Bike Man Dan offers an alternative take on the traditional bike shop
on March 29, 2011
Behind a small grey non-descript house near San Pablo Avenue and 60th Street in the Golden Gate neighborhood is a different kind of bicycle shop. As you walk down a path alongside the house, you pass chicken coops, Birds of Paradise and a vegetable garden full of beets, bok choy and broccoli. Past the garden, a door leads to a clean little studio full of tools and bikes. This is where Dan Woloz just opened a service-oriented bike shop called Bike Man Dan.
Woloz is offering something unique with his shop—a sliding scale pricing system, and service based on providing used bike parts. “My overall mission is to get more people on bikes,” says Woloz, who also goes by the moniker Bike Man Dan. “It’s something that should be affordable.”
“A lot of times when bringing your bike in for service, it exceeds the value of the bike,” he continues. And that’s something Woloz wants to change at Bike Man Dan—he wants to make sure people are still able to ride despite not being able to pay for repairs. “If someone needs a service and can’t afford it—I’ll charge less or it’ll be free,” he says.
Although Bike Man Dan is a labor of love, Woloz is also hoping to make a living off of it. He doesn’t have another job right now and has dedicated himself completely to the shop. “I’m trying to make a living,” he says, “but I’m not looking to get rich.”
An important aspect of making repairs affordable is re-using bike parts, says Woloz. Not only is much of his workspace built from used materials—for example, his workbench is made from a solid wood door—but also many of his bike parts are used items that he’s cleaned, patched, oiled and refurbished.
“I’m a firm believer in buying secondhand,” he says. “I found bike shops produce an enormous amount of waste. The primary source is tubes.” Most bike shops that repair flat tires throw out the tube, replacing it with a new one, says Woloz. Sometimes, he says, they toss up to 20 tubes a day, which isn’t completely necessary because most tubes just have small punctures that can be easily fixed. “An enormous amount of petroleum is used to produce those tubes and it goes straight to the landfill,” says Woloz.
At Bike Man Dan, he instead patches used tubes and provides them for free at the shop. “I just charge for the services,” he says. “This saves people a little bit of money and saves one more tube from going to the landfill.” He also refurbishes rusty cables and repairs broken parts when possible. “Whenever I can, I try to save a part rather than put on a new one,” he says.
Originally from Los Angeles, Woloz didn’t get into bikes until he moved to Rohnert Park, Sonoma County six years ago. “One day, on a whim, I just picked up a bike and started riding places,” he says. “I realized how easy it was, and it was kind of an epiphany.” Not having a lot of money, he taught himself how to fix his own bike whenever it needed repairs, and soon realized that he really enjoyed working on bikes.
Woloz began fixing and selling used bikes out of his garage. He’d go down to the local dump, find old bikes, repair them and then sell them for cheap. Later, he opened up a storefront in Santa Rosa where he both sold used bikes and ran a repair shop. He’s been a two-wheel advocate ever since.
He landed in Oakland one year ago and decided to open Bike Man Dan in his back yard. After building out the workspace for several months, he officially opened last week. Right now, all repairs are by appointment only; people can set up appointments either by phone or email. Woloz will do any type of repair needed along with full tune-ups. Suggested price for a tune-up is $40 and $10 to fix a flat tire.
Woloz also teaches bike repair workshops at Actual Café every second Sunday at 2 pm.
Bike Man Dan is located at 5927 San Pablo Avenue and can be contacted at (510) 213-8356 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.bikemandan.com/
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