DIY Bike Repair Stations and Resources at MSU

Needing to put a little air in your bike tires, fix a flat tire or do a minor adjustment?  Well, if you’re on campus you’re in luck!

2015 MSU Bike map showing DIY stations

2015 MSU Bike map showing DIY stations along with other bike related facilities

This map shows you where you can soon find eight do-it-yourself bike repair stations on campus and further below are some photos showing you what they look like so you can recognize them.  (Two stations [Brody complex and Akers/ Hubbard area – exact locations TBD] are due to be installed in April)

The five newest stations (made by Bike Fixtation) being installed in the five residential neighborhoods were purchased and installed thanks to donors, Rick Brown and Kathy Donahue-Brown through the Brown-Hoover Charitable Trust (established by Rick’s mother and stepfather, Carroll Brown Hoover and James Hoover).  This State News article gives more information about the newest stations.

You can also view a video showing how these stations can be used here.

There have been three Dero-brand stations on campus for a while and have proven very popular.  There is one outside the MSU Bikes Service (installed 2008) and one inside each MSU Bike Garage (secure bike parking facilities –  details here).

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MSU Bikes’ Free Quick Tips Clinics

winter cycling workshop scene

Volunteer instructors Eddie and John helping Chloe get her bike ready for winter riding.

Cabin fever?  Eager to ride your bike this spring?

Learn to get your bike ready yourself with a little help from MSU Bikes!

Come to the MSU Bikes Service Center and learn some quick tips for getting your bike ready to ride and simple repairs that require very few tools or special skills. Each FREE 1-hr. session will cover a different set of topics plus one open session: changing flats, proper lubing/ oiling, proper fit, adjusting your brakes/ shifters, tool-free adjustments of your brakes/ shifters while riding, and emergency wheel repair/ intro to wheel truing (see below for agenda).  Your instructor will be Tim Potter, MSU Bikes’ Sustainable Transportation Manager.


Classes will all be held at the MSU Bikes Service Center and start at 5:30 pm and focus on the following:

Session Details:

101: Proper lubing, changing flats, proper fit – Feb. 16, 2015 – FULL
102: Proper lubing, tool-free adjustments of your brakes/ shifters while riding – Feb. 23 – FULL
103: Tool-free adjustments of your brakes/ shifters while riding, basic wheel truing/ emergency wheel repairs – Mar. 2 – FULL
104: Basic wheel truing/ emergency wheel repairs, other emergency road repair tips (what to pack in your on-bike tool kit) – Mar. 16 – FULL
105: Basics and/or intermediate (depending on student’s experience) of bike commuting – riding tips and gear considerations – Mar. 23
106: Open class format – ask your own questions and specific bike issues or repeat of earlier session – Mar. 30

RSVPs/ Cancellations:

Tim showing some young riders how to change a tube

Tim showing some young riders how to change a tube

Yes, these 1-hr. workshops will be free, but will require RSVPs (using this Doodle scheduler) as they’ll be limited to 10 people per session. You can bring your bike with you if you’d like to practice on your own bike or have it looked at.

If we don’t get at least 3 people per session they’ll be cancelled. PLEASE include your email address with your name so we can let you know if it’s cancelled, or other last minute things that might arise.

Is there a special bike in your life needing TLC?

So, is there a special bike in your life that’s been languishing in your garage or basement waiting for that day to get back on the road? Perhaps it was involved in a crash and you bent the frame or forks and figure it’s a goner? Well, we’ve got good news for you! Our mechanics would love to bring your pride and joy back to life in time for Valentine’s Day or other special occasion for you or your loved one.

Bring your bike in now for a free estimate; you’ll beat the spring rush and
your bike will be in tip-top shape when the warmer weather arrives!

Over the years we’ve done some very nice renovations.  For example, here are some before-and-after photos of a 70’s vintage Schwinn 3-speed – from garage-hanger to beautiful city bike!

… and a couple videos of our mechanics straightening a “goner” frame giving it new life.

Bike frame-repair part 1

Bike frame-repair video, part 1

Bike frame-repair video, part 2

Bike frame-repair video, part 2

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Thoughts on Bike Lights

Momentum article "Bike Lights"

Momentum article “Bike Lights” Sept/Oct. 2010 issue; click to view online.

After reading the excellent “Bike Lights” article in Momentum’s Sept/Oct 2010 issue by Jonathon Reynolds which shares some research on when/where most bike accidents occur, I’d like to comment on the topic.

There’s a common misconception that you only need lights when it’s dark or getting dark.  Due to almost getting hit in the middle of the day by a driver, whom I believe simply didn’t see me in the dark shadows of a tree (some people’s eyes don’t adjust very quickly to extreme lighting changes), I have since strongly encouraged people to use flashing lights, front and rear, whenever they ride and not just when it’s getting dark. There’s a good reason why many newer motor vehicles have lights that come on automatically whenever the engine is running; they’re called “Daytime Running Lights”.  While US car manufacturers have effectively lobbied against requiring them many European countries have enacted legislation requiring them on motor vehicles while at least one, Germany, requires front and rear lights be working at all times on bicycles.

Don't be a Ninja on a bike!

Don’t be a Ninja cyclist! Be SEEN and LIVE! Click image to learn more from the Tempe AZ Bicycle Action Group.

Additionally, people should definitely stick with lights that have easily rechargeable batteries or USB rechargeable so that they’re more likely to use the lights all the time rather than trying to conserve batteries.  We stock many affordable lights at MSU Bikes and can special order just about any other light on the market.

