The #1 Bicycle Mechanic Website in the World!


Gears Bike Shop
109 Vanderhoof Avenue, Toronto, ON
Phone: 647-729-2500
Hours: Mon-Fri 10-8, Sat 10-6, Sun 11-5
Gears Bike Shop is always hiring mechanics. Contact

Thursday, September 3, 2015

What To Do When Hit By A Car - Legal Steps to Protect Your Rights

So you are riding on your bicycle and wham, you get hit by a car. What do you do next?

Oddly most of us don't know what we should and should not be doing. Pay attention and read closely so you remember this should it ever happen to you.


If the driver asks if you are okay say "I don't know. I think I need to see a doctor." You might feel unhurt, because of the shock of being struck, so you don't always know when you are injured. You might notice until hours later that you have a cracked rib, an injured ankle, a torn ligament, etc.

Do get the driver's phone number.

Do get the driver's insurance info.

Do write down the driver's license plate.

Do call the police and report the accident.

Do document the scene, photograph your bicycle, the car, any injuries, the driver's face, your face, etc. Take photos of everything you can think of.

Do locate witnesses who saw the accident and get their contact info / phone numbers if possible. Or alert the police to which witnesses saw the accident.

Do go see a doctor as soon as you are able. You might have an injury you didn't notice at the time. If you do have an injury get copies of all medical reports relating to the injury.

Do report any injuries, no matter how minor, to the insurance company. Insurance companies take that stuff seriously, even if it is only a minor injury. If you only claim property damage and no injuries, insurance companies take it less seriously and are less likely to pay anything at all. You don't want to fake any injuries obviously, but you shouldn't be pretending not to be injured just because you don't want to cause extra trouble. As long as you record any injuries and see a doctor ASAP, you are preserving your rights. Let your doctor decide what is worth noting on your insurance claim.

Do follow through on protecting your rights.


Do not accept the driver's word when they say they will pay for any damages. They can easily change their mind later, and change their story to claim that the accident was your fault: "He just came out of nowhere! He was going ridiculously fast and it was impossible to stop on time!" After all, why should they risk paying higher insurance rates if they can get away with paying nothing and pretending the accident never happened?

Never admit to being "okay". Just keep saying that you don't know and that you need to see a doctor.

Do not refuse to go see a doctor. See one ASAP.

Do not let the driver leave before the police arrive. If they attempt to do so record their license plate and report it to police as a hit and run, as they clearly didn't stick around at the scene of the crime. If a driver gets out of their car, asks if you are okay, and then immediately leaves that still counts as a hit and run.

Do not get your bicycle repaired immediately. Preserve the evidence and record all the damage. Get a bicycle mechanic to give you an estimate for the repairs, but don't have them fix it yet.

Do not assume that everything will be taken care of properly. Insurance companies and deadbeat drivers would much rather not have to pay anything if they think they can get away with it.

Do not mention the value of your bicycle. The price of the repairs will be determined by your bicycle mechanic. Just say "It depends on the repair bill."

If it is a friend, a family member, or even a random stranger that you see get hit stop and help them and then follow the above advice. It could happen to any of us. See the video below of strangers stopping to help a little girl after she gets rammed into by a car.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How safe do you feel when a car nearly hits you?

Car drivers often pass ridiculously close to cyclists. So close they almost hit them and sometimes do hit them. So you have to wonder how safe they would feel if it was reversed, if they nearly got hit by a Mack truck going 4 times your speed.

Sometimes car drivers cut off big rig trucks without signaling - or even while signaling - and those trucks cannot stop on a dime. They ram into, and over, anything that gets in their way. And the truck driver won't be at fault. The police know these sort of accidents happen ALL THE TIME due to stupid car drivers who think they can cut off a big rig truck without getting hit. Sooner or later they will get hit and their car will be so much dented and twisted metal the drivers upper torso will be on Yonge Street and the bottom of their torso will be on Bay Steeet.

So unless you want to get some instant karma drivers of all stripes need to be thinking this: If it too close for a pedestrian to feel safe, why would you think it was safe for a cyclist, a fellow car driver, or a truck driver? Share the road. Drive safe.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Bicycle Morgan Hybrid

What you are looking at above is a recumbent tricycle - merged with a Morgan car. It is not exceptionally complicated, but it does cost about  $3,300 USD + shipping costs.

