Fix Your Own Bike

Community bike workshops are a beautiful idea. A place where anyone can learn the basics of bicycle repair by doing it for themselves with the help of volunteer mechanics – and have access to specialist bicycle tools. A stone’s throw from the Elephant and Castle, the venerable 56a food coop and radical infoshop has its own ‘do it together’ Bike Space, open 16 hours a week. Over in France, the Pignon Sur Rue association in Lyon runs a rather larger and more ambitious community workshop project, with 1200 members and support from the local city government.

If a shiny new bike is what you’re after, we hear from Chris Boardman on the recent advances in bicycle technology and the thinking behind his new range of Boardman bikes. Chris takes the view that while Italian consumers are most interested in style, US consumers most interested in good quality service, the British consumer is most interested in low prices. And his bikes certainly offer a lot of bicycle for the money, not least because they have cut out a stage in the retail chain by selling exclusively through Halfords, a combined distributor/dealer.

  • Malcolm

    Great show! What’s the piece of music playing during the item on the 56a Bike Room?

  • Lisa

    Great programme as ever.
    As a recent convert to bike repair (having latterly just handed the bike to everyone else to deal with) – it was great to hear that other people are taking an interest in fixing their own steeds too.
    Good on that girl endeavouring to build her own bike from the frame she found … best of luck with it!!
    Building the wheels (if she needs to do that?) would put my head away ;) – still a somewhat ‘dark art’, well, in my opinion anyway!!!
    Lisa
    Happy cycling everyone!

  • http://monkeyphotomcr.blogspot.com/ John the Monkey

    FWIW, building wheels (as long as you’re not doing some low spoke count, or exotic pattern) is just a process – as someone who was similarly in awe, I’d recommend Roger Musson’s Wheelbuilding eBook.

    I built the set I toured Belgium on using that book (and Roger’s plans for a truing jig and dishing gauge) and despite several km of cobbles, and daily potholed commuting, they’re still true. You need time to do it, but it’s not as hard as you think – have a go!

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  • Lisa

    Do you know John the Monkey, I think I might actually look into that!
    I suppose wheelbuilding ought not to be a ‘dark art’ really.
    If I do make have a go at building any though I think I’ll have someone check them over … just in case!!
    You must be a dab hand – wheels surviving Belgium cobbles is no mean feat!
    I only have a few cobbles in Edinburgh to tackle (and even then I usually get off – too steep!!!).
    Lisa