This is a lonnngg page about how we work so that Bike Club operations can be picked up by other people as we grow and develop.
How did we get to where we are now ?
In 2005, Bri set it up in a shed at the bottom of a backyard at 40 Forbes St., Newtown, affectionately called The Nunnery to send bikes to SOS 2005. It was then opened to the public and when she went away to WWOOF and ride with PACE, Maurice and JP unsuspectingly took on keeping it open. MASSBUG promoted it, then Cheeky Monkey, followed by GoGet, Moz, Mark, Karen, SBAR, the press, Sydney Uni, the radio and you all told your friends and hordes of people started coming.
Towards the middle of 2008, we started looking for a new space, something bigger than a backyard, more welcoming and better setup for fixing bikes. Thanks to the efforts of Dylan Prins, James Nichols and Michael Shreenan (The Factory Community Centre Incorporated), we secured a new space at 1 Phillip St., Waterloo, owned by Housing NSW (our new landlord). We liked the idea of having undercover work areas, a proper workshop and lockable storage. It also brought us into a neighbourhood and a community that was in need of a bit of revitalizing. So we packed up and moved on down to Waterloo in Jan 2009 and have been growing steadily ever since.
Given that Housing NSW owns the premises we occupy, we are required to be more careful about the safety of volunteers and people who come into the work space and to keep it clean and tidy after use. Housing NSW makes regular visits to inspect the way we use and maintain the space they have made available to us to satisfy themselves that we remain good stewards of the privilege.
In the context of our relationship with The Factory Community Centre Incorporated, Julien was appointed Cycle Re-cycle Club Co-ordinator with Hugh as his deputy. When Julien took leave to tour the world, Hugh took over the role of Co-ordinator, with responsibilities for the day to day management of Bike Club over sighted by Factory management.
Where are we headed ?
Who knows ? Things are growing fast. We see more people each week and there are loads more regulars coming along to help out. Opening more nights per week or starting spinoffs in other areas are ideas that excite us.
THE NUNNERY ?
Why are we also known as ‘The Nunnery’ Bike Workshop.
Was the place in Newtown a nunnery ?
God, no. It’s so far from a nunnery that we call it the nunnery as a joke. We used to work out of the back of a women’s house in Forbes St., Newtown. We started there and they hosted us for many years.
Who lived there when we were there ?
About 4-5 women, referred to in this page as the ‘nuns’. Did they appreciate being called the nuns ? We still don’t know. Why did they host Bike Club ? Cause they’re cool and they do lots of social projects. Did they like having Bike Club there ? We are gone like the wind.
BIKES at THE NUNNERY
At ‘The Nunnery’, we had more storage space, albeit outdoors under tarps and so we were able to divide the area into ‘bike sections’.
Free Bikes – These ones were up for grabs so that people who didn’t have bikes could come and build one up and take it away. We gave hundreds away like this. They were not there for people to pick parts off.
Graveyard Bikes / The ‘Out Tray’ – these bikes were declared waste even though they often weren’t. Thars gold is in them thar hills ! They were the least working bikes usually with a terminal illness, like a stuffed thread where the bottom bracket goes, frozen seat, cracked frame, etc. Such bikes were stripped of parts and parts put in the shed, adult frames were neatly stacked to become wheelchairs in developing countries anything else was sent to the scrap metal people.
Project bikes – Bike Clubbers were working on these ones and were not to be touched. They were labelled with dates that were updated each time the owner worked on them. Bikes with dates older than 1 month were considered fair game.
Nunnery Bikes – these were Bike Club bikes. When a bike was donated that was so complete that giving it away was just too easy, we put it into this section. Volunteers sometimes fixed up a bike for fun and put it in this group. They were used as ‘common’ bikes for demonstrations, visitors or festivals or sold at markets. We even raffled one at Creative Dissent for fun. If we had too many they often went to Africa.
MATERIAL RESOURCES & SUSTAINABILITY
Mainly Bike Club obtains its goods from the waste stream, cost-sharing and community support. For example, all bikes etc. come from donations or from the street, thrown away. No one in particular goes out to collect them off the streets, but the more people who know of us, the more they just stop and salvage them for us, dropping them off or volunteers collect.