Although to be fair, recumbent bicycles in general tend to be in the $3,000 to $9,000 range, so paying at least $3,000 is pretty normal for a recumbent bicycle.

The Quest for the Flying Bicycle

Ever since bicycles have been around inventors have been trying to create a flying bicycle... with a lot of failures along the way.

The early attempts at making flying bicycles seem so amateurish compared to what we now know about aviation. As if they were conceived by a 12-year-old with an active imagination but very little knowledge of what is actually needed to fly.

Like the one shown on the right here, which was doomed to fail just by the looks of it.

Or the one below, also doomed to failure.

In 2013 the British company Paravelo (based in London, UK) finally managed to make a bicycle fly - sort of. It is actually more of a parasail-bicycle hybrid. See the video and photos below:

Fixed Gear Bicycles Vs Google's Self Driving Car

Earlier this month in Austin, Texas, a cyclist and a Google self-driving car met at a four-way stop. This likely wasn’t the first time a Google self-driving vehicle has encountered a cyclist at a four-way stop. The company’s multitude of automated vehicles have driven more than 1.1 million miles in autonomous mode.
But the encounter featured a twist - the cyclist was on a fixed gear bicycle and doing a track stand. In a track stand, a rider on a fixed-gear bike may shift ever so slightly forward and back in an effort to maintain balance, like in the video below:

The fixed gear enthusiast recounted the encounter with the Google Self Driving Car on an online forum for cyclists:

"The car got to the stop line a fraction of a second before I did, so it had the [right of way]. I did a track-stand and waited for it to continue on through."

Google's self-driving cars are notoriously careful, and tend to brake when anyone else is moving forward into the vehicle’s path. In a track stand, a rider on a fixed-gear bike may shift ever so slightly forward and back in an effort to maintain balance and thus looks like they are in motion. Also, a rider doing a track stand maintains the body position typical of a cyclist in motion, not one that is stopping. For riders of fixed-gear bikes, it can be a fun game to never have to put one’s foot down on the pavement, but instead balance at stop signs and red lights.

While a human driver can easily see a rider doing a track stand isn’t going anywhere, Google’s self-driving car seems to be still be figuring that out.

As the cyclist recalled:

"It apparently detected my presence … and stayed stationary for several seconds. it finally began to proceed, but as it did, I rolled forward an inch while still standing. The car immediately stopped…

I continued to stand, it continued to stay stopped. Then as it began to move again, I had to rock the bike to maintain balance. It stopped abruptly.

We repeated this little dance for about two full minutes and the car never made it past the middle of the intersection. The two guys inside were laughing and punching stuff into a laptop."

Despite the awkward encounter, the cyclist didn’t leave with a negative impression of self-driving cars.

"The odd thing is, I felt safer dealing with a self-driving car than a human-operated one."

Self-driving cars could actually be a boon for cycling. If self-driving vehicles almost never crash, roads will become immensely more safe and inviting to cyclists. But for now, mastering how to interact with cyclists is a challenge for self-driving vehicles. The fact that the cars err on the side of caution is a very good thing.

A patent Google received this spring detailed how its self-driving cars could identify cyclists and interpret their hand signals. It also mentioned the ability to identify a cyclist by measuring the distance between the pavement and the top of a stopped cyclist’s head.

Of course, until this summer Google’s testing was centered near its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. In July, Google began testing in Austin, home to a lot more hipsters and fixed-gear bikes.

The broader the experiences of self-driving vehicles, the better prepared they will be for real-world driving. The run-in also highlights the long list of rare situations the cars will have to master before they can replace human drivers. After all, what happens when a self-driving car approaches a downtown intersection with multiple cyclists on fixed-gear bikes, and a herd of pedestrians? How will it react? Hopefully with the same level of caution.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bicycle Buying 101

Bicycle Buying 101

Are you in the market for a new bike? There are lots of options on the market, so before heading down to your local bicycle shop, read up on models, features, prices, and the pros and cons of each type. Prices range from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, so investigate all the possibilities. Not every two-wheeler will fit every cyclist, because there are multiple bike-rider personalities. Which type are you?

