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With fewer parking spaces to go around, CMC has attempted to increase the number of bicycles on campus with the opening of our very own cycle shop at the end of September. 

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Bike shop employee Melissa Irvine takes a look at a student's bike. Photo credit: Katie Walker '10

In addition to fixing bikes, the shop also offers rental bikes.  Nestled in the basement of Wohlford Hall, it remains largely unused by the student body despite the remarkable fact that repairs and rentals are provided free of charge.  Mike Carroll (’12), an employee at the shop, says that while rentals have been steady since the shop’s opening in late September, traffic is still lagging.

“[There are] four or five people during the afternoons.  Less on the mornings or weekends,” says Carroll, one of several student bike technicians employed by the shop.  The student employees are working through Federal Work Study, which likely accounts for the long hours of the shop.

In an article detailing the release of the shop on the CMC homepage, Dean of Students Jeff Huang hailed the shop as being a breakthrough both in terms of sustainability as well as an alternative for freshmen disallowed from bringing their own cars to campus.  Huang cited the service the shop would provide the school, saying that “Many students bring a bike to campus, but most don’t have an air compressor, or even a hand pump, nor do they have a way to put the bike in a car and take it to a bike shop.”

Many students do a poor job at taking care of their rides, and the bike techs at the shop have worked on numerous bikes with mechanical issues placing the rider at risk.   “I am consistently surprised to see the condition of some of the bikes that are brought in.  Amazing that they are still able to be ridden,” said Carroll, who rides both competitively and recreationally.

From the language of the article, it would seem the opening of the bike shop was going to hail the advent of a bicycle revolution on campus.  Perhaps part of the shop’s relative lack of patrons is a lack of publicity.  The shop opened in mid-September with little fanfare.  With training provided by Paul Miller, owner of Cycle Werks bike shops in Orange County and father of assistant dean of admissions Adam Miller (’03), the staff at the CMC bike shop are qualified to handle a variety of repairs.  “Even if we can’t fix it for you, it’s still good to identify any problem so it can be taken care of sooner rather than later,” says Carroll.  “There is a bike shop just a short walk down to the Village, with an incredibly friendly and helpful staff.”

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Pitzer's Green Bike Program

Nonetheless, the shop is under-utilized.  It’s disappointing to see something that could be a legitimate bonus for the CMCcommunity sit empty for the majority of the day. And those are long days, mind you, with hours from 9 AM- 10 PM on weekdays and 11 AM- 6 PM on weekends.  Why the shop needs to be open well after dark is a bit of a mystery.  Emergency tune-ups perhaps? Maybe its tucked away location and lack of signage are to blame– in contrast, Pitzer’s Green Bike Program is housed next to their student center and has an eye-catching facade.

With this new addition to CMC’s sustainability agenda, perhaps some of the car-less freshmen should consider investing in a two-wheeled form of transportation. In the meantime, at least the CMC student body will have the security of knowing you can get your gears oiled any time of day.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Nice article. Bike shop is the best kept secret on campus. It is sooo clutch.

    The long hours are great. You never know when you need that ride.

    My only complaint would be that all the bikes are mountain bikes or cruisers. I’d personally prefer a road bike… but I guess borrowers can’t be choosers.

  2. Nice article. Bike shop is the best kept secret on campus. It is sooo clutch.

    The long hours are great. You never know when you need that ride.

    My only complaint would be that all the bikes are mountain bikes or cruisers. I’d personally prefer a road bike… but I guess borrowers can’t be choosers.

  3. Only some of the mechanics know what they are doing. I am usually redirected to Michael for any fix requireing anything more than a hand pump.

    So I just end up going to Pitzer for most of my fixes cuz my times don’t match Michael’s work hours…

  4. Only some of the mechanics know what they are doing. I am usually redirected to Michael for any fix requireing anything more than a hand pump.