Bike shops like Cheeky Monkey, Cranks at Balmain, Woolys Wheels at Paddington, Clarence St. Cyclery and Crumpler give us HEAPS of parts and stuff for free because they’re cool. People bring in WD40, degreaser, oil, grease and other useful stuff from home. If we need something we ask around or put it on our web site. People often pay for stuff out of their own pockets though this is maybe not ideal. If you’d like to give us stuff, but don’t know what, check out the stuff we need page.
FINANCIAL RESOURCES & SUSTAINABILITY
In the past, we didn’t need much money. We did the Newtown DIY Markets, fixing bikes for free and selling some nunnery bikes. This was good because locals got to know about the bike workshop and we used the cash to buy cheap tools. We also got some cash from a Creative Dissent night once. We had a donations jar in the shed that didn’t see much light or money. We raised $400 at Peats Ridge Festival with Rebycycle, hiring out bikes from our fleet to punters. We bought cheap tools and pumps, etc. from time to time, but recently went upmarket with some pro wheel truing stands.
These days, at Waterloo and with our profile heading towards the dizzy heights of Sydney Town Hall’s clock tower, we raise money through the sale of new brake and gear cable (the safer option), donations at the ‘cellar door’ for really, really nice donated bikes that only need either to be dusted off or minor tweaking, bikes sales through collaborations with The Bower at Marrickville and RG2010 on Taylor Square, Darlinghurst.
During 2009, with a moderate grant from City of Sydney, we were able to buy 5 work stands and 2 more pro-wheel truing stands as well as more of the tools that regularly suffer abuse and misuse and those that grow legs.
BIKES at WATERLOO
The Bike Store is where donated bikes are allowed to rest before each Monday when they see the light of day and shout ‘pick me’ to anyone who doesn’t have a bike who wants to come and build one up and take it away. We’ve given many hundreds away like this. These days, we find travellers, back packers and international students will build a bike, use it for a while (even up to 12 months !) and then donate it back to Bike Club when they leave to return to their homeland. Bikes in the Bike Store are not there to pick parts from. There are plenty of parts in the workshop. Volunteers manage the Bike Store and, for the safety of all in the area, you must not climb the ladder or clamber over bike frames. You must listen to and follow ANY instruction issued by them.
So, if you want to breathe new life into a pre-loved frame and to give it a nice warm and safe environment to grow old in, the guys at the bike store will help you select the right frame for your stated use. Given that many more bikes are being donated, the Bike Store is chocker every week, so we cannot store your project. When you have selected a frame, the first step is to put wheels on it so you can at least roll it home.
Remember to spend 20 mins maintaining Bike Club every time you attend.
When a bike is donated that is so complete that giving it away is just too easy, we will either ask for a moderate cash donation to our ‘Tools and Consumables Fund’ or place it with one of our collaborators for sale.
From time to time, we cull the Bike Store of rusty, damaged or unsafe frames and wheels – ones with a terminal illness, such as a stuffed bottom bracket thread, frozen seat post, cracked frame, etc. These bikes are stripped of useable parts (By whom ? By you. That’s the answer to everything if you hadn’t noticed); parts are stored in the workshop. Some adult frames are sent to “The Men’s Shed – Mary MacKillop Outreach Centre” where the rear triangle becomes a wheelchair or a moving trolley; the rest we send to the scrap metal people.
On a bit of a sad note, since we moved to Waterloo, we have noticed some people who seem to be building more than one bike for themselves (probably to on-sell for profit). This is not in the spirit of Bike Club (see Acceptable Behaviour, below) and we are concerned that such unscrupulous behaviour undermines our efforts to achieve our goals and purpose. If you see this happening, please let one of the volunteers know. In Aug 2010, a very nice RetroGlide girls bike that we had put a lot of time and effort into, making it ready for sale, was stolen from us, probably to be on sold for profit.
Who opens Bike Club ?
It varies – people who have keys.
Who has keys ?
