It took me a while to get to this part. Honestly, I was dragging my feet a little bit because the idea of building my own bike was a little overwhelming. So I did what any good, mechanically challenged person would do: I waited for my dad to come into town.
Dad came to Missoula for five days and on the first day, I dragged him into Free Cycles and had him help me “build” a bike. I say “build” because what we actually ended up doing was finding a bike that just needed a few repairs and a lot of lube. We made sure the gears worked, we changed out the seat and the pedals. We added reflectors and a water bottle holder. We tried, unsuccessfully, to add a kickstand, but it just wasn’t happening. The gears were pretty sticky and it took a while to get them to transition smoothly, but we did finally manage to do so. During this process, we also learned that while the gears worked, the gauge didn’t, so I’ll always have to change them by feel (which is really what you do anyway). After my last experience with a bike, I made sure to buy a good lock and I even registered my bike with the city.
It was a fun project and I’m glad I got to do it with my dad. I think he enjoyed it too – he said the big wood-floored shop that is Free Cycles reminded him of the ranch he grew up on. And it’s been great to have an alternate mode of transportation around town (although, it’s getting pretty cold and not very fun to ride). So while I don’t think I’m ever going to get super into building and repairing bikes, I do highly recommend the experience Free Cycles has to offer. It’s a great program, a great resource for the community and a fun new thing to try.