No better place than…?

consider, did you know, friends, learn, ride, safety, share, social, travel

Not all those who wander are lost.

J.R.R. Tolkien

All travelling one does in their lifetime supports the one’s development and ability to remain open minded. That is a fact.

There was a time when the #tbcleeds team (quote) ‘swanned’ around Europe for over a month. We went for an adventure of our lives while visiting almost 20 countries, most of which heavily cycling influenced and cycling friendly. We have discovered places we never considered as a cycling mad (i.e. Poland) and we also learnt that the cycling is actually pretty popular in Europe; the UK, however strongly advertised as a cycling nation, has some catching up to do…

Sweden and Denmark, and for this example the entire Scandinavia, is an amazing place for cycling. The infrastructure is phenomenal, the driver’s are friendly and the cyclists are great.

Poland is absolutely driven (sic!) by cycling, there are paths everywhere, people are cycling everywhere, families are cycling with kids, adults, men, women, we have seen them all. Cyclists are great but there is still room for improvement for the drivers’ attitude.

France is great too; the city cycling is splendid, the countryside cycling is first class too. People behind the wheel are friendly and the cyclists are understanding too.

Germany and the surrounding places (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, etc.) are amazing as well. Quiet and peaceful rides are guaranteed; the driver’s and the cyclists live in a mutual symbiosis and it feels really natural to turn the two wheels.

Portugal and Spain are pretty awesome too. People are friendly- be it as drivers or cyclists- and the cycling is such an underrated way of transport.

Then we came back to England and we must admit it was a bit of a shock. Drivers are not that great and cyclists sometimes do not do themselves any favours. We are so behind with Europe- in attitude, in understanding, in respecting each other, in imagination vivid enough to realise that we do share the space and we do want to go home safely. Whether it is Europe or not.

A tribute ride in memory of Leeds’ John Harkins

consider, crime, friends, help, inspiration, learn, ride, safety

Come and join us for a memorial ride to Kirkstall Road. We will gather starting from 5pm to leave the shop on Copley Hill about 545pm. The plan is to get the Critical Mass gathering for 6pm and let them join us on the memorial ride to pay our respects to the fallen John Harkins who tragically lost his life in the Kirkstall Road tragedy on 14th November 2016. Invite whoever you believe might be interested and spread the word please. We plan to be at the scene of the accident about 630pm. Have no bike? Come and join us on foot.

1. The police has been in touch now and they are aware of the ride- we discussed the implications of the large gathering and the potential (although still unintended) disturbance to the traffic in the area. I am awaiting further instructions and additional comments and/or arrangements from the senior officer of the local police. Their support and/or assistance will be discussed further too. I will update following a meeting with them in the shop which has been planned for before the ride.

2. The local media have been in touch and expressed their will to provide coverage- they were instructed to be as little invasive as possible (it is not a publicity stunt- it is a memorial ride after all). They will pay us a visit in the shop prior to the ride and I will update should anything change.

3. We have a few groups coming together and cycling towards the central meeting point at the Museum steps where the ride will join with the Critical Mass- the ride itself is not a feeder ride- if the CM wishes to join us we are riding towards their starting point for this very reason- as of yet no contact was made by CM and from what I was told there was no confirmation of their involvement (hopefully as of yet).

4. The route discussed with the police is to involve roads with 2 lanes of traffic to ensure the least disturbance possible. Due to no confirmation of support as of yet (therefore for planning reasons it has been assumed there would be no support at all) we will refrain from going onto single lane roads where possible. The proposed route is: Millenium Square to Rossington St to Woodhouse Ln to Albion St to Headrow to Westgate to Kirsktall Rd. We were instructed to obey the road signs and road rules or we will be stopped and the ride will have to discontinue.

5. The family of John’s is aware of the ride and we would like to make sure they do not witness any misbehave and they remember this as a tribute the cycling community of Leeds and beyond paid to a fellow fallen rider. We expressed our deepest condolences and we invited them to join us should they feel fine to do so. There is no confirmation of their appearance as of yet but please remember that they might be there guys- let’s stay civil and considerate.

6. The Aviators Cheer group was contacted too- they were also invited to join us although no official confirmation was received as of yet- once again this is a group of the very closest friends and colleagues of John’s- bear that in mind and again let’s stay civil and considerate.

7. There are some rumours of a few rider groups visiting from outside Leeds- no official confirmation as of yet so please bear with me on that. Should that happen let’s lead by example and considering all of the above let’s make this the bike ride that John would be proud of.

