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Unwanted bikes to be refurbished & found new homes

What do you do with an old bike that’s not worth selling but that someone might be able to use? If you live in Brighton, you’ll soon be able to leave it at one of a number of secure spots round the city and the folks at Brighton Bike hub will pick it up and find a new home.

Brighton BikeHub developed and pitched the idea of ‘bike banks’, where unwanted bikes could be dropped off for refurbishing, at Brighton CityCamp last week.

Brighton BikeHub said the idea was to set up “physical spaces in the city where bikes can be easily and securely left – like book banks, toy banks or shoe banks – and collected by us  for refurbishment and re-use.”

With a constantly-churning population of young people, Brighton has a problem with abandoned bikes. In theory, you could take an old bike to the city dump when you’re leaving Brighton, or put it on Freegle, but it seems too many people just can’t be bothered.

Instead, bikes are left attached to railings and lampposts, with the owner perhaps telling himself he’ll come back for it when he has time to deal with it.

BikeHub decided to tackle this challenge and find a way to make it “easier for people to donate their unwanted bikes to us when they are still working, rather than leaving them to rust on the railings in the Brighton brine until the only cycling they will see is the (re)cycling of component parts.”

The CityCamp judges, looking for ideas to Make Brighton Better, were impressed and awarded the idea a share of the available £1,000 funding.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

10 comments

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 1 year ago
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Every town or city I've visited already has a proccess for this which keeps a lot of people employed. Scrap man collects the bikes then sells them on to the multitude of bike mechanics around, they then get restored and sold on. This appears to be a cynical attempt to corner the used bike market and get the bikes for free, thereby putting independant mechanics out of business, which seems to have been high on the mainstream bike trade's agenda for some years as they can't compete with us on fair terms.
Quite frankly I am tempted to steal this idea and set one up in Stockport, perhaps along with some other local mechanics.

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jova54 [644 posts] 1 year ago
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There's a similar scheme going in Guildford but you have to take the bike to one specific location. They are refurbed and then sold on 'relatively' cheaply with the proceeds going to charity. Like Brighton Bike Hub it is staffed mainly by volunteers.

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vbvb [522 posts] 1 year ago
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@drfabulous: Really? I've never heard of that scrap man. Is that just in Stockport? What does he pay for an old shopper bike wheel? The various bike recycle charities (I only know of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth) are happy to receive it, re-use it, then use cash raised to promote cycling further.

If you do set one of these up in Stockport, your mech pals may thank you - more old bikes on the road means lots more work for them.

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 1 year ago
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vbvb, you really don't have scrap men where you live? who go around in vans collecting scrap metal? Do you think they just weigh it all in to be melted down? Don't be silly, they sell it to whoever will pay the best price. And they would pay nothing for your wheel but they would take it away for free. If you really think that old bikes require more work than new bikes then you're insane, how many thousand miles do you get out of your 11 speed chain?

Also how is this cash put into promoting cycling? For me promoting cycling means being able to offer a fast and reliable means of personal transport for the price of 4 weeks bus pass, and putting your bike back on the road quickly for a reasonable price if you break it. I'm putting bums on bikes mate and getting cars off the road, making a decent living while I do it too. What are you doing to promote cycling?

As for setting one up locally, if there's demand I may as well bring it up at the local CUG meeting as they're planning to put in a BikeHub, there's one in Ashton not far from here, I even once saw a bicycle in it, maybe something like this would make it less of a waste of space.

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oozaveared [933 posts] 1 year ago
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Never heard of the scrap man thing. Every time I go to the recycling centre I see 5 or 6 bikes of various descriptions that have been dumped. In fact getting rid of my son's old school bike wasn't that easy. No-one wanted it either. I couldn't even give it away and that was in good nick.

It's the same with tellies mind. We had a perfectly good Phillips 28" CRT. Couldn't even give that away. No bidders on ebay even at 99p and collect.

Any scheme that helps recycle bikes is a good un.

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Jon Fray [16 posts] 1 year ago
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I'm sure there are scrap guys in every town, but in Kingston upon Thames if a bike is left in town and locked up the scrap people won't be interested. How would it look if they started hacking away at a lock and then chucked the bike in the back of a truck? Is it worth the risk of getting collared?

Anyway, the bike shops round here tend not to touch secondhand bikes. Why would they take something that might be stolen? Fixing them up doesn't pay as well as selling a brand new bike with accessories. It's a long time since F.W.Evans sold a 'one careful owner' bike. I think this Bike Bank scheme could work and I wish it luck.  41 Much better than leaving ugly knackered old bikes out on the street taking up space on bike racks.  102

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Argos74 [370 posts] 1 year ago
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drfabulous0 wrote:

Quite frankly I am tempted to steal this idea and set one up in Stockport, perhaps along with some other local mechanics.

Cycloan Cycle repair project
SK1 1NE

Cycles Recycled
SK2 5TJ

We're even better served up road. If a Manc has an unused bike, they're not trying hard enough. Or pop up to Moss Side for a bag of Haribo and some involuntary bike recycling.

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 1 year ago
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The Cycloan project is something entirely different, and sadly Cycles Recycled no longer seems to be operating, there have always been these "community projects" but what I am talking about is straight up business, yes it's ethically sound but I do it to make a living, so do maybe a dozen other folk in Stockport that I know of, which is fine because the used bike market is huge.
Given that from the comments it seems that some people actually struggle to get rid of old bikes this seems an increasingly good idea. Buying from licenced scrap dealers is pretty safe in regards to stolen bikes, but if there was a council run bike bank at the centrally located bike hub it could help out people who want rid of them and the people who want to buy scrap bikes to restore or recycle, which in turn could help fund the bike hub. I initially thought this was a clever but snide idea but I have changed my mind. Definately going to speak to the council about something similar.

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vbvb [522 posts] 1 year ago
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Good luck to you, Drfab. You could do worse than get in touch with the Edinburgh group, Bike Station, who would no doubt have some good pointers on which strategies worked for them.

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Viro Indovina [81 posts] 1 year ago
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