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Bike shop supports an increasingly popular green alternative


Tooling around FIU on two wheels just got easier.

The FIU Bike Shop at MMC opened in August and has great rates on repair work and a whole lot more. Anyone looking to order a new bike or accessories for an existing bike — all without sales tax — should definitely check it out.

Operating out of a trailer north of the U.S. Century Bank Arena and just west of the Panther Garage, the shop offers convenience for anyone who pedals on campus. Roughly 20 customers stop by weekly, but its three student employees hope to get more work as word spreads. Most services are completed the same day and often on the spot.

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Brandt Absolu, the driving force behind the FIU Bike Shop, fixes everything from mountain bikes to ten-speeds, Diamondbacks to Schwinns.

“When you have all these people bringing their bikes to campus, they need somewhere to get them fixed,” says senior electrical engineering major Brandt Absolu, one of the shop mechanics.

Although FIU remains firmly a commuter school with cars still the transport of choice for the vast majority of students and only a small fraction of undergraduates living on campus, bike usage here is at an all-time high, according to Andrew Black, assistant director of facilities operations and supervisor of the bike shop.

“All you would have to do is look around campus this year and see the noticeable difference from years past,” says Black, who has no hard numbers on the subject. “Many of the bike racks around campus are filled to capacity, and with the additional residence halls coming this fall, there will be an even larger increase of bikes across campus.” Currently, about 80 bike racks that provide 400 parking spaces exist at MMC.

Black cites many factors for the uptick in bike riding, among them the high cost of gas, insurance and car payments. He also notes that cyclists don’t have to spend time looking to offload cars in MMC’s traditionally packed parking lots and garages. And he adds, “I believe a lot of students also see it as a healthy alternative for both themselves and the environment.”

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At your service: The crew of the FIU Bike Shop, from left, senior environmental studies major Adrian Valella, senior electrical engineering major Brandt Absolu, supervisor Andrew Black and freshman environmental engineering major Ricardo Gil

Absolu got the wheels rolling, literally, when he submitted a successful proposal to FIU’s Office of Sustainability and later received additional funding to open the bike shop. Absolu’s passion for bikes becomes apparent in his own riding habits: he cycles from home to BBC, then tows his two-wheeler with him on the FIU shuttle to MMC, where he uses it to cover the roughly two miles to get to his classes at the Engineering Center.

The shop fixes ruptured tires for a flat $10. That represents the going rate locally, Absolu says, but when it comes to tune-ups — which include break and gear adjustments, wheel alignment and cable replacement — and other services, the shop beats competitors’ prices by as much as 50 percent, he says. Plus, as FIU’s parking and transportation department identifies abandoned cycles on campus — such as ones that remain chained to racks for months without anyone using them — the shop takes them in for refurbishing and then sells them for less than commercial vendors would charge. Such finds are available throughout the year on a first-come, first-served basis.

Freshman business major Zachary Schnieders, who owns a Huffy mountain bike, says he has not used the FIU Bike Shop, although he has heard of it and appreciates that it is nearby.

“I have my own tools, but if I can’t fix something, they probably can,” says Schneiders, who lives in the dorms and doesn’t own a car. “If I need to, I can go over there.”

The shop takes payment in the form of cash, credit cards and Panther Cards.

Click here for shop hours, pricing and additional information.