Yellow light illuminates the little room across from the Kaldi’s Depot. Talk and laughter emanate from the open door, allowing easy access to the tools inside if what you need isn’t already out on the tool bench next to the door. Music blares out of a speaker in the corner with anything from French music to rap, depending on the day and which volunteer is on aux.
This is The Fixie, where undergraduate and graduate students come together with faculty, staff and other campus community members to repair skateboards, scooters and bikes. Student volunteers run it every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at no cost to those who use their tools and services.
The Fixie is mostly filled with bikes on the left-hand side and all sorts of discarded hand tools and knick-knacks on the right. In the back, there’s a room filled with more heavy-duty tools and parts that you can use to fix your bike, skateboard or even an electric scooter.
The shop is essentially a sub-section of the Emory Spokes Council and Emory Bike Social, which are the graduate and undergraduate clubs for biking, respectively. Emory Bike Social was started by Fixie Staff Advisor and Council board member Benjamin Kasavan (19C, 24L) when he was an undergraduate student at Emory.
Since it’s entirely run by volunteers, the students commit as much time as they want to helping out and are passionate about what they do. However, no experience or knowledge about fixing bikes is required to join. In fact, most of the people who volunteer at The Fixie had little-to-no prior experience, Kasavan said.
“It’s … fun to connect with people in such a light manner while doing something that is engaging so you can teach them stuff, collaborate, sometimes they teach me stuff,” Emory Bike Social Mechanic Chair Sam Bochner (23C) said.
Before joining The Fixie, he self-taught himself how to fix bikes through practice and YouTube videos. He said he was able to learn more about fixing bikes through his years at The Fixie and found a community of people who share his interests.
“It’s a very collaborative, fun, light-hearted environment … a departure from the intensity that is most of college,” Bochner said.
Multiple other members share the same love for The Fixie. Michael To, a cyclist from the Decatur area, found The Fixie through a friend at Emory. Now a regular volunteer, he said he enjoys spending time with other volunteers and helping people with fixing everything from tires to brakes.
He encouraged students to come to The Fixie no matter how much they know about bikes.
Fixie Volunteer and Emory Spokes Council board member Arventh Velusamy (23G) found out about The Fixie because he had a flat tire and couldn’t find any other bike repair shops in Atlanta, at least not one he could reach with a broken bike. He brought his bike to The Fixie, learned how to fix his wheel and has never looked back.
“You … get all this information,” Velusamy said. “People teach you how to fix bikes, people will teach you how to ride safely on roads … it opens up a lot of information and friends.”
The Fixie is an invaluable part of Emory Bike Social, especially because they offer their services on group ride days. Emory Bike Social’s treasurer, Jake Green (24C), said that the club hopes to get more bikes in the coming year to further their goals of building community, helping students explore Atlanta, introducing bikers to safer ways to get around the city and encouraging students to go biking.
Due to limited bikes, Emory Bike Social President Krish Surana (23C) said there were long waitlists last semester. Surana said that more bikes and increasing the frequency of group rides from three rides a month to once a week would allow them to increase student participation in the club. Surana spoke to the value of these events, sharing that he knows of three students who met through one of Bike Social’s group rides and are now roommates.
“We have had some great stories of friendship that have been forged through Emory Bike Social,” Surana said.
Kasavan added that the Emory biking community — whether you check out The Fixie or sign up for Emory Bike Social’s next group ride — has opportunities for people of all skill levels.
“If you’re ever interested in biking at all, stop by The Fixie when we’re open,” Kasavan said. “We’re happy to talk about it, and we can show you … how it’s really easy and accessible, and anyone can get into it and do biking.”