Even though I’m not much of a cyclist, I’ve been reading Kate Molleson’s new Gazette-sponsored cycling blog, On Two Wheels. In her most recent post, Kate hands over la parole to Kelly Ebbels, a bike-loving former news editor at the McGill Daily, who did a survey of Montreal’s bike co-ops:
I used to think that cycling was a solitary pastime. But lately I’ve come to realize, through taking long bike trips with roommates, watching gaggles of bike racers on TV, or working on my bike at a local bike co-op – that the best cycling experiences tend to be with others. And it’s the more gregarious cyclists in Montreal who have figured out that a collective, community-based model is ideal for bike repairs. Combine DIY maintenance with collective tool-sharing and teaching, and you have a great way to save money, get more out of your bike, and learn to love cycling even more.
There are a few great bike cooperatives around Montreal, and they’re great for at least two reasons: First, they have all the tools you need, and plenty of new and used parts to repair and improve your bicycle to your heart’s content. Second, bike cooperatives have volunteers or staffers on hand to help you out with whatever you’re working on. So each trip to a co-op workshop means you’ll learn a ton of new information from helpful and friendly volunteers, who are often in the same boat as you. If you have some major repairs ahead, you may want to check the work you’ve done at the end with a professional mechanic for safety reasons. But in general, bike co-op workshops are a dream come true for any cyclist who wants to save some money and learn more about how bikes work. And who doesn’t want that?
Ebbels lists five co-ops and community-oriented bike shops, including the newish Mile End Bicycle Garage (pictured above) which opened last summer in the lane between St. Urbain and Clark, south of St. Viateur.