World Bicycle Relief is a global organization working to mobilize people in the developing world through the power of bicycles. The goal is to create a world where distance is no longer a barrier to education, healthcare or economic opportunity. So far, the organization has provided over 340,000 Buffalo Bicycles to students, healthcare workers and entrepreneurs across Africa, Southeast Asia and South America, empowering individuals and entire communities.
To sustain the impact of these life-changing bikes, World Bicycle Relief recruits one field mechanic per every 100 bicycles distributed. Mechanics learn assembly, maintenance and repair as well as basic business, marketing and management skills. Each mechanic also receives a full toolset, including new wrenches, a bicycle pump and branded World Bicycle Relief overalls. One toolset can be donated for just $50.
“From a sustainability perspective, World Bicycle Relief believes that dropping thousands and thousands of bicycles [into a country] without a plan for maintenance is a recipe for disaster.” – Brian Moonga, Country Director, Zambia
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Words: Richard Belson, Instructor at the United Bicycle Institute
1.) A couple years back, my son brought a Mylar Spiderman balloon home from a birthday. Eventually, it got droopy, so I finished the job and stuck a folded up Spidey into the seat bag of my commuter. A month later, I slashed my tire on the way to work—I used the balloon as a tire boot by folding it back on itself and placing it between the cut casing and the new tube. Two years later, when replacing the worn out tread, I realized that Peter Parker had been accompanying me through over 500 days of riding to work.
2.) The only way your chain will stay clean is if you never ride your bike. If you ride your bike, you need to clean your chain.
3.) If you want your bike to feel like new again, replace the cables & housing—even if you think it’s in good shape. It wears so gradually, it’s hard to tell that it’s causing any problems. As soon as you shift and brake with the new stuff, you’ll wonder why it took so long.
4.) Don’t underestimate the refreshing feeling of brand new bar tape or grips.
5.) Dunk-degreasing your chain removes more than just the dirty, unwanted exterior gunk off—it also removes the irreplaceable factory grease from its inner mechanisms. We prefer over-lubing a chain with your preferred lube, then wipe off the excess with a clean, dry rag. The extra liquid will wash away the majority of the accumulated dirt and spent lube from the chain’s exterior, while allowing the chain to retain its inner stock lubrication.
6.) Isopropyl Alcohol (91%)—available from most pharmacies and grocery stores—makes a great, affordable degreaser. Also, it leaves no film behind, so it’s great for suspension service, and it won’t harm sensitive parts, finishes or seals. If, after you’ve tried alcohol, you need more muscle, then move to biodegradable or chemical degreasers. But read labels carefully—many degreasers will etch polished or anodized surfaces, or dry out rubber seals.
7.) Learn which derailleur hanger your bike requires, buy an extra, and put it on your keychain. You’ll head Murphy off, and will have it on hand if you ever need it.
8.) Keep a couple different sized master links in your seat bag—if you bail a buddy out of a jam while out on a ride, you may get free beer, coffee, or dinner!
9.) Support your local bike shop whenever possible—you’ll be bummed when they’re gone.
10.) Get and use a Park CC-3.2 and thank me later!
Everyone is busy these days, and making time to get a bike tuned up isn’t easy. Often, having your bike serviced first requires you find a shop that will work on your particular model, and then having to leave the bike for days or weeks while it’s waiting for its turn. The Beeline model instead brings the bike shop to wherever you are, saving you time and hassle.
Each Beeline Bikes truck is a fully-equipped bike shop on wheels that can deliver service, parts and even brand-new bikes wherever you need them. You make an appointment online or over the phone, and they come to meet you. They take care of anything from fixing a flat tire ($9.99) to a full service tune-up ($79.99). The minimum service charge is $29.99. More advanced needs may require a Pro Service, whereby they pick up your bike and return it 2-3 days later.
The Beeline trucks also stock all kinds of parts and accessories, so if you want to add new grips or switch out your saddle, they can do that too. If you have multiple bikes that need service Beeline can cover them all in one convenient house call.
The service also partners with leading bike-friendly employers in the San Francisco area to provide on-site bike shop services at work.
Based out of San Carlos, California, Beeline Bikes was founded by Pete Buhl, a longtime cyclist and Silicon Valley veteran who has worked in technology and operations, and Andy Jeffrey, who has experience with inventory and supply chain management. While it still maintains a brick-and-mortar store in San Carlos, in the past two years Beeline has grown to include six mobile bike repair shops in the Bay Area supporting more than 100 companies.
Now the company is expanding into other markets through franchising. Instead of being owned by a central office, each Beeline repair service is its own independent franchise. This means the mechanics have more control over their hours, scheduling and overhead. Right now Beeline is considering opening operations in Portland, Los Angeles, Denver and other cities, but anyone interested in potentially becoming a franchisee can learn more at the Beeline Bikes website.