adjusting brakes and derailleurs.” Once again, this sounds fantastic (free tools!), but my years of experience in bicycle retail have taught me that most people have no idea what the word “derailleur” means, let alone how to adjust one (if you disagree with me, keep in mind that you are the type of person who reads a bike blog). The Fixit does include a convenient QR code that the user can scan with a smart phone to reveal the secrets of bicycle maintenance. Maybe I’m a cynic, but the image that I have in my head of a novice cyclist holding a phone, an unfamiliar tool and touching the delicate parts of a drivetrain makes me cringe more than a little bit.
Are there positive features of the Fixit? Absolutely. This stand could serve as a fantastic perk for the everyday commuter who wants to toss his bike up in a stand and check his tire pressure before riding home or explore that strange screeching noise that was coming from his brakes on the ride in. But the Fixit is no better suited to handle emergency repairs than the local bike shop or your home stand (unless there is one on every corner, and maybe that’s Dero’s plan). My advice? Carry a multi-tool, a tube and a mini-pump. Take a basic maintenance and repair class. Unfortunately, disaster doesn’t always strike when you’re approaching a conveniently located Fixit stand.