Frequently asked questions

Frequently given answers

Will Bike Pirates buy my bike?

No. We don’t buy any bikes or bike parts. We rely entirely on donations to stay afloat. We also don’t trade for bikes or parts. This keeps us from ever accidentally buying a stolen bike. We’re pirates, not thieves.

Will you fix my bike for me?

No. Our collective is based on a DIY ethic, which means you need to do the work yourself. You may have to get your hands dirty (though we do usually have gloves) but hopefully you’ll have fun and learn something at the same time. If you’re not into fun or learning, there are plenty of other bike shops in the city that will gladly take your money. Har har.

How much does it costs to fix my bike at Bike Pirates?

That depends on you. We’d like you to make a donation based on

  1. how much time you spent in the shop;
  2. how much help you received from our volunteers;
  3. how much oil/grease/etc. you used;
  4. how much you learned;
  5. how much fun you had;
  6. how useful it is for you to have a working bike.
  7. how much you can afford

We’d also like a donation for any used parts you take with you and we’d like you to pay our set prices for any new parts, including cables, cable housing, brake pads, etc.

Are you hiring? How much do you get paid to work at Bike Pirates?

There are no paid employees at Bike Pirates. We’re all volunteers, and we’re not looking to change that. You can certainly volunteer, however, and maybe learn enough to be a professional bike mechanic someday.

How can I volunteer?

In lots of ways. Check out our Volunteering page for ideas or just drop by the shop and we’ll find something for you to do.

Bike Pirates looks awesome, but I don’t live in Toronto. What should I do?

Luckily, most major cities in North America have at least one similar community bicycle organization. Check out the big list.

I’d like to buy a certain style of bike. If one gets fixed up and ready to sell, can you hold it and contact me?

Sorry, but because we’re run by a huge number of volunteers, it would be impossible for us to take orders for bikes. If you’re looking to buy a bike from us, the best strategy is to drop by often and see what we have available for sale. Either that, or come in and build one up yourself – that way, you’ll get exactly the bike you want, and you’ll know how it works.

Who pays for all this? Are you financially supported by the city or some corporate sponsor?

We’re funded entirely by donations from users and by the sale of the donated bikes we fix up. No government funding. No corporate sponsors.

Are you trying to put ‘normal’ bike shops out of business?

Of course not. We want to encourage more people to cycle more often, and that’s going to mean more business for bike shops, not less. Some people want to fix their own bikes, and we aim to make that possible. Some people don’t want to fix their own bikes, and there are plenty of local neighbourhood bikeshops who can help them out. Actually, we have pretty good relationships with most bike shops in the city, and collaborate with them on projects from time to time.

Why are you called pirates?

Our sign was supposed to say “Bike Pilates” but it arrived with a typo and we ran with it. Never go with the cheapest printer! Arrr!

To be honest, we don’t know. The scurvy dog who came up with the idea has since walked the plank. So make up your own reason. But let’s be clear:

  • We don’t steal bikes, buy stolen bikes, or keep all the booty for ourselves
  • We’re not here to get rich
  • We’re not here to rip you off

Do you offer classes or workshops?

Whatever you’d like to learn, we can teach you during any of our open hours on a one-to-one basis. Our ability to run regular group workshops is dependent on public interest and volunteer availability. If you’re interested in organizing a workshop, please let us know and we’ll try to help out.

Can my organization use the Bike Pirate space when it’s not in use?

Maybe. Bike Pirates know they have a great space and they very much want to share it with other like-minded community groups provided that they are clean, inclusive and responsible. In the past, our space has been used by groups not only for special bike-related teaching (through the use of our tools, our parts, and even our volunteers) but also for broader community work (including meetings, events, etc.) that fits within our greater mandate.

We do, however, operate as a collective which means we need plenty of time to discuss and agree on space sharing. If you can let us know before our organizational meetings (on the last Wednesday of each month), it would make things at lot easier. When requesting the use of our space, you might consider:

  • which bike pirate key holder is available to open and close the space for you;
  • who will be setting up the space for you and cleaning it afterwards;
  • whether you need exclusive use of the space;
  • what additional resources you might require (the use of our precious tools, storage space, etc); and,
  • whether you are able to make a donation to help support the space.

The degree of inconvenience you will cause us, the amount notice you can give us, and the general awesomeness of your project/organization will all play a part our decision. Please check out our calendar to see when the space might be available before contacting us with your request.