Just imagine: You are on a fantastic bike tour. The weather is great, you feel totally fit. Everything is going like clockwork. But then the bike doesn‘t want to go on. Mountains and hills far and wide, but no bike shop. And yet it could be that your luck in misfortune is just around the corner. For six years now, cyclists could get lucky thanks to a creative idea by two cycling club friends. One of them is Ruedi Kistler, who explains the concept of FirstBox.
It all started with an innovation competition in 2014. The initial ideas developed into FirstBox, which has helped many a cyclist who was facing unexpected repairs with no workshop in sight. There are 15 locations with a FirstBox. Another location is planned in Abländschen. The offer is supported by numerous partners and the locations are listed on the regional bike map of Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus.
“Originally, the idea was to have the FirstBox in restaurants, mountain huts and cable car stations, but we soon realised that a self-service system was the more efficient solution. So, most of the boxes were moved outside,” explains Ruedi Kistler.
First aid for people and bikes
Each FirstBox is equipped with a firstaid kit and material to fix mountain bikes and – where appropriate – racing bikes. People who are unfamiliar with bike repairs will also find detailed repair instructions in the box. So there is usually nothing standing in the way of good luck, even for the less technically gifted.
A price list in each box informs cyclists how much cash they should leave behind. “We are currently working on alternative payment methods such as Twint,” Kistler promises. To ensure that the box is always ready for the next incident, people should also report what they used by text message. Kistler then refills the FirstBox accordingly. Frequently used items such as tubes and repair kits are, however, available in duplicate to be on the safe side.
Despite the free access and the lack of payment control, Kistler has only recorded very little abuse: “Over the past six years, only a few items have been taken away that were not paid for.”
Kistler experiences the whole thing as meaningful and satisfying: “Implementing the idea was the biggest challenge. Financially as well as in terms of time, because I realised the whole thing in my spare time and with my own funds, which is still the case. But as long as FirstBox makes sense and the abuse doesnʼt get out of hand, I will continue this offer.”
Unique in Switzerland
Destination Gstaad has been enriched by Kistlerʼs innovation. This service clearly sets it apart from other bike regions. This round-the-clock service for mountainbikers and racers throughout the entire region will help many a cycling enthusiast out of a jam.
BASED ON AVS/DANIELA ROMANG-BIELER