Finally, I see way too many cyclists riding around with lights that are hardly visible, or hanging off a backpack often pointing to the ground, apparently thinking “I’ve got a light, I’m safe”, but apparently have no idea how invisible they are.  I’m not sure if it’s the nature of rechargeable batteries or the modern LED lights, but it’s also best to have backup lights on the rear and front as I’ve had them look bright at the start of my commute home only to discover they died sometime during my ride.

So, be sure to check your lights often and recharge or replace those batteries to stay alive!  And make sure they’re aimed properly down the road so they’re actually visible to motorists.


Selection of strong widely available tail lights. click for excellent review of tail lights. We stock many affordable lights at MSU Bikes.

Our 2014-2015 Holiday Schedule

Santas on bikesOur shop will be closed from December 20th through January 4th , 2015 for the university holidays.

We’ll be open again on Monday, January 5th.

Until then our mechanics are caught up and turning around repair work rapidly.  Consider bringing in your bikes now rather than waiting til spring like everyone else!  Avoid the long lines in the spring!

Click here to read more about the magic our mechanics can work on older bikes in bringing them back to life.

Lovely 70's Schwinn 3-speed brought back to life

Lovely 70’s Schwinn 3-speed brought back to life

Sidewalk Bicycling vs. Bike lanes – the debate rages on

Joy ride on the newly updated MSU S. River path

Joy ride on the newly updated MSU S. River path. Click pic for video.

There’s been considerable press in the State News and discussion this fall (2014) about bike safety and rules after some pretty serious accidents earlier in the semester and the subsequent launch of the MSU Police bike/ pedestrian safety campaign.  Was even included in an Impact 89FM radio show with a MSU Police officer (Randy Holton) who coordinated the aforementioned campaign earlier this week (our part of the show starts at 18:45 (have to download the show and open w/ Windows Media Player or other player to see the time).

All of this has caused me to reflect on where we’re at as a university in terms of improving bike and pedestrian safety; are we becoming a more ‘Bike Friendly University‘? MSU received a bronze BFU award in 2011, but what has changed over the past 4 years?


S. River Path near Erickson Kiva, summer 2012

Photo of the chaos during class change on S. River Path near Erickson Kiva, summer 2012.  Click pic to watch a video of bike/ped chaos from 2012 at Shaw and Farm Ln.

Well, on the visibly obvious front, we’re up from approx. 50% of our campus roads having bike lanes in 2010 to over 70% today which is phenomenal progress considering we had NO on-road bike lanes in the year 2000 when the university made the decision to adopt what has become known as a “Complete Streets” policy for campus roads (CS is now fully incorporated into our current Campus Master Plan).  MSU opened its first “complete street” at the end of the summer: W. Circle Dr.  After a massive construction project over last summer it’s now completely safe and designed for ALL legal road users!

Casual observations along the corridors where the bike lane network is almost complete (Wilson Rd. for example) and wherever bike lanes exist, make it clear that if we build them bicyclists will start to use them.  We’ve also started adding “Sharrow” markings (aka ‘shared lane bicycle marking’) on roads where there’s not currently enough width for bike lanes (see this video that was produced fall of 2013 to inform the community of these new markings).

The most recent example of physical progress: there was a hugely successful safety improvement to our campus transportation system benefiting both pedestrians and bicyclists completed in late summer 2014.   A video I created, MSU Bicycling on Unmarked Sidewalk vs Newly Redesigned River Path” shows off the benefits and real life on the newly updated S. River path; you’ll quickly see the difference between riding on a crowded sidewalk vs. the new path.  With this segment of the S. river pathway completed only one more large segment is left needing the updating to this new, safer design; the path between Farm Ln. and Bogue St.  (More photos, including before and after construction, can be viewed here)

Bicycling in the road vs. sidewalk

Like riding slow and stopping all the time?  Sidewalks are for YOU!  Want to get somewhere faster than walking?  Ride in the road!  Click pic for video.

A companion video features the readily and quickly obvious benefits to riding in a bike lane on the road vs. riding on crowded, disorganized and chaotic sidewalks: Riding in a Bike Lane vs. Sidewalk Bicycling at MSU”.

Bear in mind that the benefits & advantages of riding in the road continue even on roads without bike lane markings.  Bicyclists also have a legal right to ride in the road and a legal responsibility to ride in the road (WITH the direction of traffic, AND obeying the same traffic rules as other legal road users) NOT on the sidewalks on campus.

Yes, we’ve still got plenty of work to do on campus (as this video of pedestrians and bikes mixing it up at Farm Ln. and S. Shaw Ln. shows).  There are some critical roads on campus without bike lanes remaining which abruptly start and stop; they’ll be getting bike lanes, or in some cases, closed to motor vehicle traffic altogether assuming the university’s 20/20 Vision continues to be the guiding document for the coming years.

Read our “Bike Safety Tips” post for a lot more information about this important topic to help greatly reduce your chances of being involved in a crash.

Stay tuned for more progress reports on our ‘Bike Friendliness’.

Join Team MSU for Natl Bike Challenge

Team MSU - Natl Bike Challenge

MSU is ranked 3rd in Michigan among universities and 36th nationally!  Help us get to the head of the peloton!


It’s not too late to join Team MSU for the National Bike Challenge. You can add your miles ridden staring in May 1st retroactively very easily.  Join and help MSU get in the lead of the pack of other universities competing!

As of June 12, 2014 we’re #3 in Michigan, #36 among universities and #76 nationally.

Click here to join Team MSU or click on the red Join button on the team page as seen in the graphic below.  You have to first create a profile to be a part of the Challenge.  To join the MSU team make sure you put Michigan State University in the School field when creating your profile.

