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Co-op volunteering

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Old 10-10-11, 11:45 AM
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Co-op volunteering

Any other bicycle mechanics inclined folk volunteer at a local co-op?

I've been volunteering at the local co-op and the people that come in with their bikes are great. Their bikes, unfortunately, not so much.

It disheartens me every time a low income individual comes in to just patch a tube and I end up helping him/her adjust the brakes so they actually work.

Yesterday, these two kids from Somalia came in to patch their tubes. Neither of them had working brakes. I spent time with them and their bikes up on a stand showing them how to adjust their brakes. They were in terrible shape. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to get their derailleurs properly adjusted. I felt good knowing that they at least would be able to stop. This neighborhood is called Park Hill for a reason.

BTW, some of the brakes that come on these Wal-Mart specials are just terrible.
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Old 10-10-11, 01:02 PM
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I volunteer at my local Yellow Bike, and while we don't get many people in to fix their bikes we take bikes donated to us and recondition them to give away to those that can't afford to buy one. I am amazed by the junk people drop off that they think can be fixed, most big box bikes are just stripped and junked. All metal is recycled.
The biggest problem is rust, we get bikes that look like they have never been under a roof. The next problem is the cheap bike are just worn out and don't look very old.
I would say we might be able to turn around about 40% of the bikes we get.
Even at that rate it is gratifying to see a youngster come in and go out with a new [to them] bike!
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Old 10-10-11, 03:05 PM
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We have a community run bike shop near where I live (Earley, near Reading, for those in the UK), I volunteer at that, does that count as a co-op? It's run partly by the local Youth Service, which is how I found out about it. I seem to spend a lot of my time there working on BMX bikes, which is weird for me as someone more used to road bikes and the occasional MTB, but it's nothing if not interesting. I get first pick of any old bikes or parts that we get given though, and free access to the tools, which is the only reason half my bikes are still working. Oh, and if you think _mart bikes are bad, try Tesco's bikes. Plastic brakes, anybody? I don't mean plastic-coated steel, I mean actual plastic....
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Old 10-11-11, 09:06 AM
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I'm amazed that the frames that come in with the box store bikes (Excluding rusted frames) are "useless" except for recycling... Unless you are getting enough money from the recycling to keep the co-op running.

For a co-op, a frame is a frame. You can always put parts onto it. I'd hazard, by and large for those getting a bike from a coop, the frame is the least of concern (Assuming not rusted to high hell).
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Old 10-11-11, 09:49 AM
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Eugene Oregon, Center for Appropriate Transport has several divisions The bike works Part of it.

20 years ago it opened, happened to help out there then.
had SSD Income so volunteering was possible ,
but college town costs of living had me give it up,
stuff storage space, and take a bike tour to Ireland, and Scotland.
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Old 10-11-11, 11:30 AM
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I'm amazed that the frames that come in with the box store bikes (Excluding rusted frames) are "useless" except for recycling... Unless you are getting enough money from the recycling to keep the co-op running.
I volunteer at a co-op in Denver and junking walmart type bikes is pretty normal it seems about half these bikes donated end up being scraped. Since there usally broke when donated and often can't be fixed.
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Old 10-11-11, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by UberGeek View Post
I'm amazed that the frames that come in with the box store bikes (Excluding rusted frames) are "useless" except for recycling... Unless you are getting enough money from the recycling to keep the co-op running.

For a co-op, a frame is a frame. You can always put parts onto it. I'd hazard, by and large for those getting a bike from a coop, the frame is the least of concern (Assuming not rusted to high hell).
Do you have much practical experience with these?

Trust me, beer cans are a step up for this aluminum.
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Old 10-11-11, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by zukahn1 View Post
I volunteer at a co-op in Denver and junking walmart type bikes is pretty normal it seems about half these bikes donated end up being scraped. Since there usally broke when donated and often can't be fixed.
Derailer or the Depot? Or is there one I haven't heard of yet? I volunteer on Sundays at the Depot.
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Old 10-11-11, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by mikeybikes View Post
Any other bicycle mechanics inclined folk volunteer at a local co-op?

I've been volunteering at the local co-op and the people that come in with their bikes are great. Their bikes, unfortunately, not so much.

It disheartens me every time a low income individual comes in to just patch a tube and I end up helping him/her adjust the brakes so they actually work.

Yesterday, these two kids from Somalia came in to patch their tubes. Neither of them had working brakes. I spent time with them and their bikes up on a stand showing them how to adjust their brakes. They were in terrible shape. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to get their derailleurs properly adjusted. I felt good knowing that they at least would be able to stop. This neighborhood is called Park Hill for a reason.

BTW, some of the brakes that come on these Wal-Mart specials are just terrible.
Oh, come now. Park Hill isn't much of a hill. More like a gentle rise. Not like it is further west. I rode down 23rd recently and I had to pedal hard to get it up to 25mph. Coming off of the Highlands on 29th (from the west), I coast it at 30 mph down to the river. I can do nearly 40 mph in some places.

