Evan Groen was delighted when a student brought an old red Raleigh bicycle to his brake workshop on Thursday.
He loves the challenge of fixing a problem or a part he’s never seen before. And the Raleigh’s brakes needed to be adjusted by turning a bolt that was so unusual, the centre didn’t have the right wrench to do it.
It was the first of three workshops in a fall maintenance program put on by the Dal Bike Centre.
The Facebook event for the evening asked students to bring their bikes and be “ready to get their hands dirty,” and six students did just that.
The centre has helped at least 175 students, faculty and members of the university community since September. It has a fleet of 19 bikes that can be rented by Dalhousie students for up to three days, and volunteers on site during the week for bike repair and advice.
The centre works with the Dal’s Office of Sustainability, and funding is supported by a 50-cent levy applied to full-time Dalhousie students’ tuition each semester.
Groen, who studies sustainability and international development at Dalhousie, has volunteered with the centre for three years. During the workshop he shared troubleshooting tips, explained the different types of brake mechanisms and ensured students learned how to fix their own brakes.
Groen sees the centre as an asset that helps to bring the cycling community of Halifax together, and support those who wouldn’t normally be able to afford getting their bike repaired.
Tim Arrott, a computer science and business student at Dal, says he comes to the centre often for repairs, so he came to the workshop to learn how to fix his bike by himself. The best thing for Arrott is that the advice is free, because “bike shops charge a heck of a lot more.”
The average price of a basic tune up at most bike shops on the Halifax peninsula is $55. Attending the workshops allows members to learn how to do tune-ups themselves, as well as repairs in emergency situations.
Ann Faraman, a fourth-year chemistry student who has been biking in Halifax for a year, said it was time for her bike’s yearly tune-up and she wanted to learn how to do it herself.
“I love biking in Halifax,” says Faraman. “Traffic and the bus really give me a headache, but biking makes me feel so much better.”
After the workshop, she said maintaining brakes is more complicated than she thought, but she’ll attend future sessions to learn more.
The next workshop covers rear derailleurs, the mechanism that moves a bike’s rear gears, on Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Dal Bike Centre, which is attached to the Studley Gym building on the Dalhousie campus. The following week’s session will focus on front derailleurs on Nov. 3.