Team MSU - join button

Team MSU – join button

New CATA Rep for MSU Campus

Bikes and Buses safety video

Bikes and Buses safety video

As of April 30, 2014 there is a new CATA MSU campus representative, Deb Kirby.

She’s your go-to person for any CATA related issues you observe or experience on campus.  Her email:  and campus office phone #: (517) 432-0888

FYI: Here’s a link to a very well-done video created by the Chicago ATA that CATA has been using for their driver training.
It’s also got very helpful advice for bicyclists to safely interact with buses, so take the time and watch it to learn more about staying out of trouble on our roads.

Note:  The painted-on bus #, location and time of day of an incident is critical as the digital bus route numbers change throughout the day.
Nervous about putting your bike on a CATA bus rack?

Using the CATA bus bike racks

Using the CATA bus bike racks

CATA has a great web page describing their bike-related services including using the bike racks on all of their buses.  Watch this (non-CATA) video to see how easy it is!  The racks in the video may be slightly different than CATA’s but it’ll give you a real good idea of how easy it is.

Bike lockers are also available for rent at the CATA Transportation Center (CTC), downtown Lansing, 420 South Grand Ave.  The units are located on the northeast side of the building.

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Bike Safety Tips & Legal Resources

Don't be a Ninja cyclist!  Be SEEN and LIVE!

Don’t be a Ninja cyclist! Be SEEN and LIVE!
Click for more info.

The most important thing when it comes to being safe on your bike is avoiding an accident, particularly ones with motor vehicles that can be very serious.  So, we want to first focus your attention on how you can best be seen while riding which is one of the things in your control and easily addressed.

Be Seen with Lights & Bright Clothing

Watch this video to understand why it’s important to stand out from your environment.  Trust me, you DON’T want to be the bear if a car driver doesn’t notice you.  Wear the brightest clothing you can find ALL THE TIME; safety-vests rock if you’d rather not flip for a new jacket.

State of MI bicyclist crash facts for 2012.

“78.9 percent of all bicyclists in motor vehicle crashes and 15 of the 20 bicyclists killed were riding during daylight hours.”  Mich. Traffic Crash Facts for 2012.

We’re also very big on good lighting for your bike, especially if you commute or ride In the road (as you should) around campus. We stock a good selection of strong headlights and rear lights to fit any budget (and can special order better ones).  A tail light is required by Michigan State Law when riding after dark, but if you ask any commuter or experienced bicyclist, they’ll advise you to run with tail and head lights (strobe is best) all day (use rechargeable batteries or the USB rechargeable type lights and you don’t have to worry about the expense of replacing batteries).

Why use lights during the day?  Well, when you ride in and out of dark shadowy areas of the roads you can become almost invisible to a motorist who’s eyes haven’t adjusted to the darkness in that split second which could cost you dearly.  A report published by the Mich. Dept. of Transportation summarizing crash statistics for 2012 are very sobering; “78.9 percent of all bicyclists in motor vehicle crashes and 15 of the 20 bicyclists killed were riding during daylight hours.” A summary of data for 2013 crashes are now available here which again found “peak hours for bicyclist involvement in crashes were from 3:00-5:59 PM”.

Picking a Safe Route


Over 90% of all reported bike accidents are the result of sidewalk bicycling on the MSU campus! (courtesy of MSU Photography Services)

Choosing a safe route is probably the most important key to your safety as a cyclist. Our biggest piece of advice: Stay off the sidewalks.  Why? It is against most city ordinances to ride bikes on sidewalks (including the MSU Campus Ordinance) as it’s more dangerous for everyone including the bicyclist.  If you’re going more than 10 mph, even if there are no bike lanes, you have a legal right to ride in the road (just make sure you’re highly visible, ride in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic and follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicles).

It seems safer to ride on the sidewalks but cars just don’t check sidewalks for bicyclists when they approach a roadway to make a turn and, on our campus as with most of the cities in the State of Michigan you have NO LEGAL PROTECTION if you do get hit while riding your bike through a cross-walk as a pedestrian as you’re required to be walking your bike to be legally considered a pedestrian.  National statistics as well as our own campus research show that the overwhelming majority of bike-auto accidents occur when the bicyclist is riding on a sidewalk.

Don't be a "Salmon"!

Don’t be a bike “Salmon”! Always ride with the direction of motor vehicle traffic even if you have to ride on the sidewalk.

We’ve noticed an increase in cases of wrong-way bicycling, that is riding against traffic, particularly where there bike lanes.  This is very dangerous for both the wrong-way bicyclist and other bicyclists who have to pass such unpredictable bicyclists (aka “Salmon” after the fish who swim up river) as last minute decisions as to how to pass someone when there are no rules for such behavior can result in collisions, swerves into traffic, etc.

For more convincing graphical presentations and resources read more here courtesy of John Allen’s Bicycle Facilities, Laws and Programs pages.   From that web page:

“…riding on a sidewalk is not necessarily safer and in fact, …the risk is approximately four times that of riding on the roadway with traffic.”

Visualizing sidewalk conflicts

This graphic helps visualize all the possible sidewalk conflicts (courtesy Cycling Savvy).

If you’d like to learn more about why it’s safer to ride in the road and exactly WHERE to ride in the road you should review the great animations on this website courtesy of the Cycling Savvy folks at Commute Orlando.  This one in particular shows you where and why you should ride out in the travel lane.  This page of theirs gives a great one-page tutorial on where, how (& why) to ride safely.