I agree that some of the bikes coming into the Bike Depot are rough but I have yet to run across anything that's unfixable. I've even sent some bikes out that are vast improvements over when they came in.
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Old 10-11-11, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Oh, come now. Park Hill isn't much of a hill. More like a gentle rise. Not like it is further west. I rode down 23rd recently and I had to pedal hard to get it up to 25mph. Coming off of the Highlands on 29th (from the west), I coast it at 30 mph down to the river. I can do nearly 40 mph in some places.
Yes, not a steep hill, but coming off of it on something like 29th from Colorado to York, you can get some good speed. I like to think that they have good brakes for that.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I agree that some of the bikes coming into the Bike Depot are rough but I have yet to run across anything that's unfixable. I've even sent some bikes out that are vast improvements over when they came in.
True. All the bikes are fixable. I felt bad for the two kids from Somalia, as even though we got their brakes working, they ran out of time to get the derailers adjusted so they would shift. One kid left with the right side pedal missing. He had just the pedal axle sticking out of the crank. I would have loved to have had the time to help them get the bikes all fixed up.
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Old 10-11-11, 01:52 PM
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One does what one is able to do........

Originally Posted by mikeybikes View Post
True. All the bikes are fixable. I felt bad for the two kids from Somalia, as even though we got their brakes working, they ran out of time to get the derailers adjusted so they would shift. One kid left with the right side pedal missing. He had just the pedal axle sticking out of the crank. I would have loved to have had the time to help them get the bikes all fixed up.
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Old 10-11-11, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by mikeybikes View Post
Derailer or the Depot? Or is there one I haven't heard of yet? I volunteer on Sundays at the Depot.
Right now I'm volunteerin at the Derailer a couple of afternoons a month.
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Old 10-11-11, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post

I agree that some of the bikes coming into the Bike Depot are rough but I have yet to run across anything that's unfixable. I've even sent some bikes out that are vast improvements over when they came in.
It all depends on what is being donated, but at our bicycle co-op I've seen lots of donations that from a practical point of view aren't worth repairing. Walmart bikes come to mind, but there are also some pretty good models that have been badly abused and probably not safe to refurbish. A while back, we had a really nice looking Schwinn Prelude show up. After close inspection, we discovered the frame had severe internal rust. Must have spent many rainy days outside.
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Old 10-12-11, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
It all depends on what is being donated, but at our bicycle co-op I've seen lots of donations that from a practical point of view aren't worth repairing. Walmart bikes come to mind, but there are also some pretty good models that have been badly abused and probably not safe to refurbish. A while back, we had a really nice looking Schwinn Prelude show up. After close inspection, we discovered the frame had severe internal rust. Must have spent many rainy days outside.
Sorry but I wasn't clear. I meant the bikes that are being used by the 'Fix-a-bike' crowd. I.e. bikes that are in use.

Donation bikes are a horse of a different color but even then, few of them are unsalvageable. That's usually for 2 reasons. If donation bikes are higher quality, they have been maintained fairly well. If they are lower quality, they have been ridden so little that they are almost new. If you have a deep enough used parts bin (the Bike Depot does) even the abused ones can find uses.
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Old 10-12-11, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Sorry but I wasn't clear. I meant the bikes that are being used by the 'Fix-a-bike' crowd. I.e. bikes that are in use.

Donation bikes are a horse of a different color but even then, few of them are unsalvageable. That's usually for 2 reasons. If donation bikes are higher quality, they have been maintained fairly well. If they are lower quality, they have been ridden so little that they are almost new. If you have a deep enough used parts bin (the Bike Depot does) even the abused ones can find uses.
I was amazed at the deep parts bins that the Depot has. Even things like wheels, there are plenty of. Seems like about the only thing the Depot is short on is space...
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Old 10-12-11, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by zukahn1 View Post
I volunteer at a co-op in Denver and junking walmart type bikes is pretty normal it seems about half these bikes donated end up being scraped. Since there usally broke when donated and often can't be fixed.
The frame is cracked?

Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
Do you have much practical experience with these?

Trust me, beer cans are a step up for this aluminum.
Actually, I do. Sure, there are some that are un-fixable (Bottom bracket is shot, and not replaceable), but unless the frame is broken or demonstrating fatigue, or the BB shot; I'd be hard-pressed to see it as "unfixable".

Bad brakes? Put new brakes on the thing.
Bad wheels? Put new wheels on the thing.
Bad tires/tubes? Put new tire/tubes on the thing.

Like I said, unless the money coming from recycling is helping keep the place open (That I can understand), I'm hard pressed to believe "most of the xmart bikes are un-fixable".
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Old 10-12-11, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by UberGeek View Post
The frame is cracked?



Actually, I do. Sure, there are some that are un-fixable (Bottom bracket is shot, and not replaceable), but unless the frame is broken or demonstrating fatigue, or the BB shot; I'd be hard-pressed to see it as "unfixable".

Bad brakes? Put new brakes on the thing.
Bad wheels? Put new wheels on the thing.
Bad tires/tubes? Put new tire/tubes on the thing.

Like I said, unless the money coming from recycling is helping keep the place open (That I can understand), I'm hard pressed to believe "most of the xmart bikes are un-fixable".
I think you are confusing literal unfixability with
the judgement call that we are all forced to make
in the coop environment of doing the most with
the resources available.

