My bike was stolen yesterday! Sad! I've only been bike commuting for about a year so I am trying to look at it as an opportunity to get an exciting new bike and learn a bit in the process. Unfortunately, I'm pretty darn poor, and I don't have any fix-up bike techie skills. Dropping $100 for a new bike, even though I know it's worth it, sounds pretty painful right now.
My dream? That I can find a place that will teach me to build my own bike, and will either have super super cheap parts or give parts in exchange for my volunteer labor—kinda like free geek, only bikes. Do any such programs exist? And if not—well, how would you recommend I go about my new-bike agenda? Any advice would be appreciated.
I am relegated to utter reliance on TriMet until I find a solution.
—Seeing (sigh) where it takes me
So sorry for your loss. The good news: There are a couple of non-profit community bike shops that operate almost like your dream. They're both in the north, in the Mississippi/Albina/Alberta area, not far from Yellow Line MAX.
The staff at North Portland Bikeworks seems really unpretentious and dedicated to serve. The Community Cycling Center is older and also good, but doesn't have the same indie vibe.
There are some places to pick up parts or partial bikes or even whole bikes at accessible prices, right here in the SE (not that far from Free Geek). The Recyclery is for-profit, but they have some reasonable used frames and parts. City Bikes is also for-profit, but they have a really great room full of used parts at low prices.