If you are a commuter who wants to "go green" while pedaling to work, consider a hybrid bike with comfy handlebars and seat. A hybrid is sturdier than your basic road bike, but not quite as rugged as a mountain bike. If you are an adventurer who likes to rip up the gravel while zipping up and down off-road trails, select a mountain bike with full-suspension, wide tires, low gears, and disc brakes. If you are an athlete who wants to log miles and burn calories at the same time, you might want to consider a racing road bike. Road bikes are designed for speed and fitness, but you'll need to learn to change tires, because the skinny tires go flat more often than other bike tires.

To learn more about bike types and the features of each model, take a look at this detail-filled infographic. After reading it, you'll be ready to hit the road for some test drives.

Bicycle Types: Finding the Right Bike | Bicycle Adventures Infographic
Presented By Bicycle Adventures Bike Tours and Vacations

1865 - First Bicycles Brought to Toronto

A display of Toronto's history of sports is at the Toronto Reference Library's art gallery. The two images below talk about how "Boneshakers" was the first type of bicycle imported to Toronto in 1865, and "Cycles Brownie" was one of the first bicycles manufactured in Toronto.

Custom Bianci / Corno Marrone Bicycle

The custom bicycle above is owned by "Jade" of Toronto, who purchased the bicycle in Italy.
Very shiny and chic!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Stephen Harper Blocks Bicycle Lane

Stephen Harper was in Toronto for the Maclean's leaders' debate at the City studio in Yonge and Dundas Square, but his campaign bus was photographed blocking a bike lane in front of the Delta Hotel on Lower Simcoe St. near the CN Tower in Toronto.

The driver of the bus refused to move it when asked and blocked photographs of himself by lifting a newspaper to cover his face.

The fine for parking in a bike lane in Toronto is $150. The fine is there because in order for cyclists to get around parked vehicles they have to merge with faster moving traffic, putting themselves in danger of a collision or being killed.

Toronto Police Service says no special parking arrangements made for the Harper bus, and therefore it was parked illegally.

A representative of the Conservative Party did not return a request for comment.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Top 10 Cycling Movies

Below are 10 of the best cycling movies ever made (up to June 2015). I may update this list sometime in the future if new films come out or if I am made aware of other films. If you know of any cycling films that should be mentioned on this page, please add them in the comments section.

A Sunday in Hell - 1976

Breaking Away - 1979

American Flyers - 1985

[Note - See the trailer for American Flyers further below.]

2 Seconds - 1998

Ghislain Lambert's Bicycle - 2001

The Flying Scotsman - 2006

Phantom Pain - 2009

Premium Rush - 2012

The Armstrong Lie - 2013

Half the Road - 2014

For a more complete list of cycling films, see the list below:

Fictional Cycling Films

Bicycle Thieves - 1948
Jour de FĂȘte - 1949
Onna Keirin-o - 1956
One Got Fat - 1963
Slipstream - 1967
A Peasant on a Bicycle - 1974
A Sunday in Hell - 1976
Breaking Away - 1979
BMX Bandits - 1983
Pee-wee's Big Adventure - 1985
American Flyers - 1985
Quicksilver - 1986
Rad - 1986
On Time - 1987
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar - 1992
Boy and Bicycle - 1997
2 Seconds - 1998
The Amateur - 1999
Beijing Bicycle - 2001
Cyclomania - 2001
Ghislain Lambert's Bicycle - 2001
The Triplets of Belleville - 2003
Nasu: Summer in Andalusia - 2003
Island Etude - 2006
Clorophilla - 2006
The Flying Scotsman - 2006
Phantom Pain - 2009
The Kid with a Bike - 2011
Premium Rush - 2012
Wadjda - 2012
Allez, Eddy - 2012

Documentary Cycling Films

Vive le Tour - 1962
A Sunday in Hell - 1976
Bicycle Safety Camp - 1989
Road to Paris - 2001
Hell on Wheels - 2004
Klunkerz: A Film About Mountain Bikes - 2006
Pedaling to Freedom - 2007
Bicycle Dreams - 2009
Chasing Legends - 2010
With My Own Two Wheels - 2010
I Am - 2011
The Last Kilometer - 2012
A Winter of Cyclists - 2013
The Armstrong Lie - 2013
Half the Road - 2014

Memories of a Bicycle

What do you do with your old bicycle when you don't like it anymore?

