Visiting the Bike Library and Workshop

I grew up biking a lot while living in Europe, but since moving to Canada my main source of transport has been a car or public transit. While I usually find ETS very convenient I have missed biking to get around. So, over the summer I retrieved my old bike from my parents’ house only to find that the brakes were not working properly anymore. Since that is an important part of a bicycle, I spend another summer on busses looking out the window instead of feeling the sunshine on my face. I had heard of a place on campus that did something with bikes, but I was a little apprehensive of just walking in there with a broken bike in tow. Where was this place exactly? Who ran it and would I be allowed to use the service? How much would it cost? I didn’t actually know how to fix a bike so I didn’t think I can do it myself!

After all those doubts, I finally took the opportunity to fix my bike last week so when spring rolls around I am ready! (I know biking during winter is possible, but I easily get cold so while there is still snow on the ground, I’ll just take the bus. Props to everyone who bikes in winter!) Quickly all my questions were answered and my worries assuaged. The place on campus where you can go to fix your bike is called the Bike Library and Workshop, and it is run by Sustain SU. It is located in the South Academic Building (SAB), and there are tools there as well as volunteers which will provide assistance if you aren’t sure how to fix something yourself. You can also rent a bike if you don’t own one!

bike library 2
The entrance closest to the Bike Library and Workshop is at the back of the South Academic Building (SAB). Check out the website for a detailed map! Featured: my bike waiting to go inside and be fixed!

Some general information that is good to know:

  • You can find lots of the information on the website. For example, current winter hours are Tuesday & Wednesday: 12:00 – 4:00 pm.
  • How exactly does it work? You do not need an appointment; just walk in during the hours they are open. All you have to do is sign a sheet when you walk in at the front desk. You can use any of the equipment that is available, and the volunteers and the mechanic are around to give a hand with any other repairs. They even provide aprons so you can work comfortably!
  • Wait times depend on how busy it is, since there is a limited space for bikes to be worked on. Right now is a great time to get your bike ready for spring before it gets busy!
  • The Bike Library and Workshop operates with cash only, so just make sure you have that on you if you need some parts. There are used parts available as well as some new parts. This includes u-locks, which are the best way to keep your bike safely locked up!
bike library 1
My bike mounted on a stand so it is easier to work on it.
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These bicycles on the left are part of the bike library and some of the available tools are on the right.

As for my experience, I went in with my bike since it had some trouble with the back brake. I learned from Dave, the resident mechanic, how to evaluate how my brakes were moving and how to remove the brake wire to check for kinks. In addition, I learned how to tighten my pedals since my bottom bracket was loose and how to align my wheels correctly! The volunteers were all very friendly and happy to have me in the space, and I learned a lot from them.

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Meet David Hohm (middle), the mechanic, and Evyn Fritzler (left) and Lucas Chmaus (right), the volunteers present the day I visited the shop.

Some tips from the pros:

  • Make sure your tires are inflated correctly. Fully in summer, less in winter. This will increase friction when you need it and prevent holes in your tires. Check the number on your tires to know exactly what pressure is best.
  • Small things add up. Preventative maintenance is much easier than replacing something so check that nothing on your bike is loose and fix little things right away.
  • Bike theft is an unfortunate reality, so make sure you always lock up your bike properly. Even around the university! U-locks are a good way to do this, and it is best to secure your wheels as well.

My time at the Bike Library and Workshop was wonderful, and I thank all the volunteers for making me feel very welcome there!

Nikki van Klaveren
Blog Team Member

4 thoughts on “Visiting the Bike Library and Workshop

  1. Awesome to read the blog and know about the Bike Library !!
    Sustain.SU team doing an amazing work there.. Cheers to the team for encouraging a healthy way of life through biking..


  2. i am a new to Edmonton and i hope i have landed the right blog for biking..!
    can’t wait to go and meet the bike library team..
    Does Sustain.SU also sell bikes (used bikes) ?


    1. Welcome to Edmonton! SustainSU is part of the University of Alberta so we mostly serve university students. We teach people how to fix their bikes, supply tools, and we rent bikes during the summer.


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