The best free-bike-shop-only-open-on-Mondays in Brussels

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Cycloperativa and their free bike service every Monday evening

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Free bike repairs are hard to come by, but so essential

On a street just one simple kilometre from my house is a small bicycle collective that offers free bike service to locals. Bring your bike and Cycloperativa mechanics, volunteers who are either amateur or professional enthusiasts, will get your bike back into shape. For free. .. Most costs seem to be covered with the beers you can buy – afterall, it is also  social stop. I would imagine there are a lot of donated parts and the like that keeps the stock shelves full. Repairs involve the owner. They show you what to do, give you advice, they might even, when then problem gets a little too much, actually do the work. But part of the mandate is to bring a little mechanical knowledge to the people who drop by.

It is almost embarrassing that they have been in operation for three years yet I only discovered them early this year. Now I am a frequent visitor, imbibing a couple of beers so I can add to their coffers for parts and supplies.

On any Monday evening, you can spot the small mass of cyclists outside the front, beers in hand using the sidewalk as their meet-and-greet locale. Messengers and commuters, weekend riders and the daily fanatics drop by. And then the locals come. Kids with bikes they want to get into shape for the weekend. Out of luck riders who have a flat tire, or broke some gizmo that has interrupted their ride.

I have been there most Mondays over the past few weeks and now it has become a haunt. Some days I get there in time to have a chat. Other times, I get there only to be told they have closed for the evening. Oh, and they are expanding, gently. Some nights (not Mondays), they set up on a nearby esplanade with a shelter, offering simple services like a pump, or a mechanic who knows that wire to pull to make the bike rideable for the trip home.

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