The Secret Greasy Handshake: basic bike repair classes for gals and guys

Some people have no more interest in learning to repair their bicycles than they do their automobiles.  They get a flat they call a tow truck.  Unless you are a member of the Better World Club,the bicycle friendly version of AAA which has roadside bicycle assistance, getting a flat tire on a bicycle can leave you stranded if you don’t know how to fix it yourself. Fortunately there are some excellent resources out there to learn the basics of bike repair and maintenance, including classes just for women with female instructors.

In Madison, We Are All Mechanics offers women a series of two bicycle maintenance courses throughout the year at Revolution Cycles. The classes are taught by Ali Dwyer and India Viola. I met Ali when she used to work for the Bike Fed and I first started and she is super nice. I don’t know India, but Ali is awesome, so India must be cool.  For more information about their classes and the next class in their repair series, contact them here.

Their Level 1 Basic Bicycle Maintenance Course consists of four ninety-minute class sessions and covers basic routine maintenance. Topics range from how to fix a flat tire, to brake pad and cable adjustments, chain cleaning, routine pivot-point lubrication, and removing the rear wheel. The classes take place within the repair area of a bicycle shop, and provide an insiders look at the mechanics’ work area. Our classes are kept small, with a low student-to-teacher ratio and emphasize a hands-on approach to learning. Students get a chance to ask questions about their bicycles in a relaxed and fun learning environment.  The cost for the class is $150.

In Milwaukee, Carolyn Weber is starting up a Ladies Night at the Milwaukee Bicycle Collective beginning this Thursday, from 6 pm to 9 pm. Women who want to ride together can meet at Truly Spoken Cycles at 5:30 for a group ride to the Collective. In the first class July 14th, women will learn how to change a flat.  The focus of second class July 21st, will be on adjusting brakes. The July 28th class will emphasize adjusting shifters.  The last class will be about general bike tune-ups and is scheduled for August 4th. The classes are free, but as always with non-profits, I’m sure small donations to the Bike Collective are welcome to help keep doors open.

At this moment, Ladies Repair Night will be run by one female volunteer and staffed by one male volunteer. The goal is to make this night 100% operated and populated by women, but due to difficulties with Collective key holder responsibilities and volunteer requirements (a limited pool of volunteers) it is not possible at this time. The male volunteer will, in the meantime, attempt to be as hands-off as possible.

What if you are a guy and don’t know your cone wrench from a pin spanner?  Of if you are a woman and the class schedules don’t work for you?  In Milwaukee Own Power Bicycle Logistics comes to the rescue with personalized classes that fit most any schedule and any skill level. Own Power is the brainchild of Mark Sirek, the former head of the service department at Wheel and Sprocket’s north shore location.  In addition to being a great wrench, Mark is super nice and over the last eight years has taught more than 600 people how to work on their own bicycles. Mark can come to you or you can go to him.  He can also help with personalized bicycle commuter services (routing, riding in traffic, gear, etc.) or give presentations to your business to get you biking for transportation rather than just recreation.

Take control of your destiny by taking one of these fun classes, and you will never fear a flat again.

If you know of other similar classes going on around the state, let me know via comments below or email me at dave.schlabowske (at)


About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
This entry was posted in Bicycles, Women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Secret Greasy Handshake: basic bike repair classes for gals and guys

  1. Jim Franzen says:

    I just helped a young lady whose chain had got stuck in her hub and was stuck along side the road with fingers black from grease. I think we all need to be ambassadors as we drive around and assist those we see in need. These classes are an awesome idea.

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