Burn, Don’t Get Burned: Playa Bike Consumer Report

by Whatsblem the Pro



Back in March, we gave you a rundown of options for obtaining a playa-suitable bicycle. Topping that list was Reno’s Kiwanis Bike Program; unfortunately, information has come to light that prompts us to withdraw our recommendation of that organization in favor of the other options listed in our March article.

We’re sorry to report that you should also be warned away from Rat’s Bikes, a service frequently promoted in the Jack Rabbit Speaks newsletter put out by the Burning Man Org.

We don’t have any negative reports from people using Kiwanis’ playa bike program, so you might be safe giving them your money for that (if they even have any left); we have confirmed, however, that they are not trustworthy enough to do business with on a verbal contract basis; instead of fulfilling their end of the bargain, they seem to do nearly as much back-pedaling as pedaling. Caveat emptor!

When Kiwanis recently moved to a new space and needed the old place cleaned up so they could get their deposit back, a three-way deal was struck to get their old space thoroughly cleaned in exchange for a dozen or more bicycles, to be donated to a community center for community use. Volunteers showed up and did the job, and Kiwanis got their deposit back. They made every visible sign of being happy with the work performed, to the point of gushing all over everyone concerned about it. . . but when it came time to collect the bicycles, they suddenly decided to change the deal and act as though nobody should be surprised by that. The community center that was supposed to get a dozen or more bikes got one instead. Stay classy, Kiwanis Bike Program.

Rat’s Bikes, meanwhile, a one-man operation that may be connected with the Kiwanis Bike Program, has simply vanished into thin air after collecting funds from more than a few burners. We don’t know where Rat is or what’s going on, and it’s possible that he’s in some kind of truly dire straits that makes this excusable. . . but in any case, Rat should no longer be considered a reliable resource for burners seeking bikes. We hope Rat’s OK, even though him being OK would mean that he’s some kind of thief, and that some kind of thief has been enjoying free promotion from the Burning Man Org.

As always, do your due diligence before forking over your hard-earned cash, no matter what you’re buying; this is particularly important when you’re buying tickets from someone other than the Org themselves, at any price. You don’t want to end up on the playa with no bicycle after paying for one, and you sure don’t want to show up at Gate with a ticket bearing an invalidated serial number.

Ride tough!

We have just learned that an anonymous donor has stepped forward to fill the gap left by the Kiwanis Bike Program. One dozen bicycles will be delivered to the community center tomorrow, with annual free maintenance included! The donor does not want publicity, but the bicycles themselves will be sourced from Black Rock Bicycles, who will also do the yearly maintenance.