OAKLAND -- After school at Skyline High School, students are getting together several times a week for an afternoon of tinkering and tuning, taking old bikes apart and putting them back together.

According to Skyline teacher Andrew Tuller, it's a way for teenagers to learn useful skills and work up to getting bikes of their own.

"It gives you a chance to really understand how to work on a bike," said senior Tiana King, a club member.

But there aren't enough bikes to go around, so club co-founder Andrew Tuller and his fellow teachers are turning to the community for donations of old, unused or broken bikes.

"There are so many people that have bikes sitting in their garage," Tuller said.

Tuller and fellow resource teacher Jonathan Coleman began the program late last year as a way to help kids gain repair skills, become interested in cycling, and get bikes they might otherwise not afford.

"It's a really great experience," King said.

The club was able to set up with a grant from Oakland-based charity Philanthropic Ventures for tools and equipment. Now the after-school club meets several times a week in an old storage shed on campus that Tuller has repurposed, with a rotating list of faculty supervisors.

"It's really fun," he said. "I love it."

Tuller sees it as a kind of replacement for the technical classes such as wood shop that schools used to teach.

"We sort of fill that niche," he said.

King, who got interested in bicycling in middle school, said she loves the tinkering aspect, while other students are more interested in earning a bike.

For every hour they spend learning and fixing, the students get imaginary money they can then "spend" on one of the reconditioned bikes. King has about four more hours before she can earn a bike.

To date, the students have fixed up about six bikes, but Tuller said it's not enough.

"We have too many students who are interested," he said.

So Tuller is hoping to get old or unwanted bikes for more raw materials in the shop and also to get more students cycling.

He'll accept bikes Jan. 13 at the Montclair Village Farmer's Market but said he's also willing to pick up bikes elsewhere.

Tuller plans to expand the club beyond bike repair and into safety and advocacy, training student leaders such as King to inspire others to take up cycling.

Many of his students live in East Oakland, where they can get around on bikes even if they can't get up the hill to Skyline.

"Oakland is a pretty ideal place to ride bikes," he said.

FYI
What: Skyline High School bike club's bike drive
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Jan. 13
Where: Montclair Village Farmer's Market, La Salle and Moraga avenues
Information: Email andrew.tuller@skylinehs.org to donate a bike