The Bikes College, since its very first day, was about turning waste and unwanted stuff into something that others can turn into a functional machinery. We get bicycles that feel and look pretty sorry for themselves and turn them into fully functional ‘vehicles’; ‘vehicles’ that power the people so they can go, think and act outside the box. To be free and to be mobile; as the human beings should be.
Number of people, projects and authorities got in touch since the article offering help on so many levels that we struggle to comprehend the extend of TBC’s impact. We got offered bikes, clothes, food, more bikes…
We receive a lot of kind donations at The Bikes College so we are slowly giving it all away for free!
NB. the recent donation from TRJFP has brought a lot of smiles upto the project. Thank you guys!!!
A great accomplishment should never be the end of the road; just a starting point for the next leap forward.
This very rainy day we were featured in Yorkshire Evening Post following an interview with a columnist Neil Hudson. It made us very proud of what we do and we would like to thank everyone involved in The Bikes College.
The article, available as an e-version online, has been an astonishing two pages long feature in YEP’s News Focus on page 6.
The article has had an amazing impact on our project already. We have numerous mentions all over the social media and the emails started flooding in. We had local authorities, more press, old friends, current friends, friends’ friends and plenty more enquiring and sharing the story.
You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments or publicity.
Times are always difficult for projects like ours- the austerity measures all across the most important fields to spend more on trivialities- it gets difficult to keep up the good work and stay enthusiastic.
But what gets us going is the same that makes us smile everytime someone leaves the workshop with a grin on their face. That feeling of being appreciated for what we do- not why, not for how much, not who for- it is WHAT we do that gets us going. It delivers the same pleasure every time- it never fails to satisfy the internal need to help the others to get something vital in life- the freedom. The freedom to travel, the freedom to discover, the freedom to learn, the freedom to share, the freedom to teach, the freedom of being free.
What is extremely heart-warming is the fact that this very feeling of satisfaction and achievement upon completion is indeed very contagious. It emanates, it lingers around, it merges with good vibes and the friendly atmosphere. And it is infectious- it spreads faster that a common cold. And it goes beyond our small team, it goes further; it goes beyond the team of our users, it goes further; it goes beyond the boundaries of Bramley, it goes further than that too. It gets so strong and so contagious that people start talking about us- rumour has it that we are getting recognised for what we do. We are getting recognised by local authorities and media. The word about the team of passionate bike fixers spreads like a fever!
We never suspected that what we do is so recognised. It fills us with pride that we can do this and we would like to thank everyone involved. We will not stop now- the future looks brighter than ever and we will grow bigger and stronger!
We do our stuff all the time. Daily chores, bikes in bikes out. We rely heavily on word of mouth and recommendations. We pride ourselves in what we do as we do it on a small and local scale- we start locally to change the world globally.
But recently it occurred to us that we could do with some serious advertising so we can grow bigger and better; that is beyond the workshop expansion. We realised that people are asking about us and they want to know more. And instead of telling them to contact us on Facebook or Twitter or even WordPress we could simply give them our business card. So we ventured out and got some beauties printed…
We have already given out quite a few and we will carry on handing them out like there is no tomorrow…
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.
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?
It is never too early to involve kids in giving back. And the more hands-on the experiences are, the better.
Soleil Moon Frye
That is what we are trying to do at TBC as much as we can. We support the hands-on experience as much as possible.
Take E., in her early teens, who got a bike from us recently for a fraction of its real price. 2 days in a row she had punctures. On the first day we repaired it for her while talking her through the basics of puncture repairs- we taught the theory so she understood it before showing her more. She was back the very next day with exactly the same problem. You would not guess what’s happened then…
She understood the basics of punctures: the causes, the reasons, the tools needed, where to start, what to check for and what to expect. She is checking the tyre for stuck thorns and the potential damage to the tyre above.
She was capable of using the tools and equipment herself to help out actively. Her hands-on attitude was astonishing. She knew how use a pump and what pressures to inflate the tyre to.
She was keen to listen and follow instructions, willing to do the majority of the work herself. She has even remembered to release the vbrake noodle before taking the wheel off.
We helped with as few tasks as possible, majority of which were too big or too complicated for her- we loosened the wheelnuts and re-tightened them for her.
It took us approximately 20 minutes to resolve the issue entirely. Here she is putting the noodle back into its place once we were done. When we spoke about the experience we made E. aware that it is something she can do herself next time- with no supervision and with hardly any help. She even got a complimentary puncture repair kit.
We believe that no other ways would deliver the same result- we got E. involved, we supported her and watched her thriving when the trouble occurred.
This the way we do it here- this is The Bikes College’s way!
Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me, and I’ll understand.
We were astonished by simplicity of this saying when it was first spotted during our visit to The Bristol Bike Project couple of years ago. It was there, on the wall, printed out across the numerous blank pieces of paper, staring at us constantly yet, ironically, remaining unnoticed.
We have followed the same principle through everything that we did in the last few years, unconsciously agreeing with its clear message. Every time the teaching or learning process occurs it is vital for the recipient to be alert and willing to take on the knowledge in question. When faced with a general verbal tuition the student tends to get distracted and simply bored of the material quite promptly. Although the verbal tuitions accompanied by the additional visual presentation significantly improve the contact and relationship between the student and the tutor it does not deliver any practical experience so valued and so necessary in the process of learning.
We realised that any kind of the tutor/student interaction improves the outcome of any TBC session. We get everyone involved- when working with our members we ensure that we use the industry terminology: we talk about dérailleurs not ‘the gear things’, we talk about cranksets not ‘the pedal thingies’ and so on. Children as little as 6 years old have visited our project and while learning with their parents they promptly picked up the terminology otherwise never used in front of them. The number of 11 years old that worked on their bikes with us told us that the barrel adjusters were sticky on their brake levers- something that would be quite difficult to explain using the same wording to their unaware parents. This is simply proving that when faced with the demand to be in the know our members step upto the challenge and learn much quicker and much more than they would during the standard tuition lessons. We always involve our members in our lessons- they work at their own pace in their own comfort zone as they are using their own bicycle as an experimenting tool and are surrounded by like-minded and like-aged people. This proves to be an extremely effective way of sharing knowledge- regardless of age, sex, background, etc.
Give us a shout if you would like to try this out- you will be surprised how much you did not know about your bike; and how much you can learn in a really short time!