Bike shop continues to strive for more affordability

A customer in the Chain Reaction Bike Shop works on his bicycle.

GOSHEN — Chain Reaction Bicycle Project operators are working to make its already-reduced prices for used bicycles even lower.

Chain Reaction offers reconditioned used bicycles at reasonable prices. 

Most bikes at the shop cost between $50 and $150, though the not-for-profit refurbishes higher-end bikes worth $400, and some can cost as little as $40, but the organization is trying to do better.

Organizers of the project said they are doing this by seeking to cut back on utility expenses.   

“We really need to keep our expenses low in order to be able to give all these benefits to our customers,” Kathy Nofziger Yeakey, executive director of the nonprofit organization, said. “If we can improve the efficiency of our building and prevent more heat loss in the winter especially, that will reduce our costs and help us to be able to serve our customers better.”

Their current shop building, former home of the Scott Sign Co. on East Washington Street, in Goshen, was in rough condition when Chain Reaction Bicycle Project bought it, and they’ve been slowly renovating it.

“There were window air conditioners in it that we took out of the outside walls,” she said. “At the time it was summer, so we just put in a temporary thing to cover the hole in the wall and we never got around to filling it in properly.”

To patch the hole and take on other projects, the Chain Reaction board applied for a grant from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, receiving $2,500 of the $6,000 requested.

“Right now, we are going to cut back on the project for the moment and do the patching of our walls and take out some unneeded ventilation pipes from an old furnace. We’ve already put in an efficient furnace, but we’ve got some old pipes and ventilation that need to be taken out and properly closed up,” Nofziger Yeakey said. “If there’s enough money remaining, we will see about replacing the double doors at the back of the building that we use for our main entrance because those are kind of old, too.”

They’ve got hopes to replace the 10 large single-pane windows and several smaller ones with more energy-efficient double-pane windows, but that a project expected to cost roughly $6,000 alone.

With just two part-time paid staff and a group of volunteers, Chain Reaction purposely tries to keep its expenses low so organizers can offer customers an opportunity to purchase used bicycles at a reasonable price.

“We believe that Chain Reaction Bicycle Project is another excellent example of our mission to improve the quality of life in Elkhart County by inspiring generosity,” Pete McCown, president of the Community Foundation, said.

In addition to the sale of used bikes, the shop staff teach and assist customers in repairing and maintaining their own bicycles using the tools and equipment in the shop for a modest fee.

“Any bike that we cannot make safely usable again, we remove the usable parts from it and keep them, like wheels or tires,” Nofziger Yeakey said.

There is also a work-to-own program in which individuals can volunteer in the shop to earn credit toward the purchase of their own bicycle or repair a bike they already own.

The shop offers a credit of $10 per hour volunteered. Volunteers may work on their own bike, their future bike or other bikes in the shop.

“That takes two to three days of work if you want an $80 bike,” Nofziger Yeakey said. The program has been successful, even among individuals in the work-release program, because it allows them participants to acquire transportation without the costs associated with a bicycle purchase.

Chain Reaction Bicycle Project also offers educational classes to people in the community who want to learn skills including basic emergency bike repair; shifter and brake adjustment; route planning safety tips for longer bike rides; and how to plan and complete an overnight self-supported bicycle tour.

Chain Reaction Bicycle Project is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, at 510 E. Washington St..

For info, visit www.chainreactionbicycleproject.org, email info@crbp.org, or call 574-903-3056.

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