Riding Safe Tips

Once you’ve got your basic safety equipment all set (see below for our recommendations), the next major area of keeping safe while you ride is how you ride and react to aggressive or clueless motorists/pedestrians/other cyclists. The Bicycle Safe website lists common types of bike-to-motorist accidents and how to avoid them. The League of Illinois Bicyclists has a video on the topic of riding safely and defensively on the roads.

If you’re interested in learning more about safe bike riding, consider taking a class from the MSU Bikes Service Center. We occasionally offer classes focused on this topic. Drop us an e-mail and get on our bike classes wait list at


The Bike Helmet:  Cheap insurance.  Example of the kind of helmets we normally stock.

The Bike Helmet: Cheap insurance.

We highly recommend the use of helmets when riding around campus – or anywhere, for that matter. We had a student wearing a helmet stop by the Service Center who shared one of the simplest summaries we’ve ever heard for why wearing a helmet makes sense:”When people say ‘helmets look stupid,’ I just say ‘Would you rather look stupid or be stupid?

  • If you’re not convinced, perhaps you’d like to read some stories about helmets saving lots of lives? (presented by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute).
  • The MSU Bike Project’s co-founder, Gus Gosselin, has his own story about how his helmet saved his life a few years back, so you don’t have to go far to know it’s worth it.
  • Here’s a great site called “Safety is Sexy” to help people see helmets as sexy (yes, sexy); has a ton of great materials, photos, videos, etc. promoting bike helmets and other bike safety issues.
  • There was a British study published back in 2006 that concluded wearing a helmet and dressing like an experienced bicyclist resulted in motorists passing closer than if you wore no helmet and especially if you appeared to be female.  There has been a lot more research published since then including some excellent lampooning of that British study; see a summary of all that here.  The summary is published by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.

Eye Protection

Protecting your eyes is highly recommended while you’re riding.  Use tinted during the day and clear for riding after hours or in low-light conditions. Prices range from bargain basement on up.

MSU Bike Safety Video

Check out this bike safety video that a group of MSU Communications Arts students (directed by Katelyn Patterson, they were all volunteers on this project) created for AOP bike tours done in previous years.  Using a bit of slap-stick humor hopefully makes the sometimes boring subject more entertaining.


Using fenders will keep your tires from picking up road debris and throwing it in your eyes. Most people associate fenders with keeping water and mud off yourself, but overlook the protection they provide your eyes. We stock a good supply and variety of them.

Bells and Horns

Airzound air horn for bikes

The Airzound – a very loud horn that can be reinflated with any air pump.

Yes, we’re all about bells and horns, too. How many pedestrians, cyclists, motorists are busy talking on their cell phones or listening to their iPods or other radios? Get yourself a nice little bell for letting peds know you’re about to pass them and then consider something stronger like the AirZound Bike Horn for getting yourself noticed by motorists in no uncertain terms. We stock a good selection of bells and horns, including the AirZound.

Michigan Law, Legal assistance and case studies

The League of Michigan Bicyclists has published a very nice summary of the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code which pertains to bicycling here.  They’ve also  published a number of legal columns by two Michigan attorneys (Sarah W. Colegrove and Todd E. Briggs) who specialize in litigating bicycling-related cases. You can read those past columns and get their contact information here.

What to do when hit by a car

We have many bicyclists come into our shop having just had an accident and way too often they report not having reported the incident and telling the driver they’re OK and not getting names or anything only later to find out that they’re injured or that their bike is damaged beyond repair.  Don’t let this happen to you.

The following list is excerpted from an LMB legal column in the site referenced above.

  • Don’t admit liability by stating the accident was your fault.
  • Call the police (911 if there are serious injuries) and make a report.  (The MSU Police non-emergency number is 517-355-2222 for non life-threatening injury accidents).
  • Get driver’s contact and insurance information.
  • Get witnesses’ statements and contact information.
  • Get the officer’s precinct number and contact information.
  • Seek immediate medical treatment for injuries.
  • Report incident to your auto insurance company.
  • Report incident to your homeowners/renters insurance company.
  • Take photos of crash scene, injuries and bicycle.
  • Request copy of police report.
  • Keep folder of all crash information (notes, receipts, log, insurance information, etc.)
  • Contact an attorney to advise you of your rights.

MSU’s commitment to improving traffic safety

In 1995, MSU’s administration made the decision to make improvements to campus roads to improve traffic safety. This has resulted in a drop in automobile-related accidents that result in injuries to approximately 90 percent fewer accidents as of the 2008 accident report. As a result, not only have hundreds of potential accidents been avoided, but MSU was awarded an Outstanding Contributions to Traffic Safety Award from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission in 2006. Click here to read the award announcement.

A new campus policy calling for their construction/ addition to all new road projects was also adopted at the same time to improve bicycling safety and reduce accidents with automobiles and pedestrians. MSU is approximately 60 percent done with installing bike lanes on all campus (MSU-controlled) roads as of the end of the 2012 construction season.

The All University Traffic and Transportation Committee  advises MSU’s Chief of Police on traffic and transportation safety issues and serves as a way for the campus community to have input to the administration regarding related issues or concerns to include parking of all vehicles (motorized and non-motorized). Their Comment form is a great way to report problems or concerns on campus and now features a new mapping tool w/ the ability to upload photos w/ your submission.

Questions or suggestions for more safety information?

We’d love to add more to this page.   Have a story or a tip you’d like to share?  Comment below or contact Tim Potter at

Bike Registration and Impoundment

A load of impounded bikes ready to haul away.

A load of impounded bikes ready to haul away.


MSU’s primary bike cleanup/ impounding starts each year after move-out and continues for several weeks.  Impounding does occur throughout the year but mostly for the most serious offenses or in response to complaints by staff.

