Hi Bayley,
It's a good question. 

Long story short, don't put beginners in key decision making roles. Killing a bike is highly subjective: we kill most department store full suspension 24" bikes, for example, even if they're largely ridable but have 1-2 key needs, but would save even the grossest road bike from total destruction because they're so sought after. Try and have a core volunteer or staff member make the calls, then the beginner volunteer do the task at hand. Our mechanics use the first section of this checklist to determine whether or not to kill a bike: 

On top of that, we get so many adult-sized department store bikes that if the bike has 2 of the following issues, it dies: seized cables/broken housing, broken shifters, unsalvagable rear wheel, play in rear swingarm, missing components. 

We train people up similarly to you: start 'em with killing bikes, move on to patching tubes/fixing flats, then tuning kids bikes (without gyros/gears) kids bikes with gears/gyros, 24" bikes, finally 26" huffys, then everything else. 


On Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 4:29 PM, Bayley Vanderpoel <bayley.vanderpoel@velocitycoop.org> wrote:
Do you have a method of sorting the bikes after they're triaged, such as sorting them by particular issue?

I ask because our organization gets a lot of beginners. We decided to train them by triaging all the bikes we get, then having them focus on particular components each time they come in.

The first day a volunteer might replace 8 bad tires on bikes, the next time they might true a dozen wheels, then the next time they adjust a dozen brakes.

I'm struggling to wrap my head around a method which allows volunteers to quickly find bikes with the component that needs work. I'd like bikes to be fixed in a sequence but can't figure out the best way to sort. Anyways I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. Thanks!

Velocity Bicycle Cooperative
Alexandria VA

On Wednesday, January 21, 2015, David Eyer Davis <davey@bicyclecollective.org> wrote:
Hi Johnny, All,
Thanks Jonathan for the big picture perspective. It's helped a lot in Salt Lake, we delivered 2427 refurbished bikes to our community last year from that location alone, out of 2837 donated.  

Specifically, we've been using the Walking Bird inventory control tag to good effect, but haven't been attaching it to the bike upon donation. Our kids bikes and kill bikes (around 1200 bikes last year) duck that system, once a bike is donated it is triaged, sorted to be killed by volunteers, tuned by more skilled volunteers, or fixed by paid mechanics. Only the bikes fixed by paid mechanics get a walking bird tag. At this point you can integrate the system into your POS, since each walking bird tag has a unique number. We use the tags to track the bike's progress from mechanic to sales floor to client/customer, keeping the tag on file after the bike has left the shop. So if a huffy comes in, gets two hours spent on it, new tires and tubes and a brake cable, then is given away a week later, the director of operations sees that bike coming and going. We haven't integrated the system into our POS yet, rather we just keep the tags, the director of operations goes through them to reconcile consumables inventory and log mechanic efficiency, and keeps the paper on file in case there's an issue with the bike down the road. We will integrate with our POS as soon as we spend the time stepping it up to a functional computer based, rather than partial paper, inventory. I'll report back then. 

I believe they're available through QBP, possibly J&B. 


David Eyer Davis
Executive Director
Bicycle Collective

The mission of the Bicycle Collective is to promote cycling as an effective and sustainable form of transportation and as a cornerstone of a cleaner, healthier, and safer society. The Collective provides refurbished bicycles and educational programs to the community, focusing on children and lower income households.

On Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 10:54 AM, Jonathan Morrison <jonathan.morrison@gmail.com> wrote:
In my personal experience there is nothing new about what community bike shops do.  All those "ah-ha!" moments are usually when someone has (un)intentionally applied an existing concept from another application/industry to their community bike shop.  So save yourself the trouble and time of reinventing the wheel by actively trying to identify those concepts in the first place.  

Our current Executive Director (Davey Davis) hit it on nose when he claimed that "this isn't a shop, it is a factory" at least in terms of operations management (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operations_management).

While I spent years in that shop, I failed to see it.  Davey is a genius.  But the fact is, broken bicycles are the raw material that we refine (in mass quantity) into a consumable product that is sold/re-donated.  The more successful Community Bike Shops (that help the most people) are the ones that make that refurbishing process as efficient as possible.

Efficiency happens when you increase the number of bicycles that go through the shop, while decreasing waste and the time it takes to for the average bike to go in and out the shop's door.  A sign that you have an efficiency problem are excess storage.  Especially if they are stored for more than one "busy season".  Given that some shops are in seasonal weather, obviously things might stack up in the winter.  Accordingly, each shop will have a different averages and goals. 

So, what the hell am I rambling on about?

If you don't track the bikes (dates, times and stages), it is hard to know how to improve.

If you are looking for a quick / fun / easy / socratic / fictional tale to get inspired on how operations management might help your shop achieve its mission, consider reading the, "The Goal."   


Jonathan Morrison
c: 801-688-0183

On Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 7:45 AM, Nathan Wilkes <nwilkes2@gmail.com> wrote:
I was thinking a simple numbered ID.


On Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 3:42 PM, Jonathan Morrison <jonathan.morrison@gmail.com> wrote:
What kind of solution are you looking into?


Jonathan Morrison
c: 801-688-0183

On Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 3:33 PM, jonny b <jonny@goodlifebikes.ca> wrote:
Hi Friends,

Do any shops have examples of tags that they use to track who donated  bikes, who's worked on the bikes, bike's state of repair, etc?  We're working on creating something simple and effective to facilitate donor recognition as well as getting bikes effectively prepared and sorted for our youth programs.


John Barrett
The Good Life Community Bicycle Shop / Two Wheel View / Barrett's Organic Berries
www.goodlifebikes.ca / www.twowheelview.org / www.facebook.com/localorganicbarrettsberries


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David Eyer Davis
Executive Director
Bicycle Collective
c: 801-230-6308

The mission of the Bicycle Collective is to promote cycling as an effective and sustainable form of transportation and as a cornerstone of a cleaner, healthier, and safer society. The Collective provides refurbished bicycles and educational programs to the community, focusing on children and lower income households.