wrote the piece below for the company store and that's why there's less profanity and more punctuation than I'm comfortable with and eventually the words may or may not appear on that site but you can read it here now
here and now
Seattle sits on an underground aquifer of bicycles with its established culture of recreational cycling, competitive bike racing and everyday commuting and BikeWorks benefits from this bike culture as each year hundreds of used bikes are donated. The stream of incoming bikes is directed into various channels such as youth programs, adult bike repair classes, re-donation to other nonprofit organizations or straight into the scrap metal recycling pile.
One of the most important incoming bike channels feeds into what we at BikeWorks call Green Bikes, these are the bikes that are refurbished and sold in the shop as a reliable, desirable and dependable source of earned income.
I have refurbished over 1000 Green Bikes at Bike Works.
I’m a bike mechanic but not in the traditional sense. Most bike mechanics hang out in the shop and a bike walks in with its owner who describes a problem they’re having and then the mechanic can focus on that and try to fix it. I hang out in the shop and bikes roll in with no explanation. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of bikes roll in. Bikes cast off by their former owners. Bikes Bikes Bikes. Bikes ready to be sized up checked out and spruced up. Or maybe stripped down parted out and recycled.
Sizing up a bike I can extrapolate from the wear & tear and the accessories how it was ridden, how it was cared for or how it sat in storage for 30 years. From that I can theorize how the bike will clean up and perform for a new owner. The cool thing about refurbishing the bikes is visualizing that potential new owner and where and when they’ll be going for a bike ride. Are they a sunny day joy rider, everyday commuter, off-road shredder or perhaps a grocery getter???
Many bikes arrive whole and don’t need much attention. Their refurbishment quickly almost effortlessly falls into place dictated by the intact group of compatible and functional components already in place. However some bikes are missing a lot of bits and pieces, components are broken or destroyed or completely incompatible and they need a great deal of re-working which allows for some re-imagining and re-purposing.
Success on these bikes requires some luck and a deep well of used parts to draw from.
Of the hundreds of bikes at Bike Works let’s let one bike serve as a parable, this Bike: a Dorado Sherpa Comp which arrived in a container last Thursday in sad shape and missing its front wheel. My coworker stuck a 27 inch wheel in the front as a placeholder and that’s why that odd wheel made it into the before photo.
With a totally rusty chain, rusted cables and housing and an overly crunchy pitted headset, unsightly rusty bottle cage bolts, crusty crank bolts, dead accessories and a lot of stubborn reflective tape and stickers.
Riding a long top tube and long stem with a flat bar and big bar ends was all the rage in the mid to late 90s. This frame has a 16.5” seat tube and a 22” top tube.
With some work I got the bike down to the frame & fork. Saving only the bottom bracket, cranks, seatpost, thumb shifters, derailleurs and brake calipers.
The buildup included new grips, a new swept-back handlebar, used stem, new 1 ⅛” threaded headset, new old stock cable hanger, used wheels, new tubes, new 1.5” slick tires, new brake pads, new chain, new cassette, new cables & housing, used pedals, new saddle, a new jockey pulley, and four shiny new bottle cage bolts.
Left in its “as-is” state this bike would sell for $45. However I was able to see beyond the rust and visualize a solid trusty everyday bike for a theoretical new owner. Built up around the Tange cro-moly steel frame. With plenty of room for racks and full fenders and a swept back handlebar and slick tires this could be the ultimate urban utility bike with some new parts, lots of used replacement parts and labor all adding up to less than $300. It’s nothing fancy but it is solid and dependable and of much higher quality than any brand new bike available at the same price point.
This bike is currently available at Bike Works for $293.
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