Consider using our enhanced security MSU Bike Garages to keep your bike protected from the weather, vandalism, theft, accidental impoundment, etc.



Example new and improved impound tag

Example new and improved impound tag listing all the reasons that a bike might get impounded.


Registering your bike is not only required by the MSU ordinance it is a very helpful service in other respects that you might not think about.

  • Registration (a free process that gets you a permit or sticker with a unique number) proves your ownership of your bike.  This helps the police (not only the MSU Police but other police outside of campus) be able to contact you if your bike happens to get stolen.  It also helps you prove to the police that you own the bike if you need them to cut your lock (if you lose your key or break it off in the lock; pretty common problem in the colder months on campus).
  • How to get an MSU DPPS permit?  You can easily apply for one online, they’re free and will come to you through the mail in a few days.  Go to this page and click the “online” link in the 3rd paragraph to begin the process.  If you need additional help finding your bike’s serial number refer to this web page.
  • Where to put the permit?  We see many creative placements of permits which may result the impounding staff not seeing your permit and impounding it.  See photos below so you know exactly where to put your permit.
Where you should place your permit

Where you should place your permit – under the seat on the frame where it’s easy to spot for impounding staff.

Where you should place your permit 1




Since MSU has over 20,000 bikes on campus the university has rules regarding bikes that are breaking those rules (improperly locked up, abandoned, no registration, etc.).  Go to this page to learn all about the impounding process at MSU so your bike doesn’t get thrown in the bike slammer.

Michigan’s Bike Related Laws

If you wonder about the applicable laws related to bicycling in Michigan here’s a great page that summarizes them all.

MSU’s Bicycling History

Late 1800s-MSU bike-scene

Scene from campus in late 1800’s. Click photo to enlarge. Click here for high-res. version for printing.

MSU, like many older universities and communities around the country, has a long and storied history around bicycling.  Read on for what information we’ve been able to collect over the years thanks to some good customers, MSU’s University Archives and others.  Have more historical information you’re willing to share?  Please contact Tim with your submission via email.

It’s a fact! The Cycling Club (Team) at MSU has ruled the competitive bicycling scene longer than… well, for a heckuva long time. Read on… The book, “Michigan State, The First Hundred Years”, written by Madison Kuhn & published in 1955 by MSU Press, notes on page 192:

Did you know that the MSU Cycling Club is over 100 years old?

Early MSU Club members standing with high-wheeler

Early MSU Club members standing with high-wheeler circa 1894

“A companion development was the bicycle fad, fostered when the high-wheel type was replaced by the modern, chain-driven, “safety” wheel. Students and faculty formed the M.A.C. Cycling Club in 1894, with a Captain to lead and a Whipper-in to follow each club ride. The club used dues and contributions to build a gravel path to Lansing along the north side of Michigan Avenue. Bicycles and street cars scattered the students in their idle moments and encouraged men to move from the unsupervised dormitories into Lansing homes or into those that were springing up in the Collegeville subdivision that Beal and R.C. Carpenter laid out at the west entrance in 1887.” This rich history of the Cycling Club makes it one of the oldest student clubs at MSU if not the oldest.

MSU’s Sesquicentennial Exhibit – Bikes Rule!

The MSU Museum displayed a spectacular Sesquicentennial exhibit in 2005 to commemorate the 150 years of MSU which features three bikes that you can read about below covering the late 1880’s, early 1900’s and current cycling. The following information relates to these periods and the 3 bikes on exhibit. It’s also encouraging to note that the main display that greets visitors to this exhibit features 3 bicycles in 3 different photos out of 8 or so photos. Let’s hope the importance of cycling wasn’t lost on the thousands of visitors (especially university VIPs) going thru this exhibit.

This special exhibit was a rare glimpse at some of the bikes in the museum’s vast collection that dated back to the late 1800’s.

The following pics show:
– an American Light Champion high-wheeler leading the parade of bikes awaiting their place in the Museum’s Sesquicentennial exhibit (this high-wheeler was made by the Gornaully & Jeffrey Mfg. Co. in 1887; nothing seems to capture this period like the high-wheeler; it is quite the work of art when viewed up close; the rear fork looks so much like current carbon-fiber forks it’s amazing);
– a Deluxe Flyer from about 1927 that was used for commuting to campus by a student from ’49 – ’51 (Note the closeup of the Flyer’s tank & the small clip-spring for the door to the secret compartment; this is a Trail Blazer brand Flyer model is dark maroon with black & gold outlining; a tool compartment is attached to the cross bar; the “Flyer” logo is on a sliding panel; the push-button horn on the handlebars sounds a bit like the old police car horns of yore)
– Ernst “the Can Man” Lucas and his last bike used for collecting cans around campus (Ernie’s Magna was lined up behind the museum’s Flyer). “Mountain” bikes have come to rule the MSU campus since the 1990’s for many obvious reasons and some not so obvious (to us purists). Apparently the beefy tires/ wheels, upright riding position, shocks, etc. are ideal for the hazards of campus life and area roads. A good example of these bikes is one of Ernie’s last used bikes, which is also on display at the museum. Ernie, a friend to many & seen regulary on campus collecting cans using his bikes for hauling his precious cargo, passed away Jan. 2004. Here’s a couple links to more information on Ernie. – State News articleMemorial notice in MSU News Bulletin. The Bike Project donated some parts and time to tune-up Ernie’s bike (left) for the exhibit to make it more presentable.