8. The general rules of cycling en masse will apply too guys- the weakest, the slowest, the most vulnerable riders are to be protected by those with the most experience. We are expecting kids and adults cyclists, and there are also a few pedestrians that will meet us there. Let’s stay safe, by any means necessary.

This is a follow up of a tragic accident, let’s not add to the drama. Let’s be nice, let’s be civil, let’s stay safe.

Yours truly #tbcleeds.

‘…I want to ride my bicycle…’

cheap, consider, free, friends, help, inspiration, recycle, repair, safety, share

The average family earning minimum wage spends 141 percent of their income struggling to meet basic needs – food, shelter, clothing. 

Sherrod Brown

We met Labbonti today. He was a bit late but he said that he has had a busy night last night. We patiently listened to his story. He lived in Wales in a flat belonging to his sister. She passed away and he, unable to meet the financial expectations, had to leave. He came to Leeds a while a go and slept rough since. We met him today but we already met before too.

His person, especially the state of his bike, was brought to our attention by a message on our social media page. A random passer-by was touched and brought to tears by his bicycle. We browsed the area to meet him and arrange the meet up. When we met him his bike was indeed in a bit of a state…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We talked to him and arranged for the weekend visit to make his ride ride again. His front wheel did not have a tyre on. Nor an inner tube. The brakes did not work, the brake pads were missing, gears did not work, cables and outers were broken. The bottom bracket and the headset were all over the place as well. The bike was a death trap.

Labbonti met us exactly where and when agreed. He came on his bike; you could hear him from the distance- the front rim making the metal grinding against the tarmac sound. We replaced the front wheel, put an inner tube on, put a tyre on, fixed his brakes, adjusted gears, replaced the outers and cables, tightened the bottom bracket, tightened the handlebars, tightened the saddle, tightened the seatpost… All this for a fist pump. And a massive smile.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When he rode away we saw him grinning like a kid, swerving from one side to another, keeping his feet off the pedals… He enjoyed his bike. He acted like we all did at once- that day when we received a new bike- he enjoyed the ability to travel freely, the happiness, the wind in the hair…

You see this is the time when you give someone something more than a bicycle.

We gave him freedom…

Too much for a few

cheap, consider, free, friends, recycle, repair, safety

Strive not to be a success but rather of a value.

Albert Einstein

We struggle to explain to the majority of people on our way that what we do is not for profit. Despite our soon-to-be legal structure we are not working like a standard company.

When the bikes are being given away we prepare them so they are safe to use. Our target audience are children aged 7-15yo and despite their lack of understanding of safety they do receive bicycles that are built, serviced and maintained to a standard considered as high even at the high street bike stores.

We were contacted by so many people recently- we still cannot believe how many good words were said about what we do. We met people from miles away driving to donate an unwanted bicycle to us (thank you Tom), we had people donating 3 bikes at a time (thank you David)… We attracted some attention and we are simply gob-smacked by the amount of good vibes sent our way. We realised that there must be something right about what we do as we get busier now. Day in day out we have local kids coming down with stuff to fix, tubes to patch up, wheels to pump up, bikes to mend and more. We get the same faces on a regular basis but they also bring friends; and they bring friends. And their friends.

004

The Bikes College got as busy as never before and people know who we are and what we do. We also increased our turnover whilst still working as a voluntarily project- we do not get paid for what we do. We would like to be able to create few work spaces soon and we are working towards it but at this time we are still relying only on donations and handful of sales. We do sell approximately 15% of our bikes not for profit but to keep what we do as a free service to all. We repair punctures for free, that would normally cost you at least £5; we replace brake shoes for free, that would normally cost you £3 per set; we replace the old and rusty cables and outers, that would normally cost you £1 per cable. You see all that has to come from somewhere and without your kind donations and few sales these costs would have to be covered by you guys. We also swap bikes- you bring us yours we will give you ours- more suitable, better, bigger, etc. Next time you think we are are not doing enough go to the bike shop and try to buy an inner tube, get it fitted, pumped up, your tyre and rim checked up- for a smile and a handshake.

You see we do it for about that much. And sometimes not even that; for sometimes it is too much to ask for.

What can you get for a smile?

cheap, free, friends, inspiration, recycle, repair, safety, social

No one has ever become poor by giving.

Anne Frank

As it occurs to us more and more often this very universal truth gets constantly omitted.

People do not believe anything is free anymore.