    So I just end up going to Pitzer for most of my fixes cuz my times don’t match Michael’s work hours…

  5. I agree that the shop could use some more tools and trained employees. While I’m pumped that it’s here and I’m sure it serves those without bikes or bike knowledge well, the only times I have been in there they didn’t have the tools I needed or they were unable to help me. All this is fixable–I’m sure that within a few semesters it should be much more functional and have what CMC students need. But, seriously, they don’t even a tire pump for presta valves (the kind that are on most road bike tires) or metal tire irons (which are much easier for me to use, at least).

    As for renting out road bikes, that would be awesome but I have a feeling its way beyond their budget and the shop’s vision. It seems that they want to offer bikes for making short trips to the village and local places. Cruisers and mountain bikes work well for this, especially if they are used a lot, because they handle wear and tear better and aren’t that much slower for short trips. Also, there’s a greater incidence of flat tires and chain problems with road bikes that students might not want to deal with on their way down to the coffee bean.

    If they wanted to pursue the road bike thing, maybe they could buy a bunch of used parts and let their employees or any other bike aficionados come and help put them together-it would be cheaper and could teach the employees more about bike mechanics. Not that those bikes would necessarily be that easy to ride either, but hey, it would be fun.

    I’m optimistic about the future of the bike shop, but I don’t know if its quite there yet. Enjoyed the article!

  6. I agree that the shop could use some more tools and trained employees. While I’m pumped that it’s here and I’m sure it serves those without bikes or bike knowledge well, the only times I have been in there they didn’t have the tools I needed or they were unable to help me. All this is fixable–I’m sure that within a few semesters it should be much more functional and have what CMC students need. But, seriously, they don’t even a tire pump for presta valves (the kind that are on most road bike tires) or metal tire irons (which are much easier for me to use, at least).

    As for renting out road bikes, that would be awesome but I have a feeling its way beyond their budget and the shop’s vision. It seems that they want to offer bikes for making short trips to the village and local places. Cruisers and mountain bikes work well for this, especially if they are used a lot, because they handle wear and tear better and aren’t that much slower for short trips. Also, there’s a greater incidence of flat tires and chain problems with road bikes that students might not want to deal with on their way down to the coffee bean.

    If they wanted to pursue the road bike thing, maybe they could buy a bunch of used parts and let their employees or any other bike aficionados come and help put them together-it would be cheaper and could teach the employees more about bike mechanics. Not that those bikes would necessarily be that easy to ride either, but hey, it would be fun.

    I’m optimistic about the future of the bike shop, but I don’t know if its quite there yet. Enjoyed the article!

  7. I have had some problems with the bike shop (sometimes I come in and no one is around–especially when I need to drop it off), but all in all, who doesn’t want a free Zipcar for bikes?

  8. I have had some problems with the bike shop (sometimes I come in and no one is around–especially when I need to drop it off), but all in all, who doesn’t want a free Zipcar for bikes?

  9. As a class of ’03 grad, I think the bike shop is a great idea. My commuter bike never needed much attention while in Claremont, but the shop would have come in handy on a few occasions.

    I now work for a non-profit in urban Phoenix where I am developing a bike shop micro-enterprise called Barrio Bikes (come find us on facebook). We teach bicycle maintenance and repair skills to local at-risk youth, while they log shop hours in order to earn a bike for themselves. We have a couple youth on an apprenticeship program who are getting paid for their hours as mechanics. We spend most of our energy rehabbing bikes for the youth to earn or for sale to the local community. It’s a pretty cool set-up.

    I do get old road bikes in stock fairly often; once cleaned up, they tend to be very reliable daily riders. You can often find good deals on vintage road bikes on craigslist or in a local Goodwill. I generally buy a used road bike in the $30-50 range and turn it into a daily rider with a good tune-up and new tires. We’ve even converted several to single speed or fixed gears and there’s very little to go wrong once in that configuration. And the biggest concern with flats is to simply keep your tire pressure up in that 100-120 psi range every time you ride. All in all, I guess I’m saying road bikes aren’t that expensive and make for great workhorses.

