Friday, March 22, 2013

Bikerowave - I Learned More About Bike Repair In An Hour Than My Whole Life

I have a cheapo bike I bought very used a couple of years ago and leave in my mom's garage for when we visit.  The derailer was having trouble, shifting gears was getting tricky, and the bike couldn't be rolled backwards.  I knew about Bikecrowave - they have a bike parking lot at the Mar Vista Farmer's  Market - but I waited until things bent and locked completely. 

So last night I stuck the bike in the trunk and drove over to see how this worked. 
"Bikerowave is a bicycle repair collective, much like the Bicycle KitchenBike Oven, or Valley Bikery here in LA County.  We provide space, tools, and equipment in order to effectively teach people how to build, repair, and maintain their bicycles. We are a not-for-profit all volunteer member run organization. Our goal is to empower cyclists with the basic knowledge to maintain their steed, as well as enable them to more easily connect with the cycling community."

I felt like I was in Kindergarten again.  Dan helped me get the bike on the bike rack and walked me through every step of the process.  What tool to get, where to get it, what to tighten, what to loosen.  

He found a suitable new derailer in the back, but then decided I needed to true the wheel.  Really?  How . . .  Wait, I'm at Bikrowave, they'll walk me through it.  I got handed off to Joe who showed me how to adjust the spokes and a few other things to make the wheel work better. 

It was so easy!  When I hesitated, he pointed at what I had to do next.  

Why don't we have a place like this in Anchorage?  The bike shops wouldn't be happy with people giving this away free.  Sharing versus selling.  Would a lot more sharing and bartering of talent ruin our economy or mean that a lot more people would become more self-sufficient and less dependent on a paycheck?  Today's bottom line capitalism with smaller businesses being bought out by bigger ones that demand maximum profit, means helping and sharing with others is bad. 

And at the end I asked what I owed.  $3 for the used derailer and $7 for the hour of bike stand time. (Just look and they have various deals - but really, had I taken this to REI, it would have been at least $45 and more likely over $100.  And taken several days.   I was one of the last 'customers' there and the volunteers all got sandwiches and sat around talking about a variety of things and I heard a few philosophers mentioned. 

I have to admit that I was a bit hesitant to actually go do this, but I really love having a bike here.  They are only open in the evenings on weekdays, closed Fridays, and open days on the weekends.  So I made myself go try something new and different.  Wow, I can't believe that I changed a derailer and trued the wheel. 

And their blog suggests they do a lot more things - sort of like the Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage.  I'll get them to check this post and see if we can find a way to set up something like this in Anchorage. 

Oh yeah.  Can't ride my bike right now.  The gears are great, but when I put the tire back on the wheel, I must have poked a hole in the tire.  I'll go back tomorrow and fix that. 

For west side LA folks - they're on Venice between Centinela and Grand.


  1. Thanks for this info. I need to get a bike I can ride near the beach west of there.

    BTW, our economy is based on selling stuff. PR, marketing, advertising. Pretty much all we do. We could feed the hungry, clothe the needy, shelter the homeless, teach the curious, but we've mastered selling useless crap on TV instead.

  2. Good News....Anchorage DOES have a great bike coop: Off the Chain.

    It's now in the old Mat Maid building on Northern Lights. It's been around a few years.

    Good folks.

  3. Bicycle cooperative? Volunteers? Non Profit? Reusing old salvaged parts instead of throwing them in a landfill and buying new China Cr@p? This whole thing sounds like some kind of UN plot!

    Next thing you know, they will be trying to convince children and parents that bicycle riding is fun and healthy. Probably some fava beans and loofahs involved in this if you look deeper.

    1. Anon for some reasonyour comment wasn't up when I responded to the other comments. Obviously you're talking about the infamous UN revolution 21.

  4. nswfm - next time I'm down here, let's go for a ride

    Anon- Wow! I go by there all the time. How come I don't know this?! In my own backyard practically. I'll be by as soon as we get back next week. Thanks for letting me know. For others in Anchorage here's the link to Off The Chain.

  5. It's hard for bike shops to even break even, and repairs are the only way they can do it. You might think the markup on bikes makes them money, but these days the liability insurance for a retail bike shop, especially one selling high end bikes with fragile alloy or carbon fiber frames, is a real killer. High insurance rates put two bike shops in Juneau out of business, because folks would order high end bikes and parts that have more profit in the price from web retailers.

    If bike shops are to be able to keep decent mechanics, they have to pay them a living wage, and that means repairs can be expensive in high cost of living areas like Alaska.

    I used to ride enough that the cost of a workstand, wheel truing stand, and tools was paid off in a year, plus I could fix the bike on my schedule in my garage. Hmmm... I need to get back on the bike and turn these thighs of lead into thighs of steel.

    I hope that you and your family have a good Passover, Steve. I hope that we'll see you here in Your Fair Capital City before the legislative session ends...?


Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.