Early Promoter of Bicycling for Conservation @ MSU

Dr. Milton Muelder, a champion & architect of many important aspects of MSU as we know it today, and recently announced awardee of the 2005 MSU Philanthropist Award, was apparently an early proponent of bicycling to conserve gasoline. This photo was discovered in a book celebrating MSU’s Centennial, “Michigan State: The First Hundred Years” by Madison Kuhn, published by MSU Press in 1955. Caption reads: “Early in WWII, Tom King, Milton E. Muelder, and Karl T. Wright, when gasoline was scarce.”

Milton Muelder-on-bike in '50s
Dr. Milton Muelder riding with friends on the MSU campus
Milton-muelder-cycling-w-friends on MSU Campusiends
Another shot of Milton and friends from University Archives, probably from the same shoot as above.

Other Historical MSU / E. Lansing Bicycling Pics

Here’s more pics from MSU / E. Lansing area cycling history for your viewing pleasure:

MSU-women in early 1900s

Another early photo of a group of MSU women bicyclists. (source: University Archives)

MSU-50s kinesiology bike-based testing

Photo from the 1950’s of early VO2 testing in the Kinesiology dept. possibly? (source: University Archives)

crossroads-imports-storefront One of the many bike shops in E. Lansing during the 1st bike boom in the ’70s: Crossroads Imports & Cycle (source: University Archives)
weathervane-storefront-Un Another shop in E. Lansing selling bikes in the ’70s: The Weathervane (source: University Archives).

If you have a historical story or photo related to cycling at MSU please email us.

Famous MSU Cyclists

MSU’s long tradition in competitive (club) bicycling (see article below on the MSU Cycling Club) has produced a number of world/ national-class bicyclists. Here’s a list of those we’re aware of:

    • Roger Young, '72

      Roger Young, pictured in ’72; photo hanging in Jenison Fieldhouse stairway.

      Roger Young, MBA, Business, ’69, was a member of the ’72 & ’76 Olympic track teams & member of the gold-medal winning US National Team in the Mexico City Pan Am games of 1975 in the 4,000 m pursuit event. See references in “The Evolution of American Bicycle Racing” about Roger’s racing in the ’75 Pan Am games. He was also 6-time national sprint champion and a member of the 1st national track team in ’73. Roger was also the first track director for the Major Taylor Velodrome when it re-opened under that name in 1982. Roger’s sister, Sheila Young, was the first athlete (male or female) to hold world titles in both bicycling and speed skating; both their parents were competitive cyclists and speedskaters (read more about Sheila’s remarkable career); their step-mother, Dorothy, ran Young Originals, a sports clothing company which made jerseys for many sucessful bicyclists over the years especially those in the Wolverine Sports Club.

Jeff_Pierce racing in Pro-Am Criterium in '84 in Detroit

Jeff Pierce racing in Pro-Am Criterium, 1984, Detroit. Photo by Tim Potter

  • Jeff Pierce, ’82, BA, Business, Operations Management – Jeff raced as a professional from ’85 – ’97 (according to this site) on the 7 Eleven Team and then later with the Chevrolet – L.A. Sheriff team. Here’s a photo taken of him the summer of ’84 in Detroit Pro-am crit (by Tim Potter).
  • John-Novitsky-2009-podium at World Championships

    John-Novitsky-2009-podium at World Championships

    John Novitsky, Lyman Briggs, ’81, started to race bicycles mid-life (1998); 2 consecutive US national championship in the individual time trial, for men aged 50-54.   Raced in ’08 & ’09 world championship race.  Has also raced in four US national senior Olympic bike races (two road races, two time trials), and the world time trial championship. Full USA Cycling race record here.

  • Wolfram Meingast, ’79, BS, Mechanical Engineering
  • Christoph Meingast, ’80, BA, Natural Science, Physics Christoph and his other brothers ruled bike racing in Michigan, throughout the midwest and even nationally. See a nice photo of Christoph in the article below about the 6-day Madison races that were held at MSU in ’81.
  • Herb “Always in the Money” Meingast, BS, ’84, Mechanical Engineering. Raced very successfully throughout Michigan and around the country.
  • Klaus_Meingast in 1984

    Klaus Meingast in 1984 Pro-Am Criterium race in Detroit. Photo by Tim Potter

    Klaus Meingast, ’84, BS, Civil Engineering; Here’s a photo taken of him the summer of ’84 in Detroit Pro-am crit (by Tim Potter).

  • Here’s a couple State News articles from the spring of 1975 about the long-running W. Circle Criterium where some of the best bike racers in the country came to compete against our very strong Spartans.  Before race articlePost race report article
  • If you know of other accomplished MSU bicyclists please drop us an email with their information and any photos you have.

