Adelaide Bike Kitchen


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The Concealed Bike Kitchen

Published by Michael Dib

How to get there

The Adelaide Bike kitchen is a great place to build, design or outright buy your own bike. This workshop can be found in a large storage structure that has not been used for some time. The local government allowed them to stay here while the area is not being developed. To get to this place from the road you will have to turn around a street corner since the main entrance is not really an entrance at all. It is not in much use. So when you turn the corner you will have fences flanking you from both sides. You’ll need to keep walking until you find a gate entrance to your right. I recall the first time I had first arrived here I had to walk for quite a bit from the bus stop as this building is placed right in the middle of the long road. In front of it you have access to the large Bowden market where you can find many locally crafted beers, homemade chocolates, Asian dishes, Paella, knick knacks and more.

After walking such a long distance I found myself standing right in front of the door. I kept knocking and nothing happened. I then spotted a man walking, alongside his bike, turn a corner around the building to the next street. I assumed he was here to get his bike fixed so I turned the corner with him and found exactly what I was looking for. Upon entering through the gates you’ll have a large car park area to your left. Straight ahead of you there will be several outdoor couches set up for any visitors or staff members who want to chill.

The inside

To your right you’ll see the large sliding door that acts like the entrance to the place. From the outside it looks like a very large metal shed. Once you enter through the door you’ll fall upon a different world. The main room is absolutely covered with bikes of all kinds. Some complete, incomplete and some are simply skeletons of bikes. To your right you’ll find the reception area. This reception area is actually a large and high desk where you could make your payments, buy lights and certain parts and look through events of all kinds. There are you usually two people at the reception area.

Along the reception area you will have a larger table where you’ll have boxes upon boxes with different bicycle parts. Above you there will be multiple bike tires of all types ranging from city to mountain bike wheels. You will also have a large cupboard with different tools such as wrenches, screwdrivers and more. You are allowed to use these freely for your bike’s repair or building process. As you walk past the table to your right there will be another cupboard with bike lights, bells and many different parts to add to the exterior of the bike.

The Concealed Bike Kitchen

(Source: https://www.broadsheet.com.au/adelaide/entertainment/article/open-bike-night-launches-bowden)

The main area has all the bikes. The walls are lined with vertical bikes hanging from metal supports. There are dozens of bicycles lined up against the wall. Some are stacked side by side on one side of the room. You could also find carriages that are connectable to the back of bikes so as to be able to take pets or large and heavy payloads with you. In the centre of the room you have a few tables with each having their own set of wrenches and even grips so as to cut up parts with a saw securely. There is also a large piece that allows you to hang your bike off from so as to be able to freely work on the wheels or chain without much trouble. On the other side of the room opposite of the door you will find a closed area with sofas.

Relaxation area

This area is where most people who are relaxing sit down while enjoying a beer. There is a fridge right next to the reception desk. Here you can buy a bottle of beer or cider for 5 AUD or a tin of beer for 2 AUD. This area is also where they place the majority of the pastries and breads. The local bakery provides the Bike Kitchen with boxes upon boxes of leftover goods. You could have many cheesy pastries, croissants, cinnamon buns and much more. So you’re basically set for a carb filled dinner. Also a thing worth noting is that the Bike Kitchen is open only once a week from five to around nine. They often vary as to whether they close earlier or later than nine.

Past the sofa area there are three doorways. One leads to a bathroom, the second is where project bikes are kept. Project bikes are bicycles that have been worked on by customers by themselves or with a staff member but were unable to finish it. So what they do is tape an A4 piece of paper around the handlebars with the details of the customer. They would make enough room by either placing the bicycles packed together or hanging them with metal supports on the walls.

On the last doorway you would be able to find the kitchen. Here you could grab some water drink or another place to wash the oil or grease from your hands. Every Wednesday there would be people cooking dinner here. They usually begin quite early so as to make as much food as possible. This is due to the fact that at the very end of the night they usually host dinners. You’re able to be part of the dinner if you donate five dollars. I never tried the dinner here although the food they were cooking the one time I had passed by smelt heavenly. If you walk to the end of the kitchen there will be another doorway.

From here, you will enter a room where the main entrance door could be found (although its locked). Scattered around here will be bicycles of all types. These bikes are the ones that are the most complete. They either need little or no work at all. This is where I grabbed my first bike. Although, there are some times where the bikes actually needs more work than originally thought. For example, the second bike I had every bought from here seemed like it was ready to be ridden off into the sunset. I soon found out that wasn’t the case.

