Building bikes, building communities
Hannah Armstrong from Re-Cycles in Liverpool leads a tour around the UK’s independent bike projects.
If you’re looking for a bicycle, or want to get the one that’s gathering dust in your hallway back on the road, there’s an interesting alternative to the big name stores offering brand new bikes and full services. They’re DIY – or, as one such place more accurately terms it – DIT workshops – that’s Doing It Together, and they’re waiting for you to get involved!
Already existing all over the UK, with more popping up all the time, they offer workshop space, tools and advice to enable you to work on your bikes yourself. No handing it over at the desk, picking it up two weeks later and never knowing what happens to it. Here you can learn how to fix and maintain your bike with a little help from volunteers. Use of these workshops is often free, or for a small donation or membership fee. These are community organisations with people, not profit, as their priority.
They represent an active and forward-looking part of our society and by supporting them you can be part of building a new type of community – one in which we are conscious of our impact on our environment and other people, where we are resourceful rather than wasteful, and work co-operatively to Do It Together.
The following bicycle projects are listed in alphabetical order by town/city. Where possible, a website address and phone number is given; if none is available, an e-mail address or street address is provided instead.
If you know of a bike project that is missing please contact us and we'll add it in.
“Starting from scratch but with plenty of enthusiasm we gather orphaned bikes, fix them up and bring them back to life.” beCycle is a community-based workshop which not only offers tools, spare parts and competent help to anyone who comes in, but also lends bikes out for free, and organises a weekly bike ride and weekend trips.
Lawrence Street Workshops, Belfast
Sells recycled bikes and promotes cycling through organised bicycle rides.
A workers’ co-operative that recycles bikes and promotes cycling activities (including bicycle polo – see their website for more details!); offers workshop repairs; runs courses in maintenance, cycle training, and wheel building; runs a ‘tool club’ where people can come along and use their workshop. Also sells new and recycled bike parts, and quirky hand-made cycling “aids’”such as “lobster gloves”, made from recycled jumpers!
0121 459 7276
Here, young people work alongside volunteers to recycle bikes they can keep as their own. Other recycled bikes are given to the socially disadvantaged, passed on to a parent project Crank It Up, or sold to the public. Sessions available in cycle maintenance and repair, and workshop space available to hire. They also offer custom paint jobs – send them a sketch and see what they can do!
A volunteer-run, not-for-profit, do-it-yourself bicycle workshop where you’ll be shown how to fix and look after your bike. Recycled bikes and accessories sold. ‘Bike Hospital’ offers mechanics at public events to share bicycle skills.
01273 693 477
The Kebele Community Co-op has an open volunteer-run bicycle workshop which aims to promote and maintain the use of bikes in the Easton area of Bristol. A self-funded, not-for-profit organisation, it depends on volunteers and donations of bikes.
Committed to working with the whole Bristol community, running schemes to empower the underprivileged and marginalised: ‘Freedom of Movement’ works with asylum seekers and refugees, ‘Earn-A-Bike’ gives people the chance to refurbish a bike into one they can keep, and the ‘Fix-A-Bike’ scheme enables them to maintain it. Recycles and sells bikes and parts; provides a repair and maintenance service; runs maintenance courses, women only nights, and ‘supported volunteer courses’ which allow people with mental health issues, learning difficulties and substance-users to volunteer. Bikes for hire, including a tandem and a cargo bike. ‘Dr Bike’ available for hire to events, community groups, schools and companies.
Cardiff Cycle Workshop
Recycle and sell bikes and parts at monthly workshop sales. Bicycle maintenance courses offered through their parent company, Cycle Training Wales.
07808 987798 (Jon, workshop co-ordinator)
Part of the Coventry Peace House (a housing co-operative and a peace and environment centre). Run by a small team of volunteers, who recycle and sell bikes. Profits go towards the community projects run by the Peace House.
Scotland’s largest bike recycling organisation, with branches in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth. Working with employers, voluntary organisations, schools and youth groups to promote cycling as a means of sustainable transport, they sell reconditioned bikes at affordable prices, run ‘Fix Your Own Bike’ sessions, bike maintenance training classes, and cycling tutorials, and offer full bike servicing. Glasgow Bike Station’s ‘Belles on Bikes’ programme encourages and supports women in the city to cycle.
Edinburgh - 0131 668 1996, Glasgow - 0141 248 5409, Perth- 01738 44 44 30
A not-for-profit social enterprise based across two sites in Gloucestershire, selling refurbished bikes, from racers and vintage to mountain, town and Dutch-style, as well as children’s bikes. ‘Free Wheeling’ workshops teach Gloucestershire residents bike maintenance and repair free of charge, ‘Supported Volunteer’ programme works with adults overcoming substance abuse, and ‘Chain Reaction’ teaches children aged 11-19 bike skills.
01452 690979 (Maureen, Project Co-ordinator)
CycleRecycle, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire
Sell recycled bicycles.
A women-run co-operative that refurbishes and sells bikes and parts, runs a ‘Tool Club’ for people to use tools, stands, books and the kettle (including women-only sessions if requested), and assisted maintenance sessions. Service and repair bikes. Run Dr Bike sessions for schools, community groups and other institutions. Check out their blog at spokeswomen.org.uk
A co-operative of volunteers who run drop-in sessions for people to learn how to repair their bike. Small membership fee for those who can afford it, and donations accepted, “but no one will be turned away due to lack of funds. The emphasis is on anyone can fix their bike. We have tools, books and time for you.”
