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Monday, June 30, 2014

An Essay on the Topic of Abandoned Bicycles

Many people in Toronto (and other cities like Toronto) have bicycles.

But many people also either apparently lack the mechanical skills to fix their bicycle;

Or they have skills but are simply lazy.

I am uncertain which it is.

What I do know is that I see a lot of abandoned and "broken" bicycles on the streets of Toronto on a regular basis.

Sometimes I even take the abandoned bicycle, I fix it up and I sell it. It isn't thievery. It is an unlocked bicycle with something broken on it.

Often it just needs a replacement part and the part is somewhere in the $5 to $50 range, but for whatever reason the previous owner was too busy or lazy to go to a store, buy the part, replace the broken part, bob's your uncle, your bicycle is (practically) good as new.

And it boggles my mind that the people abandoning their bicycles don't know they can do this. Something breaks, they are too lazy to fix it, so they just abandon the bicycle because they think it is easier to go and buy a brand new bicycle instead.

Let us assume the average person spends at least $200 on a new bicycle. If they make $20 / hour doing whatever it is they do, they just spent 10 hours working just so they could get a new bicycle.

When they could have just walked to a store, purchased a $5 to $50 part, replaced the part, and the comparative cost to them would have been either 15 minutes worth of work or 2.5 hours worth of work (assuming they are getting paid $20 per hour).

And now hopefully you understand why my mind is boggled by the people who just abandon their bicycles and go buy new ones, and understand why I am writing this essay / rant. Essay writing is a great way to get your point across.

It is almost as if people either don't realize how cheap it is to fix a bicycle, or they don't realize how easy it is. 90% of repairs are actually so easy a 12 year old could do it.

It is the 10% of repairs that take a bit more brain power.

Take for example any bicycle which is tossed out because it has a flat tire. (I have lost track of how many bicycles I have seen abandoned just because it had a flat tire.)

You either patch the tire with a patch kit and glue;

Or you buy a new tire that is the same size.

Presta, you're done! (And yes, that was valve pun.)

Next, lets take the example of any bicycle that was abandoned because the chain was tangled up / snagged on something / broken / etc. (This is another very common cause of abandoned bicycles)

Just rip the old chain off, buy a new chain the same size, buy a chain tool, install the new chain using the chain tool.

Bob Schrader's your uncle, it is done!

Sometimes I have found abandoned bicycles that the only thing that is wrong with is that the brakes don't work.

In which case, just follow the instructions on The Bicycle Mechanic for fixing the brakes (seriously, they're not that hard to fix), and voila c'est fini!

In some cases they might require you to purchase new brake pads. They cost about $5.

And there you go, three of the most common reasons why people throw out / abandon their old bicycles - and how easy it is to fix those three common mechanical problems.

Now I could understand if someone was throwing out a bicycle because they were leaving the country and could not take the bicycle with them.

In which case the thing to do is take it outside, put a piece of paper on it that says FREE BIKE, and watch how quickly it disappears. In which case the bicycle should be in perfect working order.

Typically you will see the perfectly working free bicycles outside of apartment buildings on the 1st of each month. The previous owner moved out on the 30th or 31st and left their bicycle outside on purpose for someone to take it.

That I can understand. But for the silly people who abandon their bicycles because it has a broken part that could be replaced for $5 and some brief elbow grease? Those people need to realize how easy it is to fix their bicycle.


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About the Author

Charles Moffat is equal parts bicycle mechanic, cyclist, painter, sculptor, fantasy writer, poet, website designer and pun maker. For more details see



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If your bicycle is basically junk and you don't know what to do with it then SELL IT TO ME. I will use it for parts. I will give you a fair price ($20 to $30) for your old clunker just so I can rip it apart for parts.

If you need repairs check out my Bicycle Mechanic Services in Banbury-Don Mills.