Replacing My Brakes at Austin Yellow Bike Project

Tonight I took my old Fuji bicycle to the free community shop, Austin Yellow Bike Project. The brakes were very worn, which I consider a point of pride, because it means I’ve ridden my bike a shit ton of miles.  That’s right, I used a curse word. So sue me! I’m just trying to spice things up a bit. Actually, please don’t sue me. Normally A Dude Abikes is a family friendly blog.  We still have free speech here in ‘Merrikuh, don’t we?  But biking 10,000 miles in two years was so much work, one swear word doesn’t even begin to do that justice.  Anyway, YBP is cool, so let me tell you about it.

What Makes Yellow Bike Project Cool

YBP is a non-profit organization that provides free education and help with bike repairs for the community.  They take donations and you can join the Earn A Bike program by fixing one up then picking one of your own to repair, which you get to keep.  A Dude started doing that, but then he won the Fairdale Weekender Archer in the Bike Austin raffle, so he didn’t really need to continue that.  Someday I might re-start it, because it’s a great way to learn.  Another neat feature is that it is run by a collective, meaning everyone has a voice in decision-making.  Everyone is pretty laid back and nice, and music plays while you work on your bike.  I met a super cool guy after who offered to help with future posts I may do in Spanish.

Anyway, the shop in East Austin has a dozen or so bike stands you can use several nights per week.  You raise your hand and a friendly coordinator will come by to get you started and answer questions when you get stuck.  In addition, you can buy used and some new parts during weekday and Saturday retail hours.  You can actually buy a fully repaired used bike.  These are ways that the shop brings in income.  They also donate repaired bikes to low-income kids in Austin schools and ship some bikes to Mexico once a year.

Drew the apprentice in motion.
My bike on a stand.




The difference in the rubber on the old and new V-brakes is very visible.
After many, many readjustments, the new brakes got installed!



 And Now It’s Time for… Brake Down

These brakes come with handy grooves in them, so when they are almost gone, then it is definitely time.  I actually waited too long, which is risky and dangerous.  Which is actually my stage name, Risky Dangerous.  Just kidding.  A Dude is not a strip… I mean, exotic dancer.  Although if there’s a market for mature fathletes, maybe I should give it a whirl.  Or twirl.  I need to find a new job so I can get a new bicycle someday, after all.

The first rule in brake replacement is that you never talk about brake replacement.  Just kidding, that’s a Fight Club joke in case you didn’t get it.  The actual first rule is knowing when you need to replace them.  If it takes you longer to brake than usual, you hear a whiny noise (which may be muck on the rim), or you observe the brake pads looking low, then you should go ahead and swap them out for new ones.  Safety first, right!  Right!

How It Went:  Slowly, With Many Mistakes

The process of learning to work on your bike is interesting, fun, frustrating, and \ultimately gratifying.  In my case, I thought I would slap on the brake pads and get alot of other things done like clean the bike, oil the cables, true the wheels, etc.  But I’m still pretty rusty with those things.  And it didn’t help that each brake has 7 parts, and some are tiny and easy to drop.  Which I did.  Repeatedly.  It was cold and the warehouse is not really heated, but I think low iron has been causing poor circulation too.  So that part sucked.  But I eventually warmed up and got into the flow.  Wrenching is very absorbing, like meditation.  I haven’t read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but I can relate to that feeling.

One of the complications of bike repair are that there are so many variations of bikes and parts.  My brakes are called V-brakes, but there are also cantilever, disk and probably several more.  Luckily, they had new brakes and they were a total of $8 for two sets.  Often you can find used parts, but some things you don’t want to mess with.  Another interesting thing about brakes is that the parts allow you to angle them so they “grab” the rim of the wheel correctly.  This is the tricky part. Holding the brakes in place while tightening them down is not easy.  But the coordinators kept helping, so I kept at it, and finally I was able to “git ‘er done”.  I was able to tighten a loose cable and clean and lubricate the chain.

Nikita was there to work on her bike, and had shoes and a Bike Austin shirt that matched A Dude’s.  Drew, Paul, Molly and Strava buddy Julie posed at the end of the night.

All in all, it was a successfully night, even if I couldn’t do as much as I wanted.  I’m grateful to all the coordinators at Austin Yellow Bike Project.  If you’re in town, please go check them out!  Well, that’s all for now.  Thanks for reading my blog!  But first, one last image:

I saw this movie with a friend and really enjoyed it and also liked this poster.


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5 thoughts on “Replacing My Brakes at Austin Yellow Bike Project

  1. i write about writing too and my struggles especially with following, liking, commenting on other people’s blogs. i sure need some writing inspiration and education among other things like wordpress, websites, marketing, etc. and have to find a job! wish this would pay but not with 82 followers. keep up the good work.


    1. Thanks EP. Hard work but not having a car makes it easier to ride. Many people do more but they are in better shape often alot younger. If you like, please feel free to read my post and the linked article. Remember I’m adudeabikes here though! I’ll check out a list of yours. Curious, how did you find me?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I found you through a comment you left in another blog? I can’t recall what the other blog was but it’s recent. I just liked the concept of your blog so I decided to follow. It doesn’t really relate to my own blog (mine’s about writing), but I kind of wanted a variety of blogs to read just for curiosity’s sake so I decided to follow you. Worth it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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