Good bikes that would normally go to waste can be donated to Re-Cycle in Swansea. Re-Cycle was set up as a social enterprise 6 years ago to reduce the widespread waste of bikes, keep Swansea supplied with reliable and affordable bikes and to provide training in cycle maintenance.
Committed to keeping you on your bike without the hype. A walk-in workshop, selling refurbished and (occasionally) new bikes, parts, and components.
0113 274 5229
A community enterprise that recycles bicycles and offers training, activities and bicycle servicing.
A volunteer-run Community Interest Company that offers a free-to-use DIY workshop, with volunteers on hand to help you fix your bicycle. Also run Bike Doctors in the community and organise monthly group rides.
No.2 Bicycle Company, Liverpool
A bike repair workshop which specialises in selling custom-made bikes (including frame building) and vintage bikes. The workshop is a hub for cyclists, who often stop by for a cup of tea and a chat about anything bike-related, and is also used to run workshops teaching bike building skills to disadvantaged children.
2 Roscoe Street, Liverpool, L1 2SX.
A charitable social enterprise with an open DIY workshop with a full tool library, mechanics on hand to help, and courses to build bike skills, including Intro to Bike Maintenance, Wheel Building, Total Overhaul and Long Distance Tour Preparation. Also holds women & gender-variant nights, monthly rides, bike-related events (including the infamous Bicycle Bingo) and Members Only Perks. Income subsidises classes and shop time for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, allowing them to gain access to bikes and bicycle education.
A not-for-profit, community-run space based in the Infoshop Social Centre. Volunteers run space for repairs with tools and spare parts. Second hand bikes for sale.
A local cycling campaign group in the East End of London. Main objectives are: to encourage more people to cycle; improve conditions for cyclists; to raise the profile of cycling in the East End.
This involves bringing the issues to the attention of the local council and other authorities. Hold a bicycle workshop on the third Saturday of every month at Limehouse Town Hall. Also run cycling community projects and organise social rides and events to bring cyclists in the area together.
Bikeworks, Tower Hamlets, London
A social enterprise offering cycle training, repairs, bicycle reycling, travel planning and sales of new and refurbished bikes. In September 2012 they completed a 270 mile cycle through three countries in three days, travelling from London to Amsterdam “to help support disabled people to get cycling”.
Waltham Forest Bike Recycling recycle bikes to sell, and run bike 2 day maintenance courses.
A collaboration between Transition Town Stoke Newington and Hackney Cycling Campaign, this volunteer-run maintenance workshop takes place three times a month – twice in Hackney and once in Stoke Newington. Tools supplied, bring your own parts.
Transition Heathrow is a grassroots action group working to build resilient Heathrow communities, capable of collectively coping with the injustices and threats of the economic, ecological and democratic crises. The bicycle workshop, which runs once a week, is a recent addition to their calender, and invites people to come together and learn bicycle repair and bicycle building skills.
Earlier this year some of Transition Heathrow’s crew joined PEDAL to cycle over 7000km, through 18 different countries, from London to Palestine, in response to the call-out for international solidarity from Palestinian civil society. Find out more at www.100daystopalestine.org.
A grassroots community group that encourages and supports cyclists to organise for themselves, whether it be a bicycle ride, bicycle dancing (check out The Spokes, an “all-woman-all-bike-loving bicycle dance troupe”, or bicycle polo. A platform for the promotion of bicycle activities and events, including Manchester Critical Mass and various bike festivals.
A community project providing bicycle education to share skills and promote self reliance for people of all ages and backgrounds. Offering one-to-one bike maintenance classes, cycle training, a tool club, bike hire and bike rides.
A “bike project for wimmin” committed to promoting the benefits of bicycles to women by providing access to affordable equipment and education. Providing training in bike maintenance and cycle training, and a range of bicycle rides for all abilities, including Ambling Rides, Roadie Rides, and Wellbeing Rides. All sessions are run by qualified and experienced women.
A community project whose trained mechanics and volunteers recycle bikes for sale to the public. Supporters of Re-cycle, a project in Colchester which sends bikes to Africa (learn more at www.re-cycle.org/). Has a shop selling cycling accessories. Run basic bike maintenance classes, as well as National Standard Cycle Training for those who want to learn or improve their cycling skills.
A recently established co-operative enterprise from the folk who run Beryl’s Night (berylsnight.org). Teaching group courses at all levels around Oxfordshire, running fortnightly women’s bike mechanics workshops, and promoting cycling events and rides.
Encouraging the use of bicycles as a resource for the local community by recycling bicycles to sell. Running Active Cycle Maintenance Sessions to provide training and employment opportunites and promote cycling as a worthwhile and healthy activity.
Formed by riders who wanted to build on their shared experience of the 2005 G8 Bike Ride and organise future events of a similar nature, Bicycology is an independent, non-hierarchical group run directly by all its members through regular meetings that rotate around the country. They pursue their vision of a just and sustainable world through a combination of education, entertainment and creative direct action, taking to the road to bring Dr Bike sessions to communities throughout the UK. Visit their website for a range of downloadable resources (including building your own pedal-powered energy generator), as well as details of upcoming events and actions.
Since 2006, Bike Rescue have saved almost 5,000 bicycles from the scrapheap. A not-for-profit Community Interest Company, they have a team of skilled mechanics who service and repair bikes, specialising in keeping older classic bicycles on the road. They offer a full service, one to one “Get to Know Your Bike” sessions on Saturdays, and Roadside Repairs group courses. They run regular Bike Doctor sessions at York University and recycle bicycles to sell.
Made Good. On the Web
Made Good is a small non-profit organisation that provides free info on cycle maintenance. They've got hundreds of high quality videos free for anybody to view on-line.