Historical Campus Bike Related Files

  • Bike count data and reports (1960- 1993, Campus Planning & Administration archives)
  • Campus bike path map (1974, courtesy University Archives)
  • Bike safety educational 4-H Extension Svc. grant press release (1979, courtesy University Archives)
  • News Bulletin article featuring Phys. Plant employee riding bike for work (1978 – courtesy of Main Library archives)
  • MSU Alumni Magz. article about the first campus bike paths (Oct. 1960, courtesy University Archives)
  • MSU’s bike ordinance (1974, found on back of 1974 map, courtesy University Archives)
  • MSU Bike Ordinance – Notice circa 1949 (first known ordinance, courtesy University Archives)
  • MSU Bike Ordinance – Notice circa 1954 (courtesy University Archives)
  • Bicycles out-pace autos in commuter race (MSU State News, 05-1971, courtesy University Archives)
  • 90 more pages of bike-related articles from the 70s/80s, (courtesy University Archives)
    • Some highlights culled from those articles:
      • The problem of too many bicyclists on sidewalks terrorizing pedestrians has been a big issue since the early ‘70s.
      • The EL Police Dept. appointed their first “bicycle safety director” in 1973 to address the growing numbers of bike-related accidents; in ’73 there were 31,000 registered bikes in EL and 9,700 on campus. (“Police Confront problem of bikes”, Oct. 29, 1973)
      • There were 72 reported bike accidents on campus in the ’72-’73 FY w/ 46 being bike-car accidents. There were 29 in E. Lansing.  (“Police Confront problem of bikes”, Oct. 29, 1973)
      • In ’72-’73 campus police wrote 346 tickets to bicyclists, up 32 from the previous year . (“Police Confront problem of bikes”, Oct. 29, 1973)
      • “The MSU Police have no future plans for educating the campus public on bicycle safety”.  (“Police Confront problem of bikes”, Oct. 29, 1973)
      • The MSU Police Captain quoted said that ticketing will increase with the implementation of a new “improved ticket making it easier for patrolmen to ticket (bicyclists)” that was being reviewed by the St. of Mich. (“Police Confront problem of bikes”, Oct. 29, 1973)
      • There were a total of 156 accidents involving bicycles from 6/73 – 10/74 up from 112 in the same 16 months in the previous year. (“Campus Cycling Risky Business” , 11/13/74)
      • There were about 12,000 cars driven/ parked on campus in ’74 and approx. 12,000 bicycles (“Campus Cycling Risky Business” , 11/13/74)
      • There were an estimated 28,000 bicyclists on campus in Nov. ’75 when a ‘crackdown’ by MSU Police was underway; tickets were a “minimum of $9”. (“Bikers Face Crackdowns”, Nov. 4, 1975)
      • There were 14,000 bicycles registered in ’74 (“Bikers Face Crackdowns”, Nov. 4, 1975)
      • 145 traffic citations to bicyclists were written for moving violations from 7/74 – 7/75 (“Bikers Face Crackdowns”, Nov. 4, 1975)
      • MSU DPS (Police) were working on to “develop a citation form acceptable to both courts that would be used specifically for bicycle violations.” (“Bikers Face Crackdowns”, Nov. 4, 1975)
      • There were 60 bicycle – car accidents in the ’74-’75 school year w/ 44 resulting in personal injury. (“Bikers Face Crackdowns”, Nov. 4, 1975)
      • There were 77 bike-bike accidents in ’74-75 school year  (“Bikers Face Crackdowns”, Nov. 4, 1975)

Historic Bike Safety Commentary

A fellow MSU cyclist dropped off this copy of an old State News article (May 1980) on the topic of bike safety (riding on the road vs. sidewalks) on campus which is very interesting for several reasons.  (Would be nice to see the other editorial referenced here, but we can imagine what it said) You might enjoy reading it to see how things have changed and other things haven’t on our campus.

The most interesting point is that MSU apparently had a mandatory side-path law at the time requiring bicyclists to use sidewalks/ paths and not the roads.  Since our campus (and national safety/ design standards) has evolved and shared-use paths have been developed, designed, installed and marked it makes sense to modify our ordinance again to allow for the safe and responsible use of the paths by bicyclists, but we still are faced with the challenge of encouraging more bicyclists to ride on the roads where they’re safest.

MSU’s Demonstration Hall 6-day Madison Track Races

In the spring of 1980 a track-cycling uber-enthusiast, Dale Hughes, (the designer of the Bloomer Park velodrome track as well as many others around the world incl. the Atlanta Olympic velodrome; here’s a great article about that track and others;  he also organized and ran the Tour de Michigan for about 10 yrs. or so; what a great national pro series of crits those were in the 90’s) came to MSU with 3 tractor trailers loaded with a portable wood velodrome track. Dale was hauling this velodrome circus around the country putting on some of the most exciting 6-day Madison races the country had seen in over 50 yrs. The whole thing, 125 m approx. in length, fit neatly inside your average hockey rink with a little room leftover. This was the first track that I had seen and got to ride in person; as a 16 yr. old it left a huge impression on me and I continue to love tracks and the machines that are designed for the banks (I also ended up marrying the daughter of a former Japanese pro-track (keirin) racer). One of the extremely steep banks had the Schwinn logo on it and the other Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” album cover art; very suitable for those banks as they were well over 45 degrees and would feel like a wall if you hit one head-on!

Anyway, we just rec’d some old treasures by a local former bike racer, Bob Pratt; they’re newspaper clippings and photos that he kept from the 6-day Madison races in Demonstration Hall.

Additionally, MSU’s Cycling Club & IM Sports (with support from the ASMSU) also hosted a big criterium race that attracted some of the best bike racers in the country and collegiate race teams; the race course went around West Circle Dr. and they were called the MSU Criterium/ IM Race; Bob gave me some scans of a program, an actual ticket from the races and a news article from the 1980 (approx) race, but so far I have no action photos.  Help!  Here are two articles (before and after reports) from the May 1975 State News about the races that year that were discovered in the MSU University Archives.

Here are the scans!

6-day-dem-hall-races-article-1 6-day-dem-hall-races-article-2 dem-hall-racing-SN-article-may-1980_Page_1 dem-hall-racing-SN-article-may-1980_Page_2
dem-hall-racing-SN-article-may-1980_Page_3 dem-hall-racing-SN-article-may-1980_Page_4dem-hall-velodrome-article_resizeDem Hall Madison Races ticket, May 1980

dem-hall-velo-race-program1_resize dem-hall-velo-race-program2_resize

Captions:  Yes, that’s local cyclist Lenny Provencher officiating one of his first international pro races.  That’s a very happy Christoph Meingast (lower left); Chris was one of 5 Michigan brothers and MSU student who dominated bike racing in the mid-west and nationally for a long time.  MSU 6-Day Indoor Cycling Classic, Schedule of Events, April 15, 1980 (2 pgs).