Start with restoring it and then selling it! Give your old ride a rebirth and a new owner.

One of the things I love doing is restoring old bicycles - the older the better! So if you have an old bicycle and are too busy / unmotivated to fix it up, give it to me and I will fix it up and find it a new owner. [My contact info is on the upper right.]

Every old bicycle (regardless of age or how badly damaged it is) still has the potential for new life. In my experience some of the most gratifying restorations have been bicycles that were in really horrible shape, but a few new parts, a tune up and some new paint and that bicycle was gleaming like new and soon found itself a nice new owner.

Below is a lovely video of a bicycle, as told from the bicycle's perspective.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Spring is coming - the Dangers of Buying Bicycles from Big Box Stores

March 2nd 2015

In 19 days Spring will be here, which means it is time to start spring cleaning your bicycle and doing some maintenance.

And for those of you thinking of buying a new bicycle this Spring - especially if you are thinking of buying your bicycle from a Big Box Store - I recommend reading the following piece.

The Dangers of Buying Bicycles from Big Box Stores

By Smokey Dymny, Quadra Bike School

Spring is coming and many people’s thoughts turn to getting the kinks out of their muscles, getting some exercise while going to and fro to work or to school. "Let’s get the old bike out of the shed and oil it up. Whoops! It looks a bit rusty. Well, let’s take it for a tune-up at the bicycle shop."

"Oh, oh, it’s beyond reasonable repair.  Time to look for a new one. It’s still cheaper to buy a bike than pay for fitness fees. And I might try to skip the gym, but I’ll always take the bike if I’m going on short trips, and I’ll be able to take the kids on outings to the park, on the coastal trail, and to grandma’s house."

"But wait! These bikes at the cycle shop are nice, but they look a little more expensive than I remember. Let’s go to Canadian Tire (or: Rona, Walmart, Sports Experts, etc.) and get a cheaper one."

Stop immediately people. Here’s where you’re going to make a big mistake with your money and perhaps your safety. I run a bicycle mechanic’s training school on Quadra Island (search: Quadra Bike School for details). I developed this professional level training course in Toronto with tools provided by the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada and workshop space provided by a non-profit training school. In 2011 I moved the course to Quadra Island and funded everything myself, with smaller classes.

So here is why I’m warning you about going to a big box store or any place but a reputable bicycle shop. Inexpensive bikes come badly of pre-assembled pieces from factories in the far east. They are put together by assembly line people, not mechanics. Their bearings are not greased or well adjusted, the wheels are not trued (straightened) or tensioned, and the brakes and shifting can be completely maladjusted.  It’s up to a bicycle mechanic to put everything right so the bike is pleasant, easy and safe to ride. I stress the word "safe" because I’ve seen poor assemblies that will put someone’s life at risk.

This month I received an email with the headline “looking for mechanics” from a person stating that she’s “from Cycle Profix, a Canada-wide (sic) mobile bike assembly and repair team” and is currently “seeking skilled Bicycle technicians” to do assembly work all over B.C.

I requested more information about the company and their pay scales.

She wrote that Cycle Profix “hires bicycle technicians across Canada as independent contractors for daily work at either major stores (the ones listed above) or at our regional shops”. She wrote that for “In-Store assemblies, contractors are paid between $3.50 - $4.00 per bike.” She further wrote that “Bikes come 70% assembled, and given an average of 5 bike assemblies per hour, the comparable hourly rate would be $17.5/hr.”  “Skilled technicians can reach over $22/hr.”

Isn’t it nice to know that your bike from a big box store was assembled in an average of 12 minutes by a “technician” who was hired for “daily work” which means s/he doesn’t have a full time job; is just contracted to do a bunch of assemblies at Rona, for example, and then moves on. If your bike is faulty, the store won’t even have an idea of who worked on it and they won’t have a mechanic on staff to make repairs. In twelve minutes the “technician” won’t have time to grease any bearings or true the wheels. All the mechanical adjustments that would make the bicycle able to last, at least a while, simply won’t be done. An inexpensive bike it may be, but it should be adjusted properly to work safely. In twelve minutes the technicians going to tear off all the packaging, bolt on the front wheel, the handlebar and safety reflectors, pump up the tires, and try to adjust the brakes.  I’ve had a big box store bicycle brought into my shop for a tune-up last year and the owner did not realize that the front shock had been assembled backwards. (I have the picture too.) That means the front brake was operating backwards as well.