Getting my hands dirty

The volunteer I had been working with and I spent just under three hours to make adjustments. Albeit I didn’t know what I was doing half the time and he didn’t know the other half of the time. Volunteers themselves are people ranging from mechanics to bike enthusiasts. They are friendly and very helpful volunteer staff.

The Concealed Bike Kitchen

(Source:https://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/bowdens-bike-kitchen-leading-the-way-on-the-road/news-story/08407924e438d68eb7c232c948d4f86d)

If you are looking to grab a bike from the Bike Kitchen then I would recommend you come early. The reason for this is that you would probably need to grab a volunteer to speed up the bicycle process. The three main things you will probably want to do here is to build a bike from scratch, fix one up to take or simply repair your own bike. Unless you know what you’re doing I would definitely ask for help from the volunteers. Especially if you are not aware of how to fix or build a bike. There are often people who build a bike from scratch. Building a bike costs roughly 100AUD.

The Concealed Bike Kitchen

(Source:http://miltonpd.com/bike-kitchen-adelaide/bike-kitchen-adelaide-home-style-tips-photo-at-interior-design-ideas/)

This includes volunteers helping you. So you won't have to pay extra for their service. However, if you’re looking for help in fixing your own bike then it would take only a few dollars per hour of service. The Bike Kitchen is truly a great place to get budget bikes. Especially if you’re an exchange student who isn’t looking for a long term bike. Sometimes there will have bikes available for pretty cheap. Or if you want to add additions such as a bell, install a basket or anything of the sort then the Bike Kitchen is a good place to grab these. As this is a place with small trinkets, bicycles and much more, then it makes it quite difficult to clean everything. For this reason it is usually quite dusty inside. So your newly fixed sweet ride that you built will be covered in dust, grease or worse. Luckily, there is a solution for this.

The Concealed Bike Kitchen

(Source:http://www.saffroniabaldwin.com/kitchen-top-bike-kitchen-home-design-popular-excellent-on-bike-604b4eb00e0ca3f3.html)

Right outside there is a hose where you can soak down your bicycles properly. They even provide rags which you could use to wipe off any grease or dust from your bike. Also to add, they allow you to take out your freshly cleaned ride for a test run. The purpose of this is to make sure there are no issues with the bike. I recall how we thought my bike was perfect until I took it for a ride in the street areas and found that the front tire immediately lost all of its air. I had to spend thirty minutes replacing the rubber of the tire (which was mostly spent looking for the exact size of the new rubber). Usually, you will be given a warning about the parking area although I will say it on here anywhere just in case. The area to the left of the entrance might seem like a mostly empty place feasible to test your bike without going on the roads, although it's not. There are very sharp rocks and plant life that will easily puncture holes into your new ride (don’t forget, much of Australia is dangerous for the average bloke).

It is acceptable to simply come around to sit down on one of the indoor or outdoor sofas and chit chat with those around you. Often you would have committee members that help run this place chit chatting with different people or with each other over a sweet dessert or dinner. They are always keen to meet more people. Keep in mind that if you come to the Bike kitchen for bicycle related business then you will have to come in early. Preferably within the first forty five minutes of its opening. If you don’t there is the high risk that it gets very busy to the point that you won't have room (or volunteers) to build your bike.

I often get to meet people from all over the world. For example, I met a Uruguayan and Dutch young couple that were building a bike together. I also got to meet some new and friendly local volunteers. The Bike kitchen is as good as a bike maintenance venue as it is a social one. You will be able to get a better taste of the local culture and people. The banter will be on point and the beers will be cold and plentiful.

If you find yourself in Adelaide and need a bike then look no further. You will even be able to find some nice vintage bikes that just need a bit of spit and polish and perhaps some oil. The reason why they can afford to run this place goes back to the concept that they don’t buy their bikes. Rather, these bikes are often donated by those who have outgrown their bikes, damaged them or are moving out of state or overseas. I would sometimes spot trucks or cars full of different bikes that are ready to be sent off to a possibly new home. I hope this information above will motivate you to at least check out this place and have some free pastries with a beer while chit chatting with the locals and volunteers. They also have a facebook group which I recommend you should follow. They usually post events and news from there and you can have any of your queries answered just by sending them a Q&A. Happy cycling!

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