We make every effort to ensure that the bikes we restore have come from good homes, and go, at a fair price, to good homes. Their only fault, apart from their initial decrepitude and disrepair, is lack of use. We make sure they are roadworthy when they leave our shed, to bike shop standards.
Whilst we cannot be absolutely sure as to the provenance of every one of our donated bikes, we take care to ensure that they or their components weren’t parted unwillingly from their owner, and won’t let any that we suspect into the workshop. We are very good at smelling rats, and if one farts, we report it to the South Melbourne Police, who we have a good working relationship with. So if you want to volunteer or donate, keep in mind that we’ve got a responsibility to the cycling community, and that we stick by what we’ve said here.
We charge money for our bikes; the amount is at our discretion (always a fair bit less than market value), because we believe that bikes themselves are not currency, and don’t belong in second-hand or pawnshops. They’re to be ridden by people that need them, and we make every effort to ensure that this is where they end up. We do not aim to make a profit, but to cover running costs and expenses only. Nor should any of our participants.
If you are a new volunteer, you will receive tutelage in how to fix bikes. Your increased skill is your initial reward, and should be enough to keep you going for the time being. Your repair work will be quality checked by the co-ordinator (me) and you will be asked to correct some aspects of your work, or if you are unable to, will have it done by someone who is. This is not a vendetta against you. This is a necessary part of learning and customer safety. I (as a credentialled bike mechanic) will decide if the bike is in a roadworthy state and ready to leave the workshop (whether as a completed repair or a restored bike for sale), and under what circumstances it does so. We generally only sell complete and roadworthy bikes and common accessories such as lights, locks and baskets, not major parts such as frames and wheels – and if we do, we require for safety and liability reasons that we do the installation work. I will also have final say on which work we shall undertake, and for whom. We don’t do subcontract work for freelance bike repairers, so don’t ask us to “help us fix up the [component assembly] for a mate, I’ll do the rest” if you are one.
When you have spent some time with us and fixed up at least one bike to a rideable state, you will be eligible to build your own bike, or one for a friend, relative or associate. We will make a judgement about which parts you have to pay for on this, and which are a ‘perk’ of your time in the workshop helping us. We will also make decisions about which volunteers are eligible for ‘staff discounts’ on parts ordered from our suppliers. Volunteers have to ‘get some runs on the board’ before asking to purchase stock, new or second-hand. The more loyal you are to us, the more generous we’ll be to you. We have a fair idea of the value of most of the second-hand stock we hold, so don’t insidiously assume that you will walk away with an undervalued retro-chic cycling lust object at our expense. That really irritates me, and those in the habit of asking for a lot for very little effort get extremely short shrift.
We don’t build fixed gear road bikes, even with brakes. We don’t sell parts (especially frames) for fixies. We think that they are largely a twitchy and brain-off fad, dangerous and a liability when not ridden on a proper track by experienced track riders, and that poseurs and practical cycling are worlds apart. If you want to do that, buy your own tools, your own bits (from someone else), do it on your own time, on your own premises, with your own resources and insurance policy. If your cycling self-image is more Important to you than how you can help others by developing your as yet rudimentary bike maintenance skills, then stay away from our workshop. All our literature states that we are about building real transportation options for real people with real needs.