A front shock was also shown mounted backwards in a full colour Canadian Tire newspaper ad several years ago. Makes me wonder how they dare sell bikes.

If you make it through one season with a big box bike you’ll be lucky. The wheels will turn with too much friction or they’ll wobble (bearings too tight or too loose). The wheel may twist into a taco - a ‘taco’ shape when you hit a big bump (wheel not trued or tensioned). In one case a young woman who “saved” $50 not buying a bike from my shop came back with her bargain bike after just one trail ride with a ‘tacoed’ front wheel. The disaster stories can be repeated endlessly.

The sensible course of action is not to try for the short-term bargain. Like any poor tool, the bike won’t last long enough for you to realize any savings. You may be having it repaired early, or you may stop riding and give up on your exercise goals. Don’t do either. Just stay away from crappy department store bikes. See you local pro shop instead. Happy riding!

Editorial Notes from Charles

I just wanted to add some notes here, having purchased bicycles from Big Box Stores when I was younger. Smokey is correct in his assertions above regarding both the low build quality at Big Box Stores and also the hazards of riding a bicycle that might not have properly tuned brakes (for example).

When I was growing up in rural Ontario (north of Kitchener, about 30 minutes drive from Kincardine) we didn't have any local bike shops. There was only Zellers or Canadian Tire or Home Hardware. That was it.

Which meant when my parents purchased bicycles for us kids we often had to spend a goodly amount of time fixing those bicycles on a regular basis. I can recall many a day when myself and my best friend Jonathan Davis spent fixing our bicycles. Jonathan's father was an auto mechanic by trade and we would borrow tools either from him or my father and we would spend hours upon hours fixing bicycles, patching wheels, readjusting the handle bars or seats, and removing the chains and greasing them with WD40 (note: Do NOT use WD40 for bicycle chains. We were 10 years old and didn't know any better).

One of the things I noticed was although my bicycles were often brand new, Jonathan's dad would buy second hand bicycles - Jonathan's bicycles were often slightly faster than mine (even though we were physically equals). The reason, looking back on it, was because my bicycles were typically the cheapest available bicycle from Canadian Tire whereas Jonathan's bicycles were 2nd hand bicycles that were of a higher quality. This means that even though they were used, they were often slightly better than any new bicycle I had at the time.

The bicycle I used in highschool got me through university and I didn't buy a new bicycle until I was living in Jeonju in South Korea. I remember this clearly because I bartered the shop owner down to 50,000 won (roughly $50 CDN in 2003) and managed to get him to throw in a lock too. What was spectacular however was despite that being an amazing bargain, that bicycle was the best bicycle I had owned up to that point. It was well made, well put together, had shocks, disc brakes - it was a very impressive bicycle for the tiny amount I paid for it. So Kudos to the Koreans for making such a well made bicycle.

Coming back to Canada I took the bicycle mechanic training program Smokey spoke of up above in 2009 (back when Smokey was still teaching in Toronto). The course changed my life even though I ultimately decided to work in a different industry. Around 2007 I had purchased a cheap Canadian Tire bicycle because at the time I just wanted something to get around on.

Within the first week of owning that bicycle the plastic pedals broke - both of them. I wasn't overweight (not terribly at least) so my only conclusion was that they were very cheap plastic pedals. So I purchased steel-alloy pedals that lasted considerably longer until I eventually sold that bicycle. By the time I sold it however I had replaced: Both front and back brake pads, one of the inner tubes, the aforementioned pedals and the seat (although that was a comfort decision, not a matter of it breaking).

When I took the BAM program as taught by Smokey I learned the errors of my previous ways and determined I needed to start buying quality bicycles for their longevity. Since then I have gone through numerous bicycles, finding old broken bicycles that had been abandoned, buying used bicycles - fixing them all up and then selling them for a tidy profit.

