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Converted school bus is home to new bike repair shop in North Portland


Black Bird Bicycle Repair-3
Sherifa Roach, inside an old school bus,
which is home to her new bike repair shop.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

There’s a new bike repair shop that’s open for business just a half-block off the busy N Williams Avenue bike corridor. Sherifa Roach, a nearby resident, recent United Bicycle Institute graduate and veteran volunteer at local bike shops, has opened Black Bird Bicycle Repair at 104 N. Failing Street (between Williams and Vancouver).

I’d heard from a few sources that someone was operating a bike shop out of an old school bus, so I swung by yesterday for a closer look. Sure enough, there was Sherifa, giving away bags of popcorn as part of the RAD event, and smiling in her apron in front of a big purple bus parked in the alleyway behind her. She was proud to give me a tour of the inside (which I found surprisingly roomy).

Sherifa pointed out how her partner had completely remodeled the inside of the bus. He wired it up with new electrical outlets, built wooden work benches, installed new lighting, added some security bars for the windows, and built a ramp off the rear door so people can roll their bikes right on up.

Community air pump is a nice touch.

Sherifa says she started riding a lot when she stopped driving cars due to a medical condition back in 2005. Soon after that, she began tinkering on bikes in her basement and has spent the last seven years teaching herself how to fix them. Then, when she got pregnant three years ago, she wanted to get out of the basement (due to concerns about poor air circulation), so she started volunteering at local shops. Sherifa has spent three years as a volunteer instructor at the Women and Trans Bike Night at North Portland Bikeworks (every Thursday from 6-8:00 pm) and she’s also a regular at Bike Farm, a non-profit bike repair collective on N Wygant near MLK Blvd.

At Black Bird, Sherifa plans to focus on repairs and maintenance. She said she has a soft spot for 1970s-era department store bikes. “I love ’em,” she said, rattling off model names like Santa Fe, Western Flyer, and various Murrays. Given that predilection for classics and her work at local non-profit bike shops, she went to UBI to brush up her skills. “It [UBI] was awesome, it polished me up a bit and filled in some gaps in my knowledge. It especially brought me up to snuff on newer bikes and the expectations of their owners. Which is a little different than the non-profit volunteer stuff I’ve done.”

Black Bird has only been open for two weeks. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6:00 pm. If the front seat of the bus is taken, you can always walk across the street to the Lompoc Fifth Quadrant brewery or Ristretto Roasters across the street for a drink while you wait.

— For contact information, visit BlackBirdBicycleRepair.com

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