Ask your friends who ride; biking around Seattle is fun and empowering. It’s also healthy, more sustainable and less stressful than driving, faster than walking and sometimes more convenient than transit. Plus, it can be incredibly affordable. What’s not to like?
Sure, you can spend as much on a fancy racing bike as a used car but many people buy a bike and basic equipment for a few hundred dollars. After the initial investment, maintenance is inexpensive and there are no fuel bills (well, except for biker fuels like pizza and burritos). You can even save more by buying used gear – many shops offer used parts and even refurbished bikes.
If you are new to biking, there are many available resources to get you started. From one-on-one riding instruction, to basic maintenance, to advanced repair, Seattle has many organizations that can help. Here’s a bit about three of them.
3709 S. Ferdinand St., Seattle
Bike Works, located in the Columbia City neighborhood for 20 years, is a hub for commuters, bike enthusiasts and beginners alike.
Youth and adult classes are structured to boost the community by teaching bike repair skills
and having access to a variety of tools and skill-building opportunities (like how to build a wheel). Bike Works’ most popular adult class, Bike Repair 101, is a six-week course that covers everything from fixing a flat to troubleshooting brakes and gears. This is great for people wanting to learn bike mechanics in a fun and supportive environment. All classes are on a sliding scale if participants want to volunteer with Bike Works.
The Volunteer Repair Parties (VRP) are the best (and free!) way to learn bike repair. VRPs give folks a chance to new learn wrenching skills while refurbishing children’s bikes to support Bike Works’ youth programming. New volunteers are paired with experienced ones while learning the basics. VRP is held twice a week on a drop-in basis, on Thursdays from 6:30 to 9:30 pm and Sundays 10 am to 1 pm.
Ready to wrench your own bike? Attend our Open Shop Community Repair Space on Sundays. It’s a friendly, safe and non-judgmental environment in which to learn, help others and build community. The space is available at a suggested cost of $5 per hour for repair stand time, tools and assistance. Punch cards are available, too. Remember, Bike Works’ full-service repair shop also sells refurbished used bikes and new parts and accessories.
845 Hiawatha Pl. S, Seattle
Mission statement: “The Bikery empowers Seattle bicyclists and encourages cycling through collaborative hands-on education, social engagement and fun.”
The Bikery is unlike any other bike shop in Seattle. We are an educational space offering a wealth of knowledge as well as being a fun place to hang out. Customers have full access to every tool, part bin and work bench in our space. Don’t know the difference between a spoke wrench and an allen wrench? That’s okay! Friendly, knowledgeable volunteers are eager to help.
We believe bikes are tools of education and empowerment, and that biking can and should be an accessible and affordable means of transportation. To that end we sell a wide range of used and new parts, accessories and used bikes. We offer classes, charge for repair stand time ($5-15 per hour) and collect donations. As a registered 501c3 non-profit we hold an annual fundraiser, the Bikery Bash. In addition, we host fun social events such as rides and camping trips.
The Bikery is committed to maintaining a safe space and we always welcome new volunteers. We are open noon to 8 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and 5-8 pm on Mondays. Swing by, say hi, and bring in your bike to give it some love.
7787 62nd Ave NE, Seattle
Cascade Bicycle Club offers a range of low-cost bicycle maintenance classes for adults throughout the year. To target beginners and give them a basic understanding of how their bikes work: Fix a Flat as well as Maintenance for Everyday Riders. For more experienced mechanics, we have additional classes in gears and advanced brakes. The She Bikes Cascade classes are led by female instructors and are open to all female-identified students. Classes are limited to nine students for optimal hands-on learning.
Private classes for kids or adults wanting to learn to ride a bike or needing a refresher course are available for $45 per hour.
A six-hour course called Back to Basics highlights stopping and starting, and how to steer clear of obstacles.
For commuters and road cyclists, Urban Cycling Techniques helps students gain confidence riding in traffic by explaining various traffic scenarios to anticipate, where to ride in the road, shifting and braking techniques and more.
The Cascade Education Department offers scholarships to those need- ing financial aid. Please contact us if you are interested in one of our classes or camps but cannot afford the registration fee. Eligibility includes those on food assistance, living in subsidized or public housing, or if one or more parents or guardians in the household is unemployed.