“Bikes for Refugees” now works to order. Donated bikes are stored ‘as is’. When an organisation working with refugees needs a bike for someone – they phone me to place an order. I then see what’s in stock, and get it ready for them.
This works OK for small orders of 1-2 bikes. We can usually do those during the regular Saturday morning session. But a few weeks back the Australian Refugee Association (ARA) placed a large order - 15 bikes. For 1 person that's 25 hours work,. I find it s hard to put that amount of time together, just from Saturday mornings.
But the idea of putting 15 unwanted bikes back into circulation, is appealing. So is helping 15 newly arrived families, with transport. So here's what we did.
Last Saturday 22nd I picked out suitable bikes from stock. Jawid (our work experience guy) and Tamba washed the dust off; pumped tyres; oiled chains; found missing pedals and saddles.
Friday 28th, I took leave from work, and opened the Workshop specially . I had help from Andrew, whose employer (ANZ) gave him a day release, to volunteer with 'Bikes for Refugees". Another mechanic David also gave a hand. Harry, on uni vacation, helped test ride the bikes. We're glad of his help: things go a lot smoother, if you can get someone else to test-ride the bike you just repaired – rather than doing it yourself.
For each bike, we work through a checklist of 30-40 items. Nearly all bikes need work . Mostly it is routine adjustments (gears, brakes) or replacements (tubes, cables, brake blocks). By lunch 10 or 11 bikes were done.
Early afternoon, we had some dilemmas. How long to spend, on a mass market bike, whose front gears were stiff? Also a click-shifter I was servicing, came apart in my hand, and wouldn’t go back together. The first bike we didn’t spend much time on: the gear shifter was an unpopular design, so gears were probably hard to change, from day 1. The second bike, we fitted a friction-shifter instead.
[ I might write more about mass market bikes in another post, as we often come across this type of problem]
By 2:30, Harry noticed while test-riding, one bike's pedals had a loopy foot-rolling action, ie the axles felt off centre. We undid the pedals to replace.. The problem a simple cause: the pedals had been force-fitted to the wrong sides! The solution though is seldom simple, as often the cranks are damaged and need replacing too. But this time fortunately they were OK, and the pedals went into the correct sides without too much trouble.
(This shows why test rides are needed. Some faults like wonky pedals don't show up when the bike is on the repair stand. But they show up at once, when you try to ride. )
By 4 pm, all 15 bikes were on the trailer, to delivered to the Refugee Association, just down Marion Road. An hour later Sandra and Dusko at ARA, had them stored away, ready to hand out to people, to help with transport (ARA will buy helmets to go with the bikes).
Servicing bikes is hard work – the effort adds up, over a day, of lifting, turning, undoing tight nuts, getting tyres on and off. However, everyone felt it had been a good day’s work.
If our efforts also help ARA provide services that people need - so much the better.
Big thanks to: David, Andrew, Harry, Jawid, Tamba.
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