Third Hand Bike Co-Op

I takes me half an hour to walk to office. Myself, Sid and Aniruddha (living in our apartment, doing Ph.D in chemistry, aka Amit) decided to buy bikes (bicycles are called bikes here).

We went searching for bikes on Monday. Here people use Google Maps extensively to find their way around. The shop we were looking for closed by 6PM. We decided to go on again on Wednesday. We reached back by 4.45PM. We travel mostly in Sid’s car – an awesome Mustang. We went to a shop – ‘Once Ridden Bikes’ in search of refurbished bikes. Most bikes in good shapes costed above 150$ – too much for me to spend for 2 months use.Then we headed to one more shop – it too had considerably costly bikes (yea, even old ones). All bikes here have gears. There was mainly 2 classes – mountain bikes and road bikes. Road bikes have thinner tires and are usually costlier.

Finally we went to a place called Third Hand Bike Co-Op. This place had a lot of peculiarities. It opens only twice a week – wednesdays and thursdays. That too from 6PM to 9PM only. They sell bikes in all price range (starting from 10$) but obviously not all in good condition. The interesting part is that they have a repair workshop. Here biking enthusiasts interested in tweaking with their bike parts can come and work on their bikes. They have lots of stands to mound bikes and all kinds of equipment required to work on bikes – from spanners of all size to instruments for tire alignment. The best part – they have volunteers who come in and help amateurs fix their bike. They go around instructing people and telling people how to go about tweaking things. I was really surprised to see people offering their time and service to unknown people for free. A culture that needs to be appreciated.

I chose a nice bike with a price tag of $50. A very jovial, amicable and knowledgeable person by the name – Tom helped me fix it. I initially noticed only a wobbly seat – dissembled it and put in some washers and bolts to keep it in place. Later I noticed that the bike had apparently sustained a pretty bad accident and the front tire rim was badly mangled. We though of fixing it and later abandoned the plan considering it’s not worth the effort. I got another (used) rim for $10. I never knew the spokes of a bike had this much significance. I came to know that tuning the spokes is sort of an art in itself. We figured out the misaligned part by mounting the rim on the alignment instrument & rotating it. Then we identified spokes to be tightened and loosened – some needs to be turned half a turn whereas some a quarter. Then we changed the tube and tire from the old rim to the new one. Fixed it on the bike. Tightened the brakes. Oiled the chains.I didnt notice the time fly by – after around 3 hours of tweaking I had a sparkling new bike in front of me. I thanked Tom a lot before leaving. Amit also got one. We both got ourselves mountain bikes. Sid couldn’t find one – he wanted a road bike. He ordered one from Amazon the next day – a pretty good one.

Sid left in his car. Myself and Amit rode back home on our bikes. It was a nice ride. The sideways here are designed with bikers in mind. There are inclined places in between where we can board the sideway or get off from it. It doesn’t get dark even around 8.30 -9 here presently (~ like 4.30pm back in Kerala). ThirdHandBikes was quite an experience.

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