What Do You Do With a Load of Old Bikes?

We Are Recycling Our Old Bikes!

The Mobile Cycle Service - ExeterEach year I have to wrestle with this logistics problem of getting a load of new bikes out to 5 separate depots in France and Italy.

This year we have to bring back about 50 old bikes that my mate Andy is going to sell through his new venture The Mobile Cycle Service in Exeter, in Devon, UK.

We’ve given lots of bikes away in the past, and taken loads more to French and UK dumps.

This might sound wasteful, but what do you do with them? When they’re more than a couple of years old, you have to bring them all back to a central location. That takes a week of solid driving, all day every day for a week in a big van.

Typically you take the wheels and pedals off for transportation, so when we’re back in the Loire Valley, there might be a pile of 30 bikes, all dirty, all too old to use again, all in bits. So even to sell them you have to clean them, re-build them, check them all out, particularly for cables, brakes, gears and major bearings.

And at the end of that, you’ve got a bike that you can sell. However you can sell it, it will cost you money, even if you put them on eBay or sell them for a commission through a shop.

If you’re doing a thorough job you can probably only do 4 bikes a day, tops. We have to get in spares – seat posts, saddles, bottom brackets, derailleur’s, brake blocks, cables. So to do 30 bikes properly is probably 2 weeks work – whereas building 30 new bikes straight out of the box is maybe 3 days work even if you’re the slowest mechanic in the world.

And I think we used to employ the slowest mechanic in the world as a guide – look – please don’t bother guessing, or tempt me into revealing.

So someone has to take a total of 3 weeks in France, with food and accommodation etc., and spend a few hundred pounds so that we can maybe get £3,000 for 30 old bikes. And I have no idea how to sell 30 bikes in France – getting them back to the UK is another £500.

Anyone who thinks that makes good sense needs to read through the previous paragraphs a bit more carefully and make a note every time money needs to be spent.

So we have a pile of bikes in a barn in the Loire Valley, courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law. Many of them have been completely done-up, literally from the bearings upwards, new bearings, new grease, cables, everything. And they’ve sat there for 3 years!

Old Bikes Get A New Life In Exeter

Cathedral in ExeterThis year, change of plan. Andy has started up a bicycle repair business in Exeter.

He’s picked up lots of work – it’s amazing how little people know about bike maintenance.

I don’t mean they need help replacing the headset, I mean the chain started clicking a bit in 3rd gear so the bike spends the rest of its life in the shed!

And lots of people want to buy a bike off him. One of the issues we had with our old bikes before was whose job was it to clean them, do them up, try and sell them? Mine. This year, Andy is going to take as many of our old bikes as we can drag back across the channel (sorry Andy, it’s a hell of a lot of bikes), fix them up and put Exeter on 2 wheels. Doing our bit for the environment, you might say.

That’s the theory, let’s see what happens. And if you live anywhere near Exeter and want one of the best bike mechanics I know to have a look at your bike, do email Andy at [email protected]

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