I have also gotten quite good at disassembling bikes to give them a new paint job and then reassembling the bicycle, so when sold it looks practically brand new - or at least modified to the point that it still looks good.

One of my favourite activities is when I find a really old antique of a bicycle and then fix it up, either restoring it to its original state - or modifying it so I making the retro bicycle something new and interesting.

Anyway the point of my whole story here is simple. If your old bicycle is beyond repair, go buy an used bicycle that can be restored and then hire a local bicycle mechanic to do some restoration work. Then send me the before and after photos of what the bicycle looks like after it has been restored and everyone can see the results and agree: Restored bicycles look better than anything you could buy at a Big Box Store.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Glowing Bicycle Wheel Rims

The glowing wheel rims on the bicycle in the two photos above is not due to any kind of special wheels that produce their own light - although that is an interesting idea... Nor is it the result of trick photography or photoshop.

Nope, all that happened is the camera flash created a glare off of the very shiny wheel rims, creating a split second of very bright light reflecting off the rims. Thus in the photographs the rims of the bicycle appear to be glowing, as if they were producing their own light.

The basement bicycle repair "shop" belongs to Smokey Dymny of the Quadra Bike School (one of the best bicycle mechanic instructors in North America), whose main shop is on Quadra Island in British Columbia, but this is his winter shop in Toronto where he keeps a number of tools during the off season when he is not currently teaching. I took the photos while visiting with him back in December to hang out and talk bicycles.

People looking to become trained bicycle mechanics are encouraged to visit the Quadra Bike School's website at (Yes, I know, he beat me to it. I will just have to content myself with a blogspot domain name.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Solar Roadways? The future or just a vivid imagination?

I admit cyclists as a community don't normally think about the quality of the roads except in relation to potholes and bicycle lanes, but this video caught my attention because the concept of solar roadways would affect cyclists, motorists and pedestrians.

The video is amusing (and possibly not suitable if you are watching this at work because the guy says "freaking" so much it sounds like he is swearing), but it does make you wonder whether it would be economical to actually build what he is talking about. If the math works for building the materials, installing, and the cost savings is enough - then yes, I guess we could really have solar roadways as an option.

Obviously solar roadways would be more advantageous in the USA than it is in Canada. The cost of heating the roads in Canada would be too prohibitive, but it would make total sense in southern states and even a few northern ones where it doesn't snow that much. We could probably even get away with it in southern Ontario, but I don't think it would work in the prairie provinces.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Danny MacAskill's Imaginate, Bicycle Stunts

Danny MacAskill has been up to his old bicycle tricks again. This time in "Danny MacAskill's Imaginate", a 7 minute video supposedly to give us a glimpse as to what goes on in his brain when he is thinking up bicycle stunts.

You can see some of his previous bicycle stunt videos here on The Bicycle Mechanic just by clicking stunts on the side bar.

If you have Netflix you can also watch the documentary about the making of Imaginate. (Although I will admit I skipped forward through some of the boring bits of the documentary. I just didn't have the patience to watch the whole thing.)

The stunt video is below!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Premium Rush - Bicycle Courier Movie

I just finished watching the 2012 bicycle courier film "Premium Rush" on Netflix. (And yes, I realize the film came out 2 years ago and I only now got around to watching it. Whatever. Sue me.)

Anyway I really enjoyed the film. Hence why I am sharing the trailer for the film on here.

So yeah, watch it on Netflix, buy the DVD, download it for free - it matters not to me. I just felt it was an enjoyable movie and wanted to share it with my fellow cyclists who may not have heard of it.

I also find it interesting that the film didn't pull any punches when it came to crazy cyclists, stupid car drivers, and idiot pedestrians. (And don't forget the police, who are often corrupt or clueless.) They all got slammed. Proof positive that drivers, cyclists and even pedestrians are equally stupid when it comes safety issues.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Demystify Your Bicycle at HUB (Vancouver)

HUB in Vancouver B.C. is offering a series of small 3-hour long introductory classes to teach people how to fix and maintain their bicycles. The classes are held at The Pedal Depot (1830 Ontario Street) in Vancouver.

More information on this topic is available at

The introductory classes only cover brakes, gears, hubs and wheels and cost $200 to sign up for all 4 classes.

