Not your typical bike shop
May 15, 2006 8:11 PM
Painted with colorful neighborhood murals, Pedal Revolution looks like other Mission District buildings — but going beyond its cheap parts and quick repairs, it is not your typical bike shop.
Pedal Revolution is a full-service shop whose greater mission lies in teaching disadvantaged youth skills to build a bike, and in turn, to better their lives.
“It’ll take the kids a few weeks (to get the hang of building a bike),” said shop manager and former Pro-Am road racer Elijah Pfister, 28. He said while some may never fully master building a bike, the kids still benefit from it.
“Any kind of exposure of a quality situation changes their lives in some way,” he said as a toddler zipped by unsteadily on a yellow bike with training wheels, sporting a 'Harley-Davidson' sticker on the handlebars.
Located at 3085 21st Street, Pedal Revolution employs up to 10 interns each year, between the ages of 15 to 24 years old. By the time their six-month internship with the shop ends, many have also gained experience in sales and customer service.
But Pfister pointed out that building a bike is not as easy as it sounds. “It’s not always the case like when you see somebody hit the ball out of the park,” he said.
Pfister said Pedal Revolution was started out of a trash closet, and pointed to an alcove portion of the wall in the shop.
Now run by the non-profit Golden Gate Community, Inc., Pedal Revolution offers new and used bike parts. The shop was started under Youth Industries at a warehouse next door as a drop-in center for underprivileged kids.
Today, Pedal Revolution gets the word out throughout the city for interested kids and bikers.
“Other bike shops directed me here for used parts,” said Swarup Henderson, 33, from San Francisco. He said he builds bikes frequently. “I’m always working on different projects for friends to know what’s out there whenever they need it.”
Returning from a test drive of a road bike, Ben Brower, 35, from San Francisco said it wasn’t the first time he’s been to the shop.
“I bought a bike a few years ago for the AIDS walk and it was pink and it was 300 bucks and it was awesome,” said Brower, out of breath. “They did a good job setting it up and everything.”
The employees are often in a hurry and don’t make much effort to be polite, but their rough demeanor can’t be mistaken for their efficiency at fixing bikes and an ability to help kids.
Pfister said he found himself at the bike shop by happenstance.
“I didn’t have a typical path,” he said. “I wanted to work with a population of kids that I saw myself in.”
Thirty bucks a year gets a rider's membership and access to all the tools they need to fix their bike. Pedal Revolution also takes in used bikes, and gives tax cuts to people who donate them.
The shop also offers free repair classes, which teach the basics of bike maintenance, flat repairs and other skills.
Clinics run every other Sunday, with the next one scheduled for May 21 at 5:30 p.m.
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