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Shop Layout

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How you layout your shop space is largely indicative of what your space actually is so these are more just rules of thumb. In areas with colder winter seasons, you will find that your space shifts from summer functional space to winter storage space as the priority.

Purchasing vs. Building

From an organizational standpoint, purchasing used racks, shelving, benches and the like is better in the long term. While building those things can be beneficial in the short term because it is immediate and can cost less initially. In the event you expand and need to upgrade, the thing you bought a long time ago is an asset you can now sell. If you built it the likelyhood that someone will want to buy some old 2x4s or customer welding is unlikely.

Possible elements in a workshop

Welcome Kiosk

Write down all the questions that people ask when they come to your shop and you will start to see trends in questions. While it is always best to have a volunteer or staff be a greeter it can help to have those frequently asked questions with responses posted somewhere. At the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective they were given an old Kiosk from a bank and a college student project made the sign.

Volunteer Workstations

These are basic stations consisting of the most common tools and a work stand. The more of them you can fit, the better.

The Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective offers the following tips:

  • Ugly bright colors sometimes covering the entire tool match each workbench. We put the "girly" pink colors in the back of the shop so the younger boys would stay closer to supervision -- it works.
  • Outlines of the tools on the pegboard. (See Tool storage for other ideas)
  • Hooks are zip-tied in place.
  • Truing Stands were moved to face the side of the bench, creating more room and allowing someone two people to use the bench at once (one truing to the side, one wrenching).
  • Benches were made using 2 ft. increments to make maximum use of 8' boards and 4' x 8' sheets of plywood.
  • Bench tops are plywood with a thin (and replaceable) layer of ......
  • Molding was put in the corner connecting the peg board from the bench top to prevent little parts from gettings stuck.
  • We usually have a couple random tin-cans for people to put parts in. We also keep sand paper and tire levers in there -- Pink Pedros tire levers don't get stolen as often.

Bicycle repair stands

These are used by professional bike shops to hold bikes off the floor. Functions are to position bike so that it can be worked on at a convenient height by a variety of mechanics. Position the bike in a continuously variable orientation so that all parts of the bike are equally accessible. Position the bike so that the wheels can be rotated. Repair stands are not essential for your class, but they make some jobs enormously easier.

Advantages
  • Bikes can be set up at optimum height for each mechanic
  • Bikes can be positioned upside down, etc, with ease
  • Wheels and other components can be spun easily
  • Creates a professional atmosphere: people feel as if something is taking place that is qualitatively different to when they fix a bike by turning it upside down on the sidewalk.
  • Can be used to define exactly where a bike is to be worked on in a shop and to limit the number of bikes in the shop—i.e. three stands = three bikes, etc
Disadvantages
  • Quite expensive
  • Can be dangerous—clamps can spring out breaking jaws and fingers, bikes can fall. Also gives people the opportunity to spin wheels as fast as they can, creating dangerous situation
  • People start to think that you can’t work on a bike if you don’t have one
  • If not correctly used the repair stand can seriously and permanently damage a bike, especially an expensive one with a frame that is light weight.

Master Mechanic Workstation

There is usually only one of these. Here you will have a complete set of tools including those that are expensive and easily damaged. Some shops will raise this off the ground to give the master mechanic a bird's eye view of the shop. It also helps to clearly define who is in charge.

Cash Register

If you are dealing with money at the shop, you will want one. Depending on how your staffing works this should be located next to the Master Mechanics Workstation.

Intuit Quickbooks Point of Sale works well, especially if you use Quickbooks to keep track of your financial books. TechSoup usually has pretty incredible deals for non-profits on those items.

Bike Storage

Sort donated bikes immediately as they are donated, and you will have to deal with 3-4 types of bikes:

  • Lowest-quality bikes: part these bikes out and scrap the frames
  • Project Bikes: (may include Earn-a-Bike) - Some places deal with the hassle of storing overnight personal project bikes, some places don't.
  • Complete (and possibly consignment) Bikes: Bikes ready and waiting for a rider
  • Personal Bikes: The bikes people roll in on


Having a logical separation between these is important. This can be done by different colored tags, or different locations in the shop. Possible ways to store these bikes are:

  • Bicycle display racks (aka Bicycle Display Fixtures) - single and double decker. if double decker, make sure you have enough space to design it well and include a platform that can be relocated for standing securely on the second level.
  • Bike Hooks (less than ideal; not safe - works better for wheels)

Part Storage

Provide a place nearby where customers / volunteers can rummage through the bins and not cause an inconvenient mess.

See Part Storage for some ideas for keeping parts organized.

Tool storage

When storing tools, it's important to make them accessible, but also to find a way to keep them organized.

For ideas on this, see Tool storage

Lounge Area

What place is complete without a lounge area?

Classroom Area

If you are going to be teaching non-mechanics related bicycle classes, such as BikEd, you will need a seperate space for this.

Bathrooms

Industrial (easy to clean) sinks are a must.

A shower is also a bonus.

Metal Recycling

If you don't have the ability (truck) or the volunteers to recycle the metal. An easy solution is placing an old dumpster labeled 'Free Scrap Metal' in both english and spanish outside of your shop. There are people that go around l