Do-It-Yourself Bike Repair at Windsor Bike Kitchen in Downtown Windsor

Oliver Swainson manager of Windsor Bike Kitchen, a non-profit community do-it-yourself bike repair and education centre, located at Bike Windsor Essex in downtown Windsor. Photo above by Robert Tuomi.

The fix is in and it’s in the kitchen, the Bike Kitchen. Bike Windsor Essex has set up a do-it-yourself repair shop, known officially as the Bike Kitchen, in the basement of its street level quarters in downtown’s Capitol Theatre building at 101 University Avenue West.

There cycling enthusiasts can do a little maintenance or full-scale repairs to their rides. Cost is minimal, $5 per hour, or $20 a season, to use all of the assembled bike mechanic’s tools at the ready. And for those who aren’t duly acquainted with one end of a wrench from the other, the Kitchen offers training programs.

Nick Schmidt carries out maintenance duties on his bike at Windsor Bike Kitchen.

Nick Schmidt carries out maintenance duties on his bike at Windsor Bike Kitchen located at Bike Windsor Essex in downtown Windsor in late March 2018. Photo by Robert Tuomi.

Oliver Swainson is the man in charge of the operation. He stresses the need to keep bikes in tip top shape at all times, particularly their tire’s air pressure. Ideally, it should be checked weekly. Pressures can vary by manufacturer so most post the required pressure on their tire’s side walls.

Personal injury, says Swainson, is too often the downside of bikes not operating properly, which can cause breakdowns during a ride.

Since the beginning of the year, the Kitchen has brought over two dozen bicycles up to snuff. Use is expected to grow as better cycling weather arrives.

Bicycle tire rims at the Windsor Bike Kitchen

Windsor Bike Kitchen keeps an inventory of bike parts and maintenance necessities, like these bicycle tire rims. Photo by Robert Tuomi.

One end of the basement is filled with donated bikes needing a little attention. The Kitchen’s Earn-a-Bike program, designed for low-income youth and new Canadians, allows its participants to refurbish these cycles and, once deemed road worthy, keep them. Doing the extra work, explains Swainson, diverts these discards from the local landfill.

For more information on the Windsor Bike Kitchen non-profit social enterprise, visit www.bikewindsoressex.com/programs/the-bike-kitchen/

Robert Tuomi
Article & Photo by Robert Tuomi

For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.