Citi Bike management company Motivate has brought in twelve mechanics from sister repair shops in Chicago and Washington, D.C. to work a graveyard shift that they hope will shrink Citi Bike's 900-bike repair backlog.

Because former Citi Bike manager Alta Bicycle Share allegedly prioritized "quick fixes" over long-term repairs, about 900 Citi Bikes are currently backed up in the shop, causing a Citi Bike shortage.

According to TWU bikeshare campaign lead organizer Nicholas Bedell, a portion of these 900 are just due for their annual tuneup, a procedure that takes between an hour-and-a-half and two hours per bike. The others are in need of more time-consuming repairs, like bent fenders and busted wheels.

The twelve out-of-town mechanics, who have been living in a rented apartment in Crown Heights for the past two weeks, are getting a food stipend in addition to their hourly wages, according to Bedell. Every night they ride Citi Bikes from Brooklyn to the repair shop at 52nd Street and 3rd Avenue, to work an 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift. Their gig is scheduled to last until the second week of June.

"They are working the graveyard shift," says New York Citi Bike mechanic Evan Ryan.
"They're knocking down the backlog. It has actually been a minor victory for us workers, because initially [Citi Bike] was trying to outsource the backlog to local bike shops and save money by paying them less."

According to Citi Bike spokeswoman Dani Simons, Motivate has also hired an additional 30 New York mechanics and field bike technicians since April, "to ensure we can keep up with demand as peak ridership season starts."

And these mechanics apparently know their stuff: each of them can overhaul between 10 and 12 bikes a day, according to the Post. Local shop owners, who are less familiar with the very particular and tamper-resistant design, can typically handle about 8 Citi Bikes a week, according to officials.

It takes a traditional mechanic "three to six weeks to get proficient to fix a Citi Bike," Bedell says. "The Citi Bike is a whole different machine than the one you see in your typical bike shop."

When asked why Motivate brings in mechanics from other cities, rather than conducting all hiring in-city, Simons did not elaborate. However, she directed us to a Citi Bike Blog post from last week, which includes an interview with Antonio Tines, a Motivate mechanic for Divvy, Citi Bike's Chicago equivalent. The post explains that "Over the past ten days some of the best mechanics from other Motivate bike share systems across the country have come to New York to work alongside our mechanics to help kick our repair efforts into high gear and get bikes onto the street as the peak riding season begins."

Simons seems confident that the backlog will be taken care of in time for peak season this summer. "We have nearly completed the overhaul of all 6,000 Citi Bikes, with fewer than 10% of bikes remaining to be repaired," she said.