Wednesday, September 26, 2012

bike repair in Malmo - Part Two - "the cycle kitchen"


if you missed the exciting beginning of the story of the flat tire, here's Part One.


Part Two:

so the all day conference on Monday ended at 17.30 and I hopped on the train in Hyllie (by the way, it's not pronounced "hill e" as I was saying for the first few days when I arrived here in Malmo.  it's actually pronounced "hill you" in a kind of french manner where they roll the tongue during the you part).  I was home in less than 35 minutes after a quick train ride and a quick bus trip.  the transport was free because the conference gives every participant a 72 hour free public transportation card!  imagine that... the conference you are attending in a city offers a free method to use public transportation.  what a nice idea... thanks Malmo!
now a hub for local non profits in Malmo, including cykelkoket, the cycle kitchen
Stapelbaddsparken building (underneath where ships were pushed out to sea from the shipbuilding port, Dockan) is now a hub for local non profits in Malmo, including cykelkoket, the cycle kitchen
I was home just past 18.00 and the cycle kitchen was open until 21.00.  I hopped on my bike with the wheel in my hand and pedaled over (five minute trip from northern Vastra Hamnen to Stapelsbaddsparken) to the center of what was once one of the largest ship building areas in the world.  this area (also located north of the city center) is in Dockan, on the edge of what is now called Vastra Hamnen (western harbor).  this used to be the home of Kockums, the center of the shipbuilding universe for much of the 20th century.  they don't make ships here any more, but guess what they currently make.  that's right: wind turbines!
bike repair space in Dockan, Malmo
cykelkoket (the cycle kitchen) in Dockan where free tool time combined with volunteer bike experts leads to an amazing experience
the building is sloped from about 5 meters to nothing where it meets the ground at the new skate park and served as the location where giant ships were pushed into the ocean when this area was a shipbuilding hub.  the area below the slope has been converted from a workers area for Dockan into an incubator/ center for local non profits (called Stapelbaddsparken) including cykelkoket (the bike kitchen).
area for relaxation and computer/ art work in cycle kitchen in Dockan
"creative space" in cykelkoket which sits immediately adjacent to the bike repair area.  looks like a great spot for lounging when there are no bikes being fixed.  it was empty when I was there because everyone in the shop was working on bikes or bike parts.
I arrived at the bike kitchen and went down some stairs into the depths.  I talked with a very nice guy about my situation.  he told me all of the tools were free to borrow and he would help me if I needed it.  as it would turn out, I needed help and about two hours to get to the bottom of this seemingly simple flat tire...
Swedish military bike in progress
work being done to fix up a Swedish military bike which are surprisingly common in Malmo.  the guy fixing it up comes to cykelkoket every monday night to work on it.  he bought it on Craigslist.  he was riding it around the city with no brakes for awhile.
Bert (Bertil), who helped me off and on for the entire time I was in the shop, is a volunteer at the kitchen.  I asked him how it worked and he said basically some people pass away without a will or relatives and their money goes to the state.  the state divides the money into a wide range of non profit organizations that help people in communities.  the cycle kitchen is one of those organizations.  it uses the money from the state to pay to rent the space, keep the lights on, and buy tools as necessary.  all of the people working in the shop are volunteers.  pretty neat!  Bert said that there are other cycle kitchens opening up around Skane (southern Sweden) including places like Goteborg (the second largest city in Sweden).
free tools at the cycle kitchen in malmo
some of the free tools available for use to fix up your bike.  the shop also collects and fixes up old bikes that have been confiscated by the city or abandoned.
so my flat was a complete pain.  I will not bore you with all of the long drawn out details, but I will tell you what happened anyways.  if you are bored by bike talk, skip the next two paragraphs or simply look through the pictures.
Swedish style valve stem in unheard of in the United States
most common style of valve stem in Sweden is actually English, called the Dunlop valve.  in the US, almost all tubes have a German or Italian style (Schrader or Presta).  I had never seen this English version before.
the wheel was a very old 26" (which was actually somewhere between a 26" and a 700), but the tire was a true 26" so it wouldn't come off without a special "heavy duty" Park Tools tire lever that Bert had to get in the back of the shop.  because the wheel was not a real size, the tube we had didn't properly fit, but we decided to use it anyway.  the rim was so old and rusty that I decided to scrape it with a brush to get off the rust burrs and then wrap the rim in homemade rim tape (really just duct tape ripped to the right width and stuck on).
trying to retrofit the old wheel to change the flat, unsuccessfully
desperate first attempt to replace the flat tire involved using a special heavy duty tire lever to remove the tire, sanding off the rust and burrs in the rim, lining the rim with makeshift (duct tape) rim tape, and two grown men manhandling the tire to get it back over the rim with the new tube.  let's just say that this method failed and we ditched the entire wheel for another one (after about an hour of effort).
after struggling (the two of us plus some other folks who were there fixing their own bikes and volunteered to help as well) to get the tire back on over the tube and rim, we inflated with a foot pump.  slow hiss.  sad face.  after fiddling around some more we decided to ditch the wheel altogether and find another used wheel that was a true 26" to replace it.  we pumped it up and it was good to go.  Bert even took the time to take apart the hub and lube it up so that it ran smoother.
recycling at the cykelkoket
recycling at the cycle kitchen
all in all it was under two hours of exploring, talking, and learning about the place as well as fixing the flat and replacing the tire altogether in the end.  Tamara got back a new (used) wheel with a smoother hub (a better feeling roll) and a more common sized setup (so if she ever gets a flat again it will be easier for the next person to fix).  I got to learn about this cool and amazing place in Malmo where community building, sustainable practices, and education are taking place.  it reminds me quite a bit of one of my favorite Boston non profits that connects people, communities, and bikes for the betterment of the local area as well as for people all over the globe.  it's called Bikes Not Bombs.  maybe you've heard of it?  if not, I highly recommend you read a little about what they do.  if you are in a giving mood, they stretch dollars (and all kinds of currency) quite far.  it is a fantastic organization!
Bert, an expert bike mechanic at the cycle kitchen
Bert, a volunteer for cykelkoket, helped me solve what turned out to be a very complicated flat tire (I don't think I have ever heard the words complicated and flat tire in the same sentence)
thanks very much to Bert and the crew at Cykelkoket (in Swedish) and the other folks who were there fixing their own bikes (including Joakim) in Stapelbaddsparken in the Dockan (also in Swedish) area of Malmo, right beside the skate park.

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