    Can’t wait to visit the bike shop. Good job CMC!

  10. As a class of ’03 grad, I think the bike shop is a great idea. My commuter bike never needed much attention while in Claremont, but the shop would have come in handy on a few occasions.

    I now work for a non-profit in urban Phoenix where I am developing a bike shop micro-enterprise called Barrio Bikes (come find us on facebook). We teach bicycle maintenance and repair skills to local at-risk youth, while they log shop hours in order to earn a bike for themselves. We have a couple youth on an apprenticeship program who are getting paid for their hours as mechanics. We spend most of our energy rehabbing bikes for the youth to earn or for sale to the local community. It’s a pretty cool set-up.

    I do get old road bikes in stock fairly often; once cleaned up, they tend to be very reliable daily riders. You can often find good deals on vintage road bikes on craigslist or in a local Goodwill. I generally buy a used road bike in the $30-50 range and turn it into a daily rider with a good tune-up and new tires. We’ve even converted several to single speed or fixed gears and there’s very little to go wrong once in that configuration. And the biggest concern with flats is to simply keep your tire pressure up in that 100-120 psi range every time you ride. All in all, I guess I’m saying road bikes aren’t that expensive and make for great workhorses.

    Can’t wait to visit the bike shop. Good job CMC!

  11. I wish/hope there was some effort made to see if students would actually use the shop when this project was initially conceived. Whenever I walk by it looks like the bike techs are just watching Lost, doing homework, or lubing up (chains). I’ll do that for free if they need to cut costs.

  12. I wish/hope there was some effort made to see if students would actually use the shop when this project was initially conceived. Whenever I walk by it looks like the bike techs are just watching Lost, doing homework, or lubing up (chains). I’ll do that for free if they need to cut costs.

  13. Dan, exemplary journalistmanship. I must say that I have been inspired to visit the shop, despite the fact that I sleep with and cook dinner for the manager of the GBP. That Mike Carroll is a hell of a guy, boy I tell you.

    By the way, road bikes aren’t expensive if you don’t buy them. All of the GBP’s bikes are donated, and I certainly hope that CMC’s bike shop isn’t buying new bikes. Even if we can’t get free bikes, cheap ones are abundant. Plus, cruiser bikes are a slap in the face of human ingenuity. Whoever is responsible for taking every technological and structural advancement ever made upon the bike — the single most efficient piece of man-powered transportation ever devised — and throwing them out the window by coming up with the heavy, awkward, and slow cruiser bike ought to be maimed publicly.

  14. Dan, exemplary journalistmanship. I must say that I have been inspired to visit the shop, despite the fact that I sleep with and cook dinner for the manager of the GBP. That Mike Carroll is a hell of a guy, boy I tell you.

    By the way, road bikes aren’t expensive if you don’t buy them. All of the GBP’s bikes are donated, and I certainly hope that CMC’s bike shop isn’t buying new bikes. Even if we can’t get free bikes, cheap ones are abundant. Plus, cruiser bikes are a slap in the face of human ingenuity. Whoever is responsible for taking every technological and structural advancement ever made upon the bike — the single most efficient piece of man-powered transportation ever devised — and throwing them out the window by coming up with the heavy, awkward, and slow cruiser bike ought to be maimed publicly.

  15. I am a huge fan of the bike shop. I’ve probably rented a bike 10 times already. However, I f***ing hate the cruisers. Why would I choose having stupid pedal-backward brakes? (I was glad to be rid of that when I graduated from my mickey mouse bike when I was five.) Why would I choose not having gears?

    Ditch the cruisers, buy some more road/mtn bikes.

  16. I am a huge fan of the bike shop. I’ve probably rented a bike 10 times already. However, I f***ing hate the cruisers. Why would I choose having stupid pedal-backward brakes? (I was glad to be rid of that when I graduated from my mickey mouse bike when I was five.) Why would I choose not having gears?

    Ditch the cruisers, buy some more road/mtn bikes.

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