Free Cycles

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Community Shop

Help us help the community with 'Bicycle Services For All'! click:

A Fundraiser to raise $10,000 and keep Free Cycles strong

The community bike shop is open Monday to Saturdays 10am to 6pm. 

During open shop, you can fix your own bike, get used parts,  checkout a loaner bike or build your own free bike thru the bikewell program. 

We have volunteers to assist you in your project.  These services are free, yet donations into our donation jar are much appreciated.

The community bike shop is located at 732 South 1st Street West (3 blocks west of Orange Street, just south of the river).

If you want to build your own free bike, we ask that you perform 4 hours of volunteer service and take one bikewell class (taking the class is the 1st step in the process).  You can do your 4 hours of service during any open shop- just come on in.

The one hour bikewell class, which covers bike safety and maintenance, and gives an orientation to how the shop is set up, is offered Mondays at 6pm, Wednesdays at 5pm and Fridays at 1pm.  There is no need to sign up, just show up. 

After volunteering and taking the class, you can build a free bike, with our help.  Allow 2-6 hours to build a bike from our stock of donated bicycles.  Let us know if you would like a 'quicker' project, like a tune-up, versus a major rebuild that can take several hours or even days.  The bikes we offer in return for helping us for four hours are basic bikes that will run well.  The focus is on transportation for daily needs, and not so much on hard core mountain biking.  (If you desire a higher quality bike than our free bike program, we are still a good resource- come talk to us about possibilities). 

A best way to go about this process:

-Take a bikewell class
-Do 4 hours of service
-Pick out a bike and build it up or tune it up

This can be done quickly or spread over a couple weeks. Service tasks range from sorting and moving things, to fixing, cleaning and making things.  We match your skills (or desired skills) to the needs of the shop.  We can use all sorts of help.

If you want to better your own bicycle, just come in, talk with us, and get to work.  We help you, for free, as you need it.  While this shop is all about a 'do it yourself' ethic, we will not leave you stranded.  We enjoy helping you learn- please have patience, as sometimes many people need bicycle help at the same time.  And lend a hand if you can!

Donated bikes and parts can be brought to Free Cycles during open shop- we take everything. 

We also generally have complete and partial bicycles for sale, to keep the programs running.

For kids bikes, there is no requirement for volunteering or taking a class.  We give these away on a donation basis- pitch in what you can.  Most of these bikes need some tuning up, which we will help you with.

For kids 10 and under, no class or volunteer time required; 11 to 15 yrs of age: a BikeWell class and 2 hours of volunteering is done first; age 16 and up: the class and full 4 hours need to be completed before building.

If you would like to contact program director, Bob Giordano, call 880-6834, or email mist @ strans . org.   Come by and see us!


More about Free Cycles programs:

Community Cycle Shop: People can build bikes, get used parts, and use the community tools.

Pedal Education: Maintenance workshops and bicycle safety discussions.

CheckOut Missoula: Our rental bicycles.

Pedal Technology: Our program aimed at extending the use of the bike, with pedal power machines such as trailers, trikes, 4-wheelers,  and parking racks. 
Currently, we are making and selling bicycle parking racks, utilizing square tubing, old bike frames and angle iron from bed frames.  We are also working to provide low-cost bicycle trailers.  Come talk to us.

Festival of Cycles: Each fall we throw a bike party in a local park. The festival form and feel changes each year.    click for a description of a past festival


Pictures from the shop...



Free Cycles is open

Come on into the Shop, we'll give you a hand with your bicycle needs...



Entryway Counter at Free Cycles

Sign our guest book if you would like to leave a comment about our services, suggestions for improvements or be on our monthly email list. 



The main room of the community bike shop

The main room when you come in has 10 work stations for bike fixing. 



Example of a bike work station

One of 12 bike work station...



Simple bicycle tool board

The yellow work station- we strive to have 7-17 metric wrenches at each station, along with screw drivers, pliers and assorted tools.



The Purple Community Tool Board

The tool board in the middle of the shop has cone wrenches, pedal wrenches, tools for bottom brackets, scissors, tape, chain whips and hammers.  We have two wheel truing stations.



Flat Tire Repair Station at Free Cycles

Flat Tire Repair Station.  In addition to instructions, there are patches, glue, tire levers, a good floor pump and work table.  To fix a flat: find the hole with the help of the water bucket, dry the tube, scuff the area with sandpaper, spread a thin layer of the special glue over the hole/puncture, let dry for a minute (longer in humid climates), press and rub patch on making sure no edges are peeling up.  Ready to ride!



Bikes to choose from

We generally sort incoming donated bicycles into: free bikes, sale bikes, rental bikes and bikes for recycling
(saving good, usable parts first).



Organizing all the bike wheels

 Wheels hang on wheel racks that utilize old brake arms as hooks.



Wheels organized in racks

Good wheels are on the green rack, decent wheels needing work on the yellow rack, damages wheels for anything your heart desires are on the red rack.



Waiting Bicycle Wheels

Waiting wheels to be sorted, fixed or taken apart (we reuse spokes and axles when possible).



The bike parts in the shop

This shows half of the main parts room.  We always need help sorting, labeling and fixing parts. 



Lots of bike parts in bins

Bins of parts that make a bike go.



Bike Parts Bins

Another section of the parts room... 



Bicycle Tubes

Need a tube?  Patch it!



Bike tires on hangers

A rack of tires.  People donate lots of bicycles and parts to our program.  We make most of this available for free back to you. 



Bicycle spokes

Spokes of various sizes.  Spoke replacement is fairly easy- especially if the broken spoke is on the non-drive side of the wheel.


Bike parts in old wooden drawers

Old wooden drawers make great parts bins.



Bicycle forks on racks

Bent fork?  Not a big deal... allow an hour or so to replace...  or accept the challenge of straightening out that bend.



Bicycle Fenders

Keep you and your bike dry with a set of fenders.



Chains hang on little nails


Three things to consider for replacing your chain.  Compatibility (must fit on your chain wheels and cogs), Length (put the chain on your big chain wheel in front, big cog in back, and the derailleur should be flexed 45 degrees forward with respect to your chain stay) and Ware (a really used chain is stretched, and cannot be remedied by simply removing links).  To test for chain ware, either use a special tool (chain checker), or pull on the chain as it sits on you big chain wheel up front, and see how much it pulls off the teeth.  If you can pull the chain more than, say, two thirds off the tooth of the chain wheel, it's time to think about replacement.  Yet, it could easily be worn chain wheels and cogs and not a worn chain causing issues.  Keeping drive trains in good working order is one of the greater challenges with bicycles and especially our community shop.

The Power of the Bike, the Power of Community

A bicycle in a way is very complex with so many little parts and each bicycle can be unique.  In the other way, a bicycle is a simple machine that takes very little time to understand.  It is all about cups and cones, axles and bearings, things to make you go and make you stop, and putting in some care and attention to your mode of transportation.  We believe strongly in the power of the bicycle and the power of community and especially combining the two!