Pedaling toward sustainability: the journey of MSU Bikes

Brick wall with MSU Bikes and Bicycle Friendly University signs

V Kumar

May 2, 2024

The MSU Bikes Service Center sits at the heart of campus, a full-service bike shop owned and operated by MSU that serves Spartans and community members alike.

Terry Link, the first director of the Office of Sustainability, and Gus Gosselin, then the director of Building Services for Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, first developed the concept of MSU Bikes—originally the MSU Bike Project—in the early 2000s.

"Terry and Gus started a project to fix up and paint abandoned bikes in 2003," explains Tim Potter, sustainable transportation manager at MSU Bikes. Aimed at refurbishing abandoned bicycles for use by faculty and staff, this initiative marked the beginning of a sustained effort to change the way students, faculty, staff, and visitors traverse campus, with an emphasis on sustainability and active living.

MSU Bikes evolved from basic bicycle repairs and operating under an overhang outside the Physical Plant Building to a full-service center, including rentals and educational workshops, in the basement of Demonstration Hall. The MSU Cycling Club and other volunteers significantly contributed to the center's growth.

Large workshop with bicycles being repaired
MSU Bikes is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round, except for university holidays.

Today, MSU Bikes is located in Bessey Hall and offers a broad range of services that cater to Spartans and local community members alike. Beyond repairs and retail, the shop rents out bicycles for durations ranging from a single day to an entire semester or more. Potter highlights the myriad benefits of biking, from physical and mental health improvements to financial savings and environmental impact: "Biking is fun, it gets you ready for the day, and it puts you in control of your transportation."

The center also plays a pivotal role in the community by integrating with various biking groups on campus, including the Cycling Club, Triathlon Club, Road Bike Club, Mountain Bike Club, and the Outdoors Club, which offers activities beyond cycling.

In 2021, MSU was named a gold-level Bike Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists.

Contributions to the MSU Bikes shop come in many forms, including bike donations. "People clean out garages and aren't sure what to do with their old bikes. We get between 20 to 50 a year this way," says Potter. These bikes often find new life after being refurbished and sold as "ready to ride" bikes, which Potter notes are unique and customizable. The largest stock of these bicycles in the area can be found right here at MSU Bikes.

For those looking to maintain their bikes, MSU Bikes provides free resources like an air pump and DIY bike station with common bike tools outside the shop (and at 10 other locations around campus) for bikers to check and fill their tires, ensuring optimal condition with minimal effort. "Bikes are low maintenance, not no maintenance," Potter explains.

MSU Bikes has a map of all the DIY bike stations and pumps on campus along with all the other 
"Green Transportation” facilities MSU offers.

These resources, along with a bike rental program, are open to students, faculty, staff, and the public. MSU Bikes is open Monday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. year-round, except for university holidays.

Learn more about the history of bicycling at MSU on the MSU Bikes blog.