The Orange Bike Project offers free bike repairs for students

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From left, environmental science junior Lorena Martinez, computer science and electrical engineering junior Paul Khermouch, biology junior Nikki Rees and physics junior Sathvik Aithala are the co-directors for the Orange Bike Project.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

Flat tires, rusty chains and punctured tubes — a biker’s worst nightmare. UT’s Orange Bike Project is here to help.

The Orange Bike Project, a student-run organization, works to educate students on the ins-and-outs of their bikes and to cultivate a more knowledgeable bike community on campus. 

This fall, OBP’s bike shop moved from its old location in the San Antonio Garage to a more centrally located location in the 27th Street Garage. The new shop offers students a space for free bike tune-ups and repairs as well as daily and semester-long bike rentals.

“Everybody knows ‘Oh, I’m sick, let me call [University Health Services,]’” said Lorena Martinez, OBP’s co-director and environmental science junior. “But, not a lot of people know, ‘Oh my chain fell off, should I go to this bike shop and have them charge me all this money?’ We want everyone to know this service is available for them.”

Physics junior Sathvik Aithala, OBP’s coordinator, said their free services provide an educational opportunity for students.

“It involves the student more because it’s not like you drop off your bike at shop and get it fixed,” Aithala said. “We help you fix it, so you go through the whole process yourself.”

Paul Khermouch, computer science and electrical engineering junior and another OBP coordinator, said bike maintenance can seem confusing, but if students acquire simple bike repair skills, they will feel more confident if problems arise. 

“I think a big part of it is trying to de-mystify how the bike works and realizing that it’s really simple and not hard to fix,” Khermouch said.

OBP offers a bike rental program for students, which helps fund the organization. Students can rent used bikes starting at $30 per semester or new bikes starting at $50 per semester. 

In addition, OBP receives funding from Green Fee, a student committee dedicated to granting money to eco-friendly organizations and programs on campus.   

“We want to grow financially, so we need to get the daily rentals out more because that is what’s going to support us to service the students,” said Nikki Rees, OBP co-director and biology junior. “We are a free service, so it’s not like the more people we get, the more money we make, the more people we get the more money we need to find from somewhere.” 

Khermouch said OBP aims to create a cohesive bike community on campus. He brings UT bikers together Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m. in front of Gregory Gymnasium for a Thursday Night Social Ride.

“I am trying to get more UT students to come on the social ride because I think people would bike around more if they knew how much fun it could be,” Khermouch said.

Members said they hope to find students to take over the organization once they graduate. They said no prior experience is necessary. 

“You don’t need to know maintenance to come in, but if you want to work there, we’ll teach you everything,” Aithala said. “That’s what were all about. By the end of it, you’ll be proficient.”

The shop is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m, and members are there to assist students with any bike troubles they may have.

“Combined, the four of us can fix any problem,” said Martinez.