When he first walked into Bike Saviours in Tempe, Christian Lee Bowers was so awed by the place he was speechless.
“The next day, I even wondered if this place was real,” he said. “So I came back and instantly just started working on projects.”
The cooperative bike shop not only teaches customers how to fix their bikes, its volunteer mechanics help those who need bikes build them from scratch using donated parts available at reasonable prices.
The shop also sells certain new parts, such as tubes and tires, and it hosts workshops for women, according to the Bike Saviours website. It also works with partners to educate riders and make Tempe a safer, “more bikeable” place to live.
“It brings a lot of joy into my life,” said Bowers, who volunteers at Bike Saviours. “This place kind of calibrates my heart and my compassion a lot.”
Shop manager Nicole Muratore also described the nonprofit, which has been around about a decade and at its present location for five years, as a “recycling project.”
“Our biggest revenue stream is from the sale of used parts – so if it has life left in it, we keep it,” she said. “We have several outlets and tributaries for the things that come into our shop because we don’t want them to just wind up in some landfill somewhere.”
Indeed, on its website Bike Saviours note that they don’t sell ready-to-use used bikes.
“The reason we sell bikes at $25-50 is that bikes come donated to us in various states of disrepair,” it states. “Depending on what bike you pick, what condition it’s in and how many times you come in per week, the time it takes to build a bike varies. You will be building the bike and learning the repairs of it on your own, with the assistance of our volunteer mechanics. It usually takes a week or two at the very least.”
That conforms to the nonprofit’s mission “to teaching people about bicycle maintenance, building and repair. We operate as a tool share that is completely open to the public. We provide affordable repurposed bikes and parts through the collection of donated, recycled parts from the community.”
“With 10 workstations, a selection of basic and specialized tools, and experienced volunteer mechanics all available to the public, we can help you get your bike riding smoothly or even build up a new-to-you bike,” it says. “Appointments are not necessary — just come in during our regular hours and be prepared to learn and get greasy.”
Bike Saviours will take donations – but only during business hours.
And it is always looking for volunteers.
“If you’re handy with bike fixin’ already, drop in and help out. If not, we would love to teach you by either showing you on your own bike, assisting you with a project build, or through mechanic shadowing,” its website says, adding:
“If getting greasy isn’t your thing, we’re always looking for people to run our greeter desk. Tasks include signing in shop users, light triage of our patrons’ needs in the shop, ringing up sales through our Square register system, and setting up patrons with a stand and mechanic.”
Bike Saviours, near Broadway Road and Roosevelt Street, is open Sundays through Thursdays; no appointment is necessary. Ten workstations, as well as basic and specialized tools, are available for $5 an hour with a $15 ceiling. For riders of minimal means, the shop also swaps work for bike parts.