Hungry college students have a habit of looking for help at a vending machine, but a recent addition to campus has expanded the type of help vending machines can provide. Instead of snacks, this new vending machine distributes bike parts.
The bike parts machine was installed in October and was aimed at giving students another option for repairing bikes, said Carson Clouser, senior employee and student at Wildcat Wheels, the free bike repair and support service. managed by students in UK.
The bike parts vending machine can be found outside the Wildcat Wheels door in Blazer Dining.
“They know it’s still there, so it’s… just made it easier for people to have a better quality bike,” Clouser said.
Located in the basement of Blazer Dining, the distributor distributes common bike parts to help riders get their bikes repaired quickly. Student employees at Wildcat Wheels say they have used the machine frequently since it was installed.
“It’s especially useful here when we’re in the middle of a project and we’re like ‘you need to replace it’,” Clouser said. “We can take care of it right away, we can continue to work. “
Junior Abby Masterson said the vending machine gives employees and customers better access to bike parts, streamlining repairs.
“We used to send people to use Pedal Power to get a hit or something, but now it’s a lot faster because they can just stay here,” Masterson said. “What used to take an hour … may take 15 minutes.”
To store the machine, UK works with J&B Importers, a bicycle wholesaler who supplies Wildcat Wheels with the necessary parts and tools. Having the vending machine full of coins increased how much Wildcat Wheels can help students.
“I hate to send people away, but we’ve never been able to keep some things because we can’t just give them away; they are our own stock, ”said William Varney, student director of Wildcat Wheels. “Now we don’t have to fire people anymore… it’s nice to be able to actually help. “
The machine is equipped with bike tubes, brake pads, pedals, chains and other “basic needs of a bike,” Clouser said. The machine works like a typical vending machine, with customers entering payment before entering a code for a certain coin.
However, the machine only accepts electronic payments. According to Varney, this is about complying with university regulations prohibiting employees from selling services and merchandise on campus.
“With the vending machine, we can sell parts because we don’t actually operate it,” Varney said. “All electronic payments are sent to… somewhere in the UK, and we don’t have to take care of that. “
Despite the convenience of not having to shop for bike supplies at other stores, Varney said Wildcat Wheels didn’t want to “trample on other bike stores.”
“We keep a very limited supply of things in there for a reason,” Varney said.
The bicycle parts vending machine was installed by UK Transportation Services. The vending machine is open when Blazer Dining is open, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and is accessible even if Wildcat Wheels is not.