David, Paul, Len, Eric and Hugh (who also keeps the list of keys issued and to whom as well as the list of current volunteers with their contact details). We have all weeks covered at the moment and will email the group if we need more people to help open. Generally, now that we have so much great stuff to support what we do, we will open when there are at least 3 volunteers and enough people attending to help set up.
The toilet / washroom key is kept inside the workshop; ask a volunteer and return the key to them.
How do I get involved in organising / become a volunteer ?
Sign up to our mailing list in order to find out when meetings happen. Most volunteers seem to evolve without realising it from being a client after turning up for a few weeks in a row.
ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR at BIKE CLUB
Are there any rules ?
No, if there were, we would have to have sanctions for breaking them and it wouldn’t help to say “do as you would be done by”, since we all have a different set of values and sense of acceptable behaviours; there are only the following requirements, all of which are just plainly sensible and reasonable:
- be respectful of the workshop and outdoor work space;
- behave in a way that ensures Bike Club can remain in the space provided to us by Housing NSW;
- respect each other and the bikes we own;
- behave in a way so that everyone has a great experience at Bike Club;
- listen to and follow ANY instruction issued by a volunteer for reasons of safe working or tool miss-use tool abuse;
- take care to maintain the safety of you and others nearby in the work space; especially if you swing a hammer !
- keep a safe distance between you and others in the work space; especially if you swing a hammer !
- be respectful of the tools we provide (on loan to you) return them to the workshop or trays;
- DO NOT miss-use or abuse tools
- use tools ONLY for the purpose for which they were intended… a spanner is NOT a hammer !
- put tools back where they belong on the shadow board or in the box, etc. as soon as you have used them;
- if you have never used a certain tool before, ASK before you BREAK it !
- if you break something, own up to it AND replace it;
- if you have never done a particular task before, ASK before you make more work for yourself and volunteers;
- use gravity whenever you can – it makes life easier and you are less likely to injure yourself;
- give back to Bike Club 20 mins of your time when you attend to help keep the place tidy;
- clean up the mess you made before you leave;
- when donations come in, they are checked and put into stock; it is not the signal for a ‘free-for-all’ ‘grab-it-and-run’;
- parts or bikes MUST NOT be taken away from Bike Club;
- anything on or near the workshop bench is off limits – someone is probably working on it or sorting donated parts;
- do not give donations of cash to any volunteer – the Co-ordinator is responsible for recording all cash donations;
- bikes made with Bike Club resources MUST NOT be sold for personal profit; if you see an opportunity for Bike Club to benefit from a sale, discuss it with everyone and donate the money or some other form of offering back to Bike Club.
Is there someone to police this ?
You. Speak up if you think something is happening that shouldn’t. No one should ever have to be your police officer. If you don’t feel like talking to the person involved, talk to a volunteer.
Who maintains this website ?
Can I help with the website ?
Lordy, yes. Contact Hugh (see the Workshop Details page) and offer yourself. Post like crazy, but try to keep it to bike stuff.
Can I rip the guts out of the website and make it better ?
I don’t know, can you ? Get in touch.
Does anyone look at the site ?
About 50-100 visits a day.
“I can think of stuff that could work better”
“I have a cool idea, whom do I tell about it ?”
We’ll love you long time if you just do it. Bring it, build it, whatever. If you think it’s controversial or need help or advice, ask around. There’s a wealth of knowledge at Bike Club and chances are we’ve thought about it before and are full of ideas, but just didn’t get off our @#$% to do it.
Generally and now that so many people turn up to work on bikes these days, all volunteers are run off their feet, so there is almost no time for any one of us to tidy up the workshop bench and the mass of bits and pieces that need to be sorted into the plastic take away food containers; e.g. bits for brakes and levers, rear derailleurs and general nuts and bolts.
So, if you see any area that looks untidy or needs organising we would be very happy for you to just ‘muck-in’ and get it done. The best approach if you are short on bike parts / components knowledge, is to sort ‘like-with-like’ and one of us will take it from there.
Can people drop off donations only on Monday ?
Yup, but if you can think of another system do let us know.
Original by Maurice and JP (04/07)
(updated by Hugh 1/14)