LIFE-FACEBOOK-FREE-BIKE-REPAIRS-SJ

East Bay Dragons Motorcycle Club members pose for a group photo before their meeting at the East Bay Dragons Motorcycle Club in Oakland, California. The club is turning 60 years this weekend at the same and only location it was founded in East Oakland in 1959.

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Mikey Ross is just beginning his freshman year of high school, and he’s going to be rolling to school on his bike every day.

But his rig — with neon green rims and a matte black frame he spray-painted — was in need of a little fixing up, so it was a boon for him and his mom that Facebook provided free bike repairs in Menlo Park.

“It’s really nice,” Ross, 14, said of the service. “Usually, it’s pretty expensive to fix a bike, and for them to do it for free, that’s really cool.”

The tech giant headquartered in Menlo Park brought a few of its Facebook Bike Team contractors to the courtyard outside the Belle Haven branch of the Menlo Park library to adjust brakes, fix flats, and lube gears for about 25 bike owners.

Facebook said it’s part of a few ways its trying to help out kids and families as school gets back into gear. Kids who got their bike repaired also were given Facebook-branded drawstring backpacks with free safety swag, including a bike headlamp, lock and a bell.

The clinic was paired with the weekly community mobile market Facebook runs at three locations across Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, where people can purchase a “farm bag” with groceries at a subsidized price of $15, and can also shop for fresh, organic produce, which some shoppers said can be hard to find at reasonable prices at local markets.

Bike team workers usually stick to repairing bikes of Facebook employees on one of the company’s several campuses, or spend time tending to the thousands of baby-blue bikes the company has provided for its employees to use around town, which were at the center of some community tensions earlier this year.

The bikes, often left by employees on sidewalks and near businesses, are sometimes picked up and ridden by local young people, only to be targeted by police, who would confiscate the bikes and return them to tech campuses, a practice which local police say they’ve since stopped.

To help address that need for bikes, Live in Peace, a nonprofit seeking to empower youth in nearby East Palo Alto — which has long struggled with high rates of poverty and crime — is working to make free bicycles available to all East Palo Alto youth.

The nonprofit also launched a new bike repair and customization shop in the city, helping kids learn to repair and customize donated bikes.

Ross, the 14-year-old, lives in Redwood City, but he is in the first class of kids at the new TIDE Academy in Menlo Park, just a few blocks from Facebook. His mom, Belem Blasius, said she is happy he was able to get the bike fixed, so she has one less person among her kids and husband to shuttle around each morning.

“It’s great for the community, especially for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it,” she said of the clinic.

The bike technicians replaced Ross’ rear brake, which he had removed because it had become locked onto the wheel.

Without a rear brake, “I would just like scrape my foot on the ground” to slow down, Ross said.

But after a quick pit stop at the clinic, he was whizzing around the library parking lot with ease.

Plenty of adults brought their mountain bikes, hybrids and beach cruisers or other types of bikes in to get worked on, too.

Alfred Taylor, 57, brought his carbon-fiber bike which he had “tossed to the side” a bit lately, but hoped to get it tuned up to “get a smooth ride” out of it after a visit to the clinic.

“Tighten up some little squeaks here and there,” he said. “Just to make sure it’s ready for me to rock when I want to rock on it.”

Scott Allen, a bike technician from Bikes Make Life Better, Facebook’s repair contractor, was tuning up 9-year-old Noah Nieves’ specialized brand Hot Rock 20-inch bike, which needed some brake tightening, he said.

“I’ll probably adjust the shifting, too,” Allen said, gesturing toward the bike’s chains with a small custom tool from his apron. “It lets a kid go fast.”