FAQ

Should I come to open shop night if…

I don’t know the first thing about repairing a bike and I’m not a serious cyclist?

No problem. We all have to start somewhere. Our goal is to help you gain access to tools and space where you can learn how to fix your own bike in a casual and friendly environment. The best way to learn is to bring your own bike to work on. It is also important to do some of your own research prior to coming to open shop, so you know where to start to tackle your project or what parts you may need.

The majority of work being done at SBK is on everyday commuter bikes, but lots of other kinds of bikes come through our doors. SBK is open to everyone of any background and experience level, whether you just bought your first bike and need to fix a flat or have decades of cycling experience and are building your own custom bike.

Who runs SBK?

SBK is operated about a dozen staff, and lots of volunteers. Half of our current staff members are women and/or non-binary people. We’re all enthusiastic about bicycles, bike repair, and sharing our knowledge.

Does SBK fix my bike?

We are a do-it-yourself space (DIY) and do not offer bike repair services of a retail bicycle shop. As a policy, our staff do not touch guest’s bikes. We can only advise and demonstrate while you work on your bike with our tools. We are here to point you in the right direction, or to the right bike shop if you need professional assistance.

What if I only have a flat tire?

Fixing a flat is a perfect reason to come to open shop night! We have patches to repair tubes and some used tubes. If you want a new tube you must bring it with you, we may not have the size you need. Please buy one from a local shop!

I want to work on my bike at SBK, but cannot afford to make a donation…

Not a problem! Our suggested contribution of ten dollars per hour is on a sliding scale. We are happy to accept more, less, or nothing! Whatever you can afford. We accept cash and Venmo.

My bike is making a squeaking noise or feels off?

Nobody likes a squeaky bike! We’d love to help you figure out why your bike is squeaking or creaking or isn’t feeling quite right.

I need to get this repair completed tonight?

We cannot guarantee you will be able to repair your bike in one night. Often, even simple repairs take much longer than they do on Youtube, especially if it is your first time. Please budget 2-3x the time that a repair should take to be safe. You take full responsibility for the completion of your repair. If your repair isn’t completed by closing time, you may have to walk your bike home!

Do you have bike parts?

We have some used parts available for repairs at open shop nights. These parts may or may not fit your bike. SBK is not a retail bicycle business with regular inventory. If you need new brake pads, chain, tires, or other consumables, please purchase them at a local bike shop before coming to SBK. We do keep cables and housing at SBK for cable replacement.

What kinds of bikes can I work on at SBK?

Most kinds! That includes e-bikes, cargo, folding, triathlon, mountain bikes, and even trikes! However, we likely don’t have all the tools for some of these bikes as they often have specialized parts and standards.

Feel free to email us with the make, year, and model of your bike and we can tell you what things you may or may not be able to do at SBK.

Are there kinds of bike work that are not allowed at SBK?

We don’t allow work on motorized bikes (mopeds), scooters, or on e-bike motors and electronics. If your e-bike has standard bike parts (mechanical brakes, derailleurs, etc), you can work on those here though!

Can you help with wheels, hydraulic brakes, and/or suspension?

Yes, we have wheelbuilding tools at SBK for standard nipples and spokes. You can do truing, spoke/rim replacement, and custom wheel builds here!

We do not allow the servicing of DOT fluid brakes (SRAM) at SBK. Mineral oil brakes (Shimano, Tektro, Magura) are OK, but we do not allow full two-way bleeds at SBK due to the mess it creates. Please provide your own bleed kit and brake fluids.

We have tools for suspension adjustment and basic suspension service, including bearing replacement.

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Do you have an open shop night for femme/trans/women/non-binary people?

For those who want a FTW only environment, Femmechanics hosts Grrrrease-time @ SBK usually on the third Wednesday of each month. This event is at their discretion and sometimes moves or is cancelled, please check with them if you’d like to attend!

Do you take bicycle donations?

While we usually accept small parts donations, SBK does not accept full bike donations. If you have a bike in decent working order please reach out to Cambridge Bike Give Back or Bikes Not Bombs to donate your bike – both are local non profits doing great work.

Do you work for the city of Somerville or do bike advocacy?

No. We are an independent co-op for bike repair. If you want to learn more about official city bike advocacy, please check out the Somerville Bicycle Committee, Cambridge Bicycle Committee, or Boston Cyclists Union.