Wrenching It Out: Local Bike Mechanics

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Photo: Brent Rowland

In honor of National Bike Month, SLUG interviewed some of our favorite local bike mechanics to give us the scoop on their respective shops, and inspire you to pull out your own set of wheels and join them on the road.

Jace Burbidge
Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective

SLUG: How’d you get into bicycles?
Burbidge: As a kid, bikes scared the shit out of me. I was accident prone and, naturally, bikes facilitated a lot of blood. My family moved from Rose Park to Woods Cross and transportation into the city became a bit of an issue. A car was convenient and held a stereo, but was expensive. So, I bought a cheap hybrid from Guthrie’s and started my love of commuting.
How did you become a bicycle mechanic?
Burbidge: After graduating from high school … my daily transportation was still a bicycle and I had some nominal skills with a wrench, so I convinced the powers that were to let me spend [my scholarship money] at UBI, a bike mechanic school in Ashland, Oregon. In 2009, I found a job at SLC Bike Co. and had a chance to fine-tune some skills with high-end bikes before committing full time to the Collective.

SLUG: How is the Bicycle Collective different than a for-profit shop?
Burbidge: We are there primarily to put people on bikes and build a community. Working at the Collective gives me the opportunity to teach those that want to learn something without having to focus on whether or not they are going to pay me for it.

SLUG: How do you approach teaching someone bike mechanics?
Burbidge: Everyone can be a capable mechanic—it’s convincing them that they can and getting them to listen to the full explanation that can be difficult. The best way to really learn anything is to first watch, then do, then teach.
Do you have any future career goals pertaining to bicycles?
Burbidge: I’m really interested in the public school system and would love to see bikes play a bigger part in that. Bikes give kids a sense of freedom and power that they rarely get the chance to have. If a kid learns to be self-sufficient with a mode of safe transportation, they can do a million things that they don’t have to rely on parents or teachers for.