Summer is when bicycles are dusted off from that unused space under the stairs, repaired, and taken around the city for a spin. But these days, repairing a cycle could set one back by a few hundred rupees, or even a thousand, if it is a slightly major glitch.

Till about five years ago, repairing meant a trip to the neighbourhood shop with painted wooden panels for doors and a greasy black floor paved with silvery ball bearings. A medium repair work could be carried out for under Rs.10 and an overhaul for around Rs.30. But a majority of these shops have closed down ironically at a time when cycling has become a fad with the urban crowd.

Taking their place are the swanky repair shops that has cropped up in various parts of the city, mostly attached to shops selling cycles. Regular cycle users say that no repair work can be done at below Rs.100 at these shops.

‘Professional approach’

“Cycle servicing works much like motorcycle or car servicing these days. The approach looks professional. Instead of just pulling the cycle inside the shop and looking at the problem, the new shops first give you a printed estimate. The amount can give a shock to old-timers. But, since the modern bicycles costs upwards of Rs.20,000 or even Rs.50,000, these are supposed to be the new normal for repairing,” says J. Rajeev, a software engineer who cycles to office.

A full overhaul can cost anywhere from Rs.300 to Rs.500. “The old shops used to be handed down over generations. But now, the next generation is reluctant to take it up and prefer to move out of the State for white-collar jobs. That is why most of the old shops are closing down,” says Kumar, manager of a cycle shop at Pazhavangadi.

The old repair workers, who are sometimes forced to close down their shops owing to the rising rents, struggle to find work at the new shops too. “The new cycles with complicated gears and assortments need a different style of work. So we prefer to recruit young workers who are familiar with it,” says the manager of a shop at Pattom.