What it’s like to Build Your Own Bike – From the “Frame Up”!

I have never considered myself “good with tools” or anything close to a “handyman” (or woman, in my case!).

I am embarrassed to admit that the words:

  • Phillips head
  • Allen wrench
  • Slot head
  • Robertson

Are very foreign to me!

I am the type of person that barely even knows what the expression “righty tighty, lefty loosey” means!!

I am probably not alone. I have not developed building skills because nowadays, most people don’t even think about starting a construction project – we usually hire someone to do it for us or buy it pre-built!

Gone are the days where we were taught to build using our own two hands.

But, this past year, I was presented with the unique opportunity (and challenge!) to build my own bicycle – out of used parts that would have otherwise gone to landfill.

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Working with the B!KE, a not-for-profit group that provides access to space, tools, and guidance for the development of bike mechanic skills, I was able to build my own bike from the “frame up!”.

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Staff members Tegan Moss and Charlie Best were very supportive and encouraging.

They promote and live by a “do-it-yourself” mentality, and equip you with the proper knowledge to help you build self-confidence in your abilities to build a bike – with no experience necessary!

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If you ask Tegan & Charlie “Can you fix my bike?” – they will reply:

No. But you can! And we will show you how!“.

B!KE advocates for the Peterborough community to become more cycling friendly. They help recondition donated bicycles and provide individuals with hands-on learning opportunities.

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The shop provided me with the tools and space and made it possible for me to build a bicycle.

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If you are looking for a winter project to get started on, I would highly recommend checking out the B!KE on George Street.

You can build a bike yourself and have it ready to go for the spring and summer months!

This project took me about 20 hours to complete.

Here are some things that absolutely must happen before  you build the bike.

  • Collect all the necessary parts for your bike
  • Clean parts- I washed and scrubbed the used pieces, making them shiny again!
  • Select frame and send for painting if applicable
  • Order wheels
  • Assemble headset and bottom bracket
  • Tires & tubes
  • Select & install handle bars, brakes, shifters, and derailleurs
  • Run and adjust cables and housing
  • Select and install bike seat
  • Install chain

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Once completed, I got to ride the bike. At first, I was terrified that it would completely fall a part – but to my pleasant surprise, it worked! I now have faith that I can build anything!

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I could not be happier with my bike.

Most people think the bike is a very complex machine that would be better left to “the professionals” to build – but I assure you the bicycle is a simple machine!

“Building my own bike was one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever completed in my life – no joke. To ride my bike for the first time gave me a real sense of accomplishment. If you were to ask me a few months ago if I thought I could build my own bike my answer would be a “hard no”. But with guidance, persistence, and the right resources at the B!KE, you really can build your own machine. Nothing feels quiet like pedaling through the streets on a bike you built yourself. You gain a new sense of appreciation for working with your own hands. I feel so proud of my bike! When people have asked me “Where I got it”, I can’t help but smile and answer “This bike isn’t for sale – because I built it!” Thank you again to the B!KE for all of your help. It was a satisfying experience and I would recommend anyone to give it a shot!”

Just like the Disney movie song goes, if I can learn to do it, you can learn to do it!

Visit them at www.communitybikeshop.org to learn about B!KE and how you can build (or fix!) your own bike too!

 

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