Thus a certain amount of triage takes place.

But by all means, fix as many of these things as
you have the time, energy, and ambition to repair.

At this point, I'm a little short on all three.
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Old 10-12-11, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by mikeybikes View Post
I was amazed at the deep parts bins that the Depot has.
Not sure how your parts bin is actually laid out. Here it is a milk crate size, each crate holding a cache of similar parts (ie, one crate for RD, one for FD triples, another for FD doubles, a crate for 9/16 pedals, another for 15mm and so on.)

Problem with this approach is when someone comes in looking for a particular part. If it isn't on the top of the pile, most people aren't willing to root through to the bottom to find it.

If your bin starts holding too many Walmart brake levers (which is one of the few WM parts that are normally re-usable...), you'll soon have 2 or 3 bins all filled with the same part.

The lesson here is that you may not be able to actually use are the recyclable parts.
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Old 10-12-11, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
Not sure how your parts bin is actually laid out. Here it is a milk crate size, each crate holding a cache of similar parts (ie, one crate for RD, one for FD triples, another for FD doubles, a crate for 9/16 pedals, another for 15mm and so on.)

Problem with this approach is when someone comes in looking for a particular part. If it isn't on the top of the pile, most people aren't willing to root through to the bottom to find it.

If your bin starts holding too many Walmart brake levers (which is one of the few WM parts that are normally re-usable...), you'll soon have 2 or 3 bins all filled with the same part.

The lesson here is that you may not be able to actually use are the recyclable parts.
There's the bin stuff and then there's the 'Wall' and finally the 'Office'. Old and nasty goes in the bin. Newer, nicer stuff goes on the wall. Really nice stuff...that the mechanics don't snag first...goes in the office. And you can probably buy the mechanic's snags off of them (they do pay for the stuff they snag).
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Old 10-12-11, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
There's the bin stuff and then there's the 'Wall' and finally the 'Office'. Old and nasty goes in the bin. Newer, nicer stuff goes on the wall. Really nice stuff...that the mechanics don't snag first...goes in the office. And you can probably buy the mechanic's snags off of them (they do pay for the stuff they snag).
We don't have a "wall" . The nicer stuff kind of floats on top of the bins. Occasionally, we'll get some components that are saved for nicer frames. I once put together a Shimano 600 gruppo from a donated box of miscellaneous bits and pieces.... which got used on a bike build up. I don't see much in the way of Campy parts though

We try not to encourage hoarding by mechanics though... it's better if the good parts actually end up on bikes that get sent out to the community.
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Old 10-12-11, 05:48 PM
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I volunteered at Derailer one day for this event with my Synagogue's youth group. It was around March of this year. That was the most beneficial day in my learning how to work on a bike. I thought I knew how to patch a tube, but really, I didn't. I learned that day, and now I have a skill that I can use for the rest of my life! The day my youth group volunteered, we worked on children's bikes.

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Old 10-13-11, 06:06 AM
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I have some problems with the co-op concept. Non profits remove business from the tax base. Volunteers doing a job like fixing flats takes work away from others that might to the work for pay (but can't due to minimum wage laws.) Repairing a bicycle is the bottom rung of the mechanical trades so they are very important to groups like new immigrants.

BTW I do regularly volunteer at a coop.
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Old 10-13-11, 06:25 AM
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the co-op in stl has a program that teaches youths bike maintenance before they get their refurbished bike. I want to volunteer, but it is on the other side of the metro area and I don't have the time or gas for that right now.
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Old 10-13-11, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by geo8rge View Post
I have some problems with the co-op concept. Non profits remove business from the tax base. Volunteers doing a job like fixing flats takes work away from others that might to the work for pay (but can't due to minimum wage laws.) Repairing a bicycle is the bottom rung of the mechanical trades so they are very important to groups like new immigrants.

BTW I do regularly volunteer at a coop.
If anything, I'd say our co-op helps increase the tax base. We ensure that low income folks in the surrounding neighborhoods have access to basic transportation, allowing them to get to work and pay taxes. In addition, the shop's revenues may not be taxed, but sales tax still applies to the retail items.
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Old 10-13-11, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by geo8rge View Post
I have some problems with the co-op concept. Non profits remove business from the tax base. Volunteers doing a job like fixing flats takes work away from others that might to the work for pay (but can't due to minimum wage laws.) Repairing a bicycle is the bottom rung of the mechanical trades so they are very important to groups like new immigrants.

BTW I do regularly volunteer at a coop.
Two problems here. First, you are assuming that there is a huge demand for flat fixing. There just isn't. Most people are going to fix it themselves because of where flats occur...out on the road miles from a shop. As for the minimum wage issue, nothing is stopping an individual from going about offering to fix a flat for a fee that they set. They would probably starve trying to make a business out of bicycle flat fixing but, if you don't pay employees a minimum wage, they'd probably starve anyway.

Second: Really? You volunteer at a coop and complain that coops take business from the tax base? And that volunteers take jobs? Then why volunteer?
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