Bike Kitchens

Alternatives to mainstream bike shops are popping up all over the UK. These are DIY spaces – or, more often than not, Do-it-Together spaces – that give you the tools, the tea and the mechanical support to keep your bike wheels turning.

Alternatives to mainstream bike shops are popping up all over the UK. These are DIY spaces – or, more often than not, Do-it-Together spaces – that give you the tools, the tea and the mechanical support to keep your bike wheels turning.

Bike kitchens (as they are commonly called) are open workshops, where members of the public can access everything that they need to do maintenance and repairs on their bicycles. Most have mechanics or volunteers on hand to lend expertise, but the central premise is that the bike owner does the labour themselves.

Free, for a small fee, or pay-as-you-feel, each kitchen runs on a slightly different model. The vast majority, though, are community enterprises, which make people and the environment their priority. Many of the bigger projects also lead parallel programmes tackling social exclusion, from training and employment support for those that are homeless or long-term unemployed, to providing recycled bikes for asylum seekers.

We found well over 50 such places in the UK, with 10 in London alone. Below are some of the most interesting projects, but you can find a full list on our website.

DIY Bike Kitchens

Working with the whole Bristol community, with schemes to empower the underprivileged and marginalised, ‘Earn-A-Bike’ gives people the chance to refurbish a bike into one they can keep, and the ‘Bike Kitchen’ enables them to maintain it. The project also runs maintenance classes, women-only nights, and ‘volunteer courses’ helping people with mental health issues, learning difficulties and substance-abuse problems to volunteer in the workshop.