Image courtesy of Trek Bicycle

Trek Bicycle’s Red Barn Refresh Program Gives A Second Life To Pre-Owned Bikes

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With all of the hoopla surrounding e-bikes these days, it’s easy to forget that an even lower carbon transportation option exists, namely good old fashioned bicycles that are powered by nothing more than than muscles. And while the brand new bicycles at your local bike store are very tempting, being fresh off the factory floor and unblemished, there’s an even greener alternative, which is a used bike. However, buying a used bike ‘in the wild’ (from Craigslist or paper flyer) isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, as many people want to have a greater feeling of confidence in their new ride’s performance, and that’s where refurbished bikes come in.

For bike manufacturers, selling new bikes is the name of the game, so there isn’t a lot of incentive to refurbish and resell previously owned (used) bikes, but Trek Bicycle is leading the charge toward a more circular economy, at least when it comes to two-wheelers. Trek recently launched its Red Barn Refresh program, which it says is “the cycling industry’s first-ever manufacturer-led bike trade-in and refurbishment program,” and this initiative promises to prolong the useful life of the company’s bikes.

According to Trek, participating Trek retailers will accept the return of “pre-loved bikes,” which is what the company calls previously owned bicycles. The bikes that have been traded in through the program will be sent to Waterloo, Wisconsin, to the original red barn where Trek began building bikes back in 1976. Inside the red barn, “trained technicians will repair and replace what’s needed before it is ‘certified awesome’ and resold online to people looking to score a great bike with a lower carbon footprint.”

“Red Barn Refresh brought us back to the red barn that started it all as we embark on the journey of reducing consumption and extending the life of these bikes, which is better for our people and the planet. We’ve got a lot of plans to become a much more sustainable company, and this is Trek’s effort to give really great used bikes a second chance and extend their usable life — resulting in less waste and getting more people on bikes.” —  Eric Bjorling, director of brand at Trek Bicycle

Trek Red Barn Refresh
Screenshot from Trek Bicycle’s Sustainability Report

Trek’s bike technicians put each used bike through “a thorough 151-point inspection,” and are washed, overhauled, and serviced, after which the bikes will be sold with a limited lifetime warranty and the same support as a brand new Trek bike. The Red Barn Refresh program includes road bikes, mountain bikes, city bikes, e-bikes, and kids bikes, all at a better price than new models.

“Red Barn Refresh is the only place in the world where you can get a Trek Certified pre-owned bike. These bikes bring the highest level of quality and assurance to your pre-owned purchase. Trek certified pre-owned bikes undergo a comprehensive 151-point inspection process. This includes serial number verification for authenticity, checking all service bulletins, service information, and recalls to potentially address. Next, the bike is comprehensively cleaned and serviced — replacing all worn parts that do not meet our quality and performance standards. From there, the bike is expertly tuned, then test-ridden to ensure it is in perfect operating condition. Finally, the bike is polished and packaged just for you. All of this is done by a professional Trek technician. Trek Certified pre-owned bikes carry all the same great benefits as new Trek bikes: A limited lifetime frame warranty to the new owner, a complimentary 1-year service, and a 30-day love it or return it guarantee. These are the highest quality used bikes on the market, with the best warranty, and the best experience out of the box.”

Trek is also taking steps to make it easier to keep kids on bikes that fit them with its kids’ bike trade-in (or trade up, as it were) program:

“Growth spurts happen — but they shouldn’t stop you from investing in a quality kids’ bike that will inspire a healthy hobby for life. When you buy a kids’ bike at a participating location, you can bring it back and get up to 50% of the bike’s original purchase price in credit toward the purchase of a new one.

“No good bike should sit around collecting dust, so we resell qualifying kids’ bikes through our Red Barn Refresh pre-owned bike shop or donate them to a local charity. That way your little one has a fun, comfortable, safe ride that fits, and so does someone else.”

I have to admit that I got so caught up with e-bike fever in recent years that I’ve been neglecting my non-electric bikes for a long minute, but I took my (analog/acoustic) mountain bike for a spin the other day and caught the bug again. While there are plenty of great use cases for e-bikes, a good old fashioned human-powered bike is still as relevant as ever, and with programs like Trek’s Red Barn Refresh, it’s easy to get a great bike at a good price, while also avoiding the environmental costs of manufacturing a bicycle out of virgin materials.


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Derek Markham

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee.

Derek Markham has 582 posts and counting. See all posts by Derek Markham