Story by Kaitlyn Kochany and photos by Michelle St-Amour
The night I was supposed to interview Alex Legum – the mechanic who recently started up Dial-a-Wrench Bike Repair—I had a problem. Another cyclist had put their lock through my water bottle cage, and I was tethered to the ring and post with no way of getting free. My bike was stuck, and I was without other wheels. It's one of those annoying things about being a cyclist that makes me yearn for the kind of roadside assistance that motorists take for granted.
Fortunately for me, Legum was on the case. I called her, and 20 minutes later she arrived with the tools necessary to unscrew the cage. I was free.
Legum launched Dial-a-Wrench earlier this month. It's a simple idea: give her a call at 416-825-0358, tweet her, or write on the Dial-a-Wrench Facebook page and she'll come to you with a complement of tools and fix what ails your bike. Her service area is St. Clair to the waterfront, east to River and west to Dufferin (but she'll make an exception for cyclists stranded at the Leslie Street Spit). Her prices are sliding scale, and beat out a lot of local shops: $15 for a flat fix (versus about $20 at most Toronto bike stores). She's available 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. When the weather is nice, you can find her set up with a bike stand in a local park, offering a drop-in service and chatting with cyclists.
An experienced mechanic, Legum has worked and volunteered at a number of bike shops. She started Dial-a-Wrench, in part, out of a desire to strike out on her own and build up a customer base through face-to-face interactions – something rare for bike mechanics, who are usually tucked away at the back of shops.
“I want to reduce the intimidation factor of going into a bike shop,” says the personable Legum. “You might not know what’s wrong with your bike at first, and that can be scary." (She says a lot of her calls begin with her customers saying something like “my bike is making a noise”).
Dial-a-Wrench makes bike repair more convenient for the customer because Legum will travel anywhere – your home or work – so if, for example, you have a problem with your bike during your morning commute, she can help you fix it before you head home for supper.
In the future, she's looking forward to building up her business. She envisions hiring a team of mechanics, each specialized in different types of repairs and deployed out as needed. For now, though, she's working through the upcoming winter and using social media and word of mouth to tell folks about her services. "I'm just looking forward to talking to people about their bikes," she laughs.