Since then, Wrench Raiders has continued to provide free help and basic parts to their customers every Sunday. And now, thanks to donations from the community, they’re expanding their reach with a mobile repair trike.
When I spoke with Wrench Raiders’ founder and head mechanic C.J. Speelman about how things have gone in the past year, he was clear that much of their success is due to the generosity of Portlanders.
“We were able to meet the budget we set for the purchase of the trike and the customizations done to it within two months. Portlanders really stepped up and helped us meet our goals and we are extremely grateful. Huge thanks goes out to Jimmy at Jimmy’s Garage and Ryan at Portland Pedalworks for all the assistance they gave during the process.”
Here’s a look at the trike…
…and inside the trike’s cargo box is enough space for a full set of repair tools, including a mobile repair stand and a truing stand.
Speelman says the trike turned out perfectly and it’s fun to ride — even though it’s a little heavy. Hauling 200 pounds of tools up hills is a “beast” says Speelman, so he’s already considering an e-assist system.
Speelman says there are other plans in store for Wrench Raiders. He can’t divulge any details until a few things are finalized but he did say Wrench Raiders is looking to expand its “outreach and abilities to other populations and areas of the city.”
Wrench Raiders has no shortage of customers at their repair station each week but the ultimate goal for Speelman is to foster a more stable community for Portland’s homeless population. In addition to its cargo-hauling benefits, Speelman has noticed that the trike creates more community interaction than his old pickup. “People respond very positively to the trike when they see it rolling through town,” he said.
Many of the people Speelman interacts with don’t need their bike repaired and he says that’s just fine:
“Since our primary focus is on building community and relationships with people who live outside, we interact with many people who are not necessarily getting their bicycle repaired. It is really hard to set a specific number of folks we interact with because we are not about quantity, but quality of relationships.”