The Bikes College relies on free stuff at all times. We get the majority of our bicycles donated or given to us for free. We then have a look at them from a mechanical point of view; every bike is examined the same way. We ask ourselves if the bicycle is repairable; can we rebuild it or should we use it as a donor for parts and components so we can repair the others; can we give it away or should we charge a highly discounted price to fund the other parts we use on a daily basis. This process occurs everytime we get a bicycle in front of us. We sell approximately 15-20% of our bicycles to fund the remaining 80-85% that we simply give away for free or next to nothing.

hhhhhhhhh

In about 75% of cases the average abandoned bicycle needs the same to be mended to be rideable again: faulty brakes, faulty gears, flat tyres, loose bottom bracket, loose headset or all combined. Where these repairs are quite easy to resolve for a qualified mechanic it might be a challenge to an average folks; a financial and mechanical challenge to be precise. Parts that are involved in a repair like the aforementioned are not expensive but they do all add up quickly- bottom bracket, full set of brake shoes and full set of cables and outers can come up to anything nearing £20 and above. For someone who can buy a bike from us for less than that it is a major expense. That is one of the reason why we give away bikes for free- we get them for free and we give them for free.


We appreciate the donations and we return the favour by simply supplying a safe and a fully functional bicycle to a local community, for free! We expect the smile and a thank you back; and we want to see the bike to be ridden and looked after. That is not too much to ask for, right?

Shared effort

consider, crime, help, learn, safety, share, theft

Lock it or lose it dear fools.

Anonymous

It occurs to us on a daily basis that bike theft is indeed a shared effort. An effort that requires so many parts to get involved on a regular basis.

It takes as two to tango as it takes two for a crime to occur: it takes a criminal and a victim. We stood in the city centre today patiently observing the fellow cyclists locking up their bikes to the railing in one of the busiest spots in town; quite a paradox it is also one of the black spots in town for bike theft. This was the time when it simply struck us as an obvious issue: bike theft (apart from all the self-evident reasons) happens because WE ALLOW IT to happen. There was a number of cyclists using cheap and easy to brake cable locks; there was a significant number of people locking their bikes up so they can still be stolen quite easily; there was an amazing amount of naivety that simply accompanied the majority of town cyclists…

You see it is also our, the cyclists, responsibility to ensure the bike theft stops and stops soon. It is up to us to make sure that we use the good quality locks on daily basis; it is down to us to ensure that we know how to and do lock our bikes in the correct way; it is also our responsibility to register our bikes so if they go missing we can report it; it is also on us to report it once it happens.

lock your bike

The above picture shows you how to lock your bike properly using a good quality Dlock and (optionally) the additional cable lock. This way your bike is secured and its vital components are locked (frameset and wheels). This will not deter thieves- do not be fooled- BUT it will keep the opportunist robbers away and it will delay anyone trying to part you with your bike.

The registration with (numerous) free services is a good step to take as well. Visit Immobilise to register your bike (and any other additional goods) and take the advantage of the free registration where you can create a database of your possessions and store their serial numbers and other identifiers should any of them go missing. Stolen Bikes UK is another good resource where you can report your bike as stolen but also check for any reports in case you are questioning the source of your new-second-hand-bike-to-be. Another place where you can check prior to buying is Check That Bike where you simply put a frame number in and inspect any ‘bad’ history in relation to your future purchase.

You see, fellow cyclists, it is also down to us to ensure that the bike theft is eradicated. We need to take action and show initiative to simply fight back. We cannot rely on the overstretched services that (quite unfortunately) do not treat bike theft as seriously as they should. It is us who lose out at the end and without any doubt we need to show how to do it properly to everyone else…


Register it. Check it. Lock it. Report it. Do not buy if the origin is unclear. Ride on!


M-check

safety, what is

…it is vital to maintain well oiled and functional machine to take a full advantage of it…

The basic check anyone should perform on a very regular basis is an M-check. It covers the most important areas at which failures can be extremely dangerous.

kjkjhlkj

If you look at your bike from its side you can follow an M shape to check up on it:

  1. starting at the front of your bike you check the wheel (tyre, spokes, hub, skewers or nuts), the brake (cable, blocks or pads, rim or disc), the fork (play, damage), the headset for play and the handlebars for any damage
  2. then move onto the frame (tubing, welds, cables or outers) and follow the checks with a bottom bracket area inspection (bottom bracket play, crankset, rings, chain, pedals)
  3. moving onto the back of your bike check the rear brake (cable, blocks or pads, rim or disc)
  4. finish the check with a rear wheel check (tyre, spokes, hub, skewers or nuts)

M-check (or a shorter version of it once you get comfortable with it) should be carried out at every possible opportunity to ensure your and others’ safety.