Tag Archives: C.J. Speelman

Wrench Raiders: a hidden bike culture

By Terris Harned, Contributing Writer

In April, 2010, C.J. Speelman founded Wrench Raiders, a grassroots organization of volunteers who help maintain bikes for people who are homeless or with no other source of income or transportation. The California transplant calls himself a self-taught mechanic who put himself in this line of work after seeing the need among people who were homeless who relied solely on their bikes for mobility, but who couldn’t afford to fix them. A flat tire or faulty breaks could be crippling and even fatal. But equally important; a solid, well-oiled steed is independence, opportunity and survival.

Wrench Raiders operates a mobile repair shop that provides repairs at no charge, but underlying the work is a message of building community and connecting social classes, inside and outside.

Terris Harned: Tell me a little about Wrench Raiders. How did you guys get started? Who do you serve exactly? Can anyone come and get assistance?

C.J. Speelman: I started a non-profit about six years ago that was primarily focused on creating a space to build community for people who were experiencing homelessness in my area. I learned a lot about my new friends and the problems and experiences they faced every day. One of the largest hurdles they faced was the issue of transportation. So many people take the ability to get from here to there for granted. I knew I did. I found out quickly that bicycles could be a great source of transportation, but they were prone to disrepair.  I began to learn how to fix bikes, building up my own bike from just a frame.  When I moved to Portland two years ago, one of the main reasons was to develop this concept of a mobile bicycle repair shop. We did some research, made a few connections and Wrench Raiders was born April 2010. Continue reading