The DIY Chronicles: Bicycle Repair for the Incompetent

My ongoing efforts to become more DIY in advance of the zombie apocalypse continued last week. Last time I learned to make marmalade--so my brain will be sugary sweet when the zombie hordes break down my door. After writing that post, however, I got to thinking that perhaps I shouldn't so willingly offer myself as luncheon meat. The odds of me fighting off a bunch of zombies doesn't seem particularly likely at this point in my DIY training. But perhaps I could at least try to get away from them.

I have a beat-up old ten-speed sitting in my garage in need of repairs, so I paid a visit to the Bicycle Kitchen to see if they could help me tune it up. I admit, I was kind of dreading the visit. Any task involving a tool more complicated than a toothpick intimidates me. To put it delicately, I'm not so good with things.

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For example, my bike was not in riding condition and I live about 7 miles away from the Kitchen. So I needed to drive. But despite an hour or so of trying, I couldn't figure out how to get the front tire off so the bike could fit in my car. I finally figured out a way to cram it in the backseat, but I sliced up my upholstery, scratched my paint and got grease all over the car in the process.

Not off to a good start.

I imagined showing up at the Bike Kitchen and seeing a bunch of gear heads retch at the smell of incompetence as I walked in the shop. Thankfully, everyone was cool.

After a brief assessment the "cook" helping me, John, told me my bike looked to be in fine working order. I just needed to change the tubes in my tires and I'd be good to go. He handed me a couple of wrenches, explained how to take the tires off, told me to holler if I need him and left me to my own devices.

It took me an hour--with help--to figure out. Not great, but not too awful either. And I think I could actually change the tire again if I had to.

I may not be a fearsome zombie hunter yet. But I'm definitely far better prepared to flee in terror.

The L.A. Vitamin Report is a column about quality of life issues by Matthew Fleisher. It is brought to KCET's SoCal Focus blog in partnership with Spot.Us, which receives support from the Cailfornia Endowment.

The photo used on this post is by Flickr user m.aquila. It was used under a Creative Commons License.

About the Author

I'm a veteran LA-based journalist and editor who has been a staff writer with the LA Weekly and senior editor of the LA City Beat. I'm currently a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, editor for Fishbowl LA, and ...


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Major bummer that you messed your car up. Next time put your bike on the front of a bus. There is a line that runs on melrose and passes right by the kitchen. Whatever minor inconveniences you may experience with bussing it, won't be as bad as what you did to your car. Also, if your bike isn't too heavy, there is a red line station about a half mile from the kitchen at Vermont/ Santa Monica, you could carry it the rest of the way.


I've been wanting to buy a decent bike for a while now. This post gave me a reason to invest in one. It is A LOT easier to bike away than run...