Archive for September, 2015

Sign up for Intro to Mechanics this October

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Registration is open for our Intro to Mechanics series running in the month of October (and then again in November). Over 4 Thursday evenings sessions from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm learn everything from fixing a flat to truing your wheels, overhauling your bearings and tuning your brakes and derailleurs. Sign up for the whole series or individual workshops here.



Volunteer Bike Building for Those that Don’t Have Access

Friday, September 11th, 2015

This Summer we introduced a brand new program and are currently looking for volunteers! On Monday evenings we build and repair used bikes to be given to those that need them, but don’t yet have access. We work with groups such as Bici Libre to get in contact with individuals that face barriers to autonomous mobility and could benefit from owning a bike.

At this program, volunteers sign up to help out for 4 consecutive sessions. A staff mechanic is on hand to provide instruction, and each week focuses on a different theme, with the intention that the program provide a structured learning environment for volunteers to practice bike mechanics as well as produce quality, safe bicycles.

Since volunteer space in this program is limited, sign-up is required. Although you by no means need to be an expert, we ask that you have some prior mechanical experience and have volunteered with us before; drop by our weekly P&Y Volunteer Night or monthly ReCycle Night.

The next session will take place on the following Mondays from 6-9pm: September 21st, September 28th, October 5th & October 19th. Click here to sign up!

If you have any questions or concerns, contact Aida at




Building my First Bike: an Apollo Custom Sport

Friday, September 11th, 2015

by Kim Trainor

apolloAt the beginning of the year I decided to learn how to fix my own bike after a series of unfortunate flats on my ancient Norco step-through: sudden inner tube failure; broken rubber rim strip; pierced last-minute-replacement plastic rim strip followed by dramatic explosion of inner tube followed by return to a rubber rim strip; slow valve leak. Although I’m extremely unmechanical I enjoyed learning how to fix them, first with the help of a friend (a former bike mechanic who suffered silently through all this), then through solo trial and error. I volunteer with HUB, and decided to take some of their classes at Kickstand on brakes, drivetrain, and so on, and then began to think I’d really like to learn more and, if possible, build my own bike.

I teach as a sessional at UBC, so I knew about the Bike Kitchen, and was lucky that the Co-op had just started up again its Build Your Own Bike program. I turned out to be the first person to sign up. My mentor was Pablo, who also taught the courses I took at Kickstand. Pablo’s a great teacher and it was fun to work with him again over the summer. It was also good to be a student again. I decided I wanted to find an old road bike that I could overhaul, as opposed to building a brand new bike from scratch. I liked the idea of recycling and using as much of the original bike as possible. The hardest part of the project was finding a suitable bike as I needed to find a very small frame — about 19″. I was lucky, and found an Apollo Custom Sport, circa 1983, which turned out to be in really good condition, with a good frame — lugged, double-butted, Tange steel — and a triple chainset. Pablo helped me to strip the bike, assess the various components, and advise on which parts could or should be upgraded. In the end, we replaced the seat post and saddle, the bars, the brake levers, the pedals, the front derailleur, the chain, and the freewheel. I decided I wanted to keep the original wheels, which were still in good shape, instead of switching to a new rear wheel with freehub and cassette, which might also have meant cold-setting the frame. I loved the Shimano Deore rear derailleur and downtube shifters, so kept those and they work perfectly with the new freewheel. The friction shifting is gorgeous. We also put on SKS Longboard fenders and a rear rack. Pablo convinced me to try toe cages and although I was sceptical, now I love them.

apollo2It was a great experience to work with Pablo and the other mechanics at the Bike Kitchen. Everyone was super friendly and helpful. The program gives you a chance to learn how each component of the bike goes together. And because I was working with an older bike, I also got to do some standard maintenance, such as overhauling a hub and headset, replacing brake pads, adjusting side-pull calliper brake springs, and taking apart and cleaning the crankset and the rear derailleur. You also become familiar with a lot of the standard tools used to work with bikes and basic mechanical practices.

The final test was taking my Apollo on a solo bike camping trip to Galiano this August — Montague Harbour and then on to Dionisio Point, a somewhat remote site at the northern tip of the island. I felt confident doing this as I have a fairly good understanding now of how my bike works, and what I need to do if something goes wrong. The bike worked beautifully. My thanks to the AMS Bike Co-op and everyone at the Bike Kitchen!dionisio