A mixture of sounds emerge from the co-op headquarters: bike clamps tightening, wrenches clanking, pumps inflating tires. Head mechanic and College first-year Alicia Fessler guides members through repairing their bikes while a live recording of Oberlin’s Trombone Choir plays in the background. Fessler joined the Bike Co-op during the fall semester. Members of the co-op who feel confident in their ability to guide and train others are known as head mechanics. That said, no experience is required for new members looking to join.
“You come in, you keep coming in, that’s it,” Fessler said.
Keep Cottage’s lively basement is home to the Bike Co-op, a student-run organization that provides Oberlin students and community members with access to bikes and repair training. After the pandemic shut down cooperative organizations on campus in March 2020, the Bike Co-op reopened for business last semester and its mechanics are hoping for new members to join.
The Bike Co-op is currently repairing bikes in preparation for their spring rental program. To rent a bike, students and community members can email [email protected] to receive the spring 2022 lottery form. If their assigned lottery number is chosen, students pay an initial $35 deposit but get $20 back at the end of the semester when they bring back their bike.
If a student does not get chosen for bike rental, they can build their own bike after working three shifts at the co-op to learn the necessary repair skills. College first-year Dan-Ha Le explains her experience building a bike.
“It depends on what parts you start off with,” Le said. “I started off with a pretty already completed bike, and it only took like two shifts to get it done with the help of the head mechanic.”
College first-year Bridget Heinzerling, who joined the co-op during Winter Term, describes her experience as a working member as “grimy, chaotic, [and] lovable.”
According to head mechanic and College first-year Emerson Rosen-Jones, the Bike Co-op aims to make bike culture accessible.
“Our MO would be ‘distributing bike knowledge,’ but our slogan is ‘ride or die,’ so take your pick,” he wrote in an email to the Review.