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The Bicycle Doctor Fixes Bikes and Inspires Bikers

By:  Journey Germany Jun 18, 2013
Bike Doctor Christian Ulrich

Bicycle Doctor Christian Ullrich at Coca-Cola Germany's headquarters in Berlin.

Being active every day is important. Even kids know that. Then why is it that so many adults can’t find the time to exercise? At Coca-Cola Germany, we know there’s a simple solution to making exercise an everyday part of your life: Ride your bike to work! The Bike Doctor can help you!

Ride to work? Sure, you’d like to ride your bike but it’s down in the basement sitting in a corner with flat tires and years of accumulated rust. The light is broken and the chain creaks whenever the wheel turns. Thanks to Ullrich Christ, mobile bicycle doctor, that’s no longer an excuse. For the fifth consecutive summer, Ullrich parked himself at Coke’s headquarters in Berlin for three days of repairs for employees.

He tightens screws, greases chains, replaces tires, and ensures that a bike’s gears are running smoothly. With his skill in bike mechanics, Ullrich can knock the rust off almost any bicycle and get it ready for a day of riding through the streets of Berlin.

The aim of the annual Coca-Cola program is to get riders out on the street and having fun. After all, biking is the most cost-effective and exciting way to explore everything Berlin has to offer.

Getting Rid of Obstacles

When there is a bike there is also a rider. That’s why the bike doctor takes care of both rusty bikes and their owners. In fact, according to Ullrich, the problem with an out-of-use bike is usually found sitting on top of its seat. The key is helping the rider find the motivation to get out and ride.

It’s never too tiring, too wet, too hot, or too windy for Ullrich. Whether it’s a lack of motivation or a rusty chain, he doesn’t accept excuses. “I try to make riding pleasurable again with a bike that works.”

Not all the bikes that show up in the Coca-Cola parking garage can be saved. “Some bikes have been in the basement for too long. It would take someone really tough to ride ten kilometers on some of the bikes I see,” says Ullrich.

Mitarbeiter-Fahrrad beim Fahrrad-Doktor

Fahrräder müssen hin und wieder repariert werden, aber manchmal brauchen auch ihre Fahrer ein bisschen Wartung.

Now It’s Time to Get Moving

With a little oil, some air and a few turns of his wrench, the bicycle doctor has most of the bikes in a better place. He also tunes up the brakes by ergonomically adjusting them. Making the right brake stronger for right-handers ensures a rider doesn’t go over the handlebars when she slams on the brake to avoid a daydreaming pedestrian.

It’s this kind of support that Ullrich gives to both bikes and riders. He dispenses words of encouragement as much he shares his technical tips. By building confidence in riders, he hopes to turn fair-weather bikers into everyday athletes.

The Right Bike for Every Rider

The bikes are now ready to go. If all goes well, maybe some of their owners will discover a new hobby. After turning over the repaired bike, he’s often asked for a recommendation for a new bike. “A one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work for bikes,” says Ullrich.

He starts any recommendation by sizing up the person asking for it. “A bicycle must fit the character. I look at how a person walks, how a person holds themselves.”

“A bicycle is an extension of the rider. One rider will be happy with a Dutch bike but another may need a racing bike.”

Supporting a Healthier Lifestyle

Whether it’s his repair work or his recommendation for a new bike, most people are inspired to commute to work by bike after their experience with the Ullrich.

There are benefits to riding to work. Not only does exercise put you in a good mood before you get to the office but the journey itself expands one’s horizons. Every kilometer biked improves a person’s fitness and riding in all weather conditions is a great way to boost the immune system.

More than 20% of employees at the Berlin headquarters of Coca-Cola bike to work. There are changing rooms and showers for bikers and those who jog during their lunch breaks. There are new stationary bicycle pumps and the reception desk has emergency tool kits and rain capes for those in need.

The bicycle doctor will be back next year to heal bikes and inspire more employees to discover his passion for bike riding.