The graphic below lists the classes as "intermediate", but the classes really are designed for complete beginners.

The "beginner" 2-hour class is more of a "complete basics" class which covers jargon, terminology, etc and almost no mechanical skills and is designed to teach people how their bicycle works, and what the different parts are called. The beginner 2-hour class does a basic inspection, how to clean and oil a chain, check for wear and tear, and patch a flat - basically all things you could learn from a YouTube video or by reading The Bicycle Mechanic.

So if you already know how to fix a flat, you probably don't need to take that course.

On the other hand if you are looking to become a true professional bicycle mechanic, you are probably best off taking the six week bicycle mechanic training course at Quadra Island (which is not far from Vancouver), which costs $2500 for tuition and residence. Students come from all over the world to take the course at Quadra Island because it is the most intensive and comprehensive bicycle mechanic training course in the world.

Monday, June 30, 2014

An Essay on the Topic of Abandoned Bicycles

Many people in Toronto (and other cities like Toronto) have bicycles.

But many people also either apparently lack the mechanical skills to fix their bicycle;

Or they have skills but are simply lazy.

I am uncertain which it is.

What I do know is that I see a lot of abandoned and "broken" bicycles on the streets of Toronto on a regular basis.

Sometimes I even take the abandoned bicycle, I fix it up and I sell it. It isn't thievery. It is an unlocked bicycle with something broken on it.

Often it just needs a replacement part and the part is somewhere in the $5 to $50 range, but for whatever reason the previous owner was too busy or lazy to go to a store, buy the part, replace the broken part, bob's your uncle, your bicycle is (practically) good as new.

And it boggles my mind that the people abandoning their bicycles don't know they can do this. Something breaks, they are too lazy to fix it, so they just abandon the bicycle because they think it is easier to go and buy a brand new bicycle instead.

Let us assume the average person spends at least $200 on a new bicycle. If they make $20 / hour doing whatever it is they do, they just spent 10 hours working just so they could get a new bicycle.

When they could have just walked to a store, purchased a $5 to $50 part, replaced the part, and the comparative cost to them would have been either 15 minutes worth of work or 2.5 hours worth of work (assuming they are getting paid $20 per hour).

And now hopefully you understand why my mind is boggled by the people who just abandon their bicycles and go buy new ones, and understand why I am writing this essay / rant. Essay writing is a great way to get your point across.

It is almost as if people either don't realize how cheap it is to fix a bicycle, or they don't realize how easy it is. 90% of repairs are actually so easy a 12 year old could do it.

It is the 10% of repairs that take a bit more brain power.

Take for example any bicycle which is tossed out because it has a flat tire. (I have lost track of how many bicycles I have seen abandoned just because it had a flat tire.)

You either patch the tire with a patch kit and glue;

Or you buy a new tire that is the same size.

Presta, you're done! (And yes, that was valve pun.)

Next, lets take the example of any bicycle that was abandoned because the chain was tangled up / snagged on something / broken / etc. (This is another very common cause of abandoned bicycles)

Just rip the old chain off, buy a new chain the same size, buy a chain tool, install the new chain using the chain tool.

Bob Schrader's your uncle, it is done!

Sometimes I have found abandoned bicycles that the only thing that is wrong with is that the brakes don't work.

In which case, just follow the instructions on The Bicycle Mechanic for fixing the brakes (seriously, they're not that hard to fix), and voila c'est fini!

In some cases they might require you to purchase new brake pads. They cost about $5.

And there you go, three of the most common reasons why people throw out / abandon their old bicycles - and how easy it is to fix those three common mechanical problems.

Now I could understand if someone was throwing out a bicycle because they were leaving the country and could not take the bicycle with them.

In which case the thing to do is take it outside, put a piece of paper on it that says FREE BIKE, and watch how quickly it disappears. In which case the bicycle should be in perfect working order.

Typically you will see the perfectly working free bicycles outside of apartment buildings on the 1st of each month. The previous owner moved out on the 30th or 31st and left their bicycle outside on purpose for someone to take it.

That I can understand. But for the silly people who abandon their bicycles because it has a broken part that could be replaced for $5 and some brief elbow grease? Those people need to realize how easy it is to fix their bicycle.


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