MSU’s West Circle Criterium Races

Not certain what years these happened but they were big deals attracting some of the best bike racers in the country, and not just collegiate racers, both men and women as early as 1971 as you can see below from a collection of photos recently found in the MSU Archives.  Unfortunately there were no names recorded with these photos, so if you happen to know some names please email them to us so we can identify them here.  I did hear from one of our local alums who used to race that at some point the races were moved to south campus for liability reasons and then only happened a couple more years before dying out sadly.  Our MSU Cycling Club continues to host a spring classic bike race each year which I believe is the first big race on the Big 10 collegiate racing schedule.



Here are some articles and flyers from the races:

MSU Cycling Club hosts spring bike race

MSU Cycling Club hosts spring bike race, May, 9 1975, MSU State News article, courtesy MSU University Archives


Colorful Cycle Race on Campus compliments spring day at MSU, May, 12 1975, MSU State News article, courtesy MSU University Archives


(MSU) Cycling Club races results from May, 1980

msu-crit-race program

MSU Cycling Club’s MSU Criterium Race program, circa late ’70s early ’80s



E. Lansing Bike Co-op

For many of us old-time bicyclists in the area our introduction to bicycle mechanics was courtesy of the E. Lansing Bike Co-op, which used to be located in the building on Grand River just West of the alley next to the old Taco Bell (which sat at the corner of Bailey St. and Grand River). This co-op was a treasure trove of experienced bike mechanics (some paid, some volunteers) who helped others work on their bikes. Unfortunately, I can’t locate a photo of the Co-op (if you happen to have one please send it to me). One of the first mechanics, Donald Ayers-Marsh, recently contacted me and has this to share about the Co-op.

“To let you in on some history, The Bike Co-op was founded in 1974 at a meeting of people who were mostly already involved in the housing co-ops. We were founded as a member owned not-for-profit with a goal of offering the best service and fair pricing. The store first opened in the middle of winter in a tiny brick building about 10 ft across on Evergreen Ave just behind the Gibson’s bookstore building. I remember Ralph Ellis, Tom Moore and Chris Johnson as well as myself being among the first people involved.
By 1976 we had moved to 547 E. Grand River Ave, occupying part of two floors in the back of the building and eventually storing used bikes waiting for repair in the basement. The Bike Co-op had the best repair turnaround in town and close to the biggest volume. We had a paid mechanic staff, some of whom completed a 60 hour Bicycle Technician Course, as well as some volunteers who helped with stocking and sales and the bike clinic. We were very proud of our repair quality and tracked all guarantee work. We actually had a 7 day no-flat guarantee on tire and tube repairs.
The Co-op had a large market in used bikes (many of which were produced at our winter mechanic courses) and sold new bikes as well. We also sold and rented cross country skis for a time. We offered a winter storage program, one option of which was free storage with a complete overhaul. The Co-op offered the only public repair clinic in town and did a lot of bicycle and safety education on and off campus.”

Discovered an article in the MSU University Archives stash from the State News in 1976.  Check it out here or click image below.


E. Lansing Bike Co-op article, Jan. 1976


1950 MSU Alumna Donates Raleigh Bought in ’47

Ed Farmer (1950 alumna and former Kellogg Center Conference Consultant – retired 1989) bought this bike used in 1947 at a bike shop that used to be located where the current day Brody complex sits. He traded a 1-spd. Schwinn plus $75 for it. It was stolen 3 times while on campus. Lights/ generator worked fine. Rear wheel had never been off! This bike was sold in 2013.  Click here for more pics of this fine machine.

Mr. Farmer's 1936 Raleigh
1936 Raleigh donated by ’50 grad, Ed Farmer.  Click pic for more details of this lovely old bike.

MSU’s Bicycle Racing Theme Yearbook – 1978

Recently discovered in the MSU Alumni Assoc. library of old yearbooks is this lovely yearbook apparently designed by a bicycle racing enthusiast, but who didn’t have enough editorial clout to get much more than a design theme. There’s nothing in the content about the MSU Cycling Club which surely had to have been very active during this hey-day of bicycling in the USA. Anyone know of other MSU yearbooks that feature some of the bike racing action in the 60’s-70’s? Drop us an email (include a scanned image if possible). The West-Circle Drive criterium race was a huge event for a decade or so until the insurance/ liability issues forced it off campus and then to obscurity according to our sources (former Cycling Club advisors).

MSU Bike Polo Fridays

After playing on January 11, 2013 in the IM West Turf Grass Arena.

After playing on January 11, 2013 in the IM West Turf Grass Arena.

Come play bike polo in the best (only?) indoor bike polo arena in the Midwest!

Right in the middle of the MSU campus at the IM West indoor turf grass arena every Friday evening from 5:45 pm – 7 pm for spring semester 2014!  Unfortunately all participants/ attendees have to be MSU ID holders (students, faculty/ staff, etc.) to get into the IM facility.  Sorry. I’ll be looking for an off-campus site to open things up more.

MSU Bike Polo Fridays poster

Print out and post this poster wherever you can!

We can provide a limited number of loaner bikes if you don’t have a bike to play on (or would rather not risk damaging your nice bike).  Helmets are recommended.  Polo mallets are also available to borrow if you don’t have your own (here are some DIY instructions for making your own mallet).

If you can please come to the MSU Bike Project workshop at Demonstration Hall at 5:30 pm to help bring the loaner bikes and mallets over to the Turf Arena. 


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