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The City Journals

Keep your bike tuned for the trails with Salt Lake’s Bicycle Collective

Aug 07, 2019 04:46PM ● By Jenniffer Wardell

Joe and Jeff Zia work on a trail bike Joe recently purchased from the Bicycle Collective. (Jenniffer Wardell/City Journals)

By Jenniffer Wardell | [email protected]

You can’t conquer a mountain trail if your bike isn’t in good shape. 

For those wanting an inexpensive way to keep their mountain bike in optimum condition, the Bicycle Collective is here to help. With locations in Salt Lake, Ogden, Provo and St. George, the Collective offers open benches, tools and expert help for anyone looking to maintain and repair all kinds of bicycles. They also offer classes for both kids and adults. 

“We have pretty much everything required to fix most bikes, even old ones,” said Amy Nguyen Wiscombe, the volunteer and program coordinator for the Collective.

Just inside the front door of the Salt Lake location is the bike repair room, with rows of tools and equipment and racks to hang bikes while they’re being worked on. Rows of rims hang overhead, and a stack of tires rests along one wall. A separate room has even more tires and tubes. 

“We only have six benches, and they’re usually full from beginning to end,” Wiscombe said. “There are also usually three people on the wait list.”

If you’re on the wait list, it’s best not to go anywhere. 

“You have to hang out,” she added. “You don’t know when a bench is going to be done.” 

The benches are mostly open during what the shop refers to as DIY (Do It Yourself) hours. During that time, volunteers and paid experts are also on hand to help answer the questions of anyone working on their bikes. 

“The nice thing about repair here is that you’re repairing your bike, but they have guides here who are pros,” said Joe Zia, who was working on the trail bike he’d recently purchased from the Collective. “If you’re in over your head, they can guide you.” 

Zia’s son, Jeff, was there learning how to take care of the bike he would be using frequently. 

“I’m actually a great bike rider, and my dad is, too,” Jeff said. “We go on trails three times a day.”

When questioned if they really did that much riding, Zia smiled. “We go quite a bit.”

The only two things the Collective won’t do is bleed hydraulic brakes and repair mountain bike forks (the part that holds the front wheel). 

“(Our experts) might not have that type of knowledge,” Wiscombe said. “It’s pretty specialized.”

The Collective also has a Youth Open Shop, where children and teens get exclusive use of the benches. They also have a weekly WTF night (Women, Trans and Femme), designed exclusively for those female, transgender, genderqueer, transmasculine, transfeminine or femme. The nights, which are part of a national movement, are meant to give those individuals a safe space to work on bikes. 

“Cycling is typically pretty dominated by men, and a bike shop can typically be a pretty intimidating space,” Wiscombe said. “We try to be really welcoming and inclusive.” 

DIY time, Youth Open Shop, and WTF night are all $5 an hour for bench time. The complete schedule for all three sessions are available at the Collective’s web site, www.bicyclecollective.org 

“It’s a lot cheaper than getting it serviced at the bike shop, and you know the work that’s getting done on your bike,” Zia said. 

Lucas Ruiz was also in the shop, working on his mountain bike. 

“I do at least 40 miles a day on my bike, so I have extra wear,” he said. 

Even if you don’t ride that far every day, you still have plenty of reason to tune up your bike.  

“All bikes require regular maintenance of some kind,” Wiscombe said. “Right before you ride, you should always check your air, brakes and chain. Once a month, you should give your bike a detailed cleaning, lube your chain and check to see if things are worn out.”

The Collective’s next round of mountain bike classes for kids should be announced next April, with word going out on their social media accounts. Other classes will cover everything from flat repair to suspension systems to derailleurs. 

Just like the people who use the benches, the students come from all walks of life. 

“They range from college kids all the way to retired folks,” Wiscombe said. “All different socioeconomic levels.” 

It’s that variety, and the opportunity to help them, that help keep the Collective going.

“There’s incredible diversity in Salt Lake,” she said. “We get to meet these people and experience their stories.”