Today, at the start of the University of Cambridge’s academic year, a charity that refurbishes ex-Royal Mail bikes to sell onto buyers in the UK but also donates them to people in Malawi, was exhibiting at the Fresher’s Fair on the city’s Parker’s Piece.
With the bikes offered for sale not only to students but also to the wider public, it's a chance to own a piece of cycling history in the shape of what is, perhaps, the ultimate workhorse bike without going for a full-blown cargo bicycle.
And with prices ranging from £250 to £280 - the latter if you want a parcel tray and basket thrown in - it's indisputably great value for a bike that is likely to last and last.
The Elephant Bike brand, which sells former postal workers’ bikes refurbished in prisons in the Midlands under a ‘buy one, give one’ scheme, was launched after it was discovered that red Royal Mail bikes supplied to game park rangers in the African country made elephants, well, see red.
Repainted green to blend in with the local scenery, the charity Krizevac, which is behind the initiative, approached Royal Mail to ask if they could sell some of the bikes in the UK to help finance its charity efforts in Africa.
If you saw our blog post last month, Teaching a Dog to Ride an Elephant, you’ll know that we are already big fans of the initiative here on road.cc.
Speaking today in Cambridge with the charity’s managing director, Vince Owen, we’ve learnt that the charity goes well beyond donating bicycles to Africa, needed as they are in a country where they are an essential form of daily transport.
It also has a business model that takes items including sewing machines that are unwanted in the UK and sends them to Malawi to help people establish their own enterprises, while the proceeds are ploughed back into its core initiatives such as a children’s centre there.
We’ll have more about that on road.cc soon, but if in the meantime you’d like to consider buying an Elephant Bike, which is essentially a second-hand Pashley Pronto, for less than half the price one of those would cost you, head here.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.